Before I was Princess Rosebud and Rowdy Rosie, I was a little girl who loved to dance in pink tutus and satin toe shoes.

A sweet and innocent little girl who was very gentle and sorta clueless about life.

Who loved animals (especially wolves and coyotes and foxes and mountain lions and bobcats) but all animals really.

Who never had to face life’s seriously sucky tribulations, cos life was pretty good most of the time.

Especially when there were seashells to pick off a sandy beach. Or someone thought about me and brought home a handful of seashells from one of their vacations.

Seashells make me happy. Butterflies make me happy, too, but that’s a different story.

This is about death. DEATH. Not a metamorphosis.


Death is pretty final in a lot of ways. I mean in this plane, on this Earth, when someone dies, stops breathing, heart stops beating…well, that’s pretty final.

Why do some deaths hit us harder than others?

Randomly searching for something on the internet, I discovered that a friend and business associate I hadn’t seen in a long time had died of cancer a few months ago.

I didn’t know. No one told me. How did this happen, that I didn’t know?

The death and the not knowing shocked me, rocked me to my core. I was sobbing. Not him, I thought. Not him. Good men like that should live to be one-hundred-years at least.

(I could tell you how it happened that I didn’t know, I could elucidate, fill you in on all the deets, but then the story would be all about me and not a way, however small, to honor this fine, fine man.)

I heard him say this one thing a thousand times, “Hey guys, here’s just another rusty brain idea I’d like to run by you.”

He was one of those true-blue, honorable, faithful, simply noble, ethical, principled, reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, SALT OF THE EARTH men.

They don’t make them like that any more. Trust me on that. It’s really so simple, when you think about it. Not a difficult way to live one’s life if you know what’s really important.

All men (and women) should aspire to conduct their lives to that standard. A decent man with character and a deep commitment to his wife and family.

A never-give-up kind of man. The very definition of what a man should be.

If you needed anything, Steve was there. Especially if there was food involved. Oh yes, Steve loved to eat, that’s for sure.

I sent his wife a letter expressing my sorrow for her loss and apologized for not knowing and not attending his memorial service.

She wrote back almost immediately.

True to form, he never told anyone of his battle with cancer. Thinking back, I remember he was always showing up with bandages all over his face and head from skin cancer surgeries, but he brushed aside all questions about his health. The cancer spread and though it was quite painful, he never complained.

One day he collapsed and died in his wife’s arms, the only place that was ever really home to him.

I honor you, Steve, and I will miss you forever. More than you could know. This is a big loss, a big death, and my heart goes out to your lovely family.







Harming an Animal…No Big Deal?

“Bang bang.”

During a late afternoon walk around the neighborhood, I passed by a house where three or four children (in the eight to ten-year age range) were playing in their front yard.

Maybe at this point I should highlight the fact that I live in a SoCal beach town; solid middle-class, lots of healthy living, outdoor activities, and for the past thirty-plus years, it’s been relatively crime-free.

I’m still troubled by what I witnessed.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to the children until I heard one of the boys say, “The cat, do the cat!” and I saw a black and white cat running to hide in a stand of low growing bushes near the sidewalk.

I heard a popping sound at the same exact time I saw another little shit boy with a plastic gun-type thing pointing it at the cat. Whatever little plastic thingy that was shot out of the gun actually hit the cat, who yelped and ran in a different direction.

What made this abuse even more egregious to me was that the little shits  boys LAUGHED.

Harming an animal on purpose was a source of amusement.

WTF is wrong with people?

Never one to ignore bad behavior or shy away from standing up for animal rights, I turned to the two laughing and gawking little shits boys (the girls had run off at this point) and stated, “You just shot at the cat. I saw you.”

Pretend you are saying those words with the scariest, meanest tone in your voice that you could possibly conjure up. Add a frown, squint your eyes, and you come up with a fair approximation of ME at that moment. I wasn’t referred to as “Mommy Monster” for nothing…

One of the boys ( the blame shifter) quickly pointed to the other boy and said, “I didn’t do it, he did”as he showed us all HIS true colors. Then he too ran away before I followed HIM home because he’s the one who set up his friend to shoot at the poor kitty.

I said to the future sociopath, “Is that your cat?” He nodded. “Do you live here?” He nodded.

“Go in the house RIGHT NOW and come back with your mother or father.”

“Harming an animal is NOT acceptable. What you did was NOT OK.”

The little future Jeffrey Dahmer went in the house and a few minutes later a man reluctantly opened the door a crack and peered out.

