Out on the Highway

Over the weekend Honey and went on a road trip to Monterey, an actual vacation that was not for a family event!  It was a long time coming, we have taken a few “staycations” over the last few years but we haven’t hit the road and spent more than one night away from the house since we got married.  We hadn’t originally planned to go to Monterey when he requested the time off.  Long story short we thought we were going to go camping but it didn’t work out, we were planning another staycation when I got a bug up my butt about getting out of town.  Luckily  Honey agreed and I made the arrangements, I wanted to make it so all he had to do was show up.  Somehow I scored a greathotel room in Downtown Monterey for two nights at a very reasonable price.  There were some drawbacks to the place but the amazing room made up for it.  The location was ideal because we could easily walk around the town.   We usually prefer to walk around in a new city, rather than drive. I didn’t drive again until the day we left.  I had been to Monterey as a kid and then again at 16 as a stopping point between home and my parent’s friends in Northern California, he had never been so it was a whole new city to us.

Even though we were in the right town for it Honey and I did not go to the Aquarium, it was freaking expensive!  We had walked through Cannery Row (tourist lane) with the intention of going to the Aquarium but we got there and the price made us stop.  We decided to spend the money on a nice dinner instead (also we are spoiled in SD and can go to our own Aquarium).  It was interesting people watching though Cannery Row and there was some beautiful buildings and views.  There are still some old remnants of the bay’s cannery days placed next to the new, shinny cliffside hotels.

This was a very different vacation for both of us, it was more of a relaxation based trip rather than we have to see this, go here, eat there, etc.  We explored, saw some sights, felt cool breezes, and had some yummy food.  With all of this we were still back in our room by 9 pm each night.  I had brought two bottles of wine from home (ones I knew we loved) to enjoy in front of the fireplace and on the balcony overlooking the fountains in the courtyard.  Just those simple moments of snuggling with him in silence (beside crackling wood and bubbling water) were some of my favorites of the trip.  I did find it amusing that when we used the room provided wine glasses on the first night, the maids replaced them with mini wine glasses the next day.  They were cute but didn’t stop us from finishing the bottle of wine.

While we were there we enjoyed 70 degree days and cool nights, it felt like Novemeber-a very nice break after the last month of heat waves.  I realized I was out of practice with packing because I brought all of the wrong clothes.  Too cool in the day for short sleeves and too cold at night for anything but my heavier jacket, not to mention five pairs of shoes-I only wore two pairs!  Oh well, next time I’ll be back to my expert packing level again.

Another part of the trip was of course the driving, I did it all I am proud to say.  Thanks to childhood road trips and now being a nonsmoker I can comfortably drive to up to five hours without a break.  The highways we selected bookended our trip with a bit of morbidity.  When we headed to Monterey took Route 46 a two lane, near empty road-he read the directions to me, I had to stay on it for the next 63 miles-the speed limit was 55. For the first ten miles the landscape was lined with oil rigs , it eventually gave way to small hills with golden colored grass and oak trees sprinkling on the sides.  Beautiful.  Beside the Budget truck riding my butt and the occasional aderlaine rush around passing lanes, it was a very nice drive.  A few more miles in I noticed a Texaco station with a big James Dean cut out on the corner of the lot.

“That’s strange,” I said to Honey, “Why would they have a James Dean poster at a gas station?”

He said, “I think he might have died around here.”

“Really?  I thought he died in LA.”  He disagreed and then whipped out the phone to look it up (how did people survive road trip questions before these things?) sure enough we were on the route that James Dean died on.  We still had quite a few miles to go from the actual location, it turns out he had stopped at that gas station before he died.  The land around the road was still  undeveloped. I began to think that it probably looked similar to how it looked 57 years ago.   It was kind of strange seeing what might have the last sights of someone who died so many years ago.  But I’m weird and I think about those kind of things. We passed the junction where he was hit (I must admit I slowed down considerably) and then went further than Mr. Dean had a chance to.

On the way back home, not only did we have to take Route 46 but we decided to take a “shortcut” around the 5 to avoid LA during rush hour traffic.  We took Route 138, also called Deathtrap Highway.  Though luckily we didn’t know that until we got home and Honey looked it up.  That was quite an interesting road, not only was it narrow and had occasional dips that would remind me of a rising roller coaster cart, but there was no one around for miles and then suddenly there would be a car and it would be right on my ass.  I kept my road rage at bay while on the trip and let people pass me and even occasionally pulled over to the side, but it was crazy how impatient people were out there (and I was going over the speed limit ).  But our shortcut was pointless because the connecting freeway had crazy traffic too, oh well we both saw a part of California we had never seen before.

