Monday, June 20, 2016

The sun is shining in the backyard, and my landlord, John, is picking and slicing lemons, and then spreading them out on a wood board to dry them in the sun.  He then sends the dried lemon to his wife in China, so she can make lemon tea.  


Yesterday was Fathers' Day. I do miss my dear dad, but he always shows up around this time, in weird ways.  

My first Fathers' Day without him was the year that my dear friend, Karen, found a picture that my mom painted many years ago, in an antique store in St. Augustine.  

This year, he showed up on Cape Cod.  My cousin, MJ, went to see a psychic.  The psychic asked her who Brud was. Brud is the nickname given to my dad by his younger siblings, who couldn't pronounce brother.  He just wanted to say hi.

My dad had a soft touch and a great sense of humor.  He also had a way of  manifesting his dreams and desires. Everything was possible.    

I feel him here, all around me.  My landlord keeps telling me he just wants me to be happy. That is exactly what my dad used to say to me.  

My dad instilled in me my love of road trips. His dream was to drive across the US with me, but we didn't get around to it.

However, he has been with me on this whole adventure, guiding me, pointing out gorgeous views, and making me laugh.  He had regal taste and was a snappy dresser, and also gave me my love of music.  

My dad was the second oldest of nine children, and the first born son. Like anyone, he had faults. He was extravagant, among other thing. But he was a great father.  All he wanted was for his children to be happy.  

As the pope pointed out the other day, regarding marriage, most of them should be invalidated because people that young cannot fathom the what "until death do us part" really means. Same with parenthood. No parent has a clue of what they're getting into.  



Painting by Doug Slaydon





Thursday, June 16, 2016

It took me a while, but this morning, i finally had all the things i needed to make coffee for myself in my new place.  It is so gratifying to boil water in my kettle, grind the beans, froth the milk, and wait for the coffee to steep in the french press.  I even have a brand new mug.  A cup of coffee has never tasted this good, primarily because it is Moschetti French Roast.



Stopped there this morning, since it is only three blocks from my apartment.  That coffee is so darn good.  I picked up some Gold Rush Bay Area All Natural Raw Honey, another product of Vallejo. 



It is overcast and chilly today, the kind of weather I remember from Cape Cod in late spring or early fall. I love it.  It's blanket weather, sleeping weather, time for a hot cup of tea weather.


Monday, June 13, 2016

It is a sad, sad day. Another mass shooting in America, in Orlando, at a gay nightclub.  More than fifty injured, fifty dead.  I almost burst into tears in the grocery store, when a small philipino woman showed me the front page of USA Today.  The cashier made an almost disparaging remark about letting muslims into the country, but caught herself.  Even the dj on Sirius FM was sad, and talking about the tragedy.

Even though it is a sad day, I am happy, because I am not homeless.  This whole year has been so enlightening about so many things, but especially regarding how hard it is to be homeless.  I am someone who did this voluntarily.  It was a lark, a way to get my shit together, and see the country.  Gracious and supportive family and friends put me up in their homes.

 What i found out is that, even in this positive frame, not having a home is extremely challenging on so many levels.  Fairly quickly, I learned that I really missed the structure of having a home.  But i did need to be shaken up. I was way too comfortable, sinking into the plush sofa or California king sized bed. I was slowly on my way out.

Driving through the Tetons was probably the moment when it all came undone.  But I got through them, and I was different. I crossed the Continental Divide all by myself.  I am a bad ass. And that is where I dropped the shit I no longer need. The shame, the guilt, the grief, the frustration at not being able to change the past. All of it, out of my car, out of my life.

And here I sit, cool breeze blowing, surrounded by abundance - fruit trees, flowers, family, friends.

Yesterday, I had a nice conversation with my brother, Pete, on the phone.  He's been traveling and I have been tutoring, so it has been difficult to connect.  But we finally did, and the normalcy of the conversation warmed my heart. We chatted about work, kids, his garden, my new apartment, and so many other things.

Today, I talked to my cousin, Bill, who is another chosen brother.  He really does understand, like very few other people, what my life was like, growing up with a brother like the one i grew up with.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-lessons-death-taught-about-life/?platform=hootsuite

just read the above article.  very inspiring on this sad day.

