There she was just a walkin’ down the street

Just an egret walking down the sidewalk…

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

The other day, I was driving through a nearby neighborhood to drop off a kid from the carpool when I spotted this egret walking down the sidewalk.

I blurted out, “Did you see that?” and then put the car into reverse (after checking for other cars, of course) and backed up for a closer look.  I handed my phone to my daughter so she could take this photo through the van window.

You never know what you’ll see . . . if you’re looking.


I really did intend to write more regularly once the new year arrived–just like I intended to abstain from all sugar and you can guess how that went?  (Hint:  I baked chocolate chip cookies tonight.)  January always seems like it will be a fresh start, but it’s January!

Here are some things that happened this January:

  1.  The rainstorm I wrote about already.  (Can I just be a little more obsessed with the rare rainstorm?)
  2. A weekend spent cleaning out kitchen cupboards.  (What has my life become?)
  3. Another weekend spent cleaning out the garage.  (I barely made a dent and it looks somewhat worse than when I started.)
  4. My 17-year old son got his driver’s permit.  (My nervous system is . . . let’s just say “nervous” when trying to communicate while fearing for my car’s paint job, not to mention fearing whiplash.)
  5. I had the dryer vent guy come and clean out the dryer vent.  (My dryer vent has more turns and twists than a daytime soap opera.  The hot air and lint does not have a straight shot outside.  ((I’m pretty sure there’s tortured metaphor about life here somewhere.))  Instead, the pipe turns and then bends and then turns again and clogs up.  This means that it has to be regularly cleaned out by a professional.  The signs I notice are twofold:  First, I smell something burning.  The “something” is the lint that accumulates in the open space in the bottom of my dryer.  I finally learned to open up the dryer by myself and vacuum it out.  Second, my laundry starts to take forever to dry . . . three hours, for instance, for a single load.  When that happens, I have to call the guy and  he comes and takes my money and solves my problem.  Well, he solves my laundry-related problem anyhow.  I have other problems that $145.00 will not fix.  Ha.)
  6. I missed several glorious sunsets at the beach due to a wonky work schedule or parental obligations.  I’ve been to the beach a few times, but the best and more vibrant January sunsets happened while I was trudging through my life.  I am trying not to feel bitter.  My husband says, “Oh, there will be other sunsets,” but I think, this sunset will never occur again . . . if you miss it, you miss it.
  7. I read my first book of the new year, Diana Nyad’s Find a WayWhat an epic story!  I loved it, especially since I went to hear her speak and could therefore “hear” her voice as I read.  She is a remarkable human being.

And now my 2:00 AM bedtime is approaching, so I leave you with this photo of a sunset, my best so far this January.

#carlsbad beach tonight

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

There she was just a walkin’ down the street

The magic of tidying up

The rain continues to fall.  This, coupled with a few late shifts at work, has kept me inside, away from the ocean, feeling like my life is just a series of obligations stacked one on top of the next.  I do not love it when my calendar has no breathing space.

You know what helps?

In snippets of stolen time here and there, I have been sorting, purging, organizing and putting stuff back where it belongs.  I threw papers and magazines into the recycling bin.  I cleaned out my pantry.  I alphabetized my spices.  (I found one tin from 2002.  I don’t know how this escaped my previous alphabetizing.)  I pulled everything out of a corner kitchen cupboard that I had shoved there in 2011 when we moved into this house.

As I slowly put things in order, my brain feels better.

The disarray will never end, though.  I know this.  While I’m tidying up one cupboard, a closet is quietly unraveling, turning into a tangle of wire hangers and heap of neglected shoes and piles of dirty-but-not-that-dirty-clothes that I might wear again before I wash them, but who knows?  Even if I lived alone, things would still migrate from their assigned cubby.

But for now, at least I can find the turmeric and my kids’ birth certificates.  One thing at a time.

(And yes, I do have The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my Kindle.  I look forward to reading it, but right now I’m in the middle of Diana Nyad’s memoir about swimming from Cuba to Florida.  I have a big pile of books to read.)



