Tag Archives: travel

Dear Tom, I haven’t been around much becuz…

moving to Montana and a baby! Our first granddaughter – Dylan Rose.

Here she is~

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Oscar, Julia and little Dylan Rose.

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A perfect angel, for now…

She came on her due date. Her mommy had the easiest pregnancy in history- and labor. We are so grateful and so very blessed. Dylan Rose A. 7′ 11″. We all forgot to ask how long she is. 🙂

The sale of our home and the move could have gone smoother but one can’t have everything, right? Some things must go wrong. That’s life.

We love our new home in Montana. It’s beautiful. It has amazing views on all sides. The dog loves his full half acre? Three quarters of an acre? Not entire sure. But he stays outside all day long, just enjoying his view through the invisible fence. He can watch sand hill cranes and cows and eagles and deer and super cute bunnies. In Napa Jake rarely wanted to be outside without us and he was territorial about his yard. Here, his yard is just part of the vast open countryside. He seldom barks for any reason. He’s in awe! (As are we!)

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A happy doggie!

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A smidge of his view!

So friends, it’s been a challenging yet rewarding year thus far. I’ll try to be more available. (Ha!)

XOXO! Julia

P.S. Do we miss California? Nah-uh. Not one bit.

 

Dear Tom, it’s been a helluva ride!

No, not leaving yet, but I’m about to close up shop temporarily.

We’re moving to Montana! I’ve dreamed of this for five years. Oscar saw the light… at last! As his job has become more and more untenable/onerous and California has become an increasingly challenging place to live.

All I can say is~ yes.

About damn time.

We recently returned from a ten day visit to the ranch. We babysat the cows, horses and dogs. Split and stacked two years worth of wood for our daughter and son-in-law, and met with a real estate agent in Bozeman. We put in an offer on a house and lo and behold… it was accepted right off! (Although my husband pulled a Chip Gaines and tried to fool me into thinking the offer had been rejected! Shiplap ho!)

Thus begins the hard work. I have to get our house on the market. Fingers crossed, it will sell ASAP. We had the hardwood floors refinished while we were away. Lookin’ good, I tells ya!

Yes, I do have two twenty-ish kids here, one of whom is pretty flummoxed at the idea of her parents moving. We are leaving the only home she’s ever known. Even though she doesn’t live with us, the idea of us gives her roots. I get it. My kids are the sole reason I’ve stayed.

But, all things must change. Seems like everyone I know is transitioning in one way or another. We wish us all the best!

In the meantime, enjoy the view from my new backyard! I know Jake will!

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The Bridgers from our new backyard!

XOXO! Julia

 

Dear Tom, she wanted to punch him in the face.

First, on the home front, I harvested the last of my potatoes today:

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Colorful and yummy!

I cut back the asparagus. It’s time to prep the garden for winter- will do that this week. And maybe plant a couple rows of garlic.

So I just got back from Montana. Was a busy trip with loooooong weather delays in Seattle. Dang! That airport was like a bad movie. No joke.

On the way out my plane from Sacramento arrived twenty minutes early and then sat on the tarmac for two hours while we waited for a gate. As we sat there I watched my connection to Bozeman, (a little Bombardier), back up and take off. I begged the flight attendants to toss me out the door, but they refused. I spent nine grueling hours in the airport, but I did manage to get the last seat on the last flight to Bozeman. My wonderful daughter and son-in-law waited for me, waited for me so long we were forced to drive back to the ranch in The Crazies in a blizzard. In the dark. Pretty rough. Good thing my son-in-law is a kick ass driver and we were in a tank of a pickup truck. (I haven’t been on roads that bad since I lived in Iowa.)

I didn’t bother to take any photos this time around. The cold was bitter. But despite the cold, every visit to Montana is amazing. I am so grateful for my daughter and her husband. I love sharing their life, to the extent they are willing to share. 🙂 It’s my dream to live there. Cold doesn’t bother me, especially in Big Sky Country. Montana has really big skies.

That wasn’t the punching in the face part.

