Eating Jamaican Black Cake With Ron

The first batch (of five) Jamaican Black Cakes are out of the oven. They get soaked in rum until, a) we think they’ve had enough or, b) we run out of rum.

We cut into the first cake because we had to test the batch and make sure it’s good enough to give to anyone else. My perfectly cut parchment paper bases did the trick. The cake is excellent.

I like the fact that “Rum” is “Ron” in Spanish. I’m just having some cake with Ron (even though my friend Ron lives in Nova Scotia).

Yesterday’s blog post inspired me to get the other box of holiday decorations out of the closet so I can display them all.

I haven’t done it yet, but at least I’m inspired.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d show you some more of the handmade ornaments I’ve already set out.

(Click the images… because they get bigger.)


One set of ornaments was created by dear old friends in Connecticut. They have two daughters and we all used to love to play Pictionary Junior together. As a going-away gift when we moved to San Diego, California, in 1993, Don and Bev, and Laura and Sarah each created an ornament from one of the Pictionary cards. We will forever cherish the gift and all the memories.

More of San Geraldo’s handiwork…


So What, I’m A Rock Star


We have a new piano! We went Friday to a great music shop, Organigrama Málaga, and the piano was delivered today. San Geraldo had done his research (he plays; I don’t), so there was no real shopping, just paying. While we stood at the counter a rockstar wannabe was trying out an electric guitar. It was painful to hear.

San Geraldo had a piano when we met in 1981, an old baby grand; it was very old and not very grand. He sold the piano before we moved to Los Angeles in 1982. In 1987, after our second move following Los Angeles, I bought him a new upright piano for his birthday. We sold that in 1993 before we moved to San Diego where we bought a new baby grand. That moved to San Francisco with us in 1998. It had to be craned from our driveway onto the third-floor terrace of our house because it wouldn’t fit up the stairs to the living room.

Not wanting to crane it back out, we sold the piano with the house when we left San Francisco in 2000. Then, in 2003 (after yet another move), we bought a digital piano for our home in Santa Barbara. That moved to Las Vegas with us in 2007 and, a year later, we sold it to our neighbours when we began to downsize.

I’d like to take lessons, but I’d also like to immediately be able to play like Elton John.

Or Rachmaninov.


I might have to lower my expectations before I start. Fortunately, for everyone’s sake, the piano is digital. I can just plug in the headphones and no one will ever know the truth (except me).

I wish that guitar player in the shop had been wearing headphones.


Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na….

I Had To Change


Shortly after I was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, clinical depression (see previous blog post), San Geraldo and I were on the move again. It was our third move in our five years together. From Boston, Massachusetts; to Los Angeles, California; to Washington D.C.; to New Haven, Connecticut.

I was doing well and didn’t seem to need any talk therapy. The antidepressant medication had done the trick. After about a year on the medication, I independently decided I was ready to go drug-free. I phased off the meds and continued to do well. However, over the course of the next year, without really realising it, I had begun to give myself those pep talks again to help me face the days. Finally, more than a year later, I had another major crash. I found a psychiatrist in New Haven and started back on Sinequan. He was a Freudian psychiatrist (so, let’s call him Sigmund) and hardly spoke. But that didn’t really matter to me. At first, I just wanted to talk and cry. But, after a few weeks, the medication levelled off my brain chemistry again and I was back to this new life I had been learning to live. I was no longer crying and only went to Sigmund for weekly med checks.

Since Sigmund didn’t talk, he didn’t help me to understand my condition any more clearly. I still thought I could get to a point where I wouldn’t need to take medication. So, I went through another cycle of about a year and half without medication before another crash. And I still wasn’t learning.

By the next crash (yet another), we were living in California (having moved from New Haven after 1-1/2 years to Guilford, Connecticut, and then to San Diego five years later where we celebrated our 12th anniversary). I found a psychiatrist who truly changed my life permanently (although I still had my stubborn moments).

When I insisted I didn’t need to be on medication forever, he asked, “Would you say that if you were diabetic?”

“That’s different,” I argued.

And thus began my real education on the “illness” called clinical depression. I’ve read that clinical depression is one-third each biological, brain chemistry, and inherited traits (if broken into quarters, the fourth would be hormones). Maybe an oversimplification, but my depression I’m sure has been partly a result of my childhood and later-life experiences. But many children have suffered much more troubled childhoods. And many adults have suffered much more painful lives. This is simply the way my brain responds. There’s nobody and no thing to blame. Besides, I’ve looked hard into my life experiences and, finally, there’s only me to face the result and survive it.


I know that physical activity is important for me. And healthy mental activity, too. But those alone are not enough. Unless there is some new revelation in the treatment of clinical depression, I now accept that I will likely always be on medication to treat it. And that’s fine with me. Sometimes, the medication may need to be changed or adjusted. That’s also fine with me. Yes, I do have some challenging times, but they’re nothing like those crashes I used to have. And, as I think about it, I probably wouldn’t give up my experience of this depression. Now that I’ve survived it, at least. It has played a large part in forming the person I am. I’m sure it’s where my humour was born. It taught me to be more honest with myself and with others. And it has certainly taught me to appreciate this life.

I’m still learning to forgive (myself and others) and to forget what doesn’t do me any good to remember. But, as long as I’m being honest, I haven’t forgiven everyone. And I haven’t forgotten everything. OK, and I can still be bitter, sarcastic, and acerbic. But not all the time. So, what the hell.

Many of you were very moved by my recent revelations and I’m so grateful for your support and understanding. But please don’t cry for me. I’m here to entertain you, enlighten you, charm and inform you. (Ain’t I grand?) I’m not here to depress you!

The truth is…

Answering to a Higher Power

My blogger buddie, Dianne from Yonks thought it would be fun to include me in a game of Blogger tag. She provided 10 questions for me to answer… (honestly, I think). This is an awful lot of pressure. The questions include some best/worst/favorite considerations and my mind is so changeable that I never know for sure what is my best/worst/favorite. Anyway, here goes:


1. What is your favorite holiday destination?
It used to be Palm Springs, California… until we moved there, opened a hotel in 2001, and lost our shirts. Since moving in July to Sevilla, I feel like I’m at a permanent holiday destination. Then again, my fantasy escape has always been an uncrowded beach, with nothing other than the crashing waves and the birds for background music.


2. If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
I don’t eat when I’m stressed.

3. If you could invite anyone for dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
My big sister. I idolized her (and she me… we were a strange pair). She died 31 years ago just before I met San Geraldo. I would love to tell her all that’s happened since then. (She would love San Geraldo.)

4. If you had a time machine, where would you go?
I would turn my back and walk away from it. I don’t want to know the future. And I wouldn’t want to risk changing anything in the past — having no idea what impact that would have on the present or the future.

Or… to tomorrow to find out the winning lottery numbers and then come right back to today to buy the tickets. (When we lived in San Diego and San Geraldo traveled to China on business — putting him 18 hours ahead of me — I asked him to check the paper for the winning lottery numbers so I could buy that ticket. He wouldn’t do it. I’m not quite sure if he thought it would be dishonest or that it was simply idiotic… Well, I really am quite sure.)

5.  What is your earliest memory?
My memory works in strange ways.  I can hear a commercial jingle once and remember it the rest of my life. I can tell you what I was wearing the day I met San Geraldo in 1981 (Fiorucci jeans and a green ribbed T-shirt). But, I can’t remember where I put the toolbox.

Earliest memories are all from before the age of 1-1/2. The very rickety, old, dark-wood porch on the back of my parents’ apartment in Brooklyn and how it creaked and squeaked when anyone stepped onto it. Taking a bath with my sister (when I was under 1-1/2 and she was under 4), and my mother’s hand-mirror got knocked into the tub and cracked. Holding my mother’s hand while standing on a new street on Long Island seeing the foundation being poured for our new house.


6. Your favorite perfume or cologne?
It used to be Royal Copenhagen Musk. Now it’s Versace Pour Homme.

7. Your best birthday gift?
When Jerry’s mother and his two sisters flew to San Diego and surprised me at the 40th birthday party Jerry was throwing (even though Jerry didn’t think to invite them from so far away). If the Dowager Duchess (my mother) had known, she would have done the same thing (so that was sad). Also, that same birthday when our friend Jim wrote a very funny and touching poem in my honor. (He wrote a very funny and racy poem, too. But, I’m keeping that one to myself.)

© JRW, 1994

8. Your worst birthday gift?
I have no idea.

9. Your favorite flowers?
Daffodils. Before my sister got married and she was still living with my parents, when the first spring daffodils were being sold at the flower stalls outside the subway stations, she would pick up a bunch for my mother on her way home. They always make me think of her.

10. Your first kiss — who/where?

I think I was about 14 when I had my first real kiss. She was my girlfriend in 8th or 9th grade and then again in part of 10th grade. She and I hadn’t spoken since high school and reestablished contact about three years ago. She reads my blog. I have no idea where we were when we kissed. I know I wasn’t very good at it — thinking the harder I pressed my lips against hers, the better the kiss. First kiss with a man? Boston, when I was 26. I knew a little more by then. And I’m not telling either of their names. That’s all you get.