Friday, December 31, 2010
Okay, okay. This is it. I'm quitting cold turkey with the decorations obsession, as of right now. We are mere hours away from the first day of 2011 and tomorrow all my decoration references will be so last year. But it was good while it lasted. Decorations made me smile and decompress just a degree or two when all the Christmas to-doing reached new levels of stressfulness. Maybe decoration therapy could be 2011's hot new catch-all remedy for stress. We need focus groups, of course. We need at least 1,000 people trying to kick dependencies on nicotine or even more addictive products (I-Phones and the like). We sit them in front of colorful, twirling decorations and see whether their need for de-stressing abates due to cheerful, song-singing snowmen. I really think there might be something to this! Hey, it's cheaper than the patch...
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
So I had this fun idea about blogging on each of the 25 days of December, leading up to (and including) Christmas. I'd share photos of houses decorated for the holidays, and it would be ultra-cheerful and fun and festive.
Um, since this is my first one on the subject and it's the 7th, I guess I'm off to a late start. Fashionably late? My revised goal is to post at least 3 entries of fun decoration displays. 3 is manageable, I think. (Of course, this is THE busiest time of the year and I'm up to my roots in things to do. Note: roots on people are up high, not like on trees, which reminds me that I should add to my To Do list throwing some red dye at my no-longer-brown roots. So you see, keeping it at a modest 3 entries is far more realistic than 10 or 15. Keep goal low and exceed goal! Maybe.)
Back to the decorations. If you saw my blog piece about Halloween decorations, you know that my favorite houses are not the elegantly-decorated ones all in white lights. No, I’m of the school of using as many colors and as many decorations as possible. A kaleidoscopic collage of color and cheer. (Not at my own house, where we have some decorations, but not covering every inch of front yard and roof. No storage space here for that! But at other people’s houses I love it!)
This morning after school drop-off I took a different route home and had to stop at a house with 7 inflatable decorations. See photos above. These are the ones that can be 5 or 6 feet tall, with moving parts. The blades on Santa’s helicopter spun. The wheels on his train moved. A few houses down he was riding an inflatable Harley. I love this stuff! I just dig the gusto. These people are fun, and they want to share the fun with others. The Harbingers of Happiness?
Stay tuned for more photos from highly-decorated places. I am scouting the county for spirit!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Today in a parking lot I happened upon a very cool car. It was a coincidence that I was in that parking lot, one I find myself in only a few times a year. Further coincidence that this groovy car’s owner was returning to his car within the same minute I was looking for mine. Meant to be??!!!
It was a 1957 Chevrolet 210 Station Wagon. While I was taking a few photos of it, a man walked toward the car and I asked if he was the owner and did he mind that I was taking photos. Yes, and he had no problem with the photos, especially since I was already gushing over how cool it was. I noticed the white wall tires, the shiny chrome, the original yellow license plates. I liked how the rear side window curved a bit as it met the back windshield. I LOVED the pointy fins. Had I seen this very car in my neighborhood, a few miles away? I thought so and he confirmed it. It turns out I’d taken photos of this very car at a local fair, held in nearby park a year ago. We talked for a few minutes about the car and about my grandparents’ 1961 Rambler Cross Country Wagon, which shared a few design similarities. He introduced himself as Jack and he seemed happy to share his enthusiasm for his car with me. He told me that before he owned it, the car had spent twenty years in someone’s garage, and another ten in someone else’s. I appreciated the mini-lesson and the shared passion for this vintage car. He’s worked on it himself. The neighborhood where we both live is one where people cut their own grass and work on their own cars. I think this makes someone a lot more emotionally invested in a car, and maybe he was glad to talk with someone who shared some of his excitement over it.
(Let me stop a minute and ponder whether this is my first car-related blog piece. I think so. Next month marks 2 years since I created this blog, and I’ve been planning on telling you about the Rambler as well as the Isetta, one of the coolest cars EVER. Of course, life has been insanely Go-Go-Go lately so car blogging has been on the “To Do Later” list. Thoughts on cool older cars may warrant more than one blog piece so this is probably Part 1 of ?).
