Jump start my smokey brain

Been a rough week indoors with all the smoke, still not as rough as the people in Paradise.  I keep thinking it’s OK to go outside, then park to walk to lunch and can feel it in my throat.  My heart actually hurts?  Don’t know how to explain that besides it’s tight.

Overall, I’m pretty healthy and not too worried about the smoke besides not feeling well all week.  Rain is in the forecast, this should be over in a few days when my only worry will be cold and dark at 4pm.

Usually this time of year I go for a running start into the cold, dark days.  Kind of like riding your bike fast downhill to make it up the next hill with little effort.  I try to stay busy and outside because I know I’m going to be inside for months, I’m not a very productive indoors person.  This smoke is like putting the brakes on for that uphill climb through Winter and having to walk your bike up the hill instead.

Yes, I try to gear myself up to avoid seasonal depression (SAD).  Not to be Debbie Downer, just that Christmas coincidentally is a few days after the shortest day of the year.  Sometimes I wonder if bright lights and gift giving isn’t a way to just get us out of the house to look forward to something?  A big party on New Years to get us out of the house with friends.

The short little ebooks (on drones & golf)  I wrote in Tahoe when I was stuck indoors, just to give me a project.  My drone work was weather permitting, that got me through a few Winters just because there used to be so much trouble shooting involved.  I’ve passed that all on to my husbands engineering firm, there are 2 drone pilots there now.

This is the first year I haven’t actually had a job, my time is my own.

I can do one of those cheesy “5 things to get you through seasonal depression.”

  1.  Stay outside as much as possible while the weather is still decent (I’ve already blown that one).
  2. Stock up on home projects, like cleaning the closet or drawers for 15 min a day.  Then write a to-do list to replace items like light bulbs, moth balls, stuff that forces you to get out and go to a store.  We’ve lived here for 20 years, it’s a Winter project.
  3. Organize all your photos for Christmas gifts – another huge project.  When was the last time you had prints made?  I have digital photos all over the place, on several computers/CD/USB/Cards.  Nothing is in one place, there’s no more room on this particular laptop I’m writing on.  Yesterday I made an attempt and uploaded my film cards to Shutterfly, which BTW has unlimited storage.  They also automatically suggest photo gifts.
  4. Plan a trip to look forward to, like surfing in Mexico in Jan.
  5. Get outside no matter once at least once a day, even if it’s pouring.  The gym, a coffee shop, anywhere!

This list is mostly for me, I’m excluding holiday shopping only because the parking and people out for the holidays makes me lose faith in humanity & doesn’t help the cause.  I’m just not a shopper.

Other things on my personal list is writing, either another mini ebook just to practice writing or continuing this blog.  Sometimes I get how Stephen King thought of the idea of “Misery.”  Maybe it takes being totally stuck doing nothing else but writing while you lay around getting limbs cut off?  Kidding, certainly being house bound is WAY too much free time!!  Free time is not my friend.


Didn’t mean a fire storm!!

My last post was titled “Calm before the Storm,” meaning the holidays.  This week NorCal has been socked in with fires and smoke.  That Paradise fire affected almost all of NorCal, even hundreds of miles away.  It’s the worst fire in California history, the death toll keeps rising.

We’ve just been nailed with fires all year, then come the mudslides.  Last year my in-laws house in Ojai was in jeopardy, firefighters were able to save Ojai Valley before it jumped father down.

All summer I drove through a ton of smoke on I-5, driving through a controlled fire right on the freeway guided by CHP.  When we filmed this clip, we didn’t know it was controlled yet & understandably freaked out.

Now this Paradise fire, which is truly devastating in so many ways.  My friend made a trip up with supplies yesterday in a campaign on FB.  The request was for mainly gift cards, blankets, hygiene supplies.  It was interesting, I shared her post and asked if anyone wanted to drop off with me I would get the items to her in Modesto – I didn’t get one response?  The day before I asked if there was a donation station in Walnut Creek and got maybe 2 responses.  At first I thought everyone blocks me on FB and was a little pissed.  Now I think that FB blocks “non-sponsored” fundraisers, a Go Fund Me would have made my feed.

Regardless, we went out and got a bunch of GC’s in $25 to $50 increments from Walmart and Target for her to deliver.  I had some warm blankets, bought a bunch of trial size hand sanitizer .  Looking for useful camping supplies in the garage I found a propane heater I used to use for golfing on cold mornings, so I threw that in with some propane bottles.  Other than that, I didn’t want to out-guess what supplies would be more useful than just GC’s.

I first noticed the air quality last Friday when I took a group out on the boat, mostly seniors.  We stood at the dock wondering if it should be a no-go, everyone voted to go for it.  Besides some short outings, I’ve been indoors ever since with a sore throat and teary eyes.  OK, that’s nothing compared to being homeless in Paradise, it’s just to say how bad the air quality is here.  A few days of a sore throat is nothing.

