Friday, July 31, 2009

Goodbye Vito

As often is the case, you talk about someone who you have been thinking about, and all of a sudden something happens of note, or they show up at your door. Just this week I have had the strongest urge to call an old client's attorney to see how my old client was doing.

Vito Lucchesi was engaging, hot tempered, generous, gregarious and very very Italian. I first met Vito around four years ago. He had called me after receiving one of my marketing pieces.

"Come in, come in" he said as I knocked on the door. "You can sell my house!"

He told me how his wife had passed away and he wanted to return to Italy "to die." This sort of frankness I wasn't ready for... and I countered, "No Vito I won't sell your house if you are going somewhere to die, I would only sell it if you are going somewhere to live."

His home was sparsely decorated, save for a few pictures of his old town of Tassignano in Lucca, his parents, some soccer photos from his days as a goalie, and one of his wife along with her obituary. The smell of cigarette smoke clung to everything like molasses. His housekeeping left something to be desired. The television was almost always on, blaring a soccer game in Italian. Occasionally he would have on Jerry Springer and he would comment about the quality of the people who were guests. I found out that he used to own a North Beach restaurant called the Montclair. He was also a bartender at the North Beach Restaurant and still maintained his friendship with several restaurant owners, both in Marin and SF.

He loved to garden and grew vegetables and fruit on his property on Northern in Mill Valley. There was an abandoned aviary in the rear of the property where he kept birds in the old days, back when he and his dog would go hunting. Every time I would come to visit him he would give me some chard, or lemons or pears, or panetonne (Christmas Bread - sometimes as late as July). I would bring him muffins. One time I thought I would bring him paneforte, he smiled at me and looked rather pleased with himself. The next day I came and saw it in the trash. I asked him why "I don't like it, it's too tough." But he would not find a burger at Marin Joes too tough, and would regularly join his friend and attorney Tom Uniack and Osvaldo for a "boys lunch out".

As time when on I discovered I was not the only Realtor who he invited to sell his house. When I saw the marketing plan of one of them on his coffee table I asked him if he wanted to work with them and told him that would be fine with me. "No you are my Realtor" he would say. I don't know why they gave me this. " So around then is when Vito introduced me to his attorney Tom Uniack. Tom suggested it would be good for everyone to sign a listing agreement. I told Tom, until Vito had a place to go I had no intention of selling or marketing his house. I knew he wanted to go to Italy and I envisioned him retiring in an adult living situation near Lucca. Every time I would see him he would say " I want to go to Lucca to die." We kept on with this relationship for around a year, as Vito slowly began his decline.

Vito would forget things, like the pot on the stove, or how to make coffee (no grounds do not go into the water reservoir). He fell one day and called me from the floor. He didn't say he had fallen just that he wanted to see me. I got a call later in the day saying he was in the hospital. But Vito, Vito was as stubborn as they come. I had bought him an Italian magazine about Soccer and an Italian newspaper to bring with me for my visit to the hospital. When I came in the room he had the most guilty look I have ever seen in an adult. His cousin was standing there, who looked a little awkward. I said "is this a bad time?" to which Vito quickly said, "come back later tonight." Later in the day his attorney called to say he had checked himself out of the hospital.

The next day I received another call from Vito. He sounded hurt and I ran over to the house. He kept saying "just a minute, just a minute" behind the door. When the door finally opened, he was lying on the floor in obvious pain. His friend Osvaldo and Tom came shortly after. I told them we needed to get 24 hour care if he was to stay home. Vito said "Oh I don't want that!" I swayed him by telling him it would be a nice young lady who would take care of him. "Ok ," he agreed.

Later that day the caregiver came in. She was a black woman about 6 ft tall. I don't think this is who Vito thought would be coming. For the next several weeks they kept up a challenging relationship until finally, she was let go. I tried to keep up my regular visits, bringing his Milano cookies and even attempted to make him his 13 tortellini one night, which he felt I hadn't cooked nearly enough.

