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VON TRAPP FAMILY-ISH - West Coast style
Circa 1965, Near San Francisco, CA

This is my sisters and I plus two more fashionable cousins, the mandolin player posted it on FB. I am the zoned out child far right. I REALLY wanted to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music at this point, and my Mom cut my hair accordingly. 

Mom went through a phase where she insisted on dressing my sisters and I the same — these dresses I believe may have been drapes at one point.* Style was never really all that important — this is clearly an incident of Style A without sleeves, Style B with shirt sleeves, Style C with long Sleeves Butterick Pattern. Being the youngest, I luckily got to wear all three sizes of the same dress as I grew. The untold blessings of being the youngest. I quickly outgrew my middle sister though, ha ha.

Off frame left is my Grandfather, Gino. Good times.

*not true

Father’s Day card I gave to my Dad back in 1968

This morning I was going through a box of junk my sister put together for me and though much of the contents is bizarre crap from my folks house, I found this card that my 7-11/12ths year old self made for my Dad, for Father’s Day in 1968.

In case you can’t read it - it says “You are the best father in the world. Have a nice time, ok? It’s Father’s Day Love Laura” My terrific writing style full formed, my abundant artistic talent already showing, and my innate sense of leading and kerning type fully noted. ha ha

I’m not sure why my saved this particular card over every other year, but I’m sure glad that she did. Great laugh coming upon it, especially today of all days.

Reeling in the Spin

It takes a long time to pick up the slack once your life has spun and the line has gone long. You handle the deluge as best you can, you ride it out. You want recovery from the shit storm to be quick, to not add to the time you have already lost dealing with the deluge, but it does. You want to step back to a place where life is okay, on an even keel, and your direction is clear.

You can’t.

While you were away, every has changed. So instead, you are forced to take baby steps, carving out a new path little by little as you go, but hopefully knowing that you are making headway in the right direction - for YOU. 

You have to hold onto that with both hands and all of the faith you can muster, because during the chaos and pull that has dragged you to this low point, you can’t hold onto anything — you scrabble along giving out, giving up, giving over, until you are completely empty and turned inside out.

But you’re still alive. Even though you’re no longer certain what that means.

Then you have to set that aside to take care of yourself.

You have to start to refuel and refill.

You HAVE to.

The bitch of it is, that this too takes time and every decision seems to sap all of your strength, especially at first.

It’s exhausting…

Family, can help, but sometimes they will poke you with a stick, hold you under and do their best to keep you from actually reaching shore safely. It’s inconceivable, until it happens.

So you distance yourself and find a safer shore. And let the things you cannot change go, so that you can build on the opportunities that arise.

And hope that you will find your way again, in this new land.

diodellamorte:

Lined up for DAYS… (at Mama’s On Washington Square)

MAMA’s
Mama’s has been a popular café in the North Beach section of San Francisco since I was a child, probably earlier…

LIGURIA BAKERY
If you were one of these people in line and you looked across the street toward the photographer (Daryl, that I attended school with), you’d see the Liguria Bakey on the corner that makes, hands down, the best Focaccia bread (pizza we called it) in the City, maybe in the US. Go early they sell out by 10 AM.

MOK STUDIO
Next to that is Mok Studio - or it used to be. Peter Mok and my Dad worked together years ago in advertising. Peter was super good at pen and ink drawings. Did some wonderful drawings of Victorian houses.

1708 STOCKTON STREET
Above Mok’s at 1708 Stockton was my grandparent’s apartment. They rented the apartment for 70+ years and never bought it. Luckily, it was rent controlled. When my Grandfather moved out in 2000 he was paying something like $250/month* for a 2-bedroom apartment with roof access, a balcony, a garage, and he’d rented all of the basements on the block for storage. Sweet deal. When I was growing up, he grew pot** on the roof along with tomatoes, basil, peppers, at the like. If the police had raided his stash he was going to throw my great grandmother under the bus. She had used hemp to make chair seats in Italy. The apartment had a terrific view of the church and Coit tower from the roof.

My Mom grew up here, and my aunt. My sisters and I rotated weekends staying with my grandparent’s until we were nearly in college.

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
There’s a park just out of frame, where Old Italian men and hippies hung out in the ’60s/’70s. They held free concerts in the park at that time, and I saw both Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin perform. Later, Jefferson Starship.

SAINTS PETER AND PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH
Around the corner from Mama’s is the big Gothic church — Sts. Peter & Paul, where most of my extended family members were baptized / confirmed / married / had their Memorial Mass. When I was engaged in high school, I wanted to get married here. Down the street is the Italian Athletic Club - a big hall used constantly it seemed for our family’s wakes and wedding receptions.