It was on the trip home that the punching nearly occurred. It wasn’t me, although I wanted to punch him too. I wanted to, in fact, pull him out of his seat and stomp on his head. It was my seat mate who said, “I want to punch him in the face.”

We boarded on time in Bozeman for the trip back to Seattle. I was seated in the back of the plane, just two rows from the rear exit. I had the aisle seat. A young woman with gorgeous eyelashes got the window seat. Across from me was an older white hippie dude with an iPhone and an iPad. Wearing lots of beads. I guessed that he’d come from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. The beads and his rank aroma and his congested cough and sniffles were a dead giveaway. Not that I cared– about the protest, I mean. He has a perfect right to protest.

What he does not have a right to do, if he values his health and well-being, and the health and well-being of the other passengers, is endanger and piss off every single person seated in the rear of the plane.

He refused to follow any instructions from the flight attendants because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

He refused to put his tray table in its upright and locked position because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

He refused to stop texting via both his iPhone and his iPad (texting multiple people- I could see every text and every recipient) because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

When our plane’s engines cut out on the runway because the deicer people accidentally sprayed the generator and we lost all power and began to freeze in the subzero temperatures he announced to the plane that “we should be grateful we weren’t stranded at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest because he’d just been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest and it was way colder at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

And don’t forget about “the tribal elders…”

The tribal elders this…” and “The tribal elders that…”

My seatmate said, “If I have to hear about the tribal elders one more time I’m gonna punch him in the face.”

I wanted to shove him out the back of the plane.

As he lectured, we were towed back to the gate. The plane was plugged in to a generator and we had heat. Then we had to wait for maintenance to decide whether or not the plane could start up and was safe to fly. We really wanted to get out of there because the weather was getting so bad we knew there was a good chance that if it took maintenance too long to decide we’d be stranded at least overnight, maybe for another day or two.

All the while, he kept texting via both his devices, despite the fact that he’d been asked repeatedly by the flight crew to stop. He ignored them, because, you know… The Dakota Access Pipeline protest

And then, once the engines were restarted and we were on the runway for takeoff, he made a phone call. OMFG. He called ‘Judy’ as we were taking off. Left her a message.

“Hey, Judy, this is R. I know it’s been years, but I just left the Dakota Access Pipeline protest where I was protesting and I’m headed to Seattle. I’ve checked online and it seems my connecting flight has been cancelled. I’m wondering if I can camp on your couch. I’m sure it will be warmer than the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. I’ll have to get up at 5 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. flight but I figure you won’t mind. That’s sure not as early as I had to get up at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Listen, if you get this message, call me back. Again, this is R. Just so you know I’ve been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

If looks could kill. Everyone within earshot wanted to strangle the guy.

Since the rules didn’t apply to him, he texted and phoned his way through the flight. The flight attendants gave up trying to rein him in, they plied him with wine instead – six glasses of white wine. I think they hoped he would fall asleep, but he didn’t. Dammit.

This was the bad part. This was the really dangerous part. When we landed in Seattle, we hit a patch of ice. The plane skidded to the right, then to the left, then back to the right. It got real quiet because I think we were all praying the plane wouldn’t roll. On that first skid, since the idiot hadn’t put away his electronic devices nor placed his tray table into its upright and locked position, his iPhone and his iPad went flying across the aisle, right into another passenger.

Mr. Dakota Access Pipeline protest didn’t even apologize. Because he’s a special snowflake.

My seatmate, such a sweet pretty young lady, said, “I want to punch him in the face.”

I said, “Yup.”

So, Tom, to make a long story short, Judy never called him back because I saw him wandering around the Seattle airport five hours later. Still texting…

XOXO! Peace out. Julia

 

 

 

Dear Tom, this morning’s harvest~

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Garlic. Purple potatoes. A couple leftover spring onions.

Yesterday I harvested asparagus, three bunches of celery, and a big bunch of broccoli. Now that the garlic is out of the ground I’ve got to get the clover-stuff out of the bed. Last year I purchased plants from a new nursery and unfortunately contaminated one entire bed with this yellow clover-ish weed. You can see some with the garlic.

