Patty to the Rescue!

Patty to the Rescue!

Patty and Rosemarie at Peter's wedding

This is me and my bestie at my son Peter’s wedding.  The day would not have been complete had she not been there to share this special life event with me and my family.

Patty and I have been friends since we were 14 years old.  We were two Catholic girls from large traditional families thrown into the local public high school.  Somehow we found each other amidst the 700 kids in the class of ’74. Our friendship solidified and took on a more spiritual dimension when we attended late night Catechism classes on Mondays at St. Boniface Parish in Anaheim.

We cleaned up real well for this picture, but you should have seen us this weekend. Crazy hair, workout clothes, minimal makeup.

Patty drove up from Southern California, sensing that I was somewhat disoriented due to moving in to my new place while simultaneously holding down my full time job.  She came to my rescue- arriving on Friday night around midnight and staying until Wednesday morning.

When her feet hit the ground Saturday morning, the dust mop was blazing a trail on my new hardwood floor and pictures were being sorted and transported to appropriate rooms.  Patty made lists of what we needed  from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and (our personal favorite) TJMaxx. While out shopping, she scanned shelves for her favorite dish towels.  “You have to have more dish towels and I just LOVE this brand!”  She took it upon herself to interrogate a salesperson at Cosco concerning the pros and cons of a set of pots and pans I was lusting after.

She sat with me and “Allison” from 3-day Blinds while I got a bid for shutters for the entire house. After Allison left, Patty was on the phone calling “her people” to compare price points and swiftly made the determination that the bid was much too high!  Off we went roaming my new neighborhood, looking at peoples’ windows to see who had shutters.  “Those are nice!  Let’s go and ask where they got them!” An hour later we were leaving Annie’s house with full knowledge of the guy who did shutters in her last three homes.  Not only did we get a great window treatment lead, but we made a new friend as well.

Patty promptly scheduled “Ed” to come and measure my windows and give me a bid for shutters while I was at work on Monday with my homemade lunch that she made for me.  When I came home, she presented all the figures and announced that this was the best deal!  She had also made plans for a coffee table that I ordered on line to be returned after measuring my space and seeing that there would be no room for knees and other extremities.  There were detailed notes on who she spoke with, their phone numbers, item numbers and instructions on who to call if the return didn’t appear on my bank statement in a week.

We sorted through all the items in my china cabinet and the sideboard, giving everything a new home and a feeling of stability.  Being that I am the woman with the most tablecloths in the world, I was surprised that my sideboard drawers were only half full. Where were my table cloths?  And where were my sons’ senior pictures that were on the sideboard?  A light bulb went off- I had packed a lot of things in the old black Amelia Earhart chest that hadn’t made it into the house yet.  Off we went to the garage.  “Get something for us to sit on while we go through this trunk!” she instructed.

There we sat for the next hour or so, going through my parents’ old trunk, unearthing not only my tablecloths and sons’ pictures, but also old newspaper clippings of my dad’s race for Mayor of Compton and my mom’s engagement announcement from an Atlanta newspaper.  Pictures of my brothers and I at all stages of growth.  Baby clothes and wedding dresses- mine and my mother’s. We talked about our fears of getting older and needing so much to be supported and loved in our lives.  We cried and laughed and then cried some more.

We agreed that we are both very independent and unusual women.   And that neither of us is likely to go down without a fight.  We both cling to items that bring meaning into our lives.  We both take pride in our homes and do our best to create a haven for those we love.  We both had as our major career path getting married and having a family.

When Patty left on Wednesday morning, I had instructions for the rest of the week and a handful of notes detailing every transaction she had maneuvered in the last five days- along with another homemade lunch she made for me to take to work.

My life has been so dominated by male energy.  My very influential father, five brothers, and three sons.  I’ve had many blessings in my life- and I am grateful.  And this friendship is a gift I find quite profound.

God must have known, when he scripted the story of my life, that I would need a Patty.






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Occurring at a favorable time.  Opportune.  Involving divine foresight or intervention.

I think both definitions fit perfectly but I am leaning towards the latter.

