Please, come back soon!

Gone! A Farmer’s Market without flowers. No gifts from nature patiently waiting to be arranged, put in water and bring a room to life. Half of the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market had no stalls today. The 101 is still closed, so there is no access to Santa Barbara from the South.

Buying flowers is a Saturday morning ritual for me. I have been over the holiday look for several weeks now, looking forward to refreshing my vases and angling towards spring. When it’s over, it’s so over.  The available flowers change with the season, of course. A few people like the diehard,  people- pleasing sunflowers that smile back at them all year-long. You can find these flowers in any grocery store. But those year-round blooms long ago became boring for me. I no longer smile back.

Living in Japan part – time has accentuated my appreciation for the seasonal. Year-long availability for a flower or a fruit makes it much less interesting to my eye. Each season has its long-awaited seasonal celebrity appearances. There are the first flowers of spring. The cheery yellow forsythia branches are not particularly beautiful, but they have the honor of announcing that spring has arrived. A few weeks late the pinklicious Japanese magnolias demand attention. Sweet peas follow soon. In Japan, they sell them with long curling tendrils. So much lovelier than just the straight stem.  Let’s not forget ranunculus, flirty and fabulous and overwhelming in its choice of colors and its lighter than air texture.  Continue reading “Please, come back soon!”

Cheating Death Again

Many many years ago as I flew home from college in a small propeller plane, I sat in the bar area in the tail of the aircraft next to 1950’s celebrity Tab Hunter. He told me that he has to fly a lot and each time he lands he announces to himself, “Cheated death again!” It goes without saying I was a bit star-struck, but that phrase has stuck with me for life and comes to mind whenever I get out of or escape what could be a tight situation!

on fire!


Our area of Central California has been brutally struck by back to back natural disasters. Two elements showed their power: first, the largest wildfire in California history held us hostage for weeks and then the water from winter rains arrived that we need so desperately after years of drought.  The fire was threatening, we breathed dangerous smoke from it for weeks and towards its end had to face the unthinkable thought that the fire might make its move and destroy Santa Barbara.   Continue reading “Cheating Death Again”



There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

I had to memorize these  lines in order to walk into English class in 10th grade .  I can still recite them verbatim. It might have been the most important thing I learned in high school.  Shakespeare’s words made it very clear that opportunity doesn’t knock twice and you can expect a steep penalty if you ignore opportunity when it presents itself.   I took those lines to heart and listened to Brutus.

After a decade living in Georgia, I urged my husband to take a position with a young company in CA. When the offer came through,I instantly knew this was just the kind of opportunity Brutus had in mind.  It seemed like a now or never proposition, if we were ever to move away.


Friends in Georgia asked us how we could move to a place that had earthquakes. That was mild compared to what our friends in the NorthEast had to say before we moved to Georgia!  It turned out, to my horror, that Georgia was smack in the middle of Tornado Alley. After living through a devastating and terrifying tornado, I decided you’re at risk for one catastrophe or another just about anywhere.

We moved to the relatively young town of Thousand Oaks, CA. in 1981.

In the early 80’s it was the land of endless Farrah Fawcett haircuts and butt-hugging dolphin shorts, ticky tacky suburban housing developments, large shopping malls and mega churches.  It was a pretty, but sterile and politically conservative town. Businesses had names like You are Hair, and Thanks a Latté.

People liked to say it was a good place to raise children. I guess that was because it was pretty, sterile and politically conservative.   It seemed to epitomize every cliché I’d ever read about Southern CA.  Within a year, my pre-adolescent smart-ass kids  took to calling it Thousand Jokes, CA.  I never came up with anything better.


I reached my limit with this location during the first Gulf War. The knee jerk patriotism became intolerable.  Within hours of the initial US strikes on Iraq, our house was the only one in our neighborhood without a boisterous American flag.  My chest was one of the few not emblazoned with the stars and stripes. Time to move on.   The day we moved, I drove down the driveway of our Thousand Oaks home for the final time and felt nothing but relief.

patriotic sweatshirt

Our next stop was Santa Barbara, just up the California coast.  I’d been attracted to it for many years. It met all my criteria for an ideal place to live.


It has ocean, mountains, and a university.  It’s not too large, but is within driving distance of a large city. It’s got a strong sense of place and a strong sense of community. It hasn’t disappointed me. It can get insular and small townish, but the positives more than make up for the negatives.  Each time I return after being away, I’m happy to be home.

I’m quite sure that I won’t be initiating any more major moves.  I’ve lost the desire or energy to start over someplace new.

That said, without fail, visits to Japan renew a child-like state of wonder, discovery and delight in learning.  It’s been that way since my first visit in 1983. I delight in the warmth and kindness of the people, the celebration of the seasons, the scrupulous attention to detail and the intrigue of living in a place where there is much that remains mysterious.

Wandering the lanes, the gardens, the temples and the shops, the lyrics of Gypsy in My Soul, still ring true, particularly in the phrase, “my heart has wings.