GREEN STREET MORTUARY
Farther down the street is the Green Street Mortuary. My grandmother used to take me there all of the time as a kid. We’d go into each of the rooms look in the casket, kneel down and say a prayer. Move to the next room. As we left she’d say - I knew 6 people today. Guess she just wanted to see who had died in the neighborhood. Then, we’d go shopping. I didn’t think this was weird at all, until I was older and discovered that she did not do this with my sisters. ;)

CHINATOWN
A little father down the street, stockton joins Broadway and Chinatown begins. On the border between Little Italy and Chinatown were a couple of bakeries where in the old days Chinese woman sat in the windows and made fortune cookies - my grandmother would let me stand and watch them for as long as I wanted. I was fasinated. To make a fortune cookie, hot batter is poured onto a little griddle, and impossibly fast, a woman adds a fortune, and folds the dough into quarters before it cools. I’d beg my Grandmother to buy the messed up cookies — $1 for a huge bag. Some cookies held 50 fortunes, some cooled too quickly and were nearly flat. There were always a ton of loose fortunes in the bags. That was cool Some cookies were pretty much okay…

I never ate at Mama’s until I was an adult. Kevin took me there for breakfast, shocked that I had never been. We stood in a line, not unlike this one, for an hour waiting for a table.

—-

*At $100/month over 70 years my grandparent’s would have paid $84K in rent

**My Grandfather was quite the rascal, he used to roll enormous joints and walk down the street smoking them. He liked to see people’s reactions. Apparently, he and his brothers Joe and Chris all grew pot and fought over the other “borrowing” from their stash.

Five F_R_I_D_A_Y (mostly chickens, carry-on)

  1. I’ve gotten dick-all accomplished today at work today, and I leave in 15 minutes, make that 9, make that 3….

  2. I am transferring 120 eggs, 16 chicks, pullets and three roosters + 2 carcasses from the sub-zero (birds that drowned). All are going to my Ojai friend tonight - I hope tonight, as it’s an hour each direction and a huge time-suck.

  3. I’m hesitant to give him my good birds as he has been losing his stock to hawks, and drama, drama, drama…I have been lucky not to have a lot of predators or drama. Don’t want any either.

  4. I ordered chicks from Ideal - my favorites: Wyandottes, Cochins, Brahmas, Barnevelders, but also new breeds - Andalusians, Chanteclers, Iowa Blues, Sussex, Brabanters, Hamburgs, Kraikoppes…the mind reels. I have to sit down and figure out what breeds these chicks are, about half have feathered legs/feet. Hmm…

  5. I received a message from my Dad who has dementia. My sister is in the background egging him on. He says, “I say it now?” She says yes, say it now. He says, Now? She says Yes. He says - “I reserve the option to break your arm. Pause. Hold up your right arm. Pause. My sister talking in the background. Silence. Then she says Have her call you… And my Dad says, call back and you will talk to us.

    This is not delivered in a joking manner, and it totally creeped me out. I mean, who does that?! I have no idea what this is about, or why my sister would be sick enough to egg on my demented Father to call and leave such a horrible message.

Five for Friday

  1. I got paid ! - My first paycheck in over a decade, closer to two. I’m probably the only person happy about the taxes being taken out of my check - after paying quarterlies / annually for a gazillion years, this is so much easier.

  2. Received a note this morning — one of my college roommates is coming to visit this afternoon. Yikes! My house is a STY, but I’ll be glad to see her.

  3. I’m learning that taking baby steps when you want to go lunging forward is hard to do, but a wise move.

  4. Life sometimes bounces funny —as a result, things come back into, or go back out of your life as a result of something that you never saw coming.

  5. I’m on a project and have been tasked with finding stock images of couples working out, not showing faces, fit men and women, that work in black and white, are not ethnically, nor sport specific, and are not seasonal. I found ONE shot, I need 25 for the entire line. Oy!

Look, a post without chickens! Well, almost!

I got a JOB!

I got a real 40 hour a week job, with benefits and all that crap - hello paid vacation! I’ll be doing package design / marketing for a super food company located about a mile and a half from Kev’s old house and 30 miles from here. :) But I won’t have to deal with the seriously bad L.A. traffic, yay!

