Aunt Bessie’s Tablecloth!

Aunt Bessie's Tablecloth!

Dear Reader:

Let me introduce you to Amy. She’s wearing her Aunt Bessie’s tablecloth, and she’s so happy that I noticed just how magnificent it is!

I had an amazing sandwich at a tiny little neighborhood restaurant in Sacramento last week. Despite how very hungry I was when I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was that dress and the woman who wore it so joyfully.

I never hesitate to compliment people…why should I…that’s my thinking. I see it…I like it…I say it! And, sometimes I am rewarded with a great story, as I was on this day.

“Excuse me,” I said as she hurriedly passed me. “But, I must tell you that I adore your dress.”

“Oh, it was once my aunt’s Christmas tablecloth and I inherited it!”

Well, that’s not something you hear everyday, I thought. But it helped explain the great happiness that I felt emanating from this woman. Her aunt saved the bright red, hand-embroidered cloth for just a single day each year. Her niece remembers it fondly.

“I wasn’t sure what to do with it,” she continued. “Then one day my friend offered to turn it into a dress so that I could enjoy it all year long.”

Now that’s a story to love! I’m still smiling!

Michele

 

 

Shopping for…Cannabis

Dear Reader:

I’m smelling a bit earthy this evening, but feeling quite wonderful. Both conditions are due to the purchase I made at Big Sur Canna Botanicals, Carmel’s first cannabis dispensary. I never thought I’d write those words!

There’s a pot dispensary 2.5 miles from my home in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center. My hair salon, a French bakery, my husband’s favorite sandwich shop and the SPCA Benefit Shop are all located in the same shopping center. And, I’m a happy customer.

But, I don’t want to mislead you, dear reader. I count two puffs from a joint when I was in my late teens as my total prior experience with pot. Just wasn’t my drug of choice. As you know, I’m an eat, drink and be merry kind of gal; I’ve got a whole category with this title here on my blog. This, of course, could be resolved as the dispensary offers cannabis infused chocolates. Maybe next time…I’ll let you know!

I visited the store with butterflies in my stomach (is marijuana really still taboo?) seeking to buy a topical to relieve the arthritic pain in my fingers. Whoa…I am so not cool! I’d been talking about going shopping for three weeks before I made it into the store. I just needed a little encouragement to get there. It came from my hairdresser.

“You okay,” she asked in her concerned voice. I think she’s a psychic.

“Oh, ya…I’m great…working out, feeling strong…sure, of course,” I answered. Followed by, “other than this (expletive deleted) pain in my fingers that’s starting to turn me into a crab!”

She pointed out that the dispensary was just a quick walk across the parking lot and made me promise to go shopping as soon as she’d made me beautiful. What would I do without my hairdresser? I should pay her extra for the counseling.

A  first visit to Canna Botanicals is unlike any other shopping trip. It’s an experience. Large rectangles of contemporary art fill the exterior windows giving the illusion that it’s  just another Carmel art gallery. The visual delight continues when you open the door to find an image of Bixby Bridge nearly filling one side of the room and leading you to a concierge style counter. The greeter was a young man dressed in black jeans stylishly paired with a t-shirt and blazer.

I don’t know what I expected him to say or ask, but it was a simple exchange. Was this my first visit? Yes. May I see your driver’s license? Sure. May I take your name? Please take a seat and we’ll call you when a sales representative is available.

I cozied up into a large leather chair and waited with a dozen other people for about ten minutes. I reached for a copy of High Times magazine so I could glance above its pages to assess the group of people in the room. The 30ish woman sitting across from me was dressed in chic casual wear. I wanted to enthusiastically compliment her entire outfit  and ask where she acquired her purse, but I didn’t. It didn’t seem right. I felt the proper etiquette in a dispensary waiting room should be like that in the waiting room of my doctor.

I eavesdropped to hear a bit of hushed conversation between two people. One was successfully treating the side effects of chemotherapy. I wanted to hear more but the quiet of the room was shattered when a man and woman entered greeting the employees like old friends. They were about my age, I’d guess, but they were …well, weathered…very tanned and wrinkled. They wore sloppy cut-offs, t-shirts and fanny packs. They were the stereo-type, but there were only two of them. There were several tourists, too. There are tourists everywhere at this time of the year. But, overall, the group of people in that room was fairly unremarkable…just a slice of life.

When my name was called I was led to a large rectangular room with a bright clean counter that resembled the cosmetic area of a department store. There was a long line of diverse products inside including pre-rolled joints, cannabis-infused ginger bites, tinctures, salves, candies, drinks and even new chewing-tobacco-like Cannadips. Glass jars of boutique buds lined the shelves behind the counter. It was an artful presentation.

