Thoughts on a dream of a lifetime…

god-quoteQuote from a Twelve Step daily reader:

When I say to myself that I am going to turn all my problems over to God, this does not give me leave to shirk my responsibilities. I have been given certain tools with which to run my life, and the free will to use them. They include judgment, intelligence, good will and the power to reason. Perhaps much of my trouble stems from having misused these tools. Judgment may have been warped by resentment, my intelligence by failure to face issues honestly. Good will can be lost when we are unable to be tolerant of the faults of others. The power to reason can be dulled when we fail to detach ourselves from the emotional content of a problem.

When I am desperate enough to ask for help, I will not expect it to come in the form of easy solutions. I must play a part in solving my problems, but my HP will provide the guidance and strength to take the right action.

My thoughts on this passage, November, 2016:

I need to use the tools I’ve been given. Too often my judgment has been warped by resentment when I’ve envied others and by neediness when I’ve want MORE than has been my portion. My intelligence has been underused when I failed to face issues honestly and try to substitute fantasy for reality. My good will has been lost when I refused to tolerate the faults of others or forgive them as God has forgiven me. My power to reason disappeared every time I let my emotions override my good sense. And I certainly have expected easy solutions.

Getting past a lifetime “dream” does not come easily. The “dream” lingers but like thousands of diehard  Cubs fans who lived out their lives without achieving their dream of a World Series win, I may live out my life without my dream of finding a life partner coming true. But that doesn’t mean those fans didn’t go to the games, cheer on their team, live the rest of their lives to the best of their ability, even though that one big dream didn’t come true. So I can keep playing the game, leave myself open to another season of loss, and cheer myself on for the efforts I do make. I can work on becoming a better player—healthier, stronger, more sociable. I can choose not to be resentful when other teams win, some of them over and over. And in the meantime, I can stop making the game of finding a life partner my focus. I can live my life fully with work and family, with faith and friends. And maybe I will look down from heaven one day, as those many departed Cubs fans did,  and see my grandchildren or great grandchildren finding life partners and win that relationship World Series that I never won. And perhaps they will think of me in that moment, and I will watch with a grateful heart and tears of joy as they raise a toast to me at their weddings and thank me for being a Grandma that helped them be the people they were created to be, willing and able to make good choices for life partners. And then I’ll hoist a beer and  join those Cubs fans in heaven in a round of Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Five: Chateau de la La Ferté Saint Aubin

aerial-viewThe history of Chateau de la Ferté Saint Aubin goes back to the 17th century. We found it a delightful place to visit not only because of the gorgeous restoration but because of all the marvelous things to see and do. My favorite was the exquisite doll museum with dioramas of antique dolls and children’s toys. img_2351 img_2350 img_2349 img_2348 img_2354 img_2353 img_2352

My daughter enjoyed the goats and chickens in the farm. img_2370

And we both loved the cooking demonstration of madeleines in the chateau kitchen using techniques of past centuries.  

On the way back to our car we discovered how they trim those enormous hedges that surround many of the entrances to the chateaux.

A delightful place to bring children–although my granddaughters were at their Centre Loisir that day.

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Four: Chenonceau

Of all the beautiful chateaux along the Loire, Chenonceau, built in 1513, is the one I have visited and loved the most. Which is why I can always go back again to walk that grand gallery over the Cher river, delight in the exquisite floral arrangements in each room, and read about the rivalry of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers and visit their competing gardens.Their iron, but very feminine, fists in their velvet gloves always preserved Chenonceau in times of conflict and war.

This year with my six-year-old granddaughter as my tour guide, I visited places in the 70 hectares that I had never seen before–the Maze, the extensive greenhouses and gardens where the flowers for those beautiful displays are grown and arranged (did I think they call 1-800-FLOWERS ??), the stables, the XVI century farm, and the historic display of the chateau’s use as a military hospital during World War I.


The castle chef's at work

The castle chef’s at work

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum


The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

One of many garden areas

One of many garden areas


Enjoying the tour

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Two: Chateau Sully-sur-Loire


This gallery contains 17 photos.

Now THIS is what a castle is supposed to be! Visit the Chateau’s website and be sure to play the Presentation Clip and you too can experience what we did, traipsing up and down endless spiral stone staircases (hanging on … Continue reading

Chateaux of the Loire – Day One: Chateau Villesavin


This gallery contains 18 photos.

This summer I spent three lovely weeks in Orléans with my daughter and granddaughters, ages four and six. During the week, the little girls, who are bilingual in French, attended a Centre Loisirs pour les enfants (see news photos here) … Continue reading

Looking forward to my journey to France

I will be joining my family in Orléans France two weeks from today. Here are some photos of the neighborhood of our Airbnb accommodations at the Place du General de Gaulle in the center of the city. 25526067 Pl de Gaulle - 5.2009 Pl de Gaulle - 9.2013And here is our lovely apartment with a very un-French American style kitchen, a delightful room for the granddaughters with a play area, and a couch for me should I still be sleeping sitting up for my broken shoulder. It’s got to hurt less in France! And all at an extremely reasonable price. Weekend trips to Paris, the Loire, and other destinations are very easy. And Drivy is our source for car rental (the European Airbnb for cars!). A nice elderly woman is renting us her car for the entire stay.


My sleeping accommodation if I’m still sleeping sitting up


Master BR


BR for Grandmas and Grandkids

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Memories of France 2009


This gallery contains 17 photos.

