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My dermatologist is a very gentle man. His voice is soft, his touch light. I gladly submit to his scrutiny each year, grateful for his eyes on the parts of me I cannot easily see.

Two years ago he excised a spot on my left shoulder blade. This week he made a matching scar on my right.

Did you know that one in every three cancers diagnosed globally is a skin cancer?

Some individual risk factors are:
~ fair skin
~ blue, green or hazel eyes
~ light-coloured hair
~ tendency to burn rather than suntan
~ history of severe sunburns
~ many moles
~ freckles
~ a family history of skin cancer

Except for blonde hair, I have all of the above.

Educate yourself. Check your skin. And get someone trusted to look where you cannot. Melanoma can appear anywhere, even places that are never exposed to the sun. And it’s a really really sucky way to die.

End of public service announcement.

it all feels right

It’s my first evening alone in my new home.

Just me and the ocean and the mourning doves. Oh, and the dog and two cats, of course.

No need to cook dinner, snacks will do. The upcoming weekend plans have radically simplified, so there’s no need to prep, to pack, to clean. (The Guy did a bunch of cleaning today, I can see that. So we’re good.)

I water the plants, and take photos from new angles. I stand on the cliff’s edge, watching the pelicans fly home, and let my shoulders drop as the waves crash in. No need to hold the world up.

Sometimes I wonder what I am doing, why I am here. In this place, in this life. Do you ever wonder that, or do you know the answer, without question?

Tonight I listen to the ocean, and the doves, and it all feels right.

Oh my, I needed this.

pretend he’s got eight legs

tulips

tina

salad

bookgroup

Third Wednesday is book group, which means dinner beforehand at Tina’s, one of the highlights of my month. She has the perfect touch in the kitchen, crafting wonderful meals from simple ingredients. Her home is quiet, calm, beautiful. There, I exhale.

We then spend a couple of hours with the erudite folks in our intellectual book group, whose breadth of scholarship far exceeds mine. I’m a relative newcomer to this decades-old cadre of literature-lovers, and I’m still re-learning how to read for criticism, not just for pleasure. Thus I’m frequently quiet at these meetings, having few unique insights on the month’s book, though I’m delighted to absorb the percipience of others.

But tonight I had plenty to say about Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast, having once been married to a man somewhat like Allie Fox, and having gone off with him ‘into the wilderness’ with a baby in tow, long ago. I well know the charm of a charismatic apocalyptist. The motives and fears of the nameless mother in the story excited a little passion in me. And who can deny the truth in some of Allie’s words?

We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty. We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need. Pretend he’s got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Afterwards, our elderly French matriarch approached and took my hands, asking more questions about my life and saying how glad she was to know me. I felt awkward and a little abashed. I’m not comfortable in the spotlight, but it did feel good to make a contribution. I slipped away home as quickly as I could.

Tomorrow I go back to my job in advertising, helping to sell a man what he doesn’t need. Returning to homesteading sounds pretty good right now.

i.l.y.

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#signing #asl #signlanguage

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Darlene and Cindy. Photo by Lola.

Retirement party for my Sign Language professors. What an outpouring of adoration for these two women who, for 35 years, ran the best ASL interpreting program in the world. They were honored with words and signs, in song and dance, with hugs and gifts and tears. I was so happy to be part of the celebration.

But man, my ASL is rusty.

lunch break

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Children in neon swimsuits, squealing. A plane and a kite, both soaring. Cartwheels. I kick off my sandals and sink into the warm sand.

A brother and sister are carting small pails of water to dump into the hole they dug. Running down to the waves, trotting back with their watery loads, over and over. Why didn’t they dig the hole closer to the shore, I wonder? But they are not concerned with efficiency, just with the joy and freedom of being out of school, of being able to run in the sun, back and forth.

She is panting. He asks, do you want more? Yes, she says. Much more. And after that, let’s go play.

euphonious

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The night before L’s last finals. On the way to help her study, I get dinner at Chipotle. I try to Shazam the background music, but there’s too much interference from the ambient noise. I check the app’s Top 100 list, and note that I’ve never heard of most of the acts. I could blame my ignorance on old-fogeyism, but actually I haven’t followed popular music since my early teens. I watch the brown, long-legged girls in their short shorts and white tank tops giggle as they fill their cups with fizzy sugar water. I was never one of them, though at one point, long ago, I wanted to be.

Then a few hours with my own long-legged girl. My red-headed stepchild. We drill vocab. Aesthetic. Ascetic. Prodigious. Ponderous. Desecrate. Elucidate. Depravity. Autonomy. We roll them in our mouths, euphoniously, and find links between word and definition, ways to remember.

This.
This is the girl I was.
This is the girl I still am.

coming home

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Now, instead of turning into the winding canyon as I drive home from work, I climb a small hill above the ocean. I pause at the top of the driveway to check the mail, and breathe in the briny view and the homestead below. This is where I live.

Man and dog greet me happily. He shows me the wall he’s been building, and the hummingbird nest he found. Then I go inside to start dinner while he waters the trees.

birthday camping trip

With my birthday approaching, I knew how I wanted to celebrate it: getting grubby around a campfire. So the Guy + dog & I headed for the hills inland from Santa Barbara, where we found ourselves a place by a creek in the Los Padres National Forest.

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Due to recent rain, the brook was babbling ….

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… and the wildflowers were out.

Hours were spent hiking …

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… and staring at flames.

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The weather was perfect, and a good time was had by all.

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After two days, we took the high road home, scoping out possibilities for the next camping trip, which will require a 4WD. As I’ve been saying for, oh, six months now, I really do need to get myself one of them.

be more dog

New office mural #whereiwork #bemorehuman #bemoredog

New mural/mantra at my (dog-friendly) workplace. What do you think “be more dog” means?

what we need is here

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Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

~Wendell Berry

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