Monday, September 14, 2009

Shorter days....

It's happening. I went to a late matinee yesterday and when the show was over I readied myself for the spotlight of summer waiting to greet me on the other side of the theatre door. I dug my shades out of my enormous candy and snacks receptacle purse (it's amazing what you'll find in there), located my keys and headed for the exit. If I hurried home I'd still have time for a bit of gardening before nightfall. I followed the movie lemmings in a race to get to out, found the door, and squinted in anticipation of the brutal California sun.

It was.... dark. At 7:30. Fearing Sudden Onset Blindness (I saw it once on Oprah and have been terrified ever since), I stopped dead in my tracks. Like a line of dominos, the single-file group of about 20 people behind me collided in a chain reaction of L.A. freeway proportions. And I was their leader.

A good friend once told me "If you're going down, never do it alone. Take as many people with you as you can." So in a moment of pure genius, I turned to the Twilight t-shirt wearing 13 year old directly behind me, shook my head and said in my best childless-woman-of-little-tolerance voice, "Come on! Can't you see there are people behind you? You're going to kill someone!" By the time she could muster a witty teenage retort I was long gone.

So I suppose the day getting shorter tells us summer has come to an end. It's time to prepare the soil for a winter garden, move the chair cushions inside, and finish all of those sunny weather projects that got started in June. It will start raining soon and hanging out in the garden 'til the bugs start biting will have to wait until next year.  I wonder if there are any good movies coming out.....

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I've always been a social creature. In fact, all my 5th grade report card said in the comments section was "My darling Katie. If we could get her to stop talking and start working, her grades would improve." A life-long challenge, I'm afraid.

I had plans. For everything. By 17 I was out every weekend, going here, seeing that. Busy, busy, busy. I'd kiss my parents goodnight on my way out the door. I watched them wave goodbye as I ran past them on the porch, and try not to wake them when I got home.

At 25 I had collected a few really cool stories to write home about. I had stamps in my passport. There was always a concert, or an opening, or a trip with good friends. Opportunity everywhere and I was not going to miss any of it. I had no responsibilities. No reason to say no. I jumped at chances. Letters home were filled with tales of my adventures and photos of beautiful sunsets.

Slowly, the tables started turning. As I took on new responsibilities, my parents released theirs. I started my career as my Dad was retiring. Bought a car and a parking space as they bought a boat (not a weekend boat you can tow behind your truck, a 40-something foot multi-bedroom boat in the San Juan Islands). I acquired a mortgage around the time my parents paid off their house. Thought about starting a family as their last child was finishing college. I was tying myself down as they were releasing their reigns.

Now I check my email for their letters of adventure. I study the photos of their travels. I haven't been a guest in their house for years. Instead, they stay at mine on their way to or from their destination of choice. I cry as they pull away to continue their life stories, and I miss them. They are free. Truly free. I dream as I drive to work about the day I can loosen my bindings; release myself from the responsibilities of the life I have chosen. Wander the world from port to port, watch the sun set with an umbrella in my drink and my toes in the sand. Until then, I can always live vicariously....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If you give a girl a carriage....

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was 7. And toothless. And wanted a dolly carriage more than life. I had a pretty extensive doll collection, complete with dresses and shoes and hair clips and jewelry. I'd lock myself and my cat Smudge Pot in my room and play fashion parlor for hours.

My mom made me the happiest girl on the planet when I woke up on my birthday to find the perfect pram to take my favorite doll on a walk. She was about 18 inches tall and had her own closet; a blue metal chest that opened to form a dressing room with drawers and hangers. Her wardrobe was to die for! Prairie dresses just like Holly Hobbie, fabulous hats to match, even socks. She had eyeballs that rolled back in her head if you laid her down.  She was the best doll ever. Then one day her head just popped right off her shoulders and couldn't be reattached, not even by my brother David who could fix anything.

I was devastated. Nothing could get me out of the dark mood that shadowed my afternoons. Well, almost nothing. Smudge Pot had been trained to sit for hours and watch the "purple and sparkly" develop in me. It was a natural progression, I suppose, to try the decapitated doll's clothes on the poor cat, and since she didn't complain (with claws, anyway) I was off and running with my new hobby: cat dressing. She loved it, I swear. I taped her dressed up little body in the stroller and took her for walks. She never left the house without a hat.

30-something years later my mom still shakes her head when I mention Smudge Pot. She was the first cat of many in my life, and she taught me a lot about unconditional love. And how to clip extensions to very short hair.