September 22, 2005

autumn paint

In the past 2 weeks, autumn has begun painting our trees. Each tree wraps itself uniquely as if they can't bear wearing the same thing. It's been eye candy for the soul.

There's a new coat of brazilian red on Pistache -- even on her branches.
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A warm blur of green is being replaced with daring splashes of red on Murray
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Ace is now spiced with tangerine
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Strings of green on Meghan seem to wiggle with delight with their new crimson glow
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Coral's lime green is taken over by yellows and deep pinks while the branches go deep coral
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Floating Clouds dipped herself into corals and oranges
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Beowulf opted for a solid coat of red
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Blackie grabbed on to the colors as they danced down
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Eleven put back on her deep pink overcoat she had hidden since spring
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Smoky opted for a brighter version of his deep burgandy

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And Nagano arched her new apricot branches higher than everyone else in the sky
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September 17, 2005

just for the record

just for the record, 
i am staunchly, unwaveringly for
the separation of church and state

that means i don't want some other flavor
of christianity, islam, judaism or buddhism
running and ruining my government

i expect the prevailing majority
to rule my government
not to try to make the minority
speak, pray or believe as they do

i don't want to endure the changing
pedestal of the bible, koran, torah and the veddah
on display in front of my courthouses

i rather prefer plurality in all things American

God, Allah, Abraham or Buddah
aren't required to keep our citizens safe
our borders secure
and our economy functioning

somehow far-right leaning zealots
have forgotten how their ancestors got here
in the first place
fleeing religious persecution ...
longing for a place where they could
live in freedom of expression and peace

And since God, Allah, Abraham and Buddah
or the local pastor, imam, rabbi or lama
has no special insights into my infrastructure,
tax code, economic policies or environmental concerns
leave them out of my government

it is an extremely slippery slope
the extremists on the left or right are pushing for

i hope we don't wake one day to our
own version of the taliban making decisions
moral, ethical, judicial and legislative
in our own backyard

September 15, 2005

judge roberts can you tell us

I've been watching with fascination the senate confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts in consideration of appointment as Supreme Court Chief Justice. The heart of the matter can be boiled down to one simple question no one dare asks:

Judge Roberts, can you reassure me that you won't disappoint me?

It's the same question we wish to ask of our betrothed, our surgeons, our heros and our associates -- yet it is a question that will always lie unanswered until the retrospective of time.

We can't ask because they can't answer. We want our future partners to agree with us on all things but they never do. We want our surgeons to make all the right decisions but they never can. We want our teachers to present it all but they never can. We all bring bias and baggage. We seek to be fair but fair is in the eye of the beholder.

My husband wants pure predictability with me. He would like to know that when he does or says something, he can count on my same predictable response. It doesn't work that way.

Nothing human is predictable or reliable. We make promises to each other that are broken every day. While we want Judge Roberts to reassure us he will vote our own conscience, someone else wants him to vote theirs -- and there in lies the rub.

There are no predictive guarantees. No views are universally held. Reasonable minds will disagree. No human can reassure us that they will not disappoint. No matter how much we wish it, those in positions of power can never reliably deliver the consistent comfortable existence we desire.

There will be potholes. There will be taxes spent on matters that don't directly benefit us. There will be wars. There will be injustice. There will be legal rulings we disagree with.

Through it all, we will live this life, our life, without warrany. We know not when we will be born and we know even less the exact time when we will die. And no one can ever reassure us they will not disappoint.

September 14, 2005

lay down the stones

all you self-righteous observers of those stranded in Katrina
lay down your "I would have done better than you" stones

stop condemning those who remained as if the only reason was lust for their possessions
and stop preaching about God laying wrath on the wicked

God isn't responsible for their misery -- nature and callous human oversight are the culprit

in the U.S. we ALL live in the path of destruction
of tornados, floods, fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes
and terrors entirely man-made

when the rescuers wouldn't rescue your pets, would you leave them?
if you had no car, how would you leave?
if your path across the bridge was blocked by idiot police/sheriffs, where would you go?
if you were in a nursing home, how you would leave?
if you were in intensive care in a hospital, how would you leave?
if you are waiting for your goverment check and had no
money to afford transportation or lodging, how would you leave?
if you trusted the levees not to break, would you leave?

give money
and be grateful for all that you have
which is starkly different than what they have just lost

remember the first word in our country is "United"
and take that stone and find a nice lake to skip it on

September 13, 2005

dude where's my country?