My four baby robins fledged! Now a pair of mockingbirds have moved into the robin’s nest. They spend all their spare time begging for worms (making sounds like a puppy) and attacking Jake. Unlike the great horned owl, he can safely ignore them.

Yesterday we went to a beautiful beach. Jake had a wonderful time. He ran around like a maniac, then he and Oscar took a three mile hike. Unfortunately my climbing days are over until I’ve had surgery and rehabbed, so I walked along the shore and collected semi-precious stones. Then we drove over the Golden Gate into San Francisco to meet our youngest and her boyfriend for coffee. He lives at the very top of one of those hellacious hills and yes, I drove. Driving up the hills scares me to death. I always feel as if my car is going to flip upside down. Down doesn’t bother me. But believe me, I’d rather be driving than sitting in the passenger seat. I remember the first time I rode in the passenger seat up one of those hills – I was nineteen years old. I insisted the driver stop and let me out. I walked up the hill.

Last night we got lost in the mountains outside of Lafayette, looking for a retirement dinner. One of my husband’s managers is retiring after 40 years. The event was held in the middle of the wilderness (not kidding) at the end of a single-track road after we’d wound our way through a maze of country roads. Reminded me of the roads in Scotland but without the necessary turnouts. We had a hill on one side and a cliff on the other. We somehow managed to make it there without encountering another car (3 miles). The way home was another matter. All I can say is at least we were on the hill side, not the cliff side.

I only mention this retirement dinner because it made me sad. This woman has dedicated her life to her job. She’s married but has no children and only one sister. Her co-workers are both her family and her closest friends and now she’s leaving them.

There was a photo retrospective running on a loop on a big screen television.

Oscar’s co-worker is a happy healthy 70 year old woman. She radiates warmth and intelligence. But I experienced this weird disconnect as I watched the slide show. I’ve only known her for a couple years and I know little of her history. I was, to be frank, stunned. She was a glamorous young thing. She had model looks, kind of a combination of Bridgette Bardot and Twiggy. I had this completely inappropriate thought – If anyone ever makes one of these retrospectives of me I’ll come back from the grave and kill them. I think it’s kind of the same reason movie stars don’t watch their old movies. We’re young and then one day we get old. It ain’t always pretty.

Time does fly, doesn’t it?

XOXO! Julia

 

Dear Tom, I miss you!

I heard from Ishbel the other day. She’s been on my mind, although I know she’s all right. She was married to you, after all, so I know just how tough she is!

But I know your family misses you. I miss you.

Here’s all the news that’s fit to print~

I’m still pretty much a mess. But there are worse things than broken things. As you well know. I did take Jake to the beach last week. The surf was so high we couldn’t do much beach combing.

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Also a woman wearing a pashmina tried to hit Jake with a ball thrower. Seriously. She was at the far end wearing her blue pashmina (I hate pashmina’s because they are so pretentious) and white slacks. She was using her ball thrower to dig a hole in the sand with her golden retriever who was, as this is an off-leash beach, off-leash.

Jake bounded up to them, all happy, his entire body wiggling like a puppy and a look on his face that said, “Hey, wassup? What y’all doing over here?”

Her dog just looked at Jake, but the woman started swinging that ball thrower at him. So I yelled, “Hey, lady, knock it off! Don’t you dare hit my dog!” I called Jake back to me. He came right away, with a look that said, “Is she crazy or what?”

She’s lucky he didn’t bite her or grab her ball thrower and run off with it.

So I yelled to her, “If you’re going to have your dog off leash you can’t be swinging your ball thrower at other dogs when they approach.”

Two other dog walkers witnessed the incident and turned around, walked the other way, as did Jake and I. This is only a spit of a beach on the best day. The surf was so high there wasn’t much walking to be had. Unfortunate. But a beach is still a beach!

Fortunately for Jake, we discovered a new park in Napa. It’s off the beaten path. There are no cars, and he can be off leash. He made a new friend, one whose owner did not swing his fishing pole at Jake.