I am finally in my new home.  It feels somewhat like a new shoe.  Super fabulous looking but in need of some breaking in.

My sons and my daughter in law have all come to share a glass of wine, Chinese food, snacks, coffee and bagels.   My grand-dogs have run through the house, making my cat, Ethel, climb up high on top of the kitchen cupboards just like old times.  I’ve had interesting people in and out buying items from my Craig’s List postings (thank you, Patrick), giving me some nice cash to buy lots of take out so that I can feed the “help” until I get this new kitchen organized.

Yesterday I met the most interesting couple- Sharon and Neil.  They drove from Hayward to get my Pottery Barn chair and a half with the matching ottoman.  Neil is a Marriage and Family Therapist like me and Sharon is a Pastoral Minister, a Buddhist practitioner and a future radio personality.  They were so very compatible, finishing each other’s sentences and taking turns sharing their personal stories with me, my son, Peter, and my daughter in law, Brianna.  Neil and Peter had a common acquaintance. Sharon and I could have talked forever about her work and her experiences ministering to the dying at UCSF.

We contemplated my parents’ dining room furniture and how difficult it was to fit into my new place.  Sharon had so many insights about how objects carry memory and good “karma” so to speak and how passing them on is a blessing to the next owner.  Perhaps I could also make a sort of “hope chest” in the closet under the staircase with the silver and other family heirlooms that I’ve had the pleasure of inheriting over the years.  A future grand-daughter might fall in love with these items.  I felt somewhat of a release from the old and permission to move into the future with not only my earned wisdom but also with fresh ideas and a clean slate.

After Neil and  Sharon left, I experienced my new home with different eyes.  How did these two intriguing and insightful people walk off the street and into my life?  Even if I never see them again (although I have a feeling I will) they have touched something deep inside of me.

New concepts.  New opportunities.  New people traversing my life path and sharing their stories.  This is not just my new home.  This is an opportunity for transformation.

As Peter and Breezy piled the doggies into the car and prepared to head north, and we reviewed our visit with Neil and Sharon, I asked, “Providential. Is that a word?”.  Peter said “I don’t think so, Mom.  You made that up.”

I do sort of make things up sometimes. I embellish and take writer’s liberties.  I’m a good story teller.

But when I got back into the house I Googled “providential” like a good student of vocabulary and there it was.

I couldn’t have made up a better word for the way I was feeling.





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Imminent- about to happen, close at hand, forthcoming, in the offing, on the horizon, expected, anticipated, looming…

It’s like waiting for the wedding to begin.  Everyone is giddy with excitement and suspense.  Or waiting for a baby to be born where there’s a conglomeration of anxiety, longing, and hopefulness.

We spend so much time in our lives waiting for something to happen.  My friend, Tom, calls it “waiting energy”.  We wait for the clothes to be dry, for the turkey to be done, for the pudding to set, for the tomato plant to produce for us a bumper crop of sweet fruit.  We wait for someone to “pop the question”.

We wait for the mail to come, for a phone call from a significant other, for the car to warm up, for our guests to arrive, for the guy from Home Depot to deliver the new refrigerator. We wait for the test results, for some good news, for a loved one to pass away from their pain and suffering into relief and peace.

And then we wait for our grieving to end.

I’ve been waiting all summer for my townhouse to be finished.  But it’s really not about the townhouse.

It’s about me.

What is it about “waiting energy” that zaps our lives and renders us immobile, unproductive and frozen in time and space? Why can’t we stop waiting for something to happen and just start living our lives in whatever space we dwell in.

Physical space.  Psychological space. Spiritual space.  Inner space.  Outer space.

What have you put your life on hold for- and why?






You want how much for that refrigerator??

You want how much for that refrigerator??

French-Door-RefrigeratorsYup.. she’s a beauty.

And everyone knows that food is love and the bigger the frig the more food and the more love!  It would be a huge splurge.  It’s what I love to do.  Entertain.   Make food. Food Is Love.

The stainless steel doesn’t turn me on.  But I’ve been told that it’s time to join the real world and stop being a hippy.  I’m still not sure this refrigerator fits my lifestyle. I really loved my magnetic door white frig with the 100 pictures plastered on it and magnets broadcasting everything from what wine to drink with dinner all the way to the phone number of my favorite appliance guy, Kenny.

