Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sixty days and counting....

Today marks two months of home ownership. Two months.

The amount that I have learned in two months of home ownership is astonishing. Every day is another lesson waiting to be learned. Sixty days of wisdom, right here, some of it hard-earned.

I now know the difference between hobo spiders and wolf spiders. I know that there is a weird house spider that looks suspiciously like a black widow, but that black widows prefer the far corner of my garage. I know which ones get a reprieve and which ones get a shoe.

I know that this is Poison Oak. It may look like an innocent little greenery in the front corner of the yard, but it is in fact a vicious beast that will make you want to soak in a tub of Benadryl. You are welcome for the heads up.





I know that IKEA has nothing on furniture ordered through Amazon. IKEA may have directions written by drunken monkeys but IKEA has directions. I have now put together a bed with one hundred and sixty pieces. Truthfully, one hundred and sixty one pieces. After a half hour of trying to figure out where I had forgotten a crucial piece, I realized the manufacturer put in an extra piece. To be helpful. Or to screw with people trying to do it themselves. I would have killed for directions when I opened this package. Even directions with blob people smiling and telling you what NOT to do. 

I know that I love mowing the lawn, which I avoided for forty years. My slight obsession with orderliness works well with mowing. My allergies have a different take on the mowing of lawns. I now know that I should take two different antihistamines, strip down and shower as soon as I am done mowing, and avoid the Poison Oak. For the love of God, avoid the Poison Oak while mowing.

I know that plumbing in an older home is like a needy toddler. If I plan on leaving the house for a day or for a week, something is going to go wrong with the pipes. They are going to throw a tantrum that requires the sitter to call. I now have the number for a local plumber that shows up in my favorites on my phone. True story.

I know that every night that I go to bed in my house, including day fifty nine, I lie down and am thankful that I am lying down in my house.  Day fifty-nine, after I jumped on my newly assembled bed (again, true story), I lay down in my bed, and literally thought, "MY bed. MY house." With those thoughts, I went to sleep happy and satisfied.

And finally, I know that I love my little house. It is a work in progress. I thought I would get everything done in the first couple of months, but then we just got busy living. I thought I would take pictures of the progress, but we just got really busy living. Pictures still need to be taken, Timesboy's ocean blue walls artfully decorated with duct tape. Superteen's cherry red walls lined with mandalas. My dove grey and butter walls gracing a bed that will not ever move, thanks to my mad skills and sweat. 

We will take pictures soon. When we take a rainy day break from living.

Happy Two Months! Peace and love and Benadryl and paintbrushes, buttercups! XOXO




Thursday, July 17, 2014

These Days.

As I swept up a handful of dog fur and finished cleaning yet another spot on the carpet, a realization took my breath away.

Look at this face. Look. At. This. Face. Pure joy.


I am going to miss these days.

These days. Full of dog fur and dog vomit. Messy rooms and milk left out on the counter. Escaped crickets from the gecko cage. Wet towels on the floor and pizza boxes. Mysterious fur on my pillow, complete with a pug-shaped indentation. 

All of these things that drive me absolutely batshit, I am going to miss these days. 

Every one of these things that drive me mad, they are just part of what I love fiercely. 

Someday, I might have clean floors with no dog fur. I might have perfectly made up rooms with everything in its place and everything just so. I might only have crickets outside in the summertime, where they belong. I might have crisp pillows and linens with no dog shaped indentations in sight. 

I am going to miss these messy days. 

Every bit of the mess and the chaos and even the stench (We will blame the pug, every time) are proof of the living that is occurring within these four walls. 

These dogs are adored. They are thriving and happy and excited- they know where their toys are and where the creeks to splash and play in are. They know which beds to sleep in at night, and that they will be held tightly when the storms roll overhead.

Kid messes are signs of joy. Art on the kitchen table, experiments strewn across desks, mud caked on bikes, they are all signs of thriving kids. Games left out on the living room floor, pizza boxes waiting for the recycling, sticky counters, they mean that several kids felt comfortable spreading out and being kids in these four walls. Sometimes a stray kid even wanders through, looking for a safe place to fall, and I am honored that this is becoming that messy safe place.

