Thursday, December 26, 2013

time with friends

A good day. Continued our tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas Day ["47 Ronin"], with a friend joining in. Dropping off some peppermint chocolate after to another poor frazzled friend [a rough season to deal with a sick child and stubborn animals]. Then a mellow and awesome time with a third friend, playing video games, laughing and having fun, dinner courtesy of Panda Express, topped off with chilling on the couch watching a movie ["Now You See Me"].

One of the better, if less than traditional, Christmases...but then I'm a less than traditional person. :^)

Friday, December 20, 2013

it's a weird time we live in...

...when you get beautifully personalized and hand-written holiday cards from your business associates, and unsigned photo cards from people you've been friends with for years.

[Yeah, yeah, I know...the friends aren't trying to get your money. But the point still stands...]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

placeholder post

We just got back from the Austin Formula 1 Grand Prix...longer post to come [with pictures], but in the meantime, some placeholders:

* Trucked Will's car down, so much easier [and cooler] having our own car there.

* Stayed in same hotel as the Mercedes AMG Petronas team [the SLS Black that Lewis had for the weekend was *gorgeous* <drool> ].

* Awesome drive with a buddy over Twisted Sisters...sooo much fun, an incredible day.

* The McLaren hospitality crew were *amazing*. Many good conversations with Andrew, Gemma, and George, much respect to the whole team for what they do.

* Friday Free Practice was definitely worth going to. Not as many people, much more relaxed.

* Pit walk was cool, and our badges got us into the exterior of the McLaren pit. Way interesting, but not as cool as...

* ...the personal tour of the *garage* with Peter, a McLaren employee who has been with the team for over 20 years.

* Lots of swag: hats, bags, a jacket, headphones, earplugs, bluetooth speaker, signed pics of Sergio and Jenson.

* Speaking of signatures: Will persevered through ridiculously cutthroat fans and got his car's circuit panel cover signed by Jenson. Fuck yeah.

* Qualifying was much more active than we'd seen in recent races, which we were very okay with for our first in-person race. :^)

* Race day was hot and sunny...90+ degrees [and rising as the track heated up], sun beating down. Didn't stop us from staying outside to watch everything, though. Huzzah for copious applications of sunscreen.

* The drivers are smaller than they seem, especially when you see them out of their racing suits. Their weight is *strictly* managed, so they are wiry, lithe, thin buggers. Even the 6-footers seem small, since there are no extraneous ounces on them.

* Austin handled the event rather brilliantly...traffic was copious but manageable, and everything was well-marked, with lots of people around to help you if you got confused. Very impressive.

* The sound. Holy shit, the sound. Those cars are ridiculous. TV just doesn't capture it. The high-pitched pissed-off wasp whine as they pass by on the straight going full bore. Even more surprising was the low bass grumble they put out when crawling [hah! pit speed is 60MPH, hilarious to call that "crawling"] through pit just don't expect that, and you don't really get to hear it much on telly. I am very, very, very glad that we were able to hear those cars in person before they move to the V6 turbos next season.

Lots more, will sort through pictures and mementos and pull something together in the next week or so.

To sum up:

An incredible time, definitely want to do it again. :^)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Speaking of feeling isolated: just found out early this morning that a friend of many years died a few months ago. I lived next door to her when I was in junior high and high school, and she was one of the few that kept in touch with me when I moved out to California. We sent letters and cards back and forth, chatted on Facebook, and any time I went back to visit my family, we always found time to sit and chat, some times for hours.

I'll miss her.

Monday, October 07, 2013

the power of dreams

A weird and sad dream last night: long story short, lots of folks gathered [include too many lost to time, circumstances, and death], all of whom made very sure to tell me that they hadn't kept in touch because I was "so self-sufficient" that they didn't feel the need to reach out. They were very apologetic, and went to great pains to tell me that it wasn't because they didn't care, or that they had forgotten about was just that they knew that I wasn't someone that needed constant contact in order to know I was loved.

