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Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Birthday --

I had a birthday a few weeks ago. As the candles on my cake increase, the grains of sand in my personal hourglass decrease. I no longer feel like I have "all the time in the world", like I did when I was young. As the years pass by I feel like time is becoming more precious, and I feel added pressure to use it more wisely. My mortality has become a reality, and it is frightens me.

So, how do I stop the growing wrinkles (that play havoc on my refection in the mirror) from defining who I am? Well, first of all, I don’t look in the mirror as often as I use to! And, I have come to believe that age is now defined by how I feel on “the inside”. So, to feel young on the inside I have to be more careful of how I take care of myself, both mentally and physically. What I eat affects how I feel. How much I sleep affects how I feel. The relationships I have with others affects how I feel. Bottom line, I found I have to be more “responsible” for my life than ever before. That kind of stinks, I liked being young and carefree!  I know it is impossible to live responsibly 100% of the time. But, I found a quote that helped me put things in perspective—a reality check in a way-- on what to allow into my life:

Simply remember that everything you add to your life that is not important detracts from everything that is.” ~David Friedlander

Read it a couple of times, and I think you'll agree that finding more meaning in life really can be that simple. I have this quote on my bedroom wall as a constant reminder on how to prioritize things, people, and activities in my life.

My niece Katrice recently wrote on her facebook wall,

“If you have never written your own obituary, you should. It is quite the
unexpected experience. Now I need to write a bucket list.” 

Apparently she had to do this for an assignment in a graduate class she was taking. It is a sobering thought to think in a way we are writing our own eulogy--day by day--by the way we live and spend our time. I know I felt a slap on the side of the head when thinking about this. (Just to let you know, I write about things I need to work on myself!!! I am constantly trying to give myself pep-talks on how to improve life and make it more meaningful for me and my children.)

My birthday cake still has room for many more candles. There are adventures waiting to be pursued, memories yet to be lived with my children, and conversations to be learned from with friends. It helps knowing I have loved ones who give me encouragement, meaning, and purpose, no matter where the grains in the hourglass lie.

I have thought that I have more years behind me than I have ahead, but after seeing this headstone my thoughts may be wrong!  Check out the age of this person, by enlarging photo--an actual grave maker at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Santa Cruz.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The world is all gates, all opportunities”. So the next time you make a wish before blowing out your birthday candles, make it a meaningful one—one that you plan to make a reality!

(Note: I hate to make a post without any photos. I don’t mean for these photos to be morbid, I am posting them more tongue-in-cheek. This was actually a really cool cemetery we visited in Santa Cruz -- if you want to know why I was there, post me a note or e-mail me!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sunset on a New Year.

My blog: I have been frustrated with my blog, since posting my last entry. When designing a post I try so hard to write about things that will touch people's lives, as well as expand my ability as a writer. Unfortunately I don't get many hits on this site for my writing; it is unanimously for the images accompaying my entry. My last Snickers Bar post received an uprecidented 500 hits in only two weeks –just for the Snickers candy bar image. Sigh. So, if all of you out there in Computerland just want images, this post is dedicated to you!

 New Year’s Day was so warm and beautiful it was impossible to ignore the draw of the beach. We spent the first day of 2012 at the main beach in Carmel. The kids found it very entertaining, because it is a “dog friendly” beach.  Numerous varieties of dogs run around off-leash -- playing with each other, the sand, and the water. (Most owners keep an eye on their dogs and make sure they don’t get into mischief.)

 Anyway, the sunset that day was so magnificent!   I thought I would share it with you. I couldn’t decide which photos to post.  I loved them all for different reasons. So, I will let you decide which you like the best, and would be thrilled to know your favorite! (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

Walking along the beach in Carmel. I am taking photos of my hair, since I am contemplating cutting it soon!

I always find someone to chat with at the beach. 
The sun beginning its grand display as it slips behind the edge of the ocean.

Looking down from the road, here is the area where we spent the day.
The sun's fire starting to ingnite the evening sky.
If you want to know, this one is MY favorite :-) !

Some really unusal things started to happen with the sky, a few of these close ups showed the magic that took place.

