If you have consciously or serendipitiously arrived here, welcome. I’m Fran, aka Redondowriter, and my interests include family, friends, writing, reading, art, computers, storytelling, spirituality, photography, animals—and exploring the layers of everyday life.
Tonight I was supposed to go out to dinner with two of my neighbors, but they called at 4 p.m. and both of them were sick. New year's eve is such an artificial night in my estimation so I wasn't that disappointed. This is my second year in a row I've spent the evening at home with Cookie.
I made this collage to herald midnight and 2009--and as my first "play" piece for Creative Every Day. Now Cookie and I are going downstairs to write in "our" journals, although her journal is on the screen of her sleeping mind. She is still eating so well, very energetic, and I am grateful.
As I've grown older, I live life with Plans--not just A, but deep into the alphabet these days. The South Bay Daily Breeze
is the hometown newspaper for the South Bay area of Los Angeles. I have read it
faithfully since I was a young wife and mother. Like all newspapers in this day
and age, it is suffering downsizing and layoffs; they are actually moving this week to more compact quarters. Sigh.
This newspaper, and particularly its columnists, are part of my daily routine. On Saturdays, however, a
columnist who always touches my heart, posts as a free-lancer.
Her name is Adell Shay and
this column appeared in the Daily Breeze on Dec. 26, 2008 . I cut and pasted it into my journal as inner wisdom guidance for 2009.
Don't panic - just choose
Plan B for a change
by Adell Shay
There is much talk of the
world's problems these days, though there always seems to be. If the ceaseless
wail is not about financial disaster, it is about suffering from some other
lack, or about the ever-looming threat of terror.
What were once sound bytes
now endlessly scroll at the bottom of every television screen. The adjectives
seldom change; the message never does: Be afraid and remain afraid. Prepare yourself
for imminent disaster.
I am not suggesting that
people do not suffer - I know they do. I know I have and that others have done
so more intensely. I'm simply offering this suggestion:
Suffering, as opposed to
pain, is an activity of the mind, and therefore is composed of what it
consumes. The mind, like everything else, follows a rule of nature: What you
To prove that principle, I
devised an experiment.
That's a lie. I didn't
devise anything. I was bound and thrashed by the Plan A of the experiment. Plan
B became possible by a glimpse of Grace, but required years of practice to
1. Awaken startled by talk
radio and become so seized by terror, you are unable to move.
2. Hit the snooze.
3. Wake up late and run
screaming into the day.
4. Turn on CNN or Fox News
and drink a double espresso while thinking about your investments and every
financial mistake you've ever made, your mortgage or rent, and/or your job.
5. Get dressed. Pause frequently to catch an urgent
news update. Make sure you compare your body to that of the surgically
disfigured news anchor.
6. Skip breakfast and hit
Starbucks for coffee and sugar.
7. Turn the news on in the car.
If you feel spiritually superior, turn on NPR.
8. Fill your head with
fear-inducing ideas about things that are not happening to you at that moment.
9. Throughout the day, seek out
people who will talk to you about what makes them afraid. Repeat a disastrous
event you overheard at Starbucks. Wonder why your stomach hurts. Eat a roll of
10. Go to sleep with the
1. Wake up gently and turn on
uplifting music or a spiritual teacher while getting ready for the day. A
spiritual teacher tends to remind you that everything is perfect in this moment
and that only this moment exists.
2. Sit down with your coffee or
tea in a place you have designated for meditation and read a short piece of
3. Write a gratitude list. Make
sure there are at least 10 things on it. Breathing and animals count. Then
write a list of what you are afraid of.
4. Get quiet. Ask for awareness
of gratitude throughout the day. Ask for awareness that all your needs have
already been met. Ask the Power that created everything to reveal itself and
remove your fears.
5. Notice your mind chatter as
if it were a popular high school clique to which you once pined to belong.
Notice how silly it looks now. Do not engage. Wait for a moment when you are
aware that everything is absolutely OK. Practice pausing throughout the day to
do the same.
6. Eat a good breakfast.
7. Listen to a spiritual teacher
on the way to work.
8. During the day, gently remove
yourself from negative conversations.
9. Call someone who needs to
hear from a friend.
10. Go to sleep after reading
something that induces peaceful awareness and a thankful heart.
I like the effects of Plan B,
but it is amazing how long and rigorously I clung to Plan A.
I got a statement recently of my
teachers 403(b) investment balance. It indicated that I lost $40,000 in two months,
which represented four years of $1,000 per paycheck withdrawals. I gasped and
shot an e-mail to my financial adviser. I don't know about you, but that's a
lot of money to me.