There was a certain energy in the room. The counter allowed space for about 15 people to shop with the personal assistance of a knowledgable sales representative. Cat, presumably short for something, asked what had brought me into the store.

“Well, in addition to curiosity,” I answered, “my hands hurt.”

“Ah, you need Papa and Barkley; people swear by it,” she said.

It turned out that I bought the last container of the balm. She warned me that if it worked for me, I shouldn’t let my supply get low. Seems it’s a very popular product for mature Central Coast residents. I felt like I wanted her to give me a tour through the full product assortment, but it was busy and I’d only come for one thing. I pulled two twenties out of my wallet (cash only in dispensaries) and thanked her.

Well that was quick, easy and relatively inexpensive, I thought as I left the building. I drove home, poured myself a glass of vino, it was 5 o’clockish, and applied the cream. That was two weeks ago and I’m happy to tell you: IT WORKS! So, now if I’m crabby, I’ll have to find something else to blame it on!

Michele

This is what I purchased:

Papa & Barkley: 1:3 Releaf Balm 15ML $36

Our Releaf™ Balm is tougher than pain, bringing a breakthrough new approach and formula. This formula delivers hours of pain relief in an all-natural, botanical pain balm, infused through a coconut oil soak process unmatched for potency and terpene content. With more than 400 mg of cannabinoids per 15ml jar. Available in a CBD Rich 1:3 THC/CBD formulation.

In case you didn’t know:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Glaucoma
  • Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain

Vacation Mode!

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Dear Reader:

I’m on vacation, which is unusual as I’m retired! My fitness journey has completely reshaped my life. When I made a four-day a week commitment to Zone Fitness, I’m not sure I realized just how big a chunk of time that would take out of my life. There’s travel time and shower time not to mention the actual sweating time!

When my trainer announced that he’d be closing for several days to observe the holiday, I felt a bit excited…a gift of time! My husband and I took the opportunity to hit the pool at Carmel Valley Ranch. I enjoyed a spa cocktail (think Jonathan would approve)…vodka, lime, cucumber and seltzer water and a caprese salad.

It was a lazy afternoon punctuated with a few laps up and down the pool for good measure! As I said, I have made a lifestyle change!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday,

Michele

Independence Day; Fireworks or Not

 

On the barge
Shaver Lake circa 1982 with Bart

Dear Reader:

I have one really vivid Fourth of July memory. I was about ten years old…so that was 48 years ago! It was also the year that I fell out of love with sparklers! Since then Independence Day celebrations have been pain-free and carefree.

During the late seventies and early eighties, my husband (then just a boyfriend) and I enjoyed spending time at Shaver Lake at his family’s cabin. We spent the Fourth floating on the barge just like any other summer day. Fireworks were not legal, but they weren’t missed. The evening was spent on the deck of the cabin perched among the trees drinking and eating.

After we married and had our daughter, firework shows were de-rigueur. But, perhaps because of that early experience with a burn, I’ve never really needed the light show to make the holiday special.

Hope you have a glorious day!

Michele

If Donuts Are Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right!

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Enjoying my favorite, a maple bar, at San Luis Obispo Donut Company (SLODOCO)!

Dear Reader:

I’ve lost twelve pounds in the past seven months and people are starting to take notice. When asked for my “secrets,” I am happy to share the diet of my own creation. I call it the “Donut Deny Myself Anything Diet.” I’m not into deprivation; I’m an “eat drink and be merry” Italian with a passion for pasta, wine and donuts. And, I’ve found that I really can have it all…in moderation. Here’s my plan:

  • I employ the 80/20 or 90/10 (I’m not good with math) rule. In other words, most of the time, I eat clean*.
  • I refuse to give up alcohol, but I drink in moderation. I sip slowly.
  • When I want a treat, I have a treat and it’s usually the real thing, not a faux, low-calorie knockoff. The idea is to feel truly satisfied.

This brings me back to donuts…

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  • Donuts are a destination! I do not keep them in my home; I travel South* every couple of months and I always enjoy wine and a donut or two along the way!

As Michelle Pfeiffer put it:

“Eat well, exercise and get lots of sleep but make sure you indulge occasionally. At my age I think, what the hell, and eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut.”

My new approach to eating allows me to maintain a healthy weight without giving up two of the great joys in life: celebrating and eating. I’ll never be the woman who goes to a birthday party, but skips the cake. I’ll always ring in the new year with bubbly.  Pasta will always be on the menu in my home once a week. And, I’ll just ignore sexy Sue at the gym when she yells, “No Donuts!” before my trips to San Luis Obispo. That’s just how I roll.

Michele

P.S. Even Winnie loves a good donut!

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*Recipes to follow in coming weeks

*A trip from Northern California to Southern California would be a real waste if it didn’t include wine tasting and other treats!