My Vionics – shoes to help plantar fasciitis. I think they are super cute although since it seems I have a stress fracture of my left heel as opposed to plantar fasciitis they really aren’t helping a bit. Gotta see a man today about a cast…

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Oh… And you’ll be both pleased and disconcerted to note that my youngest (in the center) went skydiving for her birthday. She is now certified. Whatever that means. I’m trying not to look. Seriously. Can’t look.

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Her instructor is Israeli which makes me feel better. Nevertheless…

Okay. I’m done. Gotta go swimming before I get a cast. Oh I so don’t want another cast…

XOXO! Love you, Tom! Julia

 

 

 

Dear Tom… A Perfect Storm, or as we say round these parts- bitch fest two!

I’m only gonna talk about it in this one post. Then I’ll shut up. There are way worse problems in this world. My little issues don’t amount to a hill of beans. But there are reasons why productivity (mine) may be limited in 2016.

I feel like my own grandmother!

You may recall the jumping over the side of a steep trail to avoid a falling oak branch two years ago in February wherein I tore my meniscus (right knee) all the way to the bone on both sides of the knee requiring an emergency arthroscopic repair whereupon my amazing lovely highly skilled surgeon said to me upon my awakening, and I quote,

“I don’t know if I’ve managed to save the knee.” No addendum.

To be quite honest, my knee has not really worked well since. I’ve managed, but it’s challenging when the left knee contains a whole lot of hardware and has since I crushed the knee in a sledding accident at the age of fourteen. (Multiple surgeries- the last by above-mentioned boy genius in 2007 which allowed me to hike across Costa Rica, Scotland and Wales.) Therefore my work horse right knee was my saving grace.

So that’s Perfect Storm #1.

Perfect Storm #2. (Stop chortling, Tom! I can hear you from this side of the grave.) (Remember, I see dead people.)

A little over a year ago, the coiled garden hose fell onto my leg, causing me to twist my right foot which resulted in a Lisfranc (sucky) injury for which I cannot wear a cast (hurts that right knee) and which has gotten worse with continued exercise so that the pain is, like, well, as we say in the nursing world- on a scale of 1-10 it’s pretty much a constant solid 7. And there’s nothing to do for it but a fusion which I’ve been avoiding because of the above-mentioned (Did I mention it?) right knee.

Lisfranc injury

But other foot…

Perfect Storm #3. (Shut up, Tom. I heard that!)

Because I’ve had to be cautious with the right foot I’ve been pounding on the left and I’ve developed the worst case of plantar faciitis I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve had it plenty-o-times. Stepping on that left heel first thing in the morning makes me scream- in addition to the fact that I already need a walker just to get out of bed due to the right knee and the right foot. (Did I mention that?) No shit. A walker just like gramma Jennie. You should see me sticking my left foot into a vat of ice water after I hike. No, seriously, a vat of ice water. Practically gives me a seizure. I can’t imagine how professional athletes actually manage to sit in ice water. Maybe because they are getting paid a bajillion dollars to do it?

On second thought, I’m sure you see me with my foot in ice water and you laugh your ass off!

ice water

Again, other foot…

But wait, there’s more! When I was in Montana for Christmas, and this was against my better judgement, mind you– I got talked into hiking through deep powder up to a tall ridge for sledding and snow boarding because I am indeed an idiot. You know, fun trumps all pain and suffering!

And so we come to Perfect Storm #4.

We took turns on the snowboard belonging to older daughter. I did not get injured snowboarding- just so’s ya know. It was hauling my older daughter out of a snow hole where she’d just done a face plant and couldn’t get her 5’7″ 135 pounds plus snowboard plus another 30 pounds of snow and ice-encrusted coveralls (so stiff they could stand up on their own- and this I know because I was the one who carried them back into the house) upright. And I didn’t want her to suffocate. In the process of rescuing my daughter from six feet of snow I managed to tear the labrum in my left hip. Now I’m gramma Jennie for sure!

kinda like this

Kinda like this.

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The Real Deal – before the fall!

I swear- belated Christmas/Hanukah present– a walker.

Took me two hours to walk the dog two miles last night. I am so bloody slow I annoy the hell outta myself.