That's what the bumper sticker
on the car in front of me read
i grimaced and hmmmd in agreement

idealists from birth, we wish for too much
as has had every human before us
we complain that our leaders
and heros and baseball stars
don't quite measure up
never do, never will

disappointed we continue to
believe the empty promises
dream that we'll conquer and win
and hope these mortals
perform better tomorrow

they never do
and we never learn

human foibles and lust for power
mix with terror and tragedies
and steriods and things that end in "gate"
creating a poison for which
there is no remedy, no cure

we think we know we live
among humans who treasure peace
and freedom and life
only to wake again one rainy morning
to find that the one thing
we can always count on
is that our foibles and failures
will always float to the surface
regardless the height of the flood.

September 08, 2005

cry of new orleans

You are not refugees
we are reminded
as our families are scattered
and we seek refuge
in places foreign to us
across shelters and cities and states...
How then should we feel?

You are doing a great job Brownie
the president commends the hapless leader
who bungles and neglects
and does not even know we are here
screaming for help in the convention center
in attics and houses thought abandoned...
How then should we feel?

We are going to rescue you
we are promised by a vacationing president
as we wait on bridges and balconies
parched and terrified for days
without shelter, decency or comfort...
How then should we feel?

You are Americans
reporters clamor to articulate
with cardboard for our shoes
wading in the filth of homes
destroyed by arrogant governmental neglect
left with nothing but each other and pets
you do not wish to evacuate...
How then should we feel?

Things are working out very well for you
we are told by the bourgeois elite
you were underprivileged anyway
so how could losing everything
you ever owned and worked for matter
along with untold friends and family...


Should we survive thru hell,

How then should we feel?

September 07, 2005

children of katrina

children of katrina
orphaned by the storm
cry into the emptiness
trapped in the attics
and rubble of their lives

roofs, walls, and putrid water
condemning them to
a life sentence
damned by poorness
or pride or possessions

rescuers seeking out the humans
leaving animals scared and hungry
wondering why strangers
pass them by and by and by
so much poison water
one wonders if these
tiny lives drink the venom
parched from the thirst
heroically, noah’s wish finds
the few, the lucky, the brave

scathing heat broiling
in an angry spill
tormenting the orphans
who cannot take it back
cannot change their minds

i pray that the lost are found
the parched be quenched
and the doomed be saved
and for the gentle arms of peace
to hold them safe
to whisper they are loved

until the end is in sight

subtle changes

not yet in plain sight
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tucked in between the green
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subtle not brassy
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always breathtaking
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autumn is beginning its dance
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celebrating the end of summer
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and a glorious year of life


September 06, 2005

what i forgot to tell you

note to my husband at 10am this morning
------------------------------------------------------------
i love you
your ring is on the counter ...
go ahead and have a fun carpooler day
ramses had a dashing nomes race
across the back deck and around the house
then he helped me sort (sorta) clothes ...
lots of dusty, dirty, smelling options
to get laundered today ...
it was fun ordering trim head screws
we made great progress on the table
just in a different order than planned
(life sets its own sequence & pace)

everything is cut, sanded and urethaned
when the screws get here,
some assembly is required ...
i started reading one of the norm books
on the throne this morning
and could barely put it back down
i think i've found my next book to read!
thank you for putting out the garbage
and putting my car in the driveway ...
i could tell you trimmed your beard
with those tiny little remnants in the sink ...
it was kinda neat, feeling like i knew
something about your morning
even though i callously snoozed thru it
i love you ...
when we sit on our benches
and spread out newspaper & coffee
on the table
just remember we have at least
30 years, 3 months, 1 week and 2 days to enjoy it
instead of the
30 years, 3 months, 1 week and and 5 days
we had originally counted on :)
lacy has a few yellow leaves
and meghan has a few red ones ...
perspectively yours, sun fleur

distance

it's potently amazing
what the combo pack of
depression
back pain
and lots of client work
can do for my blogging
sorry about the gap
since May
and thank you
blog readers
who let me know
they missed my
notes

May 29, 2005

4th place winner

Once a year I am a huge racing fan.

Ever since I was a child, this day belonged to racing. On a warm Sunday, in the heart of Indiana, I await the call to 'Start your engines'. It's easy to pick up this sport once a year - like a soap opera - the plot lines continue. Except each year, old drivers have become owners. The Andretti families feud the Rahal families. The names don't change but the winners do. Today, the Indianapolis 500 did not disappoint.

Today as the 23yr old flashed by, men in the stands stood and cheered. And she wasn't flashing her tits.

As THIS 23yr old flashed by, she showed the broadside of a finely tuned car doing over 200 mph - leading the race. For the first time in history, a woman led a lap. Not just one, but two, and three and a dozen. Everyone in the stands around the entire stadium stood and cheered.

There she was passing cars on her way back from 16th place after her car died in pit row. There she was recovering from a spinout and heading down into the pits for repairs. There she was stupendously handling another driver sliding down into her when she was lapping him.

