Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello from Sacramento!

Oh yes, oh yes, it's Road Trip time.  

I loaded up the snacks and Kia and headed up I-5 to visit my grad school friends.  

First stop:  The bookstore. 

Wild times with the English majors!

Hope all is well with you!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guest Post: A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Dear Readers,

Part of the joy of being a blogger is making connections with other bloggers.  Recently, one of my blogging buddies honored me by sharing with me this essay she wrote.  She prefers to remain anonymous and did not publish this on her blog, but I asked her if I could publish it on my mine because I think it touches on a theme that is important.  In fact, I was in the middle of writing a post on the subject of creativity when I received this.  I'll publish that in the near future.  Today, though, I present this post, written straight from a beautiful heart.


I still remember the card my mother gave me when I graduated high school. It is tucked beneath a stack of other cards in my keepsake box, a remembered insult among the other chosen memories.

The card boasts a Maya Angelou quote; one that is quite fitting for those embarking on their college and life journeys. But in my sudden switch from a lifelong dream of education to pursuing a degree in business administration, that quote smacked of judgment.  "Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off of you."

In principle, I knew money should never be the goal. Duh. Yet after a childhood spent worrying over money, I was determined to get a white collar job that allowed me to provide a decently middle class upbringing for my future children. If that upbringing could be above middle class, all the better. In hindsight, Mom did not mean to lecture or insult. She was not judging me. Rather, she wanted to ensure I saw a lifetime of happiness. As a mother myself, I now know without a doubt that that is all she wants for me. Happiness.

At 21, I graduated from college and the reality of my dream was quickly realized by securing a once-in-a-lifetime job with multiple promotional opportunities. At 26, a wife, mother of one and full-time employee, I make more than a humble salary. At one point, I made almost three times more than my husband. As of this last winter, I "only" make twice as much as him. I am incredibly proud of my achievements and am thrilled to be married to a man who embraces this modern dynamic of me out-earning him. Many would say I am accomplished and successful; that I have excelled and have a bright future ahead of me. When you look at the numbers, they are right.

Yet I woke one morning not long after giving birth to my son with a startling realization: I am not happy. Far from it, in fact. The next promotional steps do not appeal to me, and as the principle breadwinner I feel trapped by my salary. I have effectively hit my glass ceiling, one of my own making, at my current place of employment. As a mother I am not interested in investing the extra time to further myself. As an unfulfilled employee, the glitz and glamour has faded. Going to work each day after maternity leave was a chore and eventually I found myself miserably dragging myself out of bed each morning, ever-so-tempted by the pull of a mental health day. The misery began affecting my marriage. My husband could not understand why I didn't try harder to find another job. I constantly looked at listings, but none of them appealed to me. Why waste my time if it isn't going to make me happy? I asked myself. Sure, one could argue that you never know until you try, but I know myself. Then, after months and years of fretting, it suddenly hit me. 

I am meant to write. 

The what, where, and why didn't matter in that moment. What mattered was the realization that suddenly sprang before me with startling clarity. I had spent my entire life ignoring numerous affirmations that I am meant to write. Affirmations from myself and others. God knew. Of course He knew. But unable to imagine how a writing career would unfold for me and noting its unrealistic nature, I ignored it. 

I still don't know if or how a writing career will happen for me. Will I be successful by society's definition? I don't know. I don’t even really care. What I do know is this: ever since I knew how to form words with pen to paper, I have needed to write. It is as necessary to me as breathing is to us all. Without it, I am not whole. I am not well. Writing is what sets my soul free.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Morning Flowers!

Good Mondays to you all!

Your weekly shipment of flowers is here.

It's been a great week here! 

My Sonny Boy and his girlfriend are here from Virginia and I have had so much fun being with them again.

PLUS!  Not too long again, my blog reader, Mardy, visited Los Angeles from Canada and we met up at Neptune's Net on the coast.  It was wonderful to meet her and to talk to her about her life.  She does not currently have a blog, but she should!  She is a wonderful, generous woman and I am grateful I got to meet her.

--Albert Schweitzer

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Morning Flowers!

Happy Monday!

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Here are some flowers to get you going.


We had some lovely skies here yesterday.  

Hope the ones over you are beautiful too!

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if the simplest things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

--Eleanora Duce

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A View from the Other Side of the Bean

I am not a coffee drinker.  

In fact, I am one of those people who does not find the smell of coffee even remotely pleasant.  

I find it repulsive.   

Since coffee drinking is such a huge part of our society, I have to put up with the vile smell in some social situations.  I try my best to be pleasant and polite, but I also recognize that I am not a person who conceals her inner thoughts very well.  

Though I am fairly sure I have a pleasant look on my face as my friend places her cup of freshly brewed coffee on the table in front of me, her quick movement to cap the thing again, and the way she scoots it away from me, somewhat alarmed and frightened, may indicate I do not have the control I think I have over my facial muscles.

My hatred of coffee stems from a lengthy time of servitude in the kitchen of my parents.  They were both coffee drinkers and my job was to make it for every meal.  

How well I remember the green plastic coffee pot that was never washed, (ruined the flavor of the coffee my father thought) and the messy dumping of the grounds.  Holding the stinking, dripping basket of grounds in my tender little hands, I’d slam the container of black grit against the sides of the trashcan, wincing at the bits hitting my face.

After that, there was making of a new batch, the scooping out of the Folgers, the plugging in of the pot, the sound of the percolating, and the smell that permeated the house.  