Annoyingly, I woke up crying...I had been in the middle of a conversation with my mom, and she was apologizing for not reaching out to me more. It was actually a conversation we'd had in real life a few times, so it was especially real. The dream, especially ending the way it did, hit a few deeply-attached issues: missing my mom, my friends, my family; the way I've been feeling a bit lost and alienated; the frustrating side effects of living a fair distance from many of the people who are important to me.

That last one was another topic that Mom and I had talked about a fair amount: the whole "living away from the people who matter". She lived a number of years in other states and another country, so she definitely knew what it was like to be "out of sight, out of mind", and to feel like she often had to be the one to make contact [and how needy and desperate that made you feel, rightly or wrongly]. We talked it over off and on through the years, never really coming up with anything that was just one of the factors you had to accept when you moved away from a previous stomping ground. Neither of us were the "force ourselves on other people" type; if we reached out a few times and were rebuffed, we accepted it and moved on. Doesn't mean it didn't ache a bit, evidenced by the "strawberry daiquiri" conversations we had over the years. No answers, but knowing there was someone else who felt the same was a great comfort...

And while I'm whining: don't you hate waking up in the middle of an emotional dream? Good, bad, sad, whatever...that weird state you are in when you wake up is so bizarre. You are feeling some strong emotion, but you know it's not based on anything real; or rather, the feelings are real, but the circumstances aren't, so you aren't quite sure how to process it and get over it. Dreaming is such an odd thing for the brain to do...apparently it's necessary, but man, it can mess you up sometimes. And boy, so some of them really stick with you...

Next time, I'm aiming for the "secret passage on the stairway leads to the darkened room with the candles and the sunken tub and the floor-to-ceiling window that is looking out onto an amazing lightning storm" recurring dream...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

progress shots

Once things calm down a bit, I'll get organized and pull together an album of before/during/after shots of The Great Landscaping Project of the meantime, a few progress shots of the front half of the house:

Looking slightly left out the front door [the neighbor's house is further away than the steep hill makes it look]; hillside being replanted, new irrigation system being installed

Down the front of the house: driveway extension, more hillside prep. Eventually we will replace the shed with a garage/workshop.

Side of the house - lots being done here: water, electric, irrigation; paving and cleaning up what was a really random and ugly area; making a better spot for green/trash/recycling cans; fence being extended and gate added

Thursday, September 05, 2013

more, but less

A close friend of mine has seen more rough times and draining circumstances than ten people should ever experience in their lifetime...they are currently dealing with yet another dying friend, sitting with them, getting hit with that reality check yet again. As we were sending messages back and forth, I found myself typing out the bit below. I'm posting it here so I can have it for is the closest I've gotten yet to fitting words to some of the stuff rattling around in my head.


I'm not afraid of death, and I really don't even worry about dying myself. It's the void, that hole shaped like the person you lose, that is hardest for me....the thousand and one times that you think "I totally need to tell them about this", only to have the reality hit you again. It hits a little less hard over time, but never completely goes away...and I sometimes feel like a bit of flimsy, delicate lace, riddled with holes that used to be filled with the people who were a fundamental part of what makes me "me". I'm still me, but a little less so for having lost them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

and so it begins...

The Great Landscaping Project of 2013 begins tomorrow morning...for the next month, pretty much the entire area outside the house is going to be in chaos as the landscapers re-envision, wrangle, and rebuild the greenbrown mass of randomness that is currently living on the bits of our land that aren't a house.