One day, there was a fire at Vito's house. He ran outside after opening all the doors and windows in a panic. The house was so burned it was uninhabitable. Osvaldo and Tom set in motion a plan to find somewhere for Vito to stay. All along, Vito wanted to go to Italy.

Vito bounced between care facilities as his decline quicken. His house was sold. He was not going to go to Lucca. I stopped my visits after one in which he couldn't really speak to me, and didn't know who I was. But I have thought about Vito often, as I have been this week. I was saying to Glenn just a couple of days ago, "I need to call Tom to see how Vito is doing, but I am afraid to ask."

This morning I read Vito's obituary in the paper.

Vito Lucchesi April 7, 1924 - July 17, 2009 Vito was born in Tassignano (Lucca) Italy. He was a resident of Mill Valley, CA for the last 50 years. Vito was the owner of the Montclair Restaurant in North Beach, San Francisco for many years and a bartender at the North Beach Restaurant in S.F. and La Toscana in San Rafael. Vito enjoyed hunting, gardening and soccer, especially cheering for his favorite team "Juve." Vito was on the 1950-1952 soccer team of the S.F. Italian American Club, winner of the State Cup (1950-51) and the California State Cup (1951-1952). Vito was predeceased in death by his wife, Sigrun; parents, brother and sister. Vito is survived by his two stepdaughters, cousins, nephew and niece and many good friends who will miss him dearly. Special thanks to Osvaldo Dell-Angelica, his long-time friend and caregiver. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice, spiritual bouquets or Masses...Private inurnment will be held in Italy.

In my mind I will picture him as he was seen in the photo he had from his soccer days - flying horizontally over the ground 6 feet up blocking a goal. I will see him as a little kid in the house next to the church in Tassignano causing some sort of mischief. I will see the joy in his face when he opened the door. I will continue to miss Vito and wish I could have taken him to Lucca one more time. But really, his heart and soul never really left in the first place.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Misc. walks this week

It's been hard to slip in walks this week. I have been lucky enough to have alot of business to attend to, but... I did manage a couple of quickies.

Early in the week I walked over to the new Trader Joes and over to Nordstroms. Power walking, not exactly power shopping. On the way I walked by this flock of pelicans. They ahve been hanging out in this tidal pond for about a week now. They move in unison and are closely packed together. Something must be might good down there to keep them in such numbers in such a small area. I could watch them for hours.

Today, I showed one of my listings in my neighborhood in Mill Valley and then decided, it might be the right opportunity to walk to the office. I called Glenn as I headed down the hill just to check to see if he would be around to take me back home. On the way down there were a few turkeys hanging out in the hood. It is getting so I get to know people I pass on the bike route. Along Coyote Creek I passed the bird feeders and they said hello. Asked me to come and sit and feed the birds with them. I walked on.

Little known fact (at least to me...) The public restrooms at the sewer treatment plant close at 4pm. Isn't that a little early?

Up and over to Corte Madera and stop to see my buddy Patty Williamson. Patty has sold 100 raffle tickets for our Wine Wars. She is donating something fantastic from her store Feather Bed and Bath and...her husband Mike is donating his time along with the entire Go Kat Go band. Those are some good friends right there.

SO.... suffice it to say this event is gearing up to be incredible! Even if you don't buy a raffle ticket, glass of wine or make a bid on the live auction there will be more fun than a barrel of monkeys! MUSIC! FOOD! all for $10 a head. Email me for you invitation today!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I have been having a conversation with a friend about mortality.

I suppose the first time I thought about my own death was when I was a little kid. I don't know why. I am told that isn't really a normal thought for kids to have, but I used to have that thought on a regular basis. It wasn't as if there was a lot of dying going on around me. I had all four grandparents and they were a big part of my life, but every once in awhile, my heart would race and I would be swallowed by fear, break into a sweat and think, one day, I am going to die.