I’ve been self employed for longer than some of your have been alive — and it does have its perks. It is also a grind — I can tell you this in all honesty — working nights and almost every weekend for years on end does make John a dull boy. Plus, having to constantly drum up business, do the work, close and bill the jobs, then wait, and wait and wait for payment, and find more work and so on. Is exhausting. I’ll be glad to leave some of that to someone else, and to be able to focus on a smaller scope myself. I’m also looking forward to working with a team again. Working for yourself is also very isolating. You can remind me of the solitude I gave up in a few weeks, when I’m sick of my co-workers. :)

So through all the craziness the past couple of years and for you not keeping score it includes all manner of drama*, I haven’t been able to  focus on my own life and getting it back on track. So it has swung wide. Now, my time has come! I’ve been working pretty steadily on building my freelance client base again. So it makes total sense that this job happened to come along, now. Still, I’m excited about it.

*Life drama highlights include: mom dying, dad falling and cracking his hip, my own tumor / ovarian cancer scare, my surgery resulting in immediate menopause, no hormone replacement causing depression like symptoms, ending a long-term relationship, loss of client base, 3 years splitting time between L.A. and S.F while caring for failing father, stress of disagreeing with sister over care of said father, own fall off a staircase resulting in brain bleed and cracked ribcage, brush fire evacuation (twice), and the ever popular wallowing in misery and living in near bankruptcy conditions.

—-

On the flip side - I got to spent 5 months with Mom before she died. Dad cracked his hip but didn’t have to be hospitalized (he recovered fully). My tumor was not cancerous. I no longer have the pesky ovarian cyst problem that has plagued me all my life. That peri-menopause shit was never an issue. I ended a relationship that had run it’s course — we’re still friendly while sharing ownership of an ancient diabetic dog. I got a puppy! I got chickens! I got to spend Dad’s last three good years with him and we had a blast. This included trips. Trips to Calistoga for fine food and drink, to Marysville where we waded in the river looking for gold, to Lava Beds National Monument for rocks to put in his bonsais, and the big trip last fall to France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Then a blow-out party for Dad’s 84 where we had 50+ family and friends come and celebrate his life, and for all intents and purposes, everyone had a chance to see him one last time before my sister whisked him away to live with her back east. All-in-all, there is also much to be grateful for.

And I am.

Friday Five

  1. When I opened a new bank account this afternoon, it was pointed out to me that my passport has expired. ARGH! That’s a first, I’m usually all over renewing that shit, in case I need to travel abroad on a moment’s notice. :)

  2. The woman helping me at the bank was really helpful until she realized that the what she thought was a $7,500. check, was actually a $75. check. Then, just a little less so. I didn’t catch onto the error, but she kept saying “the BIG check” and pointing to the little check, which should have been a tip-off. I however thought she was kidding. Oh well. Note to self, need to hang out with less sarcastic people.
  3. I was up for a temp gig at Oprah TV next week but it didn’t work out. We ran out od time haggling. They wanted to meet me today so they could mull over whether or not I had the right “vibe” to be a contractor for a week. o_0 Maybe down the line, I can get my vibe read just in case the need arises again. Who knows?!! I’ve never had to jump through hoops like this before for defined temp work. Interesting.

  4. My poor, ancient 13 year old dog is on death’s doorstep. He can’t die though until I can afford to have him cremated. Which won’t be until the 20th. Other wise I’ll be out on the property digging a really big hole. Not good in this heat. And probably illegal.

  5. I may have had a couple or three glasses of wine tonight. One of the bottles in the dark corner of the wine chest — from a Sonoma winery I believe — payment for a newsletter design I did earlier this year. Tasty. Tasty. Tasty.

    Ahh.

TT - Food

  • I’ve had a wicked, week-long craving for Latkes / potato pancakes. Every morning for a week now, I’ve gotten up grated potato and onion, add an egg, a little flour, spices, then cooked them in a little butter in a heavy black skillet, just like my Mom used to. I’m holding off on the cheese, so far. It’s not diet food, but damn is it good.

    Potato Pancakes with German Style Spareribs (cooked in a pressure cooker until the meat as falling off the bone) — among my favorite of the meals Mom made. She didn’t make them often. I always asked for this dish on my birthday. A few years ago at my folk’s house, I came home just before dinner and Mom said “I made your favorite meal, Chicken Cacciatore!” Olives and Chicken in red sauce, ick.

  • I treated myself yesterday at the Armenian grocery store to what I thought was divinity (nougat) rolled in pistachios. I greedily opened the package of Malban in the car and took a big bite. Uhm, no. It’s some rosewater flavored gelatinous mass rolled in pistachios. Probably not bad, but not what I was expecting and I haven’t been able to get past the texture — or the floral note.

  • Someone posted a Chewy Pizza Dough recipe here about 6 mos ago. I tried it and have perfected it to my taste over time. I add pepitas, roasted unsalted sunflower seeds and black sesame seeds to the dough as well as finely chopped basil, crushed red pepper, dried crushed sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. I make the crust as thin as I can and add grilled veggies to the top, a little bacon and parmesan cheese. It’s more like a flavored flat bread, but I love it.

