Home Again and Missing a Baby

Don’t you just love it?  I’m expecting Lyla to join her cousins, Lana and Calli, who are kid feminists (The Texas kids have shirts that say “I swim like a girl, try to keep up” and “Run like a girl”)  This girl will have some great role models when she’s ready to watch and listen.

We left California last Tuesday.  It was hard. Much as we were delighted to be going home, I couldn’t stand saying goodbye to that little tiny kid who was just short of two weeks old.  She will be so different when we see her in November.  I’m lobbying for the Californians to come to Florida in September before Carly goes back to work in October.  They probably won’t but we’re hoping.

We flew home on Spirit.  We had heard terrible things about Spirit…”You have to pay for everything, even your seat”, “They are never on time”, “There’s no leg room and the seats are so narrow you can’t breathe”, “You have to pay for carry-ons”…etc. etc.  Sean said he saw a thing on a website, “Funny things  heard around L.A.” saying Heard in LAX, “For those of you who swore you’d never go on Spirit again, Welcome Back.”

So, here’s our take on Spirit.  First, thanks, Mary Anne, for telling us you use them all the time. Next, yes, we’d do it again whenever we can get as good a deal as we got coming home.  Yes, we paid for our seats ($14 a piece) and yes, they were narrow but there was plenty of leg room.  And we bought Pepsi and water and a sandwich before we got on.  And yes, we paid to check our luggage (weight limit is 40 pounds, not 50…my suitcase was 39!…my backpack was loaded with books, binoculars, anything heavy…not great but I managed. Usually our bags aren’t so loaded but it had been a month and we had bought a few things and brought a laptop and clothes for every kind of weather.)  If you decide to try Spirit and forget to buy something to drink or eat, don’t worry…the prices were not astronomical.   And we arrived on time.  Yep, we’ll do it again.

That said, the best deals at Thanksgiving were on Southwest.  So we’ll use them for our trip to and from L.A. in November.

So we’re home and plan to stick around for a nice long time.  The Texans are coming some time around the end of July and staying awhile.  Calli and I are heading to New York City for her ten year old trip.  We ‘re going to see Wicked and do all the great tourist things.  I asked Calli to look at the offerings on the New York Pass and tell me what she’s really interested in.  She texted me that the one she’d love to do was the bike tour of Central Park.

My response:  “Not gonna happen, kid”. Haven’t been on a bike in 100 years except last year when I decided it was time to start riding again and fell a few blocks from the house. You can go on your own or find some other things to do.”  She found a bunch of other things so we’re okay.

I felt badly.  I’m really mad that I’m such a wimp about biking.  I did try it a couple times because Kate’s sisters  gave me Kate’s bike when she left Florida for the last time.  I just couldn’t get comfortable with it.  And then, once I fell, I got chicken. Kept staring at the bike every time I went out for a little exercise and decided to go for a walk instead. Sigh.

We did FaceTime with Lyla yesterday.  She looks bigger every time we see her. I cried.

Books:  I absolutely loved Ghana Must Go (thanks, Martha).  I liked The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce and I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos (not great literature but sweet stories).  And I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (also not great literature but I did enjoy it)  I want to see the movie about Pope Francis and the one about Mr. Rogers…haven’t done that yet.  But summer has just begun.

We’re busy catching up with friends.  A good friend opened a gift shop downtown last night.  She’s an artist and her work is just so joyful.  We loved the opening…seeing her work, her other picks for sale, friends from her mom and dad’s cafe across the street (Croissant and Company)  If you’re in downtown Venice, check out Tangi and Jess.  Gorgeous things.

Turtle patrol, yoga, book club, Trivia on Tuesday night, breakfasts and lunches with friends, library volunteer work…yes, we lead the good life. How lucky can we get?

One last picture of the family in California.  I don’t think they knew I took it.  Can you tell they are nuts about their kid (and also very tired)?

Keeping watch




Homeboy Industries

One of the shirts at the Homegirl Cafe

Jerry and I went on a tour at Homeboy Industries this morning.  Homeboy Industries was founded  by Father Greg Boyle (Tattoos on the Heart) who began as pastor of a church right in the heart of gang territory. Around that time, Father Greg realized, with the help of many people in his parish, that he needed to provide jobs and education as alternatives to the gangs and the senseless violence they create. So, they started a small job program, “Jobs for a Future,” as part of Dolores Mission in 1988. They became Homeboy Industries in 2001, and have grown to become one of the largest, most comprehensive and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry programs in the country.

Two things especially blew me away. The first was the warmth, the joy, the feeling of comraderie, the genuine affection the workers had for each other.  I never saw such a cheerful, personable group of workers.  From the minute we drove into the parking lot, we felt welcome.  Which, considering how scary most of these guys looked, was pretty amazing. And as we walked around it was clear how much they cared about each other.  Beautiful people transformed by love.

