Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes - The End Of Elementary School

Harper started Kindergarten at Overland Elementary in the fall of 2017. Yesterday was her last day of 5th grade, June 10 2023. 6 years!

She didn't quite understand why it was a big deal for me. I said, "if you decide to have kids later on, you'll understand when your kids go to school. And then you might say the same thing to your kids but you probably won't remember that I said this right now." (ha)

I thought back to when I went through school changes, but it was different. My elementary school on Maui went through 8th grade but I left after 6th grade to go to Seabury (7-12 grade). There was no celebration, culmination, graduation. They had that for the 8th graders only. To me it felt like a big change as I was going to a new school before my friends did. (They were all staying until 8th grade.)

Maybe we make a bigger deal of it now? The school and all the parent volunteers who planned and organized everything did a fantastic job. Thursday there was the ceremony at school then a party that night at a fancy venue, then a field day for the short, last school day yesterday (Friday). Harper got lucky as this was the first full year back to "normal" after the pandemic. So her class got all the camps and field trips and activities that had been cancelled the previous two years. 

We had a great time at Overland, good teachers, good friends, so many amazing extras you don't normally get at public schools. (A full time librarian! Unheard of these days, sadly.)

Middle School Adventures ahead!!

(all pics can be clicked for bigger versions)

2017AugustHarperMama2 2017AugustHarperMama
 2017AugustHarperMamaKurt 2023JuneHarperMamaKurt

The beaming graduate!

Harper and Bailey

During the ceremony

Bailey and Harper and Estella




April Can Be Cruel

Jennifer died 15 years ago in April.

15 years. How has that much time gone by?

Most of these last 15 Aprils I have seen the date looming - April 17 - and have mostly tried to ignore it up until the last minute. One year I was so busy I forgot it entirely and then felt bad. These last couple years I have felt all the feels in the days leading up to the actual day so that I was not being beaten to a pulp on the day itself. Usually that means I write about it ahead of time in my journal or text Grace or Mom about it.

This year I texted Grace a few days ahead, thinking that would let some pressure off, which it did. The day itself came and went with sweet notes and texts within the family. Another year gone that Jen's not here to see her kids mature, to meet Harper, to see what she might have done with an empty nest. Sigh.

I thought I was good to go for another year. But then. Driving Harper home from soccer a few days after the 17th, Ace of Bass came on the radio ("I Saw The Sign") which I started singing along to. Jen loved Ace of Bass back in the day so I thought of her immediately and while singing, burst into tears. Harper noticed of course and I said, "Jen loved this song and it just hit me extra hard today."

Grief is a trickster, even after 15 years it can surprise you when you least expect it.

15 years.


2023 - Happy New Year

Oh Hi. It's been a number of minutes.

I have been off the blog since last April, just didn't feel like I had much to say. Then I got a movie job in August and my time was hardly my own. But there is an end date to the job and that's always good.

I was inspired to blog this picture of my great grandmother's 120 year old samovar. I polished it up for a brunch we had in mid December. It's taken me a month to post this.


Here are a couple more holiday images. It was a quiet and lovely one at home due to my work schedule.

IMG_1488 2
IMG_1488 2

It was 80 in LA on Christmas so of course we went to the beach and met friends there.
IMG_1488 2
IMG_1488 2

New Years Eve was Fondue fun
IMG_1488 2

Then another walk on the beach on New Year's Day.
IMG_1488 2

IMG_1488 2

Very grateful to be healthy and doing fine in 2023.

There are potentially big things to come this year.... I'll keep it mysterious like that since nothing is set in stone yet.

(You can always click the pictures to make them bigger.)


The Corona Diaries - Delta Whiplash

I just coined this phrase: Delta Whiplash.

I wrote an email to my friend Melissa the other day, catching up on months of stuff and thought - "this will make a good blog post". So here it is with a few minor edits.

Light a candle and prepare yourself.

