3 states, 5 towns, 10 days & 25 people

I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to the West Coast. Having moved to the eastern edge of the USA it is difficult to see all of the people and places that mean a lot to me in one trip, but this time I can say that I came close!

IMG_6485I flew into Seattle to connect with my daughters. I met a new grand-kitty, celebrated a birthday, saw a new apartment, walked to the beach, ate some amazing food, extolled the virtues, and adorableness, of Seattle’s plethora of little free libraries and watched one daughter in a dance performance at University of Washington. This was a last-minute addition to my trip west and I can’t even explain how important it was to my own well-being. Seeing my daughters and their friends in the midst of their living is a tangible delight and more than necessary, even if only for a few days.

Next I flew to Reno, hopped in a rental car to drive up to Squaw Valley, CA to attend the wedding of a niece from my ex-husband’s family. It was SO GREAT to see this side of the family that I was a part of for 30 years. They welcomed me with open arms and asked about my life and I left feeling tremendously loved after a short 24 hours. I started feeling ill the morning of my departure and assume it was altitude sickness, even though Squaw is only at 6200 ft in elevation. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep from two very early morning flights within a few days, but I booked it back downhill to Reno and the warm embrace of one of my oldest friends, Kathy. She led me into her spare room and told me to sleep while she bustled around in the kitchen preparing food. What a gift. I woke up an hour later, feeling a bit better and not wanting to miss anymore time with this special human being.

18950974_10212767423918505_2079909680474970963_nKathy is one of my heroines. I really admire and gravitate toward women that are no-nonsense, badass, and confident. She is all of these in spades! She is a straight activist for the LGBT community and travels the world speaking and giving workshops, marshalls pride parades and gets called horrible things by fundamentalist Christians for her acceptance of the gay community. She works her butt off and is so full of life and laughter (see Meet Kathy). She hikes every day with her dog Cali and I joined them for a light hike. It was a glorious 19 hour inoculation of inspiration for me to make the most of my life and not give a hoot about what people think.

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Lake Tahoe through my passenger window

Keeping Kathy in my heart, I drove up over Mt. Rose highway to Lake Tahoe. I always forget just how beautiful this sparking alpine lake is but I was only getting a brief glimpse passing by on my way to Hwy 50 and my mom’s cabin on the American River.

IMG_6556On the steep grade out of South Tahoe I had a “check tire pressure” light come on in the rental car. I was in traffic going 5-10 miles per hour and I passed a sign that said “Wagon train traffic ahead.” Not a sign you see everyday. Well, come to find out, I was following the 68th Annual Wagon Train that reenacts the famous trek that wagons made along this stretch of road during the California gold rush.

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There was nowhere to check the tire pressure but I pulled over just to make sure the tires were not flat and they looked fine so I kept going to the cabin. I have written about this cabin (see The cabin that built me…  ) and it is always delightful to return and spend time there. There has been a lot of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains this year and the rivers were gushing and it was especially beautiful to see and hear and still too early for any bugs to annoy us. My mom and sister were there when I arrived and we cooked out on the lovely wood-fired griddle, soaked our toes in the freezing river and walked in the pine-scented air.

IMG_6628Back in the car the next day to drive to Napa, CA with my Mom, we passed the unhitched wagon train resting for the night by the side of the road. I was able to put air in my tire and get Mom home without incident.

She lives in a beautiful gated community on the Napa River, each house has a dock and boats, even if only a paddle boat or kayak. It is always a pleasure to spend time in her spotlessly, well-decorated home. I hopped in the guest room shower feeling especially grimy after being in the dusty, tree-pitched outdoors at the cabin. I turned on the water, stepped into the tub and **bang*rattle*klunk** off blew the shower-head and down tumbled the shower caddy and soap. With a strong blasting stream of water in my face I quickly shut off the tap and plunked the shower head back on the spigot. Turning the water on a second time, it all blew off again. I went through this routine about 4-5 times before deciding that it was not going to stay connected. I had water everywhere, even on the ceiling of Mom’s pristine bathroom.

After swabbing everything down, I spent the rest of the evening googling shower heads and watched the video “How to install a shower head for dummies.” I felt fully informed and the next day Mom and I went to Home Depot and bought a new shower head and I am proud to report that I replaced it without too much difficulty. Just to challenge my new-found prowess I also put an extension arm on the shower head in Mom’s master bath so she can reach the controls easier. I have NEVER done anything like this before and I felt so accomplished. All hail, King YOUTUBE!

IMG_6625 2While in Napa I got to see more family and my wonderful mentor/friends Lowell and Christie Young. They tap me into my spiritual roots and infuse me with hope, youthful memories, and ply me with piles of wonderful books, which are stacked on my desk in beautiful array, calling me to read-read-read, like a siren lulling me to crash on their spiny reefs.

I had contact with about 25 special people on this quick 10 day jaunt. Connections. It’s all about connections for me. I feel satisfied if I have looked into someone’s eyes, heard their heart and their latest escapades. I can come home, look back and picture them, where they are and how they smile and laugh, what moves them to tears, how their voice conveys their emotions. Yes, I can miss them more, but with the knowledge that there will be a next time to reconnect. Just tapping into their souls and lives for a moment keeps me attached to them until we meet again. Make sure you find the time to connect with those that you love.

“Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives meaning and purpose to our lives.” (Brene Brown- watch her awesome TED talk here…The Power of Vulnerability)

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My girl…

DSCN0580My car, we’ve been through a lot. She’s my pal, she’s like a horse that I pat on the flank when she’s doing a good job or when I worry about her. In Massachusetts every year you have to take your car in for an inspection, they put your car through a barrage of tests, emissions, wind shield wipers, undercarriage, seat belts, you name it. I get nervous every time because if your car doesn’t pass you have 60 days to fix whatever ails it. But this time while my girl, her name is Malibu, was getting the once over, I was reminded of taking my pets to the veterinarian. The technician used to take my poor, scared dog away to some back room and behind closed doors give her injections or take tests, while leaving me in the white exam room. Continue reading

Waramaug sounds like the name of a dragon…

“But in my heart is the joy of youth for I have learned that the essential things of life are near at hand and happiness is his who but opens his eyes to the beauty which lies before him.” -John Burroughs

IMG_6439I took a day trip to Connecticut this week. It was time for some exploration, one of the areas in my life that needs attention for me to be happy. So off I went heading south on Hwy 7. My first stop was for coffee at a cafe in Sheffield, Massachusetts then over the border to Connecticut to a waterfall at Kent Falls State Park. It was pretty and I enjoyed a leisurely climb up the path to the top. Continue reading

The Cape…

IMG_6366No, not the red little riding-hood variety but CAPE COD, Massachusetts. I decided that I needed a quick get-out-of-town adventure and at midnight booked a cottage by the sea (three nights for the price of two) in South Yarmouth for the next day. Just packing, getting in the car and turning on the tunes puts me in a different head space. I left behind the never-disappearing list of things to do and cast off on a road trip and found myself sipping rosé out of a wine glass with a lobster painted on it. Bliss. Continue reading

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. 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

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)

Fowl play in foul weather…

I took a few very chilly walks this week…brrr…but always worth it. The first was on a rail trail where I strolled from Massachusetts into Connecticut and got obsessed with taking photos of these beautiful barns.

Ducks have been on my mind as I read Eckhart Tolle’s description about how they are able to squabble and squawk at each other, then turn, flap their wings a few times and swim elegantly away without ruffled feathers. He recommends that we do this too. Let the emotions roll over you and then flap your wings, throw them off and get back to the business of living in the now. He does not advise reliving, revamping, or re-saying what it is you should, could, or would have said or done, but just let it go. On my walks there was a plethora of ducks to illustrate his point.

I took a sojourn to Stanley Park in Westfield, MA. It must be a lovely park when it’s not zero degrees. They have a special bronze duck, named Ozzie, on a little island in the middle of a pond. A few years back the real Ozzie was killed by a teenage boy stomping him to death. The town kids brought in their pennies to fund a campaign for a memorial for the murdered Ozzie.

As I came up the hill there arose a cacophony of squawks and duck calls (they sounded eerily like the ones my mother would practice for duck hunting) that stopped me in my tracks. The pond was FILLED with beautiful, iridescent male and female ducks and a white swan.

Let me explain my hesitation…I have been snapped at by nasty geese and chased by trumpet swans. A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, I walked near a couple of nesting swans and let me tell you, they are huge, beautiful and terrifying when they are mad. Wings out and slapping the water, with necks that stretch straight at you, they pursued me as I ran away as fast as I could. I will always remember that narrow escape with nervous laughter. So as soon as I heard the din and cackle of fowl noises my fight or flight response kicked in and I thought twice about going forward.

Thankfully there was only one swan and she/he didn’t seem to be nesting and the whole pond was welcoming me with open, clacking beaks fully expecting a handout. As I forged ahead, they calmed down and decided to leave me be since I did not come bearing gifts like the Magi. I was just another shepherd coming to gaze at the scene without even the poorest offering. I saw Ozzie’s burial island with many ducks perched around him keeping him company. I had a Lord-of-the-Flies moment of horror at the idea of a gang of boys taunting and killing an innocent duck. I am glad that they have honored the outpouring of rage against a senseless act of unkindness.

Stanley Park, MA

Stanley Park, MA

The collected pennies for Ozzie brings to mind the play I am in at the moment where I perform the role of a mother of a coma patient. Every time my character arrives at the critical care facility to visit her daughter, I place a head’s up penny on the floor by the bed to bring good luck into the room. Pennies have been a simple reminder of good fortune for a long time. I hear that we may do away with them altogether as they are not worth enough in our currency to bother printing them. But for the many reminders of simple, priceless good will, I hope they stick around.

Two songs came to the forefront this week. I wish I had the DJ skill to mash them together…I think it might come out quite magical.

The duck was dancing by the water, quack, quack, quack                                                                                The rhythm made him think he oughta quack, quack                                                                                        He was dancing to the samba, the samba, the samba                                                                                       Oh, goose, oh.

This little penny is to wish on                                                                                                                              And make your wishes come true                                                                                                                         This little penny is to dream on                                                                                                                       Dream of all you can do

The goose was gaining passing by, honk, honk, honk                                                                                        He stopped and gave the dance a try, honk, honk                                                                                              He was dancing to the samba                                                                                                                                The new thing.

This little penny is a dancing penny                                                                                                                      See how it glitters and it glows                                                                                                                            Bright as a whistle, light as a thistle                                                                                                                 Quick, quick as a wink up on it’s twinkling toes

Then a lovely swan swam by, in all her majesty, and she loosened up.                                                 Hoochy-coochy-coo did that swan.                                                                                                                       She joined the duck and goose and did the samba too.                                                                                    You should have seen the kind of samba she could do.

This little penny is to laugh on                                                                                                                               To see that tears never fall

They did the samba so long, they all fell right in the water.                                                                           While they were singing away,                                                                                                                           quack quack quack, quack quack quack

This little penny is the last little penny                                                                                                            Most important of all, for this penny is to love on                                                                                           And where love is, heaven is there                                                                                                                          So with just five pennies, if they’re these five pennies                                                                                     You’ll be a millionaire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq27GXKM-yg (Danny Kaye- “5 Little Pennies”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-AS7dpGuH8 (Karrin Allyson- “O Pato”)