I’ve discovered a few things recently that I find surprising.

Playing with flashlights and long exposures is fun.

light painting

Dinosaurs frolic amongst the fence posts. They frolic with Santa, too, but Santa didn’t show up until after I took these photos.


Giraffes in captivity lick everything — each other, trees, fences, everything. And they drool like crazy.


My shoelaces look like tasty worms.

shoelace snack

Pigeons can be scary.


The shadow of my upper arm is freakishly skinny.


My nephew is fearless.


And the thing I find most surprising of all? That on a sunless rainy day like today…I feel happy and contented.

Setting sail for Europe.

Setting sail for Europe.

My mom passed away last month. I felt compelled to speak at her funeral, the hardest public speaking event of my life (despite knowing it was the most sympathetic audience I’ll ever have). I feel compelled to share that here, too.

My eulogy spoke of what my mom gave me — besides life & good looks — and there are three main things:

  • Love of music. While she didn’t always love what she called my “blatt-blatt noise,” she did enjoy music, and would blast Edith Piaf and make me stop to appreciate it. She would also burst into song if what you said reminded her of lyrics.
  • Love of travel. She always told stories of her intrepid solo travels through Europe, of riding her bike (sometimes getting a ride to the top of mountains from truck drivers), of seeing new places, of making new friends. From a super young age, I knew I wanted to follow her traveling example.
  • Love of friends. Mom had friends from grade school, high school, Europe, church, her neighborhood. So many people, when I called to tell them about her passing, said, “We were going to meet soon for lunch.”

The really amazing thing, though, was that Mom’s love of friends included MY friends (and my sister’s and brother’s, too). Our friends were invited to dinners, to functions, to weekends in Sonoma. In this way, Mom expanded her family.

My mom gave love. And I hope to carry that forward, to be half the friend that Colleen was.

And a piece of advice from Mom: “Put on some lipstick. It will make you feel better.”


Not sure how this guy fits into Halloween, but I like him (and his pride-mates) a lot better than the flamingos across the street.


This house has no need of decorations, because c’mon, it looks haunted without trying.


But, stop. Stop and behold Cavity Cove. Many, many people — including drivers — paused to admire the dedication and artistry. I was not the only person taking photos.


The story I heard is that the current owners of the house inherited the tradition of, and decorations for, Cavity Cove from the previous owner, a dentist. They’ve continued to expand the tradition.


And while Cavity Cove is my favorite by far, a special shout out for this unique Halloween offering. I wonder if you need to be in costume to join in the fun.


The bat’s wings wouldn’t stop flapping in the wind.
The other side says “6pm until they’re gone!”

Whether you’re trick-or-treating, handing out candy, or hiding in the back of the house with the lights out, I hope you have a very happy Halloween.

Fairly simple, but way better than spider webs:


I have come to learn that some Petalumans really celebrate and decorate for Halloween. Today, I wandered around like a creepy neighbor taking pictures of people’s homes. (I can’t be the only one.)

First, My favorite Victorian in Petaluma, with its own hanging mummy:


And a close-up:


Another house went all-out with their theme. I can’t help but wonder if it changes every year:


There’s engineering involved in them there pumpkin heads — at least the ones standing up.


The reclining ones may be a little easier.


But the most frightening part of CampScare? Look closely at the Grill Master — he’s cooking up his own kin. What kind of cannibalistic barbecue is this? And why is he so gleeful about it?


Saving the best for actual Halloween. See you tomorrow!


I’m all for Halloween decor, but this? Not so much.

Please, Not Purple

What spider spins purple?

It’s better with some Photoshopping — a little more creepy old house and a bit less purple. Even still, those spider webs are my least favorite Halloween decorations (especially without a single spider in sight).

The Local Haunted House

Better. But the best is yet to come.

21. October 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Books

On a recent overnight visit to a friend’s, I forgot toothpaste. She said, “There’s a tube in the vanity,” so I pulled it out and commenced brushing. A few seconds later, I nearly gagged on a mouth full of berry-bubblegum suds. Beggars can’t be choosers, I know, but I spit it out and asked for grown-up toothpaste.

If you ever need proof that taste change as you get older, just try kids’ Crest. Or think back to all the things you hated as a kid. I hated cheese. I couldn’t stand scrambled eggs unless they were cooked to death. I couldn’t understand why grownups drank nasty-smelling, fiery-tasting alcohol.

