Sunday, October 27

One Lazy Day

Today I am taking the day off to be lazy and gather my energies. It is a beautiful Sunday.

I am glad October is coming to an end. It has been a crazy month here on Planet Rian. Crazy, I tell ya. And events have yet to reach a crescendo.


First, we put our house on the market. After questioning the sanity of living in a hostile environment 365, we decided to cast our line into the water to see if we could change it. We wouldn’t consider leaving if the heat was only 3 months, but the truth is it’s 5. It gets old. That’s really the bottom line. And if we can’t sell the house that’s okay too. 

It takes a lot of work to get a house looking tip-top and to live in it without messing it up.

Second, we booked a trip to Myanmar/Cambodia last year and it is coming up next week. I have done nothing to prepare. Zip. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Third, we are hosting a family reunion (with buffet dinner) next Saturday, two days before we leave on the trip. It was the only day we could get everyone together.

In the middle of this we took a trip up north to visit friends, and we had a death in the family.

I have had no time to play golf or make art. What’s that quote? Art is long, and time is fleeting? So I looked it up and learned it’s a whole, long poem by Longfellow. Here’s the rest of the stanza…I think art has a different meaning here, don’t you? Here’s the LINK if you want to read the poem in its entirety.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
        And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
        Funeral marches to the grave.

I digressed.

We got to see a couple of movies while our agent was holding an open house: We saw Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks (brilliantly) as the captain of a cargo ship who gets kidnapped by Somali pirates off the horn of Africa. Gripping, intense. And life-changing—we decided to cancel our cruise through those waters next year. Next was The Counselor, the title having nothing to do with the film except that’s what they called the lead character because he’s a lawyer. It’s about Mexican drug cartels. It’s dark, bloody, and has a disconnected plot that’s hard to follow, despite a stellar cast that includes Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Brad Pitt.

I digressed again.

We have not gotten any offers on the house yet but we’ve come close a couple of times, and maybe they’ll come back. We’ve had a lot of people through here. There are several houses on the market in the area, but they do sell, and we are the ONLY house that is truly south-facing and we also have the best view, so I’m not worried. I’d just like it to be nailed down because that’s how I roll.

We don’t have the same sense of urgency we had when we sold the central coast house when Jim was ill. He’s fine now and we have lived in the climate where we hope to move for many years. Decades.


While I’m on that subject, and I didn’t dare share it at the time because of potential legal issues, studies have been done that point to the fact that pesticides and other contaminants that get stirred up at the sand dunes and blow across the mesa [where we lived on the central coast] are making some people sick. We listed our house post-haste when we read those first reports (and talked to others who were also sick) before the issue became widespread public knowledge and we would have to disclose it. Today there is a coalition called the Central Coast Environmental Health Project, but the problem is still not widely known outside of the area.

We literally got the hell out of there, and fast. It’s the REAL reason why we left the central coast. At the time we didn’t know if Jim would indeed get better by moving away, but he did.

Have a lazy Sunday. Monday will comes soon enough.

Friday, October 18

Road Trip

We took a little sashay up to the central coast to visit some friends and get away from our house, which is on the market. When you drive north on the 101 out of Santa Barbara, you come to this tunnel. You may remember Benjamin driving his MGB through this tunnel in The Graduate.


The road turns north at the tunnel and the topography changes from flat coastal to rolling hills. This is my favorite spot.


This stretch just makes me swoon. We are nearing Buellton. I couldn’t help feeling a little regret for moving away.


Our first stop was to see Kay and Ron. The weather was perfectly gorgeous and a beach bonfire was in order.


We had the whole beach to ourselves.


Ron cooked burgers over the fire as the sun was dipping below the horizon.


The fire mesmerized us. We drank wine and talked long into the dark.


The next day we continued our sojourn. We traveled way out a deserted single-lane road to visit Ed and Deb.


We have known Ed and Deb for 30 years. They have a beautiful spread in the hills east of Cambria and they are making their own wine now. They are building a guest house…oh boy, can’t wait!


They have three Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Lovely dogs. This is Strider.


Strider’s ridge. It’s fun to play with.IMG_0112

More fun to come.

Tuesday, October 15


This is a sad story.

A long time ago, 1983 to be exact, I was visiting my sister Judy. She was in the process of adopting a child from El Salvador, where there had been a revolution going on and lots of kids were orphaned. Just before I returned to California she got the news that she would get a little girl, 5 years old. She was overjoyed.

The next summer she brought Jane to California where she got to swim in the pool every day and go to Disneyland. My stepdaughter Michelle was 8 at the time, and my sister and I remarked at how bizarre it was that we would have two little girls hanging on us. Who could have foretold such a thing.

Jane had a wicked temper. Hoo-boy, was she hot-blooded; I had never seen anything like it. Little tiny thing that she was, if she didn’t get her way she could go on a screaming tirade that would have you shaking your head in disbelief and worrying that the neighbors would call the cops.

Years passed and Judy, who was a school principal, got Jane medicated and through school (barely). Jane’s turning 18 couldn’t come soon enough and the long nightmare would be over.