I stopped sweeping tonight, and just sat on the floor with Squish,' til he fell asleep in my lap. I realized that the fur will still be there tonight or tomorrow, but these messy magic moments might not be.

Peace and love and magic and furballs, cupcakes. XOXO

Monday, July 14, 2014

Evolution of a Runner

I was never athletic. I think I have blogged before that the only way I would run in my twenties is if something was chasing me or there was a dessert in front of me. I didn't really discover running until a bad breakup. When I discovered it, every initial footfall was anger. Pounding down. Pure anger and hurt, one stride after the other until my body screamed. I discovered if my body ached, I forgot that my heart hurt. This went on for a while until running ceased to be out of anger and started to feel more like love. I remember when running became something I looked forward to, when I started to love the hardness of my hamstrings and how my shadow looked, stretched out on the trail. Running became meditation. Instead of replaying hurts, running became about my breathing in and out. The wind blowing over the tops of the wildflowers. Slowing for deer crossing and sidestepping snakes without losing a beat. The songs in my ears. The sun moving towards the mountains.

Old Faithful, the trail I can run with my eyes closed...


And then I stopped. Life. Complacency. Another shitty relationship (I know. I know. Life lessons, trust me). A hamstring injury that hurt worse than childbirth and impacted wisdom teeth. Death of a loved one. Loss. Ankle injury. More loss. And instead of running to get through it, I quit running. Just quit.

When I bought my house, I was once again smack dab in the mountains. I started running again, because they were right there. Again, a little bit out of anger and hurt and leftover loss. But mostly because I knew that every time I tightened my laces and pulled my hair into a ponytail, I was running towards freedom. Every stride was therapy, healing what had been broken.

This Zen moment, interrupted by knowledge that one should not down Ginger Kombucha before a run.


And now, I run. I run almost every day. I think about what I eat, if it is going to affect a late run. I plot out hills versus flat, three miles or seven miles. I watch the skies carefully, trying to time what I can run before the heavens open up with summer storms. I dodge friends asking to run together, because it is almost like praying together. Cool for others, but not my thing. I run alone. I look at where I am traveling to see if I can run. Some days, I purposefully run slow, so I can simply be. Other days, I do intervals until I feel like my lungs are going to collapse. Some days I get caught in the storm,and learn that hail actually hurts worse if you run fast. (There's another life lesson, getting caught in the storm). Sometimes, the only sound is my breathing, or my feet hitting the ground. Other times, the Ting Tings get me up the steepest hill.

Summer storms, teaching me both patience and speed. 

Running saved me. Pure and simple. Every time I pull on my shoes,  I remember this.  And I run a little further, just because I can.


Peace and love and sweat and long strides, buttercups. XOXO




Monday, July 7, 2014

Us and Them.

Not sure who pissed in everyone's cheerios today but I noticed a distinct nastiness on the intertubes today. Several people, who I usually adore reading and hearing from, seem to have woken up on the holier-than-thou side of the bed this morning. That's a shame.

Not a darn thing to do with this. I just really dig this tree near my house.

When we start playing this Us versus Them game, judging people who we only think we know, everyone loses. Everyone loses. Republican versus Democrat, Citizen versus Illegal, Gay versus Straight, Black versus White, Haves versus Have Nots, Us versus Them.

Party tip, cupcakes. We are all Us. And we are all Them. If we spent less time being Judgey McJudgeys, and more time simply being, I daresay the world might be a better place. I am not saying we need to stop advocating for what we believe in, or we need to stop thinking. We just need to quit being assholes about it.

Be a Republican. Be a compassionate conservative. Take a page from my friend, Ronda, and advocate passionately for your conservative beliefs. Do it like she does, from a place of love. Advocate for a kinder gentler world where every life gets a chance. Be that Republican, not the one who blames Obama for the overgrowth of cedar and the rising price of yarn.

