Before Panorama and after Panorama…

I’ve been ignoring my blog. This happens. As much as I love to write, I become entrenched in my daily life, ignore the tugs of the blank page, and take to filling my days with teaching, acting and reading soul-stirring writing. Well, I’m back, for a moment, to check in and connect with my own writer’s soul.

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Girls Road Trip!

In the fall, I took a road trip from Seattle to California bringing along all three of my incredible daughters. It was hands-down the best thing to happen in 2016. We left Seattle heading south, our first stop a night in Ashland, Oregon to take in a play at the popular Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Our plans were in constant flux so we arrived without tickets with the intention of getting them on sight.

A friend of Susanna’s said that we MUST see The Wiz in the Elizabethan outdoor theater. No thanks, was my response. But he said that the play “changed his life.” That is an intense thing to say about a piece of theater so I was intrigued but still not excited. Heading into the box office that evening we found that everything was sold out EXCEPT The Wiz, which had standing room only tickets. Was this fate? Were our lives going to be “changed” by standing for 3 hours in the back of a 1000 plus seat theater?

The short answer is no. I was tempted to leave at intermission, all of us were exhausted from travel and the stresses of getting out-of-town for vacation. But we stuck it out for the second act and it was sparkly, but not in any way life-changing. Maybe it doesn’t take much for some people to turn life on its ear? For me it takes more than some flashy song and dance numbers. It takes being with my daughters on the road! We all shared a hotel room and car for 9 days and I was entranced by the women they have become.

img_5528I made them see the new Pete’s Dragon movie with me (the old one was such a part of their childhood), and we stopped for terrible snacks, drank lots of coffee and put on temporary tattoos as we listened to a playlist of all the albums from our various road-trips over the years. We sang and giggled and remembered many a joy as we spent the hours in the car.

Yosemite National Park was the goal of this trip. My favorite place on earth and I had never taken my daughters there. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning you will remember that Yosemite is a place of magic for me (One touch of nature and Our natural beauty). It was the place that birthed my love and respect for nature and opened my heart to the joys of spirituality and self-knowing. I have always wanted to be the one to see my girls’ faces the first time they encountered Yosemite Valley.

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I had a plan outlined for our days. Arriving our first afternoon we explored the valley floor after checking into our room (complete with bunk beds and view of the glorious glaciers from our sliding glass doors). It had been a dry summer so sadly Yosemite Falls was not flowing, but we wandered around the grassy fields, watched deer and craned our necks along with them to the giant granite cliffs above us.

img_5565We had reservations on the 8am bus the next morning that would take us up to Glacier Point, to look down on unparalleled views and start our hike to the valley floor. Lowell Young suggested this hike for us and as usual he steered us in the perfect direction. The views all along the Panorama Trail are astounding. It descends 3200 feet in elevation in about 9 miles. The published material on this hike says that “one day you’ll look back on your life and split it into its ‘before Panorama’ and ‘after Panorama’ periods.” Looking back on it now, I can agree that it is one of the most spectacular hikes I have had the joy of doing.

Half Dome is the focal point along the trail, staying in view from many angles and reminding me constantly, with complete awe and wonder, that I slept on top of that rock when I was a senior in high school. Hikers are no longer allowed to do that so I feel like one of the rare and happy few.

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We had gorgeous weather and pranced our way down the mountain, stopping every few hundred feet to oohh and ahhh. But adventures are rarely carefree. I had newish hiking boots, worn on a few short hikes, very comfortable, so I thought. I had plenty of moleskin packed in case of blisters, but not even a mile down the trail I started feeling hot spots and sat on a boulder and doused them with moleskin. Back on the trail we zigzagged our way to lovely Illilouette Fall, where I again cared for my now blistering feet. Still optimistic that I would be able to doctor them enough to keep them from being an issue and denying that they were hurting, we started the ascent up toward Nevada Fall, which gave my toes a break.

Halfway up, Susanna started having trouble with altitude sickness with a pounding headache and nausea. So we found another boulder, plied her with Advil and snacks and tended our wounds together. She started feeling better and the views were so beautiful that we made it to Nevada Fall without too much difficulty. We perched on the edge overlooking the Yosemite Valley and the gently flowing waterfall. In a dreamy state we opened up sandwiches we had brought along, ready for a much-needed rest, only to be swarmed by yellow jackets! We quickly threw our food back in our backpacks while squealing and waving our arms around. We could hear the cries of a gal sitting near us getting stung and we moved as quickly as possible back up the trail. I’m not sure what the deal was with the yellow jackets, they were aggressive in certain, more populated areas and it made me cranky.