There she was, leading lap after lap. It wasn't just the men in the stadium. It was an entire TV universe of auto racing fans standing and cheering. When she passed Wheldon at the restart on lap 190, I was in tears. There she was, leading the race with less than 10 laps to go. I will never forget this moment - where I was and how it unfolded.


As Wheldon sought to pass her at 100% of fuel speed, she had to conserve hers. Her fuel might not last her until the checkered flag. So she couldn't take on the battle but had to continue to stay with the fuel conservation and draft her way into 4th, hoping for a yellow caution. Her spotter told her to keep looking forward. Her team co-owner, David Letterman, refused to talk to any TV person - dumbfounded that one of this team was in 2nd and the other was in 4th. Her mother stood frozen hoping for safety even more than hoping for her win. Mothers are the same everywhere.

The first woman to start in 4th from the pole position - finished in 4th. Despite the crashes and pit stop mishaps, this rookie finished in 4th. In reality, she won.

Fittingly, as the winner ran out of gas after the warm down lap and was being pushed toward the winners' circle, Danika stepped out of her car. Every camera and TV crew within a half a state, descended on her. She stepped out, into the warm embrace of Rahal - the man who chose her, trusted her and knew his faith would be born out.

The 5' 2" dynamo started answering the TV interviewers' questions. She is unaware she is woman as she takes off the elastic band holding her black mane of hair. Her fingers run through it over and over again and a generation of men swooned to their knees at her arrival. She's smart and polite - but not in that over-scripted 'name all my sponsors' kind of way. She acknowledges how smart the team was. She talks about being a rookie and making rookie mistakes but wasn't it amazing that with just 6 laps to go, low fuel aside, she had an opportunity to win?! In studio interviews later, she easily references driving personalities and incidents from other races. She loves what she does, she's immersed in it - and it shows.

When asked if she felt her race vindicated whether or not, as a rookie, she deserved to be there, she talked about her ability to come back from several cars back, to go pole to pole with a chance to win at the end. It was never about being a female - she talked about being a rookie with the backing of an incredibly smart, smart team. She was a driver bouncing off endorphins of having finished in the top 5 in arguably the most notorious race of the year. Not a female driver - a rookie driver. A damn fine rookie driver who just put a lot of other drivers on notice that she is seriously for real.

The AP headline: Wheldon Holds Off Patrick, Wins Indy 500. Anyone know who finished third? Me either.

May 19, 2005

9:50am, all is well

Spot says, "hey"
She's perched across the room on her queen pillow
You see, earlier
we let the other silly 3 amigos outside
because the forecast did NOT include rain
She and I, however,
took one look at the wet ground
water droplet laden branches
lack of sunny warmth
and decided to resume our posts
me at the desk writing a corporate brochure
and she observing.

Well, sorta.
She's doing great.
I'm happily unbothered
by pesky paws and meowing ...
9:50am, all is well.

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May 04, 2005

the rain

cats do not
understand
the rain
plaintive meowing
while their human
will not open
the magic door
unaware of
how the human
fears muddy paws
tracking remnants
of the prancing outside
inside
cats do not
understand
the garage door
only leads them
into the garage
hmm tricky
peace and quiet.

May 02, 2005

good girl

Was going to be a good girl
A fruit smoothie for lunch.
Refrigerator open.
Augh.
No orange juice.
There is a lonely bottle of root beer.
Yep.
Vanilla ice cream in freezer.
Hmmn.
How bad could a root beer float be?
Ahh.
Not bad indeed.

March 31, 2005

thelma and louise

There's this dark, bittersweet chocolate moment at the end of Thelma and Louise when they clasp hands with unspoken commitment to unfettered freedom and set sail in that '66 Thunderbird into the wild blue beyond the cliff. The scene is frozen and the movie viewer is left to their tears and sniffles to celebrate their bravery and never sees what happens next.

I know what happens next. You see, last Saturday I sailed off the cliff with Louise and we landed.

I named my 1998 Boxster after Louise. She wasn't plucked off a Porsche lot but carefully considered and ordered. It took a while to deliver. We used to joke, "It was a nine-month pregnancy but a smooooth delivery!" I thought she embodied that wild side of Louise - and top down; she was a beauty just like Sarandon. Together, Louise and I spent 7 happy, content years cruising the highways and byways of Texas, Arizona and California.

Never were we happier than when the top was gently folded down and the wind whizzed by while my free hand planed up and down over the friction, like a 6-year old surfing the breeze. I never lusted after another car. In fact, my license plate holder said, "My other car is...Umm I forget!".

We traveled 92,000 miles together before we sailed off the cliff in the rain. Not without some drama.

