February 25, 2013

Hello, Monday {Hit Refresh}

Hola! It's the last Monday of the month, and though it's hard to believe, by this time next week I'll be all done with this intense month and its challenges.  Next Saturday, my Odyssey of the Mind team will compete in their Regional competition in Palm Springs.  Unless they place in the top 2 or 3 for their category (which would take nothing short of a miracle)  we'll be DONE. ALL DONE.

You know when your kids drive you bazonkers and you can barely refrain from knocking their sweet heads together in frustration? Yeah. That's been my life for the last two months, two or three times a week, except with only 1 of my own kids, and three other little beasties darlings.

Anyway. Being done with this long chapter of the school year (we've been meeting since early September) makes me feel like hitting the "Refresh" button on life in general, and my house and garden in particular.  Spring is on the way.

Hello (goodbye) Ugly Fixture:
So I have these builder-grade ceiling-mount lights all over my house.  We've lived here almost 9 years, and I haven't changed out a single one. But the far one directly over my desk has burned out a couple of bulbs, and the Husband says the wiring is a total mess & fire hazard and needs to be replaced.  It's been non-functioning for the whole month.

Yesterday we went to Ikea (what was that I said about wanting to knock my kids' noggins together in frustration?) and picked out a new fixture. I hope I like it; but certainly it can't look any worse. I think we have something like 8 of these darn fixtures throughout the house. Replacing them all at once would be pricey. (But worth it.)

Hello, Garden
These hardy purple daisy-like bushes are the only thing blooming in my backyard right now. They soldier on, despite the hard-packed dirt that passes for soil in the flowerbed.  I really need to give some attention to this section of our yard.  For all my good ideas for the interior, I have a really hard time imagining what to do with our outdoor spaces.

Hello, Garden (?)
For instance, take this little rectangle of dirt. I believe the former owners used this as some sort of pitching/practice mound for their son.  Again, in the almost 9 years since we've owned our house, I haven't figured out what to do with it.  A few years ago, the Husband threw a date seed in the dirt, and lo! Now we have a date palm.  A couple years back, I laid out an outdoor rug and a plastic Adirondack chair (this area gets shady in the late afternoon), but that didn't last. Ideally, I'd like to plant a small vegetable garden out here.  Tucker, my burgeoning vegetarian, would love it! But again, I have zero idea on how to begin.
Hello, Outdoor Seating
On the other hand, I know precisely what I'd like to do with our outdoor table: clean it up & sell it! And buy a new, comfortable sectional that we would actually sit on and enjoy.  For all our great weather, we rarely eat outside. For one, our area gets a lot of flies in the summer, and two...we'll we're just lazy and don't think about it.  But a sectional with a couple side tables and a small firepit? Yeah. I think we'd be out here a lot more.

So that's just some of the ways I want to hit the "Refresh" button around here and get ready for spring & summer.  (And I didn't even get to the front porch.)  So many idea...so little moola.  I'll just have to get creative.

Speaking of which, wish me luck for next Saturday! Odyssey is all about being creative and thinking outside the box. Which, given the talents of the kids on my team, should be a no-brainer. And yet.... 

Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Mondays.

February 22, 2013

L.A. Music: The Lakers, and I Love L.A.

I know, I know, I haven't done one of my Friday L.A. Music posts in ages. (It's been 5 months!)

But I was inspired this week by the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss, the owner of the Lakers.  Now, I'm not a huge sports fan by any measure. But the Lakers have been a part of my life, a constant on the perimeters of my life, for a very long time. Growing up in L.A. county in the '80s, the Lakers reigned supreme, even in the years when they didn't win a championship.

I have vivid memories of when I was a teenager living in our small apartment building, watching the Lakers in the play-offs, hearing the neighbors' televisions all tuned to the same channel through our open sliding patio door. Everyone listening to Chick Hearn calling the plays. Everyone either shouting with happiness or screaming at their TV's in frustration.  I know it wasn't really everyone. But it sounded and felt as though it was.

