Sunday, January 31, 2016

Point Reyes

What a spectacular day! Gregory, Kate, and I went to Point Reyes and took a walk by the visitors center, and then went to Limantour Beach, and struggled to walk in the stiff wind along the shore.  I cannot get over how gorgeous it was.  I finally saw the Pacific Ocean up close.  It was sunny and 58 degrees. 

We had breakfast at the Station House Cafe (another hangtown fry, made with the plumpest, juiciest oysters i have ever tasted).  

The hills were emerald green, and i felt like i had been dropped on another planet.  We laughed and had a great time.  Saw a rainbow while we were driving back to Vallejo, on Route 37.  

As I sat in the parking lot at Raley's, I watched a hail storm on one side of me and a rainbow on the other side of me. My vocabulary has not caught up with my experiences out here.  All i could see yesterday was waving wheat and emerald green hills that looked like the knuckles belonging to a giant.  

These eyegasms are the story of my life lately.  Everything is waking back up after a really long drought. It is so green and fertile out here, psychellic and cartoony.  We saw trees that looked like hobbits lived in them. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sunday afternoon was lovely, and we went for a walk at Mare Island, and then Gregory made a delicious dinner.

At Mare Island, we walked down a path we had never gone down before.  There we found two houses overlooking the bay.  When the naval base was decommissioned, everyone just seemed to up and leave.  It looks like the inhabitants of the house were in the middle of lunch when the notice came, like the residents of Pompeii when the earth quake hit.  It was a spectacular day, followed by a lovely dinner party.  Gregory's friends, Chris and Doug, were there, along with Kate, Richard, Cynthia, and her husband, Jim.

Mouthwatering bratwurst and a beet casserole, with a bechamel sauce and an oat hazelnut crumble, were on the menu.  Richard made a delicious apple galette for dessert, along with lemon verbena tea.

Yesterday, Kate picked me up and we drove to Sonoma, to the Fremont Diner, for brunch.  We split delicious nachos , and a hangtown fry (oysters, arugula, egg, bacon, and remoulade). It was definitely southern gourmet cooking. Very unpretentious, with coffee poured from a thermos left on the table.

No sub jobs this morning, and since i was up anyway, I drove to Napa, to the library.  It was a foggy morning, and i drove through Mare Island, with all its old buildings shrouded in the stuff. Surreal.

After some time at the library, I met Gregory for a kombucha and a late lunch at Nathan's, chili and a delicious chicken sandwich on sourdough.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Buddhas hand 1.jpg

Yesterday, I was close to riding off the rails, but i managed to stay on track.  No drama, except in my own head.  Last night's dinner featured pork cooked several different ways, thanks to my Aunt Jean's friend Robert, who gave Chris a whole lot of meat when they were in Carmel on Thursday.  The Texas Crew is leaving today.  It has been fun having them here. Thursday night, Mary made spaghetti and meatballs, using Grandma Balint's recipe.  Delicious, of course. We will see each other again on Cape Cod in October, over Columbus Day weekend, for the Balint family reunion.

Gregory and I went to Moschetti for coffee this morning, and then downtown, to the farmers' market, so he could buy beets and greens for tomorrow night's dinner party.  Once again, he showed me more fruits and vegetables that i have never seen before.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Vineyard Lifestyle

Spent the day with my Aunt Lulu, cousin Mary, and her husband, Paul.  Paul drove us to St. Helena, where we visited Beringer (, where Lulu's favorite zinfandel comes from.  We had two glasses of wine, a riesling and a cabernet. The place was very German, with lots of stained glass windows and amazing gardens.  





After Beringer, we had turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches at V Sattui, another winery nearby with a really good deli. We drove back on the Silverado Trail.  Lulu asked me today what plans I had made for my final resting place.  Since I am still looking for a resting place for myself while i am alive, I told her i was donating my body to science. We will see if science wants it.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Spending part of the day at Nathans, waiting for a sub job to open up.  This is heaven, right here, on this grey morning. Good music, a delicious breakfast sandwich on sourdough bread.  Someday maybe i will get tired of sourdough, but right now, I am making up for a lifetime without sourdough.  

Ecstasy is the title of the wood burning above, created by Liberty, a barista at Nathan's, who also does amazing latte art.  Currently, that is what i am in the midst of, surrounded by this and wood work by Don.  

When you are teacher, you are constantly battling all kinds of sickness and being contaminated with all kinds of kid germs. At one of the schools I worked at recently, there was a minor head lice outbreak. Students in California are allowed to attend school with nits. That was not the case in the school district where I taught in Florida. 

 Since I am extremely impressionable, my head is itching.  When this happened at Osceola, where I taught for twelve years, I would go into our school nurse, Dorothy Hall, and she would discreetly examine my head and send me back to class, reassuring me that I did not have head lice. 