Just past where the highway marker says "Now entering Sonoma County". The place where I've always told my husband that the hills suddenly turn beautiful and the oak trees grow more magnificent. Where the hills undulate like waves in an ocean of green that in, just two short months will turn to Sonoma gold.

This Saturday, it was raining and as we dipped slightly through a dell, we began to hydroplane. Smooth as glass but like that teacup ride at the traveling circus, we spun in a 360. Scenery whirled recklessly around us and we veered helplessly off the road. With the grunt and groan of an immovable object attempting to stop a 65mph-moving vehicle, the left front of Louise hit an old redwood stump. Had it been a tree, Louise and our bodies would have been neatly wrapped around it. But as a stump, it merely served as a ramp to flip us upside down to fly down a hill and land upside down 25-30 ft below.

I'm a screamer. Somewhere the lively conversation with my husband froze. The coffee mug that I was holding disappeared from my hands as they waved back and forth in front of my face, trying to erase the unfathomable sight. No one should see the countryside in a hydroplane 360 or long grass wiping against the windshield.

It happened in slow motion. The quiet of the hydroplane. The thud of the redwood trunk. The soft whisper of flying through the air. The incomprehensible crash upside down. I saw it all. But more than that, I felt it all. Like a mother holding a baby to her breast, I felt Louise's seatbelt arms hold me tightly and safely to the contoured seat. Her rollbar held us off the ground and our heads never hit a thing. When we came to a stop, she refused to stop. The engine kept running, the lights kept shining and the CD, unbelievably, kept playing. She refused to quit. Even with a broken axle, she looked regal - a merlot colored queen.

As her battered and bruised body was turned back upright, I was shocked at her structural integrity. She was a shield and she had crumpled in all the right places, held firm and strong and carried us through. She was brave where I screamed and she gently released me from harm. Just cracked ribs and a puffy knee.

I can't ask anyone to understand how much I loved that car. Then again, we're the family that has 4 cats and gives every one of our Japanese maples a name.

I cringed to think of how much we would receive from the insurance company for Louise. I browsed through all the online used car websites seeing if I could get excited about some sedan or a cheaper kind of convertible. I just wanted Louise back. And I couldn't have her.

I thought I would get better in a couple of days. But there is an emotional as well as a physical trauma. Terror, grieving and sadness mixed with way too much adrenalin. At first the tears wouldn't come because of the shock. When the shock wore off, the pain set in. Then the tears. Mercifully modern medicine has invented Vicadin as a pillow to hug onto until one's nerves and bruises begin to heal.

I'm not as strong as I thought I was. My husband was a rock. I took pictures of the accident and then crumbled into a puddle of shaking and shock. He let me out of my seatbelt when I was dangling upside down. He got a coat and put it around me, opened an umbrella and held it over me. He recovered our laptop computer, camera, mobile phones, sunglasses. Oh yeah, he didn't forget those two pretty pair of chopsticks we kept in the passenger door for those spontaneous pops into a sushi place. He was calm, I was amazed. Funny what you learn about your partner in these moments. I really admire mine.

Through the week we waited, kind of in dread, for Allstate to call us with the amount they would give us for the totalled car. I anticipated the worst. It'll be 2,000 lower than Blue Book, I surmised. It wasn't. In fact, they took the higher cost of Porsches in the Bay Area into consideration. They added sales tax and registration. My heart flipped. I looked again at the used car websites. Omigawd, I can get another Boxster. There's 4 or 5 for sale in our price range.

I test drove one today that I think I'll buy. Like Louise, it's been babied. But it had to be a different color -there is only ONE Louise. This one is a deep iridescent blue that hints of regal purple in the sun. Perhaps its time to celebrate the Thelma side of me. The one that can easily cry. The one that feels peaceful about death. The one that values life just a little bit more. The one that sees even more of a hero in her husband.

I'm going to call this Boxster Thelma. Another good 7 years is about to start. Like Chris Smither sings it, maybe I'll be Happier Blue...

March 18, 2005

Keeper

Last winter, everyone told me to get rid of “Red”. Red was my beloved Valencia orange tree. As we visited him in his temporary home, we found him totally infested with black spot. The gardener even said I could never get rid of the stuff. I gently washed all Red’s leaves and stems. I sprayed. I cut back some of the worst sections. A year later, Red is disease free, twice the size of last year and loaded with huge, sweet oranges. Red has blossomed under my care. He is a keeper. So why do I tell you this. Let me explain.

Josh captured my attention a year ago. As we were moving into our 2nd floor apartment, he launched himself off of a nearby railing and attempted to jump into my kitchen window. Unfortunately, the window screen barred his entrance and he deftly jumped 4 ft back onto the railing. His daring and brilliant orange cat eyes captivated me. He continued to sit on the railing and watch me at work from outside.