I guess those days are over… sigh.

“So, can I have your address?” says the nice man at Lowe’s.”  He’s about the age of my sons and tall and skinny and I’m thinking maybe I’ll invite him over sometime and try to fatten him up.

“Oh..  I don’t have it with me.”  I’m embarrassed that I haven’t memorized my new address yet.

“OK.  You can just call it in with your credit card and we’ll do the transaction over the phone.”  He didn’t seem the least bit suspicious.  “Now when would you like this delivered?”

“Um…  I don’t know.”   Now I’m sounding like a crazy lady.

“I bought a new townhouse (friggin’ 10 months ago) and it’s not done yet.”

“Oh.”  he said with a raised eyebrow.

Yes, OH!  That’s what I say!

Now, I don’t know my address.  I don’t know when I’ll be in my new place.  I don’t know how I’ve survived this transition without going a bit nuts.  But I do know that I’m going to need that big ass frig so that I can have a lot of food and do a bunch of cooking and have people over and show them how much I love them and make my new house into a home so stop asking me all these silly questions and let’s get on with our business, shall we?

I thought to myself…

It’s been said that if you build it they will come.

Maybe if I buy the frig the townhouse will be done.

One can only hope…










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I recently traveled to Pendleton, Oregon via Portland to attend a wedding with my manfriend, Dale.  Driving along the Columbia River, I requested to stop at Multnomah Falls, a place that I hiked often with my little family when we lived in Portland almost 18 years ago.  I was totally unprepared for the flood of emotions I felt as we stood at the base of the falls.

The next morning in our hotel, after engaging in a ruckus round of early morning texts with my siblings- not an unusual exchange and something my son, Patrick, refers to as a Lebanese alarm clock- my brother, Johnnie, who lives in Pullman, Washington, singled me out in communication.

“Did you drive or fly in?” he inquired.

I responded: “We flew into Portland.  Made me sad.  Good memories.”

” Yes.. I bet.”  He replied.

Me: “Don’t you wish you could have some do-overs in life?”

My brother, Johnnie, left the Catholic church years ago for a more fundamental Christian congregation and I quite expected him to come back with a bible verse that might elevate me out of the mundane into the spiritual realm.

But his response surprised me.

“Yes.”  He said simply.

Now I would not bore/shock you with the list of potential do-overs that I have experienced in my life.  Some are huge detours I’ve taken off the main road and some are on a smaller scale yet significant nonetheless.  A few are so private and personal that I don’t even allow them into my conscious awareness, never mind share them with my closest friend.  Most have had far reaching ramifications that were impossible to foresee.

I am going to make a list of those potential do-overs for myself, have a good cry, and then create a ceremonial burning so that I can face the future without regret, remorse and existential angst.  If you decide to make your own list, I’d love to hear how that goes for you.  Hopefully we can be the salve to heal one another’s disappointments in life, missed opportunities and painful mistakes.




Ya’aburnee.. you bury me.

Ya’aburnee.. you bury me.

Sittee and Bobby Blur2

I was quite saddened when I read about Vice President Joe Biden’s 42 year old son, Beau, who just died of a brain tumor. This poor man has been through more trajedy than one could imagine.  First losing his wife and infant daughter in a car accident with his two small sons fighting for their lives.  Then years later having one of them succumb to cancer after not only surviving but also thriving with an enviable life, a successful career as an attorney and a fulfilling marriage with two beautiful young children.

Fate is twisted.

Ya’aburnee means “you bury me” in Arabic.  It means wanting to die before a loved one so as not to have to face the world without him or her in it.

This was the prayer on my mother’s lips when she received the news that my brother, Bobby, at age of 31, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  “Let it be me.  Not you.”

She fought for her third son from the very beginning.  He was born premature weighing only four pounds.  Just big enough to fit in a shoe box.  In school he was the class clown and the ring leader among his friends, often getting into trouble with Sr. Dolores, the principal at St.Philip Neri, in our small town of Compton.  He would lead kids twice his size around the neighborhood, looking for mischief.  He teased  me endlessly about being chubby and offered to pay my membership to Vic Tanny’s Salon.