Getting in the mood–as if one had to work at getting excited to visit France! As I prepare for my lucky 13th trip to France this summer and a 3 week stay in Orleans with my daughter and granddaughters, I’ve … Continue reading

Cry for Paris

Parisshock flashes through a clear Berkeley sky
bolts of heart-splitting lightning
claps of solemn thunder
clouds shedding
red, blue, and white tears

my grandkids chatter away in French
on way to their French school
unaware of French brothers and sisters
who will not see their parents tonight
or any night
my Kia Soul reverberates in sync with
ambulances speeding down the
a planned six weeks in France next summer
becomes a question mark

should we let terror steal
joy from our lives or should we
stand in solidarity and
let our fallen towers give courage to the
cafes, stadiums, and music halls of Paris

Half a crazy morning in Bezerkely

dream fluffAfter a ten-minute search for the preschoolers misplaced lunch box and cahier de vie (at Ecole Bilingue each child has a photo-and-words book that they take back and forth between school and home to share what goes on in each place), we take off on the twenty minute ride with the three and five-year-old granddaughters babbling in French in the back seat of my Kia Soul. Delivered safely and even on time, I take off for my next task–calling AAA to tow the family van which had had three of its tires slashed the day prior in broad daylight. But AAA won five stars for being there in 15 minutes with a flat bed, with the driver being appropriately crestfallen and efficient. At Big O, my son-in-law takes over by phone and handles the new tire transaction. I’m a bit shaken so decide to try the donut cure at Dream Fluff, the famous donut shop at Ashby and College.

elmwood lineOn the two-block walk from my parking space to secure my drug of choice, I fend off fears that the tire slasher has moved on up from San Pablo Avenue to this neighborhood. Fighting to stay in the present, I start paying attention to my surroundings and am treated to Berkeley at it’s Berkerkly best. I pass the line streaming out the door at the Elmwood Cafe but not until I’ve walked past an elderly homeless man, his used-to-be-fluffy winter jacket pulled up to his ears. Six bags of recyclables and meager possessions are arranged neatly on each side of his scruffy boots. He waits patiently for whatever “next” lies behind his vacant stare.

la mediterraneeAt the entrance to the Cafe, two Berkeley officers in precision-pressed blues, one with Tony Curtis curls threatening to fall sexily onto his forehead, are being regaled by a tall and equally handsome but completely unpressed and dreadlocked gentleman whose description of the latest neighborhood drama spills out of his mouth at meth-speed, forgive the redundancy. Their patience matches his insistence and, in true Berkeley fashion, there is no hint of acrimony or threat of arrest. A few steps further down, outside my favorite restaurant La Mediterannee, a fashionista fourteenth-month-old points out two tiny scraps of trash to her politically-correct father who nods in all seriousness and confirms that leaving such flotsam on the sidewalk is indeed a mortal sin. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the freshly filled water dish and plastic tub of doggie treats outside the corner all-natural fiber clothing store.

Donut deal done, I start eating out of the proverbial paper bag on the way back to my car. As I drive away, the homeless man has packed up his belongings and is on his way to “next”. The police pair are inside the cafe, drinking coffee that they’ve paid for. And my morning ordeal disappears in the familiar politics of a world I haven’t visited since my crazed sophomore year at Cal back in 1963.

Perils of Pauline…

So, being 71 and not up for long car rides, I made a flight reservation at the last minute to fly from Oakland to San Diego for our family vacation. I envisioned a relaxing trip, arriving long before the rest (two parents, two little girls, and one au pair) would arrive in the mini-van after an 8 1/2 hour drive.

IMG_0504Sunday started as expected. Helping pack up the mini-van and getting ready to attend the 5-year old granddaughters annual ballet recital. I’m escorting her out to my car and manage to trip off the edge of the driveway and fall into the open mini-van, whacking my head on something very hard. But off we go. And the recital is spectacular with her group portraying the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.

Then I hurry back to my apartment to pass the family cat on to the other grandmother for the week. Shadow doesn’t take well to being shoved into his carrier and takes a hunk out of my hand. Scrambling through the medicine cabinet, I find a bandaid and the neosporin.

A friend drives me to Oakland airport and as I approach the baggage check, I realize my driver’s license is back on my scanner at home…having been scanned for an application the day before.  Yes, you can fly without ID. The baggage check was simple, but then I went through 15 minutes of a VERY personal body pat down. I didn’t even request a private room. I just wanted to make that flight. The woman announced each time that she was about to touch a “private area”, using the back of her hands for those spots.

So I make it just in time to board along with the rest of the “B” passengers…I’m always a “B” no matter how promptly I retrieve my boarding pass the day before. I settle into my aisle seat and prepare to relax for the hour and 20 minute flight to San Diego.

Thirty minutes into the flight, the plane tilts violently 45 degrees to the left and goes into free fall for several seconds. We all thought for sure it was the end! But the pilot levels it out and calmly announces that we were caught in another plane’s wake, one passing us at a right angle. The woman next to be actually saw this plane zoom across our path…an obvious near miss.

french gourmetHaving arrived alive though shaken, I’m picked up by my best friend from childhood. NOW…I’m safe. She takes me to the VRBO in Pacific Beach and I’m ready to collapse. Not yet! The door code doesn’t work and someone else is occupying “our” garage. The manager doesn’t answer nor does the handyman. But my friend takes me to The French Gourmet for dinner. A pris fixe dinner of 3 pates, duck confit, and a chocolate ganache eclair along with a glass of sauvingnon blanc calms my nerves. By now the handyman has called back and given me the correct door code and garage.

I’m barely settled in when the rest of the family arrives, having made record time and a much more relaxed day. Moral of the story…the skyways are not always the best alternative to the freeways.