Where to start? It was all looking so good in the late spring and early summer! People were getting vaccinated and all was going forward in the way we’ve been hoping for. We went to Maui, that was nice. Harper had the quintessential summer pool fun time. Tons of Marco Polo and snacks and burgers and ice cream. Lucky girl. I did a bit of day drinking with my niece, Grace, who came with us. 
When we were on OGG, all the headlines started racing up about Delta and that just brought on all kinds of anxiety. Like I had finally started to relax and feel something close to normal and got the Delta Whiplash. 
The week after we got home a dear family friend died. She was my sister’s best friend and had been dealing with cancer for 13 years. She and her husband and kids were so close to my sister’s family so really it was more like a death in the family. And the service was in the same church that my sister’s was and then just being in that neighborhood and seeing all those friends was brutal. Good, but brutal. 
The week after that funeral (last week) my body was tweaked. I was convinced i had a blood clot in my leg from all the driving and went to urgent care. Much prodding and many questions later, 0% chance you have a blood clot. Cool. But if you fee anything like pain or tightening in your chest or shortness of breath, come back. So two days later I woke up and my left shoulder and ribs were all tweaked and tight and sore. I felt buzzy and weird. So I went back to urgent care. EKG - normal. Ultrasound of left calf - normal. 
I guess we just chalk it up to grief and anxiety -wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! The Delta Whiplash is real. 
I also found out while driving to the funeral that my stepmom is on hospice care and might have months? It’s not clear. I’m not super close, but am of course in touch with everyone. Anyway, it seems we are just waiting. So okay. The week before was a huge fire on the Big Island and Waikoloa (where she lives) had to be evacuated for a day. In my mind I thought - oh, my quasi/second childhood home might burn to the ground. That seems fitting somehow. But it didn’t, all was well that way. But it was a wild thought.
I’ve had paying work to do, which is good, but does take up time in my day and I’m all at sixes and sevens emotionally. Luckily it’s not hard or demanding, but it’s still there.
Monday was the first day of in person school. I feel good about Harper being there - as good as you can in these crazy times - the school district goes above/beyond CDC recommendations and they do on campus testing every week of all students, faculty and staff. I looked up my neighborhood on the vaccine map for LA County and Rancho Park is 100% vaccinated! So that’s a nice thing to know. But still I’m stressed. But I’m working on letting that go because chances are low of getting covid and having her be home on zoom school would be devastating.*
But wait there’s more! Yesterday I got a call from my stepmom’s sister who called to say that her husband had died. (My step uncle) That made me soooo sad. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years, and hardly any time before then, but growing up they would be at my dad and stepmom’s house on the Big Island all the time. He was this local Filipino guy and he was so sweet and kind and funny. The epitome of aloha. Being at my dad’s house was never easy, but when Paul was around, it was nice. Aloha to him. 
But wait there’s more! I got up this morning and posted on IG about Mr. Biscuit’s birthday. I hardly ever look through IG, usually posting something then just scrolling for a minute. Luckily I did because I read about my friend Frances who has early onset Alzheimers and how she’s probably weeks away from dying. She was diagnosed 6 years ago. I went to college with her and her husband. They’ve been married for 31 years (no kids) and live in West Seattle. I knew she wasn’t going to be growing old, but to hear that it’s so soon just breaks my already broken heart. So if they have a funeral (Fuck Covid) and people are allowed to come, I’ll be there.
And then - yes there is more - but not so death oriented! My neighbor had knee replacement surgery and asked if I could pick her up from the hospital yesterday. She had asked a long while back and I had said yes of course. She’s in her mid-late 70’s and a widow. It turned out to be a bit more than I anticipated - bringing her home, putting a bunch of equipment in her house, helping her set it up, getting her sorted with water and clothes. None of it was hard, but just more than I expected and I was so exhausted I enjoyed two vodka sodas that night. I am glad I could help (and will help her with more as she needs it). Doing all that was a reminder of being around Kurt’s mom when she got close to the end (not that my neighbor is, but just all the medical stuff and setting up the house to be more comfortable, etc). It’s a strange feeling and weight on one’s shoulders and heart.
Okay so there it is. That’s what’s been going on. Oof. 
In nicer news, Harper is tall and healthy and omg how did I make such a pretty girl? I know I'm cute, I'll allow that, but she's beyond.
When we were on Maui, we started playing cards at night - Rummy mostly. Kurt and I started playing back here almost every night. Kind of an old fogey thing to do and also kind of fun. We only have 1 tv so when Harper watches, we play cards, then she goes to bed and we maybe watch something. I'm working on my good sportsmanship. I'm not a good loser.
Okay, sorry if this is too much, but that is life. As I explained to Harper, you go along life’s road and there are always twists and turns. And that is life.
*Since then - School started and it's been a full week. We got news yesterday that 1 person tested positive for Covid at Harper's school. Not in her class or grade. Kurt thinks school might shut down again the near future. I'm the crazy optimist and am waiting and seeing. The full covid report for LAUSD this week was 118 cases (there are over 600,000 students in LAUSD, plus all faculty and staff on top of that).
We bought home covid test kits to have handy. Not 100% accurate (98.5% accurate for negative, 84.6% accurate for positive) but a good place to start for $10 per test instead of $140 when one feels nervous like I did yesterday. I did a test - negative. And Harper's weekly school test was negative.
What have I learned from all this? One breath, one step, one day at a time. Are there piles of stuff around? That can wait. Focus on what is important right this minute/hour. It has helped a lot. So has meditating in the mornings again. Just sitting and breathing.
That's my catch up.
Dreamy summer time on Maui.
Back to School.