Since then I have experienced the passing of people I loved. All four grandparents eventually passed away. First my grandmother (the daughter of the two people in the photos above). She died in 1964 when I was 11. Then my grandmother back east, dying of bone cancer, followed by her husband while I was in high school. The last to go was my grandfather Dietel, who in his passing showed great wisdom and strength battling cancer for all of his adult life, passing at the age of 81. From each of the events, my understanding of life grew as I dealt with their deaths. Because after they were gone, life did indeed go on. All those trite sayings resounded in my ears, "they are never truly gone, they live within your heart." And I found most trite sayings are based in the truth (that's why people say them over and over).

Now our parents are aging. Some have passed on. My Mother died at the age of 49. Glenn's Mother at the age of 80. My father continued his life remarrying 3 times (thank goodness the last one is a keeper). But he has aged and he shows it in his slumped posture and pained walk.

Some of our parents leave us slowly. Dementia, debilitating illness are thieves stealing the quality of the time we have with our loved ones. How in the world does one come to deal with all of this?
It is natural that we look around and realize, all of our friends, everything we know at one time will be gone. The thought can be overwhelming. Look at the pictures of my great grandparents. They and their generation knew all too well the reality of death. In their lives it was far more normal for a person to die before hitting middle age. I seem to recall the life expectancy of people in the 1700s was 35 years old. A lot has changed since then.

As I dealt with the diagnosis of Cancer, I truly avoided thinking about my own mortality. I focused on the day in front of me. I was in survival mode. There were times when I consciously thought, that even though I didn't feel so great, I owed it my children, husband and my friends to show up and be present in my life. I found in doing that I was relishing every minute. There were some rich and most meaningful moments, lived in this time of illness. But I ran from my mortality by avoiding thinking of it. I was too frightened to look.
It is tempting when facing your mortality, to become quite depressed. To freeze in place and wait for your demise. The loss of a loved one often has this effect, it freezes us in fear and helplessness. How cruel and sad to mourn someone you love by stopping living. Instead, to celebrate that person a commitment should be made to grab life by both hands and hold on for the ride.

I think about those people who have gone by, those people I knew, and those I never met. I think about their lives, the richness fills me with wonder. When I wake up and walk out the door, I feel as if there is part of them inside me, passed on to see the sun with many eyes. To feel the wind with a common skin. To taste the wine together and savory the warmth it brings. This life was given to us to live, not just for ourselves, but to honor those who have gone before and inspire those who watch us live.
I will lace up my shoes this afternoon and walk in remembrance, joy and gratitude. Coming close to death, whether your own or someone else's, should leave you determined to live like you never have before. This walk is a celebration of my acceptance of having survived Cancer and the acknowledgment that I almost died from it. Never have I felt so alive. When I ran from my mortality I lived in fear. Now that I have accepted my mortality, I can truly live.
HOW are you living your life? Live it to the fullest! Come to our WINE WARS - August 20th in Mill Valley. Email me for your invitation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TUCKER on the DL

Our dog Tucker....
Last Saturday, Tucker, Sophie and Glenn went to the dog park for a morning romp. There is nothing these dogs won't do, for a good game of catch and fetch. Glenn tossed the ball in the air and our 50lb Corgi Tucker flew vertically into the air in the attempt to catch the ball. As he came back down to earth he twisted in the air landing slightly off kilter on his front feet.
Immediately he went lame, unable to put full weight on his foot. Glenn drove he immediately to our vet, who had a very busy morning. They said at the desk they could look at him in the afternoon, so Glenn drove him home, and we hoped for a sprain that some baby aspirin might help. But by this morning he was still quite lame.
We took him in and Dr. Tim took an xray... the xray showed a break on his middle toe. Now our poor boy is laying here in the family room with a neon green cast on his leg.
NO water sports for this dog. 6 weeks in the cast. Our Russian River week is in less time.
We shall see what we shall see.
Do you think he will want to stay still for 6 weeks?

PS. Corrections to this story by Glenn who was there...

