Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

December 31, 2012


This year went by wicked fast again.  And it didn't end on December 21st like the Mayan's allegedly predicted.  It's hard to believe that it's already New Years Eve.  Doesn't seem possible that a whole year has gone by.  It's almost my and Russell's second anniversary too.  Wow!!!!

It was a pretty mellow year for the most part.  It had some financial challenges and setbacks, but what year doesn't?  We are very, very happy together in our little rental home, although we long to own our own home someday.  Something that's a little bit bigger so that I can finally unpack the rest of our stuff.  People hear 'three bedroom' and think this place is large, but the rooms are so teeny, and one of them is stacked with unpacked boxes & totes.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a failure b/c I don't own a home anymore, esp. at this age.  However, so many people lost their homes over the past 4 years so it's not like I'm the only one.  And mine was only lost due to a short sale and the value/sale price dropping way below what was owed.  You have no idea how much I regret letting Brian talk me into refinancing in 2005 to buy that cursed property in Neilton, on the Olympic Peninsula.  What a huge mistake.  HUGE mistake.  If we had never refinanced at all over the years, that house would have actually netted a profit upon sale, but we just kept borrowing against the equity....robbing Peter to pay Paul, as they say....and it bit me in the ass big time.  El biggo time-o.  I am very hopeful that our landlords will continue to let us rent here, as we are very happy with this area and Buzzards Bay.  I like it better in Bourne than I do in Sandwich for many reasons.

January was a damn cold month, despite it starting out extremely mild on the 1st, because we kicked off the New Year with a walk on Scusset Beach that day.  We had the one and only snow event in late January as well.  My ex was crashing and burning big time, and told me that it was time for me to fly my sweet little boy Sagan to the east coast, with the caveat that he 'will want him back in 6 or 8 months' when he 'got better'.  That was one stressful week, wondering if Brian would rip the rug out from under me and renege.  But thanks to a bicoastal effort on the part of friends that I can never truly, or fully, repay, I picked up my baby boy from Logan Airport on January 28th.  I was only apart from him for 7 months, but it sure seemed longer.  Sometimes I wonder if either he or Pepper remember anything from Washington, or if as far as they know, they've always lived here and Russell has always been 'dad'.  

Here he is about an hour after I brought him home.  Happy boy is happy to be back with mom and sis!!! 

Bean, on the other hand, was soooooooo mad.  lol

And here they are, now sharing the couch in November.  They do enjoy each other's company, even if Pepper acts like a curmudgeon sometimes.  

It was a good year, overall.  No trips out of town, but I did enjoy exploring this area and Plymouth, although I can't believe I never made it up to P-Town!  I find myself falling into that familiar excuse, 'it's too far, I don't feel like driving an hour or more' that I used in Washington, to my detriment in the long run.  In my defense, the summer was just waaaay too hot and humid to do anything outside, and we even put off the Canal Cruise to early September because it wasn't even cool out on the water.  I had great beachcombing scores when I did go out.  Awesome to see so many friends and family.  King Richard's Faire.  Walks on the Canal.

And of course, my two biggest wishes came true:  Getting Sagan back, and getting engaged to the love of my life.

I got "a few" crafts done.  lol  Just a few.  2012 was definitely the Year of Pinterest and Crafting.  I cannot thank my sweetie enough for giving me the gift of being a stay at home 'wife'.  A lot of people have been pressuring me to get a job, but I haven't felt ready to rejoin the full-time workforce yet.  I have looked around for some part time work, but nothing's available around here, although I had an interview on the 27th at a temp agency, for a part time job in Middleborough, so we'll see if anything comes of it.  I am very reluctant to go back into the legal field, although there are a couple lawyers here in town that I thought about dropping off resumes to.  Realistically, I can't get back on that roller coaster of deadlines and last minute work again: Phones ringing off the hook, clients in the waiting room, copy machine cranking, assembling all the packages & filings while the is messenger waiting....Yeah um no, think I'll pass.  We'll see what I decide to do in 2013.  For now, I am content to be a homemaker and spoil my sweet hubby & pups, go out shooting pics and making crafts.  And no, we did not get married, but we think of each other as married so yeah, I'll probably be referring to him more as my hubby.