My interest in cars developed so slowly I can’t even pinpoint when it happened. I’m talking about older cars. New cars are fine. Reliable. Gas-efficient. But I don’t get excited about how they look. Older cars just look cool! I think my interest in cars of this era started as an extension of my excitement over 1950s and 60s design in general. Since I was a teen-ager I’ve loved mid-century signs and buildings. (More on this in future blogs.) I love these signs and buildings for how imaginative they were, far less influenced by function than by fun! Car culture was hot and cars of this era had a lot of style. In turn, businesses started using exaggerated architectural elements and huge neon signs to attract cars cruising the boulevards.
My favorite car is a 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible with major fins in back (painted turquoise, if possible).A year ago I didn’t have a favorite car, model or year, so it amuses me that I have developed such a specific favorite, almost overnight. I’ve never been one to rattle off specifics about engine size, 0-60 speed or engine oil preferences. Cars are so complex and I’m still under the impression that mine runs due to the efforts of a very tired hamster running in a wheel beneath the hood. So for me to become a bit of a car junkie surprised even me! But somehow, slowly, I became aware of older cars in my neighborhood. I liked how their body styles differed so much from newer cars. Occasionally I’d take photos of them, now and then looking on the Internet to guestimate their birth years.
When I was in preschool we drove my grandparents’ 1961 Rambler wagon for a while. I remember how it looked and smelled inside. The steering wheel size, slant and design seemed so different from cars in the 80s. The dashboard was different. So were the seats, tires and windows. Everything was different. I noticed all this as a child, so maybe my interest in older cars was born decades ago and lay dormant until recently. A few years ago my mom was finding a new home for the Rambler, and I took some photos of the car so I could remember it. Studying its details brought back my nostalgia for that car. In my neighborhood I started noticing more cars of that era. There were old cars in driveways, covered with plastic tarps. A neighbor has a beautifully-restored Chevy, with “Fiddie 5” on its license plate. I happened upon old car shows. I saw restored convertibles, cruising the freeways on Sunday afternoons. Suddenly, old cars were everywhere.
To meet Jack and his wagon today was a terrific surprise. I love it when people come together over a common interest. It sometimes feels like there is a lot that divides us, that self-identifying by political or other affiliations serves only to alienate people. Friendship over a car may seem silly, but the point is to connect as humans.
Oh, and did I mention that he had fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror?
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Already it’s been a fun Halloween for me, and it’s barely 7am. I know my kids will have a terrific time, and they look so adorable in their outfits, but today, in this blog, this Halloween tale is about me!
In truth, this Halloween started about a year ago. I’ve been planning my costume for that long. Last Halloween I was 7 months pregnant and just getting together costumes for my two kids was enough of a challenge. (Picture a very pregnant me, stuffed into the costume section of Party City two days before Halloween, with my son and thirty or forty other costume-seekers. Hot, crowded, competitive vibe. This hadn’t been my plan but the costume we ordered online never showed up.)
Last year I thought briefly of being Pregnant and Progressive, but my To Do list was very long and I opted for a big orange t-shirt (I’d glued eyes, nose and mouth on it) and rather than trying to disguise my round shape, I used it to be become a true jack-o-lantern. Fun, but I knew I had big plans for the following Halloween: I would be Flo, the Progressive Girl, whose commercials I see almost daily. If you haven't seen her commercials, here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO4MI9gsEvw
I’ve never attempted to dress like a specific public figure for Halloween, and while I like it when others dress as current politicians or celebrities, it hadn’t occurred to me to do so. But I’d noticed that with her dark hair, blue eyes and light skin, Flo looked like me! (Or that I look like her. Whatever.) Plus, she’s fun and spunky. Like me!
Over the summer my preparations began. At a thrift store I found white pants and shirt (doing this the thrifty way seemed in line with representing someone who offers low cost for insurance!). I bought a white apron from Michael’s and a navy headband. I made the name tags and painted “Progressive” on the apron, after Googling the logo so I could print it up and paint it just right. It’s hard to tease my fine hair into the 60s bouffant that Flo has, but I did my best. Black eyeliner? Check. Red lips? Double check.
Two days ago there was a Halloween carnival at my son’s school. Last year some of the parents were in costume so I decided to arrive in disguise this year. The little kids stared blankly at me (probably thinking, “Why is this woman wearing an all-white outfit? This is a costume? Poor lady, she forgets that you’re supposed to be scary for Halloween. Maybe we shouldn’t tease her. It’s not her fault.”).
