Growing Up Rich

My family, 1963

My family, 1963

Being a weekend of remembrance, I drove by my childhood home, taking the familiar road I ventured down for 44 years until my parents died in 2004. Our once tan and brown home is bright blue now. Concrete sits where plants once grew and our paneled wood door is painted white and harbors a metal security door that screams STAY AWAY.

Parked in front of a house that holds special memories for me, but now looks almost unrecognizable, I realize it’s not really about the house, but the people inside who made it a home.

I grew up in Santa Venetia, which sits in an unincorporated section of Marin County, CA. Situated along a canal, the small community was originally planned to resemble the water roadways of Venice. That never happened but some winters seemed to prove otherwise.

Santa Venetia in 1914

Santa Venetia canal in 1914

You see, whenever it stormed, sections of our neighborhood flooded, especially during high tide. Since our home sat near a dip in the road, my parents bought a sump pump they shared with our neighbors. In hindsight, a rowboat might have been a better investment. That’s because during severe storms, water often seeped into our dining room, ruining the floor and staining the grasscloth wallpaper. Both needed replacing more than once, so every winter Mom worried herself sick.

Our family home from 1950 to 2004

Our family home from 1960 to 2004

Back in 1960, when my parents bought our home on Galerita Way, it was intended to be our “starter” house. But we never left. And thank goodness for that. Now don’t get me wrong; it was a modest home for sure; not much to look at and not in a desirable neighborhood. But what a spectacular upbringing.

Day at the beach

Day at the beach

I grew up back when kids played outside until way past dark, grudgingly coming inside only when summoned. Money was tight even though both my parents worked, yet each year they managed a 2-week family vacation to Lake Tahoe. That was our big treat. And most Sundays during summer we skied at Lake Berryessa with friends. It was bliss.dad in boat with us

To us kids, new shoes were a big deal. Just going to a drive-in movie caused my sister and I to dance excitedly in anticipation. We lived in a tiny house with bedrooms the size of matchboxes but that didn’t matter to us. We’d never heard of a family room and didn’t care that our dining room was a converted bedroom.

I grew up in the 60s with orange shag carpet, a one-car garage and an above-ground doughboy pool neighborhood friends helped erect. We had block parties and dinner parties; on weekends the adults often gathered in front yards to visit. It was a simple, innocent time. At least it seemed that way to me.

The day we got a color TV, neighbors piled in to watch; it was quite an event. I remember the first time I saw the colorfully bright NBC peacock.NBC peakcock

Sunday evenings after dinner we gathered in front of the TV. I’d sit on that orange shag carpet while we all watched Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.

I still recall many of my neighborhood friends, which is pretty amazing considering my pathetic memory. My young life was filled with pingpong games, carefree days of swimming and countless summer BBQs. I tell ya, I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood.

Remembering those days now, I wouldn’t change a thing; not the community we lived in or our tiny tan and brown house on a street that flooded. Although we didn’t have much, we had what we needed.

Celebrating my birthday

The truth is, I always knew I was adored. And if you’re blessed enough to have that, you somehow know you have all you need.

My family

My family, 1985

Where Did I Go Wrong?

My dogs wear diapers.

Yes, you read that correctly. I have diaper-wearing dogs, otherwise known as Skip and Nellie. Only Callie sleeps au-naturel. So I ask you….where did I go wrong

No question I’m an animal lover. In fact, I have a slew of them. But recently I’ve been forced to admit I may not be the greatest guardian. I mean, really. Who else do you know that diapers her dogs before bed? Nobody, right? I knew it. There’s something wrong with me.

All my animals use a dog door to come and go into the backyard. Well, maybe not ALL of them. There’s Skip, my incredibly adorable Corgi mix who sucks on a blanket like a baby with a pacifier. He hit a home run in the too-cute-for-words department but struck out when it came to having smarts. I call him my special child.

Skip and his ever-present blankie

Skip and his ever-present blankie

Continue reading

The Sweetest Gift

(In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m running a previously posted blog.)

My mom, Loretta Rose, with Bailey

My mom, Loretta Rose, with Bailey

She gave me love as well as life; so whatever goodness I may bring to Earth began with the gift of my mother’s heart… At some point in our relationship, my mom transitioned from being my parent to also being a great friend. I’d say it happened in 1985, when she was diagnosed with incurable, inoperable  lung cancer. Continue reading

Road Trip

I went on a 3-hour, 80 mile ride Thursday with Mario. Unless you count the hour we got lost. Then it’s more like 4-hours and 100 miles. Now don’t get me wrong; before you get all excited thinking I have a boyfriend, Mario is my scooter (as you may know if you read my blog, Just Gotta Scoot).

Mario

Mario

Mario and I took the back road trip from my home in San Rafael to the scooter shop for a tune-up in Santa Rosa. Turns out I learned a few things since our last extended journey. (There goes that live and learn lesson again.) Anyway, I thought I’d share my findings in case you also one day find yourself riding on the same gorgeous back roads through beautiful Marin and Sonoma Counties, which I also blogged about in My Slice of Paradise. (Yes, I’m shamelessly self-promoting.)

Pt. Reyes/Petaluma Road

Pt. Reyes/Petaluma Road

Anyway, here’s what you should know: Continue reading

Jinxed

lucky lady

Some people are born lucky. Some are ridiculously lucky. Take my friend Toni. She’s a nurse who works long stressful hours, so her way of unwinding is by hitting the local casino. Toni isn’t a Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes high stakes dice thrower. No, she sticks to the slots. For serious gamblers that’s, well, downright embarrassing.

Looks like baby got those shoes

Looks like baby got those shoes

Now don’t get me wrong; Toni is laughing all the way to the bank. Literally. That lucky broad has won tens of thousands pulling on a germ-filled metal arm. So much, in fact, that she recently appeared in full glory on a freeway billboard holding a bundle of cash while sporting a beaming smile. Continue reading