Thursday, September 15, 2016

Juana Good Time Regatta!

Last weekend's Regatta at Juana's in Navarre: gorgeous weather, happy sailors, beautiful boats. Juana has been in the Beach Bar business since 1989 and hosting the Regatta about as long, and this year's event didn't disappoint. I don't sail, but I enjoyed watching the colorful sails on the water from our white-sand beaches. Everyone was easy-going, too, but that might be because the bar was already open when we arrived at 10 a.m.
I could get used to this lifestyle. Juana, my tennis doubles partner, sure makes it look fun. Maybe Chris and I will get a sailboat and compete in a regatta. I'd want the most colorful sail out there. For now, though, we'll just take pictures of everyone as they work hard to have fun. Or we'll be at the bar ordering some cold ones at 10:15 in the morning.
 








Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our Marriage Revisited


https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6v4nWmEH3z8/V9XY-F-VADI/AAAAAAAAAdE/HOVNVBe_WS4PMEunsZ0VEKmcrEbQXcgKQCLcB/s320/August%2B2016%2B436.JPGI wrote this post six years ago, and wanted to share it again with an update at the end. Today Chris and I finally took an axe to Our Marriage. It had to be done, but it was a scary step, and now that it's over, I feel much better. Our Marriage had grown out of control, literally bursting out of its container, exposing its roots to such a degree that we were worried about its survival. Oh! I'm sorry, did you think I was talking about our marriage? No, no. I'm talking about a plant -- a lady palm we received on our wedding day fifteen years ago. At first we ignored it, which is probably a wise thing to do to a marriage. Five years later, when we moved to the house we live in now, we transferred the plant to a bigger container and left it to its own devices on the driveway, where it silently grew bigger and bigger over the years. We started calling it Our Marriage and were happy that it was a healthy home to a family of lizards and a welcome sight when we came home every day. After a while it started bothering me that the plant's job was to hide the trash can, so we potted it up again and moved it to a special place beside the park bench that sits under our oak tree in the front yard. The plant continued to thrive, but maybe more than we expected, because on yard day not long ago, we noticed the palm had split its container, exposing a huge root ball that really needed more room to grow. The problem was that Our Marriage was in the biggest pot we could buy at Lowe's. Alas, there was only one thing to do. Chris freed the plant from its pot and started hacking away at the root ball. We planted half of the palm in the ground in its honored place by the park bench, and the other half we put in another large pot. We watered the two halves of Our Marriage and set the new pot in the back yard. We will have to leave half of Our Marriage here when the time comes to move from this house, but we hope that the new pot will grow strong and travel with us.
Chris and I are watching to see how Our Marriage will stand up to the axe's work, but not too closely. We know that plants are unpredictable, just as marriages are. We will try to enjoy each day that the lizards jump from the palm's frond-like leaves as we sit beside it on our park bench under the oak tree, grateful that Our Marriage is surviving the axe of time.               It's been six years since we split Our Marriage, and as you can see, it's healthy as ever. Anyone want a cutting? 


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Souvenirs from Colombia

One of my favorite things to do in Cali is find souvenirs, and the more unusual they are, the better.
Back home, I love how they catch my eye on my dresser or on a shelf above my desk, and remind me of a moment, or a story, or a loved one. The Cristo Rey statue reminds me of the trip my dad and I took up to the mountaintop one windy day. My Conchita cup from Juan Valdéz came with the cute burro and reminds me of delicious granizados, iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, shared by my family and my brothers' families on a hot afternoon in Cartagena.

 This little metal piece of art was created  one cool and clear night at the Belalcazar Statue. A caleña made it for us by bending one long wire as she spoke to us about her unique craft. Under the star it says, "J y C," Jeannie and Chris, then O for Olivia, and N for Natalie.
There's no leaving Colombia without the trademark fabric art with it's bright, bold colors and designs. I remember pouring over all my choices until I decided this pink-haired girl with chickens all around was for me.
What are your favorite souvenirs? Where are they from?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

We've Just Landed!

