The Importance Of Taking Sides

What can I do, you ask me? How can I make it better for you? How do I ease your pain?

Take my side?

Of course. No hesitation. Not a millisecond.

Phones, pillows, water glasses are moved in less time than it takes to run a red light.

Will it work? Will it fix my pain? We don't know. I don't know. You don't know.

What is known is that you take my side; I take your side. In an instant. Just because it might help.

We give our best and the most to the people we love because their journey is our journey.

Better together. We really are when that's how we see ourselves—together, as a team.

Outtakes: Labor Day 2012

We're a unique couple. #casabesttogether

I guess I could call this post fruits and veggies, but it's just a couple of snaps from the weekend—a working weekend. Lots to do here at Casa Best Together. The garden is ready for fall planting and, as you can see, we had a bit of a zucchini harvest. Carl (nee Charlie) has suited up to assist with renovations on the homestead. Safety is crucial even for the four-legged among us. Or maybe I just like to see what I can get him to wear on his face. He's a good sport.Safety first on the job site. #lhasa

The never-ending sprinkler repairs continue. Oh, the joys of half-acre irrigation, legacy systems, and wells. There's got to be a special place in hell for people who plant non-native trees and plants. Slowly we'll get that remedied. In the meantime, we'll enjoy their shade and hope they don't do too much damage.



Phoning It In WIth Faux Toes

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We went for a short run during Peanut's riding time this week. So nice to get our run in early before the heat hit.

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My cabana boy does good work. He's passionate about his job. Also, easy on the eyes. 

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Sometimes you are left questioning the budget of certain retailers whose catalogs arrive in your mailbox. Way to buck that economic downturn, Needless Markup! 

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Life. Lemons. Vodka.

Thank you for stopping in for this installment of "Phoning it in with Faux Toes."

Things What I Enjoy: A List Of Sorts And Kinds

  • Teaching tiny humans to spot bovine and equine on grass-covered hills.Hill bovine = hovine
  • The sound of traffic rolling up to and away from a four-way stop from my bedroom windows.
  • Excited children picking snow peas and strawberries to eat from our garden, before we can even get them to the house.Garden porn. #strawberries #organic #casabesttogether
  • A child sniffing the bark on one of our Ponderosa Pine trees to see if it smells like vanilla or butterscotch, but deciding it smells like cookies—I'd never thought of cookies in all my tree-sniffing years in the Sierras.

Clearly a sign from God. #Hangar1Vodka #blimp

Visitors From Jersey

We've had the best time these past few weeks with our house guests. I don't think they were expecting to be thrown into a mad mix of moving and new house fun, but they've been great sports about it all, and I don't know how we would have done it without them.

In the middle of it all, we managed to celebrate their wedding anniversary with a trip to Sasa:

The Anniversary Couple #45Years

Checking out the koi pond.

And even got Judy up on the Loubis for a quick spin to celebrate 45 years of marriage.

The Loubis, as worn by Judy on her 45th Wedding Anniversary

We figured out the mystery of the hedgehog on the cock fairy tale at Corners Tavern. (Thank you Interwebs; I don't think we or that poor waitress will ever be the same now that we know the story of Hans.)

Toad on cock? What Grimms' fairy tale is that from? Help me out, Interwebs!

Then it was onto a holiday and birthdays—the fourth of July, Judy's birthday and then mine. 

Finaleworks #fireworks

Heart-shaped finale over Martinez.

Kid created, tested, and approved. #4thjuly #independenceday

 Red, white, and blue cookies made with the grand kids.

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Wine tasting at Retzlaff.

Country Sedan

Cool cars spotted while wine tasting in Livermore, including a TR3 like Ed had back in the day.

Remembering when…

Country Sedan

1947 Mercury

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Tomorrow they head back to New Jersey, and we'll miss them bunches. Seems like we just picked them up at the airport. Certainly there are still more fairy gardens to build and cocktails and desserts to be had!

Birthday Shortcake

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We love you! Thank you for making this time so special for all of us. We are blessed to have you in our lives.

