Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Promise of a New Year

We are poised on the turning of the year. Tonight we are heading to a party - something we have rarely done in many recent years. We of the quiet evenings, early-ish bedtimes, are set to go out and celebrate the end of this dismal and shame-filled year (politically speaking)! Like so many others, we feel the prescience of something newer and, of course, better, just over the horizon. In this moment, I am thinking of my many friends and family members around the world, and wishing for all of you, and all of us, and all of the world a better new year. A happy new year! Try to imagine it, and if enough of us can imagine it, maybe we can make it manifest!

Can't resist one more clip of the little one - now there is a great reason to hope and rejoice in the newness of the world!

Friday, December 26, 2008


We made it back home! Coming over the Siskyou Pass, through the freezing mountains, we had the opportunity to find out what we are made of (once again) as we lay down in the wet ice on the shoulder of I-5 and tried to untangle the chains wrapped around the wheel axles! We are made of tough and fine stuff!! We butch-ly donned and removed chains several times on that journey home, and got here safely.

Arrived Christmas evening to find the whole family gathered, and a fabulous dinner on the table waiting for us. We are tired, but so happy to be here. Here is a little video clip of Desmond, my grandson, during the festivities. Hope you can see it, and then understand why we were racing to get back here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

50 Miles of Iced Washboard....

Here is a photo of Oregon's Highway I-5, covered in ice. Picture this bumper to bumper, 4 lanes across, moving at a speed of 3-5 hours, and you get the drift of what happened in our world today. We made it 225 miles in 7 grueling hours of driving, much of it with chains on our tires. So much for making it back to California in a timely way! But we are safe, in a comfy motel room in Wilsonville, OR, and prepared to stay here for as long as it takes to get safer driving conditions. Meanwhile, just as we got off of I-5, they closed it down so that plows and sanders could go through. It has been closed for several hours. We can see people sitting out there in line, waiting for the highway to open up again. Don't try this at home!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Little Laughter

A close friend sent us a wonderful YouTube video clip of a performance, in England, by Robin Williams, introduced by John Cleese. He talks about the Obama election, and so much more - a wonderful collection of zaniness! Thank you Connie!!!!

Daniella, this morning, said that we now have a PhD in Snow (that is, Piled High and Deep). It snowed all night again, and now there is about 18 inches on the ground, making it almost impossible for the dogs to take a walk (where are they?), and also for us to make much headway in our sneakers (yes, we don't have any appropriate footwear for this weather!). It is light and powdery, with ice below. Yikes! Yesterday we were able to take quite a good walk up the hill. Today I don't think we will be able to walk beyond the driveway unless things radically change somehow - but the forecast is ...... you guessed it ...... snow!

We just spent time trimming Django's fur with scissors, so that perhaps he won't get so bogged down when he goes outside. This morning he went a few yards and could not even move, he had so much snow clumped to his fur.

Late afternoon bulletin: we have made a snap decision to "go for it" and try to leave the island tomorrow and head for California. There is a one-day window of opportunity where the snow storms are not happening and we want to see if we can get down to warmer temperatures, somewhere in Oregon tomorrow night. We'll stick to I-5 all day, to be as safe as we can. Hope we don't run into any troubles! We have chains, and common sense. Let's hope we also have luck!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Here in the twinkling darkness of 4:30 pm on a quiet Sunday afternoon, we have just lit the Hannukah menorah with the first candle. Our day consisted of lots of indoor time, followed by a few walks, and a visit with a dear neighbor who stopped by. I had to give Django no less than 3 warm baths so far to remove his ice-ball coating, each time he joyfully rushed out into the snow to play! Daniella made a snow-woman (her first, as an LA girl), and we fed the birds. So goes life in the slow lane on Whidbey Island. Tonight we'll share a meal with the boys up the hill, and probably spend a quiet evening together. As we contemplate the turning of the solstice, it is heartening to remember that, after today, the daylight begins to lengthen again. We will be on the way back to the light soon. The ice and snow, on the other hand, show no signs of retreat. We are thankful for the mercies of electricity, warmth, and good company.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How to Avoid Cabin Fever

Today the ongoing saga continues. We are stuck here. A new big storm is on the way. We still have power, food, and many comforts of home, so we're lucky. But we only leave this small studio for walks with the dogs - have not driven in days. Here's what I'm doing.

Reading: Tales of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz. This is a multi-generational memoir mostly set in Israel in a family of story-tellers, dreamers, scholars and unforgettable characters. It is elegantly written, so that every page is dense, delicious, and chewy like a fabulous fruity cake (not like the fruitcake that everyone hates!).