The place was buzzing with activity.  A former gang member took our small group outside where it

Our guide

was quieter to tell us his story.  The second “wow” moment came while he talked. What struck me was how many times he had “messed up”, wandered off, gone back to his “homies” and every time he came back to Father Greg, he was welcomed with a handshake (containing a $20 bill) and a huge hug.  He’s been back for a long time, no longer a gang member, no longer using drugs or alcohol, showing up for work every day, happy, hardworking, a good dad to his kids.

Free to anyone who needs it

The systems they’ve put in place do work. That was obvious. Drug testing, tattoo removal, GED classes, parenting classes, computer training.   AA and NA, counseling sessions, job training.


I was near tears as we walked around.  Every single man and woman there was a former gang member.  Many had been in prison.  Most had lost people they loved because of gangs and guns. Some, like our guide, had lost a leg by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And yet all of them were joyful.  Truly joyful.

So, if you are ever in Los Angeles and need inspiration or just want to see what can be done when there’s a guy who “goes with the original program” and believes that everyone is worthy of love and care and help, go visit Homeboy Industries.

Yesterday I had a different visit that was equally joyful.  Mary Anne McDermott’s daughter, son-in-law and new granddaughter live in LA.  I went over and got to meet little Hazel, a gorgeous gabby (honestly, she really seemed to be trying to carry on a conversation with me) two month old baby who gave me a great preview of coming attractions with Lyla. I’m so glad I saw her and can’t wait to see her again when she visits Mary Anne in Venice later on this month.  And two months may be a huge difference now but Lyla and Hazel could be friends one of these days.

Lyla continues to bring us all such joy and delight. And Carly and Sean got really good news today.  They’ve been looking at daycare centers (Carly will be going back to work in October)  Infant daycare is hard to find (by the time your baby gets to the top of the waiting list, she could be in kindergarten) and GOOD infant daycare is almost impossible to find.  We looked at a daycare last week that was mediocre at best (I couldn’t sense  joy or love) and they had a waiting list but maybe Lyla would get in (over my dead body)  Then Sean and Carly visited one the other day and loved it.  I read the writeup and I loved it.  And miracle of miracles, they are expanding their infant program, hiring another caregiver and two kids will be moving up to the toddler group in October and yes, Lyla can come.  Whew…what a gift.

Be well, everyone. Have a good weekend.

Loved the shirts at Homeboy…

Another shirt



Had lunch here

In one of the offices



Jerry and I saw RBG today.  What a great movie about a great woman.  I kept thinking about Lyla (and Lana and Calli and all of our granddaughters)  We owe so much to Ruth Bader Ginsberg (and her husband who encouraged her every step of the way).  Because of her, our daughters have had so many doors open to them and we can only hope and pray that our granddaughters will have even more. I said to Jerry after the movie, “We gotta pray that woman doesn’t die or have a stroke in the next couple of years.”  I cried at the end.

I look at this tiny little girl and my not so tiny girls in Texas and wonder what’s ahead for them.  We’ve come so far and still have so far to go.  Maybe one of them will be the next RBG…or maybe one of your grandchildren.  We can only hope.

This little girl sleeps more in the day than at night (what a surprise) but Sean and Carly are definitely rolling with it.  If they get three hours uninterrupted sleep, they consider it a good night.  And Lyla really is a contented child as long as she has a clean diaper and enough to eat.  Doesn’t take much to please this kid.

She spends most of her time hanging out on someone’s chest.  Honestly, it is better than drugs.  Holding her is like being totally in the zone, like meditation when it really works.  You can actually feel your body sink and relax.

We’ve been reading a lot.  Lyla is being homeschooled at the moment with Tana Hoben’s Black and White.  I’ve just finished Olaf Olafsson’s The Journey Home,which was beautiful.  I’m reading Lisa Genova’s Every Note Played which is so well done and so painful to read.  I must be masochistic.  Still Alice terrified me.  Left Neglected helped me understand my friend, Kate, when glioblastoma took over her life. This one, though, is really rough…but good.  Just don’t read it if you’re looking for an “escape.”

I’ve also read Exit West and The Story of Beautiful Girl (loved both of them) and The Strays (very good book that I liked but didn’t love until toward the end.)  I told you I’ve done a lot of reading.  And walking.  Some of these I didn’t read…had them on my iPod.

Enjoy the last few days of May.  Almost June.   Can you believe it???

Favorite hangout

Mother and child

Pop and Lyla

Tummy time and Nana trying to get “the shot”

Three Days Old

This is your room, Lyla. Do you like it?

She eats.  She sleeps. She cries. She pees. She poops. She stares at you as if she actually is trying to figure out who you are.  And tracks you with her big eyes as you move from side to side.  That’s about it for now, folks.  But oh, my, I can’t stop looking at her. And I can’t stop smiling.

Sean does a lot of pacing when she doesn’t want to eat and doesn’t need a change and doesn’t seem to need to burp.  (I tried to find him a shirt for Father’s Day that said, “Night of the Walking Dad.”

