Tag Archives: California

Thankful

26 Nov

There is nothing more blissful than a rainy Saturday afternoon. Even better, being able to get outdoors during a break in the rain and revel in the beauty of this wet day. Even though my heart is heavy about what’s happening in our country right now, I’m choosing to set my worries aside for one lovely, quiet afternoon and reflect upon all the gratitude I have for my wonderful life.

There is a lovely park near our home that used to be a private ranch but is now a county park open to the public. Numerous hiking paths meander around a small lake filled with all kinds of water fowl. Come along and take a walk with me. Perhaps you will even be able to smell the wet earth…

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I absolutely love the vibrant red of these berries!

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Before long, these grasses will be bright green.

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The dogs (and Rene) are so happy to get out of the house!

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A new tree popping up in front of trunk of a dead tree

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Almost felt like I was in the English countryside!

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Nothing better than the scent of wet Eucalyptus!

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Stow House at Rancho La Patera in Goleta, California

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And because it’s Thanksgiving week, I can’t resist sharing a photo of my wonderful family.

Drying Up

8 May

may 8 2015 1 may 8 2015 2 may 8 2015 5 may 8 2015 6 may 8 2015 7 may 8 2015 8 may 8 2015 9 may 8 2015 10 may 8 2015 11 may 8 2015 12 may 8 2015 13The garden has yet to realize we’re in a severe drought. We’ve completely stopped watering the lawn and it has since turned it into a crunchy plot of brown turf that makes me cringe every time I drive up to the house. I absolutely refuse to let my flowers die though, which means it’s bucket time around our house. We now have buckets in each shower to catch all the cold water that would normally go down the drain until the water temperature is hot enough.

For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why my back was hurting so much until I figured out it’s because I’m lugging buckets of water out to the yard every day.  Curse you, drought!

For those of you around the country who are experiencing hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hail the size of baseballs and massive flooding, I apologize for complaining about a little dead grass. I humbly request that you please send some of your surplus rain out to Santa Barbara!

The End of Complacency

25 May

gunThe only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  

 –Edmund Burke

I’m the first to admit that I’m complacent person. It’s not that I don’t feel things deeply—I do. It’s just that I’m a busy working mom with my own set of problems and it’s often difficult to muster up enough indignation to spur myself into action or even believe that any small act on my part will bring about any necessary change.

Over the past few years, I’ve cried my share while glued to the television screen, watching news reports of the mass killings that have taken place across our country. I’ve felt real pain and anger, and spurred on by the solidarity of social media, I vowed to do something to make a difference. But like the majority of us, I would soon move on with my life after a few days, conveniently forgetting my initial anger and frustration. After all, those instances of gun violence never really affected me personally.

Well, now it’s happened in my own backyard. Last Friday night around 9:30, as I sat talking with my husband and kids in the living room, I heard multiple sirens. Now, it’s not unusual for us to hear occasional sirens as our house is located near the 101 freeway between the ocean and the mountains. When they didn’t quit after a minute or two, I turned to  my husband.

“Honey,” I said, opening the back sliding door to better hear what was going on. “I think this is something really bad—the sirens aren’t stopping.”

“Maybe a high speed chase?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I said, “It sounds like a lot of police cars are headed somewhere.”

Less than ten minutes later, my nineteen year-old son, Nino’s phone rang. He is a UCSB student and often spends weekend nights hanging out with his friends in Isla Vista, the beach town adjacent to the university.

“What’s up?” he said into the phone. I watched his face fall. He stood up and began to pace around the living room. “Dude!” he shouted. “Are you f**king serious?” After a short conversation he hung up the phone.

“Mom,” he said, “There’s been a shooting in Isla Vista.” On the phone was one of a group of Nino’s fraternity brothers who had been headed home from an out of town event, but were unable to get to their apartment because the entrance to Isla Vista had been cordoned off. They needed a place to spend the night so they came to our house.

The following morning and throughout the day we learned what happened in Isla Vista: Six college students dead; the mentally ill shooter dead. We watched rambling Youtube videos, accounts from students who witnessed the horror, and what was most heart wrenching of all: a plea from the father of one of the victims begging for the violence  to stop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN6NBDYPuhY. I sobbed while watching that, knowing it could have been my son, Nino who was killed.

How many more people have to die for us to do something? Fighting against the NRA is virtually impossible—time and again it’s been proven that this gun-loving organization is just too powerful. They will protect their second amendment rights no matter how many of our children die from gun violence. They say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” Yes, people do kill people, and since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, almost ten thousand Americans have been killed by people using guns.

