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

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