This picture & the cover are from the start of the bad air quality last Friday, then some drone footage of Walnut Creek from yesterday.


If I’m right about FB blocking me on the newsfeed, that’s a whole other blog.  I could very well be persona non-grata in Walnut Creek, or everyone is just “over” FB.  If that’s the case, my prediction of FB is it’s going to go out as fast as it came in.

The best way to donate is through the American Red Cross disaster.  This is linked to their txt donation instructions. 



Calm before the Storm

Which would be the holidays coming full steam ahead like a train wreck.  October is always a really busy, but fun, month for me topped off with WAY too much sugar and my birthday.  Now it’s just recouping from the sugar rush/acne breakout to think about Thanksgiving & Christmas.

If last week was all about getting through my Halloween birthday with my mom, this week is trying to pull myself together from the crash.  Daylight savings kind of helps actually, I can sleep in and appear to be an early riser.

For my 56th year, I scheduled a facial/movie/hair dye day.  When I got home I was all achy from a cold I guess?  My body just kind of said, FU- you need a break.  Good timing, what I was really hoping for was a break in some relaxing location besides my full house.  Don’t feel good enough to go anywhere even with my planned free time.

Instead, I lay here writing trying to think of goals for my 2nd year into senior citizenship.

I do have a confession, in general I’m very healthy.  When I don’t feel well I might as well be on my death bed.

So my “free” week has been spent trying to relax, think about Christmas, looking up “meetups” for groups I might be interested in.  I found a photography & coffee meetup group I signed up for, we’ll see how that goes.  I checked out a sewing shop in Berkeley that had a long arm quilting machine they rent after taking their 3 hour class.  It was a cool studio workshop, I was the youngest one in there.  Not by much, I’m just not ready to be 100 years old quite yet.  I still think of myself as a surfer girl, not put out to bingo pasture.

Are you really as young as you feel?  My Vo2 score puts me at about 35 (whatever that means).  If it weren’t for my back and breaking my ribs surfing, I’d feel a lot more confident about moving forward.  I am terrified of my back going out!  It happens in a split second and I can’t move until the relaxants kick in.  Then it takes over a month to recover, I sported a cane last time just to walk for a few days.

The other thing I’d like to focus on is writing again just to make this a more interesting blog instead of my tales of aging woe.

To give an idea of my typical holiday enthusiasm, I’ve been known to Amazon next day clicking the gift wrap button on December 23rd.  Last year we pulled up in Las Cruces Christmas Eve, hitting Home Depot for a tree they just gave us because they were closing in 5 min.  My husband got me an Amazon GC at the grocery store for my gift.  I actually thought ahead and brought wrapped presents, which was good or there would have been no presents under the tree.  My son got us tix to see Star Wars, where I got a $10 nap in 🙂  That’s how we roll.


Another birthday rolled around, climbing the life ladder.  In an effort to thank my mom for giving birth, I had her come up.  I’m glad I did, even though it was a tough week psychologically for me.  I was born up here, she was a Stewardess in the late 50’s out of SFO.  One of the things her crowd of pilots & stews used to do was sail the Bay.  She hadn’t sailed  here since I was born, so I thought a day of sailing to Sam’s in Tiberon where  I was born would be perfect.

It’s an hour flight from L.A., usually I wouldn’t let her hop on a plane by herself but I really figured an hour isn’t bad?  My friend drove her to the airport and for the first time in her whole life she missed her flight.  Memories of that woman in Seattle freaked me out, I was hoping she wouldn’t suffer the same fate.  She made it on the next flight no problem, disaster averted.

We set up the sail with my husband in Tiberon with a car just in case she got sick and couldn’t make it back.  My son and I sailed over with her, it was a perfect day!!  No wind in the morning, we motored over.  My husband met us at the dock at Sam’s, we got our lunch/latte in and she wanted to sail back with us.  Before we left, she stared at the restaurant for a long time wondering if she’d ever see it again?  Maybe just past memories of there and the time that’s gone by.  Legend has it that they brought me there after I was born, there’s a picture somewhere of Sam holding my thumb when I was a baby.  You can’t tell, it’s just someone holding my thumb that they said was Sam my whole life.

The sail back was perfect winds for a smooth sail back to the dock.  I was so glad to be able to finally take my mom out on the boat, her last sailing experience was coming back in the middle of the night from Catalina with no fuel, no wind after not being able to anchor properly (courtesy of my dad).  It’s one of the reasons I got fully certified for sailing, my dad isn’t the only one out there who had no idea what he was doing.  I’m all about making it from A to B in a reasonable amount of comfort.  That Catalina trip was in the mid-70’s, it was a traumatic experience for us all.  I did love the sailing part though, watching the jellyfish come up as I went up and down on the bow.  I don’t get sea sick, I could sit up on the bow the whole trip moving with the swells.