I stuck it out with Project 365, although by the summer I was sick of doing it and cheated a bit more here and there, posting older photos or ones not taken on the specific date they were posted.  By November, I was literally counting down the days till it was done.  It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I'm glad I did it, but I won't do it again.  Of everyone I talked into starting it with me, only Joan posted regularly.  Everyone else quit by February.  I was even ready to quit by February but stubbornly decided to finish.  The one thing that's pretty cool is that it's a visual diary of my year (except for the days I posted something old). 

We lost a few friends and family members this year.  Our high school Graphic Arts teacher, Mr. Savino, was a presence on Facebook from the summer of 2011 and I enjoyed interacting with him; we all did.  He passed away in March from pancreatic cancer that he didn't tell anyone he had.  So it came as quite a shock to hear he had died.  For several months afterwards, I would look for his comments and then remember he was gone. Then there was my friend Cyndy, who passed away during the summer and which I blogged about at the time.

The strangest death for me this year was my ex-husband Brian, who passed away in September from liver disease.  I said my goodbyes years ago, but it's just sad to think that he's gone at the age of 51.  What a waste of a life.  I look back on things from 1989 till 2011, and it's like watching a movie of someone else's life.  The San Francisco/Grateful Dead years, the Marin County Years, the Washington State Years.... My friend Diane went to see him at the hospice place, the day that he died.  She told him that it was OK to let go now, and I'd asked her to tell him I said thanks for the memories, the dogs were great and that I appreciated his letting me take Sagan. Brian could be vindictive, and he could have easily sentenced me to a life of heartbreak knowing that my dog was sent back to rescue to be re-homed, rather than sent to me.  I am very grateful that he put Sagie's best interests first and let me take him.  After Diane left, he died.  I wonder if what she said gave him the peace to die, knowing that Pepper and Sagan were fine.  He was a mentally ill, alcoholic and could be a real jerk, but he did love our dogs.  It's just weird for me to wake up here and go about my life, knowing that he's gone.  I really thought my leaving would shake him up and that he'd get his shit together, but it was already too late.  I truly dodged a bullet.  I could so easily have taken the familiar path of staying in my house, continuing to work for Steve, etc. But instead I jumped at the chance for a do-over and I am forever grateful to Russell for finding and rescuing me.  I would be faced with being a widow now, with giant medical bills, probably the loss of my house anyway, having missed out on the best thing to ever happen to me.  But instead, I get to be with my true love and my two dogs.  I am very lucky indeed.

I guess 2012 was a year of nesting, finding myself and enjoying my new life here on the east coast.  Not sure what 2013 has in store, of course, but hopefully things will remain on an even keel, as much as they can.  I'm just very grateful to be here.

Have a great New Year everyone!  Best wishes for 2013!!

December 29, 2012

Me and My Arrow

"Me and my Arrow, taking the high road, wherever we go, everyone knows, it's me and my Arrow...."

My car reached a milestone on December 15th.  100,000 miles.  It isn't really named 'Arrow' but I should start calling it that.

Back in the spring of 2005, I traded in my Saturn for a bright blue 2004 Hyundai Elantra.  I went to Korum Hyundai of Puyallup armed with my NADA Guides and Kelley Blue Book info, credit score and downpayment, knowing exactly what I wanted.  The salesman asked what kind of a deal I wanted, how much I wanted for my car, etc.  I smiled sweetly and said, 'I know what my Saturn is worth.  My credit score is 700.  I know what the Elantra retails for... so why don't you tell me what you can offer?' He asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I worked for a lawyer in Tacoma.  Needless to say, it was a very quick transaction.....The salesman went over to his supervisor and I overheard him say, 'She's the real deal, let's just do this.'  I took the car out for a quick test drive and was pleased to see that this model still had a cassette deck.  I did not want, nor do I want, a CD player or an iPod dock.  I received a fair deal on both my trade-in and the financing of the car loan, and I drove off the lot in my new car. 

I needed this car because we had just bought the cursed property in Neilton on the Olympic Peninsula, and my 7 year old Saturn was already pushing 100,000 miles at the time I traded it in.  Neilton was just way too far away (150 miles/3.5 hours) and remote to put those kinds of miles on the Saturn, since we were up there almost every weekend that summer of '05.  Here is a pic my car and the place that we Never. Should've. Bought.  Biggest mistake ever on soooo many levels.  We sold the stupid place in 2006, and made a paltry $10,000 over the purchase price the year before, most of which went to the realtor and other fees, so we basically broke even.  But I digress.....