In early March of 2014, my parents moved to Cali, Colombia. Dad found a retirement home there where he and Mom could live together, even with her Alzheimer's. The adventure worked out surprisingly well -- for a while.
Looking back, I remember how emotional it felt to have them go. I won't forget the panic that gripped me when Mom turned to me with fear in her eyes as they wheeled her into the airport security checkpoint. What were we doing?! But Mom in her fragile state and Dad in his characteristic confidence sailed safely off into a completely unknown situation, and not for the first time. If they had gone to any other city, I doubt if I could have accepted the move. Cali, though, was where I grew up. I loved this city and never dreamed I'd get to see it again. I knew I would love visiting my parents in Cali, and sharing the country with my husband and daughters proved deeply rewarding.
The home my parents stayed in was beautiful and the people could not have been more kind and attentive.  But in the end, two and a half years later, it was just time for Mom and Dad to come home.
My brother John and his wife Karin flew down to escort them back to Atlanta, and at 5:09 pm yesterday I received a text that said, "We've just landed." I didn't realize until that moment how much I missed having them in the same country again. Relief doesn't begin to cover it.
I know I'm not the only one who will miss being able to say, "My parents live in Colombia," but living in Atlanta will be pretty cool, too. My brother Dan and his wife Michele found an amazing place for them to live called Southside Personal Care Home. This licensed facility has a team of three people who take care of five residents in a large, comfortable house. I foresee homes like these becoming the favorite choice for those in need of care. This link has a few pictures.
 http://www.aplaceformom.com/community/southside-personal-care-home-1376858
It's doubtful I'll grow to love Atlanta as much as Cali, but my family plans to visit my parents soon, and no international travel will be required.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cover Reveal!

Cover by Streetlight Graphics
Here's my cover! The book won't be out until the fall, but here's my cover! Thanks Red Adept Publishing and Streetlight Graphics! This process has been exciting and scary and exhilarating -- exactly like a roller coaster. I've gone through the first ups and downs, and now I'm on that long, slow chug up to the very top. My heart's pounding, I've got a bird's eye view of the world below, and I'm willing my stomach to calm down. Almost there, soon, very soon!



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cartagena Revisited


La Sonesta Hotel
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas
It wasn't easy, but we managed to pull it off. My parents  and Mom's nurse flew north to Cartagena, Colombia while we four kids and our families flew south. We met at a beautiful hotel on the beach and for four days we swam in the Caribbean and in the pool, drank delicious coffee and exotic fruit juices, and saw the sights. Cartagena has an amazingly rich history dating back to the 1500s. The mountain-sized fort, the 17th century monastery on a hill, the walled city with a French Quarter feel, were fascinating to share with the kids. But this wasn't my first trip here. Twenty-two years ago Chris and I saw the same sights. And though some things haven't changed in centuries, two decades completely altered others, like the dear family surrounding me. I can only hope all of us will have the opportunity to vacation together again.   (Photos by Chris Zokan)

Walled City at Night
 To read more about Cartagena, click on this link. What a world we live in!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-schulman/spanish-superfort-is-a-mu_b_4051138.html

Cartagena de Indias
 



Monday, June 6, 2016

Bittersweetness and Big News

Olivia on the jumbotron
My daughter graduated from high school last weekend. HAPPY! In less than a month she'll go to college seven hours away.  sad. Chris and I are excited for her future. HAPPY! We will miss her terribly.  sad.
A family of cardinals who visits our birdfeeder seem to be going through something similar. Not long ago we watched from the kitchen window as the bright red daddy cardinal fed his brown baby girl one seed at a time, fussing at her as she wobbled on matchstick legs. Today I notice she's already on her own. She's swoops in and makes a smooth landing on the feeder, her bright orange beak flashing as she takes a seed. In the blink of an eye she's gone again, leaving me thinking of my Olivia and wondering how to live with this bittersweetness.
Friend and fellow writer Diane Skelton's excellent advice was to focus on the sweet, not the bitter, the excitement of this stage in life, not the heartache. With that in mind, I'm grateful to have my soon-to-be-published book to keep me busy. The manuscript has made it though content editing and is now in the queue for cover design and line editing. And I have big news! It's been decided that my title will remain The Existence of Pity. I remember the shiver of recognition that came over me when I thought of it five and a half years ago. I knew that title would be right and I still feel the same. Not everything has to change!
I look to our backyard in time to see the daddy cardinal land on the fence. He watches his baby, who is snacking at the feeder again. After a while she hops over to perch beside him, and they sit together. Then, in the blink of an eye, she spreads her beautiful wings, lifts off, and flies away.