Through the summer, he would greet me as I arrived home – matching my strides upstairs tiny paw stride-for-stride. His home was with the woman in the downstairs apartment. I couldn’t blame him for spending almost his entire time outdoors as the man she lived with was a chainsmoker and his fur always reeked of smoke.

Josh captured my interest as the autumn rains began. The woman who cared for him was growing fatally ill. Food and shelter became sporadic for Josh and his companion, Spot. It was then that we bought the large plastic storage buckets; laid them on their sides, put towels inside and umbrella overhead to keep them sheltered. I put them on the deck outside my window so I could peek in on them and make sure they were okay. I used to just feed them treats but I could tell they weren’t getting fed very often, so I began feeding them regularly. Josh purrs so loudly and would rub up against my legs each time I ventured out to check on them. Then the woman died and Josh & Spot were never let inside their home again – you could tell as their fur no longer smelled at all of smoke.

Josh captured my affection as the winter cold enveloped. Instead of sleeping in his own little tub, he would switch over to Spot’s tub and they would sleep next to each other during the freezing nights. When I opened the door to place cat food on the stoop, he began to dart inside my apartment and snatch a cat toy and take it outside to play with. His antics were hilarious and I was hooked on his unbridled joy for life.

As the New Year approached, I realized I could not leave these two. As we made plans to move into our new home, I knew I would take them both with me. They were depending on me.

Josh captured my heart the day I adopted him. Our other two cats were already at the new house and the apartment is almost completely emptied. I let him inside to play and closed the door while we waited for the time for me to put him in the cage for the appointment with the vet. I lay down on the floor and we played endless games. Then he unexpectedly curled up against my chest and purred his heart out. I became the chosen one. The same thing happened with Spot. Somehow they knew, somehow they trusted me.

Josh and I haven’t always agreed on his situation. I am committed to keeping him indoors which he is impatiently learning to deal with. I am intent on letting any of the other 3 cats play with the feather on the string so he’s slowly learning to shaaare. He wants me to be his primary play buddy during the day – lightly placing his pointy claws on my knees while I work at the computer during the day. I take a lot of breaks to play, but never enough for him. The entire apartment is his domain and I’m trying to curb that. I’m not too happy about him knocking over my ____ (fill in the blank here) a dozen times during the days as he races to the top of any furniture, windowsill and closet shelf.

I complain to friends and relatives about his youthful training challenges. He’s been the toughest handful I’ve ever taken on. And just like with Red, people have suggested I take him to the pound. But as those orange doe eyes fix on me as he begs to play, or his purr buzzes louder than the TV or he curls up on my lap to sleep, I never have a doubt. What parent ever returned a baby with colic? Josh had already been abandoned once – Spot was abandoned twice. What kind of humanity are we that we abandon those that depend and rely on us – so easily abdicating responsibillity just because we have the power to.


God has never abandoned me because my training has been a challenge or because I have disease or act up. I’ve placed my trust in Him. And He has captured me in His care and keeping. So have Red and Josh. Every day, I see Josh and Spot blossom under my care. They’ve grown content, to trust me, to be less wary. Every day I see Josh’s orange eyes sparkle, I see an unbridled spirit that just needs a little direction. He’s a keeper. Just like me. Just like Red and Spot.

March 03, 2005

News at 3pm

Headline from News of the Weird:
My mother-in-law is insane or diabolically needy.

Now for the rest of the news:
I'm still very, very, very cranky.

Planted tulips and other fake flowers out on the deck.
Put up a new hummingbird feeder on the back deck.

(And now to perky blonde bimbo weather reporter)

It's a 70 degree day with sunshine.

(Now back to the angry desk anchor)

Used rose fertilizer and fertilized all the roses.
Took a picture of every tree/plant to document them late winter before the spectacular pictures we'll get in Spring & Summer.
Went through the big tub in back to find the bonsai copper wire and other items.
Wired a few more trees.
Did some work on business items.
Loved on the cats.
Ate lasagne, carrots and last piece of cake.

(Insert commercial of stupid plastic containers on a wheel that store everything here)

Picked up 2 disintegrated cat balls.
Put two bags of crap in the garage away.
Still wearing mismatched yellow duck flannel pants and Zumanity shirt.
Realized I haven't brushed teeth yet.

(Insert commercial of new, improved, 20-shades of whitening toothpaste here)

News recap:
Just a puttering and pissy day.
Maybe I'll paint -- maybe I'll wash clothes -- maybe I'll wash dishes.
Maybe I won't and will just download photos of plants in and label them all.

(Insert promo of channel 2433 commercial here)

That's all for now.

More news at 7:42pm ... shall I TIVO it or will you be here for the news in person?