After nine years of Catholic school Bobby  begged to be set free to attend the local public high school where most of his friends went.  He was a rebel.  A contrarian.  A master of debate.  How he convinced our ultra- Catholic parents to transfer him to public school remains a mystery to us all.

Years later while waiting to be accepted into Law School after earning a degree in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University and a Masters Degree in Political Science at American University, he would bide his time sitting on our couch at home reading through the encyclopedias from volume A through Z.  By now I was taller and not so chubby.  But he would still find things to tease me about.

Bobby went on to become a successful attorney.  He fell in love and married Christine. Together they had a family, Matthew and Katherine.  I’m sure my mother stopped worrying about him at that point.  (If mothers ever stop worrying..)

Until the evening when she got the news of Bobby’s brain tumor.

“Ya’aburnee,” she gasped in fear.

She got her wish.  My brother, Bobby recovered after several years of treatment.  He was healthy and back to work as an attorney, just long enough to be the Executor of my mother’s will after she succumbed to ovarian cancer in October of 1986.

And I imagine she was waiting with open arms at the gates of heaven with St. Peter when the cancer took my brother Bobby’s life in July of 1991.  For a brief moment, they would embrace and she would comfort him.  After which they would move on to join the Communion of Saints, their lives on earth but an ethereal dream.

My father was not so lucky.  He buried my mother.  And then he buried his third son. Dad died of cancer and a broken heart almost exactly a year after my brother died.

All these painful memories come back to me as I read the article about Joe Biden losing first his wife and infant daughter, and then years later, when it looked like life had self corrected, he lost the son he fought so hard to save.

Ya’aburnee.  You bury me.

My new mantra.




Betwixt and Between

Betwixt and Between

I ran into the Morgan Hill Safeway last week to pick up some groceries and a woman stopped me in the frozen food section.  I had dashed back to that aisle to pick up some blueberries and was pretty much done with my shopping.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure” I said, thinking she wanted to know where to find the cat food or to inquire about a good hamburger place in town.

“Do you have a blog?  One Hip Diva?”

Stunned, I replied “Yes”.  I had never seen this woman before and clearly she had only seen my picture.

“Where did you go?  In your last entry you were moving out of your house.”

I had to think for a minute.  Where did I go?

I am betwixt and between.  At a midway point.  Neither here nor there.  Most of my “things” are in a storage unit somewhere in Morgan Hill.  There is stuff in Dale’s garage and extra bedroom.  Random objects are at my work in my office.

And I am in a liminal space until my new townhouse is completed in July.

I don’t usually do well with this sort of thing.  I am a planner, a plodder, a tidy woman who likes to keep things in order.  But for some reason I am unexpectedly calm.  This liminal space is defined by Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest who says that Everything Belongs.

It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.

Indeed.  It is very unlike me to not want to flee!   But in the betwixt and between there is time to unwind and discover who I am without all the accoutrements and props I’ve accumulated throughout the years.  I’m waiting in the threshold for what’s next.  It’s a creative space that begs to be explored.  I’ve gotten out of my own way.  I’ve let go, moved on, leaped, unhooked and trusted.

How do I explain all this to a woman I don’t even know, yet who knows me pretty intimately through my writing?  Her name is Jill and if I hadn’t gone back to the frozen food section to pick up just one more thing I would never have met her.

Hello, Jill.  And thank you.



When life seems unpredictable, it’s good to remember that…

When life seems unpredictable, it’s good to remember that…

When I began the process of selling my home several months ago, I asked a Realtor to come over and assess the situation.  We talked marketing and the best time to list and then we walked around my house and he gave me ideas for “staging”.

“The lions on the front porch have to go.  Take those pictures off your refrigerator.  Replace that entrance rug with something more neutral.”

And then he stopped  in his tracks at this framed quote on my wall- “Everything Belongs”.

“That’s nice” he said.

Everything Belongs.  A quote from Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who advocates for living simply so that others might simply live.  A reminder to me every time I walked from my  kitchen to the front door that no matter what happens in my life, it all belongs.