I introduced myself and told him what I witnessed. I explained to him that I loved animals, I’m an animal activist, and hoped he would appreciate the serious nature of what his son had done. He said he would discipline his child and let him know what he did was wrong. I explained to him that in my opinion, he should take away the gun because it’s obvious his son didn’t have respect for animals and should not be allowed to hurt another one.

That’s when it got ugly, guys.

The big shit  dad told me that he didn’t need my help raising his children, and I responded by saying that it’s clear to me that he wasn’t doing a very good job if his son thought it was funny to hurt a cat.  He then informed me in a snotty tone not to raise my voice (I was not raising my voice at all, but that’s something stupid people say to shift the conversation away from the actual content) AND he would raise his children HIS way and I should raise mine MY way and GET OFF HIS PROPERTY.

Since I NEVER miss an opportunity to not-so-humblebrag about my Angel Boy, I pointed to my t-shirt which said “Somebody at Yale LOVES You” as I proudly proclaimed, “I DID my good job, that’s why my son has a Ph.D. from Yale”, and as I sauntered down his driveway, I turned to him and said I might call the police because animal abuse by children could be a red flag sign of future sociopathic crime. He got in the last word by yelling, “Go ahead and call the police!”

I’m drinking a glass of wine now, wondering if I actually should call the po-po to reinforce the concept that abuse of any animal for any reason is horrible behavior and should not be tolerated. There is a very real correlation between children who harm animals and those who commit more serious crimes later in life.

What do you think I should do? And how was YOUR Monday?

This distressing incident made me think of my darling Bandit. I miss her every day.*Sniff*
How could anyone hurt an innocent creature?


A World of Firsts

A first grandchild brings memories of other firsts:AB2.0That first moment I knew I was pregnant.

The first time nausea was how I defined each waking moment, a fog of nausea and exhaustion no amount of sleep could erase.

That red letter day I woke up and for the first time in four months wasn’t running to the bathroom to throw up.

It was a day to celebrate. My mom made blueberry pancakes and I not only kept the entire stack down—I gorged on a second serving.

The first time I looked really and truly without-a-doubt pregnant.

That was about the time I felt that first flutter-butterfly kisses from the inside.

The insane feeling of the first kick – and how it was so much more intimate than anyone had warned me about.

That was my baby in there!

A HUMAN attached absolutely and for all time —with his own arms and legs and brain and thoughts and feelings and it was overwhelming.

The first Braxton-Hicks contractions.

I called my mom and she rushed over in less than fifteen minutes to take my vitals and reassure me that this was NOT the real thing. Not yet. (She was an RN.)

The first real contraction.

The first realization that it hurt so much more than I had anticipated.

And then, outside of my body for the first time, unattached but wonderfully connected by heart and soul; the first time I was able to hold my precious baby boy.

Who is now having his own first baby boy.

Simply crazy.

No way I’m that old, right?

I guess there’s a first for everything.

Compassion and Hypocrisy

compassionchalkboardtextI needed a few things at the crafts shop; glue sticks, jute, ModPodge, stuff like that.

Let’s clarify right from the beginning —  I live in what could be described as a sorta snooty beach town — home prices in the $700,000 to million dollar plus — a fair amount of discretionary spending — lots of ladies who go to the gym, spa, lunch, shop.

The crafts store I went to is in a smaller strip mall. I parked my car between a Lexus and a Mercedes (see?), grabbed a reusable bag from the trunk, and headed into the store.

It was a busy Sunday; by the way a lot of the (mostly) ladies were attired, it’s obvious they had come directly from church — this is SoCal so nobody doesn’t wear flipflops unless they have to, and there were more flowery frocks than Lululemons.

As I’m walking toward the store, DIRECTLY to the left of the automatic double glass doors  —  in plain sight — was a man sprawled out on the sidewalk. You couldn’t tell if he was sleeping. Or if he was dead. He had no blanket, no pillow, nothing except a well-worn paper bag near his feet.


I looked around and there were no less than three other women walking toward the crafts mecca along with me.

NO ONE even glanced in his direction, but it’s not like you could avoid seeing him.

He was RIGHT there.

They had to make a CONSCIOUS decision to ignore him.

I made eye contact with one woman who looked away, uncomfortably.

It was obvious that she did NOT want to engage in a conversation.

I went in the store, walked over the first employee I saw, and asked if he knew anything about the man that was either dead or alive outside his store.

He said, “Oh yeah, someone mentioned him.”

I said, “Well, has anyone checked to see if he’s OK, if he needs help, IF HE HAS A PULSE??”

He said, “Would you like me to call the manager”?

I said, “Yes, you do that.”

