Odd Energy

It was the oddest thing, but yesterday I got a surge of energy.  I used it to take those ten minutes in a day that I have been denying myself to meditate.  It really is the most simple of things but so easy to put at the bottom of the list, even when I know it makes me feel better I still have issues making myself a priority in my day-if that makes sense.

After a frustrating session (you do get rusty on breaks) I did a few things around the house with a feeling of intention for starting and completing tasks. This carried over to communication; texts and emails were answered. Kudra even sent me a email about free online classes for a subject very near to my heart. And then I actually blogged! Holiday cards were addressed and laundry taken care of and in such purposeful way that it wasn’t like I just floated for one task to another.

Later I went to the gym, did my 10k steps on various equipment. I think I even got an endorphin rush.

I finished up the afternoon by “helping” my neighbor Meryl socialize her new (hopefully) puppy by going to a Starbuck’s and pretty much asking people to come pet the puppy while I sipped on a holiday coffee.

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Imagine a person coming up to you and asking, “Would you do me a favor and pet this puppy?”

And I am wondering what caused the surge.  Could it be the meditation to the endorphin rush?  Maybe the healthy food?  Or maybe it was just the cute puppy above… All I know is it was an odd energy that I haven’t had in a while.

Then this morning I read an entry from one of the blogs I follow (and you should too). Liz mentioned that there was something in the cosmos that began three years ago, Winter 2012 and now it is coming to an end. And while that idea frightens me slightly, I am wondering if it will be a good thing for me.

In Winter of 2012 I was packing up our house and planning to move across country to a place I had never been. We knew for a few months it could happen, but we didn’t want to tell anyone until it was a sure thing.  I think that is where my habit of introversion took root.

After the move and some of the company we kept or rather did not keep, I felt my little shy, obedient side coming out and ruling more of my life. It has been struggle to find my voice again and my sass, but through some situations and people in the last year I have been able to get it back.  But really the last two months I have been feeling quite different.

I noticed I didn’t blog as much the last three years, which sucks because so many new things happened that I really did not record properly and I worry that I have lost those initial thoughts forever. I’m not going to make any big promises of blogging, but I want you to know the intention is there.

So I am hoping that this odd energy is maybe just a little Retro-Melly coming out to take a look around.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and enjoy the New Moon tonight.

People Seem to Smile More When I Wear Red Shoes

Today I decided to wear my red heels, I think it has been at least ten months since I wore them outside the soft ground of my bedroom.  Back ten months ago I wore them out to do errands.  It was a particularly dull, gray day-just the latest in the line of gray days.  There wasn’t a chance rain, it was just going to be dull, so I decided that instead of my usual boots or sneakers that I was going wear my bright red heels.  They were festive, Christmas was coming and most importantly they went with my outfit.

Now I’ll admit I intentionally used a shopping cart instead of my usual basket to keep me upright and not make a scene. They’re only two-inch heels but when your usual shoe choice is between flip-flops or sneakers, you get out of practice quickly with these things.

I carefully clacked around the store picking up the items on the list in my brain.  The sound of high heels on concrete always takes me back to when I had Day Care after school.  I could identify my mom’s stride up to a 100′ feet away down the hall when she came to get me.  They were heavy, determined steps; probably tired from the nine hours of getting up and down in those horrible early nineties heels.  I always feel like a fake grown up when I’m in heels, it could be because of all of the wobbling.

I shuffled around the store and it just seemed like people were nicer (in a store that is regularly quite cutthroat) and then people met my eye and smiled.  Once I unloaded my groceries into the car and I began the walk back to return the cart, a woman called out to me and said, “Here, Hon let me take that for you, I’m just heading in.”  I thanked her and as I turned to leave she said, “Look at you in those red shoes, you are just too cute.” I laughed and thanked her again and then said something about adding a little flair to errands.

And then I went home and I thought about what had just happened. It seemed like people had been nicer to me, smiled a little bit more in amusement, and engaged with me just because I wore red shoes.  How cool!   Footwear as a conversation starter, the possibilities were endless!

But, was it really the shoes?