HOWEVER, the parents loved it! The bigger kids got it, too, and called out to me, “Flo! Hey, Flo!” I winked or waved in response, happy with my friendly insurance ambassador role. I posed for photos. I offered insurance quotes. People laughed. I laughed.
What made the day so cool was two things: having my costume turn out just right was great. But there was also the symbolism of deciding to dress up. As mom of three, I often don’t prioritize doing something extra, just for me. Just getting the kids into costumes is a victory. So to take the time to make a costume that would give me a laugh is a gift. It also brought me back to my high school years, when I dressed very creatively and did crazy things at school, just to be fun and free and make people laugh. Bringing a little joy to the every day. Being Flo was like that. Flo, thanks for being my muse. Happy Halloween, everyone!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
...the most Halloweeny house I've seen!
This may not surprise you, but when it comes to holiday decorating I'm of the More is More school! Not so much at my house (due to sheer lack of time and lack of storage space). But when it comes to my favorite neighborhood houses, the more decorations, the better. It never reads as too much to me. I love the gusto behind it! When you see a house this decorated, you can't help but be swept up into the fun of whatever holiday is coming.
Oh, one last thing:
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Blame it on the moon, which will be full tonight.
The mess that my day became started in the middle of the night with choppy sleep. Hubby woke in the dark for his business trip, our middle child came into the room and I had weird dreams. I got up before six, when my youngest woke up. The morning was harder than most, since Hubby wasn’t there to help get everyone dressed. With him gone, I’d be bringing all three as I took my oldest to school by eight. Not impossible but not easy. We got through the morning scramble.
But then things unraveled. We walked to preschool and the baby’s blanket kept slipping off the stroller, getting caught in the wheels, which annoyed me to no end. I was mid-rant about it when a neighbor and her daughter caught up to us, on their way to school. She must have thought I was nuts but sometimes you just can’t put on a happy face. She asked if I was okay and I told her the truth, a vehement “No!” I told her I’d already had quite a day—nothing catastrophic but as my friend Sandy says, death by 1000 paper cuts. Finally we made it to school. Two kids taken care of, only one left.
In the parking lot, I reached under the stroller to get something to quiet the baby. Everything was covered in red goo. It looked like blood. What had my kids put under the stroller? I moved to the edge of the parking lot and began tossing items out of the stroller onto the parking lot. Everything seemed to have at least some red goo on it. With each messy item my frustration rose, especially since I couldn’t even figure out what the goo was. My kids’ hats had goo on them. A diaper with goo. Random stuff had goo. I managed to empty my full purse into the stroller’s lower storage area. Of course. Literally a hundred items now into the mysterious red goo. Began crying. Just so frustrated. (Some people would rather die than cry in public but sometimes, you just can't take it any more and you have to let it out. It was theraputic!) My friend arrived like a fairy godmother, to help. A teacher brought plastic bags so I could get the clean(ish) stuff away from the goo, which was pooled at the bottom of the under-stroller storage area. Finally figured out the source of the mess: a Tupperware container I’d put into the stroller this morning and forgotten. It had some frozen raspberries in it, and as they thawed they oozed some juice, which oozed out of the container too, EVEN THOUGH THE LID WAS ON AS TIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE. My friend and the teacher helped, and eventually I began laughing a little. I dried my eyes on the juice-spattered diaper, and turned down the offer for a tissue (after all, diapers are much more absorbent). What was it about today? It was only 9:10am and I’d already had a tough day. If, as the saying goes, tragedy plus time equals comedy—well, I’d need a few weeks before I could laugh about today.
Later, as I took the stroller out of my car, I managed to spill the remaining contents (all juice-saturated) out of the bottom of it onto the ground. My baby bit me on the same nipple twice within ten minutes. Serious pain. Today just seemed to be a tough one: spills in the car, fights between the kids, random small frustrations clustered into a day. On a happier note, my sweet friend Roxie left me a potted plant outside my door, with a note of encouragement attached. She’d been the one to scrape me up off the parking lot earlier, and I’m so grateful for her support. (Thanks, Rox.)
