Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012

I love this poster. Justice made it for her Mom. You can see the two of them in the lower left.

Dominique taught me to be a writer, so I guess I'll keep on writing.

Today marks two months since the day Dominque passed.

Tonight, as I sat on the sofa with the rain falling softly - a rarity for Southern California - my fourteen year old Min-Pin, Rusty, sleeping peacefully next to me, and my fifteen year old black cat, Ruby, purring and asking to be pet, I felt a momentary feeling of happiness.

I take those moments when I can get them.  I savor them.  Mostly, I distract myself.

Tonight I'll be heading to bed with my latest distraction, a Stephen King book of short stories.  Most people think he writes only horror, but not so.  This particular book features the 'novella' which became a famous movie called The Shawshank Redemption.  If you haven't seen it, put it on your movie watch list.

There's a line in the story that goes something like this:  "Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying".

I think I'll get busy Living.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe's for Jenna's Breast Cancer Cookbook

"What the Caterpillar Calls the End of the World, the Master Calls a Butterfly"

Dominique Mainon 1970 - 2012

My dear, sweet, lovable stepdaughter passed away peacefully on January 25th, 2012 after many years of dealing with breast cancer.

She was not only my stepdaughter, but a sister, a creative partner in crime, the person who always made me belly laugh, my best friend and my soul mate.  She was a writer, an artist, a photographer and a saint.  Most importantly, she was a Mother to her beloved Justice and Liam.

Dominique was a warrior.  She never liked the term "Lost Her/His Fight with Cancer" as she felt that those dealing with the disease were not victims, but heroes.

My long time family friend, Jenna, who was the best childhood playmate to my daughters, Jessica and Angela, has a loved one who is dealing with breast cancer.  As a fundraiser, Jenna is writing a cookbook including contributions from those whose families have been touched by cancer.

What a wonderful idea!  I am thrilled and honored to be a part of Jenna's creation.

Dominique's Key Lime Pie (or Lemon Ice Box Pie as they say in her father's home town of Arkansas)

This refreshing dessert compliments your next family gathering (which may be your last).  

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Enjoyment Time:  Till Death Do Us Part


1 eight ounce package of cream cheese (softened)

1 fourteen ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 graham cracker crust

Lemon or Lime juice

Cool Whip

Combine softened cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in a large mixing bowl.

Mix with hand mixer until smooth.

Add Lemon or Lime juice until you like the way it tastes.

Pour into graham cracker crust.

Allow to chill overnight to set.

Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip

Now if you want to get all fancy about it like they do on the Food Network, feel free to make your own graham cracker crust and mix up your own whipped topping from fresh cream.  This all depends on whether you're more comfortable in a double wide in Arkansas or a Penthouse apartment in Beverly Hills.  Either way, your taste buds and your enjoyment of life is sure to sing with delight.  I've made this pie for many family and friend gatherings.  The reviews have been truly overwhelming.  Give it a try.  And while you're at it, give life a try.

Here's another of Dominique's favorites:

Chili Con Carne With Tomatoes

This hearty meal is perfect for rainy or lazy days when you're tempted to do some major power lounging with your TV remote in hand.  It goes especially well with loved ones, sitting by the fire sipping wine, beer or whatever your favorite beverage may be.


1 pound ground beef

2 medium onions, chopped
(about 1 cup)

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 can (1 pound 12 ounces) tomatoes

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) kidney beans, drained

Cook and stir ground beef, onion and green pepper in large skillet until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain off fat.  Stir in remaining ingredients except kidney beans.

Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  (Or cook uncovered about 45 minutes.)  Stir in beans; heat.

Yield:  4 or 5 servings (about 1 cup each)

Jennifer's Recipe for Happiness

Savor food and every small moment in life. 

Go kiss a loved one.

And most importantly: eat dessert first!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dominique's Memorial in Valley Center

In a land long, long ago and far, far away, The John Evans family lived at a quaint seven acre ranch in a never heard of place in North San Diego County called Valley Center.

The love affair that I had with my favorite ex husband, John, was made all the happier because of the addition of his two daughters, Dominique and Wendy.