1. Tucker did not land on his feet, He landed on his back. As he was up in the air, he was slightly off target so he twisted to try and get the ball. He missed it, landed on his back and his foot followed. "It was ugly."
2. Glenn did not immediately drive, he first walked 1/4 of a mile carrying the 50 lb dog. Alright everyone say in unison.... "Ahhhhhhh"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Does Cathy walk on water? NO! But she sails....

It's been a long time, since I have been sailing on Hazardous Waste. Glenn and I did a quick trip over to Angel Island awhile back, but, had been awhile.
My husband and his two good friends have owned this boat for 9 years. Over those years they have raced it against some of the best sailors in the world. The guys have decided to cut back on the racing and focus more on cruising. I know they are doing this with mixed feelings. There is nothing that I think any of them like better than messing around on that boat. Now, there will be more cruising (good news for all of us non-racers). The first on our list of "must go sailing with..." was Patti and John Bott. Luckily, they could come along.

We met at the boat and got ready for a cruise.... This definitely was NOT a race. Himy (the Sacks Yorkie) came along. Our band of sailors were...Misako, Dana, Patti, John, Glenn and me plus the dog. The boat was loaded with wine, food and friends as we left Sausalito and headed out.
In the beginning I was at the helm, but the winds on the way out were a bit fluky and I haven't sailed in awhile. I looked at Glenn and said.."take it... " and he did. It wasn't long though before John got to steer and the boat cut through the water, heeling in the breeze heading out toward the city. On the way out we took a side trip to see a proper yacht with helicopter. (HOW do they take off from that wee little perch?)
The early grey skies cleared nicely all through the bay including Sausalito. It was going to be a perfect day for kicking back and enjoying the moment. I called out...Let's head to the lee side of Angel Island (known for being a place to hide from the wind). True to form the lee was still and warm. The winds were blowing 25 knots down the middle of the bay, but hugging close to the island, I recalled the times in younger days when Glenn and the guys would grab a beer jump overboard and swim in to the beach. Instead, we laid around, soaked up the sun and laughed.

Once we left the lee it was back into the breeze. I think John preferred to fly across the water. I do have to say, I looked at Glenn and Dana once or twice and wondered if they were just terribly bored by all this relaxation.

But me? after all this walking I think I enjoyed it...Dana is developing that salty dog look.

John is developing his Boddingtons adman look.

Patti, is one hot sailor girl. She actually crewed on this boat at one time. She is a natural!
Me... On the boat between taking cell phone calls and trying to do business in the wind... I decided to put the phone away and work on my Gilligan's Island demeanor.
John is a sucker for pets.... They him him too.
See there is work being done... don't see me do you???!!!
At the end of the sail Dana and Glenn pulled out the Rum... No sunset we were sailing back into... it was the Summer fog instead.
After heading back to the dock, we weren't quite done yet. Half the group headed to the market to grab some steaks, we ran home to throw everything we own into the laundry room so people would think we aren't slobs... and we had a nice BBQ.
I know the guys are going to miss the number of races they used to do (OVER 60 in the season last year). But, we still have the boat and that wonderful bond it creates between friends. The good news is, if you haven't been out with us, you may have a chance to grab a ride on one of these new "cruise" sails. Send me an email and lets us know you want to go for a sail on Hazardous Waste.
But for now... I have to get back to walking!
OH yeah speaking of email... I am waiting for yours about WINE WARS!

Friday, July 24, 2009

18.39...time to recharge EVERYTHING!

SOLO sojourns

Right now my phone is being recharge, my I-Pod is being recharged, I am eating pop'ems and drinking water getting recharged. It was a long walk!

