Things for which I am grateful


You know that exercise in which you write down three things you’re grateful for and how they came about?

Here’s today’s:

  1. I was able to write and post a column relating to things ocean on Lost Coast Outpost – and being able to write as part of my job which is protecting the ocean is two things I love smushed into one wonderful way to spend a couple hours. I find myself in this fortunate place due to habitually answering opportunity’s knock, which has involved flinging myself into local media and picking up the reins at Surfrider when needed. Circumstances conspired. I am here.
  2. I experienced my first physical therapy appointment today. What a first world problem, to have to go to PT because my knees have been acting up. Fortunately I have a semi-first world solution: Obamacare aka Covered California aka Anthem Blue Shomething or other. (A real first world solution would be universal built-in health care, but misguided Republicans et al ruined that for America.) Anyway, the good news is, I was able to see a doctor and a physical therapist and this exile from surfing and hiking is theoretically over, although the PT guy did say, “You might just be in pain for the next 40 years.” If I do the things he recommends, however, I might not. And, as he said, “You don’t want to give up the shit that gives you peace of mind.” No, man, I do not. So thank you, Affordable Care Act, for making sure people like me can get our dumb knees fixed so we can do our thing. I should make a donation to an organization working on AIDS or helping Syrian refugees in gratitude.
  3. I caught the post-sunset sky. All I ever wanted was to live at the beach. And I do. The road led to Humboldt. I followed.

Why you might want to back BOLDT Grain to Bottle Spirits by Alchemy Distillery (a testimonial)

This started as a Facebook post, but the more I thought about all the reasons to support Steve and Amy Bohner’s new business, the more obvious it became that I would need more room to write. So here I am, doing something I haven’t done in a long time: Suggesting what people do with their money.

The quick version is the Bohners are great people who’ve been successful at what they’ve done, now want to do more – “more” being their own distillery – are seeking backers via Kickstarter, and you can get in on this action.

The longer version goes like this:

My social and professional worlds have overlapped with the Bohners since 2002, when Steve’s business was fledgling, Amy was sewing rock’n’roll pillows and they were fixtures on the local music scene. I’ve admired much about them, starting with how hard they’ve worked. Despite the late nights playing gigs at the Alibi, Steve put 10-hour days and most weekends into Alchemy Construction, which specializes in energy-efficient building, primarily through solar and radiant heat elements.

Why the green focus? Steve said to me a long time ago that he figured it was better to do things right if you were going to do them. Even then, the Bohners were always thinking ahead – and giving back, both in the form of Amy’s work at Humboldt Women for Shelter and The County’s Healthy Moms Program, and the Alchemy’s unflagging support of local nonprofits including Humboldt Roller Derby, the Kinetic Grand Championship, the Humboldt Crabs, Arcata Little League, KHSU and the Rampart Skateboard Facility. They’ve also kicked down every time I’ve hit them up for one of my Planned Parenthood teams. Their business success impresses – Alchemy Construction has scored many notable projects – but it’s Steve and Amy’s dedication to this Humboldt community that most garners my appreciation.

Now, I’ve heard some folks grumble, isn’t Kickstarter just a way of asking for handouts? Well, no. It’s a way to bypass the middlemen and invest directly in people who only make Humboldt better economically, socially and culturally – and you receive cool schwag! I also enjoy a fine whiskey on occasion and would be thrilled to have that spirit crafted right here in my beloved Humboldt. Especially by people I know will do it the way they do everything else: with skill and passion.

Speaking of passion, here’s a small aside. I’ve been married for almost 22 years and, as most married folks know, partnership isn’t always an easy thing. I’ve often considered the Bohners an example of how to do it right. Take their weekly date nights. I remember wondering, back in those early days, why childless people bothered with date night – isn’t every night date night if you don’t have kids? But later I came to realize that, children or not, date night is a way to affirm the worth of your relationship, keeping connection a priority, reminding each other how much you matter. The Bohners got this from the start. I imagine their dinner conversations have involved the sharing of dreams and then delight as those dreams manifest. It makes me happy to get in on those dreams in my small way.