Watching: A series of DVD's of the complete UCSC course Introduction to Feminisms, taught to wild acclaim by Bettina Aptheker for the last 25 years, and without a doubt the most popular class at UCSC. It has now been made available in its entirety on a large set of DVD's, and is being sold as a set for only $20 at the UCSC Baytree Bookstore. This is a wonderful way to pass many hours and actually learn something!

Also: Making oatmeal with raisins, candied ginger, apricots, and flax seeds, a big batch to last for several days. Eating leftover chile with tortillas, cheese, and avocados. Taking more icy walks down the street and back. Watching the geese waddle across the frozen lake on their bright yellow feet, a solitary display of color in this otherwise black and white world.

Also: Obsessively watching "the weather channel" online to see if we can find a window of opportunity to drive south to California, but so far the prospects don't look good for several days. Sighing. Missing my grandson, Desmond, more every day. Wishing for a little sunshine. Reading some more. How do you deal with cabin fever??

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not Going Anywhere

Obviously we're not going anywhere at the moment! That's our car and our driveway. Snow continues to fall, and driving conditions are treacherous here on the island and throughout the Seattle area as well. But we are cozy, warm, and well-fed. We have videos to watch, art projects to work on, crossword puzzles to puzzle over, books to read, doggies to get us outside, plenty of food, our computers, our phones, our sense of humor. Best of all, we have the continuous black and white nature show, huge puffy snowflakes falling continuously, every twig and limb blanketed in deep whiteness, roads free of traffic, and only a few bunny tracks in the virginal snow. There are huge flocks of Canada geese feeding on the meadow near the lake, and then making periodic flights into the lake where they float on the silvery sheen of the water. Their loud squawks punctuate the vast silence of this snow-covered land. The horses in the pasture next door are blanketed but lively, and we see them running and rolling in the snow.

This is another world, a world of immense peacefulness, where time has slowed to a crawl. It is hard to take it in that this is the pre-Christmas week. Out there, away from this snow, life is going on. People are shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, and participating in various festivities. Vehicles are moving somewhere in the world. My brother in Florida tells me that it is 78 degrees there. But for us the drama of the day lies in deciding whether to walk to the end of the street, or venture across the highway for a slightly longer loop; whether to heat up some soup or just make popcorn for dinner; whether to do a little hand-washing, or just wear our dirty clothes for another day! So far we are opting for dirty clothes, and popcorn has always been one of our favorite dinner options, so long as there is a good movie to go along with it. Last night we watched a Danish film called "The Inheritance" that was very good indeed.
The dogs are always ready to go outside and take walks. We're setting out again now for the third walk of the day, and it's only 11 am! Who needs sun??!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thinking of you at the Holidays

This note is written from snowy Whidbey Island, where we are spending a few precious days before returning to Santa Cruz for the holidays. (That is, if the weather lets us leave the island... the forecast is for more snow this week, and continued freezing temperatures.) Brrrrr - we California girls are not used to this! But our little dogs love it!
This year has seen the joyful addition of a new family member, little Desmond, born in July to Phil & Megan. He is our first grandchild, and like every grandparent, we KNOW that he is the best baby ever, in every way possible - cute, smart, mellow, already way ahead of his crowd, etc. etc. Needless to say, the spoiling has begun! We couldn't be more thrilled.In other ways the year has been great for us. Daniella won two big art awards, the Gail Rich award and the Rydell Fellowship, both given out to excellent artists in the Santa Cruz area. She has had her best professional year ever, and is immersed in so many projects that her studio seems to buzz at a frenzied energy level. I spent June and July on Whidbey Island, and we both traveled to Toronto for a small vacation/art workshop (for D). I also had a week with my brother in Sarasota, Florida, in September.

I've had a little work at the university (part time recall) during the fall, and also got involved in a huge garden makeover (front yard) that happily occupied several of my days. We both worked on the political campaign, doing phone calls for Obama, walking precincts, and for me, working at the voting place all day on election day.

The election itself was thrilling, and gives us hope that the world might get back on a more rational, humane track again. It is devastating to hear of the many people who have lost jobs, homes, pensions, savings, and so much more. What a mess we're in - it will take all of us to fix it.

If you are receiving this letter it is because you are one of the people whom I cherish in my life! I wish you happy holidays, a healthy and safe new year, and the chance to give and receive love, the ultimate healer. I hope that our paths will cross and we will be able to share precious time together in the months ahead.