Perspective 

I am going to start blogging more. 

Meanwhile, here’s a photo I took of Oceanside Pier tonight. I wore a light sweater and Birkenstocks and felt amused at the tourists who were easily identifiable by their bikinis and beach chairs. 

Only a tourist would think 68 degrees is warm enough to frolic in frigid winter surf. Meanwhile, locals seize the opportunity to wear knee high leather boots and jackets. 

Of course, in my former hometown, when it hit 68 we ran to the beach as fast as we could to soak up the sun because summer had finally arrived. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Perspective 

Breaking the silence


It’s awkward to try to catch up on all the news when it’s been so long since we’ve talked. (We = Me & Me & You, I guess.) I’m talking to myself and I suppose I’m talking to you, but only if I know you. And some of you I don’t know. You’ve stumbled here and you’re probably clicking away quickly to find a pretty lifestyle blogger who posts photos of her magical holiday decorations and adorable blond children. (So, to you, I say hello and goodbye.)

So since I can’t really remember everything I meant to tell you/me, let’s just randomize and see what happens.

Not only have I purchased most of the Christmas gifts, I have also wrapped them in identical wrapping paper from Costco.  Did you know Costco wrapping paper is superior to all other wrapping paper?  It’s thick and each roll holds so much more wrapping paper than the stuff you buy in a four pack at Target or Walmart or wherever.  I hate running out of wrapping paper.

I also did all the Christmas decorating myself.  My sidekick, my 14-year old daughter, has abandoned me for her friends, of which there are many.  I left the tree without its ornaments for a whole week, but finally hung them myself.  I haven’t actually put ornaments on a tree in years and years.  I felt a little sad about that but my friends tell me that the kids will come back around one day when they have their own kids and I say that’s far too far into the future to comfort me much at all.  So, bah-humbug.

In other news, I spent the last two months reading all nine books in the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I realized as I read them that I had only read the second book in the series when I was a girl (my dad gave it to me in 1977 as a gift) and I had to remedy that oversight in preparation to read The Wilder Life by McClure.  And now, finally, that’s what I’m reading. As I hear the Christmas song, “Jingle Bells,” I think of Almanzo Wilder courting Laura Ingalls by taking her sleigh-riding up and down the streets of that prairie town in South Dakota.  So, yes, perhaps I’ve been a little overly immersed in the pioneer days. I am longing for the simpler days of yore, which is hilarious, really, considering how much I love the comforts of modern life.

Oh!  The craziest thing happened a week or so ago.  Out of the blue, an Internet friend sent me a text message of the city sign near me and said, “Guess where I am?!”  She lives in Oregon and I live in California, so I was surprised to say the least.  She and her husband were in town to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and she invited me to meet her at Starbucks a few days later.

And so I did.  Meeting someone in person that you’ve known online (and through text messages) for years is always an iffy proposition.  What if you each think the other is a weirdo?  What if conversation is awkward?  I’m happy to report that we hit it off and talked like old friends.  Finally, I had to hurry off to an obligation, but it was super fun to meet her and talk in person.

In other other news,  the kids are all wrapping up their schooling before Christmas break.  One more day and then we’re home free.  My 18-year old finished his first semester at community college while his brother completed his who-knows-which-semester at the same community college.  My daughter is halfway through eighth grade.  She is looking forward to high school, though her ideas about where she should attend change every other week.  Keeping up with a modern-day middle-schooler is fairly exhausting.

Also, just so you know, I bought a car.  It’s used, but I bought it from a dealership with less than 15,000 miles on it.  It’s a black Fiat 500, a two-door car with two tiny back seats which fold down to create almost enough cargo space to stash a Costco haul.  I’m very happy to have a tiny car that is so easy to park and that has good gas mileage.  My husband scoffs at my tiny car and has all-but-refused to ever drive it which is completely fine with me.  After sharing a mini-van (and whatever other random second car we’ve had) for ten years, I’m delighted to have my very own car.