On the nights when they did win a championship, I would rush to turn my radio to KLOS, the classic rock station. (Though it wasn't "classic rock" then). The DJ would be excited and crowing about the Laker's winning again, and then he or she would play Queen's "We Are the Champions" and again, it felt like everyone in a city of millions and millions was all singing along.They probably still do that on KLOS, and in every city around the country when the home team wins. But when I was 14, or 16 I wasn't thinking about the whole country, and radio stations weren't all owned by Clear Channel.

And I remember where I was working, and the terrible feeling that ran through the office, and by extension the whole city, when Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV and would be immediately retiring.  I remember that day like older people remember where they were when Kennedy was killed -- it felt that big, and that impossible.

It was a nice, fitting touch that Randy Newman performed at Dr. Buss's memorial this Thursday. He sang "You've Got A Friend In Me," which he wrote for Toy Story. Randy Newman has also been part of the Laker's mythology for a long time, as his I Love L.A. gets played before every home game at the Staples Center arena.

When I watched the video this morning, I surprised myself by getting a little misty-eyed. It made me miss my dad, who really liked the song. I can picture him throwing up his arms and singing "We love it!" It made me miss that era of my life, when this song was popular, and music videos were still fairly new. It feels like I watched this video a LOT in the '80s. I remember the big push to make this the actual Official Song of Los Angeles, not Frank Sinatra's contrived, non-catchy, "L.A. is My Lady."  (However, I may have to post that video sometime soon: not only does if feature Van Halen and Donna Summer, but you also get Dean Martin and LaToya Jackson sipping margaritas together. It's that kind of '80s awesome.)

So here's I Love L.A.  Which looks exactly like the L.A. I know & love and grew up in. Even if it does show clips of Disneyland, which isn't even in the same county, but is still part of L.A.. Freeways and sprawl and low-riders and strip malls and blue sky: Home.
Rollin' down Imperial Highway
Big nasty redhead at my side 
Santa Ana winds blowin' hot from the north
We were born to ride. 

February 20, 2013

La Jolla Cove

As promised, here are some shots of lovely La Jolla, after we climbed up out of the caves this past Saturday afternoon. (You know that it's pronounced "hoy-ya," right? I know you know that. It's those other readers whom I  don't want to sound so obviously like tourists by pronouncing it "joe-la.")

Here's the view from the other side of the caves. There are many of them, set into this cliffside: 
Speaking of tourists: wow, there were a lot of 'em out on Saturday. Arguably, most people out walking and taking photos in La Jolla village are tourists, but I mean...there were a whole lot of international visitors out and about on this day.  I guess winter in San Diego is prime time to get away from northern climates, as there seemed to be a fair share of Europeans visiting, just from casually overhearing conversations.

Tourists, and kayakers. La Jolla is lousy with them. 
Also, birds and seals and sea lions.  (Note the white streaks in the foreground above: bird poop. Everywhere.)
 Acccording to the sign on the lifeguard tower, the water temperature was 56 degrees. There were some brave souls, swimming and snorkeling in wetsuits.
Also, these guys:
 They screamed and cursed each time a big wave came up and drenched them. Then they laughed and sat back down and waited for the next one.

The water looked very clear and turquoise. It made me want to jump in, too.

There are also lots of tidepools along the rocks. The kids were fascinated with the anemones.

Green rocks, furry with algae:
It was a good afternoon. Sunshine, waves, the smell of the ocean: It could only have been better if my kids had actually been able to get wet. (Don't think they didn't try to plead their case.)  Poor children -- they've been on rocks and piers and boardwalks aplenty over the last nine months, but it's been ages and ages since they got to truly play at the beach, with bathing suits and towels.

Summer will get here. In the meantime, La Jolla, an hour away in the winter? Plenty good enough. 