I loved my new car, though.  As Brian descended further into alcoholism and mental illness, I found myself increasingly on my own.  If I wanted to travel, I could count on it being me, myself and I, which was actually fine because there would be way less pressure and I could do what I wanted, without worrying that someone else wasn't having a good time.

In early August, 2006, I drove up to Vancouver, BC for a few days.  No pics of the car because I wasn't shooting digital yet and it being a major city, it stayed in the hotel garage most of the time I was there, except for the trip up to North Vancouver. 

Summer of 2007, I visited Vancouver Island for several days (2nd best trip in my life).  My car was on the Coho Ferry first out of Port Angeles, the Brentwood/Mill Bay ferry as a shortcut to Butchart Gardens and then on the Washington State ferry (seen below) back to Anacortes, WA.  Driving a car onto a ferry is an interesting experience. 

In the fall of 2007, I went to Portland OR and up to Mt. Hood.  Went back to Portland and Multnomah Falls in the fall of 2008 too.

2009 was a horrendous year, and my car faithfully ferried me to and from work as I attempted to cope with a life, and marriage, that was spinning out of control.  I made no trips that year except for a quick early morning junket to Seattle that summer.

In the spring of 2010, I took an overnight trip out to the coast, to Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, 4 hours away from my home.  Even more remote than  Neilton.  There isn't even cell service out there. 

In the summer of 2010, which would turn out to be my last summer in Washington, I finally went up to Sunrise at Mt. Rainier, and also did some day trips to Seattle.  Yes that's snow in the parking lot just below Sunrise, despite it being a very warm July day.  There's my bright blue jewel on the left.  The Sunrise parking lot is at 6,400 feet above sea level.  That's taller than Mt. Washington, the highest point in all of New England.

Here's my car, parked where I worked for 11 years in Fircrest, in February, 2011.  By this point, I knew my time in WA was coming to a rapid close. It got me to & from work many times over the years in the snow, through many, many rain and wind storms and horrible traffic.  In the first six months of 2011, I drove to Snoqualmie Falls, Olympia, Westport (on the coast), Mount St. Helens and Seattle, but unfortunately ran out of time to hit the rest of my WA Bucket List items before it was time to make the drive east.  I spent quite a bit of money on it prior to the trip too.

Pepper & I embarked on that epic cross country journey in my trusty car, much to Russell's chagrin at the tiny size of it.  He calls it 'the go kart with doors'.  We left from this hotel in Tukwila, WA. We encountered no issues at all on the way.  Another blessing.  

We even crossed the Great Divide.

My car has been to a total of 17 states and 1 Province:  British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin (below), Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, a sliver of Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, a sliver of New Hampshire....'s even been to Maine!

This plate is now part of my collection.  The Grateful Dead frame has moved around to the front of the car.

This is probably the only car around here with a Canadian flag on the bumper, and from far western Canada no less.  I also haven't seen very many cars  out there, of any make or model, that are this colour.

Home. :)

I love this car.  It has sand in it from both coasts.  The back seat is a mess of dog hair, with sheets on the seat, extra towels, a road atlas, ice scraper and my mix tapes case.

My squeeze has been pressuring me to get a larger vehicle because this one is really too small for a guy his size.  I totally get that.  But I am very reluctant to get rid of it yet, partially for financial reasons (car payment, increased insurance & excise tax, etc) but mostly for sentimental reasons.  Of all the cars I've owned, this has been my favourite, although my first trusty Toyota made the journey west in 1989 and to every Dead show I ever went to, both on the east and west coasts.  And the 76 Monte Carlo I had through high school and college was bitchin too.  But this car has been the one constant in a very turbulent past 7 years.  I know that my car will need increasing repairs the older it gets, but I've always been so good about regular maintenance that it's been very reliable.

So for now I will continue to baby my car, and enjoy the journey.  Me & my Arrow.

December 27, 2012


I saw a cool idea on Pinterest to use a doily to make a dream catcher.  I finally found some doilies at JoAnn Fabrics in Hyannis but they are kind of poorly made and didn't fit into the metal ring I had at home.  