Since I will be away tomorrow, sailing and showing homes Sunday morning and holding an open house Sunday afternoon, I knew the long scheduled walks for the weekend were out. Even though, my business life has been hopping lately, I also knew I had to get in a long one somehow, so off I went at 8:00 headed down the hill to parts unknown.
That's actually not true, I knew I was going to make a stop at Patti's houseboat at 8:30. I had invitations to drop off. After drinking some fine Guatemalan coffee with Patti, I left her houseboat and headed out the door at 8:59. I looked right back at Tiburon, and I looked left out to Sausalito and SF and decided both ways were grey enough, I might as well head to the bridge.
My plan was to walk as far as 7.5 miles and turn around. But... as I zig zagged my way through Sausalito, it became apparent, I would have to extend my walk somehow to break my old record of 14.5 miles. When I got to Fort Baker and Cavallo Point the pedometer read 6.2 miles, not nearly far enough. I looked up at bridge and thought, "why did I come all this way to the bridge if I am not going to cross it?" It seemed logical...I could cross and I would definitely break the old record in the process. So up and over I went.

As I was crossing the bridge I got a call from a new client, got news about an offer on a listing and another from someone wanting to see one of my listings. I suppose we had Murphy's Law in effect. Take a walk where there is very little chance you will be able to do anything but talk on the phone, and the calls come for more. Once I crossed the bridge I chatted with clients on the phone, stretched and turned around.

The time constraints of this walk made me walk as fast as feasible through the tourist bikes and picture takers until I hit Marin and headed downhill into Fort Baker. My favorite walks are those in which I can stop, take a few photos, look around and BE there. But this was not to be. Too many phone calls, too much business to be done. I called Glenn to see if he agreed to pick me up and drive me up our hill if it was 3pm and I still wasn't home. I had no idea at the time how far I would ultimately make it, so I turned up the music and marched on. Down through Sausalito, through the parks and the houseboats sneaking a peak to see if Patti was there... on through the wetlands up to the cabin to wait for Glenn. NO GLENN!

So I walked on to the sign for our neighborhood and sat on Tia's bench to wait. After a few minutes Glenn did arrive and gave me a lift to our home. The pedometer read...18.39 miles!

My Saturday walk begs the question... does Cathy really walk on water? I will get to that ASAP...

Please send in your RSVP for Wine Wars... the NOT to be missed event of the season!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Picnic with Alain Pinel

Today was our company picnic, and I walked to Boyle Park from our office in Corte Madera. Along the way, I was stopped about 3 times by people wanting help or advice about something. The first person was a contractor looking for design advice. I talked with him for about 5 minutes. "What do you think, should I put that detail there, or should I put a post over there?" I was surprised he wanted my advice, since he had no idea that I was Realtor.
The other two were asking for directions. I guess it was the pink shirt. Makes you look approachable and helpful I guess.
I made it to the park with the picnic in full swing. The BBQs were hot, and burgers were flying off. People sitting sipping their beer, enjoying Toni's potato salad and Paul and Ann's Oysters. The breeze was up a bit children played on the grass, and dogs looked up expectantly to Beth who was slipping elicit bites of people food to them. People from Sonoma and SF mingled among the Marin folks - everyone looked like they were relaxed and enjoying themselves.
Karen grabbed a megaphone (which was really just a fake police siren) and announced it was time for kick ball. This brought back waves of memories of me as a chubby little kid. Whenever a game was about to begin and people were to pick teams, I was always picked last. Perhaps it is because whenever I miraculously would actually kick or hit the ball, I would start running and everyone would yell "Run Cathy RUN!" and I would yell back "I am! I am!"
I was never much an athlete.
But today, I wanted to play kickball. It was a blast. Kids picked the teams and I was picked 4th! to my amazement. I think it must of helped wearing my exercise pants and running shoes. I faked him out! Parents were playing along side kids, who were playing along side mid century stars. There were some good plays...some switch hitters like MARIA! and a lot of fun. It ended in a very appropriate tie.
Glenn came during the game and shot a few pictures. Then we headed over of an egg toss. I asked Glenn to play but he wasn't really dressed for it. Then I saw Marti Guerra standing asking what was going on... so I insisted she and I do the egg toss. We hung in there for a long time, but ultimately the egg collided with my hand and sent slimy egg white into my hair. (Could have been worse!) The final pair were Tim and Tyler, which they celebrated by doing a high five with egg in hand (squish!).
After wiping off my hand, I joined Gib who had brought a ton of percussion play things to the picnic (some of which looked strangely like fruit) Marti Guerra and Marti Grossman joined us, then John G and Wayka B and then Steve D. But where was the conga line?
Great fun, a great group.
Jamming with Marti x 2 with Gib

It was a good thing that Glenn came to take me to my car. I could have walked home, but.... I have a big day planned for tomorrow. The 5-6 miles today was just enough...
Still hoping you come to Wine Wars... it will be the picnic but...maybe the conga line will show up. Email me

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Have you ever seen an angel?

I remember as a little kid, going to Sunday school, I used to hear the stories about angels. They were majestic creatures who floated down from heaven on high. Sometimes they were angry, part of God's avengers, most times they were benevolent and brought messages of great joy. ALWAYS they were noticed.

When you receive the diagnosis of Breast Cancer, you are on the watch, (at least I was) for your angel. Miracles abound and I felt like I had better be ready to notice my angel when they appeared. The first few weeks of discovering breast cancer, moved at lightening speed. The first word was delivered via telephone "I'm sorry to say you have Breast Cancer." Then in person, "you need a lumpectomy." Then again by telephone "You need to come back in" and in person" You have no choice you must have a mastectomy." Then by committee "We recommend a treatment of Adriamycin, Cytoxin". So far I wasn't seeing very many angels; perhaps some well meaning and incredibly gifted and dedicated professionals, but I wouldn't go as far as to say they were angels.

Then as I progressed with my chemotherapy. There were dozens of people who signed up to bring my family food. I received cards and letters and phone calls and visits, flowers and gifts and heartfelt wishes. I thought these people to be unbelievably kind and generous, but... probably not angels.

My sisters and brother came to cheer me up on my birthday and brought with them that sense of what is important, along with the confirmation that they loved me. Just as my father had come to my surgery to pray.

The school, where I was PTA President, dedicated a tree in my name (a sure sign they worry you are going to die, by the way) and each child drew a picture of themselves that Tia assembled in a grand collage that they presented to me. I looked at their bright faces full of smiles and support and felt incredibly lucky to have been able to work and play with them. But were they angels???? I didn't think so.

So I breezed through the treatment without a sign of an angel appearing to alter the course of my destiny. As the years went by, I sent my thoughts of angels to the back of my mind.

Then, my husband's Mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I went to church with them on the last time she ever went to church. We stayed after for "Sunday school" class and the topic was angels. I looked at her eyes as person after person recounted times they felt they had encountered an angel. Her eyes were full of need, the need to believe. And I thought about times I had seen angels and the times I have seen them at work in my life.

When I was 24, my mother was in the hospital and it was her last hours. We were at home waiting. My young brother and sister were crying as we sat in a darkened room. Somehow, from somewhere a voice came in the calmest of sounds "it will be okay." I was speaking the words, but I felt someone else was forming them. They both looked at me and the immediately relaxed. "It will be okay, it will be okay."

Sometimes we are in places in our lives where we don't have a clue what to do, or how to act. That, I believe is when angels can appear, if you let them. Angels, it is said, are "messengers of God". It is my belief that angels do exist in more ways than we have ever thought. Those doctors who set my feet on the path that led to my wellness, were the right people at the right time, saying things in a way I could hear at a time when I might only hear my own fear. Those parents and friends who embraced my family and lifted me up while I was weakened and weary, may not have known what to do, or what to say, but they strengthen me by caring for what I loved the most , my family. My sisters and brother and father who came to show their love, brought me the message that we are connected and that connection makes us one. And in that there is tremendous strength. The children, the tree and the love of those people at Tam Valley School showed me how life is precious and how much I wanted to be watch my own children grow.