  • Despite the previous bullets, I’m not someone who generally eats a lot of carbs. I have gone years without buying a loaf of bread, or making pasta. I have been more a devotee of brown rice and portion control - so this craving for carbs is new to me. See also, extreme stress response. :)

TT - 2 days late

  • My father is still back east - my sister is still not letting me talk to him.  Apparently moving him and cutting him off is illegal — I have options, none of them are good. Some could land my pernicious sister in jail. I will advocate for what my father wants, if I can reach him.

  • I had a wonderful interview yesterday for a packaging job. It’s my 4th with the company, but my first on the food side. Fingers crossed. It would be my first full-time gig in 15 years but I’d love to work for this company. My friend Jason, and the Digital Marketing Manager are the kind of a people you want as co-workers - passionate, driven, knowledgeable, open

  • The other side of the company is cigarettes / cigars / hookas — and had a large group in the smoking area when I drove up yesterday. I shouldn’t have been surprised by that, right?

  • After the interview my car broke down. I made it to a mechanic. There was an oil leak and the serpetine belt was covered in oil. 30 miles from home. The mechanic and I chatted - I said I had to get the car back that day as I have chickens. He’s Persian and raised chickens. We bonded.

  • While my car was getting fixed, my friends Janet and Roz took me to tea at the Tranquility Tea Room. What fun. We wore goofy hats, and drank weird teas - Coconut Mango, Almond Roca, Chocolate Fantasy (meh), ate futzy sandwiches and had a great time.

  • My buddy Samy, the mechanic,  fixed the car, changed the oil, topped off all the fluids and didn’t over-charge me. AND he needs a website designed / built for him. Win-win.

  • I forgot the best thing - on my way home, my wishy-washy friend, now with a girlfriend, made me a very generous offer. I may take him up on it

TT

Life in random bulletpoints:

  • My Dad is failing, rapidly at this point. My sister, without mentioning it, has flown to CA to make arrangements for him. I’ve been left out of family decisions my entire life so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I’m not angry that my sister is with my Dad, I’m relieved. I’m angry that she bought the ticket Sunday, arrived yesterday and today is the first I’ve heard about it. Typical.

  • I have two chicks and a hen that will likely die in the next day or two. I’m hoping if they die, they die today as tomorrow is trash day…cruel or practical?

  • I like the taste of chewable vitamins. I think it stems from being a kid and thinking I was getting away eating candy, but I’ve never outgrown it. I don’t understand people who swallow horse-sized vitamins….

  • This past month has been incredibly stressful. Just when i think I’m coming up for air, I get dragged back under. It’s exhausting. I’d like to take an extended Staycation — away from all my life shit but stay at my house. Where can I get a travel agent that can arrange that for me?

  • The coyotes / dogs barking woke me up at 3AM, I came downstairs to check on all the bird pens, had a beer, watched TV for awhile then went back to bed. Beer at 3AM is pretty good. TV at 3AM not so much.

5 for Friday - 51 minutes to Saturday

  1. Last night I went out with my traveling group for wine and cheese. We’ve been to China, Greece, France, Spain and Portugal so far. One friend invited me to Vietnam, but I missed the sign-up deadline. Now her daughter is having a baby during the trip dates, so the trip has been pushed out for a year. Yay!

    The friend rushing forward on Match.com was hosting. She smelled a rat in her beau that night — trust me he’s too good to be true. Today, she’s back believing he’s the one God has chosen for her. I believe that she wants this so badly, that she’s lost the ability to step back and see the bigger picture. Make me nervous.

  2. Speaking of nervous, I came home to find that someone had come into my yard, put my dogs in the house, then barricaded the dog door. I’m sure that either the dogs got out, or they were barking, but still, it scared the crap out of me. I came in the back way and saw it. I wouldn’t have known for a long while, had I come in the front door like a regular person. How hard is it to leave a note? Or to call and explain?

  3. Went to dinner tonight with a couple of men from Winnipeg, they just returned from walking the Camino — a pilgrim’s route that runs about 500 miles across Northern Spain. I’ll see them tomorrow on a mini journey we are undertaking. I’m going to be leaving the dogs out - If you come by and barricade them in the house while I’m gone, leave a damn note. K?

  4. One of my roosters is congested so I have him in the bathrooms on a vaporizer. I set him gently on the counter, he flew up to the top of the shower rod and crapped on the shower curtain — this is why we can’t have nice things.