Ah, but it didn’t turn out that way. Jane got pregnant—not once, but twice—and popped out Taylor and Daniel, 11 months apart. And Judy fell in love with her two little grandchildren and took care of them, too. Jane still had her horrible temper and it would turn out that both her children would have the same issues—learning disabilities, behavior problems, ADD, ADHD, PTSD, you name it.

Judy took care of the two kids—fed them, clothed them, bought them toys—while Jane lolled in bed and watched soap operas, and threw temper tantrums. And the kids threw temper tantrums. There was a lot of yelling and throwing.

Jane turned to drugs. She spiraled into a slovenly mess. She missed her children growing up—slept through it all. 911 was called time and time again because they feared she might not wake up. This went on for years and years. A few months ago Judy finally got Jane into an apartment—once again. But Jane had a boyfriend now and they were planning to get married. Maybe this time it would be different.

I got the call last week. Jane had OD’d and there was no one to call 911. Her mother found her and is heartbroken. So is the fiance. Her children, who are 15 and 14, are devastated. 

The story ends here, but life will have to go on for them.

Tuesday, October 8

Them Changes

So how are things in your life these days? Any big changes? Unexpected events? Let me know.

Whether you believe in astrology or not, there is something to it. The planets don’t only affect us at an individual level, they affect widespread, even generational influences. Right now, Pluto and Uranus are making a square to each other, which is causing a lot of problems for the country, the world, and maybe for you. Uranus is “unexpected,” and Pluto is “sweeping change.”

Just this year, Daughter Michelle and her family relocated to Southern California. My sisters moved. I thought maybe I’d escape the unexpected changes. I had no clue I would be moving again, but there is a for sale sign in my front yard.

I took this photo for the MLS last night. I wanted a little indigo light in the sky but I was about 15 minutes too late. A crescent moon would have been nice.


We have just about got everything done (in 4 days!) and we are almost ready for the curtain to go up. We had a dress rehearsal yesterday, with real buyers, and the place showed very well. We have a fair share of experience at this and we don’t have a lot of crap clogging up our nooks and crannies.

It’s kind of a funky time to be selling a house, with the grass being dead and all. I’ve written about this before, but I have a couple of interesting photos to share:


In the above photo, they have applied an herbicide to the mounds, and in a couple weeks these will be brown and the brown part will be green. I used to think they were painting the grass green because that’s what it looks like. So I was going to fake you out and tell you that’s what they’re doing, but it’s really not.


Or maybe they are! It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong.

Thursday, October 3

I Hear the Train a Comin’

Here we are, back in our desert digs. Insects took up residence while we were gone, and their remains, from when the spiders had their way with them, lay in the corners. Dust and cobwebs are everywhere. The ink has dried up in the printer and the poor plants are barely breathing. The grass is dead. The wine fridge is dead. The fridges in both the garage and the casita died last summer and my paints dried up along with them. My car [battery] is dead.

All the bathrooms smell funky, like something died. It dawned on me what causes the smell, it’s because the water in the U-pipes has evaporated. It’s no accident that the pipes under your sinks have that U-turn bend in them. Some clever plumber figured out that water in there would provide a barrier to keep odors from backing up into your house. When the water evaporates it becomes obvious what a good idea that was.


This is an older photo—please forgive—the grass is all dead and brown at the moment. Because it’s October, Dead Grass Month. The desert is a hostile place in the summer. We leave because we tried enduring it and failed. And you know what? It turns out I don’t like to have to leave my nest for that length of time. Screw that.

But now the desert is waking up, the temperatures at night are cool enough to sleep with the windows open (although it still gets up to 95 by day), and one can take a walk if one gets up early enough. I do, but I always seem to find other things to occupy my time.

I blogged recently that we were toying with the idea of moving back to the coast. Here’s the skinny on that—we found the perfect house in the perfect community in the perfect climate. You know how, when you walk into a house you just know? Well, it was like that. For both of us. We know what we like.


Look at this—hardly any yard, nothing to mow. Just a view of the hills beyond. All you need. We’re pretty excited.

I called my friend Joan, who is a real estate agent, and asked her to stop by to discuss what we should expect to get for this house—to aid us in planning our budget. She said that the beginning of the season is The prime time to list the house, that inventory is very low, and her company is right now pasting up their annual magazine Desert Homes and will have a huge spread in the next issue of Palm Springs Life, to kick off the season.

Whoa, this is moving way too fast. It’s like I have been catapulted into action at warp-speed. Chaos!

There is much to do. Granted, we have only lived here four years and we don’t have a lot of crap, so I guess it’s doable, but I am overwhelmed by the small amount of time there is to get everything done. One minute I say, I can climb this ladder, it’s just one rung at a time, no big deal. Hey. The next I am saying I need more TIME! But if we get it done, the house can be shown while we are out of town. Oh, that’s convenient—I like that idea. And we do need to sell it before we can even think of buying the next one. But so soon?

It’s Autumn, and we are moving into a new season. Change is in the wind! 1768833-halloween-pumpkin-with-autumn-leaves-close-up