All of these messages were as powerful as an army, as loud as a symphony and as real as love. These were my angels. Just as that voice had come to me in a dark and frightening place, they were the voices that led me on. When I looked at Glenn's mother that day and she asked me if I believed in angels, I said without hesitation "Oh yes I do. I have seen them." And she smiled.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do little steps add up????

Good morning Marinview....

This morning the dogs got us up way too early, so early I ignored them completely. When I got out of bed expecting a walk in the dog park with Glenn and our canines... I saw Glenn dressing in his "good" clothes, a sure sign he was heading off for his day.

So I moved to plan B. It was early enough I felt I could sneak in a 4-5 mile walk before work. I got dressed and headed upstairs and saw two very fore lorn pups staring at me. "Ah come on," the look said, you know we should have a walk too.

When Sophie met Tucker for the first time........
I grabbed their leashes and slapped them on, and we headed out. About 20 yards down the road, I remembered WHY I don't like to walk the dogs in the neighborhood. Down the street were two dogs coming up the hill. When Tucker saw them he immediately turned on Sophie. He sounded as if he was going to kill her. Can anyone explain to me WHY he does this???? I spent the next couple of minutes apologizing for the ruckus and settling the dogs down. As we headed down the hill, Tucker decided he probably would have preferred to stay home and turned his head to go back. I looked him square in the eye to let him know, this was not an option. He looked back and I could see his resolve soften... but only a little. As we headed off, he dilly dallied and stopped about a million times; looked at me with that expression that says... "I told you I didn't want to go!"

Making the turn for home the terrain becomes a steep uphill climb. There was a time when I could hardly make it up he hill. Most certainly I would have to stop to catch my breath. As my training has advanced so has my stamina. I made it home without much effort and felt full of energy and ready for more. I looked at the pedometer. .5 miles. OH REALLY!

All that hill and all I could show for it was .5 miles?!
And so... I headed down... to Starbucks.

Our Starbucks is at the bottom of our BIG hill. This means, what goes down must go up... and I knew that. But also knowing the SF 3 day will be full of hills I also thought it would be good practice. I trudged onward. My goal was to walk 4 miles today before work...and I wasn't there.

When I headed back up the hill, I checked out my listing on Countyview, swept some leaves and noted someone had taken my blue booties from the front door. Can you tell me WHY someone would want used blue booties? As I climbed the hill I noted there was NO way I would be making 4 miles before getting back (including the early dog walk). I thought the best I would be able to muster might be 3. Believe me the climb is certainly more challenging that 8 miles of flat!

I started zig zagging hoping that would add steps to the walk, but despite this I came home with a total of 3.5 miles. I headed off to work to pick up a few papers. I had a pest inspection scheduled at 1. I thought about that .5 miles and decided... I would walk from my house UP to the inspection.

No inspector I know wears a tie!

The best pest inspector in my book is Bob Hoffman of Morris Pest. He met me at the house and did his thing (looking nothing like the man in the photo above!) I always enjoy seeing Bob. The tenant at this house had a male Siamese cat and you can tell Bob is a cat guy. Even though we had been warned this cat bites...even its owner, Bob was determined to make friends. One try brought hisses. But eventually the cat warmed up to Bob.

After the inspection was over, I walked back down to the house.... GRAND TOTAL 4.021 miles!There you go... determination paid off and I made my goal.

It makes me think about those people walking in Florida or Kansas. 60 miles there will certainly be a big feat, but how does it compare to SF hills? Let's just say, every place must have its challenges. For us it will be hills. For Florida maybe the heat. Kansas maybe a tornado?!

What is true is the time commitment each and every woman and man is making to walk in this event. It isn't just the event itself it is the days and days of training leading up to the event. It's the blisters and the leg cramps and the sunburns and the headaches when you aren't hydrated or nourished well enough. Its your husband asking if you can come sailing and you having to consider whether you can also get in your training walk. Its the fundraising, being the nag on the block who has their hand out. But... it is also, accomplishment, purpose and unbelievably rewarding. It allows you to find yourself, rediscover your friends and make a difference.