But then those pre-starched crochet snowflakes surfaced when I took out the decorations so I snagged a couple.  This was the project I'd had to step away from when I went to Onset that one day.  It may look like it was easy but I ran into some problems stitching the beads due to the high amount of starch and difficulty getting the needle through it.

After I had the snowflake attached to the ring, which was originally wrapped with synthetic sinew fibre, I realized I should have covered the bland sinew with floss.  That meant stopping what I was doing and trying to shimmy in this step as an afterthought.  It was Not. Easy. 

I used some peacock feathers on the bottom.  I'm not crazy about the way they hang but oh well.

Then I stuck some stuff on these mini glass bottles I had laying around.  Just what I need....more knick knacks.

This one was definitely fun to make and is definitely for me.

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's not quite December 24th as I am drafting this post.  I've been thinking about and reflecting on the holiday season of years past.  I think in a lot of ways I always loved Christmas Eve more because of the build up of excitement to the following day, which in a lot of cases is kind of a let down after all the gifts are open and there are no more surprises.  This is especially true of my adult years, whereas when I was a kid, I still had the rest of the day and evening to look forward to at my Aunt & Uncle's house with my cousins who were visiting from Long Island through New Years.  That meant a week of playing in the woods, ice skating & sledding if we had snow, spewing hot chocolate out of our mouths and noses from laughter.  Going to the Mall to spend our gift money.  Stuffing ourselves with cookies and treats & playing charades or with our new toys & games.  Staying up on New Years Eve to tape our fave songs from the annual WRKO 100 Top Songs of [Year], going downstairs around 11:30 to watch Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve & watch the ball drop in NYC at Midnight.  Those were fun days when I was a kid in the 70s.  But I digress....

There was one Christmas Eve when we deviated from the usual visiting, and went to see my mom's best friend who was very, very sick.  She passed away in 1972, so this would have to have been December 24, 1971.  She had two daughters a few years older than me, and we spent lots of time over there visiting before Flo got sick.  I didn't understand what was wrong with her at all, of course...I now know it was breast cancer.  She was in a nursing home 'near the train bridge in Buzzards Bay'.  I never forgot that night, because Flo's daughter Linda was there and she and I were exploring the nursing home, playing hide & seek, and it's layout made a huge impression on me because it was a really nice place (my grandmother was there after she had her strokes in the late 80s). I remember Linda & I were watching TV in the main lounge area too, where there was also a lit Christmas tree.  In an odd twist of fate, I happen to live very close to this place.  

Christmas Eve meant baking sugar cookies with Diane at my parents' house.  5:00 pm Mass at the Catholic Church and that was the only day when we got to sit upstairs in the choir due to how crowded it was.  Then after Mass it was off to visit the McArdles and the Morrows, and home for heaping platefuls of my dad's delicious linguine with shrimp marinara sauce.  I could hardly sleep that night.  As I got older, I found myself pulling all nighters (which meant I was a cranky little thing by 10 a.m. the following day), trying to listen for Santa, then sneaking downstairs in the pitch dark, avoiding every squeaky stair and floor board with the precision of a Ninja, then flicking the livingroom light on & off real quick to see if there were presents yet and there always were.  Heart pounding, I'd carefully creep back upstairs to my room, unable to sleep from excitement.  I actually used to sleep on top of my made bed to save time having to make it in the morning.

Those traditions continued pretty much the same way through high school and even when I was home from college, although the amount and kinds of cookies baked now varied, and I usually worked at the Dan'l Webster Inn during college breaks to make some extra cash for the following semester.  One year, I was on my way home from Channel 56 in the wee small hours of 12/24/87.  It was just past midnight and as I got off the Sagamore Bridge onto the Mid Cape Highway, traffic was backed up because of an accident up ahead.  I decided to take the chance and cross the grassy median, getting into westbound lanes (wide open b/c of the late hour) and get off at the 1st exit before the Bridge and take Rte 6A.  As I came down through Sandwich, the fire trucks and ambulance were just leaving.  I went home to my rented studio apartment near Sandy Neck and thought nothing of it.  I went to work again on my regular 3 pm -11 pm shift on the 24th.  Except that night I was going straight to mom and dad's to spend the night.  I got to their house around 12:15 and dad was keeping the linguine and shrimp sauce warmed for me.  But their affect was all wrong when I got to the house.  They were smiling but their eyes looked weird, and I said, 'Why are you looking at me like that? What's wrong? What's going on?'....'Honey, you better sit down.  That accident on the Mid Cape last night?  Liz's brother Jon was in it.  He didn't make it....We're so, so sorry.'  My best friend's brother killed on Christmas Eve.  He was only a year behind us in school.  How could that be?  I was devastated.  I think of Jon frequently, but constantly at this time of year, every year.  