It’s been eight hours since the red goo began oozing, and I’m less annoyed. Even laughed a little as I described it to a friend. But I tell you, maybe next month I’ll block off on my calendar the day of the full moon, and as a public service to my city, maybe I won’t even try to leave the house that day!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Cecil died 12 days ago. It seems so fitting to me that he died during Yucca blossom season. I think he was 85, which is pretty impressive. I saw him for the last time a few weeks ago, and he laughed a little at my jokes. Despite his declining health, he still had his humor. The symbolism feels so right-on: Cecil's soul left his broken body to soar, just as the gorgeous Yucca flower rises from a dull, grayish tree. This sturdy flower is proof of life.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Ok, are you feeling happier now? I am! Do not tell me that polka dots are not cheerful. I won’t have it. I love this pattern! As always, I must pinpoint why I love something. It’s not that I have to be scientific about my preferences, but haven’t you noticed that things you like make you FEEL a certain way? So it’s no coincidence. We like what we like, yes, but WHY?
Polka dots are simply fun. This idea floated to the surface for me relatively recently. I’ve been attracted to polka dots for a while, but lately I’ve been thinking about them more. Here are some thoughts:
· This pattern is playful. Occasionally you see them in a more formal context but for the most part, they have a whimsical vibe. For me, fashion should be fun, not serious.
· Usually either the dot or the background is a happy color. You haven’t seen a lot of gray dots, right? And I love happy colors: red, pink, yellow, etc. Bright colors cheer us up.
· I recently noticed that polka dots are often used in little girls’ clothing, which is inherently much more fun than grown-up clothing (which generally believes it needs to be serious). Why do kids get all the fun? Maybe grown-ups would be happier if they had more FUN clothing!
· Perhaps I associate dots with fun because of memories from my childhood, when I wasn’t consciously studying things. Perhaps it is the images from those years that make associations so strong. For instance, Minnie Mouse wears a red dress with polka dots, and her character brings up happy thoughts. She’s cheerful. Disneyland is a happy place. And I know that some people hate clowns, but clowns have fun outfits, often polka-dotted. You get the picture.
· Could my appreciation involve associations with 1950s and 60s design? Polka dots were big then, and I do like midcentury design for its playfulness.
I did a little research on why we call this pattern the Polka Dot. Some sources claim that the name comes from the mid to late-1800s, when Polka music and dancing were invented. Polka dancers sometimes wore clothing that had dots on it, and the name stuck. Another site says that there was no connection between Polka music and dotted fabric. It may not matter, really, because the dot is here to stay. So thank you, whoever you are, for giving us dots!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I wasn’t planning to blog about 9-11 today. Seems too predictable. Also, the 9-11 footage I saw on tv last week disturbed me so much, and it’s hard to find words to fit it. But I read someone’s blog today and it inspired me to write. I’ll keep it brief. Long-winded isn’t always better, I’m finally discovering.
All I could do on 9-11 was get through the day. It was so shocking, and so horrifying. I had a part-time job working with young kids, and they talked about it at school. I remember feeling compelled to watch the coverage, but at the same time, feeling like it was too much to see.
One year later we’d moved back to Southern California and I participated in a remembrance at the stadium, organized by a radio show. Each of us was given a name to read into a microphone, and it was broadcast all over the city. A bell rang after each name was read. The names were in plastic-sleeved name tags. This presentation felt meaningful: with someone else’s name pinned to your shirt, there was a deeper connection to the person who had died.
I still have the name tag. It reads Paul R. Salvio, World Trade Center. He was 27 when he was killed. I felt a connection to him not only as an American, but also because I was 27 when 9-11 happened. Coincidence, yes, but whatever. We find significance where we find it.
Amid all the heartache surrounding 9-11, it was beautiful how people reached out to others, and how people all over the world mourned with America. That date changed the world. But the world isn’t broken, and neither is America.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Today my newfound infatuation with the decorative block led me to drive through a neighborhood a few miles away, where I’d seen decorative block. I slowed down to take photos, wondering if the owners were inside, thinking that my camera and I looked suspicious. Of course, with my ponytail and red Mickey Mouse shirt, I probably looked unlikely as a spy but maybe that’s what real spies do—they try to look unthreatening! Upon returning home I raced to the computer and (with anticipation mounting) Googled “decorative cement block.” My heart raced with excitement at the images. Google is a treasure trove of info about these blocks, and it connected me to sites created by others who are as excited as I am about vintage architecture and design. I had a memory of seeing a Frank Lloyd Wright design as a child, and decided to research Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of cement block. Here is his quote:
“What about the concrete block? It was the cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world. It lived mostly in the architectural gutter as an imitation of rock-faced stone. Why not see what could be done with that gutter rat? Steel rods cast inside the joints of the blocks themselves and… why would it not be fit for a new phase of our modern architecture? It might be permanent, noble, beautiful."
