Sharing Goodness.

Good Morning! My fb memories have been bringing me smiles lately. A few years ago when the future seemed dark and grim (and I am talking before the pandemic — ha, who knew) I reached out to my fb community and asked them to share a nice story, some goodness they had created or experienced. I just needed some beauty in my soul. The response was overwhelming. People wrote little quips about the good in their lives for days. Posts filled with comments containing only positivity and warmth. Rereading them made my heart sing. People wrote about the innocence of a tiny red leaf frozen in a puddle, happy medical news, surprisingly lovely art created by their students, and ridiculous stories about their kids and pets. Reading about the lovely of others…makes for an amazing start to the day.

There is a pay it forward experience at Starbucks drive-thrus. People pay for the car behind them in line…then that car treats the car behind them, and so on. Social media brags pop up from people in the paying it forward line. “We got to 50 cars! Fun fun fun.” I just read an article about how this isn’t always the greatest situation for the workers (it complicates the orders and some people get rude when they have to shell out more then they ordered). It also creates hurt when someone can’t afford to pay a $76 coffee bill for the carload of teenagers getting their sugar fix behind them. Interesting. I never considered these issues. Sometimes our fun creates a hardship for others, sigh, learning is good. Maybe paying it forward by overtipping minimum wage workers is better than “treating” people who can afford $6 coffees to begin with.

Recognizing those who work hard…that is a concept I adore. As a middle schooler I used to work local parties. Helping the lady of the house set up, serve, then clean after guests left. It was usually 5 or 6 hours of non-stop work. These were the days when one made 2-5 dollars an hour babysitting. After one party I was paid $60…three twenties…it might as well have been a million. The patron handed me the cash and said something like, Do not argue with me, you worked so hard and you deserve every penny. Always accept what you deserve Katharine. The fact that she had Jackie O beauty and a Spanish accent did not hurt her delivery. I remember her grace to this day.

My art teacher guy just re-posted the image below done by a student many moons ago. He wondered where the beautiful road below had taken him. Greg is the kind of art teacher that does not only focus on natural talents…he works hard at getting the academic oriented kids and jocks to enjoy the process of creating art. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they resist…but when they choose to accept the guidance presented to them…they create art from the soul, like the print below. Teachers spend their lives sharing their gifts and paying it forward, they are good people.

Ahhhhhhh what a lovely morning of memories. Enjoy your day.


My girlfriend is moving, actually a lot of my girlfriends are moving…or have recently moved. Downsizing to be closer to family, downsizing to rid themselves of cheating husbands, downsizing so they can work less with lower overhead, upsizing for some lovely generational living with their parents. Cha cha changes.

With change comes decluttering. One of the most tender chores is going through the boxes and boxes of photos. Remember physical photographs? Rewinding and removing the rolls of film then dropping them at the Fotomat kiosk or local photo store. Watching as they wrote your name and phone number on the envelopes… picking print size, b/w or color, matte or glossy. Matte was cool, cool people chose matte-finished photos. The wait… oh the wait. Waiting is so good for the soul. Writing the due date on the calendar, that day being so long…knowing you would see the pictures after work. Being handed the envelope. Ripping the super sticky outer envelope glue strip to find those glorious packets of images and negatives…careful, don’t drop the negatives. Shuffling through the images as your credit card was cla-clinked through the machine…sharing the best moments with strangers waiting their turn. Not so different than posting online…but much less danger of people being rude. Such such innocent fun.

Boxes of photos, moments, negatives…what do you do with this stuff. It has to be trimmed down. Stuff. I have been receiving texts with images of moments long forgotten. Bits of gold passed on. Now digital…they are forever…or until the laptop login no longer works. Nothing is forever.

Our refrigerator used to be the catch-all for all photos we received from friends… announcements, school photos, bits of our daily life. I removed them years ago to do a “good clean”…the stark blue of the refrigerator was so refreshing…they never went back up. Now just things in a box, to be found when we too decide to move. This picture, a reminder of the time when people actually printed photos, when we shared the best of the best with the people in them, when we held our loved ones in our hands instead of flipping through them on the screens.

Different times.

Many many moons ago.

Da Mens

This picture is from our wedding, a last goodbye with my childhood girlfriends before heading out to Vegas. We had no idea what was going on behind us, and for years I was annoyed our friend “ruined” the picture. Now I find it hysterical, he is who he is and he likes to get attention, good or bad, it’s a win. He is also currently overseeing care of his elderly parents…which makes him one of the…da mens.

Yesterday, a conversation confirmed that when my brother was staying at our house lovingly protecting my mom from his COVID kids (while we frolicked in California)…he slept on a bed with no sheets. For days. For days, a grown man with a PhD slept wrapped in a quilt, I wasn’t on the mattress, it’s all good, no worries. This too is a da mens situation.