Before her flight out we went to breakfast downtown here and in the booth next to us was a man I recognized somewhat, couldn’t remember from where.  My mom started talking about my dad (That’s going to be an Oprah book of the month if I ever write it).  She dug in on her usual stuff, making me feel like shit and I just wanted to tell her to shut up.  One thing about my mom, it’s all about her.  Why my dad was even mentioned is beyond me??  They’ve been divorced forever… thank God!!  She feels it’s her right to bring it up and bring down the house.  It was then when I recognized the man in the booth, he was my therapist from about 20 years ago.  She went on & on while I said nothing just wondering if this man had recognized me and was listening?  Should I go back to him to get the rundown on the (one sided) conversation that was transpiring?

If he was listening and recognized me, I’m sure he was wondering how I turned out even remotely sane.

One positive thing she did say was about my math and spelling skills.  I’m pretty logical, like Spock on Star Trek.  Life is a big problem waiting to be solved.  So far, so good.


Lots of parent soul searching while I’m out here, do I live for my kids or start living for me?  I’ve never been good at discipline with the kids, he really needs someone strict to just get him going and not have a meltdown (like I already did).  I want to help him, I’m just not sure I’m the person for the job?  He doesn’t listen to me at all.

I did make a decision about going back to school for a music degree, not going to happen.  I’ve been practicing every day down at this music store for the same price an hour I pay for parking in Walnut Creek.  Yesterday I headed towards the music department practice room at NMSU to hear some of the students…I’m in between.  The person playing was a definite beginner, the person playing at the music store was incredible.  What’s a music degree going to get me?

That said, I wouldn’t mind setting my keyboard up here to practice in the garage or something.

I had a dream I was asked to be the co-pilot on a charter flight in a jet.  At first I got on with the passengers, then I remembered I was supposed to fly the plane about 5 minutes before take off.  I grabbed my headset to go into the cockpit where there were other female pilots and we all had our own “stations.”  It wasn’t a normal cockpit, it was more like an auditorium with people, food, a stage, the male captain, and even a band playing.  There were 3 or 4 of us women co-pilots.  I was trying to find the landing speed – in case there was a remote chance I would land the plane – when I opened my headset case to see my kids had swapped it out for a headset that didn’t work.

There were some other things in the dream that came up, somehow I was recommended to be a pilot on that crew randomly.

In real life, my first attempt to get a pilots license was a disaster.  My written was timing out, the plane I was flying had exhaust problems so I was trying to get used to another plane for my check ride and another instructor.  I set the two weeks aside to have the kids at my mom’s house so I could just focus on finishing up with no distractions and the whole thing fell apart.  The kids got sick, I couldn’t send them to my mom’s.

The “Good ‘ol Boy” pre-check didn’t know it was a pre-check and gave me a lecture at the end about the levels he needed to sign off on before I got to the unicorn level.  I paid about $50 for the bullshit lecture that didn’t apply to me.  The last blow was going to lunch with my mom’s best childhood friend to find out she had stage 4 lung cancer.  It wasn’t time, I shelved it for a few years and let me written time out.

When I did re-take the written a few years later, it went by very fast.  My CFI told me it took him years to get his initial license, a few months to get the higher ratings.

What does any of this mean?  I don’t know, if I had it figured out I’d be the first to write about it.

I do know I have a few options:
-Captains license where I could charge people to sail
-Continue getting IFR/commercial with my pilots license & possibly get a few years of work in before the mandatory retirement.


-Get IFR just to cut through the fog and commute back & forth to my mom’s house so she can stay at home?  Fly out here, fly my son to his tournaments when he does start to compete again.

All I know is that I don’t have a future in music, people are REALLY talented and I have no desire to practice hours every day to catch up, if that’s even possible?  An hour a day is perfect.

Hard Trip

This was supposed to be a trip to see if I could stay here and possibly enroll in their music program, our house is a few blocks from campus.  Instead, my son wants me to leave early because he’s so defiant.  I tip toe around him, can’t bring up work or school or I’m not being supportive of his golf.  He’s taken a year, he’s really good but in that year he hasn’t signed up for one tournament.

His problem isn’t his game, it’s his thinking.  This really isn’t much different from other millenials thinking there’s a gazillion dollars at the end of the rainbow for their minimal effort.  The latest is his game won’t be ready unless he lives in Europe, where he’ll be on the European tour.  Not going to try here, it’s just not going to happen until we somehow support him there??

When I golfed, I practiced every single day.  I’d drop the kids off at school, then hit the driving range.  If I could get in 9 holes, I would.  Once they got into 1st grade I could finally play 18 and join some groups.  Besides club champ, which for some reason I would miss by one stroke, it was hard for me to travel to a tournament.  One round the school called to say my oldest was sick, I put the phone down to get out of the sand trap, then finished the call and left by 9 holes to pick him up.  I could drive as far as the women on tour and coached for 2 years at the high school.