As ideas and images of the blocks swirled through my head, I recalled the first two times I was aware of them. It was when I was a kid. I remember seeing decorative blocks used as a room divider in someone’s house. I’m not sure whose house it was, but there were some 1960s houses not far from where we lived. I must have been less than ten years old, but I remember it. I was intrigued by this divider—the materials were not what I associated with the inside of a house. It divided the space, but let in light. As a child I drew daily and as a teen discovered architecture, but at eight or ten years old I didn’t have the vocabulary yet to identify what I saw and liked. And yet 25 years later I remember this room divider. It made quite an impression.
My other memory about cement blocks involves my Aunt Betty. She is an artist and teacher and when I was about ten, she took me to an art exhibit where she had a piece of art. I remember the experience, and her telling me how I could apply to enter exhibits, too. For that particular show you had to be at least eighteen, which seemed light years off. But I remember that day! I recall the bright lights from the ceiling, the white walls, the art displayed, and all the people milling about. We must have gone to Hollyhock House that day, too, as it was in Barnsdall Park, where the exhibit was. At ten I’d never heard of Frank Lloyd Wright, but seeing Hollyhock House was my introduction to the legendary architect. (Thank you, Aunt Betty! I’ll always appreciate that you wanted to nurture my creative spark, showing me art beyond my own collection of crayons.).
The block is interesting to me in its geometry. When made into a wall it has vertical and horizontal lines but also has creative shapes within it. It is structural and functional but also decorative. I like that it is humble, too. Cement can hardly be called pretentious, but it still has such a cool look. I read today that decorative block was a staple in midcentury modern design, a style I like for its geometry and innovative use of space. A trip to Palm Springs to ogle the 1950s architecture is in the works. I drove by another house today, a mile from mine. Just a few days ago I'd noticed its wall of decorative cement block, which is painted a Notice Me shade of turquoise (bravo to them for appreciating their block, as well as color!). Why had I not noticed the house before? I started to really look for more block and discovered three more houses on the next street, houses I’d driven by hundreds of (or a thousand) times. How could I have missed it? Now I’m on a hunt for block. Some people might not understand my appreciation of this material, but if it’s a block party just for one, that’s ok by me!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Some matches seem to be made in Heaven. This happy couple met the day that each finished a contract in the Food Service department. Although it was their final day at work, once they met neither felt empty, instead filled with joy. They say that while their origins are different, they have a lot in common and feel like yin and yang, the perfect complement to each other.
They celebrated their union on Saturday, surrounded by many friends. The bride was resplendent in white and the groom cut a dashing figure in black. The bride's attendants were Rosemary and Ginger, long-time friends she had grown up with in The Cabinet, a neighborhood marked by diversity and flavor.
The couple is honeymooning in the Spice Islands and is excited to start their new life together. As Pepper said when he toasted his bride, "From now on, wherever you find one of us, you'll find the other."
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Usually I don't show a piece of my art until it's finished. I'm sure it has a lot to do with wanting to show something at its best. But I'm challenging myself to be less concerned with peoples' reactions/approval. Showing something in progress is a baby step.
I also wanted to see if I could post 2 photos in the same posting. I'm in the Fred Flintstone-era when it comes to technology. In case you haven't watched an episode of the Flintstones lately, at Fred's work there is a brachiosaurus who lifts things up on his head. Isn't that how you "upload?" Yeah, my reference point is not exactly cutting-edge. But ALL BY MYSELF I figured out how to upload more than one photo per post. Yippee! Progress, baby!
Friday, July 23, 2010
If you’ve spent at least one minute around me (and seen my clothes, my house, my walls and my art) you know I love color. Sometimes color is a reflection of my cheerful personality. Other times it’s medicinal: a way to get back to a happier mood.