Signing off,
Senior SonomaHoma Reporter

February 12, 2005

louise

It wasn't your typical 7-year itch moment. That itchy moment when AADD (adult attention deficet disorder) sets in. I inherited AADD from my grandfather. A classy, proud farmer he washed his car every Friday before sundown. He never drove far and so at the end of every year, he'd walk back into the same dealership and trade the spiffy old sedan in for a spiffy new one. He loved cars. Mostly, he loved new, shiny cars.

I inherited his particular vehicular version of AADD. When a final car payment was made, my checkwriting fingers began to itch. Three years stuck with the same vehicle seemed like an achingly long time. Then one day I saw the first ad for the new Porsche Boxster. I was hooked. Couldn't wait til the end of my Infinity lease was up to get my very own Boxster. I walked in to Austin Porsche dealership and did one of those "to me, from me, with love and affection" transactions. That was 7 years ago this month.

A few weeks ago, I heard a weird pop from the my convertible window as it folded back out of sight for one of those sunny afternoon drives back from a client. And all of a sudden, it occurred to me: I wasn't driving a new car anymore. And she (yeah, well, I called her Louise after "Thelma and Louise") hasn't bored me. She's got a few dings and scrapes but everytime I slip behind the wheel and feel the engine purr, well, I'm thrilled to drive this car.

It's why my license plate says "GR8PHUN". Seven years later, I've found the cure for AADD -- enjoy what you love in life. Oh yes, neither Louise or I have aged a day and when the wind whistles by, and Louise flips up her little spoiler tail as we glide over 60mph, I swear we're both grinning from ear to ear.

February 10, 2005

adopted

I'm not sure if Spot adopted me or I adopted her. When we first moved into our apartment last April, she greeted me. It seems I was moving into her territory. She pressed her head up against my leg as I walked by -- begging for a little petting with an insistent meow. She was skinny with little hip bones that protruded out of her pure white coat.

I paid attention. I began setting out treats for her. Soon she would bounce along to greet me as I drove into the parking lot. She would bound up the stairs and wait for the daily tuna or chicken. She began to sound less insistent and purred more.

I learned she was abandoned by a family that moved and was being allowed inside and fed by the woman that moved into the same apartment. But then the woman moved out and the man who remained didn't let her back inside. How was she supposed to know that wasn't her home anymore? When the winter rains came, we set up a little umbrella over a little outside shelter for her and her companion cat, Josh.

She ate slow and deliberately -- as if each morsel was precious, as if each could be her last for a while. Gradually, a little plumpness softened across her hip bones.

As we began moving our belongings from the apartment to this house in January, she'd follow me up and down the stairs as if checking to make sure I wouldn't really leave without her. After we moved our own two cats over to the house, I let her inside the apartment to play with fur mice and bird feathers while I packed up small boxes. She reveled.

Finally, it was time to go. I arrived at the apartment and fed Spot her treats inside. I shut the door so that she couldn't wander off before we took our scary little trip to the vet. I laid down on the floor to take a break and she curled up on top of my stomach -- but not before licking my hand, for the first time. It was as if she knew she had finally found home.

When we drove together to the vet, she never peeped, meowed or howled. She put up with the exam and purred while I reassured her. She took her little shots and that squirt of Advantage flea killer that would stop all that yucky scratching.

Someone bothered to remind me that we didn't have to adopt Spot and Josh. That never occurred to me. My philosophy is to take care of those around me. I get a daily giggle at her streetsmart test of the waterbowl -- splashing her paw in it first to make sure it's water. It took her a couple of days to believe that the food bowl would always be filled -- no more empty tummy days. And when I see Spot sleeping in one of her favorite locations, I can't imagine how my stuffed bears Ophelia and Heronymous survived without her...

January 24, 2005

coming up for air

Here's why I've disappeared for a while: www.outsourcegroup.net. I just launched another website and I'm kind of proud of the little newborn. It's over 50 pages -- quite a large size newborn website! I wrote all the content (except for stuff in the Insights section). I really had a lot of fun with writing the script for the visual tours and then choosing and working with professional voice talent to do the voice-overs. Ray Dise, my trusty right-hand man from Dell days headed up the development efforts. Woo hoo...

Oh yeah, we've moved into a new house. We couldn't quite our day jobs so there have been lots of late nights and work-all-weekends in the past month.

First, Gregory & I built shelves in the garage to move all our stuff from storage ...

Gregory kept his good humor.

Then dad and I repainted (all the walls used to be pink!)

Here's the new "butter" and "buttercup" colors going up

Then I moved in my office & DSL and had the whole place to myself until we moved over the rest of the furniture last weekend.

Much much cardboard still to unpack. Does anyone have a cup of sanity I could borrow?