Then there was my parents’ slurping up of the excessively hot stuff, the maddening loitering over the black goo, their vacant stares appearing as the caffeine hit their systems.  What was happening inside their bodies?  I did not know, but apparently it required so much focus that it rendered them incapable of focusing on anything else.  

Once in awhile, I would try to bring up a topic I thought sure would lead them into a conversation, but inevitably, they would just stare at me as though I was interrupting a very good TV show—one only they could experience in their minds as the black liquid ran through their veins.

This was powerful stuff.  

My ex-husband was not a coffee drinker and so our home was free from the stuff.  When we had overnight guests who were coffee people, they would go out, bedraggled and grumpy in the morning, ingest their coffee elsewhere and come back to us happy and ready to start the day.  Perfect!

However, as fate would have it, I have fallen head-over-heels madly in love with a coffee drinker.  He needs his coffee.  He loves his coffee.  I love him.  What’s a girl to do?

When we first started dating and he suggested we go to Starbucks, my expression probably suggested that he had just revealed to me that he disemboweled kittens in his spare time. 

However, I tried to recover quickly and, determined to keep an open mind, I walked through those double doors and tried not to wretch at the smell that permeated the air.  I decided that rather than focus on the smell, I would be an anthropologist of sorts, a note-taking visitor to the exotic Savanna of Starbucks.

The first thing that struck me was the line of people who stood, patiently waiting, huddled and quiet with a subservience I had not seen since staring at a picture in my Weekly Reader in fourth grade of Russian citizens lined up for toilet paper.

We joined the line and I looked at the overhead menu board, deciphering the code that separates outsiders from insiders.  The first lesson?   Don’t say Small, Medium, or Large. It’s Tall, Grande, Venti.  


Then there’s the variety of drinks.   Latte, Americano, Mocha Whatchamahoot, Macchiato.   Did you want that on the Clover?  

People speak quickly, in the code, sometimes so quickly that it sounds like a series of clicks.  It is the magical Morse code, that when spoken directly and correctly to a green-aproned clerk (SORRY!  Barista) will result in delivery of the magical brew.

Each person was asked his or her name to be placed upon the heavy paper vessel.  This name would be called out later when the clerk (SORRY!  Barista) completed your order.

(My suggestion: Why not have them write whatever it is you really want need to hear that day? Examples: “Woman Who Rocks Her Jeans” or  “Man With Nice Butt” or ((and you would need to purchase a Venti for this one)) “Woman Who is Under-Appreciated at Home but Who is Actually the One Person Who Keeps it Together for the Ungrateful Slobs She Chooses to Call Family.”)

As we waited, I continued my Jane Goodall impression and looked around at the behavior of those who had successfully jumped through the appropriate hoops and had, as a reward, received their cups of the sacred juice. 

While some were reading, and others were talking to friends, about half of them just sat, gazing into space with that faraway look I recognized from my childhood experiences with my parents.   I looked at them intently, wondering about this Happy Place they apparently went to.

Soon, that Certain Very Nice Man’s name was called and we exited the Starbucks.  He was sure to leave the lid of his coffee on in the car and I, trying some newfound maturity, found it within myself not to make too many negative comments or too many retching sounds out of the window I immediately opened and hung out of.

These days I am a trooper and go to Starbucks with him whenever he wants. Now, I still can’t sit inside because of the smell, but I can sit outside, in the California sunshine and enjoy my large iced tea with extra cup of ice on the side. 

One day as we were waiting for his order,  I looked over to see him looking at me with that Happy Place look.  I looked around for his coffee since I hadn’t heard his name called yet.

“Where’s your coffee?”  I asked. 

“I don’t have it yet.” 

“What are you so happy about?”  

He smiled, “I was just thinking how incredibly beautiful you are.”

Just then he heard his name called.

Well, he heard his name.  

Me?  I heard,  “Man Sitting with Luckiest Woman in the World, Your Coffee is Ready.”

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's Betty Eating Now?

Hi My Betty Peeps!

Sorry I have been away.  Last Sunday I had a very dramatic incident at the dog park here in town.

Without going into too much detail, let's just say I walked away from the whole thing with a bruised shoulder, a bleeding knee and a bleeding hand AND a sprained wrist.

No, No.  I don't want to talk about it.

I just think for the sake of all, we need to put this incident behind us and go on.

(OK, OK, I fell off of a curb in the parking lot!  What's with gravity these days? Is it feeling stronger to you?)

Anyway, I have not been able to write very much and blog posts are starting to building up in my brain.

Danger!  Step back from the Betty!

Here's a salad I have been snarfing down this summer.  Hope you enjoy it!

Here are the details:

In the food processor chop up about a pound of carrots.

Remove carrots put in a lot of raw kale in the processor and turn it on until you've got little pieces.  (Don't overdo it on the processing of the kale.  You know how you get.)

Mix the kale in with the carrots.

Add sunflower seeds (or pecans).

Proceed with a light coating of Balsamic Vinaigrette or the like.

Feeling especially kicky?  You can add avocado or tofu too.

Lately, I've been adding black lentils too!  Crazy good!

Two warnings:

1)  Check your teeth in a mirror after consuming this salad.  Use your Waterpik if you have one for a real Jackson Pollock experience in the sink afterwards.

2)  This is the Roto Rooter of salads.  Don't overdo it.  You know what I am saying.

As soon as my wrist is feeling better I will be back with gusto!  Until then, enjoy these shorter posts!