As I’m tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for the manager to appear and deal with ME, it was hard NOT to feel all the other women awkwardly look away from the SITUATION.

When the manager arrived, she said, “Are you the one who wants to know about that man?”

I said, “Yes, I’m the one. If you knew there was a human lying on the ground – he could be sick, he could be dead, he could be homeless — why did you not call someone to help him?”

(Watching out of the corner of my eye as other women avoided the aisle where we were standing.)

“Well, do you want me to call someone?”

I don’t f***ing believe this.

My blood pressure was rising — as was my voice.



“He’s someone’s son or brother or father. What if he were YOUR son or brother or father?”

Yes, I said that.

If you want to know why I didn’t go up to him myself, its because I actually thought he was dead, and didn’t want to disturb a potential crime scene, and if he was sick, well, it’s not my job to offer medical assistance.

The manager called the police who arrived immediately, and it appeared that the man was indeed homeless, but was having some sort of medical condition and needed to be transported to a hospital — not life threatening, but he definitely didn’t need to suffer on the sidewalk.

As I stood in line waiting to purchase my glue sticks and other non-essentials, a woman thanked me for “doing something” and said she was planning to say something if I had not.

Well, people, I can’t be everywhere, so don’t wait for me.


Whether it’s a sick and dirty homeless man or a mistreated animal or an abused child.

Be civilized. Be compassionate.



Don’t just talk about it.

Don’t be a hypocrite.


Happy Mother’s Day To My Son

Vintage Angel Boy

Vintage Angel Boy

Because, of course, without him, I wouldn’t have a Mother’s Day at all.

This was brought to my attention one year by my facetious brilliant child who remarked that in fact, HE should be the one who garners all the attention, because without HIM, I’d have nothing to celebrate.

I thought about it and he’s right and the day belongs to my Angel Boy.

I’ve enjoyed thirty-four years of receiving gifts and presents and all the little things that go along with this one day set aside to recognize mothers; handmade cards and macaroni hearts (I’ve kept them all) and coupon books for hugs and dishwashing (still waiting to collect on a few of those.)

Now that our nest is empty and I don’t wake up to a sweet little boy snuggling in bed with me; that embodiment of Mother’s Day with every smile and giggle, there’s only one thing I desire, and this is true of a lot of other empty nest moms I’ve talked to.



What do we want?


When do we want it?


My cell phone rang and the little screen flashed “Angel Boy”, which always makes me verrry happy, because as much as texts and emails facilitate instant communication, there’s really no good substitute for hearing my only child’s voice.

Me: “Was ist los, mein Kinde?”

(That’s pretty much my entire body of knowledge of German, which is Angel Boy’s Ph.D.; Germanic Languages and Literatures)

Him: Hi, Mom.”

Me: “To what do I owe the honor of an actual telephone call?”

Him: “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

(By unspoken agreement, this query includes my birthday, which is either ON Mother’s Day or within a few days of it.)

Me: “YOU know what I want.”

“It’s that little four-letter word. It’s what I always want. Say it.”

Him: “You want TIME, right?”

Me: “Yup, that’s it. I want YOU. I want time BEING with you. I want to spend TIME with you.”

“Don’t buy me any THING. What I want is priceless.”

And that’s the truth.

Ever since he left SoCal to pursue his lofty academic goals mostly on the East coast, TIME has become a precious commodity.

Now I know why my mom counseled me to spend every second, every minute — with my child, because she knew that once they grow up and fly away, all you’ll be left with is memories.

That’s why I got up at 4 a.m. and did as much housework as possible before he woke up so that every minute could be spent caring for him, playing with him — just BEING with my Angel Boy without having to say, “in a minute” or “not now, I’m busy.”

If I had to give advice to mom nowadays, I’d tell them to spend more precious time being present in their children’s lives, and spend a whole lot less time on their electronic devices.

Because one day, their children will be gone, and you’ll regret the hours you spent on Facebook.

Although I’m not seeing my Angel Boy ON Mother’s Day, he planned a camping/hiking trip for us in a couple of weeks, and that’s when I’ll bask in the glow of TIME.

I can’t wait.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


It started raining in the middle of the night, so hard it woke me up.

Rain, wind, five inches of snow in our local mountains — is this May or is it December?

I was worried about my little hummingbird and her full nest.

How would they weather the storm?

First thing this morning, I looked out the kitchen window and there she is, swaying back and forth on the hummingbird wind chimes under the eaves, safe and dry.

See the rain coming down? What a smart mom to choose a home that’s protected from the elements and allows her to survey the entire back yard.

hummyMay8rainHumans can learn a lot about good parenting from other species.HummyMay7

There is no more important job than caring for her young.