That’s my story. About their story. So if you are also a fan of big dreams, bigger accomplishments and you have some spending money, here’s a way to make Humboldt’s future that much more promising.


insomnia #21 aka 2013 Year in Review

If I were to make a list of things I’d most like to leave behind in 2013, insomnia would be up there. I blame the evening’s red wine this time, but the cause could just as easily be falling asleep too early with too much on my mind. It’s a horrible thing, thinking.

My arsenal of sleep aids – herbal teas and tonics, Tylenol PM, relaxation apps – are failing to do the trick tonight. Rather than lie in bed kicking my husband every time he nears snoring, I’m here in front of the computer, writing.

It seemed potentially more productive. New Year’s Eve. Why not take stock?


January: Our sweet dog died, my younger daughter was detained in London en route to Ireland, I wrote my first Five Things, and a friend and I attended the Presidential inauguration.


February: My older daughter turned 23, my husband and I relived the ’90s by seeing Soundgarden in Oakland’s Fox Theater, I moved into The Link and I went on an epic surf-work trip to Central Cali, the first of many excursions I’d take with my dear friend Casey.


March: Spent another week along the central coast, my younger daughter turned 19 and I wrote my first (and so far only) cover story for the North Coast Journal.


April: My first Five Things column ran in the NCJ, I tripped to Sacramento and Santa Cruz, and I helped coordinate a memorial service and paddle out for John “Moose” Mason, a man whose sudden death brought forth such beautiful tribute from so many people that I found myself thinking, “We should all be so loved” – and that we should all be so kind and good as Moose.

May: Some idiots filming an ad at Moonstone high-centered a Dodge truck on a rock, launching me into Surfrider mode and ending with me being named a “Humboldtian of the Week” on Facebook, a work trip took me to D.C., we attended my fabulous brother’s fabulous wedding in San Francisco, where I stayed on for a conference after – four hotels in 10 days.


June: Traveled to Long Beach for work and some time with my older daughter, stepped in as the NCJ’s music columnist, spent Summer Solstice at Shelter Cove, wrote about the dead whale that washed up on my beach and was given a six-month layoff heads up.



July: Played cornhole and bocce ball for the first times and failed at neither, took a vacation to Seattle that included a whale watching tour through the Puget Sound and a stop in Portland on the way back that included visiting a friend with whom I shared a room when we were 18 – and all the required reminiscing that implies, and wrote my favorite Five Things so far.


August: Threw a most excellent birthday party for my husband’s 50th, was hired on to do part-time outreach for Humboldt Baykeeper and moved my younger daughter to Santa Cruz.

September: Played a small role in Humboldt Made’s big premier, guested on Sherae O’Shaughnessy’s Late Night gig, traveled with Casey to San Diego for the annual Surfrider conference, helped cover the arrest of alleged crossbow killers in Manila, helped clean up around a homeless camp for Coastal Cleanup Day and wrote about it.


October: My kickball team raised $2,697 for Six Rivers Planned Parenthood and came in second in the annual tournament, Casey and Kj joined me for my second excursion to a foreign country, this one a long-anticipated trip to Manzanillo, Mexico, where we spent six days surfing, swimming, reading, drinking and eating tacos – best vacation ever – followed by a closer-to-home excursion to track gray whales and see humpbacks, a transcendent experience.


November: My son turned 18, my friend Grant and I took off to New York for a week, where I stayed with my brother and his wife and celebrated my own birthday – 44! – at The Comedy Cellar, and upon returning home, my husband and I moved into the upstairs master bedroom after 11 years of downstairs living.



December: Held what was likely my favorite Ocean Night ever, wrapped up my job with Ocean Conservancy, made plans for a next chapter with the Northcoast Environmental Center, tripped down to Santa Cruz to visit our younger daughter, reminisced about a time I almost died, and trekked up to Crescent City for an especially memorable surf safari due to cramming five people in a Honda CRV, finding fun waves under endless sunshine, a rescue by me of a person drifting out to sea, stinky sea lions, piles of fish and chips and hours of excellent conversation.


In between and throughout all that, a million photos of sunsets, sunrises and various bodies of water. Also, surfing. My wonderful writers’ group. Parties. Music. Books. Movies. Food. The requisite ups-and-downs and various heartbreaks involved in being a human people who spends time with people. Most importantly, a ton of love and good best friends. I aim to transform this list of things done into something larger and life-useful at some point, but for now, what a reminder that I am a lucky, lucky girl.

