Monthly Archives: August 2014

Day 241 & 242: Chocolate, Valley of the Moon Fiddling Concert & Step Dancing

Beth and I were invited to a Fiddlers’ concert in Santa Cruz Friday night. We didn’t really know what it was all about, but the invitee was a friend of Beth’s from work, and fiddling is 20140829_174214always good, right? So of course we decided to go. We were warned by someone who ought to know that driving to Santa Cruz on the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend might be a really bad idea, and that we should leave as early as possible since it could easily take hours and hours instead of the 1+ hour we could expect in smooth traffic. So we left home at 2:45 for an 8:00 concert.

We got to Santa Cruz at 4:00 Continue reading

Days 239 & 240: Whisker Issues and Birthday Joy

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Prepare for TMI! Once upon a time I was in a relationship with H. One day I was doing something that I find extremely embarrassing – I was plucking a whisker from my chin. H walked in and I whipped my tweezer-holding hand behind my back. No doubt I had a very guilty look on my face. “Whatcha doin’?” he asked.
“Nuthin’,” I answered, all blushing.
Replay that little question and answer about six times (H could be a very persistent man). Finally I said, “You wanna know what I was doing?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I wanna know what you were doing.”
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll tell you want I was doing.
“Okay,” he said, “tell me what you were doing.”

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Days 236, 237 & 238: New Boyfriend, Shadow Cliffs and Parsley Tea

No, y’all, not my new boyfriend! Sunday I got to meet Beth’s new boyfriend for the first time. As this picture accurately conveys, Beth and I have a marvelous friendship in addition to our sistership. So when she goes out of town and gets herself a new boyfriend (NBF), I definitely have to vet the guy. And Sunday was the day. The NBF came up to escort us to a party. I actually hardly talked to the guy at all. First off, although I care intensely what he’s like and want only the absolute best for Beth, I still shy away from an actual interrogation. Secondly, there were lots of other interesting people at the party, and I may not have a chance to see them again.

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Days 234 & 235: Jett Black & Long Live the Queen!

My buddy Howard invited me to meet up with him Friday night to listen to Jett Black, a Joan Jett tribute band. In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that I didn’t know who Joan Jett is and I couldn’t have linked her name to a piece of music to save my soul. But I love hanging with Howard and he was springing for dinner, so how could I say no? To add to the allure, I’d met the lead singer, Karen Alvarez, at the fair when she was singing with Gypsy Flight, and I really liked both her and her singing, so I was looking forward to seeing and hearing her again.

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Days 232 & 233: Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot & Website Trauma

Wednesday’s One New Thing was a visit to a new restaurant, the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. I thought my girlfriend Angel had suggested it, so I invited her to join me. Even better, she hadn’t suggested it, had never been there in fact, so it was new and exciting for her, too. And she invited another friend, someone I knew a little and hadn’t seen for awhile. In fact, I’d only met him a few times, and every time I’d seen him he’d been wearing a ball cap and a grubby T-shirt, and furthermore I didn’t know she’d invited him to join us. So when I got to the restaurant, the maitre d motioned me in and told me my friend was waiting for me. I didn’t see Angel, just a young man with a long ponytail slicked back, wearing a white sport coat and standing by a table looking at me. Honestly, he looked a little . . . suspect. I scowled at him and said, “That’s not my friend!” (I’m nothing if not graceful!) Then I took a second look and realized who it was and then, of course, I was terribly embarrassed. He handled it with more grace than I, though, and soon enough Angel arrived and we could forget my faux pas.

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Days 229, 230 & 231: O Best Beloved, Luke’s Organic and Random Walk

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I had such a good time Sunday! Beth, Rowan and I went to see O Best Beloved, an interactive performance by six very funny and creative actors. First off, I’d never been in Centennial Park before. It is small, but really pretty, and a great place for an outdoor performance. Secondly, I’d never even heard of O Best Beloved, though I grew up hearing the phrase in Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, stories that explain how things “came to be” (in a very imaginative fashion!) and run through my childhood memories like a playful stream.

