Family Memories and Moments

I woke up this morning with Nick Cave in my head, not surprising since I saw him perform last night. This was our view from the very last row at the Greek Theater with the sky above and trees behind us. I had joked we would be up in the trees with the creepy crawlers, then a bug fell onto my head less than five minutes after we found our seats. But what a beautiful night! This part here in this song got me. I don't ordinarily like taking video clips at concerts, but it was at the start of the set and I felt compelled to here — maybe to try to capture the whole view (again, the last row!), or the mood that was set the second Cave and the Bad Seeds took to the stage. There was a lot of sadness in the songs, with a running theme of loss and grief that resonated with me, but it wasn't all darkness. I heard and felt hope. There were opportunities to dance in the aisles, too. At this point, I looked up at the trees and I took a deep breath. There is joy, even when you least expect it.

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A rose from the garden next to Pancho the porcupine. The story of Pancho begins with my mom's fondness for crystal. She gifted me several crystal items, some traditional like a vase, and others more quirky and fun like this. During a visit a few years ago, she gave us a gift bag that included this cute porcupine, which made us laugh. A porcupine? Okay, then! Shortly after that, we had friends over for dinner and I placed it on the table next to the salt and pepper. A friend asked about the porcupine and we decided it should be named. Everyone wrote down a name on a piece of paper and I collected the folded-up suggestions and read them aloud. I don't recall the other suggestions, although I remember many were funny. When I heard Pancho, suggested by my friend Josh, it just felt right. Later, my mom was amused to hear her gift was such a hit. #love

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Here's to the power of music and its ability to move and lift you. My dad and I shared a love of music. A little over a year ago, we sat down together to watch Bruce Springsteen perform on Jon Stewart's last episode of "The Daily Show." We cried hearing Bruce sing "The Land of Hope and Dreams." (Listen to it — it's beautiful and its message was particularly touching given the timing of my father's failing health.) My dad has been gone a year now and I'm cherishing that memory. I cried (and also smiled) listening to it a year later. Also, it's a great song to get stuck in your head. This is what Bruce sang: "Grab your ticket and your suitcase Thunder's rolling down the tracks You don't know where you're goin' now But you know you won't be back Darlin' if you're weary Lay your head upon my chest We'll take what we can carry And we'll leave the rest Big wheels roll through fields Where sunlight streams Meet me in a land of hope and dreams I will provide for you I'll stand by your side You'll need a good companion for This part of the ride Leave behind your sorrows Let this day be the last Well tomorrow there'll be sunshine And all this darkness past Big wheels roll through fields Where sunlight streams Meet me in a land of hope and dreams Well this train Carries saints and sinners This train Carries losers and winners This train Carries whores and gamblers This train Carries lost souls I said this train Carries broken-hearted This train Thieves and sweet souls departed This train Carries fools and kings This train All aboard I said this train Dreams will not be thwarted This train Faith will be rewarded This train Hear the steel wheels singin' This train Bells of freedom ring.” Springsteen ended the song, "Land of Hope and Dreams," with a refrain from "People Get Ready." "People get ready There's a train coming You don't need no ticket You just get on board."

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After hearing inspiration words on the stage of the DNC tonight, I wanted more than anything to be able to pick up the phone and talk to my mom about it. We would have discussed how it is more than the historic moment (although that is pretty freakin' fantastic) — it is about fighting for what is right and being brave enough to effect change. I picked up my mom's favorite Eleanor Roosevelt book and opened up to this page. How perfect — it's the story of how Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the America Revolution because of their "No Negroes" policy. She went further; when the DAR refused to let acclaimed singer Marian Anderson sing at a DC arena because of the color of her skin, Roosevelt helped arrange for her to sing at a free concert at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. That's why #imwithher — we need more of this. #thatsamerica

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"Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose…." I heard "Sweet Baby James" by James Taylor on the radio this morning, my dad's favorite song. He also said that Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" was his favorite. (I understand his inability to name one song — how can you pick one favorite when there are so many — and from so many different eras and genres?) Both songs were on iTunes playlists my father made and burned to CDs, which he played in the rental cars he and my mom drove during their annual trip to visit me in California. I hear the songs and think of drives with them on PCH or on winding roads in Ojai and Santa Barbara, on the way to a beach, park, or a lunch or dinner spot. It's the simple things, my dad used to say. Enjoy the moment. I miss those drives and moments, but I know I will continue to cherish those memories. I didn't need to hear JT on the radio to be reminded of my sweet dad on this day (or any), but it filled my heart to hear it. It came on while parking at the beach and I sat on the shore thinking about all I am grateful for, including the countless days we enjoyed on the beach. My dad said beaches and parks were his churches and I feel the same. #love #deepgreensandblues

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When you are not a mother and you have lost your own mother, this can be a day of sorrow, even if you consider it a Hallmark holiday. (My mom and I talked just last year about how we appreciated the writer Anne Lamott's essay on the holiday. Google it.) I started today with a walk on the beach and recalled the countless walks I had with my mom (and dad) on both coasts. The mom and son in this photo were walking ahead of me as we approached the pier, and I saw her knock on one of the pier's posts before turning around. That moved me. It was a habit of my parents to knock on a sign or wall or anything else that indicated the turning-around point on a walk. Also, my dad gave my mom a door-knocker charm when they were in high school that reads "knock at my heart." I love that metaphor. I like that it invites you to open the door — or open your heart.

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This is Lucy, whose mom told me she asked to take a personal day off from school. That amused me and put me in the mood to rhyme. Here's what I came up with: Lucy had a serious question to ask. Can I stay home today and forget about school? To have a day of my own and make my own rules? To go to the playground and ride on the swings. To sit down on a bench and contemplate things — Like why zebras have stripes and mosquitoes bite, And the stars in the sky don't come out until night. Wait! Thinking is for school! A day of my own should be about fun. To go to the park and do nothing but run — Except for a moment to go down the slide, And let's not forget there's a pony to ride! And then what comes next? What's next but not last? Hmmmm. Maybe I can have some fun in my class? The end.

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Family tradition. #love #football

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It's what's inside that counts. #locket #momanddad #truelove #heart #tbt #throwbackthursday

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Escarole and white bean soup. Reminds me of my grandmother. #tonsofgarlic #comfortfood #soup #foodislove

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Dad gave this charm to Mom when they were teens. #valentinesday #jewelry #necklace #charm #love #heart

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