Went to a gorgeous spot on Suisun Valley Road with Richard, Gregory, Cynthia, and the dogs. We walked up into the hills. Richard calls it the Larry's Produce Walk, because that's where we meet, and then proceed to a quiet country road, grazing horses and all, and the trail. Did i mention how hilly this walk is?  I am happy to say that i went further this time.  Fiona, the new dog, sat on my lap on the way to the trail, and sweet, tired, smelly Spencer got my lap on the way back. He was filthy, like a used microfiber mop.  

This is what it means to suck the marrow out of life.  I kept thinking the happiness i was feeling was mania.  But this is what it feels like.  Things were so dark, and now i go to bed happy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Subbed in a special education resource room at an elementary school on this dark, rainy morning. It was easy duty. Being a teacher has definitely helped me become a better person.  Teachers are role models and I learned how to be a good example. I paid attention to what my students learned from other people about courtesy and character.

The best teachers have integrity.  When you see them out in public, away from school, their demeanor is the same as when you see them at school.  Lynn Clague, who taught kindergarten at Osceola, looked loving and serene at school, as well as when i would see her around town.  She taught me so much about integrity and appearing serene, especially when anxiety levels were high. Same with Kathy Boggan, Diane Parentela, and Beth Hobgood, two other amazing kindergarten teachers. Primary teachers are my heroes, because of their ability to maintain a bright, calm, loving countenance, despite all the annoyances and edicts from administration. They are the epitome of grace under pressure.

Each morning that I have gotten up to sub, I have thought of  Lynn.  Using her quiet, calm voice, Lynn taught me to ask myself what I need to do to make my mornings peaceful and as drama-free as possible.  Day by day, I am getting better at it.

I also have been thinking of my little porcupine, Rosie, who forced me to drink more, but also to reach out to strong, kind people, and dive deep under the waves. This child was so oppositional and destructive, through no fault of her own, and I had to learn to be so compassionate with her.  My colleagues-turned-friends taught me about "love bombing," and helped me do it to Rosie that year.

Although I did drink more alcohol that year, I made deep friendships and learned how to go deep under the waves.  Rosie was so oppositional and self-destructive, and powerful.  She was the child my mom wished on me, because I was probably the same way when i was her age.  I learned how to be compassionate that year, to both of us.

A few of us who worked together to keep Rosie on track that year started meeting for lunch.  These monthly lunches were much needed debriefings, accompanied by citrus martinis or sparkling wine, while looking at the ocean.  Teacher therapy.  These women who became so important to me that year were there for me through my dad's illness and death, and my own stroke.  I was supposed to meet them for lunch on that Saturday three years ago, when my head exploded.  Ivy came to the hospital that afternoon, and Charlene, Laura, and Linda came throughout my stay there and in rehab.  Once i was feeling better, they brought lunch. When i moved into my new rental house, they brought lunch.

Since I left Vero, they've met for lunch, and we skyped when i was in the Finger Lakes of New York State. I really miss them. But I am hoping that once i am settled, we can have a Diva Wine Tour out here.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rain poured down yesterday, but i still made it to Moschetti for my dose of caffeine. Had a nice conversation with a woman who has lived in Vallejo since she was twenty.  She raised her children here, and her husband was in the Navy, and worked at Mare Island.  She said that Vallejo used to be like "Leave it to Beaver."

My intrepid Aunt Mary Lou arrived from Plano, Texas Saturday night, along with my cousin, Mary, and her husband, Paul.  Nancy and Chris got pizza, salad, and soup from Napoli, and everyone had a chance to rest and catch up. On Sunday, drenched by the rain, we went to lunch at the Swiss Hotel, on the square in Sonoma.  

Richard got a new dog, Fiona, who is a rescue from Thailand.  We went for a walk in the hills at Mare Island.  Fiona fits right in with the pack and was running around with the other dogs as though she had been here forever.  Lulu told me not to get another dog. As long as I have Richard as a friend, i don't have to.  I always know where i can go to get my dog fix.   

View from Mare Island



Friday, January 15, 2016

I have been here for nearly three months. Time has flown. I feel so different, so lucky to have been embraced by my tribe out here in the Bay Area.  I took a two hour job at an elementary school where the school secretary knew Chris and Bob, my cousins.  She grew up down the street from them in Fairfield.  

Gregory took me down to Berkeley today, so that I could experience first hand the Berkeley Bowl (, a grocery store that is larger and more colorful than any grocery store i have ever experienced, and I worked for Whole Foods.  I love adventures that involve grocery stores and where i can be the passenger.  I was astonished at the variety of produce.  There were eleven different kinds of radishes.  

I cannot get over how green it is. Spring is here.  I have not experienced seasons like this ever. The seasons I am used to last a whole lot longer. Since I arrived here, I have witnessed three seasons. The tree in Chris' backyard was still green, just turning gold.  Now it's bare, with the hint of pale green buds.

Below are photos of the backyard at Richard's and Gregory's house.  Check out the chickens.