This morning I am up early to do some last minute packing.  I am having my coffee on the floor of my office.  No desk.  No chair.  No potted blooming orchid.

The emptiness belongs.

The excitement of the next chapter.  The heartache. The anticipation.  The moist fragrant morning garden.  The anxiety.  The hopefulness.  I take it all with me.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated it most eloquently: “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”

The lessons learned in this beautiful home and the woman that I’ve become in the last 17 years- those things can never be left behind.

And tonight when I revisit my beautiful home in my dreams, I will remind myself.   That life changes and the lessons continue and I take it all with me.  And not one experience in life is out of step or out of sync with the other.

And the future is ripe for new experiences, new gardens to plant, new people to meet and new lessons to learn.

And in some unpredictable and unexpected way,  it all belongs.

When you have a garden you have a Future and when you have a Future, you are Alive. ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

When you have a garden you have a Future and when you have a Future, you are Alive. ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

I’m caving.

I’ve been so very strong about selling my house, downsizing, entering a new chapter of my life, blah blah blah…

This morning I worked in my garden.  The wisteria and the jasmine are in full bloom.   There are birds hanging on to branches everywhere and Ethel is stalking a very naive squirrel.  I’m pulling weeds and pruning roses and raking the gravel in the paths.  There are pots of flowers and window boxes that need watering.  I give St. Francis a little cleansing shower as he stands at his post, keeping peace among the wildlife.

I know I should start dis-assembling things in my home.  I need to start packing and getting my head around it all.  But this morning in the garden I am mourning.  Everything is in utter bloom as if to say in the sweetest way they know- goodbye.  And thank you.

Thank you for releasing lady bugs and dousing us with homemade compost.  Thank you for knowing what is a weed and what is a wildflower lest we all get pulled in haste.  Thank you for the great music you play when you are here with us bending and lifting and pulling and gently watering.

And I want to say in return…  Thank you for being there for me when I was stressed or anxious and nothing would sooth me except being outside with you.  And thank you for the beautiful canvas you created for all the great parties we’ve had here.  For my sons’ graduations from high school.  For our annual birthday theme parties.  For engagement parties and wedding showers and the random get togethers with friends and family.  For quiet meditation when I couldn’t sleep at night.

You’ve brought me such peace and tranquility.

And hundreds of plums!  Oh Lordy!  Not to mention all the birds, squirrels, raccoons and random neighborhood cats who came to enjoy your beauty.

I will have another garden.  As much as I bitch and moan about dragging around 20 pound bags of mulch and throwing out my back hoeing stubborn weeds rather than spraying them with roundup, I would not be the woman I am today without you and your unconditional love, your fragrance and your dramatic seasonal whimsy.

You will be the last part of this house that I begin to pack.  Both literally and figuratively.

I will miss my home and its’ cheerful sunlit rooms.  But I will miss you more.


Midlife Mischief…

Midlife Mischief…

The day began innocently enough.  Five friends from high school met in San Francisco for fun and sightseeing.  Two of us are currently from the bay area and the other three are visiting from the OC where we all grew up.  We’re a classy bunch.  At one time in our lives we used to elicit looks and howls from handsome men on the street but now we just kind of blend in with the masses of humanity enjoying the beautiful day and weather.  Our best qualities now internalized.  Just when did that happen?

Nonetheless, we think we are pretty hot babes.  (Or at least Perry thought we were.. more about that later…)

After a go around in the Ferry Building and a satisfying lunch (no calorie counting today!) we forge our way up the Embarcadero towards whatever suits our fancies, stopping to have our picture taken and do a little people watching and shopping.  With happy hour fast approaching, we set out to find a friendly bar.   Feeling very urban sophisticated, I suggest we call an UBER and promptly press my handy app.  A Toyota Corolla was on its way and would arrive in 2 minutes.

WAIT!  There’s five of us!  No way.  I quickly cancel and we squeeze into to a nearby cab that’s just barely big enough for the five of us and head to a groovy street for shopping and bars- “Chestnut in the Marina”.  The driver says “oh, that’s only about four blocks away..”   Twenty minutes later, we arrive.  Really?  Four blocks?   Not even.  Sandy would have liked to walk it with her Fit Bit.  The rest of us were content to be driven.