February 18, 2013

Hello, Monday {La Jolla Caves}

It's Monday & the sun is shining, and it was a lovely, windy weekend. But clouds and rain and chilly temps are due tomorrow, so winter -- even just our California winter -- isn't over yet.

(I don't know why I'm always giving you the weather report, except that my moods are easily swayed by what's going on in the sky. Are you the same?)

On Saturday, the husband and I were both a little restless, both a little bummed out by various trivial things -- an intense, draining work week for him, and for me, the irritation of some flaky behavior by people who (I assumed) should know better. Lack of common courtesy  gets me all fired up.  Also, our Friday night date plans fell through. Also, the husband's bid to buy Comic-Con tickets for us fell through -- they sold out in 10 minutes online, and he was shut out.

None of these events were terrible or life-altering or even all that bad; just an accumulation of the little blah & pissy moments of a long week. We needed a change of scenery & some fresh air.

 An hour's drive southwest took us to the seaside town of La Jolla, just north of San Diego. Our destination was a little shell shop that chiefly exists to sell tickets down into a sea-side cave.

145 steps...steep steps! Steep steps that become wet steps, about 2/3 of the way down.  It was very dark and old and dank and woody. 
Old, 1/2 working light fixture. 
Down, down we went. (Sometimes pausing to let others come back up.) I told the husband that it felt like we were on the set of "The Goonies."
And then, we were at the bottom, at the mouth of the cave.  There goes a kayaker. (Doesn't that opening look like a woman's profile?)
The water comes rushing in. The waves weren't that big, but it was scary to think how high they must get during a storm. 
Tucker always gets grumpy at the idea of leaving the house (and all of his electronic toys), but then gets so animated and excited when we're discovering something new. It was a fun little day trip. Now, it's back to the work week.

Hello, Monday holiday. Except that I'll be spending a few hours with my Odyssey team here at the house today, working on our skit. Regional competition is only 2 weeks away, and they are so not ready.

So Hello, stressful week. Odyssey is supposed to be completely kid-directed and I'm only there to guide them along. The rules state that I'm not supposed to provide ideas or help or even too many opinions. This is incredibly hard to do with 4 children who are not uh, the most motivated bunch. To put it mildly. 

But come back on Wednesday & I'll have more pictures of our La Jolla trip, after we climbed up out of the cave and into the sunshine of another perfect day.  I will likely need that reminder of ocean and fresh air and freedom to remind me that there is an end to the tunnel, and that the steep, uphill climb will all be worth it in the end. 


Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Mondays.

February 11, 2013

Hello, Monday {Blue Skies}

It was rainy, cloudy and chilly for most of this weekend, so I was happy to wake up and enjoy a morning walk under clear blue skies this Monday.  It was mostly a quiet, lazy weekend, but the week was busy and action-packed with routines.

Hello, sweet boy. 
On Sunday I took Tucker to a birthday party, just an informal thing at a pizza parlour. Amazing how some arcade tokens and plastic prizes can make kids so happy.  Tucker doesn't have the busy social calendar of his big sister, and doesn't yet have a true best friend. Sometimes this makes him sad, and I feel bad that she gets to do more Fun Stuff -- sleepovers and play dates and Girl Scout field trips and such.
Still, I know that he's only 8 -- his time for pool parties and sleep-overs will come. Meanwhile, I was happy that he had such a fun couple of hours helping his friend celebrate.

Hello, Blue Skies.
Go ahead: roll your eyes and shake your head at this California wimp, but damn I was happy the sun came out today.  I know it was miserable in the East this weekend, but their reality is so hard for me to relate to, never having even visited. For our family of Cali natives, watching news footage of blizzards and snow and ice is like watching a sci-fi movie -- it's that foreign and exotic.
Meanwhile, on Friday night, returning from dinner, we drove through a small hailstorm.  It poured down on us for several minutes, and the street in our headlights turned white with hail stones.  The car thermometer read 37 degrees out, and Lily started willing the temps to drop another 5 degrees -- then it will snow! Sadly, by the time we got home, the temp had risen to 40 degrees and the hail had stopped. But! There was an accumulation of slushy ice at the bottom of the windshield, and the kids scooped it up and made a couple "snowballs."  And that is our version of extreme winter weather.