5 Things to Know Before You Go Out Dancing

1. What do you mean, you don’t go out dancing? That’s crazy! Dancing is fun, fun, fun! And good for you – bumps up the ol’heartrate, increases physical endurance and provides the social contact necessary for maintaining a positive outlook in this messed-up world. If you’re a guy, know this: women prefer a man who can get his groove on. (I think we all know why that’s true, but just in case, allow George Bernard Shaw to explain, “Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.” Mmmhmm!)

2. However, you men people, also know this: No one wants your creepy ass rubbing up against her thigh, butt or any other body part. What makes you have a creepy ass,  you ask? Because you’re rubbing up against some woman who does not want you to do that! No means no means no and a woman is far more likely to like you if you stay on the side of fun that includes respect. Having to point this out seems ridiculous, but I spent part of last month’s 100mph Soul Party running interference between some skeevy dude and my girlfriends.

3. Also in the stating-the-obvious column: wear shoes you can wear all night long. No, not your gym shoes – unless you’re going to bust out your best Electric Boogaloo moves – because sexy is good, but if you’ve strapped in and your pinky toes are going numb before you’ve even finished applying your lipstick, that’s not a good sign. Dazzle people with your confidence and they’ll never notice what’s on your feet.

4. The best dance parties aren’t always the most popular ones. Sold out shows mean wall-to-wall people, which means you can’t move and also that you’ve become a C & C Sweat Factory. Weeknights offer more than you might think: for example, you can get your skank on this Monday at the Jam; rock out to some country soul on Tuesday at Hum Brews; Wednesday, Nocturnum goes all Whomp Whomp with “Dubstep/Dnb/Glitch/HipHop/BadassBassDriven/LazerFilled/WaistMotivating/FootTapping”; Cherae Heights throws back to the ’80s and ’90s on Thursday; you’ve got barn dancin’ at the Bayside Grange on Friday, where they will even teach you to dance; and Saturday’s list of body-moving possibilities presents you with so much choice you might stress out about which dance party to attend! But you know what’s a great antidote to stress? Dancing! You can also rally a bunch of friends and take over any place with floor space and a decent jukebox. Hell, have a slumber party and Spotify up all your old faves – Madonna’s “Physical Attraction” and AC/DC’s “TNT” being two on my all-time list.

5. Don’t overdo the booze. You might think you need to get drunk to loosen up, but the difference between dancing and flailing can often be traced back to an unfortunate decision to answer, “Yeah! I’ll have another!” Figure out the pace that works to keep you happy on the floor without being on the floor and stick to it. Drink lots of water! Don’t do shots. (In fact, unless you’re toasting the dead, don’t ever do shots.)

Bonus: Still unsure? Find some inspiration listening to Mike Dronkers’ Midday Dance Party every Friday at noon on KHUM 104.3/104.7. You can bop around the office or in the privacy of your own home! If you absolutely need to take some lessons first – or you’re ready to step up to actual steps – you’re in luck! We live somewhere people love to dance! Here’s a beginning look at what’s offered, but check out other publications and flyers around town.

An exercise in gratitude

One night last week, I found myself setting the alarm for 12:30 a.m., then 1:30, then 2:30, then 3:30, then 5:30 a.m. Nick’s blood sugar hovered in the 300s despite my continued dosages of insulin, refusing to drop into normal range until that last 5:30 check. Why does this tend to happen throughout the night instead of the day? I don’t know. I was too tired to ask, “Why?” at the time. I am often too tired to ask, “Why?” these days; I just want to figure out, “How?” How can I resolve his blood sugar problems? Why something isn’t working is only as relevant as how knowing the answer will help me fix it. I am a carpenter these days, not a philosopher.

(I wish I was a carpenter – what a lovely, practical skill to have.)

The following day I was, of course, exhausted. Sometimes rallying to face all that needs to be done between 6 a.m. and midnight challenges me more than I’d like to admit. In my daydreams, I waltz through the mornings, salsa through lunchtime, samba across the evening and tango into the night.