January 07, 2005

a daisy through the cracks

You know how you can be walking hurriedly down a sidewalk, head down, determinedly focused on getting to point B -- when as you step over a crack in the sidewalk, you notice the beauty of a small daisy growing through the cracks in the cement. It makes you stop, smile and appreciate the little wonders of life.

On an otherwise fast-paced week where I didn't stop til 1 or 2am, I was 60 hours in and looking for an old email. I kept scrolling down through the 300 or so in my inbox until I found it. But I found something else. Lodged next to that email, I found another one. I had never seen it when it arrived in my inbox nearly 2 weeks ago. I understand why. It came when I was miserably sick with the flu. In the fog of head congestion, it got lost in a blur.

Today, clear but tired eyes bounced through the words. They were penned by a client, a CEO,

"Many thanks to you for the fabulous Harry & David 'indulgences', which arrived by hand this morning. I feel very fortunate to be professionally associated with you, in large part because of the energy, passion and extreme competence that you inject into our relationship. I look forward to a long and continuous association with you. Hope that you and yours have a very happy and safe holiday!"

At the end of a long week that had me juggling several clients in 60 hours, I was weary. His note buoyed me tremendously. Perhaps I was meant to read it now--not when it was sent--in a moment like this. It was a reward unexpected and delightful. Like a daisy through the cracks ...

January 06, 2005

reality check

While we grapple with political and business nuance, over 150,000 people died and even more experienced life-changing horror and loss in the wake of the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka and so many other countries in the oceanic region. I've had CNN on in the background in my office keeping pace but it really hit home when I received an email from a friend.

I didn't write it but I just had to share it -- Stop for moment to realize the privilege we have of in a non life & death world ...

Date: December 29, 2004 11:47:06 AM GMT+08:00

I don't expect anyone to read this long email. So just read the beginning and know that we are OKAY! However, in the efforts to be healthy and therapeutic here is what happened in Thailand:

1. We're FINE. Patrick has a broken toe that he would like to milk for all its worth.
2. We both have rashes from the dirty water and they will someday go away or we'll NEVER be decent.
3. We're tired. We can't stop sleeping and watching movies. We hope to do this for another two weeks.

I am not ready to talk about the deaths, the people, and the things that the newspapers in Singapore think is okay to blast on the front page (they are really gruesome).

Anyway, on with our news: Patrick and I had a fabulous week in Thailand before the earthquake. Phuket is glorious: Sunny, fun, white sand, etc. The Thai people are the most generous, friendly, trusting, kind people we've ever met. Our three experiences in Thailand always leave us marveling at how so many people can be so warm.

The last day of the trip we woke up to a small earthquake. We sort of laughed at the sensation and decided it was our wake-up alarm and should go get some coffee. After relaxing at Starbucks we came back to the room and decided to catch one more hour of sun before catching our transfer to the airport.

In bikini and swim trunks we loaded the elevator with two other people. As the elevator went down to the first floor it shuddered to a stop midway, the lights went off, and then we heard noise.

It was ungodly screams, screeches, crashes, and roars. We had no idea what was going on. The elevator then dropped to the first floor and the lights came on to reveal that it was filling with water. The four of us looked at each other and realized we were going to die in this box. Miraculously, the doors flung open to reveal a waist high river of cars, trees, tables, lawn chairs, and people rushing at us through the lobby. We can't remember if we were pushed into it by the panicked folks behind us, or if we jumped in.

Regardless, Patrick shouted for me to swim to a child's jungle gym nearby. We swam (and marveled at the miracle that we made it perpendicular to the raging river), climbed atop it, and stared out at the devastation. Cars were piled up, waist high water ran everywhere, and we were terribly confused.

A couple of Thai guys floated by and we fished them out and pulled them up. In the best broken English we could manage they explained, BIG WAVE. We think we were up there about 10 minutes before we saw an Australian mother, whose clothes were ripped off her by the waves, clutching a baby and screaming for her lost five year old son. She was out of her mind with worry and after much persuasion, Patrick convinced her to climb aboard. As he pulled her and her baby up, I grabbed a Thai woman who was floating by. She was panicked and in her own confusion tried to pull me down into the water with her. I don't know how (well I do...thank you God!) but I grabbed her belt loop and flung her over the side. The four of us grabbed hold, looked out, and saw wave number two. It hit hard and came faster than I can describe, again full of cars, motorcycles, people, houses, and debris. We survived.

