January 30, 2010

The Big Green Wall

No Weekend ReCap from last weekend...which doesn't mean there wasn't a weekend, or that we didn't go anywhere.  There was an early-morning trip to a local warehouse "Cupboard" to help pick up the Brownie troop's delivery of Girl Scout cookies to sell.  Yes, Thin Mints are in da house, have mercy.  And, there was a Sunday trip up to Tom's Farms, which was okay, but not a typical visit. We go a few times a year -- usually when it's about 103 degrees out. So we'll save that post for later this summer, with photos featuring the Monkeys cheeks flushed red from the heat. 

The big event last weekend, at least for me,  was the Big Green Wall.  Formerly, the Big Beige Wall. (Actually, I think the color is called "Raffia" by Behr.)  This wall is what you see when entering the "great room" area of the family room/kitchen.  I had already painted two other walls in the family room this fresh green color, "Hibiscus" by Benjamin Moore, about nine months ago.  After many days of feeling restless about the big beige wall and pondering what to do with it, I decided that it, too, needed to be green.  So, to my husband and outsiders it might seem a bit spur-of-the-moment, but really it was weeks in the making.  I don't think I have a "before" photo of the wall, but let's see.....

....and....NO.  Half an hour of perusing my digital files, and not a good shot of what the wall was before.  However, I did find this: the Other Wall, directly across from the back kitchen wall.

Monkey Boy and his cousin, Easter 2009.

I'm really happy with how it all turned out.  Unfortunately, though we have a pretty decent Canon digital camera, I could not for the life of me take a shot that accurately showcases the color.  Here it looks a sort of watery mustard, a litte pale.  In fact it's quite a bright, saturated color, with lots of yellow.
Yeah, and lets not talk about that fireplace and its surround.  No.Ideas.At.All. 
This is a little better. This shot is entering from the living room. The door on the right is a bathroom.   The walls in the foreground seem blue, but are white. Blame the shadows.

Close up of Myk's awesome masking job. He is the Masking Master.  The walls on either end are curved bullnoses, making the job even harder. No sweat for The Master.  (Merely years of practice, being lassoed into my painting whims, says he.) 

This vase is a lot closer in intensity and shade to the wall than any of these photos, although it leans a little apple green.  And that book there? Worth a post of it's own, but one word could suffice: AGOG. 

Sitting in the family room, looking into the kitchen.  
Bottom line, I'm very happy with the overall result. Now, what to do with all that bare wall space?  I have a photo gallery in mind, with a combination of black and white family photos, and larger, color travel shots we've taken over years of trips: Hawaii, Big Sur, Palm Springs, etc.  This will take many, many frames.  Oh, buddy! How I do like to shop for frames (or "victims," as Myk calls them. That's because I buy them, only to watch them linger for months in closets.)  I think a trip to the Big Blue Box may be in order. Soon. 

In the meantime, I'm perusing lots of sites for ideas on how to group and arrange all these frames and photos.  Getting lots of ideas over at Apartment Therapy, especially the post at this site, which they linked to back in 2008.   I promise "After" pics when it's done, and all the victims frames are up. 

January 20, 2010


I finally got around to reading this memoir last week. I think, along with Mary Karr's The Liar's Club, that Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin' was one of the "big" memoirs to hit in the late 1990s that really secured the genre a more popular and permanent place on the shelf. So to speak.

Anyway, it's hard for me to review the book without feeling like I'm reviewing the man, himself. Such are the treacherous waters of the memoir. I will say this, however: ladies, if it's true what your mama says about avoiding relationships with men who hate their mothers, than it's also true that you should be a little leery about a man who puts his mama up on this high of a pedestal. (And Bragg himself pretty much admits that he runs close to being a womanizer.)
I truly liked the first half of the book, which chronicles Bragg's childhood as the middle son of single mother "who went 18 years without a new dress" to provide for her three boys.  His father, who dies an old man of TB and alcohol at 41, leaves his family over and over, and returns for brief spells of relative comfort before his violent streak erupts yet again.    The book reminded me a lot of Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, the feminine version of growing up as a dirt-poor white in the rural South. Allison's story has a lot more violence, or maybe she's just a bit more brutal with her truths. The thing about Bragg is, he establishes himself as a good 'ol boy early on, and keeps that voice poured on thick as red-eye gravy throughout the book -- even after he becomes one of them big-time city reporters working for the New York Times. It seems important for him to get the message across that he can still kick your privileged ass, never mind his high-falutin' Pulitzer Prize. (And unless you grew up, like him, without indoor plumbing, then he considers us all members of the privileged class.)