Today I walked by the new pool that the HOA built last year. It must be heated -- it was 43 degrees on my walk and somebody was swimming laps.
 Or maybe somebody just has visitors in from Canada. I'm looking forward to trying out the new pool sometime in the coming months.  But not now: damn, it's cold outside!

Hello, Old Friends
Recently I rescued some of my favorite books from storage in the garage. (More on that soon.)  These included some by one of my favorite writers, Laurie Colwin. Her take on life and love and marriage (and food!) via her upscale, brainy New Yorkers is always so sharp and warm and wise. 

This weekend I re-read Another Marvelous Thing, about a young woman and older man who meet and fall into a deep love affair, despite being quite happily married to other people.  Considering that I first read this book when I was single and in my early 20s, it feels like a much different read now.

Speaking of love & marriage, it's Valentine's this week. Uh-oh! Well, the husband and I are somewhat circumventing that treacherous date by having our date night on Friday the 15th.  Still, that doesn't mean the 14th can't be romantic. Right? Right?

Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Mondays.

February 7, 2013

Sleeping in the Playroom

This is our playroom, which is right by the front door of our house:

At least, that's what it looked like until a couple of months ago. That orange sofa is a full-size Ikea futon, and it has serviced our infrequent house guests for the last several years.  In the last year, its thin mattress developed quite a ridge, I guess from usually being in a folded position as a sofa.

Enter in our cheap mattress, from my post "The High Cost of Being Cheap." The saga of that discount, too-soft mattress was supposed to end with me selling it on Craigslist (we only used it for 6 months), or even just getting rid of the thing on Freecycle.

But then I started feeling bad for my family members who had to sleep on that thin, lumpy futon mattress when they came to stay.  They were polite and always claimed they slept well enough, though my sister mentioned having to "get used" to that ridge that hit around her hip bone.

Anyway. You know what comes next.  Enter the old mattress:
So now the room looks a little more crowded, a little less "done."  But I've hosted two guests on this new-to-them queen mattress, and they're quite happy with the results. (Especially my sister, who shares the bed with my restless eight-year-old nephew).

Right now, the box spring is just sitting on the floor, but my mom claims that she has an extra set of bed rails that I'll snag on our next visit. After the rails are on, I'll be able to put on some kind of bed skirt or sheet and cover up that unsightly bare mattress.

This is what my guests view on the other wall:
More Ikea, in the form of a wardrobe and my kids' computer desk.

When we moved into our house eight years ago, the room initially served as solely a guest room. Then it morphed into more of a playroom/toy storage space. Now, as my kids get older, it's cycling back into more of a guestroom.

I'd like to eventually switch out that bulky desk and rearrange the room, so that the head of the bed is on the computer wall. All plans for down the road...

Below is a view of my front door and tiny foyer. You can see how guests can see the play/guest room right off the bat.  I'm not happy that one of the first things they see is a bare box spring and that just-for-now duvet cover on the bed, but oh well. At least my guests get a better night's sleep.
By the way, the air hockey table is proof that Santa exists, because seriously, would I have allowed that unsightly thing into my house as part of the living room decor? ;)

Linking up with Jules and her William Morris Project

February 6, 2013

My Forever Home

Source: tumblr.com via Kelly on Pinterest

Confession: I have a split-personality disorder.

At least when it comes to home design & decor. One side of my brain loves bright, intense colors and lots of contrast and contemporary lines. Think Jonathan Adler, mid-century furniture, starburst mirrors, and Palm Springs and Palm Beach: turquoise and orange? Bring it on. 