In and out of shops we go, all the while looking for a bar appropriate for our age category and level of sophistication.  The Tipsy Pig looks like fun with its’ 20 and 30 something beautiful people falling out of the windows and doors!  Oh yeah…  we aren’t 20/30 anymore.  Not a bad thing we all agree!!

We settle on the Ristobar with equally beautiful people more in our age category and somewhat more enlightened.  Sitting at the bar, we flirt with our bartenders like old times.  Why not?  We are classy babes from the OC!   I text my son Peter to let him know we are in his neighborhood.  He’s across town with his friend Nathan.

Darn.. the girls really wanted to meet him.

He says “have fun mom and don’t get into trouble!”  He has no idea what trouble his mother can get into with her hot girlfriends…

Now we are hungry for dinner and a little tipsy to boot.    I asked the lady next to me at the bar (who BTW was from Seattle) how to hail an UBER big enough to accommodate the five of us.   I selected UBER XL (or I thought I did) and my phone announced a white Honda Accord was on its way to wisk us off to the Fog City Diner

Boy that was fast.  As soon as we hit the street there it was.  Our white Honda Accord chariot.  We opened all the doors and began to pile in asking the driver if he was sure he could take all five of us!!   Not only was English his second language but I’m guessing the sight of five gorgeous babes climbing into his car was too much to believe!

He was rendered speechless..

Just then.. my phone rang.  The voice on the other end of the phone asked “where are you?  I’m here on the corner of Chestnut and Scott!”

We realized we were in the wrong Honda just as the man tried to explain in his broken English that he was waiting to pick up his wife!  Now stunned and embarrassed, we quickly evacuated white Honda Accord #1 and proceeded to jump into white Honda Accord #2, all the while laughing and gasping for breath.  Of course our UBER driver got to hear the entire story.  He was somewhat entertained.

Still greatly amused at ourselves, we arrive at the Fog City Diner where we are promptly seated.  The mood of our group was quickly picked up by our intuitive waiter, Perry, who asked “Are you ladies ready for an adventure?” at which we dissolved into uncontrollable laughter once again. Perry volunteered to order the entire feast for us including the wine.  We accepted the offer and the unsolicited flirtation.

Obviously he recognizes our inner hotness.

As a part of his fantasy, he renamed us all.   Dawn was Penelope.  Linda was Gwen.  Sandy was Maria.  Lisa was Susan.  I was Betty Ford.

Ok enough!  I ONLY had one Lemon Drop at the Ristobar!  My girlfriends had my back and begged for a more exotic name for me.  Sensing a potential post-menopausal riot, Perry renamed me Annalise.

The parade of food began..  Grilled Local Calamari, Hand Cut Furikake Fries, Lacopi Farm Brussel Sprouts, Caeser Salad, McFarland Springs Trout, Wagyu Flank Steak Fries, Short Rib Kim Chi Tacos, and two bottles of very expensive wine, after which we had two desserts (by then we didn’t care what we were eating..).  I asked for some table bread half way through the parade but Perry said NO it will ruin your appetite.  ( I don’t think he liked me..)

As the feast drew to a close, we asked Perry what his story was.  What’s a handsome middle aged man doing in the city waiting tables?  We heard his entire life story. Wife accused him of being abusive.  Turned his three beautiful daughters against him.  Yadadada…

Well, with age comes wisdom and these babes recognize a shmoozer when they see one!  Nonetheless, we leave a significant tip commensurite with the entertainment and attention he provided and then cozied up with Perry for one last photo.

Hoofing it back to the Bart station, we recapped the day’s mischief, feeling quite proud of ourselves for throwing caution to the wind.. just like old times!  Five hot babes from the OC doing the City!

BTW, this might have been one of those “you had to be there” stories. So if you’d like to leave a comment on this blog with your email we will invite you next time pending an UBER big enough and a driver brave enough.  Until then, let’s raise a glass to midlife mischief!