I understand that Bragg opens strong with this voice of a poor, white boy from Alabama with only a high-school education and one unit of community college under his belt to establish just who he is and where he comes from -- and that "where he comes from" element is of course the main crux of the book. Still, by the time he becomes a national correspondent for the Times in the latter half of the book, I felt pretty weary of the cornpone still sprinkled through his paragraphs.

This book was published in 1997, over ten years before last year's presidential election. I wonder, if I had read All Over But the Shoutin' before I'd ever heard of Sarah Palin, if I'd still be quite so skeptical of Bragg's voice? The thing is, despite his need to wear his roots like a big 'ol chip on his shoulder (and to be fair, this is something he readily owns up to), I do like Bragg, I like his writing --- despite the bluffing, he obviously feels things deeply -- and I like his book.

And I found myself wondering, more than once, just what he thinks of Palin and how she exploits that  "aw-shucks" language to seduce all the Joe 6-Packs of the world. Bragg, despite himself, is a sophisticate now, no matter his blue collar roots. City boy or country boy -- either way,  I reckon he's smart enough to smell that bad dog coming from a country mile up the road. 

January 19, 2010

Weekend ReCap: Monster Truck Jam!

This Saturday, January 16, we headed west to our old 'hood, for the Monster Jam truck show at Anaheim Stadium, home of the Angels baseball team.  It's ironic, how we used to live within literal walking distance (albeit a good walk) from the stadium, how we used to look out our front windows to see the fireworks display any time the Angels had a home win.  Now, we have to pack up the car and drive an hour to get here.  Oh well.  I won't even go into the irony of who I used to be, back when I was a single girl and considered myself to be slumming it, when I attended a couple of similar truck shows here in the very early '90s.  

That was a very long time ago, another life ago.  Now, I have a Monkey Boy, and boy, does he love him some big trucks.  It's really about as simple as that. 

As for me, I am a stone-cold sucker for the sight and the mood of bright stadium lights at dusk.  Must be all my old concert days. All I needed were the smells of spilled beer, pot and falafel, and I could pretend I was back at a Dead show. 

No rock concert tonight.  Just a lot of great big trucks, racing around in the  dirt, catching lots of air.  Lot of families, lots of dads with their little guys. Median age of the most devoted fan base has to be, oh, about 7 years old.

A whole lotta this: big trucks, catching air.  Just like at a concert, they save the sure-fire crowd pleaser until the very last: Grave Digger!  And the crowd goes wild!

And, just like at a concert, it was really, really LOUD.

Just ask him.  

January 16, 2010

Weekend Recap: Deer Park Winery & Car Museum

It occurs to me that we visit a lot of interesting places.  In the 100-mile radius or so surrounding our town here in inland Southern California, we are quite well-traveled.  We live in one of those boomtowns of new suburbia where hardly anyone is a native (we're practically old timers ourselves, closing in on our sixth year), and there's just not a helluva lot to do and see around here on weekends. Mall: check! Old Town: check! Parks with no trees: check! check! check!

(I realize that simply by signing the kids up for soccer and other sports leagues, we could easily solve this issue, and have most weekends booked up for the next 10 years. Let's  just say that we're not a very sporty tribe -- and I'll cross that bridge only if and when a kid makes a specific request.)   

ANYWAY.....My point here is that most weekends, we spend at least one day on the road to somewhere else. (Please, Lord, just somewhere, anywhere else...)  Sometimes it's to visit my mom in L.A. county. Sometimes it's just to shop at some other mall or "shoppertainment" destination besides our local one.   In any case, we do see us some sights.  I'd like to start sharing them with you, in a weekly photo feature called "Weekend Recap"  (for want of a catchier title.)   Hopefully they won't always take a full week later to show up here.   Sheesh.

Here's where we went last Sunday, January 10:  the Deer Park Winery & Car Museum. It's about 25 minutes south of us, on the northern edge of Escondido. Originally collected by Robert Knapp, it's now run by his son. The museum boasts a wide range of classic convertibles, some pre-1940, and most from the '50s & '60s.


There was also an extensive collection of old electronics and appliances. I really need this beauty in living room. 

Don't you agree? I sort of forget to broadcast it much here on the blog, but I'm quite the aficionado of things vintage, retro and just plain old.