(I wish I knew all those dances – what an exquisite way to live.)

Reality finds me more often stumbling, tripping over my words and slumping at my desk. I confess, I felt a little sorry for myself. Life felt too heavy. I hadn’t even had a drink and still I just wanted to lie down on the nearest floor and say, “OK, I give.” But as always, in my stupid, brilliant, complicated, straightforward life, the good happenings continue to twist around the bad, impossible to separate or ignore. So even as I spend another night awake at 3:30 a.m. because I needed to check Nick’s blood sugar, which was high, again, and because while checking him, he complained that his pump kept beeping because the battery was low, so I had to go find a spare battery in the truck, where I keep some emergency supplies, and throughout all this, my poor old dog lies on the floor without getting up because her legs went out yesterday and she’s not getting past it despite my hopes that she might just be really, really worn out from walking to the beach, and now I am likely going to have to make the call to have a vet come out and end her life because that would be the right thing to do if she can’t walk (right?) and I’m really not ready for that because she’s so sweet and I didn’t pet her enough or walk her enough and fuck, I was trying to get to the counting-my-blessings part of this.

Right, blessings. Despite all the above and other, less tragic, bad news, in the last week, I’ve walked out from my house four times to watch the sun, all fiery orange and ringed with red, settle into the blue-black ocean. Each time, the fact that I can walk from my house to this experience stuns me as much as the gold glittering from the horizon to the sand as the sun balances on the edge of the world.

I am awed. And in this same span of time, I’m hiked out from my house twice to surf and once to play Frisbee with Bobby and Nick on an afternoon so clear, windless and balmy I’d longed to transport everyone I loved to the water’s edge so they, too, could bask in the beauty. We winged the Frisbee around like we’ve done a hundred times and I could see our lives together stretch back, stitched together by perfect moments like these. I remembered a similar afternoon years ago – seven? eight? – with Nick zipping across the low-tide shallows on a skimboard as Sandy galloped alongside.

I still have a job I love, one that pays enough to cover the bills and a little more, keeps my family in health benefits. I have at least a half-dozen people I believe I can tell anything to and will still be loved, despite sometimes saying and doing stupid things. I had lunch with one of these fabulous people, last Tuesday, sitting outside at Café Nooner, eating my favorite sandwich in the sunshine. I took two others surfing in Crescent City yesterday, the only place on the entire North Coast that wasn’t sunny, where the wind stayed onshore despite predictions of off-, and they graced me by being not only good sports about the weather, but genuinely having fun. Even with all the fighting my family does, I never feel unloved. My body holds up. My husband finds me beautiful. His garden bursts with flowers and veggies, the backyard a testament to his devotion. The calendar attests to good times to come.

I worry about the dog, about Nick, about our daughters. Please let Sandy not suffer. Please let the children be happy and healthy and outlive me. I make my to-do lists each day, hopeful that if I get everything checked off, life will proceed in the best possible way. I never quite get there. Some nights remain particularly long, some days still bring bad news. In the midst of it all, however, some joy bubbles up. Good things happen. Exhausted as I may be, I can never completely despair.

And for that, I am grateful.

7/7 7:07 a.m.

When the best alternative weekly paper in the county says go take photos, I go take photos.

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Wal-Mart in Eureka: The good, the bad, the ugly

Wal-Mart has come to town and my esteemed (intermittent) colleague Andrew Goff has been inspired to new heights in his coverage of the momentous event. As the county’s top chronicler – and defender – of all things Humboldt goodness, Goff writes with a less-tempered edge than usual:

But it was then that the day’s most precious spectacle occurred. Roll call! A giant Pepsi bottle, a grinning polar bear in a chef’s hat, and a piece of white bread in a cape enthusiastically wiggled and spun around — some might call this “dancing” — while the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started” blared. Many a camera phone was satiated, even if the choreography lacked.

The arrival of Wal-Mart has, of course, occasioned fierce debate between those who view it as the signifier of End Times and those who see it as a sort of Savings Galore! salvation. Unfortunately most of the debate bounces around between mocking the butt girth of the stereotypical Wal-Mart shopper and exclamation-heavy advice “don’t shop there if you don’t like it!”. (With the occasional thoughtful defense of the store and rational explanation of how Wal-Mart injures communities sandwiched between.) Goff rose to the occasion of covering all this by rising above the fray – people would do well to note how much farther a sense of humor takes you.