Be a Democrat. Hug trees and advocate for green energy. Ride your bike to work, but don't begrudge the working mom driving her gas guzzling SUV. Plaster your car with Flying Spaghetti Monster stickers, but don't denigrate the family in their Sunday church clothes. Just keep planting trees and move on.

Nothing to do with my soapbox, just a friend's chicken. Isn't she awesome?

Be gay. Be straight. Be rich. Be poor. Be vegan or be a carnivore. Cover your body in tattoos or not. Be whatever you are, and spend time being that. Define yourself with what you are, not with what you perceive others are not.

It may be trite and overused, but remember that everyone is fighting a hard battle. So before you judge that woman with a SNAP card buying bakery goods, remember that you have no idea what her situation is. The average person getting food benefits gets four bucks a day to dine on, so the stories of lobster and champagne are one in a million. SNAP mama might be treating her kiddos to a once a month splurge at the beginning of the month because she can. She might be too fucking tired from working two minimum wage jobs to bake, but she might just splurge this once. The last thing she needs is you standing in line behind her, judging away. So, take that energy and use it somewhere else. Look at volunteering at a faith based charity. Investigate groceryships.org, an empowering organization that helps get people to choose well.  Donate to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/490865454/good-and-cheap, and actually try the recipes to see how 'they' live.

I could go on and on, but just please knock off this 'us versus them' thing. We are all Us. We are all Them. It's a big messy world, and we are all doing the best we can. Most of the time. Take your five minutes of Judgey McJudging, and see what you can do to be better than that. Put yourself in 'their' shoes. Buy a coffee for the guy behind you. Make the crying baby in front of you at the checkout  laugh, instead of judging his young mama. Volunteer to teach English to kids at your elementary school, who don't speak it at home- look in their faces and get to know them as people, not just a statistic. Work at a soup kitchen, and thank every homeless veteran for their service. Hug a surly teenager. Make eye contact with that person you would normally see as a "Them", and get to know them for five minutes. And thank your God or Goddess or Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever you need to thank, that you are where you are and that you have the ability to be the light.

Flying Spaghetti Monster. This guy really happened.

If you cannot do this, well. Go back to bed. Sleep it off. And try to be less judgey and more light tomorrow. We won't judge you, we will just see that you are doing the best you can.

Peace and love and light and new beginnings, buttercups. XO





Monday, June 30, 2014

Failure

I am a failure. I have failed as a mother. Utterly failed my kids.

Right before I left for Brazil, Superteen turned sixteen, which is another teary and blubbering post. I asked her what she wanted me to cook for a special birthday dinner.

"Why don't you order crab cakes from Villa?"

"No, what special meal do you want me to cook? What's your favorite thing I make?"

"Ummmm, we could order pizza from Bella. Or go get dinner at La Rosa."

I have failed to remember to cook, cupcakes. I have failed to make those special meals that my kids will someday want to come home to . I have failed to make those foods that will speak to them when they are heartbroken or sick or just in need of love.

In my defense, I am a complete badass at restaurants and at takeout. I know where to get the best pizza with perfect crust. I can call one local restaurant and the server knows what we want before we even finish our hellos. I know where a wicked food truck with fiery gordas sits. I can reel off the phone numbers for several amazing restaurants, and I know which servers to ask for. Chinese? Oh yeah, I know which of the three local Chinese restaurants also serves a green curry shrimp that will make your tastebuds sing. Sushi? I know which day of the week to go to which place, depending on who the sushi chef is. Charcuterie platters? I know a girl...

But cooking. Cooking. Between food allergies and food preferences and food issues and schedules and vegetarianism and junkatarianism and time, I forgot to cook.

