Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The -versary week (-end)

As DB says, we celebrate a lot of "-versaries" -- Winkaversary (the day I winked at him on Match), E-mailaversary (the day we first exchanged e-mails), Talkaversary (the day we first talked on the phone), Anniversary (the day we first met) and Smoochaversary (self-explanatory). Then, yesterday was my "Emaversary" -- the first day I met my granddaughter, Emily (then 4 1/2). So, that's the week between July 19 and July 26 every year! One day in there (7/22) is our littlest grandson's birthday (he was just one last week) too. Seven "holidays" in one week is my kinda week! ;-)

Our trip last weekend was fantastic:

We left my office around 5:30 and drove to Madonna Inn (google it, it's worth looking at the site...sorry, I forget how to add clean links here). What an adventure! I had wanted to stay there forever and never had. We reserved one of the rooms (they're all themed) with rock walls and rock shower...it was kitschy, but kind of luxurious at the same time.

When we arrived about 9 pm, they had a bottle of champagne and a "Happy Anniversary" balloon in our room -- nice touch! Then we went to "the pink restaurant" (see steakhouse on website) for dinner...I just wanted to sit in that gaudy room, but we ended up having a fantastic meal -- the best steak and blue cheese dressing (not together) that I ever had. DB and I think they must put some kind of yummy additive in there that makes it taste just amazing, but we have no idea what...bacon extract maybe? ;-)

The bathroom in our room had not only a heated toilet seat (which was a lot nicer than it sounds), but also a bidet feature -- that washed and dried! LOL It was silly and fun.

Friday morning we got up early because we were only staying there one night and I was determined to enjoy as much of the place as possible. We headed to the pool and hot tub area...the path up the hill was planted with some of the most fragrant plants I've ever smelled. It was a cloudy and cool morning (like every one in Cali this summer) but the pool (which had no edge...never saw one of those before) was heated enough that we could jump back and forth between it and the hot tub. They also have a waterfall and "lagoon" in the pool area. Yes, this is Disneyland for adults.

After our hot tub/pool adventure, my ex-assistant (one of the good ones who lives up there now) met us for brunch before we took off up the coast. She gave us some great tips about our trip from the local perspective.

On the way up Route 1 to Big Sur, they have an "elephant seal viewing area". Ex-Assistant said we should definitely stop. When we got there, it was so crowded that we almost didn't but I am SO happy we did!! I had never seen these creatures (they are only there at certain times of the year) and to see them in their natural environment? Wild. My first view was two of them sparring in the shallow water of the ocean...they looked like dinosaurs...seriously! They are HUGE. We stayed and watched them for a very long time. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me!

Then we kept going up Route 1...which has got to be one of the most beautiful drives in North America...and, for me, who is really REALLY afraid of windy roads, one of the most unnerving. I have to drive the windy parts or I get really sick at my stomach.

We stopped when we got close to Big Sur at a restaurant called Nepenthe (famous -- you can google it too) and had some wine and cheese to enjoy the view. Finally we arrived at our cabin in the redwoods around 5:30...it was SPECTACULAR. Very very remote...set in amongst a redwood grove on the edge of a canyon with a stream below that you heard all the time. The most fun part of the place was that the bathroom was out on the deck...so you went to the bathroom and showered and took bubble baths in the claw-foot tub under the redwoods! Wow. It was remote so not weird...no one could see you.

When we got there, we were sorry not to have shopped for the whole weekend because we didn't want to leave at all! But we hadn't, so we dressed to head down to the coast (about 4 miles from where we were) to get some dinner. The food at the restaurant was not good, but the view was and the waitress was great and we had a good time. That's the Anniversary night above.

Saturday we got up and headed into Carmel for groceries so we wouldn't have to leave the cabin again until Sunday...and we didn't. We lazed around all day...napping in the hammock, reading on the deck, and even trying the hike down to the stream (big mistake on my knees...still paying the price...trail was way too slippery, steep and narrow). For dinner, we snacked and I cooked some salmon. Then we had a long bubble bath. Niiiiice.

It was so chilly there that we had to have the propane fireplace on most of the time, but that was cozy. The whole place was just beyond our wildest dreams. We can't wait to go back.

The drive back on Sunday was less fun...it took us something like 7 hours even though we went the "faster" way. DB got a horrible allergy attack (something is wrong with the air-conditioner in his car) and felt really sick by the time we got home. But we both agreed that it was yet another fantastic -versary weekend!