Probably not.  I’m mean they’re cute, but they’re THAT cute. I think it was me, wearing the red shoes.  I’m sure I was more present because I was so focused on not falling flat on my face and making an ass of myself.  I probably made more eye contact to read where people were going, and I found myself smiling and then they smiled back.  It could be that I was smiling more because I was doing something a little different, something that was me.  I tend to hide me a lot these days from most people.  My husband and a few close friends still see me on a regular basis, and then new friends get little peeks now and again.

I’ve noticed since I moved here that I am not around as many people that outwardly express themselves (clothes, hair, tattoos, etc.), and that I don’t always feel comfortable doing it myself.  Which is pretty lame of me.  Maybe it was because I spent too much time with family when we first got here. They are pretty conservative (my cousin once apologize to me for a quarter inch of cleavage in the shirt she was wearing around the house, when it was just the two of us).  I say that the early exposure to the family (and only the family) might have shaped my willingness of expression because there are people here that have fun colors of hair, different stylized clothing, visible tattoos, and even the real rebels: the ones that wear red shoes. =P

People express themselves here and I need to get used to doing it again too.  I think (in part) I wore red shoes again today because I feel like I can’t express myself with words right now and I needed to let something out.

Lately a few personal situations in my family have come up that have challenged my default setting of politeness and only child compliancy.  I actually got a a chance to vocalize some of the feelings I had about a situation to one of the people involved, but I still held back a lot.  It’s not their fault I’ve spent most of my life biting my tongue with them, so I shouldn’t unload the lifetime worth of gripes into one conversation. But then something new happened, which made it pretty much impossible for me (maybe not for another person) to keep that dialogue open.  So pretty much I am having to take the high road and precede like everything is as it was, which is kind of the default setting in my family (I’m sure I’m not alone in this particular default with families).

I think I need to work on my communication skills, with everyone.  This blog has pretty much been abandoned for the last few years in part because of my shyness and discomfort with oversharing.  But I think it is helpful for working out thoughts in my head, keeping a timeline on what happens in my life, and it’s a way to share.  People seem to like me more when I don’t hide the goofiness that is me.

So… here’s hoping that I’ll pull out the red shoes again before Christmas.

Real or Artificial?

You know how there is that list of things you and your partner should discuss before moving in together/getting married?  Things like do you think there should be a tv in the bedroom, who will do the dishes, etc.  I have found something to add (to whom it applies to) that has not been mentioned…Christmas tree, real or artificial?

All of my life I have been a real Christmas tree girl.  John had been a artificial tree guy when I met him and he already had one.  Our first year together, because I was so love and was willing to give it a go I said Sure, let’s use the artificial tree this year.  I was willing but not thrilled.  When the time came I was not so secretly ecstatic when John pulled the Christmas tree out of storage and found the box was covered in mildew, he had to throw it away.  That year and every year since we have a Real Christmas tree, until this year.  This year there were a few circumstances that pointed us to getting a fake one.

What it led to

While I complained at the time:

“My tree has instructions” ……”my tree has small hazardous pieces” …….”what do you mean I have to spend to hours making it look like a real tree before I can decorate it?”

I have found many advantages to this artificial tree.

First of all it came with lights, lights that with a push of a button go from solid white to fading in & out white to multicolor to fading in & out multicolor.  So no more keeping lights in storage and hoping that there are enough to cover this year’s tree. I can also change my mind about the color whenever I want.  We can have a tree out when we decorate the rest of the house instead of waiting until half way through the month so we don’t have a brown tree on Christmas.  If an ornament does’t fit right in the space on the tree you can just adjust the branches to fit it.  We don’t have to worry about water on the carpet or how it will break down and fit into the trash when we are done with it.

It’s true that it doesn’t have that “Christmas Tree Smell” and it’s not part of the ritual of the season to go pick out a tree, but maybe since we are in a place that has so many trees around I don’t feel like I have to have a (let’s be honest…dying) tree in the house.  If you think about it Real Christmas trees are kind of like “Fortnight At Bernie’s” what with the dressing up and playing with something that is withering away in front of you.   But there is something very special about going into a home with a “living” tree, it marks an occasion and a presence of time.  I have not fully converted to be an artificial tree enthusiast but I am willing to give a shot for the next few years.

And to be honest it doesn’t look half bad.

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So out of curiosity which do you prefer? Real or Artificial Christmas trees?