We had a small Arabian Horse Ranch, which was really more of a hobby, and a big yellow dog we rescued from the pound named Wrecker.  It was there that I fell in love with Dominique.  She taught me how to ride horses.  Not until much later did I discover that Arabians are the kind of horses full of fire, meant for endurance and long days in the hot desert sun.  Dominique told me one day, "Just put on this bare back pad and the reins, then let's go gallop the horses on the trail on the longest flat stretch we can find.  Just lean forward, grab onto the mane and you'll be fine."  Luckily she had a Step-Mom that would fall for just about any scheme she could dream up.

Dominique with Angel. She's not even wearing a bare back pad!

The years we lived there were filled with fun, laughter, trail riding, watching really bad B horror movies and eating at the only local restaurant, Fat Ivor's BBQ joint.  The days in Valley Center continue to bring all of us many fond memories.

John came up with the idea of getting a drought resistant plant, and planting it, along with Dominique's ashes, on the property.  Of course, we had no idea if anyone lives there now or what we might encounter.

As You may have guessed, the address of the Ranch was 29105.  Can't pull anything over on this crowd.

In my world, this sign means "Welcome"

When we arrived, we found out that someone does indeed live in the "modular home" which is really a fancy name for a double wide.  I'm trying to be polite here, but I'm here to tell you that no matter how much decking you surround said structure with, you can plant all the bougainvillea you want to make it look pretty - if your house sports a license plate - it's a mobile home!

We knocked on the door and since no one was home, off to work we went with our shovel.  Rapidly.

Here is where some of the ashes of our dear sweet Dominique reside.  Beautiful plant!
We took a memorable tour of the property, tears filling our eyes.  I left a special letter I had written to Dominique wedged in between some woodwork by the horse workout arena.

Wendy, Angela and Jessica in front of where we planted Dominique's plant.

Wendy's daughter, Lauren. You can see the horse workout arena in the background.

Next it was off to Fat Ivor's Rib Rack for "All You Can Eat Here" Ribs.  Next time you're in Valley Center, you must check out these ribs.  They fall right off the bone.  The three large beef ribs with all the fixin's was about all I could eat.  The family laughed and told old family stories.  I could feel Dominique sitting at the laminated picnic table with us as songs from the 80's played in the background.

Now let me explain a little something to you about Dominique's father, John, and his eating habits.  He loves buffets.  Perhaps it comes from a military background where you grabbed a tray and went through the mess hall line as fast as you could, eating as much as young growing men can.  Dominique always made fun of him for that.  She enjoyed fine dining - not mess hall eating.  Valley Center has not changed very much in the past twenty five years.  With one exception.  The Valley View Casino.  This is not just any casino.  It boasts the Mother Of All Buffets!  No one in the family wanted to go to this monstrosity of a place, set amongst the peaceful bucolic setting of Valley Center, but off we went - for dessert.  Just parking at this place makes you feel like you're at a major International Airport complete with immense concrete parking structure.  All I can say is - thank God for minors.  We were not permitted to enter because Wendy's kids, Conley and Lauren minors.

Instead we went to a deli and ice cream shop where the weirdest thing happened.  When we walked in, we saw a woman sitting at a table with two other people.  She looked so much like Dominique that none of us could take our eyes off of her.  She had the same hair, a little pink color added to it, a laptop, just like Dominique always liked - to cozy in with for writing sessions at coffee shops, the same mannerisms.  Freaky!

When we left, I just had  to take a photograph of her.  I pretended that I was taking a video with my IPhone, but then zoomed in on this unsuspecting woman and snapped the shot.

As Angela and I were pulling out of the parking lot, a man who had been watching me from inside the deli came running out to our car.  He looked to about thirty five, perhaps an ex-marine,  "Tell me you were taking picture of the window and not my wife." Mr. Ex Marine demanded.  I broke into nervous laughter.  The guy looked like he was ready to start something up!  "Should we tell him"?  Said I.  Angela took over.  "Our sister just passed away, and your wife looks just like her" she said with her head hung.  What else could the guy say but a lame "Oh"

I will not leave you with a photo of the Dominique look alike in the spirit of protecting the innocent.

Instead, here's a photo of the lovely Dominique.  She inspires us all to live life with class.  Dominique, we love you.  Thank you for spending the day in Valley Center with us.  We all felt you there, laughing right along, and giving Mr. Ex Marine a run for his money.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And it's off to the races.....or Washington

Justice, Wendy and Liam

Yesterday Liam and Justice boarded a plane from California to the next chapter of life in Washington.