The cats did well in our absence, though my Mother-In-Law gave herself some unnecessary stress.  We had kept Rocco and Terra  in their room downstairs so they wouldn’t panic when they didn’t see us, we asked my Mother-in-Law and Apple to look in on them and feed them.  Apparently my Mother-In-Law didn’t hear Honey when he said if they got out it was okay, we just wanted to try to keep them in.  The first night Rocco slipped past her.  She came over numerous times throughout the days while we were gone, left messages with the wrong neighbor about the status of the cats, and made little food arrangements around the house so he wouldn’t starve.  Somehow on the last day she caught him and got him back into their room.  Poor Mom, I am going to make her a good dinner to say thanks-she went above and beyond.  When I got home and went down to look at them the two cats were just sitting on the futon as happy as could be.  Bailey nearly tackled us when we walked through the door.

It was a great trip and a nice break for both of us.  It was good to get away from the house for a few days and away from all of the projects we have planned for the Fall, but it was really nice to come home and sit with our purring kitties.

Until next time Monterey!

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Port Town

This week I had to say good-bye to a friend, Kudra moved away.  She had been sick for the last two weeks with a crazy cold that went after her ears, so our planned walks and outings were countermanded from that and also the heat.  But ironically the heat wave broke the day she moved away. As you can imagine moving in 90+ degree weather and while sick was not that the most comfortable of circumstances.  I resisted the urge to say maybe it was a sign, in a half joking manner of course.

I went over on the weekend to visit, finding little excuses to go and distract her and her mother from packing.  The first day she had offered up some food they were not going to get to (good organic vegetables and cheeses), I ended up staying for over an hour.  It wasn’t until I got to the car that I started crying.  I must admit the last few weeks I have been quick to tears at the most silly of things for not explicable reason, it was somewhere earlier last week that I realized that it was their move that was bothering me.  Many moons ago someone had brought up that San Diego is one of those cities that people seem to be moving in and out of, giving new meaning to our “Port Town” characterization.  Usually those who were not born here or in the SoCal area, live here for just under a decade.  My problem is that I seem to meet people around the seven year mark.  That was not the case with Kudra, I just met her in late January but it feels like I have known her for a lot longer.

On Sunday I went over to her house again to give her and her husband some parting gifts, my famous last lines to Honey were “I’ll be home soon”.  He had made some music for her husband to listen to as he drove across the country in a U-Haul and I gave her My Life in France and a journal.  I had wanted to lend her my copy but I wasn’t able to get it to her before she got sick.  I thought the book was appropriate because it begins with Julia Child arriving in a new place and starting her adventure, I thought Kudra could relate.  The journal was so she could write down all the little stories of her trip that seem to always get forgotten after a few months after a road trip and so that she too could master the art of detailed memories.

Three hours and a glass of wine later I went home.  She walked with me out to my car and I lost all composure and cried in front of her-I blame the wine.   I couldn’t really say what I wanted to say because I have this thing if I start talking-I cry more, but we said would miss each other and that we would keep in touch, thanks to Skype.  Although Kudra and I were not what you would call “two peas in pod” we had aspects to our lives that made it very easy to relate to one another and I think it helped us both.    I wish her the best in her new adventure and though I know we will keep in touch, my Lake Walks won’t be the same without her.  Miss you already =)

Fan Girl Part I

Yesterday I had a wonderful excuse to get out of the house… Mrs. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess was in San Diego for her book tour.  Like many people I heard about her blog after a post she put up about presenting her husband with a 6′ Metal Chicken that she bought while shopping with a friend.  She bought the chicken and brought it home because her husband said she could not buy anymore towels, well she didn’t.  She is a very entertaining writer so I kept on going back to her blog and before I knew it I was hooked.   In April her book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir), it has been on the NY Times Best Sellers List for 16 weeks.  I read it in maybe 4 sittings and  I laughed so hard I stopped breathing on several occasions.  Honey had never heard me laugh like that from a book so he picked it up after me and also laughed like crazy.   Now he checks in on her blog more frequently than I do!  Which  I told Mrs. Lawson while she signed my book last night.  She said, “Keep him.”