Birthday Door

I'm not sure what typical people ask for on their birthdays. I asked for a door.

Last year I asked for a hot tub delivery. Yes, the delivery. Not the hot tub itself. I already had that. I just wanted it delivered to our new digs and didn't want to have to deal with the headache of coordinating having it craned out of my old house and trucked to the new one.

This year, I wanted a door.

I'd say I'm easy to please, but that's probably a lie.

I don't mind paying for my gifts, helping install them, and I can't recall ever returning one. 

However, the chances you're going to find something for me at the mall are slim. I buy my own clothes. If there's a book I want to read, I get it. I don't want more crap. I'd rather have antiques from my family than something from Restoration Hardware. And I already have plenty. I don't need more knick knacks to dust. I don't like decorations that lack stories. I like history, humor, functionality, and beauty in the things around me. 

So, a door.

A birthday door.




One Address

Two PODS in the driveway, which is, thankfully, enormous. But just one address. Amen.

We have moved out of the rental house and into the house with the mortgage, and the pool, and the well, and the work to be done, but it feels SO GOOD TO BE HOME.

It feels so good to be creating OUR home—a place for all of us to fit. 

Time to swim.

It feels good to have a pool to dip into on a hot day and at the end of a hard day of work.

It feels good to have a place to entertain friends.

Kid created, tested, and approved. #4thjuly #independenceday

It feels good to have space to define in the way that makes sense for our family.

It feels good to get sweaty making something our own, to see our progress, to know we did it as a family.

It feels good to see the kids grow and learn new things, already—how to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Their pride in accomplishing new things is so cool to watch, for all of the ages and stages. Even the adult "kids."

And it feels good to have a place that is uniquely new to us as we are uniquely new to each other. All of our quirks become part of it—all of our beauty and flaws; all of our perfections and imperfections. It is us. It is ours.

It is an absolute joy to wake up every day and work with the person I love. All day. Every day. I wouldn't change a thing.

Celebrating 45 years with his mom and dad. #happyanniversary

On Comparing Loss

Should we? It's done. Divorce gets compared to death. I have opinions about that.

We are even fond of comparing how we grieve our losses and their scale of impact in our lives—was my loss greater than yours? Did I grieve the same as that other widow; was it long enough; was it too long?

I do know one thing: it's not a contest. Everybody experiences grief differently.

How I experienced the loss of my husband to cancer is going to be different from how another young widow experiences her loss of her spouse to an unexpected traffic accident. It's going to be different from the widow who loses his partner to suicide. What about the widow of the murder victim? Or the man who was estranged from his wife at the time of her death—what does that grief look like?

So. Many. Things. Affect. Grief.

I had time to say goodbye to my husband. I had time to grieve WITH him. I had a lot of years WITH him. I was never angry with him. I never felt like he left me on purpose. I wasn't surprised. Nothing was left unsaid. Our marriage wasn't an unhappy one.

But, I absolutely understand how that kind of pain and grief exists. I have cried with friends in that kind of pain, who have that kind of confusion and those unresolved feelings and questions. 

I also had children with him. Does that make it easier or harder? I don't know. It just makes it different from not having kids together. It makes it different from if we had grown children or an infant at the time of his death.

So. Many. Factors.

I wasn't left penniless or in a mountain of debt. I wasn't left without a will or specific instructions about his funeral and final wishes. 

I was left with some other weird shit to deal with, but that's pretty normal from what I can tell. If you make it through the loss of a spouse at a young age with ALL of your exact same friends and family members still by your side in the same configuration, I want your name and number—and so will a bunch of other widows, because it is NOT the norm. 

When life changes you, there is often a changing of the guard around you. Learn to roll with it and life will be so much easier. You can't control their grief process any more than you can control your own, and quite frankly, it ain't your job, Scarlett. 

What I was left without was my best friend, somebody who knew me better than I knew myself, and my compass in the world. THAT was some scary shit. I was vulnerable to being taken advantage of by opportunistic people who could smell blood in the water, and that sucked. 

