Revisit, Refresh

It looked like I had fallen back into the swing of blogging again, didn’t it?  Sorry…again.

The winter blues did sneak up on me a bit, that awkward time when the winter just gets annoying and everything you do or plan just seems to be in anticipation of Spring.  But there was one thing that we did not have to wait for Spring to enjoy, and that was a trip out to the coast to see our lovely friends Kudra and Porter.

Back in San Diego, when we first met them, we had heard from various sources about the incredibleness and the joy that is their St. Patrick’s Day Party.  And this year we got to go.  The evite went out and I said yes before I even knew if we had secured a couch or floor area to sleep on.  When I did speak to her later asking for dibs on some square footage in the living room, she told me that one of their guest bedrooms was available if we wanted it. Uh, yes please!  We also worked out that we would come up a day early so we could hang out and I could be her Sous Chef if needed.

A few nights before we left I started getting a bout of insomnia.  I get it from time to time, there were many things that could have caused it, the time change being the most obvious.  But as anyone who has had a few loss of night’s sleep can tell you, your personality becomes less than pleasant.  The night before we left I went to bed early but only probably got 4 hours of sleep.  I woke up at my usual time (6:30) and started making the two batches of scalloped potatoes that I was bringing for the party.  Once I was done it was time to pack the car and myself to head down the road.  I was a wreck, practically sleep walking but Honey drove and I caught a few hours of a nap on the way there.

When we got to Kudra’s and Porter’s I was a few more steps above sleepwalking, and they were cooking up a storm. At last glance the party was going to be around 30 people (hence the two batches of potatoes).  Kudra had Soda Bread piling high.

bread

Believe it or not this is not a staged photo, she was just piling up the bread so it would cool.

Porter was in the garage cooking up the corned beef.  Honey kept him company and they discussed beer brewing and various other subjects, while I stayed with Kudra in the kitchen and helped in anyway I could.

cabbage

We talked about what we had been up to the last few months.  Kudra and I used to walk around The Lake often and usually would be talking the whole time.  In the span of time since those walks I forgot just how much we used to share with each other.  The first few times we visited each other’s new homes and cities, we all stayed in a group of four for the most part-so those talks didn’t happen.  We realized it a little too late on one trip and while we were supposed to be saying good-bye we ended up in an almost three hour talk.  Now we try to fit in at least a little walk to talk and catch up without the menfolk around. This trip we had the kitchen to ourselves for hours and lots of talking was had.  I told her about the insomnia and she had some suggestions.  She has been taken a herbalism course and gifted me with a lovely therapeutic oil blend.

As we talked over our cooking prep about all of things that were going on in our lives, I felt more at peace than I had in a while.  My relationships in my new city are still relatively new and I know that I keep a good amount of my feelings and opinions to myself, it was very refreshing to put some more out there and to not be  worried about how it would come across.  Kudra always listens and more times that not completely understands. She has been very open with me, even from our first stroll around the lake and that has (I think) in turn made me more open with her.  Perhaps I can use that logic to have others be more open with me.

When the guys emerged from the large pot cooking we put together a little dinner and chatted together.  The plan was to participate in 5k walk the next morning, but since we were in town the rain had come to the coast once again.  Around midnight we began making promises that we would not do the walk if it was raining (we had already made the donation, so it was no loss to the cause).  We played chicken with time to see how long we could stay up and see if the rain had in fact washed out our early morning plans.  A few hours later  after much more talking and cooking, we hesitatingly got into bed.  Kudra made me a vitamin mixture before bedtime and made sure we had some lavender oil burring in our room as we slept.  Even though we only had a few hours sleep it was the best sleep I had gotten in weeks.

We all woke up the next morning, got dressed and watched as the sky opened up and rained on us the whole way there.  But about ten minutes before the walk started, the rain stopped.  We all walked quickly (trying to keep up with Kudra’s mother who was also there) and not a drop fell on us.  Later we caught a late breakfast at restaurant near Kudra’s Mom’s place and it began raining again.  It then rained for most of the day and throughout the St. Patrick’s Day Party.  It didn’t seem to put a damper on the day and after all of the wonderful food I ate I was thankful to have had morning exercise.

The party was wonderful, it was a mix of her nearby family and their friends.  The food was incredible, from the corned beef to the cabbage to the vegan shepherd’s pie to the homemade soda bread from a grandma’s recipe book.  Then the guests all brought something, serious dents were made in my scalloped potatoes even tough there were four other potato dishes around.  Someone brought around 50 “Irish Carbomb” Cupcakes and so many other delicious desserts I lost count of how many bites I took off of Honey’s plate. Porter served his incredible homemade Stout and another one of their guests brought his award winning Stout (I actually liked Porter’s more).  I also had my first glass of Moonshine.  I know, two years in the South and this is my first glass?  You can buy the regulated ones in the stores but this was actual moonshine.  It passed the the test without blue sparks and no one went blind.  It was actually pretty good, sweet as all hell, but good in a small amount.