My feet were getting worse with every mile. I had to borrow Audrey’s walking sticks to get me down the last steep descending miles. Every step was painful. My feet were bloody and there was nothing to be done, but grin and bear it, put one foot in front of the other and keep going. To escape pressure on my feet my knees were taking the brunt of the verticality and also hurting with every step.

Stress, pain and growth, still the lesson to learn throughout my life. But we were still smiling even if a bit battered when we got to the bottom bus stop and we all looked forward to showers and rest.

The next day was recovery time, more exploration of the Valley, picnicking, drawing and journaling along the Merced River. It was so relaxing and beautiful, the mirror image of Half Dome reflecting in the river and my heart. I kept thinking how lucky, how joyous, how divine to be here with my daughters. It doesn’t get much better than this!  It is the prettiest place I have ever seen, majestic and magical granite walls.

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We had a special evening planned for a birthday dinner at the famous Ahwahnee Hotel. So we gussied up and headed over. By now our bodies were feeling the soreness from the 9 miles the previous day and we were all moving stiffly. But the old hotel is a beauty and we strolled around the first floor admiring the woodwork and timbers and sunset views. Dinner was elegant, complete with pianist playing a grand piano and we had many secret giggles about a not-too-competent server, feeling much like misbehaving children in church.

As in often the case when we are together silly things happen, the fortune of having 3 beautiful, fun-loving daughters. After sitting at dinner for a few hours our bodies started seizing up from the exertion the previous day. We stood up to leave in view of about a hundred finely arrayed diners and it must have been like watching the Three Stooges doing a slow-motion routine. Alicia was in front, wearing 3 inch high-heeled shoes and obviously working very hard and carefully to slowly put one foot in front of the other without falling over. I started giggling hysterically knowing exactly how she was feeling , me with my blistered feet and sore body, and then the pianist started playing the theme from Chariots of Fire. It was all I could do to keep it together until we reached the doorway, then we all burst out in uncontrolled laughter as we stumbled our way past the front desk and out into the parking lot.

It was the pinnacle moment of our trip, one that almost rivaled the scenes of natural wonder that we experienced for 2 days straight. Laughter straight from the belly at our inability to walk even remotely normal! If I had a video of it all, it would definitely be accompanied by the thumping electronic pulsing of Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire Theme.

Before the Panorama blister free and fine…

img_5577After the Panorama, closer than ever to the three most cherished women in my life.img_5618

Cinderella in Cannes (Third and Final Cycle)

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Night views of Cannes from the after party

(Continued from Cinderella in Cannes Part 2) Having slept but a few hours, I boarded a shuttle bus to the Nice airport. On the flight back to NYC I was seated next to an adorable couple. I discreetly admired their holding hands and obvious affection for each other. They were having the best time and eventually I got drawn into their mischief. Norwegian Air was fantastic and had a touchscreen at each seat where you order food and drinks and the attendants bring it to you. My row-mates were enjoying keeping a tab going and sending wine to my seat as well. I don’t know if I have ever laughed so long and hard on a flight and I’m sure we were innocuously absurd to the other passengers. My new friends kept trying to hook me up with the guy in the seat ahead of me, Continue reading

Cinderella in Cannes (Second Cycle)

(Continuing along to France…) The drive to Cannes was long but Paul was a super (and fast!) driver. The first night we spent on an overnight ferry (see Cinderella in Cannes Part One) and I fell asleep with a distinctly strong smell of fish in my nostrils. We ended up pulling into Antibes, France, just a few miles northeast of Cannes at 10pm. I went out searching for a sight of the beach Continue reading

Cinderella in Cannes (First Cycle)

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Cannes, France

First off let’s get the pronunciation of Cannes right. People here on the east coast  of the USA say CAHnnes, in a hoity-toity way. One friend corrected me when I said CANnes, France. So I looked it up and lo-and-behold my high school french didn’t fail me, it IS “CAN” rhymes with fan.