I promise, this is all just one sunset.  Can you imagine living here, and seeing this every night?  Wow . . .
A picture of the ocean after the sunset.  The smoke in the sky is from the little fires people have started on the beach to keep them warm and to cook their dinner!
Thank you for enjoying this sunset with me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wisdom of a Snickers Candy Bar

Okay this past week has been very depressing for me. My work hours were cut back to the point where I almost don't have a job. The economy sucks right now, everybody is hurting. My husband works every waking hour, and we worry about paying all of our bills . . . just like everyone else. So yes, I believe I deserved the Snickers candy bar I ate today. Each bite tasted better than the last.
As I peeled away the brown wrapper taking the last gratifying bite of the self-prescribed antidepressant, I noticed writing on the inside of the wrapper. Hey, maybe this is my lucky day and I have won something! I could stand to win something – even if it was a free Snickers bar! But upon looking closer the letters seemed to form a foreign word followed by a definition, similar to a dictionary entry. I love words – even though when I try and write they scatter like naughty children while I play hide-and-go-seek trying to find the right ones to express my feelings on paper. So, I liked the idea of adding a new word to my vocabulary.

After swallowing the last bite of candy bar along with the self depreciating thought, “I never win anything,” I began to decipher the entry on the wrapper: “Nougatocity”. I had never heard that word before, have you? Maybe it was some cleaver made-up word trying to fit the taste of the Snickers bar, like “nougat city”? Hahaha. As I read on, I thought the universe was trying to tell me something – and laughing at me while it was doing it. Here is what I read:

Nougatocity (noun): A heightened yet fleeting state of accomplishment that makes you realize how unbelievably unmotivated you normally are.

What? Yes, you have to read it at least twice before the meaning sinks in! LOL! I have been described a lot of ways in my life, but "nougatocity" has never been part of description before! Okay, a wakeup call. I better shake off that pity party I have been feeling, and get going in life. And while I’m on my way, could you please hand me another Snickers bar? Thanks :-)!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Story of the Cement Ship

Every beach seems to have its own calling card. For this beach it is a cement boat at the end of the local fishing pier. Is the beach called Rio Del Mar State Beach, or Seacliff State Beach? I don't know, but it is the only beach around here with a partially sunken cement ship. This stretch of beach is tucked away in Aptos, California, just off Highway 1, five miles south of Santa Cruz. We have always called it Rio Del Mar Beach, and there is a sign on the beach stating so. But, when I was looking on the Internet for info about “the beach with the cement boat”, I kept seeing that the beach was called “Seacliff State Beach”. I’m sure if I asked a local resident, I could get the name straight, but, until then, here are photos of the fun beach I am talking about!

Above: This photo shows the outline of the cement boat tethered to the end of the pier.

Below: Photos of the beach.

Above a squadron of pelicans crossing the sky.

Back to the beach's calling card. The most famous resident of this beach is the decaying ghostlike concrete ship sitting on the ocean floor at the end of the pier. This ship is what most tourist come for, even though there is not much left to see. The SS Palo Alto, as the boat is named, is one of only three cement ships that were constructed during World War I. As the story goes, the ship was built at the Oakland shipyard in 1918 as a World War I tanker. Apparently a Norwegian civil engineer named Fougner thought of using concrete to construct ships since the wartime had created steel shortages. The war ended before the ship ever saw service . At that point she was sold to the Cal-Nevada Company, and towed in 1929 to Seacliff State Beach. Once in place at the beach, her sea cocks were opened, and the Palo Alto sat down permanently on the ocean floor. The plans were to make her an amusement and fishing ship. A pier was constructed to connect the beach to the concrete boat. A casino, dance hall, cafĂ©, heated swimming pool, and arcades were constructed inside this one time military boat. Unfortunately after operating only two seasons in the early 1930’s, the Great Depression hit and the owners went bankrupt. The Palo Alto was then stripped and left abandoned – now only birds, beach goers, and photogs enjoy this eternally docked grey glimpse of history. The pier is now used for fishing, but the ship is permanently closed to the public.

Above: Looking onto the deck of the concrete ship.

All of the remaining photos below: Residents of the concrete ship.

Above: I could imagine the concrete being toasty warm on a day like today.

For more information about this state beach, go to:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Nice "Check" Off My Bucket List!

Check. Ahhh (big smile that extends through my soul), one more marked off my Bucket List. Euphoria. Walking around without my feet touching the ground. Feeling like there is pure joy and happiness to be found in life -- a happiness that balances out all of the hard, yucky stuff. A high that can’t be touched by any drug. A treasured memory that can be replayed at will, for as long as I exist.

My post on facebook:

Bucket List: Where a dream + an opportunity = a reality :-D

People have been asking what I “checked” off my list. How do I protect that fragile memory, without someone crushing it with a simple, “Oh, is that all?!” So, I would like to put this Bucket List item into perspective, before I tell you what it is. Some smarty-pants out there may get it from the first sentence of my description. Others, who may not appreciate my long cerebral dialogue, have my permission to skip to the end for the answer (you're going to miss some good stuff though!)