What I’ve Been Up to This Time

As John puts it, “it’s been a bit stale” around here.  Once again, I apologize. Yes I got busy with life again and I was in the middle of things that I couldn’t write about out of some strange superstition I have, but once again I have returned and I’m ready to start saying what’s on my mind and catch you up with everything else one post at a time.

So the biggest reason I have been all quiet on the Blogging Front is that we moved again.  It was not the elaborate logistical challenge of moving across country (which was only six months ago) but a more manageable in-town move into Our new house.  When we moved to NC the plan was to rent for a year and start looking for our own house in the fall.  But then Spring came as did the For Sale signs and John an I found ourselves adding Redfin and Zillow apps to our phones and checking them as often as we checked the afternoon weather forecast.  I must admit I dragged my heels on the whole buying a house thing.  I kept on saying not yet, we need to get to know the town more, and really figure out what we wanted out of house.  Since the houses are much different here than in SoCal we weren’t sure where we would “fit”.  Also I did want to stick to the plan and buy in 2014 and I convinced myself that my constant Redfin surfing was just fact gathering and research.  The research led to me the conclusion that we should start officially looking.

I looked up some local realtors through the internet, unfortunately this town does not use Yelp as much as San Diego, so no one had a customer review that they had not hand picked.  I was planning for us to buy the house on the sly without telling any of my family whet we were up to, but after a not so good feeling from a “highly recommended” relator I called my cousin and asked for a recommendation.  She put me in touch with the guy who had help them find their first and second house and sell their first house as well.  My Aunt and Uncle also used him when they bought in South Carolina, I think he can now be considered the official family realtor.  He (unlike many residents) grew up in Charlotte and knows this town like the back of his hand.  He is a riot and can keep you entertained on a long day of looking 18 houses in a row.  The house buying/selling process is very different than what I experience in San Diego, so I was happy to have someone who understood and explain it to me.  He liked me because I was no nonsense about house hunting, I could look at a house and if I didn’t like it leave without seeing the whole thing.  Some of his clients would just keep on looking and bad mouth the house for another 10 to 15 minutes.  I didn’t see how that was worth my time.

Originally it was just me looking at the houses with our Realtor.  John trusted my judgement and through online searches and our Realtor’s insight we had an initial list of around 20 houses.  We discussed what we wanted at lest a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom (there was no way we were going back to one bathroom after knowing life with 2.5) with a good size yard, a garage, in a good area, maybe with a wood burning fireplace, or screened in porch.  The Realtor and I set out at 9am on a Wednesday morning and by 3:45 with a half hour lunch, I had whittled the list down to 3 that I wanted John to see.  It was very House Hunters.

Did they chose House #1- the split level with the hardwood floors and the small pool? House #2-The small cottage without a garage in the great part of town? Or did they chose House #3  the newer construction with all kinds of upgrades but a small backyard? We chose House #3, but we didn’t buy it.

We put in an offer, which even though it was below list price our realtor thought was too much.  It was a very good offer and he expected she would answer within the hour-she didn’t.  Instead she waited a day and change the listing to a “multiple offer situation” and wanted our best offer by the weekend.  Not to mention wanted a really long escrow and the option to rent back and some other things I don’t even want to bring up.  We withdrew our offer, though I doubt she let the other people know.  We didn’t want to deal with this BS when the house had been on the market for over two months without a single offer.

So a few days later we hit the road again looking at potential houses.  It was probably one of the most rainy days we have still ever seen here, but our Realtor was at the helm and got to ten houses in a few hours without incident.  John fell in love with the first place we went, but I had reservations.  The second to the last house we went to that day was the one we ended up buying.  Like I mentioned it was raining like crazy that day. The sky was rumbling and dark, it made you just want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cider and forget the world, but when we went into the house that would be ours, that feeling drifted away.  It felt really good in there.  The walls in the entrance were painted a neutral light beige but it reflected what little bit of light was coming out of the sky without a single light bulb on.  In the rental I had noticed the darkness from the trees being filled in was starting to get to me after week three of no sun, so I thought a place like this might be good for me.  The kitchen a family room were equally lovely and the mater bedroom windows faced the forested area behind the property.  So now I wake up to this view every morning

bedroom view

We went to another house, and while it nice it was not what we had just seen.  So we made an offer and were in escrow by the next day.  I am thankful we moved on buying a house when we did because soon after we closed they started raising the interest rates on home loans.  I really like the house, still getting to know her and I haven’t fully bonded yet, but that takes time.