It's going to be interesting.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

a good day

A nice, mellow birthday...woke up to breakfast and birthday cards, played some online games together, had an amazingly relaxing shower including back, hand, and foot rubs and hair shampooing [all courtesy of the too-awesome-for-words husband], saw a movie in a near-empty theater whilst crunching on nachos and popcorn, and now a chill evening at home with absolutely nothing on the calendar that requires our attention tonight. That's my kind of party.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

boobs, butts, vroom, and boom

Had an awesome time this past Thursday night...Will and I headed down to Monterey for a sneak preview of Ron Howard's "Rush", courtesy of McLaren Automotive. If you aren't familiar with the movie, it's the story of the epic F1 rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and the events leading up to and following Lauda's disastrous crash at the Nürburgring in 1976 [Lauda drove for McLaren for a while during his career and they provided quite a bit of access to their history and archives for the film, which is why we got treated to the special preview a month before the movie is to be released].

Monterey Car Week is going on, making it a very appropriate time and place for the screening. It was a good crowd of about 180 or so people, including fellow 12C owners and dealers from around the country as well as folks from the home office; it was good to see Marcus [Manager of McLaren Special Operations, an awesome and very genuinely cool guy] and Frank Stephenson [designer of many cars, including the new Mini and the McLaren 12C, and a true force of nature] again, and we always enjoy hanging out with the guys from the SF dealership. There was a line of 12Cs parked in front of the theatre; Will's car is still rocking the official McLaren camouflage wrap he put on for a rally last month, so it stood out a bit amongst the others...though all eyes were on the new Pagana Huayra that parked across the street for a bit, gorgeously over-the-top with its all black carbon fibre body and "look at me" lines. Car Week is awesome that way... <grin>

The movie itself was really quite good. You don't need to be a Formula 1 fan to enjoy's a classic tale about drive, determination, assholery, competition, sex, champions, underdogs, overcoming challenges, love, conflict, all the good stuff. It was done well; the pacing was good, the characters were surprisingly relatable, and even though I knew the story and knew how it would go, I still found myself tensing up during the last 20-30 minutes of action. There were some awesome cinematic touches: shots from inside the car that made you wonder how they did it, the voice-overs that caught you up and gave you an idea of the personality of the character without being too cheesy, and the use of photos of the actual drivers during the end of the movie [it made you realize what a great job Ron Howard did of capturing the look of the drivers and the era]. The effects were incredibly well done, and the crash was painfully realistic [more than one person wondered if they had used actual footage of the 1976 crash]. The actors were quite good...I went in with doubts about Chris Hemsworth, but he played Hunt rather well. The same with Olivia Wilde as his wife...much like Hemsworth, I tend to only see "them" and not the character they are playing, but she rocked this one. Alexandra Maria Lara played the wife of Lauda with understated grace, showing the conflict between supporting her husband's passion and knowing what it could mean to him and to their life together. Daniel Brühl as Lauda was the best...he embodied the stoic and calculating Lauda brilliantly, playing the driven asshole well without going too far. It all came together into a very entertaining package, and I left very impressed. I highly recommend it.

So big thanks to McLaren Automotive and to Alessandro at McLaren SF for the invite and the awesome time. Good movie, good company, cool cars...not a bad way to spend an evening.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


And there go any plans for the summer...Will's dog Darwin had to have some pretty serious surgery on both of his hind legs. He tore ligaments in both knees, requiring a procedure called a TPLO [tibial plateau leveling osteotomy]. The surgery involved cutting the top bit of his tibia off and shifting it sideways to level out the angle at which the bones in the joint meet; the shifted bone end is held in place by a metal plate and many screws, so he has quite a bit of healing ahead of him.

Poor little guy is looking at 8 weeks of recovery, then another 8 weeks of rehabilitation. For the next two weeks, he is only allowed to walk three times a day for 5 minutes; then 10 minutes per walk for the next two weeks, building up to a whopping 15 minutes three times a day for the next month . This means careful monitoring of him to be sure he doesn't hurt himself or aggravate the injuries, which includes carrying him around outside of those allowed walking times...and he's not a small dog. Hauling around 40 awkward pounds of injured dog is interesting to say the least, especially one with two wonky back legs. Add in twice daily meds and sedatives, with all the fun of shoving bitter pills down a non-cooperative dog's throat, and you are looking at fun, fun times.