The reason to get the pronunciation correct is that the film Continue reading

New eyes on a new path…

IMG_4678Tyringham, MA. I went exploring, seeking a new trail, and racing ahead of the snow that was forecast and to my delight was rewarded with new inspiration. My current theory is that hiking the same paths frequently puts me into autopilot-mode, rather like repeating the same workout routine, weights, treadmill, stretches, my muscles can plateau. My eye muscles need changing it up too Continue reading

brown, barren, baron?

I went for a quick hike in New Marlborough, MA last week. I was looking for Dry Hill Trail, one that I failed to find last year because of a snowstorm. This year the snow has held off and the trails are covered in only a blanket of dry leaves, but it was still a challenge to find. In the process of failed turns and roads that lead to infinity I looked to my left and saw this view…

Stone Manor, New Marlborough, MA on the way to the trail

Stone Manor, New Marlborough, MA on the way to the trail

It never ceases to amaze me that the Berkshires are filled with beautiful castles Continue reading

The House that Cap Built

The street where I live

The street where I live

After a hectic summer, I have moved all of my belongings from Seattle, Washington to a small town in Massachusetts. I grew up in the country but I have never lived IN a small town. Here in Lenox I can walk to the dry cleaners, the market, the library, the post office, restaurants, bars, get a great latte and giggle with a friend in a fabulous bookstore. Small town life suits me. Continue reading

A little renaissance renewal…

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Making friends with the Muskogee police that are dealing with the security on the film shoot.

I’m off on location for film shoot. I’m hanging out with a film crew and young people who have never acted before and who have lived through tougher times than I will ever know. There are moments that I think I won’t make it through the 7 weeks. But here I am one week in and still alive and finding positives in weary days. Continue reading

Anticipation…

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I’m heading off again for another 8 weeks on the road. This time it’s a bit different in that I have been hired to accompany a group of young adults that are acting in a feature film. We will be traveling to 5 central US states. When the 18-23 year olds are not acting, I will be taking them on excursions and showing them some of this great country I love. I am also there to help them process their emotional responses to the film work they will be doing. Pretty exciting stuff! Continue reading

Perfect Blonde Storm

Snowed-in, Massachusetts

Snowed-in, Massachusetts

OK, so I was just writing and realized for the first time that K9 actually comes from the word CANINE. Sometimes I’m so dense! I am a very intelligent woman but there’s a mix in me that would match a country song like the Perfect Storm. As another Berkshire blizzard rages outside my windows I have the  Brad Paisley song on repeat.

If she was a drink she’d be a single-barrelled bourbon on ice

Smooth with a kick, a chill and a burn, all at the same time

She’s Sunday drive meets high-speed chase

She ain’t just a song she’s the whole mix tape

She’s so complicated that’s the way God made her

Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane

And she destroys me in that t-shirt and I love her so much it hurts

I never meant to fall like this she don’t just rain she pours

That girl right there’s the perfect storm

I know how to make her laugh or blush, or mad at me

But that’s OK there ain’t no one more beautiful angry

And she loves just as deep as she goes when she’s down

The highs match the lows can’t have one without the other

And I love her just the way God made her

     Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane

She’s the girl of a lifetime a guy like me spends his whole life

Looking for, that girl right there’s the perfect storm

I think I could add a verse or two… She’s smart with a dumb-blonde side. It’s taken me awhile to accept that this is a good thing, that this specimen of femininity is not predictable and perfect… but straight and narrow with a side of curves. I’ve always wanted to be all things to all people but it makes for a really unhealthy way to walk through life. So I’m working on enjoying the “Sunshine mixed with a little hurricane” part of my personality, the angel and demon, the “Sunday drive meets high-speed chase” that makes life interesting. And I’m having success! I like being complicated and unpredictable, able to surprise and follow impulses…the girl that willingly has the instincts of a fool. 

Well anyway, Brad Paisley has me figured out and I’m grateful to know on this snowy day that maybe there are some people out there that can enjoy the puzzling way God made me. At least I hope it’s more than a nice song or maybe it’s time to write my own…

She’s smart with a dumb-blonde side.

Straight and narrow, with a side of curves

The girl that willingly has the instincts of a fool.  (Love, Lori)