Re-Entry is a Bitch


When this pandemic started last year, when it was an EMERGENCY, life was easier.

Okay, "easier" might be the wrong word. I should say life was more clear-cut.

Stay home. Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Only go shopping when absolutely necessary. Wear a mask outside. Use hand sanitizer. Keep your distance! Learn how to zoom!

And so we did. We adjusted. It was a rough adjustment to be sure, but the rules were pretty clear.

We got good at it. Harper learned how to have remote school. I learned how to supervise remote school. I made summer camp for her last year and came up with some fantastic things to do. Kurt shopped at Trader Joe's like a hero. We did meal planning and tried lots of new recipes and baked things we had never baked before. (Why haven't I made that Japanese milk bread again??)

We waited for good news about the vaccine and we got it! Now we have been vaccinated for a while and feel a little more free to move about. LAUSD figured out a way to get kids back to school in a modified manner and that's been going well - weekly on-campus testing, social distancing, etc etc.


All that emergency stress and anxiety and adrenaline is still surging on some levels. You can't turn it off like a spigot. I feel much more relaxed about popping over to the store any old time to pick up eggs and milk if we need them. I stopped wearing my mask when I go for my long walks, though I carry one with me and still give space when I walk past other people.


Harper is not vaccinated so we can't just do whatever we like any time we like. There is still caution and care taken whenever we all go somewhere. We went out for dinner a few weeks ago, to a lovely outdoor restaurant (one that was built that way, not just taking over a sidewalk and lane of traffic). It was great! But it didn't feel "normal" yet.

Will it ever feel "normal"?

We are going to visit my mom in July and I find myself already planning exactly how to be on the plane with Harper and will be making the rules clear to her as we go. (Double mask on the plane, very little eating/drinking while in flight, throw masks away immediately upon arrival, etc etc).

I'd rather be over cautious than not. And its going to be a long long while before my shoulders and lower back fully relax. Even after Harper gets her vaccination at some point, I will continue to wear a mask inside places we go to. It might just be a placebo at that point, but you know what? Fine.

Also, I got a fish. He's my kitchen friend and I love talking to him.


Also also, my gardenia plant bloomed for the first time since I planted it about 2 years ago and OMG I'M SO HAPPY.

But still a bit anxious at times.

The Corona Diaries - The Twilight Zone

It's been almost a month since I last posted. Things have changed in a lot of ways and the blogging is not coming along as a regular thing anymore.

Which is FINE.

Kurt and I are now fully vaccinated and Harper started back to school on April 21st.

Things are certainly not "normal" but they are getting closer and closer in our little world. All of our friends are vaccinated and we had an amazing "hey we are in the neighborhood can we drop by?" phone call from some of them the other day which led to a 2 hour hang out on our deck without masks! That was sooooo nice.

We still only go grocery shopping once a week, but I feel like I have the freedom now to pop into a store to get a forgotten item any time if I need it. We don't see friends on the regular, but I know we'll start to more often. Harper has swimming again on Saturdays and summer is not too far away with in-person camp (with restrictions of course) and then our trip to Maui. There is a lot to look forward to in a careful, thought out way. And masks. Happy to still wear a mask. {knock on wood} We haven't had a cold or anything for over a year. I'm happy to keep it that way for a lot longer! {knock on wood}

A few people told me they cried getting their 2nd vaccine shot. Being the weepy type myself, I thought I would. Instead, I cried seeing Harper off to school again!