Our babysitter used to go…tsk tsk tsk, head shake, da mens when she found an off situation around the house. Da mens are wonderful people, they love their wives, play with their kids, and can cook a mean frittata…they also open mail leaving the envelopes on the counter, forget to put the toilet seat down, and tend to leave socks ev-ver-ry-where.

Da Mens.

I swore I would not raise a “da man”. Our son…in addition to being kind, respecting all humans, working hard, and loving his family…would pick up after himself, put things back in their place, and never in a million years would he leave a dish NEXT to the sink. We failed on part two of that equation.

Da mens popped in my head after reading a Reddit “Am I The A**hole?” entry. A woman wanted to know if she was TA because she wanted her husband to use the extra bathroom for his morning 45 minute smelly videogame playing poopathon. She thought it seemed fair that she get ready for work where all her prep tools and products were…in a pleasant smelling space. He did not. So, she reached out to the world…literally the world…asking if she was an a**hole. My initial reaction after reading it was eyeroll, da mens…but that is so wrong. This guy is not a da mens, he is a caveman…and she most certainly was not the a**hole.*

Swoon…our babysitter had it right…she gives a scold and a hug at the same time, she loves her da mens… and they love her right back.

*for those who think I am being too judgmental about the poopathoner please read the Reddit thread.

Winter Weekends

Time to de-Christmas, put away decorations, distribute forgotten C-level gifts to the bedrooms, trash boxes of treats housing only crumbs. Deliver gifts to those we didn’t see… limp and crumpled tissue leaning out of the seasonal bags…Santa is so last month. Every year I try and organize a bit better for the decorating marathon the morning after Thanksgiving, mental notes of what is in which box. This year I went over the top and labeled the boxes. It only took me 33 years to figure that one out…progress.

Winter weekends are for cooking big pots of comfort. Chili, stew, soups. Some for today, a dinner next week, and a week worth of lunches. Love in a pot. Yesterday I made chili, switching it up going all vegetarian, and honestly not sure I will do that again. Delicious but missing something, maybe I’ll try vegan, the masters of imposter textures. Going from months of baking for others…to creating meals for my family. It feels so right, if I make a cookie…it is for them.

Winter weekends used to be about projects. Kids working on their Olympics of the Visual Arts creations, taking over the living room and porch with oversized art…acrylic paints everywhere, dreamy. The whole family focusing on the high school play, each doing our part…set painting, prop making, actors, and runners…a gift for so many years. Projects reorganizing, purging, and clearing out what we had outgrown. Getting stuff done with few interruptions, inside is the place to be.

Today I am remembering the love and the crazy of the holiday season…like childbirth, the good memories float to the top…and pretty soon, the light and the energy of the busy seasons ahead will have me spinning with glee.


Chili from many moons ago, this one had meat. Aren’t spices gorgeous. Swoon.


While on our first family vacation in years (pure fun…no weddings, commitments, or musts), I read an Insta post from a local mom of four littles. It was labeled “Day 4864 of Winter Break”. I remember those days, when ten days off from school seemed like a lifetime. The circled date on the calendar when we returned to school and work was the pot of gold at the end of the holiday insanity rainbow. Back to structure and order…the system that calmed the chaos.

Where am I? You know that feeling when you forget you’re back home. The dog and two cats snuggling against me were a clue, as was the dark dark room, the clock reading 6:25am was the final tipoff. I was in New York, our kid was 3000 miles away, the holiday was over…back to reality.

Re-entry is harder when vacation mode was so much fun.

Back to the morning routine. Wash up, wait…who is that person in the mirror, they look 110 years old…oh yeah, they are still on California time. Feed the animals, feed the Christmas tree, straighten the house, wait for my little morning charge to show up.

Sunshine and energy bursts into the house, there is nothing better than having a 5 year old for an hour a day. Kat, it will be my birthday soon (it is in late March). Kat, I want 24 pieces (I cut his French toast strips into 24 pieces so he doesn’t choke to death on my watch), Kat, does Jasmine still love me so much? (yes, she loves you and your French toast droppings). Kat, what will we do now? (no more advent calendar of lego brilliance to keep us busy every morning).