Took a ride to fairfield, so i could use the gift card from Macy's, a gift from my aunt jean.  Got myself a new shiny tea pot for the stove. When that was taken care of, I went over to visit with Jean and Vince.  It is so wonderful to have people I can visit.  The whippets insisted on burrowing all around us on the couch, which i don't mind at all, but it annoys Jean to no end.



I underestimated many things when I was planning this trip. I had no idea how lonely I could get.  Or how isolated I would feel. My stamina was not what it should have been to take on a journey like this.  Neither were my finances.  I was astonished at how huge this country is, and at the diversity.  In Portland, Maine, I saw my first man bun, and i was stunned. Same with colored hair. Now I live in Vallejo, and those two things are as ubiquitous as Lilly Pulitzer in Vero Beach.



Saturday, June 11, 2016


Lovely day! Had breakast at 1801 First, the inn in Napa where Richard works five days a week, and Gregory works the other two. Richard served us a delectable meal, with watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries in a light lime syrup, croque monsieur on rustic whole grain bread that had been dipped in an egg wash, accompanied by tomatoes cooked in wine and vinegar. the coffee, from Moschetti, was strong and steaming.  He also served us the most delicious hand made truffles for dessert.  

After breakfast, Audrey, the concierge, took us on a tour of the place. We saw the carriage house, which is the exquisite honeymoon suite, with a deep tub, walk in shower, sitting area, patio, two way fireplace, and airy ceilings.  It is bigger than my apartment.  









After Richard finished cleaning up, we drove out to the Hess Collection and Winery, to see the incredible art collection, three floors of modern art open to the public, and FREE!

After we wandered through, we sat in the garden, under a wisteria arbor, and had a glass of chardonnay, while we contemplated joining their wine club.  











Spent a gratifying afternoon, puttering and putting things away.  Stretched out on my new yoga mat. Reveled in preparing dinner, for the first time in my new place.  




























Friday, June 10, 2016


Sitting here in my tiny place, I am so happy.  I cleared out my car, and brought all my laundry baskets in.  It feels so good to putter at my desk, which is really Gregory's old card table, with the gorgeous Chinese lamp he loaned me on it.  

It has been quite a year. I did what i said i was going to do, and i actually wrote about it.  I haven't shared many of the harrowing parts, because a) I didn't want to worry people; b)I wanted to experience things free of judgement; and C) i wanted to make sure i got through the harrowing stuff, before anyone could tell me i might not get through it. 

Being on the road has been much more difficult than i ever imagined.  In theory, it was romantic. In real life, it is not, especially seeing the number of homeless people in our country.  

I am so different from last year, at this time.  Somewhere on this trip, in the Tetons, I think, i lost my shame and the mean voice in my head that kept telling me that everything i did was futile.  

Before this road trip, I took so much for granted - storage, stretch out space, order.  There were days when I really wondered what I had gotten myself into. With none of the constructs of home, there were many times when i felt mentally unwell and very lonely.  Rarely, though, was i depressed. Scared, sad, angry, happy, elated, joyful, but never depressed. Often, i didn't know what to do next. Dealing with uncertainty was one of my biggest challenges.  

What a ride, though. And it is not over yet. I still have to wrap things up back in Vero.  But it will be a while until i get back into a car. Right now, i want to ground myself and walk around and plant stuff

Richard came by and brought me an amazing lamp and parsons end table. we sat and chatted in the backyard, under the plum tree.  the plums are delicious.  

The other day, when MJ texted me about my dad and the psychic, she asked me if he had ever been in the military, because the psychic said something about military medals or buttons. Today, while unpacking, i came across a blue velvet box containing my dad's blazer buttons and cuff links from Catholic U.  I love how he lets me know he's hanging around.  



Thursday, June 9, 2016


Today was the last day of tutoring. No more two hour commutes. Mistaken, I thought it was yesterday, and administered three tests. It wasn't until this morning that i remembered a fourth student.  It took my second grade boy student an hour and a half to get through the post test.  The kindergartners both got 100% on their tests, and i was very surprised that one of them did so well, considering she barely speaks English.  

The drive was reasonably enjoyable, sunny, lots panoramic views.  But I am looking forward to being out of my car, and to taking walks around my new city.  Traffic was terrible, but i could bear it, knowing it would be my last time dealing with it for a while.  