I am a lucky woman...he is a special man.

(Today is Sheila's birthday. We are going out with some friends to celebrate at one of her favorite restaurants.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Life goes on...

...but the planet seems a little empty without Sheila on it.

I want to write the full story here so I have it to remember. We are headed out of town tonight for our 6th anniversary celebration...going to Big Sur. I am excited for this. Bad news is that my weight is really bad. I am certain it is from NO exercise and I am going to try hard to get back on that wagon when we get home. I know that grief is no excuse, but it's been very hard to focus on being "good" the past 2 weeks.

Here's what happened:

Friday, July 9, at 12:30 I got a call from a friend of Sheila's, Patty. Sheila (who had been fighting AML -- leukemia) for almost two years is probably nearing the end. Of course, I totally lose it. They think she has maybe a couple of days. I talk with Patty and another friend of Sheila's who lives in SoCal. We all agree that it is stupid to try to go back to NY to see her...she is surrounded by lifelong friends who have been taking care of her so well. I, inadvertently, start a snowball of e-mails by sending a quick one to the friends I know just so we have each other's e-mail addresses...everyone starts chiming in with memories of Sheila,
prayers, love...

I cry most of the afternoon on Friday, but I still go out to see Eclipse on Friday night as planned with a friend. Right before the movie, I get an e-mail from another of Sheila's nearest and dearest LA people. I tell him what I know: Sheila tried to drive herself to the hospital on Tuesday, July 6 (stubborn woman!) and collapsed in her parking lot. Her landlady had to call a friend to come take her. They say she is in and out of consciousness. They have stopped treatments and are giving her morphine to keep her comfortable. We cry.

Saturday there are many more emails from the Circle of Sheila Friends (as we are calling ourselves). I drink three Bloody Marys at breakfast to try to be able to sleep the horrible afternoon away, but all I end up doing is lying in bed crying. So many many tears. Late in the day, with no bad news, some of us dare to hope that she will make it through. I bought her a birthday present (her birthday is
7/27). DB and I went out to a fun show for the 16th b-day of the daughter of some friends and we go to bed very late, very drunk and very hopeful.

We wake up Sunday morning to the dreaded e-mail. Sheila passed away that morning. I can't stop crying and saying "nonononononononono". DB is crying too. We ultimately pull ourselves together and head out for coffee and breakfast. We decide to go to Sheila's favorite beach restaurant where we never go because the service sucks so bad. I'm crying off and on the whole time. I can't believe it. Sheila was only 63, always watched what she ate, always exercised, very into yoga, etc.

We get to the restaurant and, for the first time EVER, we get great service. We thank Sheila. :-) Walking home, DB says how much he wishes that he had some sidewalk chalk. Literally THIRTY SECONDS after he said that, we find a box of it, completely full, on the boardwalk. We thank Sheila again. Her spirit is SO powerful. It always was. All I keep thinking is that I can't believe this horrible thing has happened...I feel like nothing is real...but I go back home to bed with Bloody Marys. Same result as Saturday...no sleep, just tears.

We watched Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (movie) on Netflix instant to try to kill some of the horrible day. Then it was time for sunset. I opened a bottle of wine that I had been keeping to have with Sheila when she came "home" to Venice...it was bottled the year I met her at the winery where we met at a yoga retreat. DB and I took our cocktails down to the beach to watch the sunset of Sheila's last day. Our hearts were breaking.

Thank God for the Circle of Sheila Friends. By e-mails, we had a community to go through this with and it was a blessing. Sheila created this Circle for her...and for us.

I know (and I know she believed/believes this too) that her spirit lives on. In fact, I actually wrote her an e-mail on Sunday night (the day she died)...I needed to talk with her. It made me cry, but it made me feel better too.

We had a get-together last Thursday (7/15) night with some of her L.A. friends...a wake of sorts. Last week I edited the obituary that ran in the Woodstock (NY) paper and submitted it to the entertainment trades (she was in the business). On her birthday next week, several of us will go to her favorite Mexican. Finally, her NY friends will be sending us some of her ashes...they will sprinkle some in their ocean and we will in ours.