The magic of tidying up

Rainy days and Tuesdays

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent most of my adult life there as well.  I am all-too familiar with rain.  I remember the year we moved back to the Seattle area as a married couple and it rained fifty days in a row.

Yet I never–not once–worried about my house flooding while living there.  Oh sure, occasionally, the rain would drip through a leaky roof, but that was the extent of it.

Today, in my fifth year of living in mild and sunny San Diego, I freaked out when I realized that the water was not draining from my yard as hard rain fell.

At first, I had just glanced outside the sliding glass doors from my office and noticed that the water seemed to be standing instead of draining.  I had checked my garage earlier to make sure no water was seeping under the door as it had done during the last heavy rainfall.

All was well.  But now that I noticed the standing water outside my door, I hurried back to the garage to find water streaming under the door.  I stepped outside in my slippers to check the drain and realized the water required more than slippers.

I ran upstairs and put on my husband’s boots.  Ran back outside and sloshed to the drain where my feeble attempts with a screwdriver did nothing.

I opened the gate to the area next to the garage side door and found a good six inches of water pooling.  I knew the water would be going under the side door and into the garage since that drain there was also clogged.

I ran back inside, shoved bath towels against the garage door to stop the water.  (Ha, such optimism.)  Then I replaced my husband’s boots with knee-high rain boots.

If you are keeping track at home, the score is: 2 drains, both clogged + sudden downpour = flooding side yard (which is all cement).

I grabbed a push broom and began sweeping and pushing the water out the gate to the front sidewalk where it could stream down the driveway and down the street.  With minutes, I was completely soaked.

Like in this scene, only it was just me, my push broom, relentless rain, and panic:

So, when I spotted my sons through the office window–where they were gaping at me–I opened the sliding door enough to say, “Call dad and tell him I need sandbags.”

Then I resumed push-brooming the water out the gate . . . for a solid forty-five minutes.  I seriously worried that the water would continue to rise.  The downspouts from the roof were gushing.  The lawn in the back yard was beginning to look like a pond.  The water continued to pool outside my office door and I remembered how terrible it was last year when we had water damage in our house from a flooded toilet.

Finally, I had to leave my Sisyphean task because I had to drive carpool.  Fortunately, the rain began to let up a little and my son (bless him) took over the job of sweeping the water out the gate.  I dripped all the way upstairs where I stood in the tub to remove all my wet clothes.  My hair was as wet as if I’d just showered.  I actually picked up the kids looking like a drowned rat.

By the time I got home an hour later, the rain had mostly stopped.  We set up a barricade of sandbags.

I could not be more exhausted and my hands burn from the rough wood handle of that push broom.  But I’m fairly confident that we are safe from flooding.

Tomorrow I’m calling someone to come and clean out those drains.

It’s supposed to rain all week which is hilarious since we’re in a terrible drought.  You should see news coverage of the rain.  Of course, my attitude was one of complete mockery until my own rain boots filled with water while I frantically fought the forces of nature with nothing but a push broom and determination.

[Insert ark joke here.]


Rainy days and Tuesdays

Calendars galore (but what day is this?)

For Christmas, I received four calendars in addition to the “Agenda” calendar I had already purchased to sit on my desk.  Good thing since it’s been an ongoing challenge to remember what day it is. I’ve been confused all week.

My great intentions have already fizzled but I told myself, “oh, whatever . . . Monday’s coming . . . let’s not get legalistic about January 1.”  I think my intentions are like those birthday candles that you can’t blow out.  They’ll re-ignite and I’ll be all about long walks and broccoli before you know it.

#BerneseMountainDog – this dog is posing and laughing. So funny.

A photo posted by Melodee (@_.melodee._) on

I did manage to get all the Christmas decorations down and repacked.  I bought three new plastic bins to replace some cardboard boxes that got damaged by rain in my garage.  Yes.  Rain.  In my garage.