Which is not to dismiss the sadness that comes along with this whole dancing, blessed package. People are elitist assholes – that’s sad. People once voted to keep Wal-Mart out of Eureka and it’s here anyway – that’s sad. Every chain store and big box makes Humboldt a little less unique – that’s sad. But you know what’s sadder? That K-Mart down the way. Jesus. Have you been in there?  Like a lonely withered old woman in a rundown senior home. You know the nurses aren’t nice and no one ever visits her.

So we have K-Mart and Target and Costco and Walgreen’s and Staples and all that stuff sold in those places is a helluva lot like the stuff they’re selling at Wal-Mart – I don’t see the war as being between the small businesses and Wal-Mart, but more of a big box death match. Nothing irks people like Wal-Mart, though (except maybe Starbucks). The chain symbolizes all that’s wrong with America in a way the other stores don’t. Aggressive retailer of cheap imported crap that withholds decent pay and benefits from its employees and is patronized by fat, sweatpant-wearing, red-state shoppers with bad hair and worse voting records – oh, they make us so mad! We hate those people! They brought us George W. Bush – twice! – and they’re standing in the way of gay marriage and they fail to see how they’re the victims of their own politics and thank god we have Stephen Colbert and high-end whiskey to make it through the night.

But I used to shop at Wal-Mart. It was the only place open at 3 a.m. when I wrapped up my bartending shift. I’d take my cash tips and stop to buy diapers (yeah, I would’ve liked to use cloth, but we were broke and living with my mother-in-law at the time and point is, maybe you shouldn’t think you know everything about a person’s life or get to judge it) on the way home. And shampoo. People need stuff. Wal-Mart is an absolutely imperfect solution to fulfilling those needs, and I doubt I’ll be trekking over (especially as Target is right over the bridges), but vilifying your neighbors isn’t helpful. “Don’t shop there!” isn’t any better than “Don’t like it? Don’t shop there!” You can substitute “work” for “shop” and it holds true.

See, the argument shouldn’t be about who’s more right about Wal-Mart, the haters or the lovers. The question at hand should be, always: How can we hold close the dearness of Humboldt, together? And all the while remembering to celebrate the absurd. I’m dismayed over Wal-Mart’s arrival, but I’m so very pleased with what Goff’s served up:

Henceforth, Wal-Mart is open in Humboldt. Adjust accordingly.

Thanksgiving, Beach Friday, Saturday morning

I forgot to be especially grateful on Thanksgiving. For one, the lessons learned in CR’s Native American studies class stuck and so the “celebration” always tastes slightly off to me despite attempts to make it a simple moment of food, family and gratitude. For another, I worried more about who was going to be where and how to make it a lovely fun time with such a small portion of my people.

Love it.

However, as these things do, it all worked out. Bobby drove 50 miles round-trip in the morning to collect the girls while I put together a giant salad, veggie pot pie and crust for Nick’s mocha pecan filling. Nick helped clean the house. Sunshine streamed in through our many windows. Everyone returned to the smells of baking bread, carmelizing onions and wafting rosemary. Bobby put together butternut squash soup and the mocha pecan pie turned out to be the best one yet. K’s boyfriend and friend joined us later in the day for several rounds of Bananagrams interrupted only by texts from far away friends and family wishing us a happy day. After Chelsea and the teens left for other celebrations, Bobby, Nick and I left the warmth of the house for King Salmon, where we clambered around the rocks and watched waves smash through the harbor entrance, 12-foot high explosions barreling into the bay. We returned to home, then to the neighbor’s house for more pie – ours plus pumpkin and apple, coffee and tea. The night wrapped up next to the fire, mug of tea in hand, with several episodes of Trailer Park Boys, eliciting guffaws from the guys and giggles from me, and then I finally dove into 1Q84, a birthday gift I’ve been anxious to start reading. Not only did the prose pull me into the story from the start, but the book is amazingly pleasing to the touch, like high-end bedsheets or soft, warm skin.