    As an aside, Chickens are prey animals so they don’t show symptoms until the man in black robes with the sickle is in sight. Then you have a very short period of time to treat them before they waddle off into the light.

  5. Sunday a little girl and her family came to look at the chicks. When they left, one of the chicks was missing. Today, it smells a lot like death but I can’t find the source of the stink…I may not have looked too hard. The chicks are fast and a little crazy, it’s possible that one got out unnoticed. Either way, something chick-sized is dead.

Okay, so now it’s Saturday - I sat back after writing this and fell asleep. The rooster was on the vaporizer all night. This morning he was wet, but alive, and less congested. Time will tell. I wrapped him in a towel and warmed him up. He’s outside again wooing the girls — roosters are all about morning sex, oh, and late afternoon sex…in the middle of the day they nap and take a leisurely dust bath with the hens. Not such a bad life. This rooster’s DNA is evident in the chicks I hatched out. So, he’s doing his job. :)

Truthful Tuesday

  • New batch of chicks arriving early June, both from my setting hen and from Meyer Hatchery - woot!  I threw caution to the wind this year since family drama had me ordering late. I chose the “LeAnn’s Adopt Me” Assortment and a “Rare Egg Layer” Assortment — I’m hoping that Rare Egg Layer refers to rare breeds of chickens and doesn’t mean that these hens rarely lay eggs, hmm. :)

    The customer service at Meyer is fabulous, and the woman mentioned that there might be turkeys in the LeAnn’s lot, Wow!! I’d love that.

  • Was supposed to go to Vietnam with a friend in an ever distant Feb, but the trip is ALREADY fully booked, so to soothe my disappointed nerves I put a deposit on an even more remote SA trip in an even more remote Sept…woot!

  • Still hoping against hope to attend a friend’s wedding in Rome in August. Though time is running out, fast.
  • My main client is being a DICK. He asked me to design 5 different logos for his client, then sent me a budget of ONE HOUR to complete the job. 12 minutes per logo. Seriously?!! I told him no as nicely as I could between clenched teeth. In the time it’s taken me to type this far I’d have had to have come up with a viable logo. See, not so easy…especially since one needs to be designed like a superman logo, another with a speeding bullet.

  • I killed rattlesnake #5 yesterday. I relocated the first 4, but this time I was with all three dogs, and I didn’t want to risk them getting hurt. I used a rock & I must report, it is no mean feat killing an angry rattler as the cavemen would have.Kudos to them. Vet bills here run $4,800. for canine/feline treatment of a bite, more for a human. Can’t risk it.

  • I want to work for Grand Circle Travel / Grand Circle Foundation / Overseas Adventure Travel. Great company from what I can tell. If any of you have connection there (they are based out of Boston) and can pull strings, I’d be indebted to you for Ev-ah! Seriously.

TT

I’m sick of the bullshit I get from my sister whenever I spend time with Dad. Nothing I do is “right” it always seems to fall short of her way, which is apparently the *only* acceptable way. She’s currently accusing me of undermining “her plan” — a plan that neither my Dad or I are aware of.

It’s incredibly scary.

It’s the kind of grit that gets under my skin and keeps wearing away at my heart. I hope she doesn’t realize how personal and painful her attacks are. I can’t fathom her — well anyone really — being that intentionally cruel. In truth, it makes me want to give up trying. I can’t though, I have to keep the focus on my Father. I love him and I will advocate for whatever’s best for him for the rest of his life.

It’s not easy.

We view and approach things completely differently. I believe that sharing information is the only way to go, especially since neither of us are local. She believes that only she should have all of the information so that she can determine what is important enough for me to know and just mete the important stuff out as she sees fit, which in truth, is not very often. This makes no sense, given that I’ve been actually been spending 4-5X more time with Dad than she does.

It would make such a difference if we could approach the whole situation with gratitude instead of judgement. And if she was interested in working with me as a team, rather than as adversaries. I won’t lie, aging is scary, it’s scary for my Dad and for both my sister and I, but I firmly believe that our fear for him, can’t be bigger than his life. It just can’t be, he has to be able to live his life as fully as he can. We disagree on that as well.

In truth, we are exceptionally lucky.

Our father is alive, is coherent, is mobile, is healthy enough to be actively engaged in life. He lives in a great house for growing old. If he lives frugally, he likely has the means to live out his life in the manner to which he’s become accustomed — without having to sell the house and move in with one of us.

I’m so very grateful for these things.

I’m also very grateful for the things that my sister handles for my Father. I’m not knocking the things she does. I just wish she’d accept and acknowledge that the things I do have merit and have value for Dad as well.

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