It was quiet  and mostly empty of visitors on this beautiful and warm winter day. Here are The Monkeys and Myk out in the vineyard area between the two main buildings.

"Quiet and mostly empty" will not apply to this weekends outing: the Monster Jam monster truck show at Anaheim Stadium. "VRRROOOM." 

January 8, 2010

Mondo Size Dreams

This looks extremely cool.  I'm still hesitant and very skeptical about most kinds of self-help hee-haw, but the founders of  Mondo Beyondo seem like the real deal -- creative, smart women who know how to go after their dreams.  I have some pretty big dreams I'd like to work on this year. I can use all the help I can get.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that this post is prompted by my effort to win a spot in their January class, in a contest sponsored by the also extremely cool and recently discovered site The Bright Side Project.

January 7, 2010


 Oh, Ikea. Stop it. I have enough of you in my house already. Then you deliver this into my Ibox and I go, "hmmmm."  $99 for a Malm bed?

See, I have plans, Ikea. BIG plans. For my our bedroom this year. It involves getting rid of every single thing in the room right now. Every. Single. Thing.  (Including my current bed -- from  the Swedish Superstore who shall not be named.)  Paint, ceiling fan, window treatments -- the Whole Shebang.  The centerpiece of this Beautiful Idea in my head is a new bed -- a new upholstered bed.  I think I've found exactly what I want in the Hoffman bed from Room and Board:  clean lines, elegant, feminine-but-not-girly, modern.  And easily more than 10 times this weekend's sale price for the Malm:

All of my plans are on hold, while I await The Bed.  My fingers, nay, my whole being, can't wait to start painting and making my vision a reality.  No more mint-green walls. No more brass and white ceiling fan.  But I'm being patient. I'm trying to hold out for what I really want,which is two-fold: That Hoffman bed, and also:  a whole lot less Ikea in my life. 

And then I look at that e-mail. $99.  "Let's get this party started," you're whispering, Ikea.  And I hear you, but it's not going to work this time.   I'm tempted, it's true.  But I'm strong-willed, Ikea.  Just ask my husband.  (But the Malm -- you know it's well-made, it's modern, it's clean, it could do the job...).

Stop it, Ikea.  I can't hear you. My hands are over my ears, see? 

"La la la la la la la..."   So there.

January 4, 2010

Without A Net

The rest of the blogosphere seems to be back to work today, the first business day of the new year -- and the new decade. So what better time to break my over 3 month blogging hiatus? (Sheesh!)   During the last 3+ months, I've been busy, mostly with the holidays, which really seem to start about a week before Halloween. After that, it's a downward luge-run, screaming through to the end of the year. Also, as I mentioned in my last rather highly emotional post, I did in fact complete the 12-week creative process described (prescribed)  in The Artist's Way.  Well, all except for the last, 12th week.  It landed right in the midst of my son's 5th birthday and a family trip to the Vegas area, and I wanted to finish "big."  So I haven't finished at all -- sort of saving that final week up for a big "Tah-Da." 

That picture up there is my own minor Christmas miracle: that woman with the red shirt and big hair is me, on ice skates for the first time ever in my life -- and not making a total embarrassment of myself -- in front of my loved ones AND a bunch of neighborhood moms. I knew almost every single person out on that rink, as it was a Girl Scout event.  Yet there I was, in all my wobbly glory.  I surprised myself by doing pretty well, and was set to claim glorious victory for not falling even once -- but then a little girl crashed into me, not knowing how to stop herself -- and down I went. 

Oh well. It didn't hurt, and I was more annoyed than anything. Darn those little girls who think any handy adult woman (mom) will save them!  (Except that we usually will.)

So, up there, in a nutshell, is my big goal for 2010 -- and the new decade. Keep trying new things (that I've always wanted to try), even if it means falling down and bruising my elbow, or my ego, in front of the whole world.  My intent is to live by an old favorite quote, one that I used to have taped to my computer, when I was writing a lot and in the midst of my MFA program: "Leap, and the net will appear."  Back then, I applied it's meaning to the faith required to keep writing, knowing that the right words or solution will always appear, somehow.

That quote also turned up in the pages of The Artist's Way, and now, I feel it  applies to every facet of life. It's a good reminder to act, and not overthink everything so damn much.  After all, how bad can it turn out, when Santa Claus himself has got my back? 

Cheers, and Happy New Year.
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