Then, suddenly, as I looked at
the statement, I realized that what appeared before me was merely tree bark
with spots of dye on it and that my life was no different at that moment than
it was the moment before I read it.
I had a choice of how I would
respond. I had a choice to remain at peace or be afraid. I threw the paper away.
My life has never been so good.
I can't be certain, but I
suspect it has something to do with Plan B.
Adell Shay's can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
or by mail at the Daily Breeze, 5215 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503-4077.
Are you game to make a 2009 Vision Board? On September 25, I wrote a post called Vision Board Bloggers
Project suggested by my friend Roz at Autumn Cottage Diary. Although I’ve done
a variation of these boards many times, usually toward the end of one year in
preparation for the incoming year, I decided I would do it again to usher in
2009. I used Elmers Display Board, 48” x 36”, and hung it vertically on my
bedroom wall where I would see it each day. This time I started months early.
I went like gang busters the first few weeks but until the
last few days, I haven’t added much. What I found out very quickly, unlike some
years when I envisioned a new camera or computer as well as abstract concepts
to enhance creativity, body, mind and spirit, I have no desire for any tangible
goods this time. (Well, maybe art supplies.) I do want to take some specific
art, computer and photography classes and I hope to do some travel in the
summer but I don’t know where.
You can click to make the photo larger. The major themes this time are: home, creative projects,
spirituality, dreams and plans, body and mind, and a list of potential people,
places—and yes, things. But so far there are no things I’ve written down. I put
up 8 1/2 x 11” paper to jot things down on as I think of them.
Instead of trying to create this year’s vision board by Jan.
1, I’ve decided it will be an ongoing project. Just thought I’d share this in case anyone else wants to
make a vision board for the new year. Most people, by the way, use poster board
not the display board like I have.
I do know this: I’m cherishing these last few days of 2008
with extreme gratefulness and want to add a specific sheet to this board for
gratitude. Cookie has had a few very good days so I know we will be ushering in the new years together.
It’s been cold here lately by So Cal standards; in the late
30s during the night, so whenever I start hunkering down under the electric
blanket with a book, I’ve been thinking of the Hotel de Glace in Quebec. So
absolutely magical, beautiful and I assume wickedly cold.
My blogging friend Lorna at Lorna in Wonderland sent me a
link to these photos recently and I keep looking and looking at them. Being
born in California, it seems so odd to me that people would want to spend the
night in an ice castle. I’m sure they have their ways of keeping things warm
inside the 30 something rooms, but personally I’d prefer a tour versus sleeping
over. Each room gets polar bedspreads and sleeping bags. It looks like the promotional room rates start at $160 per night USD, which is surprisingly low. Do you think they have bathrooms, but what would it be like to sit on a toilet seat in that temperature. It all boggles my mind.
On the other hand, can you imagine a bridal night in a place
that’s so cold? Might be fun, actually.
This morning my friends Mary Lou, Barbara and Jerry and I met at Martha's 22nd St. Cafe in Hermosa Beach for breakfast. After, we walked across the sand to water's edge and chatted. Today is an amazingly beautiful day: crisp, clear, and the snow-capped mountains are visible behind the city of Los Angeles.
I snapped this photo of seagull tracks and in case you don't read seagull, I was amazed to find they had written the words on the card I pulled this morning from my Thich Nhat Hanh "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment" inspirational card deck.
1. Waking Up
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours
are before me.
I vow to live fully
in each moment
and to look at all beings with
eyes of compassion.
Today was to have been the annual holiday brunch of our 30 plus year gourmet group. Unfortunately, Larry, Mary Lou's husband, was still in the hospital so Barbara coaxed her out of the house to go to breakfast. Next month we'll reschedule the group get-together. Larry is an inspiration to us all and he will come home today. For five years he has battled liver disease and all the discomfort of several side-effects of the disease. Larry and Mary Lou have learned to live life a day at a time the hard way. All of us have been pupils and teachers of one another.
Barbara and Mary Lou have been my really close girlfriends since around 1966 when we met at our local church. Our kids went to school together and our families were often together. When my marriage painfully fell apart in 1984, it was the two of them (and a lot of other friends), who listened to me, who supported me, who convinced me I could be happy as a single woman. Six years ago Barbara's husband, Dale, died unexpectedly after a very short illness and then it was Mary Lou's and my turn (along with a lot of other family members and friends) who helped Barbara to become comfortable in her new life. She is now married to a wonderful man named Jerry who I personally adore. Who would have thunk?
Jerry took this photo of Mary Lou, Barbara and I at the shoreline. That's the coastline at Santa Monica you see behind us and there's a ship out there, too. Our foot steps are mingled with seagull talk.
And this is Jerry and Barbara. We have done a whole lot of living, growing, grieving and laughing together and will continue to do so, a day at a time.