Grace's birthday changed that for me. I decided to come back from Brazil and NOT order out. No takeout, no restaurants, no food I don't make. Several challenges here. Timesboy calls himself a meatatarian. He LOVES meat. Granted, he will eat Brussels sprouts and kale all day long, but he would like a slab of beef wrapped in bacon beside the vegetables. I hate cooking meat. Hate it. If I never had to cook meat again, I would be fine. Superteen slips in and out of vegetarianism. She can go weeks without meat, and then want Ground beef grossness. I don't eat wheat, and have not for over seven years.

So far, we have survived. Omelets, didn't suck. Raw corn chowder, totally didn't suck. In fact, Superteen ate almost all of it and I barely got seconds. Pizza, but not takeout. Again, didn't suck. Homemade Guacamole and Pico de Gallo Tostadas. Tons of kale, because Timesboy and I could survive on it. Mango Cashew Lassis, which the kids strongly disliked. This worked for me, because I frikking loved them, so I got extra. And tonight, this.



Cilantro Cornbread waffles. Vegan and gluten free. And more importantly, GOOD. With spicy black beans. So good that Superteen told me she liked my cooking. I tried to act like it didn't make me want to jump up and down, but I am totally excited about this cooking thing. Tomorrow, raw corn chowder for lunch, and something involving cherries. I don't know what, but something involving cherries In my zeal for cooking, I decided to buy about three pounds of cherries. So yeah, they are on the menu tomorrow. And Timesboy asked me to make bacon pasta this week. Bacon pasta, otherwise known as pasta carbonara.

This is what I am working towards. Kids asking me to make a meal versus to order the usual.

Peace and love and cherries and waffles, buttercups. XOXO



Monday, June 23, 2014

Brazil, Part One.

"They have a joy for life in Brazil unlike any country I've ever seen." -
Morena Baccarin





How does one do justice to a nation with mere words or pictures? Nothing I say could capture the experience of the last eight days.

Brazil. Brasil. Salty warm air. Blazing sun. Fierce storms that rolled over the ocean as we scrambled for cover. Chicken hearts on skewers that I could not dare refuse. Coconut water that no Whole Foods can ever replicate. Tapioca flour cakes and cassava. Fresh lobster eaten out of the shell while sitting on the beach. Seahorses slipping through tree roots, as we watched from a boat. Lemurs with lion manes. Ridiculously beautiful waters surrounded by white sand. Luxury like I have never seen before. Hammocks beneath coconut trees. Portuguese, Spanish, English, German, Japanese, Italian, and other languages all flowing freely, interspersed with nods and laughter at the attempts. Motorcycles and bikes weaving through traffic that could make my heart race. Caipirinhas, which have replaced Moscow Mules as my favorite drink. Bairros that took my breath away with the  crushing poverty pushing right up against the shiny stadiums. 'Love' Hotels. Little girls in too much makeup and stiletto heels outside of the stadiums, confirming the worst news stories that I wanted to ignore. The amazing people of Brazil, so patient with our attempts at Portuguese. "Bom dia" and  "Abrogada" and my near constant "Como se... diz en Portuguese." Jaw dropping graffiti that put everything I saw in Europe to shame.

These are a handful of the things that come to mind when I think about Brazil. So many contrasts, so much beauty intertwined with extreme poverty. I am still trying to wrap my brain around all that I saw, without even broaching the unbelievable World Cup matches. I will get to those in time :)

Boa noite, meus amigos. Paz e amor e agua de coco. XO


Monday, June 9, 2014

Driving My Monkey Crazy, a Picture at a Time.

Superteen says I need to work on my selfies and poses.

What, this is my expression most of the time....

This is my Miley- Superteen isn't impressed. I don't know why.

Okay, here...
Superteen, me, and the Bestie. Behaving. No Miley.

The Bestie, me, and Hot Toddy. No Miley, no crossed eyes. You are welcome, Superteen.
And then this happens.

Sorry, cupcake, this is how I roll.

No regrets, buttercups. Moving forward. Peace and love and Miley poses and selfies with lovies. XOXO

(PS, updates on the journeys, literal and figurative, and the HOUSE, coming soon. Scout's honor :))