A few days ago I painted ceramics at a place in OB, a funky neighborhood in San Diego. I’m an artist, so painting and creating is part of who I am. But it had been nearly a decade since I’d painted ceramics. Recently I started work on a mosaic piece of art and it rekindled my appreciation for tile, which is partly why I found myself at the ceramics studio. The owner and her young son welcomed me. I told her how much l liked the floor, which was splotchy with the remnants of turquoise tiles that had been sanded away. The irregularity of it was just right for a place where imagination can’t be confined by pattern. Brazilian instrumental music played and there were potted and fresh flowers on the tables. Everything about the place was cool: it’s in an older building with high ceilings and lots of light coming in through the clerestory windows. The owner’s desk was a huge antique piece with a creative jumble on top resembling my art studio at home. The piles made the place seem more authentic to me, less corporate, a place motivated by creativity rather than by profits alone. I used to feel frustrated that my studio seemed so impossible to organize. But now I embrace it. Creativity needs freedom, not hospital corners. I’ll take a happy mess over a miserable tidiness, as the quote goes.
I chose a chair—all are mismatched, which I love—and about eight glaze colors and began. No plan. No design. Just experimentation, freedom, playfulness. I layered colors, making lines, swirls, blobs and dots. Needed more color, being me. Had so much fun I helped myself to another tile. My body relaxed and I was in the moment. It was an hour devoted to the senses: I was vaguely aware of background noise from the foot traffic outside and smells from the taqueria nearby, but mostly I was caught up in the movement of the brush and peace inside me.
One thing I like about ceramic glazes is that I don’t know exactly how the piece will look after being fired in the kiln. I like that there is an element of unpredictability and uncontrollability. The layers may be translucent or more opaque and may be darker or lighter than I thought. The surprise effect adds to the serendipity of it and it’s a great antidote to the rest of my life, where I have expectations about the results.
These tiles may meet my hammer and become part of my mosaic work. Or I may keep them intact, as a reminder of my hour in the ceramics studio, my mini-vacation for the soul.
Monday, June 21, 2010
In 21st-centry America, most people get their produce from a grocery store. We’re no exception. When you choose fruit at the store, you know it was grown somewhere, but you don’t see it happen. So it’s exciting to bear witness to the process. Each spring we see our trees put forth their first tiny green leaves and in the summer we watch as doll-sized fruit becomes bigger, more colorful and eventually, ready for picking. It’s easy to get fruit from the store, but it’s gratifying to pick it yourself, at home. The first two peaches to jump off the tree are yellowish-orange-colored, between a golf ball and tennis ball in size, and they smell sweet. Is it a coincidence that they ripened and left the tree on the first official day of summer? Who knows? But it sure feels like summer is here….
Friday, June 18, 2010
Hey, life is going to be full of wacky moments. I might as well laugh about it!
Monday, May 31, 2010
There were plenty of other people who had the same idea. Hikers and trail runners scurried up and down the mountain as we arrived and I took the opportunity to people-watch. There were hikers of all ages and nationalities: preschool-aged kids on up to a grandma or two motoring down the trail. We passed college students, families, and solo hikers. Some had tattoos, some Ipods, and one man even wore flip-flops. Sometimes we exchanged hellos. A place like Cowles gives you the opportunity to share the land with others but also a chance to experience it at your own pace and through your own eyes. Everyone takes something different away from the experience.
We reached the top and took a few minutes to absorb the 360-degree view. The mountain’s peak is 1,592 feet above sea level, making it the city’s highest point. To the west I saw Point Loma, downtown and Mt. Soledad. To the south was bright blue Lake Murray and out east Mt. Helix stood tall. Filling in the gaps were what make up a city: roads, cars, trees, parks, schools and residential neighborhoods, all the pieces fitting together like a mosaic. The tidy rows of homes below in Del Cerro looked like Monopoly houses with their identical pitched roofs. Somehow it always gives me a sense of peace, looking down on the city. I notice how small the houses are in the grand scheme of things, and I’m reminded that my life (worries, frustrations and all) is just a teeny piece of something much larger than I am. The view from up high literally gives me a different perspective, and that’s a good thing.
When we weren’t gazing into the distance, we studied the wild flowers blooming just off the trail. We smelled wild sage, and touched flowers with petals the size of a pin head. There were car-sized boulders dotting the reddish-brown dirt and not one piece of litter. It seems Cowles’ hikers respect her.