The people at the party were wonderful,l as I expected friend’s of theirs would be.  They were warm and welcoming and tried their best to convince us to move to their town.  Which was very tempting 🙂 We have offers of boat rides and staying at beach houses the next time we blow into town (with hopefully better weather next time).

The next day Porter made corned beef hash with what little leftovers they were able to hide away and the sun finally came out for us to enjoy breakfast on their porch with some Bloody Mary’s.  The time went too quick and it after a while we had to pack our things to head home.  Honey I talked a lot on the drive back.  There has been a certain disconnect with who we feel we are here.  Nothing weird between us as a couple but rather how we are here.  Lifestyle stuff is different and while nature is more prevalent, the connection to it is not.

When we got back home we made decisions and plans regarding our reconnection.  We somehow scored a composter like the one we had in San Diego at 40% off and already assembled (which was a pain the last time).  We decided to say screw if it is “not allowed”, we can’t keep on living in a way we don’t feel comfortable with.  It is hiding behind a bush where only one or two neighbors can see and one of them said they thought it was great.  I picked up an oil diffuser and some lavender to help keep me having the same lovely sleep I had at their house.  I also got the vitamin mixture she gave me and I have felt great.  We grilled some fish in the backyard and ran into another neighbor who complimented the things we had done with the yard and agreed those cedars were horrible.  I have been sleeping better, cooking better, and even communicating better since we got back.  I didn’t realize how disjointed I felt before we left, but two nights among friends seems to have put us back into a more happy place.  As being around such wonderful people has a tendency to do. 😉

Getting Out in the Green

Since we moved here my walking lifestyle has changed.  I used to be able to walk to the market or various other places if I wanted and walk around The Lake with or without my various walking buddies.  When the move really became official I was so busy cleaning, gardening, packing, and planning that I relied on my car when grocery shopping and my Lake walks seemed unnecessary.  When we got here I was in a state of exhaustion for about a month. No really the pictures are quite terrifying, I looked like the Crypt Keepers’ younger but more ragged looking sister.

After a doctor’s appointment where I was “encouraged” to start exercising regularly again I began walking around the neighborhood where we were renting for 30-45 minutes a day.  We sold my car before we went East, so I was limited in location.  The neighborhood was actually quite beautiful but cut off from walking anywhere outside of it.  There were trees, plants, challenging hills, and circular streets so I could make a huge lap rather than retracing my steps.  Another drawback was I had to walk on the street and most people forgot they were in a residential area, so there were a few accidental games of Chicken every so often.

When we moved here I was very exited because there were actual sidewalks and I saw people walking all over the place at all times of the day.  I have walked here a few times but I find it’s hard to get motivated, it’s just not like my other walking spots have been the last few years.  It is a very well kept neighborhood and people do beautiful things with their yards, but it is all so sterile.  But a few weeks ago we discovered the Greenway and I think it will become my new Lake.

Greenway

Greenway

Greenway

 

These sites are just within a two mile are of each other, it’s like you are going on different trails  You have pine trees, marshes, and ponds.  It is beautiful and there is life everywhere from tadpoles and turtles to hawks and bunnies.  It’s like the Lake where I have to walk to a certain spot and then turn around, but now that I have an App for that I can stop with the guess work and really know what progress I am making.  Though those moms with the newborns in the strollers are a certain level of hardcore I could never compete with.

Greenway Trees

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!

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 =)

A Walking Buddy Hussy

Yep, I admit I have become quite the “walking buddy” hussy.  Not only have I been walking with my aunt and on the weekends (weather permitting) my dear husband and Birdie, now I have added yet another buddy to the mix.  She is the former neighbor of my current neighbor, Apple.  I met her and her husband on Halloween and then again two weeks ago at a local bar with Apple.  I’ll call her Kudra for the purposes of this blog.  She too, is a “temporary” housewife, she has been at it for four months.  We have very similar reasons as to why we left our jobs and the circumstances surrounding it.  When we met at the bar we talked a bit a realized we had a few things in common and a desire to exercise, so I let her know about my Lake walks.

We set out to walk on Friday, but while I was driving there to meet her, she called me .  She had locked her keys in her house and found out that there was not a spare hiding in some unassuming potted plant or under a garden stone.   I asked if there was anything I could do, she said she wasn’t going to be able to do anything so she would still like to walk if I was willing to pick her up.  There was no way I going to let her just hang around all day until her husband came home so I drove over to her place and we went to the Lake.  One of my daily fears is locking myself out of the house, I would be stuck outside until after 5:30. Blah.  I come and go so much with Kate and other outside errands I always worry I am going to lock the door when I don’t mean to and not lock it when I mean to.  So I can relate.