But I was also left with a wonderful new world of opportunities, friendships, family, and LIFE, which I keep living. Every day I chip away at a little bit more of this thing, and it's been good. 

Our losses aren't the same—none of them, except to say that we are missing something that is no longer there. In my case, the loss is permanent. I wouldn't change it, though, because it would mean not having had him, and I cannot imagine giving that back. Our lives are too enriched by that experience. Loss makes room for something else, even when it hurts like hell. The memories and the love and the awesome that he and I shared fill in all around the life that comes next, at least that's how it works for me. 

I can't write your story.

Boxes Or Matches

It's finally time to move out of our rental house and into the home I purchased back in March, which means we've been packing. And packing. And packing.

The wine is huddled in fear.

I have wondered aloud about the number of teacups I possess.

And there are. So. Many. Games. I'm convinced they were breeding in that game closet.

My non-essential footwear is packed.

And we are ALL more than ready to go to bed and wake up to THIS beautiful space each day, even with the work we have left to do. THIS makes it all so much fun.

Nearly Bilingual

So, I bought this house, as you may recall. And because I descend from a long line of people who can't leave a kitchen alone, I decided this house needs a new kitchen, which means I'm learning Swedish.

I'm learning Swedish for #mothersday. They don't have any words. Or women.

In Sweden, there are no women or words. There are only men, sinks, and directional arrows. 

It turns out that these arrows MEAN SOMETHING. 

Back to Sweden. #ikea #kitchen #casabesttogether

This is a "before" shot. Before I spoke Akurum.

I know this now. I know this after building SIXTEEN cabinets. (I still have six to go, but I'm fluent now, so it'll be fine. Also, I discovered how to stay hydrated with beer/water, aka Bud Light.)

Five More #ikea #kitchen

I swear not all of the cabinets are the same, just these five. I think. I hope. Shit.

Eventually, we'll have a sparkly new kitchen, but right now we have a fuckton o' cabinets. Really awesome, well-built cabinets THANK YOU VERY MUCH. 

Oh, and if anyone needs to know how to install IKEA cabinet hinges, I'm your girl. Also, drawers. Oh, and shelves. Akurum. Rationell. Ädel. See? Bilingual. 

And, I look bitchin' in a tool belt, I'll have you know. At least, that's what the 80s throwbacks tell me, because they're the only ones who use bitchin' to talk about how cool they look in a tool belt. Whatever. My man digs it.

Oh, and I planted a tiny organic garden with a little help from the kids. We went with the square-foot approach in the raised bed. For the rest of our plantings, we just worked things in where we could find sunshine and space. With all of these giant pine trees, sunshine is a rare commodity. We managed to squeeze in four tomato plants, a few varieties of basil, some oregano, and some seeds for a few things to see how they do this first year. Oh, and strawberries. You have to have strawberries. I think we'll end up doing a greenhouse at some point since we have a well for water. We'd love to be able to grow goodies year-round and the sunniest part of the yard has a perfect spot for a greenhouse.

Growing things. #garden #herbs #squarefootgarden #raisedbed #organic

Sneaking food into the corners. #maters #herbs #organic #garden

Maters planted. #garden #tomatoes

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Gonna wrap it up with some fig porn. Our fig tree is just so darn happy. Now, if I could figure out why we have only four food-producing trees out of the fifty-plus trees on this lot, I'd be so very happy. Time to fix that. I do not like watering things I can't eat. Gotta get these citrus trees in the ground before we get another heatwave! Mama needs her fresh-squeezed citrus cocktails!



Don't Know Where To Start: Here's A Picture

So much weird stuff, good stuff, busy stuff, I don't even know where to begin. 

My monkeys.

Until the dust settles, and I can put it all into some sort of cohesive order for your reading pleasure, here's a picture of those two humans I created. This was an evening out to celebrate Peanut's academic achievements for the year and the boyfriend's birthday. Bug was trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to frown. 

In Just One Year

A year ago, I posted this story about a guy I met on St. Patrick's Day.