Spent a few hours this morning at my new place, hanging clothes in the closet. Opened the windows and aired the place out. Kate stopped by and brought me a vase full of flaming red gladioli. we sat under the lemon tree and chatted









Tuesday, June 7, 2016




Two more days left of tutoring.  it is murder right now.  I saw three kids this afternoon who have been done with school work for days.  

Slowly, I am moving into my new place, going by to drop things off and acclimate myself to living on my own again.  Bu i am looking forward to being settled. it is wearing to live out of laundry baskets, and to spend so much time in my car.  I have so much empathy for the homeless people i see, since I would be, if it wasn't for the kindness of my family and friends.

Had a really great phone conversation with Lois Bonanni, a good friend to my parents, and to me, for most o my life.  I told her that I am so happy that at least once a day, i cry tears of joy.  we talked for a long time. she is a great listener who really gets how monumental this adventure has been for me.

My cousin, MJ, texted me yesterday, to let me know she had been to a psychic on Cape Cod.  The psychic asked who Brud (my dad's childhood nickname) was. MJ said, "that's my uncle John." 

"Well," said the psychic, "he says to say hello."  It's so weird, but i have felt my parents' presence strongly over the past few days, as i begin moving into my place.  

I'm feeling very blessed.  





Monday, June 6, 2016




Sat in my new backyard, under the massive lemon tree.  Managed to bring over a couple of loads of my stuff, but i am not rushing.  Yesterday, Nancy and Ann came by. They have great ideas, and they will spur me on.  Loretta came over yesterday, too, with a sweet pot of succulents.  

These days, my life feels charmed. It is a relief to be able to stretch out. i am looking forward to continuing this healing journey in place.  





Last night, i stopped at Mi Pueblo, the amusement park of a grocery store that Chris took me to the night I arrived in Vallejo. When i got inside, i became overwhelmed with gratitude.  Everyone is giving me stuff for my apartment.  Tomorrow, I'm moving into my place, with not just his help, but the help and belongings of my west coast framily.

It seems fitting that I stop here, since it's just a few blocks from where I'll be living. Once inside, I got overwhelmed with gratitude to him, Nancy, Ann SlaydonDoug SlaydonGregory WhitfieldKate Rothrock, and all my new friends here, who have helped me in my readjustment here in CA. But I would not be standing here, listening to mariachi music in my new grocery store if it weren't for my incredible east coast friends who kept me afloat, until I found my proper latitude....make new friends, but keep the old ....


Saturday, June 4, 2016


Signed my lease and then drove to West Petaluma, to interview for a summer school position.  Driving there, I realized I didn't want the job, because of the commute.  Went through with the interview anyway. It was a disaster.  The officiousness of one of the teachers really turned me off, especially when he patiently and condescendingly explained to me what teaching common core writing involved.  

On the way back to Vallejo, on route 37, some asshole in a black station wagon limo sideswiped me and kept going, although I don't know how, since traffic was so backed up.  

I bought hangers at the Dollar Store down the street, and spent some time hanging things up.  Outside my bedroom window is my own private patio, with a huge bougainvillea bush.  




Friday, June 3, 2016



I got an apartment.  It is really small, one sunny room, a bathroom, a kitchen, but it is mine. It is half of the bottom floor of an older house in an established neighborhood, according to the landlord.  The huge backyard has two lemon trees, an orange tree, a plum tree, and several rose bushes.  

The landlord is a happy Chinese man named John, who just wants me to be happy.  I took Chris with me, and he approved. It is a mile and a half from Chris and Nancy, two miles from Gregory, Richard, Loretta, and Bake, and three miles from Kate.  

Vallejo is 2,983 miles from Vero Beach. Eventually, I will go back to figure out to do with my storage unit.  In the meantime, I am going to clean out my car and hang up my clothes. I am now a California resident.   




Wednesday, June 1, 2016



Wow! I can't believe I left Vero eleven months ago.  How life has changed! How I have changed!  I am more open, more active. I have a life. I have family, friends, confidence, peace, strength.  There have been harrowing and depressing moments this year.  But I have gotten through them, and i have experienced such joy and love, which is what got me through those dark times. It has all been worth it. 

Saw a very small, very expensive apartment in  Napa. I am seeing another one on Gordon Street, in Vallejo tomorrow. 

I am trying to enjoy the ride and not angst about the uncertainty of everything. It has all worked out beautifully so far.