Patrick and I continued to pray--me screaming out my prayers at the sea and him calming the women with quiet prayers (I am sooooooo helpful in a crisis. :-)).The final wave was the biggest and the most terrifying. The walls of water they show in the movies are really not that big of an exaggeration except that they should be muddy and full of large objects. Anyway, the four of us were on the top of the platform of the jungle gym. I looked up and saw the wave, announced its arrival, and we clung on. In the amount of time it took for us to cling, the wave was already there and it was huge-much taller than our heads. At the exact moment it hit, a palm-tree frond roof from a tiki bar snapped up in front of us. As the wave hit, the water in front of our heads was deflected by the roof and we were not hit. It is miraculous. Water raged around us, but we remained on the shuddering structure. How trucks and houses could be made to fly by us and yet the little playground hung firm, I do not know. I am so grateful.

We realized it would not hold much longer and people on hotel balconies above us urged us to jump off and swim. Blue beach mats floated by and I leapt on. Patrick took the woman's baby (both women were truly out of their minds at this point). The other women and Patrick grabbed mats and we swam for the stairway (the folks on the balconies above shouted directions of where we should swim). The swimming was hard, as the water was rushing back to the ocean and we were against the current with debris piling around us. Patrick had to clear furniture off of him several times to protect the baby and get him to safety. We made it to the stairs, reunited the baby and mother with the dad (The other son was found alive and safe later! Yay!) and climbed up to our third floor room.

We were a sight. The guests came out of their rooms to stare open mouthed at muddy, leading us. We were obviously not the first to hit the hallway as the tiles were all red with other people's injuries. What ensued for the next 10 hours was a lot of panic. Every half hour someone would scream, Another wave! And then the whole hotel would scurry to higher ground. We were told that the next wave was taller than the hotel and we were going to die. I became quite famous for my refusal to leave the roof. Patrick may call me Top Johnson forever.

There never was another wave. That time we waited for the fictional wave was really hard. I'm ashamed at my fear. Patrick was in full-on survivor mode. He played with the little children and cheered them up, helped other people, and really kept his wits about him. I did not. Adding to everyone's fear was just the conditions of where we were (which was very plush compared to the poor Thai people's situations). Bathrooms became wherever someone was standing. I never realized those aspects of a crisis situation. It was just gross: Injuries and blood and waste.It was awful.

After nightfall we sat in the dark watching the looters and the ocean. Every siren brought more panic. Finally we got through to the airport and realized that we could make it out. I couldn't sit in that panic any longer. Patrick and I convinced a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the airport (astronomical amounts of Thai baht helped). What a THRILL to be in that tuk-tuk. Despite the fact that it was far more dangerous to be in that golf cart sized truck on the highway than in our hotel room, we were ecstatic to be out of the lowlands headed for a plane. We got the first tickets off the island. We had a 10-hour wait and watched CNN all night. Up to the last moment of boarding the plane people still cried, Wave! and panicked. The airport was a sight. People were injured, in nothing but underwear, grieving lost loved ones, and stumbling around muddy and shaken.

We are home, safe, clean, fed, and so grateful. We are also very very sad for the Thai, Indian, and Sri Lankan people. These are not people with bank accounts to rebuild futures. They live in shanties, make money day to day, and have lost shops, homes, and family members. They are so poor. There were no emergency systems in place and I am sick over what these next months (their tourist season, money-making months) will hold for them. A system of communication is non-existent. Some don't fully realize what happened or if it will happen again. They are also in countries with very divided governments and are easy prey for the varying rebel groups currently trying to gain power. We fear for their weakened futures.

So that's the story. I can't tell you enough what a hero Patrick was. He was calm at all times. Every moment he was patient with me, with the panicked people, and with the confusion. He was just a rock and saved many many lives including my own.This sounds grim, and it is, but it also was full of deeply touching and humorous moments. Each person in that has a story that is phenomenal. We met some of the neatest, neatest people. We traded shoes and supplies and found ways to laugh.

So now it's Wednesday here and we are NOT flying to Sri Lanka today as we originally planned before all of these events unfolded. I'm grateful for this time to sort out our heads a bit. God was just so merciful and miraculous. I can't quite make sense of all of it.Much love! I wish I could close this on some flippant note that doesn't make all of this sound so icky. As tourists we experienced a far less devastating scenario than the locals and yet atAll times they were so generous. We have learned a lot.

LOVE,Becky (Roof Top)


January 01, 2005

memento

It's my favorite Christmas photo. It's a timeless memento. Wrapped in colors and shimmering glow is the affection of an entire family. It's not an obligatory picture of a family gathering by a tree or a dinner table ready with turkey to be carved. It's a collection of cards after they've been given. Cards that were carefully pondered to make sure they were just the right one. They were read aloud to laughter and tears. Devotion from husband to wife -- love from daughter to father -- warm wishes from son-in-law to parents. It's the small family photo from a studio where three young children posed patiently. Tucked inside these cards are memories and hopes and wishes.

I took nearly a 100 photos this Christmas. This one will never fade with time.