We live in a mostly dry climate yet when recent rain fell, it fell hard and fast and unbeknownst to me, through my garage because the drain by the side of my house was blocked.  Consequently, the rain took the path of least resistance which happened to flow under the side door of my garage.  It meandered through my cluttered garage before exiting through the front garage door and down the driveway.

(This is exactly how the Grand Canyon came to be.)

So, nothing was really damaged, other than the boxes.  I know now that I need to make sure everything is in plastic bins, not cardboard, in the garage just in case.

Anyway, Christmas decorations are put away but one thing dominoes into the next and now I need to clean out the whole garage, my entire office and my bedroom closet.  I also really need to cull through my library and organize all my books again.  (The very thought of the disarray of my kitchen cabinets makes me twitchy.  I really need to pull everything out and get rid of the stuff I stashed in the deep corner cabinets when we moved here over four years ago.)

I didn’t have time for that today, though, because first things first.  I dealt with the Christmas decorations, cleaned the kitchen and put dinner in the CrockPot.  Then I cleaned and organized my pantry.  (I also saw a movie with my husband.)

In the pantry, I discovered a lot of brown rice and canned pumpkin.  I’ve also been buying a lot of sweet potatoes.  I have no idea.  So much rice.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in the pantry studying a bag of black beans, wondering if they were expired.  I never did find a date.  I thought about how much I would regret throwing away those beans in the event of an apocalypse.  Even kind of old beans would be better than nothing if the world came to an end, right?

These thoughts are why it takes so long to sort and organize.

(By the way, if you were my label-maker, where would you be?)




Calendars galore (but what day is this?)


I seldom write a “To Do List.”  I have a day-planner type of calendar on my desk and I note obligations on it.  But I don’t write a list of tasks to accomplish.  Perhaps it’s too depressing knowing that my time and energy is limited. I’m just not a “To Do List” kind of girl.

But today was an exception.  Today, I located some 3×5 index cards and jotted down a list and timetable.  It went something like this:

Wrap gifts
Clean kitchen
Make dip/bake cookies
Hair & Makeup – 3 PM
Dinner in CrockPot – 3:30 PM
Ride to _____’s – 3:45 PM
Church – 4:30 PM

The list was written after I had already worked at my real job (on the computer) for about an hour.  I finished up and headed to the kitchen by 12:15 PM and began cleaning up and baking cookies.  I even put dinner into the CrockPot at about 2:30 PM–ahead of schedule–and by 3 PM, I had finished baking cut-out cookies (known to some people as “sugar cookies”) and Peanut-Butter blossoms (you know, those delicious little peanut butter cookies topped with Hershey’s kisses).

The dishwasher was humming along and I was about to head upstairs to begin primping (and spackling and doing all the things that 50-year old women have to do before appearing in public so people will not think they are ill or about to croak; it involves primer and concealer and lipstick and a curling iron).

Then I received a text message at 3:03 PM from one of my kids.  It said, “Need to be leaving in 10 minutes.”

I found this message puzzling.  What?  Where?  Why?  A quick consultation with my husband revealed a terrible truth.  The offspring in question had not coordinated his need for a ride with his dad’s schedule.  In fact, they were both heading to the same location, but the son needed to arrive by 3:30 PM while my husband was not leaving our home until 3:30 PM.

This was a miscommunication.  This was a problem.  The son thought he had communicated his schedule to me but he apparently failed to take into account the limited brain-storage space I have for the details of other people’s lives.  His brief mention of this obligation last Sunday did not really register with me at all.  In other words, I had NO IDEA he thought I knew he needed a ride today.

So, instead of “Hair & Makeup” at 3 PM, I drove my son to his rehearsal while my husband finished showered.  When I returned home 30 minutes later, I was thirty minutes behind schedule.  I delivered another child to another location . . . then had about 15 minutes to do my make-up and hair and to get dressed.

We arrived at the Christmas Eve service five minutes before the starting time.  Normally I am not a stickler for being on time (at some point, I just capitulated) but tonight I had to be on time because I had to read the Scripture passage before the sermon.  And so, I did.

All was calm.  All was bright.