Clearly, I have much to be especially grateful for.

The boy

This continued into “Beach” (not “Black”) Friday, when yet more sunshine demanded a walk over the dunes to the ocean. I plucked end-of-season huckleberries along the way. Sandy, our 13-year-old yellow lab mix, who has aged notably over the past year, grown wobbly, deaf and occasionally incontinent, nonetheless cavorts so happily along the shoreline that from far away, people still take her for a puppy.

True, a fair amount of argument over curfews and other rules took place between the teenage boy and those of us responsible for his safety, but at some point, we moved on to better conversation – and to a “leftovers” party, where music and champagne ushered in the evening. (One bottle of champagne was from 1970 and no, that doesn’t mean it was nicely aged. It tasted like sherry and I thought I might die from some sort of alcohol poisoning, even texted a few people goodbyes in case, but I awoke alive and without a hangover, and wow, am I thankful for that.)

This morning, my appreciation of life decreased slightly when Nick’s glucometer popped up 398. That’s a lousy way to start the day. However, his blood sugar check since confirms the insulin is working, he’s dropping to a more appropriate level and thank goodness we have all this technology and access to medical advice that allows us to keep the greatest diabetic threats at bay.

Also, the fog lingers around the house this morning, making for a perfect atmosphere in which to cozy up with my book in a nest of pillows, Earl Grey at hand, nothing but quiet for a while yet.

Thank you.

Humboldt County stuff I like #1

In addition to the ocean, beaches, bay and forest, I also love several local businesses/people. I don’t have gobs of excess money to spend – especially after covering food for the family, medical bills and my bar tab, but here’s some places I go. Here’s a rather random smattering (more to come as I get inspired – I like a lot of places and people!):

Praxis Fitness Keeping me in fighting shape – cause I need it! Not just to rock my short skirts, but also to surf better, bike farther, dance longer. I leave Praxis feeling awesome, which makes going there all the more worthwhile.

Cassandra at Parker’s Beauty Bar A good cut makes your look. Cassandra keeps me stylish. Not only does she excel at cuts and color, but Parker’s in general is a blast. Complimentary beer and wine, plus fun reads, from Amy Sedaris- and Posh Spice-authored books to celebrity gossip mags.

Rebecca at Bloom For all your waxing needs. And when I say “all,” I mean “all.” And that’s all I’m saying about that.

Casey’s Skin Care Studio Also for waxing, plus facials and more. Casey is a class act.

L C Nails The closest thing you can get locally to a San Francisco mani-pedi. Also massage chairs! (Note, one option on the massage chair triggers a knob nailing you right in the tailbone. Or thereabouts. Watch out! Otherwise, fun.)

Oberon Best Bloody Marys in Eureka, hands down. Also a lovely atmosphere and attentive service. I mostly go for the Bloodys plus snack as dinner gets a bit pricey.

Cafe Nooner Everything is good, especially the Bleu Noon sandwich. Warm days, you can eat outside.

Jambalaya A wide-open space, pool table, stage for the bands, hearty food and cocktails. Both birthday parties I’ve had here have excelled.

Go Go Bistro I should go here more, but it’s inconveniently located in Henderson Center. However, the mac’n’cheese makes me swoon, so….)

Overlooked with John Matthews Because while you can listen to the same music you listened to in high school, you’re so much more interesting when you follow along with John.

Lost Coast Outpost Hank doesn’t write enough, but when he does, it’s so worth it. In the meantime, stay entertained with news and music from KHUM, KSLG and The Point right here. Plus I contribute.

Obligatory Seven-O-Heaven mention here.

Humboldt Baykeeper Because they kick ass at making sure our bay stays healthy and protected. Executive Director Beth Werner blows my mind with her smarts, her passion and her modesty. She’s my hero.

Yes, it’s an indulgence-heavy list. I also donate regularly to Doctors Without Borders and pick up a lot of trash while walking my old yellow lab on the beach. So there.

(Addendum: Those last couple lines may come off defensive and flip. I don’t mean to be either – the hypocrisy of professing to care about others and then spending “extra” money on anything but charitable causes troubles me, but I’m not vying for sainthood yet, just trying to balance being good with having fun.)

