Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wasn't It Just Yesterday?

My eldest daughter, Lisa, lives in Washington. We try to get together at least twice a year either here or there or somewhere exotic. I count the days until she arrives and attempt to get every drop of fun and memories out of each visit. We both love to take early morning walks along the paths that we have taken since she was born. This time, we will revisit those childhood memories once again.

Welcome home.... Lisa

Gretchen, Lisa and three girls!  So happy to reconnect.

 Nonna will be 97 soon and she still drives over to see her first born grandchild.

Lisa arrived just in time to celebrate Chanel's 18th.

And to frost  cupcakes with Piper.

All five of my children joined me at  Don Jose's, a restaurant that we used to go to when they were small. Food not so good, memories, priceless.

This bronze nymph graces the front of our friends home. Her beauty and grace are a  compliment to the sea  and sky around her. One of our favorite things.

 It' s cold and blustery walk this time of year,  but we both agree, we wouldn't have it any other way. The air fills our lungs with clean, fresh ,cold , invigorating air.  

Lisa has always loved mermaids. When she was very little, we took her on a boat trip and she looked and looked for the mermaids. She was sure that she saw one in the ocean. This weather vane is one of her favorite landmarks right above the sandy beach that she played on as a child. It's the same sandy beach I  also played on as a different then.
Lisa's  visit wouldn't be complete without a trip to Newport Dunes to visit the whale.
 In the summer, the whale floats in the bay . It's just far enough off shore  to swim to and dive from. It's been there since I can remember. During their childhood, I packed  all 5 kids in the station wagon once or twice  a week and  off we went to the Dunes or Balboa to swim and swing and have a picnic .

You're never too old to swing!

Our time together is coming rapidly to a close. It has  been a wonderful 10 days, packed with activities and visits with loved ones. I have loved the early morning walks,coffee in the morning by the fire, the days spent visiting childhood places , the laughter as we all gathered together to celebrate birthdays, make cupcakes, build Lego's with the little ones, support my grandson as he auditions for a new School, dinners with all of my kids together, watching movies  and laughing our heads off, remembering old times and friends not seen often enough.   Our last evening together will be spent making plans for our next visit. It's the only way either one of us can bear the departure tomorrow. Wasn't it just yesterday that her plane landed and we had 10 days together stretched out before us?

Wasn't it just yesterday, that we took this bike ride?

Enjoy every precious moment of your life!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday, Chanel, the best is yet to come!

 It was a cold rainy night on the 21st of February, eighteen years ago,when our lives changed forever. Our first grandchild, Chanel, was born.
How do you fall in love, instantly?  This beautiful, little miracle was placed in my arms, swaddled in pink. I felt that overwhelming feeling of being deeply in love.It was astonishing and it took me by surprise. I remember feeling that way with the birth of each of my five children. I didn't expect it to happen again. But here I was, holding a precious life in my arms and never wanting to let go.

Holidays, birthdays, trips, parties, memories, all flood my consciousness today. So many times spent enjoying her, watching her grow, delighting in all her accomplishments. Her first words, her first steps, her first giggle, her first bike ride, her first movie, her first love, her first car, all the firsts, too numerous to list.  Everything about her filled us with such love and joy.

It has never changed over these past 18 years. there has been so much happiness. The joy of her every discovery. Holding her close when the world was not as kind. I would never change one moment spent loving her or worrying about her or the tears shed in joy or in sadness for her. Chanel is unique. She's beautiful, bright, outspoken, fiercely loyal, talented, smart, dedicated to knowledge, worldly at one moment and child-like the next. Her laughter is infectious, her tears overwhelming.

She has taught me so much. I have learned to look so much deeper into each individuals soul, to really  listen to what they say and what matters to them. She inspires me to be the best I can be. Now she is on the threshold of adulthood. Larger "firsts"  await her now. Her graduation from High School in the Spring, her admission into college soon.,life beyond the protective borders of home.



I have to let go once again, to trust that what we have taught her all these years will keep her safe, to trust that she will make her way with confidence and grace. She is a young woman now and ready to take the steps toward her future path. She goes equipped with an iron cloak of love and support from her family. She goes with the fortitude built from all the years of memories we have shared together.

Happy Birthday, Chanel

You are the Queen of our hearts!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Life here in Southern California is set at a very hectic pace. Even though I make a concerted effort at surrounding myself with as much serenity as I can, I find myself drawn into the pace and eventually become exhausted by it. It's what I've always known.

It's a beautiful place which I have come to take for granted. On my daily walk, I decided to really focus on the small beauties that surround me and photograph them outside of my Mindseye.

It was a wet, foggy morning, and I had to walk carefully down the sidewalk to avoid slipping. I felt the wet air  against my hair and cheeks and took in deep ,moist breathes as I meandered down the street.

Soon a group of cyclists, panting from their ascent up the steep hill, passed me . They were all breathing hard, which made me feel like I wasn't the only one that struggled up that hill. Many times, in the past, Vance and I had climbed the hill on our tandem after a long 60 mile bike ride down to the pier. I was younger and more energetic in those days, but I still remember the exhilaration of the ride. Now I was enjoying it once again through the experience of these young riders.

Still walking carefully down the path, I  glanced briefly to the right to observe the sun break though the fog and highlight a magnificent, perfectly formed spider web. I was so enthralled with this web that I didn't even give thought to the spider that wove it. It must have been some spider, maybe one of  Charlotte's descendants moved to the Coast. I couldn't take my eyes off of it as it glistened in the sun. 

Walking gingerly though the mist, I soon was greeted by several dog walkers and their little and  large charges. The dogs and owners greeted me with glee and galloped off to the park to play together. 

I noticed all kinds of things along the way, small signs of how life proceeds around me. The sun made its final break through the clouds to warm us for the rest of the day.  Early morning walkers, cyclists, coffee drinkers and neighbors gathered at Starbucks ,as they so most days ,to warm their bodies and join in the social circles.

I grabbed a hot macchiato breve and started the walk back, retracing my steps. New cyclists and dog walkers greeted me on journey home. The spider web was still intact and my heart filled with a new sense of gratitude for the little things around me that make life so good.

Beyond the gates of my neighborhood, it was quiet and peaceful. The trees embraced me with a canopy of green and red. Some of the Autumn leaves still stubbornly cling to the branches , not wanting to let go of Fall, even though it's winter.

 The dichotomy of Southern California weather is always interesting. The Fall leaves still cling to the Maple trees at the entrance to our home; while the pear trees by my front door are preparing for Spring, their white snowy blossoms beginning to appear. Soon  the blossoms will powder the ground ,making it California's answer to snow. 

A few Azaleas, Camellias, Hydrangeas and Fuchsias are blooming in the patio. A sure sign that spring will fill my garden with bright blossoms very soon.

This sojourn has restored my spirit and now I am ready to return to the painting that has been haunting me for the past few weeks . I will start to work, refreshed and inspired by the small beauties that surround me.