I miss her so much. I love her so much.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I love you, Sheila

I will miss you forever.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I wrote a blog yesterday about my weekend and saved it in Word. Every time I trIed to post it, I got a message that says "Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: META". WHAT?! :-(

Anyway, this morning I googled and found what I hope works...we'll see...I'll never type in Word first again! Here goes:

Yes, I made it home safe and sound...whew! This pre-trip was the WORST. I've got to figure out how to deal with flying better. The Valium did actually help, I think. I had 1 1/2 martinis before I got on the plane, then 1/4 pill before take-off, then 2 glasses of wine in flight. It was a smooth one, so I felt ok...in fact, for the first time in AGES, I actually looked out the window for the last 1/2 hour! Wow. On the way back, I didn't have as much time at the airport so had to slam a glass of wine and 1/4 pill. It was stormy so bumpy and no alcohol service during the bumps. I was NOT happy...took another 1/4 pill. Made it through until wine came. But I am SO HAPPY that I don't have to fly again for a while!!! :-)

The stay in St. Paul was really fantastic. Got in on time on Friday night (midnight their time). Friend picked me up in her VW Bug convertible and we were home by 12:30. We had a glass of wine on her dock out in the middle of her lake then to bed (sounds like a lot of booze, but this was over several hours...and time zones!). Saturday I woke up and just put my bathing suit and shorts on...and that's all I wore for the rest of the weekend!!! She lives directly on the lake and it was so hot and humid...she lives in her suit too. I literally didn't put on any kind of clothes other than that until I was getting ready to get on the plane back home! ;-) Now THAT is relaxing. :-) We joked that her hubby and granddaughter (who was with us all weekend) hadn't seen me in clothes at all since they were asleep when I arrived...

In the morning on Sat., we just sat in her yard by the lake and on the dock, having coffee, reading, chatting. In the afternoon we headed to Trader Joes for groceries so we didn't have to go out the rest of the weekend. The location is gorgeous...smells amazing...so much green...lake is spring-fed so cool and clean. For dinner on Sat. we went to her sister-in-law's on the other side of the lake for a BBQ with a bunch of friends and family...all the same people came to her place on Sunday evening for BBQ. Fun and relaxing!

Sunday I made breakfast with her granddaughter (adorable 9-year-old who calls me Auntie Helen), then we just lounged, swam, etc. until people came for BBQ. I learned to "tube" (get towed behind a speed boat on a blow-up thingee) which was super-fun. They were going to teach me how to water ski, but we ran out of time. When it got dark (after 9 pm -- a lot later than here), all the fireworks started. It was wild – several people around the lake have their own shows and they are BIG. It went on for over an hour and we were constantly surrounded 360 degrees with shows. So fun to watch from the dock in the lake!

When I woke up on Monday, I realized I should have planned to stay longer...it went so fast and was so relaxing. Oh well. I did miss DB a lot. ;-)

We had pedis on Monday with Friend's sister-in-law for her b-day. Then it was time to head to the airport.

Friend definitely has slowed down. She sleeps until at least 10:30 every morning and gets out of breath really easily. Her heart is working at about 30%...when it gets to 20%, they will need to think transplant. They've got her on meds that keep her pulse at 44/minute and BP at like 75/40 to try to preserve the muscle as long as they can. She is very upbeat and mostly worried about the money – it costs them $9800 each time she goes to Mayo AFTER what the insurance pays. :-(

Oh yeah, I only gained less than a pound!! That is an amazing result for a vacation weekend...especially considering that I had Dairy Queen all three days. ;-) Otherwise I ate well and swam and played a lot. Guess that worked.

Anyway...it was great to see Friend and fun fun fun. And now it's time to look forward to Big Sur in two weeks for our anniversary!! :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

June Gloom is leaving just as I leave for the weekend

It was sunny when we took our beach walk this morning! So nice not to have to put on a jacket or get droplets of moisture on my glasses. :-) The weekend is supposed to be sunny and nice here which will be good since DB is having a big BBQ/party on Sunday.

And I am going to Minnesota to rainy/cloudy/HOT. Oh joy. One reason I moved to California was to not have to suffer through the humid summers Back East. Oh well...

I am excited to see my friend and to BE there. Not excited to have to fly to get there. I think I will try the Valium. ;-) I'll be back Monday night.

Weight is at the high end of where it should be (10 lbs over my lowest). I clearly do not want to lose weight enough to actually DO something to make it happen. I will try to be careful with Midwest food this weekend...I'm hoping my friend eats better than she used to due to her heart condition.

Happy 4th to everyone! :-)