So for the next four months, no more having friends over for barbeques or drinks or swimming, no more both of us being able to go out together, and a lot more logistics and figuring out who/what/when/how until Darwin heals enough to be left safely on his own. Hopefully the poor puppy heals quickly and is patient with us as we try to make him as comfortable as's always rough when an animal is hurting. :^(

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

it's a start

Historic rulings from the United States Supreme Court I've said before, we need more encouragement of love, devotion, and caring in this world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

conflicting emotions

Been a while since I posted anything here...I haven't been feeling much like doing the diary thing, and any random brain bits tend to get thrown onto Facebook and then purged from the buffer. Life has been both busy and chill...busy getting the house pulled together and doing the million and one things it takes to move into a new place and merge two lives, but chill in that we are taking our time, making sure to fit in some fun and downtime. We've had friends over for beer, barbeques, and swimming, Will has gone on motorcycle rides and car rallies, I've napped and read and scritched Pepper and walked Darwin, we've stretched out on the couch and watched the birds and deer and squirrels in the backyard, been fascinated by the sounds of coyotes howling and yipping nearby [eerily nearby], spent hours in front of the fire pit just watching the flames light up the night, snuggled up together enjoying the peace and quiet, basically enjoying the moments as they come.

Even with all that, though, I've been feeling rather melancholy. Part of it is a feeling of disconnection...from friends and family across the country, and from a world I left behind after Dad died. Folks that I was close to were lost to the oddness surrounding those times; they drifted away as they grew uncomfortable with what was happening, and then just faded entirely. A precious few are still in my life, and I love them dearly...nothing like a bit of chaos and pain to show you the underlying strength [or lack thereof] of bonds of friendship and caring.

Another part of the sadness is weirdly because of the new house. It's a really nice place; it has some weird issues [the people who owned it before us tended to choose form over function, so there are some strange choices they'd made that we are either learning to deal with or planning to fix], but overall, it's awesome. The location is the best part, though...the backyard is full of trees and plants that draw in all kinds of wildlife. Bobcats, quail, woodpeckers, finches, doves, hummingbirds, deer, coyotes, bunnies, frogs, lizards, hawks, moles, a bunch of different birds we haven't identified yet. There is even a donkey that someone nearby owns, and we can hear him ee-awwing once in a while. We are on a hill, so the view is of the sky and trees, and we can even see some stars at night.

It's all quite cool and a great place to picture living out the next 20+ years...and I keep finding myself thinking about how much Mom and Dad would love this place. Mom and I would sit out back in the early morning, watching the birds and sipping coffee. Dad would absolutely flip his shit over all the animals...he'd be loving it. He would also be volunteering to help fix some of the random electrical issues that pop up, or at least telling us what we should be looking for as we tried to fix them ourselves [or hired someone to do it]. Mom and I would be floating in the pool and relaxing with some margaritas or maybe a daiquiri or two, while giggling at Dad trying to lure in whatever random animal was in the yard at the time.

I know everyone says it when they've lost someone they love, but I wish they could see this. They saw me go through so much shit in life, they were always there to support and console and cheer me on. They gave me an amazing set of tools to rely on as life rumbles on its way...I wouldn't be who I am without them. And I dearly, desperately wish they could share all of this with me...Will, the life we are building, the house, the land, the place I find myself in life right now. It doesn't lessen what is happening and how amazing all of this is, but I find it coloring how I am able to appreciate it.

That, I think, is the cruelest aspect to death and loss: the loss of what could have been, the inability to share the 'now' with the ones that helped us achieve it and saw us as we struggled to get there. We all learn to move on; we've been doing it for as long as we've been emotional beings...and it is just as difficult for us now as it was for the first person to experience it.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

goodbye, little one

He was a lucky little thing...Jennifer found him, Mom and Dad cleaned him up and gave him a good home, Dad spoiled him rotten, and then Monie continued the caring and the spoiling for years after that. He may have had a rough time before he came into their lives, but he had a pampered life once he was there.