It was a great Christmas, very low key, rain showers off and on, and a brisk wind which kicked up white caps and rocked the buoy bells. Part of my family came here for breakfast and Cookie was having another exceptionally good day. We reminisced in front of the fire, opened a few packages, and had a huge meal my son-in-law and I prepared together.
After everybody left, I took Cookie out for a walk and suddenly remembered how I take my town for granted. I'm a huge believer in the power of place and I've been far too lackadaisical lately. I'm 1 1/2 blocks from the Redondo Beach Pier and I live in an eclectic neighborhood of old bungalows, townhouses (I live in one), apartments, and now more and more Mac Mansions are popping up.
What started this train of thought was that my daughter and her family spent yesterday afternoon and evening on Skid Row downtown as they have for the past few years--delivering all the warm clothing, blankets, shoes et al they collect for a few months to give to the people living on the street at Christmas. I am not a rich person monetarily, but I was certainly reflecting today on a lot of the abundance I forget I have sometimes. My daughter is a court reporter and she and her court's staff also adopted a young family from the Department of Social Services which I wrote about a few days ago. Today she brought lots of photos of the 18-year-old couple and their one-year-old daughter. It was magical to see.
So, I decided to see if I could find a few videos on YouTube about some of the things I cherish about Redondo Beach, particularly this time of year. I've tried to keep the clips short, but I place them here more for me than for you. For instance, the annual boat parade in King Harbor, which was two weeks ago, is always a hoot.
And now we have an ice skating rink next to the salt water plunge at the King Harbor Marina which is open days and evenings. I can walk to all the places I mention here. I haven't skated there but my son and daughter-in-law took their sons and you can see the boats in the marina and the ocean beyond while you are skating. Members of the L.A. Kings came recently to skate with the locals.
And then there is the Redondo Beach Pier and International Boardwalk itself, which I used to spend so much time visiting. Dogs are not allowed in the pier area or on the beaches anymore, so I don't go as often as I used to, but there is so much to see and do. I've come away from this Christmas day determined to be more aware of my environment. This woman's video was shot today, Christmas, and she introduces it in sign language. You see the weather as it was. The buoy bells are clanging like crazy as I type at 11:30 p.m. as the wind is kicking up.
But, it's always a hoot to go down and watch the surfers, any time of the year. This clip is near the breakwater in 2007. Both my sons surfed from a very young age and still do today, although it's harder in Port Angeles, WA. When I think how many times I drove them from Torrance to the beach with the surf boards sticking out the back of my station wagon, I smile. I keep my eldest son's boards in my garage ready and waiting for his rare visits. It was on the Esplanade bike path by this breakwater that I fell in 1985 while biking with friends. My shoulder has never been the same since. On Thanksgiving day, two young men were tragically washed away while fishing on this breakwater.
So, here are a few reasons I love it so much in Redondo Beach, CA--and my daughter's Skid Row visit yesterday made me realize how much I do. We all need an emotional cattle prod now and then to wake us up, don't we?
It's 10:30 p.m. and I just finished wrapping the last package and I am too tired to do any more Christmas cards. I've cooked Cookie a pot roast and she is eating more like a horse than a dog. I've vacuumed, did the prep for tomorrow morning's family breakfast, gone to church, and now it's time to get to sleep so Santa can come. I didn't burn the fire place tonight as I didn't want to singe his suit. It's raining, but Cookie and I will go around the block. This is the holiday newsletter that is going out post-Christmas this year, if anyone is interested. Just double click to make it the size it actually is.
May all of you have a blessed Christmas.
Dr. Steve Liebl of the Hermosa Animal Hospital, Cookie's vet, called a little while ago and Cookie's chemistry panel is back from yesterday's blood draw. Though she has had virtually no appetite the past few weeks, she did eat some at our family party Sunday and a little yesterday afternoon when an old friend came by and literally held the bowl in front of her. Dr. Steve did tell me that her liver and spleen were very enlarged and that was of concern to him. He gave her a B-12 shot and asked me to give her a half dose twice daily of PecidAC to help stimulate her appetite. He took her off the Cushings medications. At this time, she is still drinking heartily. Today she ate like a champ.
The news is not good, though I was so scared while Dr. Steve was talking that I'm not sure I heard or assimilated a lot of what he said. Her red blood cell is extremely deficient, but the whole panel was severely out of whack, including the liver and spleen. There are no CA tests for dogs like there are for people, but he told me that he felt almost positive that it was a certain kind of liver tumor that is not successfully treatable. He can x-ray to see the mass, but he's not sure that would really do any good since he's recommending that we just make her as comfortable as possible. At 13, she's had a good and long life. I want to have Cookie cremated when the time comes and Dr. Steve told me of a retired vet in OC who does it honestly and reliably. We've always buried pets at home, but I don't know how much longer I'll live here--and I sure couldn't dig a hole big enough.
