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.

Barking Dog

In an attempt to get this little Yorkie dog house trained once and for all, my son & his wife looked up methods of torture for both the dog and me.  Since they’ve moved in I haven’t had the house to myself at all.  It’s been fine, just that I was looking forward to FINALLY doing some stuff around the house solo.  Instead, I’m trapped upstairs pretending I’m not home.

This method is putting him in a small space all day, a little cage.  The day before the method was going to be putting him outside in our backyard all day.  I volunteered to drive to Salina’s to pick up some fuel tanks for an airplane that day when an email popped up while I was in traffic.  The neighborhood email informed us there was a coyote coming down our street.  I sat on it for a half hour before I finally decided to do the right thing and call my son to put the dog back in the house.

I know, a whole half hour of wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t seen that email?  I called a neighbor to check on him, the thing about this dog is he bites and I didn’t want her to put him in the house if he was going to bite her.  My son had to do it, I was too far down the road to turn around.

Now I’m trapped in the house with a barking dog the last few days while they’re at work. The good news is, I’m going to see my other son for a week tomorrow.  When I came home the other day, this little Yorkie had peed all over the place again and the dishwasher was broken.  I just went upstairs and cried!  Today I’m just going to do what I want to do and suck up the barking.

This really isn’t where I thought I’d be at this point of my life.  Maybe I should just go back to work?  There were 2 incidents last month where guys my age had found their niche to make their marks.  One was our friend in Seattle that’s a surf historian.  The other one was on 60 minutes cataloging an “ark” with photography.  One thing he said was he was 55, soon to be 56 and was about half way done.  He wanted to catalog as much as he could because his life clock is ticking.

I wouldn’t think that at 55 my life clock is ticking?  But maybe I’m in denial and it really is about seeking that niche before you’re dust (or eaten by a coyote).  Something that makes you feel good about this life.  I’m a scatter brain, I try so many different things that I’m jack of all trades & master of none.  Plus all this internet stuff has given me the attention span of about 2 minutes, if that.

I’ve been writing though, I’ve been playing piano a bunch to at least focus for an hour.  My beautiful piano smells like dog pee, I sure hope this dog gets trained!!

Can’t Fish

Thought I’d take the week I have free to come to Tahoe and check out some condo’s for my new life as an outdoors woman.  It’s been quite an experience, it’s off season up here and kinda cold.  The good thing about off season is the price of deluxe accommodations, I’m staying at Northstar resort, but all the stores are closed and there’s nobody here.  You park in this massive garage with no cars in it right now.  It has a very Stephen King quality to it.

Since there’s nothing to do here, I ventured to Tahoe City to check things out.  I’ve been there many times, mostly during the Winter or early Spring.  No one was in the water, no sailing or water sports, it’s too cold.  It was a really nice walk along the beach though, even that seems closed right now.  In a way, this is the time to come here without the crowds.

Last time I was here was an attempt to fish.  There’s a Bass Pro Shop on the way up, I stopped there to get a cheap pole and was overwhelmed.  I ended up going next door and getting even a cheaper pole at Walmart with cheap line.  Most of the time was spent putting the line on and then untangling it every time I cast out.  It’s catch and release here, which is fine with me if I knew how to do that.  I had YouTube on the whole time to figure it all out, very handy.  I didn’t catch anything, which probably was a blessing for both me and the fish.

The one time I had a bunch of success was when I hired a guide in Redding.  I flew up there and caught the max of small salmon.  I just reeled them in and he did the rest, we had salmon for weeks.

This time I still had all the fishing gear from my trip a few months ago in the back of my truck, minus my Leatherman…or so I thought.  In looking for a few things I bought when I went back to Bass Pro Shop, I couldn’t find the pliers, hooks, new line?  No matter, I went to the truck bed to get my pole to see how tangled the old line was only to discover that the hook was in my travel pillow that was in the back of my truck from my trip in May.  It was a total amateur move with nothing to disconnect them.  There were only some kids throwing rocks at each other where I was, it’s not like I had an audience.  It was still pretty funny to have this massive truck, ready to fish with a travel pillow as my bait.  I called it a disaster of an  expedition and set my keyboard up in a Starbucks w/ my headphones instead.


Driving around here on a Sunday was enlightening, it was the triathlete crowd.  Everyone had zero body fat with $20k bikes.  Then there’s the total outdoors people, then there’s me?  It’s just lonely up here, even when I had my ski bum year I rarely talked to anyone.  My son would come up on the train, that was fun.

Not sure I’m a year round Tahoe person?  It’s just way too lonely.  I need time to myself to re-charge, that one Winter was too much.  I’d get out of the condo to XC ski or downhill for a few hours, not talk to anyone the whole time.

As for fishing, not done with that yet.  As soon as I get my travel pillow un-hooked and find my purchases I’m going to try again.  Maybe not today, but someday.

Chill’in @ the Holiday Inn

In Modesto, of all places??  I came out for a housewarming party of a pilot friend of mine then heading to Tahoe to look at open houses and to relax.  But first, I relax here across the street from a Boomers (an arcade basically).

On the way over here I was listening to the music on the radio thinking how weird it was that songs bring up such strange memories and put you right back there?  I have Sirius XM in the truck with my stations setting to the extremes.  It’s not set at one type of music station, I listen to everything.


This one reminds me of driving down to San Diego to see my brother and surf on a sunny day in my VW Squareback.  Every day to me was drunken, sunny, fun.  I would have died of alcohol piosening if I went to SDSU, I don’t know how they lived through it?  Just really glad that I was with my brother in times of black outs.  He lived with his best friends from home who were like brothers to me too.  Besides way too much drinking, the times at the beach down there were fantastic.  There were also many tacos involved.


This one sums up the 80’s for me – the Hollywood dance nights and Sports Center in Redondo with all the volleyball guys in their day.  We loaded up my friends van with a bunch of players to head to the Odyssey in Hollywood one night.  When we were at the door, the bouncer took them aside and told us it was a gay club, so if they’re looking for trouble, we needed to leave now.  We just wanted to dance!  The drink of the night was Tally Ho vodka if I remember correctly.  Many a dance break out at the beach when this song comes on for the 6-man volleyball tournament…still.  It also gave my boys a love of disco while growing up.


Backwards to the 70’s, to a movie my parents wouldn’t let me see.  It was showing at the La Mar that’s long gone now.  The song was really popular in my memories.  My mom’s pretty funny about music, I LOVED Prince and every time it would come on she would threaten to call the station to get him banned.  Really, I rarely listened to words, he just had the best dance music.  I wasn’t one of those kids who sat around pinning listening to love songs, I wanted to dance!  This one was a popular ballad that I liked to just sing to, no idea why?


Going to fast forward to my golfing days right around 9/11 and my friend Mike Jordan who passed away in his early 40’s.  He was one of the pro’s where I worked, we shared the same taste in music and would pass along CD’s we liked.  Mike had been battling illnesses since he was 16, what I didn’t know is how much pain killers he was on.  He was one person in the morning, barely knew who I was in the afternoon.  Those were good times for me, he was a good friend to me.

That’s all the time I have for now, need to get my free breakfast…