Take care, were a sweetie.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

landmark days

Here is hoping the Supreme Court finds in favor of love and union, not fear and divisiveness. In a world fraught with anger, war, hatred, pain, confusion, and distrust, we need to encourage all the caring and support that human beings have to offer each other.

Just care about each other, people. Respect each other.

We need more of that.

Monday, March 25, 2013

old-fashioned values

Watching a PBS documentary about Grace Kelly...she was asked if she would continue acting after she married Prince Rainier, and she answered quietly, "That is up to the Prince." Cut to the Prince being asked the question, and he answered simply, "No." Then a bit later in the documentary, the [now married] couple were asked what the succession would be if she gave birth to twins and a girl was born first...the Prince answered that while the rule is firstborn without regards to gender, the girl would not be allowed to rule and would be expected to voluntarily cede her right to her brother.

It was jarring, and I was relieved that things had changed so much since then...then I thought about current events and some of the ways that we seem to be heading back to those times, and then recalled a surprising turn a dinner conversation took the other night. One man spoke very strongly about what was "ladylike" and "classy" and the things a lady "absolutely should not do" [for the record, the ones he mentioned specifically were "fart openly, even in the solitude of her own home; take out the garbage; hang shelving; and 'anything that is very clearly a man's job'"]. Thankfully, he didn't find the support he seemed to think he would amongst the group, but it was a stark reminder that these mindsets still exist, and that I am very lucky to be surrounded by people whom I respect and who respect and accept me for who I am as a whole, even if I do put up my own shelves.

[And for the record, if being "ladylike" and "classy" means not being able to take care of myself or my home, or take out my garbage, or fart and burp in my own home, then I'm absolutely okay with not having those descriptions applied to me. Though I doubt that comes as a surprise to anyone who knows me...]

Sunday, March 24, 2013

the 80s rock :^)

Saw "Tainted Love" [80s cover band] with Susy tonight...we can't remember how long ago it was when we first saw them, but we know it's been a while. Many years on, they still know how to give you your money's worth...much fun was had by all. Even better, I got to catch up with a much-loved long-time friend.

[note to self: next time, remember your ear plugs. >.< ]

Saturday, March 16, 2013

progress is being made

There have been painters cranking away on the inside of house since Wednesday, painting pretty much every wall and ceiling in the place. These guys have been working their asses off, nine hours a day, eight in the morning until five in the evening...they are awesomely thorough, very detailed, and very considerate. They've been filling holes and sanding where needed, and even put up with us having to make a paint color change after the first day [in a house with a lot of sunlight, bright white paint is *not* the solution you thought it might be >.< ].

[And can I just say that trying to pick a color of paint is more mind-melting than you would think? It's easy to say "we want a light tannish color"...but do you want "Wise Owl", "Baby Turtle", "Moroccan Sand", or "Malted Milk"? Even scarier is finding out you actually have an opinion about each of those colors...buh.]

So one more obstacle to moving in is being knocked down...a few big ones are left [new water heater and recirculator, getting the garage done], then it's fair game for moving in. Which means time to get serious about packing...eep.

Friday, March 01, 2013

time flies

We've been married a year today. Too cool.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

brick by brick

Many years back, I was having a rough time of things. Nothing like what I would find myself going through in later years, but at the time, it was a crisis of confidence and identity that left me pretty empty and confused and alone. Interestingly, it wasn't the earlier dissolving of the seventeen-year relationship that was tearing me down, but rather a later, shorter term one that had [and continues to have] resounding and rebounding effects on me.