She was signing books at a bookstore about 15 miles away from me, I had no idea what to expect as far as crowds because first of all it has been 22 years since I went to a book signing (that one was for Ann M. Martin), second it seems like most of my friends have heard of her-but how about the rest of San Diego?  The signing was at 7, so I showed up around 4:45 (to be honest I also used it as an excuse to get out of the damn heat).  I could see they had cleared a space for her (ironically in the kids section) but there wasn’t a line or chairs set up yet.  Though I noticed as I walked around the bookstore (soaking up the AC and waiting for Octana to get off work) there were a few middle aged women slowly wandering around the store not really looking at a specific section or book, just kind-of strolling around.  Since I was doing the same thing I knew what they were there for. =)

When Octana arrived we went over to Islands and had a Mai Thai and appetizers for about 40 minutes.  When we got back the chairs had been set up and were fully occupied along with a standing crowd and a sitting on the floor crowd.  I joined in with the sitting crowd and pretty much had front row seats.  As I sat on the floor with a varied crowd of other women, feeling my feet fall asleep one of the coordinators said to a few of us that he had not seen that many people there for a signing since Ozzy Osborne.  Crazy, huh?

The pictures I took did not come out well due to my angle and since I hate it when people put up pictures like that of me, I will not post them.

But here is my signed book =)

I haven’t been the type of person who tries to meet the people I’ve seen in movies, heard on the radio, or read in books.  I thought being a fan of someone and showing that fandom (in the appropriate context) to them was an annoyance to the artist.  That somehow the fans were the worst part of what they were doing.  And while some fans are absolutely that (for example: stalkers), I am coming to realize that fans can bring happiness to the artist.

I went to the book signing to show my appreciation of her work and tell her even if she has heard it a million times that I loved it.  Because I don’t think you can hear that enough.  Next I will be writing my first fan letter, not to her but to another artist who was appreciated in some circles for decades but not “well” known until recently.  In fact many people still have never heard of him which sucks because he has influenced so many artists that everyone does know.  But that story is for another post.

Mastering the Art of Detailed Memories

I finally got My Life in France by Julia Child a few weeks ago.  I picked it up on a Sunday afternoon and honestly had to force myself to put it down because I had read through a hundred pages in one sitting! And I still wanted to keep on going.  I did not grow up with Julia Child like a lot of people did, besides noticing her cookbook in my mom’s extensive recipe book collection I had no idea who she was.  I saw Julie & Julia a few years ago and enjoyed it, but I didn’t really feel the need to find out more about her until recently.  Since I have gotten into cooking more I have wanted to try some of her famous recipes and see what the big deal about French food is.  To be honest I haven’t really had any French meals before, not for lack of desire but because I never really hear anyone talk about a great French restaurant they had been to lately.  I’m sure there are wonderful French restaurants in SoCal but you hear people gushing more about certain Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Italian food restaurants out here.

So after I had finished the book in about four sittings, I handed it over to Honey who also has been thoroughly enjoying it and reading it way past his “bed time”.  What can I say it is an enjoyable book, it is almost a pleasure to read someone so happy and inspired by their surroundings.  The incredible thing is that it was “written” with her husband’s grand nephew in 2003, when she was in her 90’s.  With the excitement and detailed feelings you would have thought it was something that happened one or two years ago, not 55!  And you know how they were able to piece together the details? Letters, photographs, and date books.  Both Julia and her husband Paul had written faithfully to their families over the years and in great detail. That is how she could remember all of the little things, like what incredible meals she had on which occasions, what their first apartment was like in Paris, and all of the testing she had to do to make her recipes perfect. Paul use to take time out every week to write letters, and the weren’t little “how ya doings?” we’re talking about six page long letters.  Incredible! Letter writing is definitely a lost art, I hear kids don’t even write notes to each other in class now-they text.  Damn, I’m old.

This got me thinking about my own lack of commitment to writing down the daily stuff of my life, here and elsewhere.  I probably won’t end up being like Julia Child and publishing a memoir, but think of what memories she could have forgotten if she hadn’t written it down.  I know that I and all of the other people that have read and enjoyed her book, would have missed out on a great story.  And even just as an individual being able to go back and read something you wrote decades ago and be reminded of all of the little things that made things great (or not so great) enhances your memory of the experience.  So I’m going to start keeping a better record of what I’m up to, because though I might think it is just the daily happenings and not very interesting- in five years I might forget what the heck I was up to around this time in my life.

So here is what happened yesterday, I finally broke down and bought a book that I had wanted for years but always talked myself out of getting.

Don’t worry I’m not going to go all Julie Powell on you guys.