Soon enough, they’ll hatch and grow and fly away, leaving her with that empty nest she worked so hard to build.

Maybe that’s what her tiny little hummingbird mind ponders as she sits there hour after hour.

And I know exactly how she feels.


Rebranding Fat Tuesday and Much LOVE for Cindy Crawford

There’s a connection here — or at least in my feverish condition, I see one…

Writer’s note: After I hit publish, I realized there’s grammatical confusion with the original title — I don’t think Cindy Crawford needs to be rebranded ALSO, which is what the “and” implied Update:. I think I fixed the problem with this version.

Photo:Enchanted Seashells,Confessions of a TugboatCaptain's Wife

Photo:Enchanted Seashells,Confessions of a TugboatCaptain’s Wife

It’s not the excessive alcohol consumption that bothers me, nor the shiny beads (I love all that is shiny and sparkly), nor the naked-y ladies dancing down Bourbon Street.

What really vexes me is the name…FAT Tuesday.

I know what it means…

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, and is the practice of overindulging in rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

Because of my body issues, it’s the word FAT that causes me distress.

I work really hard to fight against being overweight, to eat healthy foods, exercise daily, limit my intake of fatty and rich foods — yes, it’s my issue, I KNOW that. I’m so short at five feet tall that an extra ounce looks like five pounds on my small frame. It’s been a life-long struggle.


Here’s what I think of when I hear FAT:

All very negative. FAT is an ugly word.

Here’s a thought. How about a total rebranding?

If it were renamed “Curvy Tuesday” or “Voluptuous Tuesday”, I’d be more inclined to wholeheartedly celebrate.

Doesn’t that sound better than “Plus-sized Tuesday”?

I dunno. I guess you could say I’m fat-shaming Fat Tuesday.

What do you think about this unretouched photo of Cindy Crawford?

Unretouched Cindy Crawford another but similar subject, what do you think about this un-retouched photo of Cindy Crawford?

I think she’s gorgeous and real and it’s incredibly empowering.

There’s so much pressure to continue to look like we’re in our unlined and no cellulite twenties — I’m hopeful the future will bring less photoshopping and more authentic portrayals of women as we are. I stopped reading all those fashion mags ‘cos they’re really depressing. Try as I might, I could never attain that level of skinny.

This might sound like a mixed message with my observations about FAT Tuesday, but it’s not. Really.

Happy Curvy Tuesday, everyone!



Living in the Shadows in Sunny Shiny Southern California

There’s another side of California that you might not know about.

Sandwiched between the manicured lawns of upper middle-class residential subdivisions in SoCal, there’s a microcosm of humanity living in the shadows — migrant laborers from Mexico in makeshift camps.

In my own neighborhood, just minutes from the beach and overlooking chaparral-studded canyons, hidden behind purple sage and giant coyote bushes, we recently went for a hike and found evidence that suggests there are still active encampments.

Mostly these men are invisible, ignored by us as we speed up and down our streets, shopping, caring for our families, and only sometimes do we notice these shadow people standing on the roadside waiting to be picked up for day work or at the local liquor store buying twelve packs of beer and money orders.

Like the crows that fly in and out of our trees in a raucous cacophony, there’s an exodus out of the canyons at dawn and back at sunset.

Whatever side of the undocumented worker discussion you’re on, it’s a  blight on our supposedly civilized society that in 2015, in this country of overabundance and excess, men and women live in the bushes without benefit of safe shelter or even running water.

When you scratch off the thin veneer of Pilates classes, weekly mani-pedis and facials, that fifty dollar bottle of pinot noir, and glance beyond Anthropologie and Sur la Table, in the hills behind The Forum, and probably most of the other open spaces that are clinging to life —  that’s where you’ll find them.

It doesn’t seem quite fair for us to have so much while others are living in squalid conditions.

It’s sad, don’t you agree?


We especially liked the misspelling. There’s a certain poignancy.

There were several white rags hanging from trees along a certain path; we assumed it was to mark the way when it was dark.kellytrail2I think this is a creek, or it could be runoff from all of the developments.
Kellytrail Hard to see the turkey vulture among the clouds.
kellytrail4Do you know who and what lives beneath the surface in your neighborhood?



This picture really is worth a thousand words. Then again, maybe not.

Who says a fifty something can’t rock Hello Kitty pajamas and slippers? Anyone? I thought not. ‘Nuff said.

If you want a prompt, how about giving it your best shot and write a better caption than I did? Send it to me in the comments and I’ll share them in another post.

hello kitty pajamas and slippers