My mom has one of these's really old because I remember it from when I was little. If you shook it there was a bell or chime thing inside it that kind of plunked more than jingled. But it was never quite this naughty...

The first few years of my marriage to Brian in San Francisco, Christmas was the run up to the annual Grateful Dead shows at the Oakland Coliseum.  We had tickets for the NYE shows of 1989, 90 and their last in 91. He & I developed a ton of traditions for Christmas Eve and kept them up for a long time, till we started to plunge into a great abyss that started slowly in 2006 and ended 5 years later when I couldn't take it anymore and left.  These traditions included dinner out at a restaurant called Tom's Place in our SF neighbourhood, to a British Pub in San Rafael when we moved to Marin County, and then Chinese food up in Washington.  We always watched certain shows that day and night.  'Last Train Across Canada', Truman Capote's 'A Christmas Memory', 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' and finally after dinner, the musical 'Scrooge'.  One of us would go in another room while the other stuffed that person's stocking and put gifts out, then covered w/ a towel.  Then the other would do the same thing.  Like I said, that whole ritual pretty much tapered off and stopped over the years as he became unable to cope with reality and I was too depressed to even try and keep up the holiday cheer.  The baking and decorating stopped too.

This month has been one of some emotional turmoil in the days leading up to Christmas Eve.  In a good way though.  Came out of left field.  Stressful at first and a little perplexing, but overall it's going to lead to way more positive things in our lives.  And being married (in our hearts) to a truck driver could mean that he is on the road/coming home on Christmas Eve sometimes.  I've made my peace with it.  He got his schedule for the next few days and he will be going out the evening of the 25th.  But he will be home for Christmas Eve,  and almost all of Christmas Day, which will be nice. 

Mostly this time of year seems to have a tinge sadness around it, the older I get.  I can't help but remember those old days when I was a kid, everyone was still alive, it was exciting and it seemed like nonstop parties and socializing. Looking back on 'the Brian years' is extremely weird for me right now. It'd be strange enough if he was still alive, but he's not and that's what's so hard to wrap my brain around.  So this year I think I'll just bake a couple cranberry breads for my mom and to bring to my sister in law's house, and enjoy every precious minute with my honey.

I wish you all a peaceful & quiet Christmas.

December 23, 2012

Beautiful Sandwich

This is at Marsha's house.

I love shooting this place during the holidays.  It's so beautiful.

It was not only freezing cold but windy, after a very mild day.

I think I was in my teens when I finally realized that Water Street and Rte. 130 were the same thing.

The tree in Shawme Pond.  I didn't get to see Jay & Sean put it in this year.

See how windy?  The flag was really flapping!

I went back to town another day to shoot some of the 'giants' as they are known, and which are springing up all over town.  They are the creation of Glassblower Michael Magyar of The Sandwich Glass Studio of Cape Cod.  This one is at the Black Crow Gallery in E. Sandwich.  There are quite a few and I was pulling over and shooting quickly, sans tripod, so I missed a lot of them or the pics didn't come out good enough to post.

At Riverview School

Card shop.

Here is the Glass Studio's original Giant.

Sand Dollar Realty.  This is one of my favourites.

Beehive Restaurant.

Scenic Roots garden center. (it will always be Agway to me).

Sandwich Blue Knight at the high school.  New this year.

St. John's Episcopal Church

Old Man Winter at the Weather Shop.

Dolphin candlestick at the Glass Museum

This swan is new this year and on private property.  The light in the center is out on Rte. 6A and couldn't be eliminated.  Shooting it from the other side would have been worse due to additional lighting issues.  It's very striking on this dark part of the road.
Merry Christmas!