Children scattered, thoughts collected

(For days, I’ve wanted to write, but each time the “Add New Post” page pops up, my brain empties, leaving my fingers with nothing to do. Desperate, I will start with where I am in the physical world and hope something more emerges.)

I sit on a bed in a SoHum cabin, pillows squished behind my back, another under the laptop. The Tempurpedic mattress adjusts accordingly; the flannel sheet, fuzzy blanket and fluffy comforter complete the sense of cozy. This place is not fancy, but spoils me nonetheless. Windows make up two of the four walls, an iconic butte rising tall through morning fog to the east. Trees — Doug firs, live oaks, madrones, those ones that burst into flowers at the end of their branches, bay laurels and more — fill in the valley below, alternating with beige meadows, all serving to make a postcard scene. A term come to mind because most people only see this sort of view on a postcard.

My neck and back ache slightly, likely from all the lounging about I’ve done the past day-and-a-half. My mouth is dry with the aftertaste of sleep. A cool drink of water helps. I’m in a tank top and thin pajamas, almost too warm under the covers. Different than my usual coastal wake-up chill. Bobby sleeps next to me, occasionally breaking into a snore. I poke him when he does and tell him to stop. “Honey!” I say. “You’re snoring.” Information I am compelled to impart.

“Ow,” he says. “Stop!”

“I’ll stop poking you if you stop snoring,” I offer. “If you stop snoring, everything will be perfect.”

“Perfect,” perhaps is an overstatement, but we’re close right here in this moment, spoiled by a child-free weekend in a cabin in the hills. We’re staying with friends because Nick scored a gig volunteering on Reggae on the River’s recycling team. We wanted to stay relatively close by given his imperfect record when it comes to decision-making — he has the brain of a teenager — and even more so given concerns over his diabetic management, which he typically handles quite well to be fair, but still. No one to check his blood sugar at 1 a.m.? No one to remind him to bolus or make sure he eats enough at the right times?

We expect him to take most of the responsibility for tracking carbs and blood sugar, but we’re the safety net, the back-up. If the influencing factors are well-attended to, diabetes doesn’t interfere much with normal living — but if something goes wrong, the resulting problems can get serious fast. What if he screws up and no one notices until too late? What if they don’t know what to do? We should have insisted he have a plan in case, had him connect with the medical people beforehand. I can’t believe we let him go for a whole weekend, out of cell range. I must be a terrible parent. He’s with a friend, a fact which I must count on disproportionately when seeking reassurance I did the right thing.

It’s a chance to step up, show responsibility, make connections and have an adventure. I believe in all these things. I just wish the leap from parental supervision to independent camping at a weekend festival had happened more gradually. I am not ready for this, but I let him do it anyway. Meanwhile, Kaylee’s at Lost Coast Camp in Petrolia for another week and Chelsea, who’s been out of the house for months anyway, expects to leave for Newport Beach momentarily. Why does my parenting world revolve around letting go? Or rather, trying to let go. Or, even more specifically, trying to figure out when to let go and when to hug tightly?

Sometimes I think it was easier having toddlers.

OK, not really. But the whole need for independence/need to be protected from their own impulses is horribly similar. It’s just with teenagers, the exhaustion tends to be more emotional than physical — and one can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Ideally.

If I were home, I’d have projects to work on, places to go, multiple ways of filling up this time. Since I’m ensconced in someone else’s abode with a bumpy, windy, miles-long dirt road between us and town, my options are limited to admiring the view, gorgeous in all directions, wandering through the cedars, book in hand, relaxing in a chair, reading, relaxing on the bed, writing, relaxing in the garden with a bottle of wine, drinking, snacking on dried mangos and chocolate trail mix, curling up with Bobby, chatting with our friends. Despite the worry, this is clearly the opposite of suffering. I am compelled to vow to refrain from complaining about anything ever, unless the seriousness of my complaint is such that the grief exceeds the gratitude I feel for the richness of my life.

If Nick survives the weekend, I might even thank him for necessitating this vacation. After he thanks me for being such an awesome mom, of course.

What’s the word for being worried-hopeful-trusting-aching-content all at once?


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