How long, do you think? I asked Dr. Steve? Probably 1-3 months. Will she be in pain? If she is, she will cry to tell you. He said he will give her B-12 periodically and assured me we'll keep her comfortable until her time comes. He said to cook red meat for her and let her have as much as she wants, which my friend Eldonna said will be a little bit like heaven before heaven actually comes.
Tonight I'm so sad, crying off and on, wishing I could "do something." To love an animal--or a person for that matter--always means the risk of loss. In the meantime, she and I will make the best of it!
This is one of the photos my family took when we celebrated Christmas on Sunday. I didn't want Cookie; I got her by default 12 years ago, but what a grand 12 years (and sometimes disastrous, like when she ripped apart the new sofa while I was at work) we've had.
This morning at 10 a.m. my family came to open presents early as Tony, Gretchen, Henry and Fritz will be going north to visit granny and grampy for Christmas this year; they are Gretchen's parents. To see Christmas through the eyes of young children is one of life's wonders, isn't it?
The presents given to me this year were simple and deeply meaningful, the kind I like the best. Following are Henry and Fritz's hand prints made into a butterfly and framed in a beautiful Pottery Barn frame.
A local company called Tender Impressions gave a presentation to the parents at his school and check out the website. There are many choices of how the hand or foot prints can be made into unique art and it's all done by local artists. This is simple enough that most of us who enjoy making art could do lots of innovative impressions of our own, given a spurt of creative juice.
Christy, my daughter, and her family, gave us all notes as follows and this was another deeply heart-felt gift. "In your honor, we have adopted a needy family this year to give them a wonderful Christmas experience. This is through the Dept. of Family and Social Services. Our family consists of a very young couple, along with their 4-month-old daughter."
And, to top it off, Ray, who has had our 8 mm film of our kids growing up, got it all out and prepared it for Costco to burn into DVDs. There is 5 1/2 hours worth; because I was cooking, I only saw about 10 minutes of it, but it ranges from Joe being a baby (now 46) into their high school years. It took him a lot of time, but he gave copies to all of us. I will be watching this all of Christmas week.
Tonight Tony and Gretchen invited me to accompany them and the boys to the outdoor light displays in Sleepy Hollow, a Torrance neighborhood renowned for their extravaganas. It was bumper to bumper traffic, but it was so fun to share it with them.
And here are Henry and Fritz at grandma's house this morning after we opened presents.
I was probably the only one who was holding the solstice in her heart today, but when I took Cookie out tonight, the sky was clouding over in prep for tomorrow's rain storm and I knew winter was officially here. Cookie has taken a downward spiral this week, hasn't been eating at all, but she ate people breakfast today and has been much perkier since. She is such a social animal. My family took lots of photos of Cookie and me today.
Director Baz Lurhrman has done it again with his epic film "Australia," which opened in the U.S. on Thanksgiving, or at least I give it a big thumbs up. It has not done well in the U.S., but I think of "Gone With the Wind," when I think of "Australia."
Starring People Magazine's "Sexiest Man of the Year," Hugh Jackman, and Nicole Kidman, I was mesmerized by all of it, though admittedly the first half sometimes dragged. I loved the cattle driving and horse driving scenes--and the unbelievable scenery in the outback. The cinematography, the acting, the battle of good vs. evil, and that mystical, mythical romantic and familial love we all long for, is all there.
It is based on the Aboriginal tradition of story telling, which is a subject very dear to my heart. When I Googled reviews, the one that explained this connection best was Pop Matters. The narration is done through the eyes of a "half-breed" 12-year-old boy named Nulla, hauntingly played by Brandon Walters. It is 1939 and racism and classism are rampant in Australia. The first half is before WW II on an outback cattle station and the second half focuses on the horrors of war in an Australian port city. The song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" will be in my head for weeks to come along with Nulla's medicine man grandfather who mystically teaches and watches over Nulla, usually from afar.
I'll definitely buy this film for my own collection, but it's grandeur and sound has to be seen in a theater with a large screen and great sound to really experience it. At least that's my opinion. And--the film and music of "The Wizard of Oz" weaves its way through "Australia." In retrospect it seemed like a story within a story, within a film et al.
I have not particularly been a Jackman fan but Sunday night a man fell in love with me in a dream--and I was a mess--an amputee fleeing for my life in a desert. (Very complex dream.) As soon as Australia opened and I saw "Drover," Jackman's character, I gasped. My dream man was Hugh Jackman. Ah, life!