“It breaks my heart when she cries,” he told me. “And I can’t make her happy.”

And I tease Carly about turning into the human milk machine.  This child will nurse for hours.

It brings back so many memories of Erin and Sean, the pregnancies, the deliveries, the first days at home when I was frantically trying to figure out how to make them happy.  Erin liked Jerry to walk her around in the back yard.  Sean like car rides.

I remember being perpetually sleep deprived.  And hearing about a friend who was so enamored with her newborn that she and her husband would wake the baby in the middle of the night to play with him because they “missed him”.  Dazzled as I was with my newborn children, I would NEVER wake them up, EVER.  I craved sleep. I wanted it more than food, more than anything in the world.  Wake a baby up to play with him?  Never.

We’re doing our best to be helpful so they don’t send us home.  Actually, I booked our flights this morning for Tuesday, June 5.  Spirit had an incredible deal.  (Thanks, Mary Anne, for raving about Spirit.  Never tried them before)  We’ll be back at Thanksgiving.  Erin and her gang will be at an Airbnb a few streets away and we’ll stay at the house.  Nice crowd her for the holiday.

We’re sticking close to home these days.  I take long walks to make up for no yoga.  The houses are lovely and front yards are full of flowers.  Gorgeous. There was a yard that I went by today and thought…”Hmm, that grass doesn’t look real.” I was right.  Astroturf.  Ha!  Lots of flowers and shrubs and astroturf.  Welcome to LA.

We’re hoping to go out and see RBG this week some time.  And on Friday, we’re touring Home Boy Industries.  I doubt if we’ll meet Father Greg Boyle. I imagine he has more to do than greet every tour group that comes through.  Still, I’m glad we’re going.

Stay dry, my fellow Floridians.  A million thanks, Martha and Ernie, for checking our pool yesterday. Here’s hoping we still have a house when we come home.

Only a few hours old


House needs a baby

…and waiting and waiting and waiting.  I told Carly yesterday that every day past my due date (with Erin I was ten days late) felt like a week.  Her due date was yesterday.  I imagine they’ll start feeling like a week to her, too.

Nothing yet, folks.  But it has to be uncomfortable in there. Carly is so tiny and looks so big at the moment.  Maybe today.  Maybe tomorrow.  If it’s tomorrow, this little girl will share a birthday with her cousin, Lana, who will be twelve tomorrow.  (Twelve??? What happened to that little girl?)  Lana texted me this morning:  Is the baby here yet? I’m getting impatient.  SHE’S getting impatient?  She should be here.  The waiting may kill us all.

Loving the slow, easy days, though.  I’m reading, I’m going through hundreds of pictures and deleting a lot of them, I’m taking walks in the neighborhood (lots of flowers) and enjoying just hanging out with Carly and Sean.  We checked out a daycare yesterday…not too dazzled by it.  The waiting lists at daycare are awful.  This little girl will most likely be going to one in October but it’s time to begin looking…

The only place I really want to go (besides the hospital to see a newborn) is Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyle’s place. They give tours.  I signed Jerry and me up for a tour but they haven’t gotten back to me about availability.  Love that man, dying to see his place. His book, Tattoos on the Heart, is special.

Two books…Less (which won the Pulitzer) was delightful.  Beautiful writing.  Didn’t capture my heart but did capture my mind and my sense of humor.  And The Hemingses of Monticello, (listening to that one) …fascinating.  Not sure what’s next…Goodnight Moon?  Go Dog Go?

Love to all…hope you’re enjoying the weekend. In spite of my whining about a baby who hasn’t shown up yet, we are totally enjoying this weekend. (Did you read this, Carly??? We are NOT bored!)

Crib needs a baby

Toys need a baby

Books need a baby

Last Day on the Road

Pier at Pismo Beach

We spent the night at Morro Bay.  I thought we’d see a sunset.  Every other night we’ve been either too tired or too far from the beach or both.  But this looked easy…the receptionist at the Morro Bay Inn said it was just two blocks down to the water.

So we went…and it was two blocks to the water but there were buildings and a wharf and fishing boats…couldn’t even SEE the water.  I kept walking and walking (Jerry eventually gave up) and never did make it to the hill where I would have been able to see the sunset.  We should have taken the car!! Who knew????

Sculpture at Morro Rock…saying goodbye to fisherman

Morro Bay is amazing.  Huge rock and jetty separates the bay (which was quiet) from the ocean which had lots of surfers catching the waves.  And they did catch the waves.  Loved watching them.

Morro Rock

Pismo Beach was next.  The sand reminded me of Siesta Key…not as white as Siesta but just as soft.

And then we headed for Solvang, a Danish town just off the 101.   Great lunch, great pastries, neat little museum.  We poked around for an hour or so and then headed to Los Angeles and arrived around 5:15.  So glad to be here.  So glad to see Sean and Carly.  Love their new house.  Happy days.  I’ll let you know when that girl shows up.  In the meantime we’ll just enjoy our time with the grownups.