But why was it so easy for these killers to get their hands on guns?

The following is what Michael Moore had to say about the Isla Vista Shootings:

With due respect to those who are asking me to comment on last night’s tragic mass shooting at UCSB in Isla Vista, CA — I no longer have anything to say about what is now part of normal American life. Everything I have to say about this, I said it 12 years ago: We are a people easily manipulated by fear which causes us to arm ourselves with a quarter BILLION guns in our homes that are often easily accessible to young people, burglars, the mentally ill and anyone who momentarily snaps. We are a nation founded in violence, grew our borders through violence, and allow men in power to use violence around the world to further our so-called American (corporate) “interests.” The gun, not the eagle, is our true national symbol. While other countries have more violent pasts (Germany, Japan), more guns per capita in their homes (Canada [mostly hunting guns]), and the kids in most other countries watch the same violent movies and play the same violent video games that our kids play, no one even comes close to killing as many of its own citizens on a daily basis as we do — and yet we don’t seem to want to ask ourselves this simple question: “Why us? What is it about US?” Nearly all of our mass shootings are by angry or disturbed white males. None of them are committed by the majority gender, women. Hmmm, why is that? Even when 90% of the American public calls for stronger gun laws, Congress refuses — and then we the people refuse to remove them from office. So the onus is on us, all of us. We won’t pass the necessary laws, but more importantly we won’t consider why this happens here all the time. When the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people — people kill people,” they’ve got it half-right. Except I would amend it to this: “Guns don’t kill people — Americans kill people.” Enjoy the rest of your day, and rest assured this will all happen again very soon.

It’s time for all of us to stop being complacent.

It could have been my child.

It could have been yours.

Spring in Santa Barbara

6 Mar

People in other parts of the country say we don’t have seasons in California but I beg to differ. Our seasons just blend into each other with a little less fanfare. I took these photos while out walking this morning and here is my proof that Spring has indeed arrived  in Santa Barbara.

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Burning Up

18 Oct

Yesterday there was a huge plume of smoke coming from the mountains in front of my house. It’s that dry time of year when the parched hills have again erupted in flames, but that’s about the only thing around here that’s been on fire. I may be sweaty, tired and hot–but I’m certainly not on fire.  I’m completely unmotivated, and I need a change. It’s October, for goodness sake, and summer should be long gone. The days are supposed to be crisp and refreshing by now, and this eighty-plus degree weather around here has done nothing except remind me that California is indeed a desert.

Not only has the sweltering heat increased the fire danger, I also think it’s affected my ability to write. Lately, all of my interesting ideas have simply evaporated.  My brain feels as mushy as a ripe peach that’s been left in a hot car with the windows rolled up—there’s a good chance that it may explode into a sticky, fermented mess at any moment.

Each morning I sit at the computer and brood over what to write, yet I’m as dry as a sandy creek bed.  Even though I wake up energized with unqualified intention to get something written down, the few sentences I do manage to write are unimaginative. Nothing is flowing. I finally get to the point where complete despair sets in and I want to give up. Why bother? I tell myself. Then I start to avoid writing entirely.

I’m at expert when it comes to avoiding writing: I read. I clean. I do laundry. I work. I’m very good at pretending to be busy with the little details of my life. This week, I avoided writing by spending time pouring over cookbooks and turned out several fabulous meals for my family using the slow cooker. My husband was in was in total heaven as I recreated the dishes of his childhood in Oaxaca: Caldo de arrez, Pollo en mole verde, and Abondigas soup. He was happy, the kids were happy, and so was I–at least for a few days, but now I find I’m already bored with this whole cooking thing.

It’s such a conundrum. When I’m not writing, I’m often unhappy because I miss it.  When I am writing, I’m often unhappy because I feel that it’s not up to par.

Savory Albondigas (Meatball soup)

It’s difficult for me to let go of the idea that I always have to be so productive with my writing. The fundamental urge to prove myself is as stifling as the hot winds that fanned the flames on the mountain yesterday. I should just give myself a break for once and not force the process; I need to learn to let it just happen when it’s supposed to happen. As I tell the kids: The soup will be ready when it’s ready.

Like that dry chaparral on the hillsides, I must wait for the perfect conditions to be present; only then it will be my turn to explode into a burst of energy and motivation.  When the time is right, the words will again flow out of me like wildfire and there will be no stopping me.

And if that doesn’t happen, I can always take up knitting.

(By the way, the fire is finally out, and the forecast this weekend is for cooler temperatures, so you may very well be hearing from me again soon…)