Kerry, Grandpa John and I said our goodbyes at the gate.

Any time you go to the airport with me, you get treated to at least the same two jokes:

1.  When the security personnel ask for your ID (which they do at least eighty five times at last count) here is the proper response:

Q: Got any ID?
A: 'Bout what?

2.  When going through security checkpoints with the numerous X-ray machines, Magnetic Resonance Imaging equipment, and my personal favorite - the strip search, please advise the staff in as forceful a tone as possible:

"I know my rights, I'm entitled to one phone call and a strip search"!

Okay, so I never promised you a rose garden.  Or a stand-up engagement at the Greek Theatre.

But I do promise to leave you with a short clip of the world famous Liam McNeeley's latest original guitar session.

Click on the link here and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Memorium. Dominique Mainon 1970 - 2012

"What the Caterpiller Calls the End of the World the Master Calls a Butterfly"

My dear, sweet, lovable stepdaughter passed away peacefully at 1:30 AM on Wednesday, January 25th.

She was not only my stepdaughter, but a sister, a creative partner in crime, the person who always made me belly laugh, my best friend and my soul mate.  She was a writer, an artist, a photographer and a saint.  Most importantly, she was a Mother to her beloved Justice and Liam.

The last month of her life was spent in a nursing home close to her peaceful Joshua Tree Home.  The staff was truly loving, caring and supportive. I was overwhelmed with the sincerity and grace in which they performed their jobs. 

Dominique was surrounded by her immediate family and close friends.  Liam brought in his guitar and played for two solid hours one day.  Justice sang songs.  Artemis held her hand and meditated, visualizing Dominique forever in her heart.  Angela kissed and hugged her.  Wendy brought in Chinese food and made us all laugh with her fun stories.  Dominique's father, John, was able to get a signed copy of one of her books while she was still able to write. He told her how proud he was of her creative accomplishments.  Dominique's Mom got snowed in, so her planned trip from Washington did not occur.  I held the phone up to Dominque while her mother spoke her final goodbyes.  Kerry's calm presence reassured Dominique.  Uncle Howard kissed her cheek.  I held her hand, told her that I loved her and talked about so many of the wonderful memories we'd shared.

One of the bright spots was when Jessica brought in her Chihuahua, Victor Jose Snaggles.  Dominique said that she never liked small dogs.  But we know otherwise.  When we smuggled Victor in, her face lit up and she said "Give him to me"!  His curly little tail wagged furiously and he couldn't get enough of licking her face.

Dominique never lost her sense of humor.  Jessica and I were commenting on how we felt the need to hide Victor, as we didn't think pets were allowed.  Dominique's solution was, "Why don't you just tie a ribbon around him with a string and a helium balloon that says Get Well.  Everyone will think he's a stuffed animal"

As her final days approached, it became more difficult for her to communicate.  But I know she could hear everything we were saying, so we kept talking and loving her.   My mantra to her was "just let go"  That seems to be the toughest one for most as we (selfishly) don't want those we adore to leave.  She clutched onto a beautiful necklace that Justice had given her.  I told her to take it with her when she passed.  At one point she told us that she had a key to another room and that she was going to "walk over there and enter the room"  I know in my heart that she walked with grace into that room when she passed.  I know that she had the necklace with her when she did so.

The morning she passed, Liam came up with the idea for the family to go up to the observation deck of their desert home and celebrate the sunrise.  I will never foget the beauty of that morning.

The day after Dominique made her transition, Jessica was back in Laguna Beach, one of Dominque's sacred spots.  She lived in Laguna Beach for many years and always felt the creative energy of this place.  It's where she wrote all her books.  Jessica was taking photos of the sunset, thinking of Dominique and look at what appeared in the photo!  Jessica took several pictures, thinking that her finger was in the way, or that there was something wrong with the lens, but this red, orange, pink, orb kept showing up:

What's more, the orb has shown up in numerous subsequent photographs.  Dominique beleived in, and wrote about orbs and energetic entities.  The way I understand it, the soul, which never ceases to exist, summons energy from power sources, in this case the sun, and makes itself present.  Red and orange were her favorite colors.  The orb is even in the shape of a D.  How cool is that!

As for memorials:  Dominque requested that her ashes be taken to one of her favorite authors ranch in Taos, New Mexico.  It's the former home of D.H. Lawrence.  When she visited the home several years ago, she felt a strong connection and sense of peace.  We plan on making the trip as a family.  You can read about it here.

Jessica and Angela will take a portion of her ashes to a special spot in Laguna Beach.

I plan on making a several day solo trip out to Joshua Tree in the next couple of weeks to spread her ashes and perform a ceremony of my own.  I will be writing about it in the blog.  Dominque has inspired me to keep writing.

Justice and Liam are moving to Washington to live with Dominique's Aunt and Uncle as per her wishes.  All proceeds from Dominique's book royalties will go to Justice and Liam.  If you would like to pay it forward, you can order her books via the link to the right.  All writers (myself included) live for people to read their words.  So pass this along to everyone.  You will be delighted with the talent of Dominique's books.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has shared kind words and love during this time.  It's what's getting me through the days.  If I haven't personally connected with you, I would like to take this time to sincerely thank you.  I love each and every one of you very much.

Our dear, sweet, witty, talented, lovable Dominique is now embraced by the light, surrounded by warmth and unconditional love.  To quote Dominique from one of her last blog entries relative to ghosts and life after death:

Maybe we do not die at all. If you look at a cloud, and how it produces rain, and the raindrop falls to the ground, and then evaporates and goes back up - do we say the raindrop is dead during each transference to a different element? It is all a cycle. Plants grow from seed, blossom, release many seeds, dye off and become fertilizer for other seeds to grow. So if there is life after death, I figure it is our children. They are part of us and they go on to live. That is more exciting than just an apparition bumping about forever in an old house.

Yes, my love, it's our children who carry the torch.  Justice and Liam - I am proud to be your Step Grand Ma.  Who knows?  I may even bake you cookies one day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Update on Dominique

Dominique, Justice and Liam circa 1997.  Dominique loving being a new Mom!

I want to start out by deeply thanking all you.  Family, friends, strangers.  Many have donated time, money, prayers and love.  It has not gone unnoticed.  I do not have a way at present to view the names of those who have donated money, as none of us have access to Dominique's PayPal password.  Please be assured that your contributions are greatly appreciated.  Money has come in just when we were all wondering how we were going to pay the next bill.  We've got some real life Angels in our lives.  Thank you!

On January 3rd, Dominique was admitted to a full time, 24 hour care hospice facility.  She can no longer write.  I am honored to be her voice and answer any questions any of you may have.

Her current condition is this:  The cancer has spread to her brain which results in her being very confused and saying lots of strange things.  Some of them have been quite entertaining as one of her dominant personality traits is humor.  She has lost most of her motor skills and has to be fed.  The hospice staff seems to have her pain under control.  Better living through chemistry, mainly morphine.  She is very happy when she sees us.  She recognizes everyone but sometimes doesn't remember our names.  Today she thought I was her sister, not her step mother.  I'll accept that compliment!  She gets tired quite quickly and is starting to refuse food.

Family and close friends have been visiting constantly.  She has been the Super Star Celebrity of all the nursing home patients.  She is also by far the youngest.

The immediate family has been hanging out at Dominique, Justice and Liam's peaceful Joshua Tree retreat home.  Her father, John, started a new tradition.  Every night we all go up to the homes observation deck and watch the sunset, then stargaze.  Joshua Tree is famous for its superb star gazing.  Last night I was lucky enough to see a shooting star!  I made a wish.

Liam is teaching Kerry to play the drums, Uncle Howard is the BBQ master extraordinaire, Jessica has been entertaining us with her Chihuahua, the one and only Victor Jose Snaggles, and Angela makes us all laugh with her wry sense of humor.  Wendy's love and warmth always make you feel the sincerity of her many warm embraces.  Justice is eager to dye purple streaks in my hair.  I'm considering it.

We've been spending time poring over old family photos, laughing and crying.  Some of the comments:
Liam:  "Boy I sure was a cute baby"
Me:  "Why do I look all hunched over in that photo?  It must've been before I started doing yoga"
Angela:  "I sure do look uncomfortable (at age 5) holding Justice when she was a baby"

Dominique has created a magnificent life.  I could not be more proud of her.  She's a published author, she's traveled all over the world, she's been a film maker and screenwriter.  She taught me to ride a horse when she was thirteen.  But the one thing that she's been most proud of is being a Mom.  Justice and Liam are the most amazingly talented, caring, loving, polite individuals.  Dominique, you did great!

Justice is planning on starting an on call makeup business.  Do you need a professional makeover for the prom?  Justice is your ticket!  She is also planning on going to school to learn special effects makeup.

Liam continues to wow all of us with his musical abilities.  He plays the guitar, drums, the harmonica, you name it.  This kid will be going places.  You want to get his autograph now.  One day it will be worth a lot on E-Bay.

If you would like to help Justice and Liam who will soon be starting a new life, our family will be tremendously appreciative.  Just click on the "DONATE" button to the upper right.  If you would like to let me know who you are, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to thank you.  Otherwise, Random Acts Of Kindness are the highest use of money.  One thing I know for sure about money - you can't take it with you.

I love you all so much.  I am honored to be part of this magnificent family and touched by the generosity of all of you who care so much.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Fantasy Party

Jessica, Angela and the World Famous, Liam!

Wendy, Lauren and the Queen
Thanksgiving this year was one of the most enjoyable and memorable any of us have ever had.

If you want to truly experience life, hang out with some folks that are sure to get your creative juices flowing.  In my book, that would be Dominique, Justice, Liam and their brainchild, the Thanksgiving Fantasy Party.

The family was instructed to wear costumes that fulfilled their wildest dreams and desires.

A Queen was presiding.  Yep, that would be yours truly.  Dominique's fathers fantasy is that he somehow shares a passing resemblance to Hank Williams Jr. which was evidenced by his cowboy costume.  Dominique looked stunning with diamond studded false eyelashes, dark flowing hair, and a black sparkly ballerina tutu.  Even from a wheelchair, this woman still gives the world famous Mikhail Baryshnikov a run for his money.

I am continually impressed with the creativity that flows from Dominique.  Amidst a pretty tough week pain-wise, she still packed up the kids for a trip to the local Big! Lots to purchase the necessary items for our Fantasy Party.

When we walked into their Joshua Tree retreat home, we were treated to soft lights, candles burning, strings of mood lighting, a lava lamp glowing, and this really cool disco ball type thing that rotates and radiates multiple colors onto the walls.  Sacred drum music permeated the atmosphere.  If I were a guy and walked into this scene, I would've been convinced that I was about to get lucky.

And lucky we were!  We all enjoyed a prepared Thanksgiving meal from the local Stater Brothers which featured a moist turkey with all the fixins.  We sat around and laughed, told old family stories that we've all heard hundreds of times yet never tire of, played pictionary and drank fine wine.  Some of us even took a hit off of Dominique's oxygen tank.

The next day, we drove out to Joshua Tree National Park.  If you haven't visited this park, you absolutely must put this on your bucket list.  We've been talking about bucket lists quite a bit lately.  I highly encourage you all to start one.  This park is one of the most famous rock climbing parks in the world.  It inspired me so much, that I plan on giving rock climbing a try myself next time I'm in Joshua Tree.

I know that many of you have been quite concerned when you don't hear from Dominique for awhile, understandably.  When I spoke to her today, I asked her what she would like me to relay to all of you, our dear family and friends.  This is what she said:

Thank you, thank you, thank you ALL for your continuing support and caring enough to check on her.  She is quite optimistic because all of you have done so many little (and big) things.  The outpouring of love has touched her quite deeply.  Folks have sent money, books from favorite authors, her best loved flowers, phone calls, prayers.  One person even sent a nifty little electronic gadget that she had been wanting yet wouldn't have bought for herself.  When I walked into her room, she was clutching it dearly in bed just like a child with a teddy bear.

Liam and Justice are hangin' in there with style.  The two of them sit down with Dominique and write out family goals and objectives.  Liam is participating in band practice, and Justice is pursuing her art.  All this while getting good grades and helping take care of Mom.  Dominique gives her children the biggest gift that any parent can give a child.  The gift of encouraging them to be Who They Are.

Health-wise, the biggest thing for Dominique right now is simply keeping the stress levels down.  This usually means she can only take one or two phone calls a day.  Most of her beloved writing and blogging is currently in draft mode, so stay tuned.

I will leave you with a famous quote that I found on FaceBook today:

"I think I may go ahead and keep on living, for spite if anything" - Dominique Mainon

Jessica and My Grand Pup - Victor Jose Snaggles
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being you.  I LOVE YOU ALL!