She prepped her outfit the night before.


I am relearning how to pack a lunch and snack.


Safe Distances while we wait to go in the gate with temp checks and daily pass checks. Harper gets tested at school every week.


We had another overnight/baking adventure in Ojai with our friend Betty. Yummy dutch baby breakfast!


This giant dude (still a puppy!) is named Indiana and he cruises around our neighborhood.

I'm still baking from time to time. Found a blueberry cookie recipe which I liked and they are pretty purple cookies!


Biscuit has had many adventures lately. Roof climbing...


...and lizard (DINOSAUR!) catching. The giant lizard's tail was long gone and I thought it was close to death. I picked it up and took it too the front yard and it sat for a minute then BOLTED away. Whew. I know, it goes against the prime directive, but cats have nine lives, so why not give a lizard another chance?


A friend gave Harper this funny karaoke microphone. She loves it.

And we are stocked up for summer! Okay, well, for a few warm days anyway. These won't last long...


That's kind of it. I've been working on a new creative project, doing some paying work from home and making future travel plans. It's weird to feel "free" to do that. It all feels weird. I hope more people get vaccinated. I hope things continue to get better and better. I hope.

The Corona Diaries Week 54.5 and 55 - School Rounding The Bend

The last weekend of Spring Break, after such a lovely relaxing time in Ojai and a fun time in San Luis Obispo, we all chilled out at home a bit before school started back again.

Kurt sent pics of the cats keeping him company while we were gone.


I donated blood.


And we prepared for Easter fun.


What happens when you leave food coloring out on the counter...ugh.

Next morning, the hunt was on! Harper doesn't think there is an easter bunny, but she sure loves to look for eggs!

It took her a while to LOOK UP. (click for bigger images of eggs in trees!)

Easter Breakfast with cinnamon "rabbit" rolls. (which look more like snails, let's be honest)

And one deviled egg.


Then also for the 2nd year in a row, a rhyming treasure hunt put on by Kurt! Harper whipped through the house, finding the next clues which led to a basket full of treats. Mostly clothes and books. Just a few candy treats for our little sugar fiend.

Then return to school life and life life. Life with Willoughby.

And my strawberry plant is making a wee strawberry!

Eating more healthy yummy food.

Thank you to Gammo for her easter card and $$

Neighbors on my walk have this cute canned ham trailer and she's called "Myrtle"!! Love.

Shopping at Trader Joe's when suddenly - this. It took me two reads not to see CYANIDE. I mean it's been a tough year.

I taught Harper how to use an actual phone. We had a small earthquake the other day and it got me thinking that if something happened to me or Kurt (and the other wasn't home) Harper doesn't really know how to use a phone!! Yikes. So she got lessons and talked on the phone TWICE with Gammo and once with Betty.

Biscuit making friends.

Betty stopped by for a quick visit and brought Harper a new mask. So here was Harper's thank you card. LOVE the unicorn circus action.


We started our spring garden patch. Which Willoughby then PEED IN!!! Shaking my head.


I hope the garden actually works this year. Last year everything (except the green beans) got eaten by bugs. So we got marigolds and geranium to plant amongst the veggies to hopefully ward them off. And also waiting for the praying mantis seed pod to hatch.

Harper started back to swimming lessons again. She was so happy.


Grace gave me one of her favorite quotes. Genius and I'm keeping it close.


Harper redesigned one of her toys:


She drew a portrait of me one night after dinner. ("Do you want braids or pony tails?" "Which do you think look better?" "I'll do pony tails, easier to draw.")

Then the BEST picture. Harper asked if she could watch tv when it wasn't time to watch tv. So I said no and she went to her room and immediately drew this. I was howling with laughter - on the inside.

She's funny, that Harper. Expresses herself well with art.


Oy. And so that's been the last two weeks. I'm getting tired of blogging about Covid life when it feels like Covid life is SO CLOSE to being done. It's not actually that close, but feels like it which then makes it more frustrating.

I feel like the wind has definitely picked up in our sails, but damn if I don't also have a few oars in the water pulling as hard as I can!