Oh, wait, did I mention I am scheduled for knee-replacement surgery on March 24th? Yeah. I am.

Guess I’ll be heading back to my surgeon’s office (he’s 100 miles away) to deal with my hip first.

Seriously. I mean, seriously. It’s like that Passover song- Dayenu – Enough! It would have been enough!

Dayenu

 

I think I was a bad person in a past life. Although… When I was in college a Vietnamese face reader told me I would experience significant musculoskeletal issues in my fifties. Emphasis on the ‘significant.’ His, not mine. He also said I would get past them. Finger’s crossed, dear Tom!

But anyway, the point of this post is to let you all know why I’m struggling to get work done. Besides, I’m busy exercising (rowing machine/swimming, trying to hike- poor Jake!) so I’ll have an easier time rehabbing from the knee and possibly hip surgery.

But as we all know, it could always be worse!

It could

(Reminds me of my horseback riding accident in high school- didn’t walk for an entire year.) Le’ sigh…

XOXO Love ya, Tom! (Quit laughing at me!)

Dear Tom, I don’t see the point…

2015 has been exhausting, both for me, personally, and for our nation and our world. I’m plumb tuckered out.

I’m tired of blogging – an exercise which I suspect means little these days.

I’m tired of the publishing wars. Legacy publishing versus indie publishing versus far too many authors I know who are now poor as church mice, homeless even- authors who once upon a time, as in three or four years ago, made bundles of money.

Now me, I’ve never made bundles so I’ve never spent bundles. As they say– don’t give up the day job. Oh, a couple years ago, 2010-1013, the world was a much different (and more hopeful) place. I made a bunch. I sold lots of books. The life of writing was good and I felt inspired to write more and more and more.

These days, not so much. In fact, I find myself less and less interested in engaging the market, i.e., readers, and I have little interest in promotion. To be honest, I find it hard to muster the energy. Attempts to engage, attempts to promote, don’t sell books anyway. So engagement, just like blogging, is another exercise in futility.

But what about that pot of gold, you ask? What about that lightening strike? The newly discovered land? Well, I ain’t holding my breath. Never have.

You know, I’ve read those books – the strike it rich quick books – those books that have caught fire, those six-figure signings, and except for the very first book in the Hunger Games series, those six-figure books bored me to tears. Whatever it was about those books that caught fire did not ignite the fires within me. Couldn’t even make it through the first five pages of a couple of them.

BORING…

More and more I find myself buying nonfiction and re-reading my old favorites in the fiction genre.

But do I plan to quit altogether? Quit writing? Huh. Good question. Maybe. I’m working on a short story as we speak. I have a re-release scheduled for February or March. I have a number of books in the queue. Maybe I’ll finish them, maybe I won’t.

Regardless, I am convinced I’ll be appreciated after I’m dead. My stuff is good. Someday someone will realize it.

In the meantime:

I’m busy with family and friends. I’m traveling. I’ve got bushels and bushels of lemons to juice for lemon curd. I have to figure out how to halter break my steer, Hank. All in all, while my appreciation and affection for the beauty in life continues to grow, my attachment to the publishing world diminishes.

And I’m okay with that.

I miss you. 2015 was a sucky year for you and your family. They lost you. I lost you, my dear dear friend.

I look forward to 2016. The number fifteen has always bothered me in any case. I think it’s a bad luck number. 2015 has been proof of that for so many people.

Anyway, I’m tired– was up the entire night with a sick dog. No, not a kid although I did have a couple kids home– a sick dog. When I say the entire night I mean exactly that, the entire night. Oscar slept through the whole thing. But then that’s typical for Oscar. He sleeps the sleep of the dead. I wake if a neighbor three doors down drops a pin. Onto plush carpet.

The best blog around? The one worth reading? Marylin’s – Things I Want to Tell My Mother. Her recent post is frame-worthy: The Gift of Words. Go read it, you’ll love it.

All right, Tom, maybe I’ll re-watch the genius Big Bang episode (The Opening Night Excitation) and go to bed!

I love you, Tom. Here’s to the approaching New Year.

XOXO! Julia