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Days 227 & 228: Poem & Alameda Creek Regional Trail

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I’ve never pretended to be a poet. Decades ago I would now and then sit down and slam out a poem. All these years later I remember three that were pretty good, and one – from about 8th grade – that already showed alarming cynicism. The three pretty good ones were all about weather. I learned that the harder I tried to write poetry, the worse my poetry got. If I just let the words fall where they fell, I could be content with the results. Here’s my favorite (don’t panic – it’s short!):

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Day 226: Opening up the Depression Can of Worms

 

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This is the face of a person who has severe chronic, clinical depression and anxiety.
Yesterday I posted the following on facebook:
Okay I’m not really in the closet about this, but I feel compelled to post about it today, in honor and love of Robin Williams. I had chronic, undiagnosed clinical depression for 25 years (I was diagnosed in 2001). I remember it from grade-school, I have battled it, along with severe anxiety, my whole life. While I healed myself of the worst of it about five years ago, I still have to make choices every single day, sometimes by the minute, to keep myself level. People have always found it hard to believe. I have had several three-month long anxiety attacks that were crippling; I couldn’t eat or sleep, I was out of my mind with panic. Even though my nearest and dearest saw the evidence – sudden massive weight loss the most overt sign – they still could not understand it or the depth of it. Do not underestimate depression! Do not! – not in yourself or in anyone you care about. And if anyone at all wants or needs someone to talk to around this topic, please PLEASE feel free to talk to me.

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Days 223, 224 & 225: Pay Toilet, Blog Issues & Telling the Truth

Today’s blog is going to be a bit different from usual. In the first place, I don’t have any pictures. In the second place, half of these One New Things aren’t very clearly defined. Nonetheless, they are true things and part of this year’s journey. So here we go.

Day 223 is easy. I was driving home from my super-fun week in southern California. I was on the road for close to nine hours, and I was also trying to get some things done on the way, such as picking up a mattress in San Luis Obispo. I also made quick detours to Morro Bay and Paso Robles, but I had been in all those places before. However, after filling my tank at Costco, I made a quick stop at a Burger King to use their ladies room, and there it was, my One New Thing. I had to insert a quarter into a big bad locking mechanism on the door just to be able to go in and pee! I wished I’d had my camera to get an image of the bright, shiny, industrial-weight coin-operated lock, but I’d left it in the van charging. Oh, well, the memory shines bright . . . .


While I was in Thousand Oaks, I got an email from Someone Who Knows Things at the company that hosts this website. It was a warning that the company was no longer billing or even answering their phones, and a strong suggestion that I get cracking and move my site to a new host immediately. I am not going to write about my ensuing panic. I recognized that the panic short-circuited my brain’s ability to make good decisions. Besides which, I was far from home and incredibly busy and blah blah blah; I simply did not have the resources to deal with it right then and there, so I packed up the problem with the rest of my luggage and brought it on home with me.

Tuesday, day 224, I started the long process of trying to figure out how best to respond. I’ve been investigating different hosts, looking at the multitude of difficulties in moving a multi-media blog with well over 200 posts, talking with a whole lot of people who know more about this stuff than I do, and trying to tease out a viable solution that I’ll be happy with. The process is ongoing. Hopefully I’ll get it all figured out and handled before my current host goes belly up and I lose everything on the site. But my wonderful sister Beth made Word doc copies of almost everything for me, so even if I lose it all online, I still have it for my next bestseller….


Yesterday, Day 225, I listened to a webinar on Friendship, Loneliness and Creativity. When I first heard about it, I thought that was an odd combination. I mean, any two of those things would make sense to me, but somehow, the three of them together seemed strange. However, I greatly admire one of the two women, Sam Bennett of The Organized Artist Company, as a creative force for good in this world (I hadn’t heard of the other presenter, Shasta Nelson). Also, I long for ever-better friendships, I struggle often with severe loneliness, and I am definitely a creative, so what did I have to lose? Nothing, apparently. This seminar was fantastic, so excellent that I posted the link on facebook because I want everybody to listen to it. I also intend to listen to it again.