We moved in as soon as we could because we had my little sister Firefly coming to town a few days after we closed.  Though I couldn’t unpack everything before she got here we were able to set up the guest room and bathroom so she had a comfortable place to sleep off her jet lag.  I’ll talk about her visit in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling the Spring

Spring has not sprung here like I am used to. Instead it has crept in slowly making the trees green here and there, sprinkling a few yards with early blossoms, and making the little creatures around all twitterpated. It looks like the warm days and warmer evenings are here to stay so I think Spring has arrived in its full force. The forecast looks good  so Honey brought the little seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs out of the comfort of his home office and into the scary world of the back deck.  So far everyone is looking perky and will hopefully give us some yummy veggies.

We wavered for a while on if we should plant anything right now because we are renting and we don’t have the same unrestricted freedoms that we had with our house back West.  But after we settled in and started getting into our new version of our routine we realized that gardening and growing our own vegetables has now been written in ink to our routine.  Honey has picked up the torch on the gardening more than I have, I still feel like I can’t touch anything in our back yard (though it so desperately needs it).  I guess it has to do with my ignorance of the climate or  not knowing how the sun will shine on the yard or what kinds of things need to be kept around to keep the North Carolina clay soil in check.  I’m starting to feel more at home here so I suspect I will out staining my clothes in the dirt soon enough.

seedlings

For a while a rejected any kind of settling into this house because I knew it was only temporary.  I also began looking at it for all of the faults of the house rather than its positives, I think this was some weird subconscious thing with the moving and selling of the house that I had put a lot of myself into.  Don’t get me wrong I was and am on board with our move and selling the house, but I guess I was not ready to put as much of myself into our home (for now).  I guess I also expected that I could run this house like a well oiled machine quickly, because I had at the old one.  This was not the case.  We started from scratch on a lot things such as furniture and even things like our pantry items.  I tried my best to find the stuff we used and what we needed but there was always something I realized we were missing later.  It seriously took me four weeks to notice that we did not have any flour in the house and of course it came at the worst possible moment (making cookies).  I think those are the moments when you realize you’re not in your version of home anymore and you have start over.  I also finally agreed to get a small table and chairs, because the ottoman dinning was not cutting it for us.  It has made the breakfasts and dinners much more relaxing and has kept off that damn TV off more.

So I guess I am letting the place feel more like home, but not forcing it into any narrow constraints.  Over the weekend while Honey moved the seedlings into their “big boy” pots I sat out our lawn and read, I never did that at our old house-there was always something else to do even when we sat back relaxing.   As I sat there listening to the carpenter bees buzzing pass me and birds chirping everywhere, I got this strange multiple flashback of the Aviary at the San Diego Zoo and sitting out on the field in elementary school reading during lunch.  I think the Aviary sprung to mind because that was the only other place I heard that many different types of birds together at once, it almost echoes here there are so many birds.  As for the elementary flashback I can only think that I haven’t spent enough time sitting in the grass as an adult.  These two experiences, separated by decades melded together in a way that made me appreciate the moment I was in as unique feeling because while they reminded me of past experiences I was only taking tiny tastes of my past to help me get the bearings on my present. Once I did, I stopped seeing the backyard as this unknown miscellaous place and saw it as my home.

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I’ll get the hang of it here someday, the Spring is helping.

The Differences

A few of my Southern California friends have asked on occasion what is it like in our new city, I am on the other side of country so it has to be a little different, right?  To be honest it has a lot more in common with San Diego than you would believe.  People are friendlier and occasionally you’ll hear an accent but like San Diego, Charlotte has become a town of newcomers from all around so I hear as many different accents here as I did back home.

But there are some differences and here they are, in no particular order. =)

The water is soft here, it makes our skin and hair feel softer which is awesome.  The tap water tastes funny to us, but it’s good when it goes through a filter.

It has rained at least once a week since we got here so I haven’t had to water until the landlord just had the lawn treated and now I have to water everyday for two weeks (blah).  Apparently during the summer you have mow at least twice a week to keep your lawn in line, this is totally new to my chaparral yard techniques.

It is amusing that people outside of California are so scared of earthquakes when the thunder here rattles buildings more than most quakes I have felt.  (On a side note… I am still very scared at the prospect of tornados, which do happen here).