In that respect, it’s not a pipe dream for my son to want to play professionally.  He grew up at a golf course surrounded by pro’s.  He also did well in high school, we just didn’t focus on it that much.  I wanted it to be his, I never pressured him to the point of burn out.

This transition though is super frustrating.  Both boys did club volleyball with tournaments every weekend, it’s not like we’re unfamiliar with traveling and tournaments.  The way they grew up was learn to swim, OK, now compete.  My oldest played college volleyball on top teams.  We focused on my youngest getting a cochlear implant his senior year (his choice) and not golf.  It blew his chances of playing in college, along with the head of the league focused on being a prick not wanting any of the kids to succeed.  The coach that makes you want to quit the game is how this guy was, luckily not their team coach.

My son is just difficult, it’s his way or the highway.  He needs help to play in tournaments, we just lives so far from him now.  Most guys on tour have their own coach, sponsors, and at least a good friend to caddy for them.  I’ll say one thing about him, he’d be an awesome caddy.  He knows more about golf than anyone, he studies it non-stop.  He wants to play though and being stuck out here to figure it out on his own isn’t working.

That’s one of the reasons I thought I could come out and possibly just enroll in the music program.  Stay out here, take him to tournaments.  We’re like oil & water right now, he only wants help supporting him to tell him it’s OK not to go to school or work.

I have one son that’s making the transition to adulthood, working, graduated.  He has a grip on reality and money.  I don’t know how siblings can be so different?  I feel like a failure as a parent, I’m certainly not like that.  We’re both really self driven, I get as good as I can get at something with some pretty real expectations.

I did get a good come uppance yesterday about my piano playing.  I found a practice room at a music store where the woman in the room next to me blew me away.  Even writing, I’m reading a book written by a woman I know and her writing is amazing.  Another friend is writing a blog about her sailing adventure – I’m not worthy!!  Who knows?  Maybe my son does get it from me and I’m the one with the pipe dreams?

In search of a latte & piano…

The trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico was a long one yesterday.  We timed it really well with the cars, my husband flew into Oakland and took my car.  On this end, he left his car in the lot in El Paso.  We met when his flight came in at Oakland for breakfast then I had to wait for several hours for my flight at 12:30p.

I wish I could just assume the position at the airport and know that it’s going to be a day of rude, lame people.  When I get on a plane, the first thing I do is pop on the headphones and not talk to anyone (maybe I’m the rude one too?).  When I travel with my mom, she insists on talking to the person next to her the whole time.

The day started out with trying to have breakfast at Chili’s in the airport.  The hostess rudely stared at us a few times and I told my husband I bet she’s going to come up to us and tell us it’s a 20 min. wait.  That’s been my experience with hostesses lately, empty restaurants with 20 min. wait because the hostess hates everyone.  She said there was no food, it was 10a so the breakfast menu was done and the lunch menu hadn’t started yet.  There won’t be any food for about a half hour.  Really??  I’ve never heard of that before.

Instead we went to Starbucks for a yogurt before my husband left.  I just charged my gear and read, not really paying attention until boarding when it was noon and I really hadn’t eaten much.  I shrugged it off, Phoenix is a short flight and I’d deal when I got there to transfer planes…only our plane was late!

There was still a little time in Phoenix, they were pre-boarding when I got there so I found the bathroom and another Starbucks to wait for food and now my afternoon latte.  I wish Sienfeld was around in the times of Starbucks, it is true insanity.  The Starbucks customer is the true pain in the ass connoisseur of coffee.  They know the lingo, want to make sure they get half- low caf/med blend/1.5 percent breast milk.  The employees have to acquiesce to the demands of the high maintenance customer.

What all this means in Heller terms is that I was going to miss my flight if I wanted my med latte, it wasn’t going to happen.  When the next customer started in on his very specific drink, I left the line to be the last person to board the plane.

When I got to El Paso, the airport Starbucks was closed upstairs.  There was one more chance, the one downstairs Starbucks was open!!  No line, I splurged for a pumpkin spice latte, still no food.  At least I had my latte for the drive to Las Cruces, where I knew food would be waiting at Andele’s

Yes it was!!  Food and actual service!!  The hostess said, “Just a few minutes” in a crowded wait area.  I’m not a picky person normally, but when it comes to that Chili’s hostess saying there’s no food I get pissed and call BS.  Because of her rudeness, I ended up not eating the rest of the day.  Some of that was my fault, it just turned into a chain of events that led to me collapsing at Andele’s.

One thing about Las Cruces I’ve noticed is how nice everyone is here.  This visit is a relaxing one, nothing to do all week but hot springs and finding a practice piano place.  Maybe I’ll go back to music school here?  It would be an interesting change up for me.