Then we came home, ate dinner (fajitas in the CrockPot, who knew?) and then I worked a five hour shift.

Now, it’s late, so late it’s early, and I have to arrange gifts around the tree and stuff stockings before crawling into bed.  Fortunately, the kids are old enough to value sleeping in at least a little.

I do have to note that while I was driving around in frantic irritation at the disruption of my schedule, I thought of Mary the mother of Jesus . . . how her life was disrupted.  Aren’t children just the biggest disruption ever?  That’s something to think about.

That thought did calm me down a little.  And then I thought how maybe having a little more margin in my life might be a tiny bit helpful.  And then I thought about my friend MaryKay reading a book about “margin” a long time ago and then my thoughts just ricocheted in a half a dozen directions and it’s lucky that I didn’t get into a traffic accident on the way home because I was so distracted by my thoughts and by my mild panic about the time.  (Also, I might have said at some point, “So basically, I am the one who will look like CRAP tonight.  Also?  I will not be wearing clothes since I have NO TIME to get dressed!!”)

Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good-night!

Here’s a photo of my kids from ten years ago and a re-creation of the same photo today.  You’re welcome.

PicMonkey Collage two



On being dress-coded

My daughter has always had definite opinions about her clothing.  She started changing outfits several times a day when she was two years old.  She has always been particular about what she will and will not wear.

And now that she’s 13, I can no longer pick out clothes for her because I have no idea whether stripes are “NO, MOM,” and if ruffles are “NEVER, ARE YOU KIDDING?”  Combine our now vastly different opinions about what is and is not appropriate with a school dress code and add in a dose of Southern California easy-living and you have a kid who is dressing herself in clothes that I think may be not quite okay for school but that she insists “everyone” wears.

That’s why today I got a telephone call from her asking me to bring her a shirt because she had been “dress-coded.”

That means her teacher decided too much of my daughter’s tummy was exposed.  The shirt comes to her waist but if she moves, it really does show off a little skin.  Not okay and I am pretty sure I told her that but I am her mom and what do I know?

I found two shirts (so she’d have a choice) and drove them to the school.  I told her it was a one-time courtesy and that next time she’d have to wear the school-provided “ugly” shirt if she broke the dress-code.

And if it weren’t 1:27 AM, I might have a way to wrap up this blog post but I don’t.

The end.



On being dress-coded

One life to live

When I was a teenager, I was very clear about the idea that my life was my own.  I resented any meddling by my parents beyond the normal parental guidelines.  I wanted to live my own life on my own terms. My life, my choices.

As a parent, I have found myself in a muddle.  Way too often I forget which life is mine and which life I control.  Angst floods in like a murky fog and I feel distressed that one of my kids isn’t doing anything meaningful with his life.  He’s sleeping his life away, I think, and I am upset about it.

But it’s his life to live.  It’s his life to waste.  (I hate this.  I want to control his life.)

Today an email came detailing some poor choices one of my kids made during the week at school.  I slid into an immediate funk.  I’m a failure as a mother, I said to myself.  It’s just a quick hop, step and jump to a disastrous life.  Where have I gone wrong?  I was on the verge of weeping.

But then my husband came home in such a good mood.  He gave me chocolate and reminded me that our kids have choices and free will and that even good parents have children who make mistakes.  And I remembered . . . oh yeah, this is not my life to live.  I have my own life and I am not being graded on the behavior of my children.

You know one of the best ways to learn?  By making mistakes.  By experiencing pain.  By failing.

You know some of the things I hate most about life?  Making mistakes.  Experiencing pain.  Failing.

You can see the problem.  I want to protect my kids from the very things that will teach them the most.

I also want to live my kids’ lives with all the wisdom I’ve acquired over the past fifty years.  But while this seems altruistic and helpful, it’s the absolute wrong thing to do.  Besides that, their lives are not mine to live.

I don’t like this at all but no one asked me when the whole system was set up.  As usual, I have to release my grip and get a grip.

I have just one life to live.  Better not to spend it freaking out about things I cannot and should not control.


One life to live