Today, a year later, I am 365 days happier than I was on that day.

I am 365 days more in love.

I am just as sure now as I was then that my instincts were right.

Every day I get to spend with him has been a gift.

Happy anniversary, babe. You make my world better.

Date night. #americandrink #bettertogether

I Bought Something

Nope, not a DJ PaulyD Talking Pen. That was a gift. And it's awesome, although I'm convinced the child in China who made it for me messed up because it clearly says, "Crabs are here!"

And I didn't buy the Sephora gift card, technically. I earned it. Also, it might be a bribe for a friend who NEEDS TO BRANCH OUT AND TRY NEW THINGS.

I did buy keys. A bunch of keys. A whole purse-full of them. They came with my new house, along with my new swimming pool, and my new garage, and my new playhouse (totes have a fort!), and and and I'm a little excited. It was a bit of work to make it all happen, but we did it. Pictures of the awesome will be forthcoming.

Breakfast In Bed

Every morning. Not just special occasions like my birthday or Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Every day.

That's when he makes me breakfast in bed.

Every single day.

Coffee. Eggs. Fresh fruit and whole grain cereals with greek yogurt on top.

All brought to me while I snuggle under the warmth of the covers.

And every single day that this happens I am the most grateful, thankful, appreciative woman there ever was, because I don't know how I got so lucky, so blessed, or so fortunate to have found this guy who wants to do this for me.

Every day.

Going To Bed Salsa

We crawl into bed. I ask for room for my legs. Not for right now. Right now they'll be wrapped up with yours. But later I'll need to stretch, and they'll need room. And I ask for our Starting Point to be closer to Your Side.

You ask for Hugs And Snuggle Time to be now, for just a bit, before I sneak off for a bubble bath like I sometimes do when I can't sleep. Just for a bit, you say.

We do this Going To Bed Salsa.

We negotiate.

This is how we do.

We find our Starting Point. A little closer to Your Side than before.

I skip the bubble bath because Hugs And Snuggle Time relaxes me as I start to hear the rain rhythmically dropping on the skylight, joining the dance.

As you drift off to sleep, our legs slip apart, and I stretch into the space left behind.

Baths And Laughs

We spent the day in the City—laughing at SF Sketchfest's showing of Best in Show and Q & A with Fred Willard and Michael Hitchcock then exploring the Sutro Baths ruins. Oh, and we grabbed a quick lunch at the Sausage Factory in the Castro, which was surprisingly good. Straightforward Italian with old-school decor. We had a torpedo sandwich (salami, pepperoni, and american cheese) with a side of spaghetti that was spot-on for our craving for comfort food and fast service. The bread on the sandwich was fresh and tasted homemade, there was just enough mustard, and the sandwich toppings were served on the side so they stayed crisp and cold to be added to our toasted, warm fare. Delish. It set the tone for a great afternoon and evening in the City. The show was perfect. We're both huge fans of Best in Show. Going to see the Sutro Baths ruins iced the cake on the day. Neither of us had been, and if you haven't read about the history, you really must. You'll be blown away.

Best In Show — SF Sketchfest #nofilter

The Castro Theater

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Best In Show

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Descending On History

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Sutro Baths Ruins

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The Moon Sees Me

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Better Together

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Land's End—Day's End


This Cat—He's Mine

I sit, watching him work, for me. He is working his ass off . . . for me and for us and for our family—all of us.

I wait to find out whether or not all of that hard work will pay off. I hope, for all of us, that it will. If it doesn't work this round, I know it will eventually work, not just because it has to, but because he always makes it work. This cat lands on his feet.

I love him, how hard he works, and how much he loves me, and how much he loves us, and the way he can shut out the whole world to focus on the singular task of taking care of us and trying to make this project we're working on come to fruition.

Stressing is something that comes with the territory of new chapters, making grown-up decisions, and leaps, and I cannot begin to express how much easier it is to share that stress with a person who gets it, who gets me, and who loves all of me.

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(He's the one in the brown hat—in case you're wondering.)