On-board The Coast Starlight Train

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I am so impressed with this picture taken from my train window!

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I know it’s blurry, but I was on a train taking a photo of the railroad crossing sign…fun!

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Love the rows of green…love California!

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It was nice to leave the driving to someone else this time!

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Madonna and Bishop Peaks…I’m almost there!

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Time to toast the Cal Poly 2018 Graduates!

 

Dear Reader:

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight runs daily from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, via the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a convenient option for me as it makes a stop in Salinas, which is less than 20 miles from my home.

I just need a ride to the station and I’m off! The kid in me seems to come out as I stand on the platform waiting for my train. I can’t help it. First, I see it, and then as it gets closer, I hear the great rumbling sound of the beast that will deliver me to San Luis Obispo.

For an additional twenty dollars, I’ve upgraded to a business class ticket so I’ve got a large seat with plenty of space to stretch out. Upon boarding, I settle in and unpack my brown bag lunch and prepare to just sit…and do nothing more than marvel at the beauty of my beloved state.

As the train leaves the station, it makes a steadily increasing chugging sound and the whistle sounds. I’m on my way to celebrate the graduation of one of my daughter’s friends from Cal Poly.

As a business class traveler, I’m entitled to free WiFi, but I know that perk is really no perk at all because most of the area between Salinas and Paso Robles is so remote that it’s without service. I find it oddly comforting to know that there are vast stretches of my state that remain undeveloped or sparsely populated and agricultural. So for three and a half hours, I sat back, relaxed and snapped photos on my iPhone to share with you.

Shortly after arriving, I continued to enjoy my day with a glass of local wine made from the grapes I saw from my train window.

Cheers,

Michele

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Dear Reader:

My favorite people are the people who begin conversations with a question…this question: “How’s Natalie?” This gives me the opportunity to communicate straight from the depths of my heart. And, it immediately puts a smile on my face, because my daughter is my favorite topic.

I remember a strange encounter at Noah’s Bagels when Natalie was about four years old. I noticed a man at a nearby table watching us enjoy our cream cheese covered  indulgence. On his way out, he looked at me and said he thought it was nice to see a mother and daughter so obviously enjoying each other’s company.

“Oh, she’s my greatest joy, ” I remember answering.

He corrected me. “Well, your husband must be your greatest joy or you wouldn’t have her.”

If I ran into that man today, I’d tell him the same thing. Indeed, I love my husband, still. But as Alice Thomas Ellis so succinctly put it:

“There is no reciprocity. Men love women. Women love children. Children love hamsters*. Hamsters don’t love anyone; it is quite hopeless.”

Being a mother is, at once, both the most humbling and the most rewarding experience of my life. I will never consider it anything less than a miracle. It will always be the choice I am most proud of. It will always be the responsibility that drives me to be the best person that I can be.

It’s so easy to go on and on about what makes my daughter special, but I’ll just say that, despite all of her accomplishments, it is her kindness and generosity that I am most proud of. As I’ve watched her grow into an adult, I am so comforted to see her display a quiet, resolute strength and a deep understanding and acceptance of herself and those closest to her. She is a young woman who I both enjoy and admire.

I’d like to thank her for letting me “drop by” to enjoy a donut with her and her roommates. There is no place I’d rather be today than sitting across the table from my girl at SLODOCO dipping a maple bar into my latte.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear readers!

Michele

* When I repeat this quote, I change hamster to dog. Kids loves dogs and dogs DO love them back!

Creativity Calls

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      Even the garages in Carmel are cute!

Dear Reader:

This cute little garage is attached to a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood in a cute little town. Sorry… couldn’t resist being so cute! But, seriously, I think “Paws Awhile” is good advice. No matter how much one enjoys an activity (or a person, for that matter), a little break can be a good thing.

I didn’t blog/write much during the holidays, but I did express my creativity in other ways. Our home was decorated top to bottom, the presents were wrapped in grand style, the gingerbread houses were sweet pieces of art, the table was set with my beloved collection of china and our doors were open to family and friends.

Today, I’ve returned to the page after having a restless night immersed in ridiculous, but unsettling nightmares. In one vivid scene, I can see myself frantically searching for my site. From the pink shed has disappeared. It is gone, because I have neglected it! 

I’d say that is a very good sign that I should return to the shed to enjoy the creative adventure that is my blog.

I’ll talk to you again soon!

Michele

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

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Winnie is a very curious puppy and this is her first fire; she can not stay away!

Dear Reader:

The weather outside is frightful, showers and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fire is so delightful! Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Winter on the Central Coast of California is easy, just like the livin’!

Best wishes to you for a cozy evening, too.

Michele

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele