Thursday, April 5, 2018

Silly Sally - I Am Loved

Sally on her 1st Birthday
If you see a very chubby one year old, with huge blue eyes and the world's longest eyelashes, crawling toward you with an emphatic intensity, you may be seeing Sally. Our granddaughter, Sally Jo Mason, who was born November 2, 2016 to Mama Lana and Papa Rich. Sally is a fierce little spirit. Sally is a force.

Sally's arrival followed her cousin Lila's dramatic, premature entrance by three months. The babies were due five weeks apart, but Lila was a stinker and thwarted the plan by arriving nine weeks early. Unlike her mother, Lila is quite easygoing by nature. She's a good traveller and adapts well to new situations. Sally, unlike her mother, is so dramatic! Teething, schedule changes, her first cold - it's been very traumatic for all concerned. Lila is golden haired. Her mom is brunette. Lana was a towhead. Sally has much darker hair. Clearly these were cousins who were switched in utero!

It was stressful to have two simultaneously pregnant daughters. We were thrilled when Lucy shared her news with us. My first child was going to have a child! Lucy, Lana and I planned a trip to see my mother and stepfather. Lucy was going to tell them the happy news. When we picked up Lana I asked her if she'd like to drive. She said the strangest thing in response. Horrified, she blurted, "I can't drive. I'm pregnant! " And then there were two. I drove because Lucy was feeling tired and queasy.  I'll never forget how nervous I was out on the highway with two newly expecting daughters.

Happily, Lana recovered her ability to drive while pregnant and continued on to have the world's longest pregnancy. At least that's how it felt to me. Lana and Rich had been trying for a while so it probably just seemed that way. There was suspense and a little disappointment each month, usually on holidays. Lana found out that she WASN'T pregnant on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Then Lucy got pregnant and Lana was sure she was also pregnant. I grabbed a gestation calendar and calculated that the babies were due five days apart! WHAT?! That meant they could easily be born on the same day! How could I be there for them? I'm a good mom, but even I'm not good enough to be in two places at once. It would be like having twins born in different locations. Cousins of sisters from different misters.

Lana's "pregnancy" was a false alarm. Praise the lord! I knew they were a little sad about it because they so much wanted to get the baby making machine fired up, but I was privately relieved. It was too much to process at once. However, the next month they did, indeed, get pregnant and we were off to the races. Sally was on her way.

Lana waiting for Sally

I got to go to one of the ultrasounds and I'll never forget the sight of her dancing and twisting inside her mom like a tiny John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Amazing.  When it was discovered that she was a girl we were so happy. We do girls very well in our family. I'm one of three sisters and a stepsister. I have three daughters and a stepdaughter. I now have two granddaughters. It's how we roll. It's how Rich's family rolls, as well. Rich has a daughter, two sisters, one nephew, three nieces and another niece on the way.

No child has been more eagerly awaited than our Sally. I thought Lana would go out of her mind the last few weeks. She literally could not wait for her baby to be born. Rich took some time off work, which was great. Lana needed the moral support. We were all hoping the baby wouldn't be born on Halloween. The very next day Lana went into labor and Sally was born in the early hours of November 2nd.

In perfect health other than a little jaundice, Sally looked like her mother as a newborn. In a foreshadowing of things to come, Sally wasn't exactly a champ at breastfeeding. As in, she refused to drink at all from the breast. She drank breast milk from bottles until Lana got her straightened around. All was well until the screaming began. The poor baby! Poor mommy and daddy. I've never seen anything like it. Sally had colic and cried for a large part of five months.

Anything could set off the wailing, and once she started it seemed impossible to stop. It was hard to know how to help Lana and Rich. One weekend we convinced them to leave Sally with us while they went out for a beak. Everything went perfectly for about six minutes. I put Sally on our bed and she began to cry and would not stop. We tried everything. Eventually we put her in the stroller and Eric pushed while I ran alongside holding the pacifier in Sally's mouth.

Wearing her "I Am Loved" shirt
It's almost difficult to recollect now that it's over. After many months of being sprawled on Lana' s chest day and night, she's like a different baby. She's not sad Sally, anymore. She's silly Sally. When Lana was a baby the pediatrician, old Dr. Brown, took a look at her and declared, "This one's got a touch of the whimsy."  If Lana had a bit of whimsy, Sally has a lot. She's a goof.

Now Sally is seventeen months old and an excellent walker. She crawled for the longest time and one day just quit cold turkey. Crawling was for infants. Sally was clearly a toddler with her sure and steady footsteps. Sally and I recently had a date. I took her to feed the ducks in the creek just like her Mommy used to do. I handed her a piece of bread to toss in the water. She ate it. I handed her another. She ate that one, too. So much for feeding the ducks.
With "big" cousin Lila
Sally loves to dance and read books. She loves to throw balls. The kid has an arm! With her sturdy build and great throwing skills I'm thinking she could go gold in shot put at the twenty-something Olympics. Sadly, all the running around has made her a bit more svelte. She even has definition in her thighs instead of Michelin man rolls. No matter how much she stretches out she will always be the Chunky Monkey to me. Silly Sally, you are loved!

And she's off!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Name That Book!

Hello! Here is a fun game that everyone can play. Pearls and Lemons will be publishing a book in serial form, chapter by chapter. The book was written by Delaney Griswold aka Eric Crowe and Wendy Partridge Crowe.

Now that we have piqued your interest, we need reader help in several ways.

1) Name the book! We've had two names thus far and both have been busts. The first was "A Game Of Inches". We didn't bother to check whether the name was already taken. It was. That's a rookie mistake. The second name was "Mason Jarred" which is close, but no cigar. Please send your offerings to

2) Find the flaw! The book has made the rounds amongst some pretty intrepid readers. We know a lot of you! While people seemed to enjoy beginning the book, enthusiasm inevitably trailed off and we're not sure why. This is where readers can help. Everyone has an opinion. This is where you get to voice yours. Tell us where and why the book falls apart for you. Don't hold back. We can take it.  We're first time novelists, after all. We're not at all sensitive.

3) Share, share, share! You may feel right about now that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and you just want to escape. Well, you're not alone. Help others escape to the island of the newest, unnamed Delaney Griswold novel. The more people who read it the faster we will be able to fix what's broken, so please pass along to your friends. This is going to be fun. I think.

Synopsis: Book With No Name

The life Marilee Mapplethorpe chose as an epidemiologist working with  Doctors Without Borders had given her a great deal of satisfaction.  It fulfilled her desire to experience excitement, danger and make a positive  contribution in a part of the world far divorced from her privileged, first world upbringing. Despite its satisfactions, that life had eventually worn her down to a nub and left her so drained she had to admit defeat.

She retreated to her charming home in well to do Masonville, CA. There, the predictability and security of life in its hip, small-town setting was just what the doctor ordered.  It made it easy to recuperate, but that lifestyle had begun to pall. Marilee felt a need to shake things up a little. 

As Marilee soon found out, you’d better be careful what you wish for. A wild, dangerous, utterly unexpected series of events descended upon her quiet life and changed everything. First, an ex-lover’s Somali child showed up on her doorstep. Then an unlikely conglomeration of jihadists, white supremacists and an entire alphabet-soup of government agencies were hot on her heels.  For Marilee, whose idea of shaking things up was more like learning another language or maybe taking up a new activity, it was earthshaking.  She was thrust into a scary new reality that she barely understood and the threat was real. It was time for Marilee and an unlikely cadre of allies to start thinking outside the box, or they might end up in one.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Big Six Oh

My birthdays have come and gone for decades. Precisely six, to be exact. They have been mostly pleasant, worry-free occasions. Different ages brought different traditions. In New York State, March 11th fell smack in the middle of mud season, so sometimes my mother and I would take a bus into New York City to the Flower Show. I went through a stage where I loved eating spareribs, and my neighbor, Elizabeth, and I would have sparerib eating contests, piling up the bones on our plates. One year in Middle School my friends gave me a surprise party. I was so surprised! I still remember the dress I was wearing.

My card from Trish

When the kids were little they would get very excited about birthdays, and mine was no exception. The drawings, cards and gifts from them were so precious. They still are. I was always sanguine about my advancing age, no matter what decade. There was a benefit to the aging; I had learned something, I was stronger. Life seemed to be as it was meant to be. I didn't really question it too much.

I must admit I have struggled with the prelude to turning 60. I've always believed, and often stated, that life is one long series of identity crises. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. I think I have age dissonance. My literal age is at odds with my interior life and my vision of myself.

I am very grateful for my good health. The adage that every day above ground is a good day makes sense to me, although I'm never going to go under the ground. I plan to be cremated and have my ashes scattered. You heard it here, folks. I have learned the hard way that afterlife choices must be written down. Don't leave it to your survivors to make choices for you.

I have a lot of associations with sixty-somethings. White hair, retirement, social security, Medicare, senior discounts, forgetfulness, going to bed early. Oops. I've just described my husband! He's seven years older. Nothing personal, but I look at him and think there's no way I'm going to be like that in seven years! All this talk of "sixty is the new forty" is the baby boomer way of trying to remain pioneers. Who are we kidding? We're not invincible. Two of my former flames have already died.

It's not the number sixty that bothers me, per se. It's more that you add fifteen years and all of a sudden you're seventy-five years old. Boom. I play tennis with quite a few lovely women that age and they are an inspiration. They're in great shape, and because they're retired they have time to work hard on their fitness. No offense, ladies, but I'd still rather go back fifteen years to forty-five. I don't think I appreciated it enough at the time, but now it seems so cute and young! I'm sure when I'm looking back at sixty I'll feel the same way.

Now that the birthday has come and gone I've gotten my mind right on the subject. I was dragged into this decade with lots of love and care. Friends and family from near and far sent me good wishes. I had a very special spa day with my three girls. Eric made a paella dinner for all of us. 

Love this card made by Pam J. Especially my new photoshopped body!

At the end of the evening my daughter, Lana, said something that really gave me perspective. She pointed to my granddaughters who are 16 and 19 months. She said, "Mom, in fifteen years Lila and Sally will be sixteen years old." I thought about that for a moment. They will be in high school, going to prom, driving or whatever 16 year olds will be doing then. I thought about all the changes they will go through and the life they will live between now and then. It really does seem like a long time.

My mom and aunt are 84 and 88 years old. I come from hearty stock. If it weren't for the damn cigarettes I'm sure my father would still be alive. It's going to be all right. Like we used to say to the kindergarteners: "You get what you get and you don't get upset." These are the good, old days. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pearls and Lemons is Back!

After a hiatus of almost two years, Pearls and Lemons is back. It's been a productive time away from the blog. We moved three times and ended up back where we started.Well, maybe that wasn't so productive. Two granddaughters were born. I went to New York, then London and back to New York again. I went to Lake Tahoe as often as possible. I represented buyers and sellers in real estate transactions in San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma Counties. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge with Marin Moms Demand Action For Safer Gun Laws. I saw the Boyle Tennis Court project finally finished. I went to Sectionals with a couple of my tennis teams. Eric and I wrote a suspense novel. Look for chapters of Mason Jarred in upcoming posts. As ever, please share anything that moves you. It great to be back, and once again, thanks ever so much for reading Pearls and Lemons.

Lila: The Next Generation

July 30, 2016

It's been a week since our grand surprise. A clutch of skin and bones and a thatch of golden hair, baby Lila roared into our universe at warp speed. Two months early, she left the comfort of Mom to forge her way outside of the womb. She was here whether we liked it or not. Why the hurry, little one? Lila, already a disruptor.

None of us were ready. Emotionally, psychologically it was so difficult to fathom that instead of a full term, bouncing baby girl we ended up with a three pound seven ounce premie. We had plans, but apparently Lila had other plans. There was no stopping her. It's been shock and awe. Frankly, a bit too much shock and too little awe, until today
Day One
A mother's love

Today Lila and I had a moment. We bonded as well as you can when one of you is in an isolette and the other is standing by your bed, poking scrupulously clean arms through portholes to catch a little skin. I felt her and I felt truly happy for the first time since she graced us with her presence. Her health is good and she's gaining weight. Today was the first time the joy surpassed the fear. She gripped my finger while she slept and I held her feet. It was the first visit we've had, just the two of us, with no interruptions and no medical interventions.

There was a transfer, from me to her. I so clearly felt my parents and grandparents and there was an acute connectedness between the generations. While Lila squeezed my finger she turned to me and cracked open one tiny eye. Then it fluttered closed and she smiled in her sleep. Another flutter of the eyelids, a squeak and a yawn. The kid looked like a baby for the first time instead of,  as Lucy put it, a minuscule Benjamin Button version of her father. Her lips are Lucy's, though. A perfect, tiny rosebud mouth.

It's been very hectic for both of us this week. She was ripped from her mother and I was thrust into being  a grandmother. Eric and I were out for a bike ride in Sonoma when I got the call from Lucy. I knew something was wrong, but I figured it was early labor and that the miracle of modern medicine could stop it. It was Eric's 65th birthday so we kept on the bike  ride until the next ominous text. At 31 weeks pregnant, Lucy's water had broken. The miracle of modern medicine could not stop it, but they did save mother and baby. Thank God.
Day Two
All three of my babies were moderately to severely overdue. I've never seen a baby this small. Scrawny chicken wings and legs with hanging skin. I must confess that when Lila and I first met I felt a tad woozy. I didn't want to alarm her father, Greg,  but the neonate scared me. Her eye was bruised, her head had a mask and she had an IV in one arm, an oxygen  contraption on her toe and she was so, so tiny. Scary tiny.

July 12, 2017

Now Lila is almost one year old. She's a happy, healthy baby. She crawls and babbles and eats an alarming amount of food as well as plenty of milk. She seems to have inherited her mother's fast metabolism as well as Lucy's sociable  nature,  self-determination and dislike of bedtime! Lila is more easy going than Mommy and seems to have gotten that from her Daddy, as well as the ability to play by herself longer than seven seconds.

Lila is a lean, strong baby just as you'd expect with lean, strong parents. A single snaggle tooth, bright blue eyes and straight blonde hair round out the look.  She charms with her gummy grin. We've travelled to London and New York. While Mommy worked  Lila and I spent some time hanging out in cafes. Lila loves to scan the room, find her subject and make eye contact.  She expects everyone to love her, and she's right. They do.

Lila and I are good buddies. I already loved her deeply, but when her other grandmother died suddenly on Lila's due date, before they'd even had a chance to meet, I felt a heavy responsibility. Grandmothers are so important and you can never have too many. Fortunately, Lila has several granddads, and they are extremely important, too.

Becoming a grandmother was nothing like I expected. The night Lila was born I left the hospital and went to eat in a restaurant in North Beach.  Eric stayed in Sonoma because we weren't sure how things would go with the premature delivery. It was strange to be alone after something so momentous had happened in my life.  If I had known then what I know now, and how beautifully Lila would develop and grow, I would have been ecstatic. I would have been so thrilled that my firstborn had made me a grandmother. Instead, the day Lila was born was one of the most traumatic days of my life.

It was strange for all of us, but Lucy seemed undaunted. I'll never forget the look of joy and love on her face the first time they wheeled her bed into the  NICU a couple hours after the birth so she could see the baby. She didn't see a scary, tiny creature. She saw her beautiful baby. They aren't kidding that a mother's love is blind!

It was over a month that Lila stayed in the NICU, and it wasn't easy, but we were so lucky. The kid was healthy, just tiny. One time I referred to her as our "special needs baby" and the nurses corrected me. They said she didn't have special needs, she was just small. Actually, I disagree, She did have special needs, including a feeding tube, at first, but those nurses were amazing. They had growing an infant outside the womb down to a science, It was hard to not hold her like you would a full term newborn, but the hardest part was being around the parents whose babies were really sick. That was truly heartbreaking.

We all did our best and Lucy was just amazing. Seeing what a wonderful mother she is with her baby made all the work I put into raising her worthwhile. I felt like I was paid back in an instant for decades of effort. Also, the vague longing that I had felt since my youngest (now 27 years old) was no longer a baby completely dissipated. I wouldn't want my kids to be little again because then I wouldn't have my grandchildren. You see, I'm very fortunate.
Three months after Lila was born, Lana gave birth to Sally. But this Is Lila's story. We'll save Sally for another day.

Four Generations

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Endless Summer

The real Endless Summer with my family in the '60's. 

You may think, “The Endless Summer” is the title of a movie about surfing. It is. It’s also an apt description of our summer. Our burning, blazing, summer with endless heat and endless sun. Our normal weather is typical, Coastal Northern California fare. Add cool, overcast days to 63 degrees with a chilly wind. Combine little to no sun and stir. You have just created the recipe for local conditions in May through August. In thirty-eight years I have seen little variation to this recipe.

The Summer of 2015 is an exception so extreme, that despite all my years of complaining about our cools summers, I have had enough. Summer in Mill Valley has been too long this year. I’m ready for fall. Not fake fall. We have the leaves changing colors and drifting gently off trees on Sycamore Avenue, but it's hard to enjoy when it's 85 degrees again. 

Like most seasons, summer started with hope and promise. I reveled in the warmth. Day after day, week after week we were blessed with pleasant temperatures and lemony bright, sunny skies. Sunny mornings, dinner outside and sleeveless dresses! What could possibly be better? I take it all back! Send the fog. The air quality is poor due to all the fires that have raged around the state, I'm surrounded on three sides by noisy construction projects and can't close the windows. I work from home and we do not have air conditioning. 
Thousands flee another heat wave at Stinson
My car is the only cool place and I can’t just ride around in the car and contribute to global warming! I read that for every mile you drive your car makes a pound of carbon dioxide. That is a statistic that has stuck with me. It now strikes me as irresponsible to sit in your car talking on the phone while the engine runs. 

Harbor Seal is treated at Marine Mammal Center
Climate change is real. The Pacific Ocean is warmer than the Atlantic now. Birds are dying in droves because the fish they feed on have had to go deeper for cooler temperatures. Marine Mammals are in distress for the same reasons. The center of the state is sinking by several inches a month because the ground water is being pumped out faster than it's being replenished. It's not being replenished at all because of the drought. This also affects the level of the oceans.

We've got scorched Earth, yet we are bracing for El Niño which will probably bring more rain than we can handle and not enough snow in the mountains which we desperately need. My clients are all scrambling to get new gutters and roofs before the rains. The promised precipitation is on the way, but it may be February until we see anything substantial. To paraphrase the song, when it rains in Northern California it pours. Man, it pours. 

California fire
Hot, cold, rainy dry, I'm going to try to not be a complainer. My daughter, Allie, makes it a policy to never complain about the weather. It's amazing. I aspire to be like her. She lived four years at UConn, several of which had prodigious snowfall, two years in Los Angeles, and now is in New York City. You will never hear anything from her about the weather.

The only time Allie was bothered by a weather related situation was when Hurricane Sandy knocked out her power for a week in 2012. She was miserable. It was horrible to have to go shower at a friends and charge her phone at the library. Too many inconveniences  while also trying to work and study. Heat  waves, ice storms, Allie won't even notice, but don't try to take away her electricity!

I will not complain, because my life is good and I did not lose my home to a fire like so many other Californians. However, I do miss my sweaters. I'd like to wear boots and jeans if they even still fit. It's been so long I wouldn't know. I'd like to drink a cup of coffee without breaking out in a sweat and perhaps build a fire on a chilly evening, but first we need a chilly evening.

October feels a bit cursed to me and this year the curse continues. I had a frightening trip to the emergency room in an ambulance due to an eyeball bleed with complicating factors. I'm better, but now my mom, on the eve of her 86th birthday, is in the hospital. Go away scary October. Bring in November. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Words of Walt Whitman

The words by Pope Francis today reminded me of this alluring quote.

"This is what you shall do: love the earth, and sun, and animals, despise riches, stand up for the stupid and crazy, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul." Walt Whitman