Eventually, I gave in and saw a therapist. I have a hard time with facts and realizations that don't come from within my own head/heart, so I'd avoided or ignored that avenue of assistance for a while. In this case, I'd already done a bit of it with a joint/group counselor, so taking it a step further and finding someone who was strictly "on my side" was a bit easier. And it ended up helping, to an let me get some things that were rattling around in my head out into the open, throw some light on them, and let them air out a bit after being kept in the dank, dark bits of my brain for so long.

A short while after that situation resolved itself [or at least was in the process of being resolved], I had a conversation with each therapist about what had happened and what I was planning going forward. Both of them, independently, encouraged me to find a support group for "people who'd been through similar situations". I demurred, deflected, downplayed...and they saw through it, but were both savvy enough to plant the seed and then back off. A short time after that, one of them followed up with me, and told me point blank: "Stacey, it may not have been physical, there may not have been bruises, and you may have felt that your eyes were open and you were aware of what was happening, but it was still *abuse*. You took an emotional beating, you were worn down, you were forced to defend who you were at the core of your being. You faced anger and defensiveness and belittling and projection of insecurities onto you; you were left doubting what you wanted, choices you'd made, and where you wanted your life to go. You were precariously close to letting yourself make decisions that would have affected you for the rest of your life because it was easier than continuing to swim against that tide, but you pushed through, dug in, and stood tall. Never forget that. With everything you'd been through before then, with everything that happened during, and everything that came after, you took control of your own life. You took responsibility. That is something that will serve you for as long as you need it, for as long as you live."

And a few weeks later, the other therapist said something very similar, and encouraged me again to look into support groups. I never did end up doing that; instead I worked with both of them to build a foundation for those newly-rediscovered and hard-fought lessons. Both were skilled in letting me get to the conclusions on my own; rather than pushing me where they thought I should go, they simply provided a conduit to let my thoughts flow in the right directions, which was the best way for me to internalize and actually trust in what I was figuring out.

Because of them, a lot of difficult introspection and truth-facing, and some very kind, patient, and loving friends and family, I gained tools that served me well in the times that were still to come. With luck, I won't need what I learned again...but if I do, I know that it is all still there, and that it can never be lost or taken from me. It was hard-earned, and worth the fight.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

from afar

Sending hugs and love to Chopper's family and friends...

Thursday, February 14, 2013


So Will was out with a friend last night, and the friend asked him if he was ready for Valentine's Day. Will told him nope, he didn't need to, Stacey doesn't buy into all that. The guy apparently responded with "You've got a lot to learn about women..."

More like the guy has a lot to learn about Stacey... <grin>

Monday, February 04, 2013

how my cat passes the time

When he's not sleeping, keeping a watchful eye out the window, or lying on my lap preventing me from typing gracefully, this is how my silly kitty passes the time:

[that's Bean doing her 'mrow-mrow I have a gift for you' thing in the background, and a faint hint of Owl City on the radio]

[the sound didn't come through, sadly...imagine a cat-claw-thumb-stub clink-clinking on a glass dish full of water, punctuated with a bored little yawn somewhere in the middle]

Friday, February 01, 2013

how customer service should be done

A few days ago, I sent feedback to Round Table Pizza about a very late delivery and a disappointing customer service experience. The next day, I received a personal reply from the *son of the founder* apologizing for the poor service, letting me know what they should have done, and what they will be doing going forward.

That, my friends, is a business with commitment to their customers...a rare find nowadays.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

time flies

Just realized that yesterday marked eight years since Pepper made his trip west...hard to believe that much time has gone by, and even harder to process all that has happened in those years. He's seen me through some really rough times, and is still as awesome as of the best Christmas gifts I've ever gotten.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

miles to go

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep."

He promised Mom he would take care of them, and he worked diligently to get everything set up. Projects, tasks, checklists, plans, priorities...busy busy busy. Then one day, out of the blue, he tells me it's done. He's done. Everything he set out to do is complete; everyone he said he'd look after is provided for.

So off he went onto those dark deep woods, weary from the miles, confident that his promises were kept.

It was time. He was ready to sleep.