You can’t buy spirits in the same place as beer and wine.  I can buy a bottle of wine or a six pack at Target or a grocery store, but I have to go to a state run store to by the hard stuff.   Also you cannot buy alcohol before noon on a Sunday, so if you want a mimosa for Sunday brunch, you better plan ahead.

Sunday, before noon

And the city is significantly emptier on Sunday mornings.

The gas nozzles don’t have vapor guards.

Paper seat covers are not always provided in public restrooms.

Most commuters use surface streets to get to work and brag about their newly discovered faster route, but never share the details.

The major freeway is circular here so the 485 can be North, South, East, West all at the same time and on the same trip.  The Garmin gets tripped on this all of the time.

Having deer in our backyard is so common that I hardly notice them anymore.

deer

I go out state every week to go see my cousin, it is only 15 minutes away.  To get to another state from San Diego you better have a at least a half full tank of gas and make sure you take a potty break before you leave.

The trash service does not provide bins for yard waste, you can buy your own or just leave bags or even loose branches out and they will pick it up.  The recycling bins are only picked up every other week.

They mostly use pine needles as mulch here instead of wood chips.

Chick-Fil-A’s are everywhere.

There are occasionally posted signs that read “concealed weapons are not allowed on premise” on business doors.  I am not used to that be an option.

Sunrise happens much later here, even before the time change.

The dirt stains your clothes from the iron in it.

You best not confuse the term BBQ with Grilling, that is a whole other ball game.

People are very into having those banners outside their house with either a big letter of their last name or a seasonal display that I swear changes every fortnight.  This might just be a ‘burbs thing, but it’ new to me.

People always wave and smile at you when you’re walking, even if it’s not your neighborhood and you are a complete stranger! Weird, huh?

 

All joking aside, it is a great town.  I hope at some point all of our friends will come out and visit so we can show off our new city …though hopefully not all on the same weekend.

Our Winter Wonderland

This may seem strange to post now that spring is in full swing, but our first snow day was so fun I had to write about it.

The third weekend we were here we got a real treat, our first NC snow.  It was in the forecast but I didn’t expect much because I heard the snow in Charlotte isn’t usually the stuff of holiday movies.  I had heard it was icy and didn’t really stay around long enough to create our perception of a winter wonderland.  I have seen snow before when traveling but Honey had never seen it fall before so I hoped it would at least stick round for the morning.

When we woke up that Saturday it was raining but not a snowflake in sight, so I started making waffles because we were finally getting a chance to stay home and relax on a weekend (our first time in months!).  At first we didn’t see that the rain had turned into little snowflakes, but once we did we were kids again.  We went ran out to the back deck in our pjs and warm hats and let the the flakes catch on our hair and on our clothes.  As expected they melted quickly but that didn’t stop us from grabbing our cameras and taking pictures of the snow lightly dusting our back yard and catching in the trees.

Eventually we went back in, I finished making the waffles and played music from my laptop.  Trying to set a mood, I typed in the word “snow” to my iTunes library and it gave me a song from The Fountain soundtrack called “First Snow”.  It is an instrumental piece that  has that feeling of building with a  melancholy backbone, I highly recommend giving it a listen.  As time passed we noticed the snow had not let up. I was impressed when the snow fell hard enough to stay on the ground and not melt away…

Snow just startingI started really turning into a giddy girl when I saw it become what I had always imagined a snow day to be.

More Snow

 

Our Snow People

BloomIt was absolutely gorgeous! We were outside for at least three hours taking pictures, feeling the snow crush under our shoes, and throwing the occasional snow ball.  Sorry about that Honey.  And yes we were the only people in or neighborhood that were out playing in the snow.  I could just imagine them coming to their windows watching us and thinking those “crazy Californians.”  We even let Bailey out onto the deck to examine the snow.  He loved it so much we had to escort him back inside.

It snowed into the night but stopped by the next morning so we went for a walk around the neighborhood.

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The sun was out and the snow melted by Sunday night, so in a way it was a perfect little snow storm because it came on the weekend and all evidence of it was gone by rush hour on Monday morning.  I spoke with my cousin later that week and she said that was not the typical snowfall here so I took as an incredible welcome to our new home.