One of the things they discussed in the webinar was the misconception that if someone loves us, they should instinctively know what we want or need. In fact, it is up to us to speak up and tell our loved ones what it is we need and want, and they don’t lose points if they then do exactly what we’ve asked. I’ve heard that before, but this time it really resonated. Because another new thing I’ve been doing lately lines up nicely with that. I’ve been speaking my truth, telling people what I want. 

I want to talk a little bit about that. I have a tendency to hide my truth from people. If I think that saying what I really think or feel will hurt someone’s feelings – especially someone I care about – I tend to shove it down. Also, in the past when I was trying out a relationship with a man, I would often hide myself. I would keep my strong opinions soft or completely unvoiced, or modify my behaviors in an attempt to not push him away. I so desperately wanted to be loved and accepted. I often thought that the backlash for speaking my truth, or acting my truth, would be way more than I wanted to – or felt capable of – dealing with. I told myself that if I had a problem with someone, with what they did or what they said, then it was really my problem, and I was the one who needed to either accept or change. I am telling you, that is an exhausting and highly stress producing view point, even though I think it is the right one quite often. But if, after several days or perhaps weeks, I still feel the pressure to speak up, maybe I really do need to.

In the last two days I have, lovingly and as gently as possible (but also as clearly and honestly as possible) spoken my truth to a man I was hoping to have a relationship with, an old friend, and a new friend. This is huge for me, and so very scary. And it isn’t even like I was saying mean or harsh things. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, “I really care about you. So what now?” (which can be as applicable in a friendship as in a romance). But one time a few months ago I said the following to someone ( I was so astonished by my own brilliance that I had to write it down!): I would rather be a scared magnificent than a miserable miniature of my true self. And it’s so true. So I got over my chicken self and said what was real for me.

The verdict is out on all three situations. But you know what? I hardly care. I feel so much relief that that stuff isn’t bottled up inside of me anymore. All of a sudden I’m laughing at silly stuff again, and enjoying random moments rather than obsessing over these other situations. What happens happens. The important thing is that I stopped hiding.


Have you done something new today?

Days 221 & 222: Night Photography & Rodeo & SuperMoon

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By Saturday I was wiped out. I’d been running full out for a week, I’d been with people I loved but who were all new to me, I’d played at the fair, the beach, a family reunion (not my family), I’d had relationship issues and business issues and I hadn’t blogged that whole time. Michelle had to work, so I took the opportunity to spend the day with my head down at the computer, catching up on life in general and my blog in specific. Even after Michelle got home, I stayed at it, editing photos and words and words and photos and trying to just get ‘er done while keeping stressful issues at bay. Carlo made a fantastic dinner for us, and finally I pulled my head up and came back to the present. But, of course, I hadn’t done One New Thing. Michelle came up with one idea, and I took it: she’d take me up the road to the neighbor’s house, and show me the hummingbird nest that had been built under their eaves. Considering the condition I was in, that was just about my speed. Perfect.

Michelle is a lovely, friendly person, and we stopped to talk to this neighbor and that as we made our way up the hill. By the time we got to the hummingbird nest, we could barely see it. Plus, we’re short and it was strung up high. But with a lot of reach and some help from the flashlight app on her phone, we managed to get a few pics. I’m not really sure what that thing is that it’s built on. Maybe just a decorative wind-catcher thingy?
After another visit with another neighbor, we headed back down the hill. Halfway down, Michelle stopped and raised her nose like a coon hound on a scent. Then she walked right up onto a neighbor’s yard, over the grass, to a big ol’ bush. It was an Angel Trumpet plant, and the huge white blossoms filled the night with their perfume. Plus they were really pretty, too. Out came our two phones – one for the light, one for the pictures. I think we did a pretty good job.
See the spider?