I give him a little souvenir from California…plastic astronauts, rockets, and vehicles purchased at the Griffith Observatory after an amazing tour by our son’s partner, Ella. Ella loves space and stars…and she is beyond knowledgeable and I actually understood the tour when she switched to her “observatory goodness for 4th graders” mode. We were invited behind closed doors to see the “huge telescope in the center dome” and the “view the sun in real time contraption in the little dome”. People who actually have knowledge of science and space are probably getting hives at the descriptions of those beyond special places… I apologize that I got to see them. Greg immediately started using the toys to teach rockets, launchers, and who the first men on the moon were…Dillon soaked it all in. Kat, how do Neil and Buzz get back for dinner? I explained that they would ride part of the rocket back. Re-entry, back to normal…home for dinner.

Home…doing chores, tons of laundry, filling the fridge, opening mail, and getting in back to work mode. Taking down the holiday decorations and tree can wait, I want to savor that a bit longer. January needs some bling.

Halfway on our walk to school, my little man looked up and asked…Kat, why are you wearing those shoes? Hmmmm…I still had my slippers on.

Re-entry takes time.

The special “view the surface of the sun in real time” room…note the blue sky…sometimes it doesn’t rain in California!


Happy New Year. Since I closed 2021 swooning about a tv show from my past, I will start 2022 swooning about a current favorite.

It took us two cancelled trips to get out to California to visit our son. This past December as the pandemic resurfaced we considered cancelling again, but in the end decided to go for it, to push forward. Double vaccinated and boosted, quarantined from seeing others a few days before our flight, K95 and surgical masked, we arrived in California five hours delayed surviving 18 hours of little to no food or drink, tons of sanitizer, and masks that felt like suction cups protecting us from the unseen dangers around us. Kind of surreal but worth every crazy minute. Survivors.

Survivor. I have watched every episode. Since I am not a legit writer and my swoons come from my soul the moment I feel them I have no idea if I am repeating myself. Am I that auntie that tells the nieces and nephews the same story over and over? No clue. I love the show Survivor. Politics, interpersonal relationships, balance skills, and thinking out of the box. Awesomeness. I have always said I would be first off or in the final five. I am not a middle of the pack kind of gal…maybe a Jan Brady in my family…but not in life.

This past week we survived the unthinkable…well, according to every Californian we came in contact with…we survived…sit down…we survived a week of…rain. Evidently it NEVER rains in California. They plan weddings without contingency plans for rain or weather, they get amusement park tickets without checking the weather, they tell people to pack for a week of sun. It rained for all or part of 4 out of 7 days and we…survived!

New Years Eve we awoke to a jam packed day, it was going to be sunny and warm, a California miracle. It was a typical Nemec vacation day. Drive to Eaton Canyon for the waterfall hike, get vegan fast food, clean up, go to The Getty, then to The Grove, visit with friends from NY now living in CA, and celebrate NYE. Hugging friends we have not seen in years…amazing. Experiencing The Getty and The Grove…delicious. Eating Ella’s delicious veggie pasta dish and watching the ball drop in NY with one eye closed in a blinking crown of flowers…my kind of NYE celebration. Playing Survivor on our hike…EVERYTHING.

Our trip to California has been wonderful for many reasons. It has been a treat to see where our kid lives, I love knowing that when we chat on his drive home from work I will be able to picture the 110 and know that when he turns off 33rd he will be seconds from home. This is a huge gift for a visual person. Friends have said that visiting one’s “kids” in their space is difficult, causing lots of arguments on who is in charge. We left all the planning to the kids…they bought the tickets, they planned the itinerary, they gave directions. I found it beyond liberating to just…let…go. We took turns treating for dinner and yummies, every one of us paying for one thing or another. We were equals and only had a few slips back into nutty family dynamics.

Back to Survivor. Jacob was beyond excited to take us on his favorite hike. Prepping us for its difficulty (hello young man, I walked for miles with your 25 inch body and huge head dangling off my 60 inch body in a baby Bjorn, I think I got this)…explaining the trip was through a desert-like setting, into a forest of trees, then ending at… a waterfall. The grand prize in the land of dryness, where it never rains.

We walked through the sand/dirt…past cacti and low greens, then I heard a sound, the sound of a running creek, the sound of…water. The kids heard it at the same time. They stopped in their tracks, then ran to the stream. The stream that according to them…was not there. They were in shock. We moved on, the path we were supposed to take was closed, there was a river there now, a gushing, white water river. Always the Boy Scout looking for an adventure Jacob decided we could “go around” the river. We followed. We walked through brush of blackened trees from previous fires, past cacti with prickly pears, over rocks that looked much sturdier than they were, walking and looking for a place to cross the river.

New Yorkers tend to give off the vibe that they know what they are doing…even if they don’t. At the La Brea Tar Pits Jacob had so much knowledge…people starting asking him questions. On our hike there was a line of tourists following us, little ants following the leader. Finally we found a bridge…when I say bridge I mean a fallen tree. Hiking at 5 feet has its perks, low to the ground is generally good, short legs are not so helpful when trying to hop on a tree while crossing a stream. As Jacob reached out a hand to help me across, I realized even with his hand, Olivia and I were going to end up wet. So, I grabbed some big rocks and threw them in the water, making a stepping stone for us littles…problem solving at its best, then with my boy’s hand helping me to the tree…I crossed…step by step, four points of contact, over the water. My Survivor moment.

We did not make it all the way to the waterfall, at one point the path was completely underwater. We were a little disappointed but soon realized it would be fun to come back and do the hike the dry way…no obstacle courses, no drama, no water. We hear California has fires because it’s so dry, it never rains…we shall see.

Surviving… family vacations, pandemic flying, rainy California, washed out paths on our hike…we did it. Who needs a tv show when you can live it.

Happy 2022…it’s going to be ok, we don’t need any more than that.

The most unflattering picture of all time, but I still LOVE it…and that is called growth!

Here’s the story…

of a 55 year old lady, who found visiting her favorite childhood tv show home’s exterior…completely overwheming.

The Brady Bunch.

Every day after school I watched reruns. I prided myself on being able to tell which episode was running based on the first 15 seconds. A million years later (10 years or so) I bought the complete series DVD set…it came in a green shag carpeted box. Brilliant. It was like $50, an extravagant purchase but I went for it…Merry Christmas to me. It is now selling for $175 on Amazon. A nice little investment!

Rewatching the series I found it a bit dated to say the least. Like eating a favorite breakfast cereal from childhood, way too sweet and completely over the top. Something that you might just want in small bits. 21 disks of Brady shenanigans is a LOT, but man, I still love it.

I identified with Jan…not as cute or clueless as Cindy, not as beautiful or talented as Marcia…just Jan. My personality was more of a Peter, more easygoing, not as bitter. I was not wise enough to realize the downside of being a middle until Alice pointed it all out…it hit me like a brick. Sigh, thanks Alice for noticing us middles.

I never considered the Bradys perfect…they looked perfect, had the grooviest clothes and the Astroturf lawn of excellence…but they had squabbles, made mistakes, and learned lessons. I loved the commotion that ended in peace…there was always hope for a good solution if everyone just put their heads together. Team work kids!

Yesterday we had spent the day sightseeing…a drive up to the farmland and mountains, over to the Pacific, winding down the highway, stopping to climb rocks, put our feet in the ocean, ogle at the Malibu houses (my neighbors should be glad we did not come to California earlier, we might have a pink house if we did, I am LOVING the pink houses), Santa Monica Pier, Venice, and back to Los Angeles for a “Jacob Tour”. I had in my head we were going to some vintage and Halloween stores in Burbank, I drove, we twisted and turned. I was told that I drive WAY too slowly, that NOBODY in Los Angeles drives as slow as I do…clearly payback for the backseat driving tips I had given him…I was going 75. Neighborhoods in Los Angeles change on a dime, it did not seem odd to me that a vintage shop might be next to a suburban ranch. Mom, stop, we are here. I looked up, and squeaked…literally…I squeaked in glee. There it was. I was in heaven.

To be clear, we did not go in. I could not even stand at the front door…there was a security guard there watching our every move. The whole experience took 3 minutes. Three emotional minutes.

Sigh, there is no real reason the exterior of a house should bring me such joy, but it did. For a few minutes I was completely filled with only things good. No sick friends, no death, no pandemic, no worry.

Thank you Brady Bunch. You connected us all as we watched you after school…that’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.


Christmas is complicated for my family… loud, joyous, infuriating, and completely delicious. It is also the night my dad passed away. It is a time of amazing memories and lots of tears. We might be fine one minute then crying and hugging the next. A time of toasts, eating his favorite foods, and remembering.

I was trying to find a great Christmas picture of my dad, a new one, a great one. I know there is one of him with my mom in front of their tinsel filled tree, him in an amazing slim suit, her in a white toga-style floor length dress and stunning pixie haircut. People used to know how to dress for a night out. I couldn’t find it though. There are others with my siblings in front of the tree, always with my dad, my mom forever the photographer, funny how moms are always the ones taking the pictures. I couldn’t find those albums either. I finally pulled out the green album, the one with pictures of my dad as a kid and young adult…and there they were…my Christmas swoon pictures. Christmas in Korea. The impromptu tree decorated with burlap rags, the little girl proudly holding her gift from the soldiers…and my dad, so very young and so far from home. Super cute, super stoic, and from the look in his eyes…super sad.

This Christmas I have a few friends experiencing their first Christmas since their parents passed away, another friend in the hospital in a touch and go situation, others who have lost their spouses, and the world is back in a state of unease. I think how much of this can we take, then I look at the pictures of this young man, my daddy, and I realize we can handle a lot more than we think we can. We stand up tall and we work for a better tomorrow. My dad was not a complainer, he was a doer, a roll up his sleeves and get it done kind of guy…what a gift it was to find these pictures of him experiencing his Korean War Christmas. I miss him to this day.

Thoughts on Succession

Succession…what an exhausting group of people. Holy smokes. If this is a more realistic version of the uber-rich than Schitt’s Creek…they can keep their money. I am enjoying watching the backstabbing, beautiful locations, family drama, and pretty stellar acting…but it makes me appreciate not having to live life as a constant chess game.

As the mom of twenty-plusers, watching our kids learn my special somethings is a joy. Who is making sure they have the right tablecloths for a holiday meal, which one wants to make extra cookie boxes so nobody feels left out. I observe as they plan and do…their minds considering all options. I witness them hit roadblocks, the same roadblocks I have hit many times, and stand by to see how they will get around them. It is beautiful.

I feel very fortunate that those who will be succeeding me do not want to slit my throat to take down the Queen of Thanksgiving before I am ready to go. I guess not being worth billions has its perks. I hope to be gracious and appreciate the day when the torch is passed. There is something beautiful about aging…especially when there is no need for a bodyguard between you and your loved ones.

On to season two… what a sh*t show of greed. Ho ho ho.

Russian Tea Cakes, Chocolate Dipped Spice Cookies, Chocolate Ginger Bites, Lemon Meltaways, Magic Bars, Peppermint Brownies, Peppermint Chocolate Drops, and a Candy Cane Sugar Cookie. The Hot Chocolate Bombs were left out, we did a test and they were as big as the box, a true explosion. Joy.

Reach for the Sky

‘Tis the season… for some the giving is everything, to others the getting is what it’s all about. Another season of doing what makes you happy. If you are a giver, bless your soul, go for it and enjoy. If you like to receive, I hope you do, and if you don’t…go treat yourself…you deserve it!

When we were little, Christmas involved lists to Santa, and the obligatory wait to see what was picked off the list by…the big man at the North Pole and the best uncle ever…my Uncle Bill. Sigh. To be fair, I am sure my Aunt Jean did the work, but it was Uncle Bill who walked in the front door with huge boxes announcing himself with a HO HO HO the always late Drewes are here! Katharine, where is my Katharine, were you waiting for me? Of course I was, we all were. When the Drewes family walked in the party started, we had been up since 6am, waiting 14 hours for them to arrive…and it was always grand. Once my way cool older cousin showed up in her pajamas, teenage angst in full bloom, dramatic and gorgeous with her long blonde hair and sock feet. Her brother would appear with a posse of friends to “help finish off” the dessert table and grab a beer…it was the 70s. My parents always welcomed everyone with open arms. We would unwrap doll bunkbeds, TossAcross, or U-Drive It…older cousins helping us put together the outrageous goodness we had seen on our Saturday morning tv marathons, now gracing our living room. To say it was joyous is an understatement, there were not obscene amounts of toys, but the ones we got were perfect.

The perfect gift.

I love finding it, keeping it a secret, and the look on people’s faces when opened. As a parent of twenty-somethings, watching my kids discover the gift of giving is a treat in itself. My Olivia is like her mama, she shops starting the day after Christmas, tucking away her finds in her closet, not resting until each person has a personal bit of goodness. Jacob is more of a last minute guy, more of a bullseye or a hmmm? He just gave a bullseye gift to the lady he loves, and oh my gosh, chills…there is nothing in the world better than that.

Miss Ella is loved by all who know her, she expects little and gives all she has…what do you give a person who isn’t into stuff, who finds joy in a seashell? What do you do for a 25th birthday in the middle of a pandemic?

You give…the lover of birds, the girl who wants experience it all, the one who sees the world so much more magnified and brilliant than others…a chance to fly.

This past weekend Jacob gave Ella a flying lesson…in the same type of plane her dad learned to fly at 15, the kind of plane he took her older brothers up for a spin in, a plane like the one she never got to experience…because her daddy passed way too soon.

So Ella did Ella…she dressed up like her dad, in a Hawaiian shirt, hat, and megawatt smile, she swallowed some great big fears…and she flew the plane. With Jacob as her passenger and a seasoned copilot beside her, she flew. And as only Ella can do, she described it as… like discovering another color…so new…indescribable.

He gave her perfection.

Sigh, my holiday season is fulfilled, nothing else needed, the rest is the cherry on top. To listen to these two kids describe their day together was magic. How I love a great gift story.