For me, it allows me to finally feel I have the upper hand on Breast Cancer. This walk was given me the biggest gift of all ...a full and meaningful life. And it has given me the chance to maybe, just maybe help others discover their lives too. If you imagine that there are thousands of women on this same journey, the collective power of all this self discovery is so overwhelming, it could move mountains (or at least make them easier to climb), or cure cancer.

PLEASE JOIN us by donating, or attending our WINE WARS (email me at

You and we , will be so glad you did!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wake up and smell the coffee

After the 14 mile walk yesterday, I wanted to stay on the suggested training schedule. The 3 day trainers suggest including back to back walks over the weekend. (I think they recommended 10 and 7 miles this week). Today, like most Sundays, I have an open house scheduled and a really long walk simply won't be the cards. But I asked myself, what do I want to do?

Last night when we were cleaning up after a dinner party, I looked at Glenn and
asked him..."Want to walk to the beach tomorrow morning?" Tennessee Beach is a relatively short and easy walk from the parking lot at Tennessee Valley. In the past, I have walked there from our house up on the hill. Knowing this Glenn said "Sure, but from the parking lot!"

I got up early and looked outside. The windows were wet from the fog. Glenn looked out and asked "You want to walk somewhere else? Somewhere sunnier?" But, I didn't. I was relishing the cool breeze on my face. I thought it might be the ideal way to wake up. So off we went...

I don't think I have been on this walk were there weren't dozens of other people with the same idea. I think the foggy morning cut down on the causal walkers or runners. For most of the way, Glenn and I had the path alone, except for bunnies and quail.

The walk reminded me that things that may appear to some to be less than ideal, usually have their own singular beauty that you might never experience unless you look.

I could be wrong, but I believe the half dozen or so eggs we saw on the path were turkey eggs. We have a large population of wild turkeys in the valley (and our neighborhood). Whoever found them have practiced the oldest form of population control. Very likely this could have been a coyote project....

At ever turn we seemed to be disturbing another group of bunnies and quail. Since the path went on for awhile we kept trying to snap a photo. Most of the pictures have the white tail of the bunny and the top knots of the quail in full retreat.

But one brave bunny stayed close enough for us to see the white of his eye.(Or is that red eye from the camera???)

Glenn and I walked the beach when we reached it. Not another soul to interrupt. Despite the fog, there was a warmth in the air.

The beach hardly showed a sign of people having been around, except stacked stones and a lost AW root beer can. The seagulls had thought they might have at least a few more minutes to themselves until we came along. Standing on the beach. I breathed in the clean clear air. The coolness filling me with the optimism we sometimes miss in the middle of our day. It was hard to find a shred of pessimism in this pristine place. What a great way to start your day.

Days like this, are the gift of freedom I have given myself, that I had denied myself not all that long ago. In the past, I would have looked at the fog and said...forget it, lets hang out at home, I'll make pancakes and bacon. Then we would have stayed home until we needed to go to work. I would remain half asleep throughout the day.
Today our walk energized us and filled us with bright anticipation for the day ahead. After a start like this it is hard not to exclaim "Seize the day!"

Now I am getting ready for the week ahead. I am making myself a promise to make an hour here or there for my walks and maybe even yoga. These times help me navigate the stress and demands of selling houses in a less than robust market. It helps me put into perspective the concerns of clients and co-workers. Somehow those times of freedom, make me stronger for the times I am committed to others. I do believe they help make me just a wee bit more sane.

As we move closer to our event, I have to encourage you to send in your RSVPs to Wine Wars. For insurance purposes we need confirmed guests. If you haven't gotten an invitation, just ask and I will send you one. Can you think about a better way to spend a Thursday than sipping wine, listening to great music and fighting breast cancer?! I think not! Email me at