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Sunday, Day 222, Michelle and Carlo and I headed back to Ventura for the last day of the fair. Gosh, I’d got so many wonderful new friends by that time! And this was it; after the Alameda Fair, I’d had Ventura to look forward to, but this was my last fair this year. For so many reasons, I felt like crying. But I didn’t. There was still a lot of fun left to enjoy! We were headed for the rodeo! I’d never been to one before, and I was looking forward to it. After all, I’d been a little horse; I figured I could relate!

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In order to beat the traffic, we’d gotten there way too early for the rodeo. So I did what I do: I wandered around, nabbing hugs and taking advantage of photo ops. I also went back to the mineral exhibit so I could write down the various places in California where geodes and other exciting minerals were collected (do I see another potential One New Thing trip in my future?), and dallied for the first time in the fine arts exhibit. Gorgeous stuff! Michelle and Carlo and I returned to the photography exhibit and spent even more time examining every single picture than we did the last time through.

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Okay, so this was my first rodeo. I admit to being a bit surprised when the first thing out of the shoot was little kids clinging onto the backs of sheep who’d been sheered close all except for a big ruff around their shoulders. That’s what the kids were supposed to hang onto, I guess. They weren’t too good at it. Most of them didn’t make it far at all before a dirt snack.

Next thing they announce is four groups of riders. The gig is that the riders bunch up outside the chute. At the yell, the chutes fly open and out bolt horses. Each of the groups has to catch their horse, saddle it, get a rider on it who has to ride it around a barrel . . . I’m not sure what was supposed to happen after that. Up goes the yell, and out come the horses, bucking like crazy while four men run at each horse like crazies. And my gut starts to tighten. These guys are chasing and roping and pulling and dragging on the horses, and the horses are bucking like crazy all over the place. I don’t pretend to know the mind of a horse, but it suddenly occurred to me that these horses didn’t sign up for this job. The cowboys, well, yeah, they chose this. But the horses had no choice. My gut is knotting up as I’m watching the debacle down below. Now let me be clear; the horses were winning big time. But still. And when two of the horses twisted around each other and a loose rein looked like it was going to get wrapped around one horse’s leg, I’d suddenly watched all I could. I excused myself to Michelle and Carlo and made my escape, my heart banging uncomfortably above my locked up tummy.
I didn’t anticipate that reaction. I’d expected to spend the afternoon hootin’ and hollerin’ and havin’ fun just like the thousands of other rodeo fans in the stands, but I couldn’t do it. Hours later when my friends caught up to me, they said it got a lot better after I left, but I couldn’t feel sorry I hadn’t stayed to watch. It was simply not my thing. I tracked down one of the little horses, who had also spent time in a big saddle, and asked him about it. He said that the horses love it and live a great life, only having to work a rodeo for a few weeks out of the year, and being babied and pampered the rest of the time. And I tried really hard to believe it. But my gut wouldn’t let me off the hook.
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I did have some more fun with the little horses, though I didn’t get to be one again.
In fact, everyone seemed to be having fun with everyone.
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There was at least one wonder left in this very special day. Sunday August 10 was the night of the supermoon, and we were in the perfect place to watch it – Ventura Beach. We didn’t just get a fabulous moon, either; we got a beautiful beach sunset to go with it.

As if we hadn’t had enough fun, we got to go back in for some more great music, and at last, the final fireworks of this 2014 Ventura County Fair, brightened by the most amazing supermoon.
Huge thanks to Jason and Jason, who got us tickets and parking and backstage passes and hosted us like we were royalty. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you! Thanks also to all the other fair folk who made us feel welcome and goofed off with us like we were part of the family. And special thanks to Carlo, who took some of the pictures of the sunset and fireworks, and all of the pictures of the supermoon.

Have you done something new today?