But the other side of my brain gravitates hard toward old and shabby (but not shabby-chic, per se.) I don't believe in reincarnation, yet some essential part of me is nostalgic for a life lived before this one, of aprons and pie safes and peeling floral wallpaper.

Maybe it was just all those years of reading the Little House books, of pretending that my long Lanz nightgown was Laura's calico dress.

This is the description I wrote on "My Forever Home" board over on Pinterest:
A farmhouse with a screen door out to the laundry line in the backyard. The sound of a freight train in the night. Honeybees drowsing in the roses, a ceiling fan spinning slow. Daisies in a coffee can, pie cooling on the windowsill. 


A screen door that creaks and slams. A backyard larger than our current rectangular postage stamp. A backyard with trees. With shade. With a hammock? Oh, I'm killing myself.

A kitchen sink, where my view is not the stucco wall of my neighbor's house, barely 10 feet away.

A place where I, or my children, could hop on a bike and ride beside wildflowers, or  a seasonal little stream, or ride into town for an ice cream. Where you could lean your bike against a tree and just stare up into the branches for a spell.

It's one of my oldest and fondest dreams, my Forever Home. Says the girl who lived in  4 rental houses before she was 12, and spent her adolescence in an apartment.  

It's good to have dreams.  You can visit My Forever Home board on Pinterest and see a lot more of the same. Sometimes I just sit and look at it and dream my leafy, shabby, creaky-floored dreams.

February 4, 2013

Hello, Monday {Blog/Writing}

Hello Blog

Last week I (and probably you) encountered a lot of recap posts from bloggers who attended the popular Alt Summit conference in Salt Lake City.  After reading about the speakers, the parties, and viewing photos of lovely, well-groomed and straight-haired attendees, I admit to wondering (again) about the point of my own blog.
I started it a long time ago, just as an outlet to share some thoughts and images about books and decorating projects around my house, plus some occasional asides about my children and life in general. Lately, the blog focuses more on our weekend getaways, a few decor projects, and the occasional book review. And the kids, and life in general.

My secret hope at the core of all this oversharing has always been connection & community: finding new contacts and like-minded souls, maybe even a true friend (or two).  I personally haven't found that "community" that other bloggers often gush about. Connections & community are the buttercream frosting, the good stuff that makes all those hours with your bum in the chair worthwhile. Or so I've heard.
I need to make my peace with the fact that, several years into blogging, the community thing has failed to happen for me. Or to put it more bluntly....blogging just might not be my thang.

Hello, Writing
But writing? Writing, that self-reflective, solitary, isolated occupation? That is my thang. Totally.  But, I can't Facebook it, Twitter it, share cool, well-composed photos of it. All I can do is...do it.  Or not.

But either way. I think it's time to stop thinking of myself as a "blogger."

No, I'm not going anywhere. Not shutting down the blog, not at all.  The change is all up here, in my head. Thinking of myself as a blogger, trying to grow my readership and find my elusive community, provided me with an excuse to log in hundreds and hundreds of hours sitting at my desk last year.
Detail of Typist photo above my desk
I'm tired of doing that. Tired of living vicariously through other blogs, tired of checking stats that never change, tired of leaving chirpy comments in hopes of...what? Winning a new purse, a gift card, or hoping some other hapless soul might follow my link back here?  Bah.

Hello Airlines,
In light of all that, despite or because or whatever, I signed up for a writing retreat taking place in Washington state next month. I'm kinda terrified of the whole thing: meeting new people, committing myself (financially, if nothing else) so deeply to the memoir I started writing two years ago.  And flying solo, navigating my way through airline terminals and public transit to reach my destination in the mountains outside Seattle. Yikes.

But I'm doing my online research and hope to purchase my plane tickets this week. I haven't flown in years, and haven't travelled so far, all by myself, since before I was married.   

Change is in the air. Or at least I hope so, because this? This commitment to an idea that has yet to give anything concretely positive back to me? This isn't working. 

Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Mondays.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogger Template by Designer Blogs