Even though palates evolve, we often crave pieces of our childhood, whether cookies, mac ‘n’ cheese, or a favorite book or movie. I LOVED The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. A world of talking animals and children turned royalty – I loved it all. I’ve been meaning to re-read them. But part of me is afraid: afraid the magic that transported me as a pre-teen will seem pathetic and dingy; afraid the allegory will be too heavy-handed; afraid it will be as dissatisfying as eating a bowl of multi-colored sugar bombs for breakfast.

Should I keep Narnia safely ensconced in my memory? Or should I dust off the book and get to reading?

Curiosity is going to kill this cat. Will it kill Aslan, too?

Am I too old?

Says right there: a story for children. Do I dare?


We closed escrow on Friday. We are now the proud owners of a whole bunch of weeds!

over there

Apples, over there! (After we whack down weeds.)

I’ve always loved the idea of having a little house with a backyard where I could read and soak up sun – preferably in a hammock. I never imagined building a house around open space, apple trees, and a pond. Who the hell has a pond? It’s a little hard to wrap my brain around the whole thing, even now that there’s no backing out.

Sadly, not permanent residents. (Photo by D)

Sadly, not permanent residents. (Photo by D)

But now that it’s “official,” I’m getting excited about finding an architect, designing a house, negotiating permits, planning a garden, researching animals. Even with pre-fab construction, it will likely be 18 months before we have a party there. In the meantime, I’ll try to be better about posting updates.

Here, some tea towels. Innocent enough, even if you don’t like the color of the stripes.


But look at the front of the towels, and you will see how creepy they are.



I offer these as proof of two things: (1) I was a weird kid who went through an embroidery phase and (2) sexism was alive and well in the 70s. Really? Brainwashing kitties? Obviously their not-so-subliminal messages didn’t work. They’re super wrinkled. I hate ironing.

I found these in a closet somewhere in my mom’s house eons ago and reclaimed them. Then quickly shoved them in a box. Now, they’re going to be hand towels for parties. Can’t wait to see what kind of snarky comments they elicit.

We celebrated the Solstice on Saturday with our fifth annual Summer Solstic Barbecue. Horrible photographer that I am, I took exactly one photo…and the gracious subject flipped off the camera. So that just won’t do.

I’d post a picture of something beautifully evocative of summer. But it’s rainy and gray, almost as if I never moved out of Daly City!

I’d show you a belated Springtime photo of my favorite sign of Spring – ducklings! – since I saw them for the first time just a few weeks ago. But the Petaluma duckies are quite camera shy.

Instead, on this gloomy Tuesday, I give you proof that everyone’s a kid when it comes to baby cats.

Baby Tigger

They really wanted to pet him.

She squealed!



The genies never came to pack our boxes at the old house, nor to unpack them at the new one. We were living in Boxlandia for several weeks, but now the new place is really shaping up. Not enough to take interior pictures, mind you, but shaping up.

Waiting to sign the lease

Waiting to sign the lease

The new place isn’t as charming as the old place, but all the appliances work and the house is unlikely to crash down in an earthquake. We can run the microwave and the toaster at the same time! Plus, now when I’m washing dishes, I look out at a cute patio instead of at a wall.

new view

Someday, we’re going to hike that.

From home to downtown takes 10 minutes on bike (the return trip takes me 15; it’s uphill & both my bike and my body are heavy) or 30 minutes on foot. Either way, I cruise past lovely Victorians. Best of all, the downtown is humming with activity and restaurants (even one that stays open until 2 am!).

Even better, our first in-town adventure led me to baby goats! My head did not explode as Derek feared it might from the volume of unbearable cuteness, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I not only tasted yummy cheese, I held a baby goat. And I told the woman leading the tour, “You’d better just get another goat, because I’m not letting this one go.” I held it until it was time to go. Mama Goat was none too pleased.

Camera couldn't focus on goat because my smile was too bright

Camera couldn’t focus on goat because my smile was too bright.

The only kids we're gonna have

Cyn says: “The only kids we’re gonna have.”

Never say, "No, I'm not going to hold a goat." Because this is what happens.

Never say, “No, I’m not going to hold a goat.” Because this is what happens.

My drive to the gym takes me past sheep and goats, and if I go even a few miles to the north or south on the freeway, or west on country roads, I see cows. It makes me happy to drive by cows. I’m simple like that.

We don’t have trees or chickens or a pool of our own just yet, but the rolling wine country hills are pretty awesome, and I know a month is kind of early for such declarations…but I think I love Petaluma.