We walked all the way to the end, that was the first time I had ever hit the bullseye there.  The Lake has a barrier that prevents pedestrians from walking around the entire lake.  This means any distance you travel, you have to turn around and walk back the same distance.  Usually the first time I take someone there, they usually stop around the two mile mark, but not Kudra she just kept powering through and we kept talking.  We talked about books, housewife life, her background, my background, etc.  Somewhere around mile four of the walk she opened up to me about an event in her life, something that I could relate to.  The rest of the walk we both talked very candidly about subjects you just don’t talk to with people you barely know.  Sure, I figuratively slapped my hand against my forehead when I remembered a few things I said-but to be honest  I do that after any conversation that included my opinion on things other that art, movies, and books. I worry about people judging me on a few comments when they don’t know the whole story.  That is why a few of you might have seen an update or two that mysteriously disappears after an hour.  =) I’m working on it.

After the walk I drove her up to her husband’s work to get a key (because she still would have had to wait around for hours) and she treated me to smoothie to say thanks.  We have already planned our next walk and hopefully it will become a regular thing, my aunt’s house projects have prevented us from walking for the last two weeks and I need some exercise to keep my mind….uh….what’s it called…oh, yeah- focused.

Summer Storm

I must admit, I am totally loving the weather right now.  In EC we are lucky if we see more than five clouds together in the same sky during summer.  Around this time of year John and I long for the gray days of early spring, just as a break for our poor UV overdosed eyes.  But yesterday, we got a rare SoCal summer storm.

John didn’t have to work yesterday so we planned a chillaxed day at home.  While he was making pancakes I noticed the sky get really dark, really fast.  I checked the weather online and it said we might get some thunderstorms…cool!  As we sat at the table munching on indulgent breakfast we heard the rumbles of thunder out in the east.  John looked over at me and saw a flash across my face like someone had just snapped a photo of me, he turned quickly and saw lightening-I missed it (the pancakes were really good).  I know a summer storm is nothing special in the rest of the country, but for us weather sheltered Southern Californians it is incredible.  It was a truly wonderful moment to be sitting at the table with him, entertained simply by the sky, eating a really yummy meal.  I love this simple life.

It rained on and off the rest of day yesterday, provoking me to cook a hardy dinner and enjoy in a beer with the hubs.  I was hoping the dark clouds would stay today and the rain might stop for a few hours this morning, maybe even ease up on the humidity.  Like most SoCal rainstorms I have a feeling it will stop around 9:30am, the end of the morning rush hour. Of course this is foiling my plans of walking to the store, but I will see if I can wait it out.  With it raining yard work is not an option- so I can cross that off my To Do List today, and well there is always homework.

I will also admit this is not helping my Halloween Decorating fixation.  I’ve seen the stores slowly trickling in the Halloween stuff, taunting me like a school yard child.  We have a rule, October 1 is the first day I can start putting up the Halloween decorations.  You know with the exception of the items we have up all year.

Our Salt and Pepper Shakers

Though really I don’t think we need anymore decorations (at least this year).  Everything seems to be sparkly and covered in glitter-not my idea of Halloween.

 

 

“5:30… Jazzercise”

Yesterday was my first day back at school. I had my first two classes (Early Western Civilization and Modern American History) and then I had to kill time until my  5pm PE class.  The gap between my History classes and PE classes was unavoidable, I theorize that as the semester wares on I can go home between these classes and get lunch, play with the animals, maybe do some prep for dinner; but as the parking situation was highly competitive there is no way I am giving up the parking space that took me 50 minutes of waiting to get.

I did right about 800 words of creative writing while I chilled out in the library.  It was for a short story, not the novel.

Having day classes is interesting, there were so many people there that it felt claustrophobic even in the quad.  I am use to night school where there is a max of 50 people walking around the school at any given time.  My PE classes will be interesting I have Dance Aerobics (or as I say with a Jim Carrey’s Grinch Voice: Jazzercise) from 5pm to 5:50pm, then I walk up a staircase to Aerobic Fitness/ Weight Training from 6pm to 7:15pm.  Do you think I am going to be tired those days?  I think so.  I also have to log an extra day of workout for the Aerobic Fitness class, so it looks like I now have a scholastic reason to keep walking with Birdie.  I hope to loose another 20 lbs by the end of the semester if I keep dropping and I can ask for smaller clothes for Christmas.

As for the History classes, one teacher I have a feeling will be one of those perky yet demonic teachers and the other, well he reminds me of a teacher I had in high school.  He spent the first class calling off role and asking people to say something about themselves.  For some he would say a little something, for some he would ask questions (like what they want to use their degree for), and others (the 16 football players) he eloquently let them all know he was not going to “socially promote” them.  I had a few things I could have said but in the end I just said I like to cook, take photos, and work on my yard.  He said those are all therapeutic things, so I got off easy.  It was probably because I would make direct eye contact with him and not shy away like I saw a few others doing.

I’m sure I’ll have more stories tomorrow.  Hopefully it will only take 40 minutes for parking.