Ten years ago (May 2001) I was watching the season finale of the TV show Alley McBeal. In the show, the main characters walked into a bar where a young man was singing, “You’re Still You”, in a delicious baritone voice. I was blown away, I thought, “Wow, I would love to see this young man sing in person someday!” Thus the journey began, but it was more of a "longing" than a "Bucket List item".

The years passed, and I kept seeing this artist pop up on TV, singing with the likes of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli (which have both previously been checked off my Bucket List). My two children were babies during those years, making it hard to go to concerts. We had no one to leave them with for so long and so late into the evening. Funny thing, when something you want keeps eluding you, it makes you want it even more (smile).

In 2006 when he released his album entitled Awake, I was smitten. I listened to it over, and over again. To see him in concert was bumped up to a “Bucket List” item. Buttttttttt, at that time period, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. So, when his concert tour hit our area, the tickets sold out immediately. Sigh. I relinquished myself into waiting until the next time he went on tour.

Two years went by -- I watched, and waited. No tour. Another year went by, and I began to give up. I still saw him perform on TV, and make guest appearances on shows like Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Larry King Live, Rosie O’Donnell, 20/20, and Glee (just to mention a few). So, I knew he was still out there, but why wasn’t he going on tour? Why wasn’t he releasing another album?

When my husband got cancer in September 2009, all Bucket List items were abandoned. Getting him better was the focus of attention, everything else was a luxury. Life has been a blur since then, trying to recover from the shell shock of that nine month battle. My husband is now remission. I am enjoying a life without constant fear, and one that allows for dreams again. And yes, that year passed by with no concert.

Okay, fast forward to a week ago. I was cruising through facebook, seeing what my friends were up to. One friend posted she was going to a Michael BublĂ© concert that evening. Cool. Another friend responded that she was going to see The Artist I have wanted to see for the past TEN YEARS in concert the following week! What?? He was going to be in concert here, and I didn’t know about it? Why hadn’t I heard anything? Oh yeah, I’m too busy taking care of my kids. First I felt a big sigh of resolution, and then panic gripped me. How was I going to make this happen? How was I going to get tickets, when the last time his concert sold out immediately? With the concert just days away, what were my odds? "Not very good," I thought to myself.

Four long years I had waited since his last concert, if I missed this one, how many more years would I have to wait? It was too late to try and buy tickets from eBay or Craig’s List. So, hubby and I decided to take a risk (dreams sometimes require that you know!) The night of the concert we went two hours early to HP Pavilion Box Office to see if anyone turned in any unsold tickets. We waited. The situation looked more impossible by the moment. The show time came . . . and it went. Minutes after the show had started, the man in the ticket booth anxiously called us over (he knew how much I wanted to see this concert). With a big smile he told us some front-stage-left tickets had just been turned in, "Would we like to buy them?" Yeeeesssss!!!

So, my dream finally met up with an opportunity, and it became a reality. The air inside the arena was saturated with mouthwatering music . . . my breath caught in my throat. You see, living a dream often does that to you. I could almost touch his voice in the air, as the sound waves washed over me and danced with my soul. A reality that made a welcomed "check" on my Buck List. To finally see this amazing, talented voice of an angel perform live . . . oh, his name?

Sooo, if you want to make fun of my Bucket List item, please don’t tell me, because I am still on a high. What’s next on the list? Hmmm, only opportunity will tell . . . . (smile). As they say, it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

Some fun side notes of the concert. This was the only concert I have ever been to where I saw a Nun in the audience! And, considering how slow Josh often sings the words to his songs, I had no idea he talked sooo super fast, and had such a quick, comedic wit. I also didn’t know he was such an accomplished pianist as well as one wicked drummer! To see the drum solo we saw (but at a different concert location), go to:

He also played a beautiful song from his new album Illuminations called "Bells of New York City". Check it out:

In the concert Josh told us at the young age of 17 his vocal coach introduced him to the Grammy award winning music producer/arranger David Foster. Josh began working as a rehearsal singer for Foster. In 1999 he was ask to stand in for Andrea Bocelli to rehears Foster’s “The Prayer” with Celine Dion. See this fun recount of the story, and the duet at:

Here is a video clip I took that evening -- Josh Groban singing Neil Diamond's "Play Me":

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nature, Life's Best Medicine!

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~John Burroughs

Photos I took driving home from Henry W. Coe State Park one winter's evening.
(Click photos to enlarge.)

For more information about this beautiful park, go to: