Monthly Archives: April 2014

Day 119: Interviewing Lola

Today I did something really different and very unusual, even for me. It stemmed from a conversation I had yesterday with a new friend, Jane, from the online course I’m taking. I was telling her about the problems I have being organized, and how I struggle with being distracted. She told me about another friend who discovered her “inner organizer,” an amazing 
person who was quite impressively organized and very helpful, and who also happened to be part of her own self. That was intriguing to me, so I checked to see if I had one, and low and behold, I do! Her name is Lola. 
I was so excited that I posted about it on the group’s facebook page. Another group member, Sora, said she would love to read an interview with Lola. “Good idea!” I thought, “Why not?” So today, for my One New Thing, first I interviewed Lola, my very own personal organizer from my very own self. And now I am posting that uncut interview here. I hope you enjoy it. I did … well, most of it, anyway. 🙂

I have here with me Lola, part of My Best Self. Yesterday, when I inquired at My Best Self for an organizational genius, Lola showed up. We’ve talked a little bit, and I can already tell that she is not the typical organizational genius. However, it seems that she is custom made for me. She takes her business very seriously, and is not averse to asking troubling and insightful questions, showing no regard whatsoever for my itty-bitty feelings. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege and honor to introduce Lola!

(Lola is, of course, a redhead. She is lean and sophisticated, always holding an unlit cigarette in one hand. She looks at it from time to time, as if its presence confuses her. Other than that little trait, she seems completely unflappable.)

ME: Lola, you came to me from my best self, but I don’t remember ever meeting you before. Can you tell me where you’ve been all these years?

L: Dahling, I don’t go where I’m not wanted. It’s just too terribly tedious.

ME: Why now, then?

L: You tell me; you’re the one who requested me.

ME: Well, I’m trying to work this program and I’m way behind and I’m distracted by every little thing and my desk is a mess…

L: No it isn’t, you just cleaned it two days ago.

ME: What?

L: Your desk. It isn’t a mess, Dahling. You just cleaned it two days ago. Don’t make trouble where there isn’t any.

ME: Oh. Um. Right.

L: Yes, right. First off, please stop minimizing your efforts and maximizing your difficulties. It’s boring. At least it is for me, and I really can’t imagine what you get out of it. Before you ask any more questions, let me recap what I’ve seen in the last months:

1) You committed to doing things that bring you pleasure. You’ve been very faithful to do that on a regular basis, usually one full day a week. This is no small accomplishment. Now, it would be better if you weren’t judging yourself all day and reminding yourself of the work waiting for you at home, but it is nonetheless a good start.

ME: Okay…

L: Please don’t interrupt, Dahling. 2) You’ve made a commitment to exercise. In your dramatizing, you tell yourself you’re failing because you haven’t gone to yoga class or jumped for your five minutes a day on that ridiculous mini-trampoline. But you don’t jump on the tramp because it is hurting your still-healing knee. That doesn’t make you a quitter or uncommitted. It makes you smart. Furthermore, these fun days you’re taking all involve serious outdoor activities, which means you are not just slothing about on the couch. You are, in fact, exercising. And when you spend hours out in the sun and on the trails or on the beach, of course you don’t want to go to a silly yoga class. You want to relax. This is normal and healthy. What is not normal and healthy is that you keep criticizing yourself about it when that is completely unnecessary.

ME: Oh….

L: Ahem!

ME: (sorry)

L: 3) You’ve worked through four weeks of the classes, and the reason you’ve not finished week four is that you’re being wise – again, I might add – and allowing yourself to learn what you need to learn IN THIS MOMENT. I simply don’t understand why you judge yourself for not racing through a program that is far too extensive to be raced through! You are doing inner, healing work, Dahling, and that takes time and is also exhausting. It can have unexpected repercussions and bring up things that you, in your small mind, didn’t know you were ready for. You are ready for them, actually, or they wouldn’t be showing up now.

4) You very faithfully wrote every day on a story that you knew nothing about. That takes true commitment and, I shall add, courage. You wrote on the strength of your faith alone that at the right time the story would reveal itself to you. And it did. That accomplishment alone should be celebrated for forty days and forty nights: not everyone gets stories, you know. And you have been working on that story. You insist on criticizing yourself if you don’t work on it every single day. Now, it would be better if you did work on it every single day. But the fact is, if you work on it two or even three days a week, you are already showing vast improvement over two months ago, when you really weren’t writing at all. And you are, in fact, working on it more than that. Counting words is all very well, Dahling, but if you use it to prove to yourself either success or failure, you are not using the brains you were born with.

5) You have maintained a quite astonishing (and inexplicable, to my way of thinking) commitment to do something new every single day, and you’ve faithfully blogged about every one of those days, posting as many as five times a week since the beginning of the year. You’ve not kept a commitment such as this before, you know. It is quite impressive. Shall I go on?

ME: There’s more?

L: Of COURSE there is, Dahling! Haven’t you been listening?


L: Thank you. To continue: 6) You have been supporting many friends, old and new, frequently and generously. This is what you mean to be doing with your life, yes?

ME: Um, yes.

L: Well, then, it is a significant success. You’ve been longing for, working towards, a new community for a long time, haven’t you?

ME: Yes.

L: Here they are. You are supporting and being supported. This is what you asked for. Once again, you are criticizing yourself for doing exactly as you should be doing. I see no problem other than that.

Furthermore – and this is 7) – as you’ve felt overwhelmed, you have been diligent in training yourself brand new traits: you have trained yourself to turn off notifications and sound on your computer and phone, and considering the boundary issues you’ve had, this is a major accomplishment. In the same vein – 8) –  you’ve been ruthless in unsubscribing from things you’re interested in, simply because you now know what you mean to be doing and you are committed to doing it – one more major accomplishment, I shall add, bringing my off-the-cuff total to 10. I could go on, Dahling, however I believe I’ve made my point. Next question.

ME: Um, okay, right. (I’m a little afraid to ask this….)


ME: Well, how do I actually get organized? How do I stay focused?

L: (Sigh) Haven’t you been listening, Dahling? You have been getting organized. You have been focusing. Your only true problem is, as I believe I’ve already mentioned, this deplorable – and I shall repeat terribly tedious – tendency you have to minimize your efforts and maximize your difficulties. You seem to expect that in one or two short months, the habits of a lifetime will do a complete turnaround and you’ll suddenly be a totally different human being from the one you’ve always been. You will never look like an exquisitely organized human. And if, for a short while, you did manage it, you would be nail-bitingly miserable. Why in heaven’s name would you desire such a fate? You’ve longed for a highly unstructured life, and here it is. And you have even managed, within that complete lack of structure, to become, in your own words, UNstuck, and to make huge progress in your everyday life and towards your not-inconsiderable goals. See that. Celebrate that.

And if you still want me to fix you, Dahling, here it is: every day, do a smidgen more of the same. Even just a smidgen more, and in a very short time, you will have succeeded beyond your wildest imaginings.

ME: Okay, well, there it is. Thank you so much for your time, Lola.

L: I’m here for you, Dahling. (YAWN)

Have you done something new today?

Days 115, 116 & 117: Ricotta Fig Ice Cream, Wine at the Vine & Detoxing Bath

After the fabulous and extensive day 114, I needed a few quiet One New Things. For day 115’s ONT, all I had to do was walk to the freezer. Last time Rowan and I were at New Leaf, I got a few “safety net” items for days like this. Enter Mission Hill Creamery’s Ricotta Fig Ice Cream. I’d looked for the absolutely weirdest flavor, one I would never pick if I wasn’t deliberately trying new things. My first choice – which sadly I can’t remember – wasn’t properly sealed, so I had to pass on it. Instead, I went with this one. 
Once upon a time I’d eat practically any ice cream, any time, anywhere. Those days are long gone. Now, if I’m going to eat it, it’s got to be mighty good. The very most important thing to me, as important as the taste, is the texture. I don’t want grainy ice cream! So many are, now. I want ice cream that is super-duper oh-so-very creamy. Otherwise, I’ll probably just pass. Was this Mission Hills Creamery Ricotta Fig super-duper creamy? Sadly, no. Strike one. But okay, how was the flavor? We-e-ell, it was okay. Just okay. It was mild, almost bland, and had a back taste that was almost soapy. Too bad, really. I would have loved to give this ice cream a raving-good review. But it just didn’t do it for me.

Day 116, Wine at the Vine. Yesterday my friend Geoff and I went to a matinee at the Vine Cinema. I’d gone there before for ONT, all by myself, looking forward to relaxing during the movie with a lovely glass of wine, which is one of the amenities offered by this wonderful theater. Unfortunately, I’d run too late to avail myself of the treat. This time I made sure we got there plenty early. And I have to admit, there is something truly decadent and cozy about sitting in a big-screen theater on a cushy velvet couch and enjoying a glass of chilled pinot grigio during a silly movie. Well worth a second visit.

Today, day 117, I took the advice posted by a facebook friend and enjoyed a detoxing bath as suggested by a site called Natural Cures Not Medicine: twenty minutes in a hot bath laced with a handful of Epsom Salts, a half cup of baking soda, and 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Whew! The scent of the lavender oil filled the whole house as the bath was running! However, once I got in the bath, I barely noticed it. I was reading and having a nice cold Moscow Mule as I soaked. I have to admit, it was a lovely experience. Does it work as a detox? I have no idea, though I suspect it might eliminate toxins more effectively if I wasn’t introducing new toxins through a straw at the same time.
In any case, this is one treat I definitely might enjoy again. Epsom salts are magnesium, which is absorbed through the skin and is wonderfully healing for muscle aches and pains. Baking soda has the opposite action, drawing out toxins through the skin, also great for easing aches. And lavender oil is recommended for, among other things, aching muscles, fatigue and headaches. The combination of all three is soothing and relaxing, Furthermore, by the time I had dried myself off, I was full of enthusiasm and ready to dive into my next project. Nice!

Have you done something new today?

Day 114: Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Day 14: Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Honestly, I’m not sure Rowan and I should be allowed out together without supervision. She’s a v e r y  bad influence. It’s crazy. She has no control. Over me. For example, we’re visiting Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The 10-foot high Fresnel lens (the thing that allows a single 1 foot long light bulb to shine out for miles in every direction) is temporarily out of the lighthouse and housed in a little building next door while the lighthouse waits for repairs. This Fresnel lens thing is incredible! I want to touch it. I want to polish the prisms. I want to lie on the floor under this behemoth and take pictures from the bottom up. Of course, it is behind a railing with no gates intended, no doubt, to discourage just this sort of behavior. The guy guarding the thing just shrugs. No one else is around. This is where Rowan should say, “Oh, no, Aunt Sarah, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think we’re supposed to do that.” But what does Rowan actually say?
“Quick! Give me the camera and I’ll take pictures while you climb over the rail!” Oh, and also this, while I’m actually lying on the floor under it, taking pictures: “Move over, I can’t see!”
That ^ is the lens inside the building, catching and reflecting the light.
I’m polishing one of the 1,008 prisms/lenses!
Yep, that’s the inside of it!
Of course, committing illegal acts with a Fresnel lens wasn’t all we did. Before we’d even gotten to the lighthouse, we’d stopped at a nearby beach for lunch and rock-hopping.
After we were done messing around with the Fresnel lens, we hung out around the Pigeon Point Lighthouse for a while. We leaned out over the deck looking for whales (didn’t see any), then went down and played on the beach. We do love us a good beach… especially one with hidey-holes and climbing rocks and narrow  waterways.
From here we decided to go south, but almost immediately we screeched into a detour: an insignificant looking road that went back inland. As we discovered, it actually just went east a very short way, curved south again, and very shortly came west back out to the main road. But while we were off the beaten track we found a gorgeous meadow to walk in (and maybe van camp in some day. . .), and an inexplicable water set-up seemingly in the middle of nowhere. 
After this, Rowan blew another opportunity to curb my enthusiasm. I noticed what looked like a road curving off towards the ocean. As soon as I mentioned it, Rowan hit the brakes and turned right. Here was a perfect chance for her to say, “Um, Aunt Sarah, maybe not.” But did she? No! So we drove down this “road” towards the ocean (this part of our adventure was alarmingly reminiscent of my high-school days. . . ).
Where I come from, we call this  a road ,and this  /, a parking spot.
The thing about hanging out with Rowan is that I do things I wouldn’t normally do, things that I would have done without thinking thirty years ago, or even one year ago, before my accident. But first I “grew up”, and that has kept me from doing many joyful things. I think I’m ready to “grow down” now! And then I got hurt really badly, and now I’m afraid to do things I wouldn’t have thought twice about before. Like plowing through rough fields far from cell phone reception, and climbing on potentially hazardous cliffs far above the sand and sea below. I discovered, though, that I am quite capable, and stronger and more flexible than I might believe. I am also much, much more careful in the maneuvering, which I am glad of. There ain’t no cure for stupid!
And in case we hadn’t had enough fun, on our way back to the main road we stopped to appreciate (some might say molest) some wild fennel. What a fantastic plant! We picked enough to fill the whole car with the glorious anise/citrus scent, which we enjoyed all the way home. 
And to make it an absolutely perfect day, we noticed this as we pulled back onto the road. 
<<< You know what that is, right? 
Yep. A frying pan. Go figure.

done something new 

Days 111, 112 & 113: EBay, Tough Guy Band-Aid & Oopsies

Skipping, for a minute, day 111, I will start right off with yesterday, day 112. I’ve been painting the front door, including the trim. There are four panels, a half-circle window, a side-light… lots of fussy stuff. I was a house painter back in Michigan from 1999 – 2001, so I think I’m pretty good at it. To be honest, though, its a lot harder work now than it was back then. And it takes a lot longer. And my hands aren’t quite as steady. Which might be why I had a little accident with my olfa knife, that invaluable tool of the professional painter.
It was truly no big deal, deep but only about 3/16″ long. I would have ignored it completely, except I was painting the inside of the door and all the trim bright white (if I’d been painting the outside of the door, I really could have ignored it; I painted that a deep, rich red), and I was dripping my dark, iron-rich blood steadily. Back in the day, I would have gone and cleaned it up and put a band-aid on it. But I’ve been working with Joel lately. If he cuts himself too badly to ignore, he just slaps duct tape on it and keeps working. I didn’t have any duct tape, but I had painters’ tape and a paper towel. It worked just fine.

Day 111: I have resisted Ebay. I don’t know why. Its always intimidating for me to do something new on the computer, but it’s more than that. I’ve never even looked at the site before. In the past, if I’d ever thought of using it, I would have asked Joel to do it for me. But a few days ago I heard about a particular something that was being offered on Ebay. I really wanted it. It had value for me beyond its listed price. I put it off for a couple of days, because I was waiting for Joel. But I finally realized, hey, this is a great ONT, especially because I so obviously did NOT want to do it. So I sat down at my computer, clicked on the link someone had posted on facebook for the item I wanted, and there it was! Good heavens, could it be any easier? In less than five minutes, the job was done, the thing was bought. I think. Maybe I just made a bid. I haven’t actually paid for anything yet, or even entered my CC# anywhere. . . . Hmmm, maybe I’d better take another look.

Day 113. For the most part, I’m content eating gluten-free. I feel so much better all the time, I never even want to eat bread. But sometimes I would like something bread-like. The other day I saw a recipe for something called Oopsies, which actually look like some kind of bread. But all they are is eggs, cream cheese, salt, psyllium husks and baking soda. Weird!
I couldn’t imagine they’d actually be bread-like, but it also seemed that they probably wouldn’t be totally disgusting, so I decided to try them. Beat the egg whites till they’re very stiff, beat the egg yolks with the other ingredients, fold egg whites in with egg yolk mixture, plop onto a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Easy peasy! And you know what? They’re actually not bad. They’ve got a bit of spring to them which is rare in gluten-free breads. They’re not at all crumbly, so they can be used for
sandwiches or hamburger buns. I’m already thinking about different ways to make them. Add a little bit of rosemary from the yard, a grind of fresh pepper and maybe a touch of parmesan… oh, yummy!

By the way, my sincerest apologies to the creator of this Oopsies recipe. I am usually so good about keeping track of my sources, but somehow I failed on this one. I’ve looked for it online, and though I’ve found several sites with Oopsies recipes, none of the sites look familiar. However this one is the exact same recipe, and had the same picture, so I’m going to go with it. I guess these really are Oopsies!

And just for fun, since this is a short blog, here are some pictures of our bees. We have two strong hives, with excellent queens. Hooray!

Have you done something new today?

Days 109 & 110: T’ej, Lundberg Chips & The Story

Today’s One New Thing is so unexpected and exciting, and I am thrilled beyond expressing! However, first things first, and so I will start with yesterday, day 109. I had planned an event in Berkeley, a really fun event that I’d been looking forward to for over a week. I had my wingman all lined up, and I knew I didn’t even have to think about ONT because I had it covered. Oh, except, oops! Somehow I got the date comPLETEly wrong! And I was hecka busy all day, no time to find some other fun new thing to do. 
So I did something I’d been putting off for quite some time: making T’ej, or Ethiopian-style honey wine. This is a quick wine; one can drink it in as little as two to four weeks, and it can also be aged. I made enough (hopefully) that I can do both. But this is how you start it: mix one gallon water with one quart honey and set aside in a cloth covered crock or jar for three or four days until bubbly. It hardly seems fair to use that for my ONT, you know? Although, honestly, it IS One New Thing.  
So anyway, I decided to double up. I tried Lundberg Pico de Gallo Bean & Rice Chips. They’re supposedly all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. More to the point, they’re supposedly both quite tasty and quite gluten-free. Rowan told me they taste like nacho-cheese flavored Doritos, which I used to love until they started tasting too much like chemicals. Rowan had a bag and was munching away, so I gave ’em a go. We-e-ell, the first bite is, in fact, kind of like nacho-cheese flavored Doritos. But before the bite was completely chewed and swallowed, the flavor had all but disappeared. So there was a brief moment of joy, which was nice. But after that? Nothing much left to comment on.

Day 110: I’m doing an online course for entrepreneurs, and one of the modules is about “being.” Like, who do you have to BE to be successful? One of the assignments has you pick a way you want to be and practice being that for a week. I picked Unstoppable, since that’s pretty much the total opposite of what I’ve often been in the past, which is more like Unstartable. As part of being unstoppable, I set myself a goal of writing fiction for at least 15 minutes a day, no matter what. I’ve done pretty good. I think I’ve written something like 9 out of the last 11 days. What’s really remarkable about that is I’ve been writing at my next book… but I haven’t had the story! In all three of my previous novels, I had an idea I started with, and the rest worked itself out as I went along. For example, for Left Turn at Cloud 9 it started with the idea of a woman who found a door into another world. For How to be a Redhead, it was about how a woman’s life changed when she dyed her hair red. Obviously the story becomes way more than the original simple idea. Both of those stories ended up being about choosing your way out of depression, about how all the details of a life can change, but the person stays the same unless and until she begins to make different choices about how she will be.

Anyway, I haven’t had even that bit of an idea for this new book, even though it’s the third in a series so I already knew (I thought) all the main people and circumstances. It’s really been tough working away at it when I had nothing. But this morning, as I was in the bathtub, my One New Thing appeared at last: my story! And it came full blown, way more than an opening sentence, with brand new characters and a situation I had never even imagined before. And I’ve already written over 2600 words of my One New Story.

Have you done something new today?

Days 107 & 108: Lake Chabot & MacFuddy Pepper Elixer

My friend is having a terrible time with her arm, wrist… whatever. She can barely hold her hair dryer, and she’s in a lot of pain most of the time. As a result of this, she’s on leave from work. Lucky for me, her legs are fine, and she really likes to walk and hike. She knows some places that are unfamiliar to me, so while she’s off, I’m getting some great ONTs. Thursday, day 107, she took me to Lake Chabot. It’s not a strenuous hike, not a lot of elevation changes, but boy is it ever beautiful. 
As is our habit, we packed way more food and water than we could ever possibly need. We did pretty good this time, actually. We hiked for about an hour and a half, and we only took six bottles of water, two humoungous red peppers cut into chunks, 6 Persian cucumbers and a bunch of carrots. We didn’t even take any chocolate! We left all the food stuffs in the car, but boy did we put a good dent in them on the way home (a person can get mighty hungry on that 22 minute drive!).
I really like this attitude: BEE-WARE
Honey Bee Nest  Please do not disturb

However, I saw no sign of any bees around here whatsoever. When I’ve discovered wild hives, I’ve been alerted because there are so many bees flying around, and also there is a lovely, strong humming sound. I noticed neither here. Hopefully the hive was just that far away.

Last night (day 108) I was doing my own thing, minding my own business, when I suddenly realized I hadn’t done an ONT! Oh no! And it was already evening! And I had no ideas! 

Now this was exactly the sort of occurrence I’d had in mind when I’d gone to Cost Plus and bought a bunch of new things to keep in the house. So I calmed myself, went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of MacFuddy Pepper Elixer. I was hoping it would be spicy hot like ginger. Um, no. In fact, it tasted like my memory of Dr. Pepper: yuck! Or worse, maybe Mr. Pibb: YUCK! I was so disappointed.

However, I didn’t want that whole bottle to go to waste, so I started thinking about what I had on hand. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I mixed it with ginger beer and vodka. And lime. Oh, and what about that strange Long Pepper that’s got a nice long burn and an evocative chocolatey taste? A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and voila!  I’d created a beverage I could drink… but never want to again!

Have you done something new today?

Days 105 & 106: Planting Cherimoya & Turnbull Winery

Tuesday, Day 105, I opened up my little bag of cherimoya seeds. Remember those? I tried the fruit way back on Day 74, and saved the seeds. Out of 8 seeds, I got three seedlings. Next up: let’s see if I can encourage these babies from seedlings into actual cherimoya trees. I admit, the “after dinner gardening” I’ve done in the past (planting the seeds of the foods I ate) hasn’t been terribly successful. But where there’s life, there’s hope! And my three little seedlings seemed pretty full of life! 

Its been exactly one month since I set the seeds aside to germinate. Any guesses on how long they’ll take to pop up as actual plants?

Day 106. My friend is a tax accountant, so I haven’t seen her since the beginning of the year. Yesterday, however, was April 16, so she was ready to celebrate! So we headed up to Napa to collect a Magnum she had waiting for her at Turnbull Winery (she won it in a drawing!). And, what the heck, since we’re in Napa, we might as well enjoy ourselves and do some wine tasting, right? Ohhhh, yeah! And Turnbull Winery is a great place to do it.
We had a fabulous time with Kate, who treated us like royalty, and was funny and charming besides. I am far from a wine connoisseur. However, under the tutelage of Geoff (my frequent dinner companion) and Sue, I am acquiring a more discriminating palate (which means I can now distinguish a Two-buck Chuck from a decent wine, and I kind of know the difference between tannin and oak… sort of). Another thirty years or so, and I might become a genuine wine snob!
After Turnbull, we raced over to Paraduxx, another winery I’d never been to before. After all, we’d only tasted about half a dozen wines at Turnbull; why stop now? We had a reservation, but we’d been having so much fun with Kate that we were late – really late. And as it turned out, ours had been the last reservation of the day. They almost turned us away, but we were so apologetic and winsome that Jeffrey relented, and poured for us. 
Random fact: did you know that after six seconds, a hug becomes intensely healing? Well, neither did the employees of Paraduxx. But they do now! I don’t even remember how we got on that topic, but before we finished our first taste, I was hugging everybody, employees and other customers alike. I gave out a whole lot of six-second hugs. It was wonderful! And on our way out, someone even came back for seconds. Everybody was amazed by how much better they felt. And I admit, I was feeling pretty darn good my own bad self. And lest you think this event was inspired by the wine, let me disillusion you: I give out six-second hugs anytime, anywhere, even in the grocery store if I can find takers.
More new things to come! When we left Paraduxx, we were both very ready for some actual food. Jeffrey had given a high recommendation for Ciccio‘s, in Yountville. Sounded good to us. And oh, boy, was it ever! Sue got some kind of pizza (since I’m gluten free, I didn’t even notice what kind she got), and I got a very nice whole roasted fish – Calabrian Chili. After my first bite – when it was hard to tell who was biting whom! – I got some much-needed help from my server, who boned the fish and made my life (and my dining experience) ever-so-much easier. The food here was delicious, though not inexpensive. And my fish came with nothing more than some field greens strewn on top. I was hungry again by the time I got home.
Ciccio’s also has a very intriguing drinks menu, featuring the Negroni, which, according to Wikipedia, “is made of one part gin, one part Vermouth rosso (red, semi-sweet), and one part bitters, traditionally Campari. It is considered an aperitif.” I decided on Frank’s Negroni, and let me tell you, it was fantastic: very flavorful!
So many thanks to Sue for coming out to play, and experiencing so many new things with me. I’ve missed her. I’m so glad tax season is over.

Have you done something new today?

Days 103 & 104: Long Pepper & Blood Moon Rising

Last night, Day 104 of ONT, I went to a park I’d never been to before and watched the blood moon rise – something I’d also never done before. I don’t even know the name of the park. I went with friends who were familiar with the area, and I never saw a sign. There was a playground in the park, and also a school playground on the other side. Best of all, there was a whole area that was like someone just dropped a piece of country, complete with quiet meadow and hills and big beautiful trees, right in the middle of town.
That incredible moon was rising just as we got to the park. I just kept taking pictures of it, even though the later and darker it got, the blurrier my pictures were. I couldn’t help it, though. I was entranced.
I admit that it would have been extra special if I’d stayed up for the eclipse, but I just didn’t have it in me. I’ve been hecka busy, a little overwhelmed, and too tired. So I went on the walk and enjoyed myself and my friends immensely. Then I went home, rewrote the ending of my latest manuscript, and went to bed.

Sunday, Day 103 (yes, I’m working backwards today), I tried another gourmet spice from Mountain Rose Herbs., this time Long Pepper. It is, indeed, long. Oddly, it has the aroma of a rich, organic dark chocolate (and yes, I really can smell the difference between organic and non-organic dark chocolate). It also has that richness of flavor, but in food I don’t notice a chocolate taste. It’s hotter than the more familiar peppers, and stays hot longer, which I appreciate. I like it a lot, and for now it is my new go-to pepper.
For a delightfully macabre bit of folklore about long pepper, I quote the Mountain Rose online catalog: “…practitioners of western occult arts have used the long pepper in a formula to help create the fabled ‘Dead Man’s Hand’, a grisly talisman that is said to impart invisibility and protection to its owner.” While I have no interest in practicing any of the dark arts, I have always thought it would be pretty cool to be invisible. However for now I’ll stay visible, and simply enjoy the rich, hot flavor of long pepper as an addition to my everyday food. If I’m completely honest, though, I’d have to admit that I’m not sure I would have bought this if I’d seen that note first, even as One New Thing; that’s a little creepy for my comfort. But it sure tastes good!

Have you done something new today?

Days 101 & 102: Black Lava Salt & Sunol Wildflower Festival

I was ordering organic Ceylon cinnamon from Mountain Rose Herbs, and I noticed Black Lava Salt. Hmmm, black salt? Sounds interesting, a perfect One New Thing. So of course I ordered some. It’s from Hawaii, and not only is it supposed to have extraordinary mineral content, it’s also detoxifying due to the addition of activated charcoal (which, as you may know, I already use in a variety of ways). On Friday, Day 101, I tried it. I tasted it straight. I don’t know quite how this is possible, but it seemed, well, saltier than salt. The flavor is also more complex, which I liked. It’s got quite big crystals, bigger than ordinary sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt. I cooked it up with 
sausage and rainbow chard, and oh, my yes, it is SALTIER! Then I re-read the info and it said don’t cook with it, add after cooking. Apparently, as the salt dissolves all those black minerals will make a residue at the bottom of the pan. Oops. Oh, well, I like it anyway, though in the future I will use much less. 

Yesterday, Day 102, Beth, Rowan and I went to the Sunol Wildflower Festival in the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness. Sunol is a teeny tiny little village, and the wilderness area is a good ten minutes drive deep into the country outside of town. I’d never been there before, and I’m glad I’ve been there now. It is a truly beautiful place. The festival was quite small, with little booths for local art, wildflower bombs, wild-bee houses (not to be confused with honeybee hives), etc.. It took us about 15 minutes to work our way through it all.
Once we’d made it through the commercial part of the festival, we were ready to hike. Guided wildflower hikes were offered, but I’m not much of a guided tour kind of girl, so we headed off in the opposite direction.
We went deep down into woody valleys, and then up, up onto broad, green meadows. Far away the festival was still going strong, and as we climbed up out of the valleys we’d hear the lively swing of fiddles, sweet and clear through the bright air. For a minute I thought we’d been transported into Renaissance England! And besides all that, we even saw a few wildflowers.
But the biggest excitement for me came when we encountered this magnificent old tree. It was huge, and bent over in such a way that it begged to be hugged. I went right over and lay myself across the trunk, putting my heart right against it. It was so wonderful! But the tree wasn’t satisfied with that. That tree wanted to be climbed! I haven’t climbed a tree since May 16 of last year, when I fell off a ladder and blew out my knee. I’m still recovering from the subsequent surgery. I didn’t figure I’d be ready to climb a tree again for a while yet, so I talked Beth and Rowan into climbing up for me.
Well, the tree wasn’t satisfied, and neither was I. I tried to be! I told myself not to be foolish. I started up, stopped, walked away. Came back. Finally, I could not resist that call on my heart, the call I’ve been answering since I could barely walk, the call to CLIMB THE TREE! So I took off my shoes, left my socks on for protection and traction, and my golly, I climbed that tree!
I imagine a lot of people can’t relate to the whole tree climbing thing. But when I was up in that tree, I felt like my truest, best self, brave and adventurous, full of life and humor and enthusiasm. If I could bottle and sell that, I would. It’s a beautiful gift, feeling that. I’d share it with everyone I met if I knew how. And since starting One New Thing, I feel it a lot more often. I feel it when I’m spending time with new friends, playing at the beach, eating never-before-encountered foods. I feel it when I realize I’ve been keeping this commitment to myself now for 102 days… and counting. . . .

Have you done something new today?

DAY 100 of ONE NEW THING! Tunitas Creek Road

If you want a new place to go, one that’s really cool that you’ve never heard of before, the guy to ask is Scottish John. He never disappoints. This week’s suggestion was Tunitas Creek Road, an alternate route for getting to the ocean south of San Francisco. So on Day 100 of my year of One New Things, my friend and I packed enough food and water for seven people for eight days, and headed off to find Tunitas Creek Road.
If we hadn’t been looking for it, we certainly wouldn’t have found it. Take I-92 W over the San Mateo Bridge to Skyline Blvd. Go about seven miles on Skyline, and there it is, slipping off to the right at a sharp decline. Okay, down we went. Oh how I wish I had pictures of this beautiful drive! The trees are tall and straight and beautiful, deeply shading the road – really only about 1-1/2 lanes wide – that wiggles and squiggles up and down and around as though it was laid out by a team of squirrels. I stopped a couple of times for the express purpose of taking pictures, but I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that they wouldn’t begin to capture what our live eyes were seeing, so I shrugged, put away my camera, and simply enjoyed that ride through the woods and canyons. However, we ended up at Pescadero Beach, and I found plenty of good picture taking there.