We hiked on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Although our decision to hike at Cowles had nothing to do with the holiday weekend itself, it seems fitting for this reason: Memorial Day is a day that unites all Americans. We collectively appreciate those who have fought for our country’s safety and freedoms. Like the hikers atop Cowles Mountain, Americans are a diverse group. Each of us approaches life differently: some race up and down the trail, pushing themselves to the limit. Others go slowly, stopping to smell flowers and watch lizards. Some listen to music on their journey, some talk and others go to hear the wind in the scrub brush. Same trail, different motivations. But those who seek out Cowles share an appreciation for the mountain, just as all Americans—diverse as we are—can unite in our love of America. I gazed out over my county, and felt grateful for the strength and spirit of America. A beautiful morning indeed…
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Inside the candle holder there was a wad of wax gripping one wall of the cone-shaped interior. Perhaps the original owner didn’t know how to remove the melted candle and instead opted to give the holder away. I couldn’t believe someone would want to part with a one-of-a-kind piece of art, but I was glad to adopt it on the spot.
The hodge-podge nature of thrift stores makes them great places to go to exercise your creative muscle. Take something that calls to you and turn it into something else. Voila!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Every February I notice with glee that something has arrived, changing everything overnight. Even if the skies are gloomy over gray miles of concrete connecting San Diego, when the freeway flowers bloom overnight, my whole world looks bright. The highlighter-orange flowers pop up from the ice plant bordering the freeways, their blossoms like spiky heads of hair, poking in all directions. There are also yellow ones, fuchsia flowers and this year, even some purple blooms. Our rainy winter is paying dividends.
Some people might find the brightness of these flowers to be too much. Others may prefer exotic flowers that must be carefully tended in a greenhouse. Not me. I love that these bright spots of color thrive with no planned watering. Their brightness is exactly why I dig them so much. They aren’t pale pastels, timid and unobtrusive. NO! They are bold and vibrant, the equivalent of a cheer, when other flowers are whispering.
Even in San Diego where sunshine, not snow, marks our winter, spring makes a grand entrance. I started noticing the freeway flowers about a month ago, but now they are heralding Spring in full force, parading down the freeways’ edges in random bunches. Tomorrow is the first day of spring, according to my calendar, but for several weeks flowers have started to bloom everywhere. Tiny fruits, the size of green peas, have crept out of the branches of our peach tree. Brand-new green leaves dot trees that were bare a few weeks ago. It’s a coordinated explosion of life, and I am thrilled each year when it starts. I wonder if we’ll have a newborn batch of hummingbirds in the nest hidden in our Jasmine vine, as we did last April. Suddenly, everything seems different. Daylight Savings started six nights ago and the days already feel warmer. The growth and warmth and colors all bring such optimism. It’s hard not to feel happy as this season arrives.
Spring? Yes, please!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
My second mistake was assuming that I could hold and breastfeed my newborn with one hand while pushing the shopping cart with the other. It was do-able for a long time, but the cart finally became heavy and harder to steer in the last two aisles, where I bought 2 gallons of milk and 3 liters of diet soda. No, I told the clerk, I didn’t need help out. Eleven bags of groceries plus the milk, but I’m a first-born, determined to do things myself.
On the drive home a vintage car bounced happily ahead of me, the huge thunderbolt flag above it doing the hula in the breeze. Another car had small flags sticking up from each passenger door. My son’s school allowed the kids to wear Chargers shirts or colors on Friday. Did San Diego have football fever? It felt like it. And it felt contagious. I’ve never been a sports fan but even I felt the excitement building in the city.
I wanted to blog about it, but by the time I got back from a birthday party and onto the computer I’d learned that the Chargers lost today’s game. But I’m writing nonetheless because what although their season is over, something else is still there. When your city is part of the playoffs, maybe it’s not really about the game, the team or the Super Bowl itself. What moved me wasn’t the chance to be swept up in the tidal wave of victory. No, to me the sudden sea f blue shirts represented something much bigger, much more important: a sense of unity. I liked seeing kids, grandmas, bankers and bikers all unified. In a city as big as San Diego people race around, leading their lives, rushing to or from work, living near other people but without interacting. People may not know their neighbors or spend the time to find common ground with those around them. The number of blue shirts was a physical sign that we as people have a lot in common. Sports doesn’t need to be the catalyst for coming together, but if it is, so be it. Whatever inspires us to search for what we have in common with others is valid. Although today’s game ended poorly for San Diego, it heartened me to see people united. Maybe it will inspire us to find other ways to come together with those around us…