The funniest thing was that I bought it on Election Night.  I hadn’t exactly meant to watch Election Night results with the guys at the car dealership (I thought I was just picking up paperwork and that I’d have to take it to my credit union the next say), but as it turned out, they did everything on the spot (I was pre-approved) and so I sat around while waiting for the salesguy to do the mysterious car-buying stuff in another area and watched the computer screens with the other salesmen who had no customers. It was just me and the guys and one woman salesperson who refused to believe that Trump really was winning.

When Trump won Ohio, I declared with great authority that he would win the whole election and the guys said, “You think?” and I said, “Absolutely.  Just wait.”  I knew this because my husband watches news channels constantly and so I absorb this political knowledge by osmosis while I’m in the same room, reading.

So I will always remember Election Night 2016.

Well, it won’t be so long until the next time I post here.  I’ve just about convinced myself that blogging more regularly (dare I say, every day?) would be a gift to myself that I would really treasure in the years to come.  So, don’t hold your breath or anything, but meet me back here sooner rather than later.

Breaking the silence

Margaret and Eleanor

I am trying to post regularly this month.  I made a good start of it but then suddenly, I totally forgot that I was blogging at all because I got completely sucked into the mystery of where my paternal grandfather was stationed during World War II.

I have had an account at Ancestry.com for years.  I must have sprung for a paid account at some point, then canceled it, of course, because I’m cheap, but I paid $19.95 the other night and fell deeply into the black hole of my ancestors and the mystery of the past.

I still have not figured out where my grandfather was stationed but I have traced my family back to colonial days and even beyond that to England and France.  I also realized to my utter shock that “Rebecca” the was not native American at all (“Indian,” according to family lore), but part of the line that originated in France.

Of course, while the names and dates are interesting, the really interesting facts of these long-ago people are missing almost entirely. Then I began to wonder if my descendants will some day find this blog and know a little bit more about me than I know about Margaret or Eleanor who were born in England in the early 1600s. They were my 10th great-grandmothers on my father’s side.  Too bad they didn’t have blogs.

 

Margaret and Eleanor

What I’m reading and watching

I found a book in a thrift store called, The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure.  It’s a non-fiction account of Wendy’s obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I picked it up (I recognized the author’s name) and now I’m reading the complete set of “Little House” books because I feel like it’s only right to be up to speed on the series before I read Wendy’s book.  (Do you like how I actual as if we are pals, me and Wendy?)

When I was eleven years old, my dad gave me a paperback copy of The Little House on the Prairie, with an inscription on the first page.  I must have read it as a girl, then, and I imagine that I read the rest of the series as well, but I couldn’t be sure.  Plus, that’s been decades, so I settled in to read them all in order.

Except I discovered that the book I thought was first was actually second.  The first book in the series is Little House in the Big Woods  and weirdly, that was the book I didn’t actually own, so I had to order it.  Meanwhile, I read the second and third books and now I’m reading On the Banks of Plum Creek, the fourth book.  In it, I discover the characters I recognize and love from the television show (Nellie Oleson!).

Anyway, when I finish all nine books, I’m going to read the Wendy McClure book.

Incidentally, I’ve been tracking the books I read on Goodreads.com since 2013 and this year, finally, I’m on track to read more than 20 books.  The last time I read at least 20 books was in 2013, so I’m happy about this.  It’s hard to find enough time to read and when you choose fat novels, it takes even longer to get through books.  I’ve really focused on reading as much as possible this year.

*

Tonight, I went to a free screening of Hacksaw Ridge.  I thought it was an excellent movie.  I just went to a website that compares movies to facts and found that the movie–based on a true story–stuck close to the real story, and an amazing story it was.

You know how sometimes in movies you look at your phone or watch because you’re thinking, “How long until this thing ends?”

That did not happen tonight.  In fact, my 14-year old daughter said, “I can’t believe it’s so late!  That movie went by so fast!”

The movie is rated R for extreme violence (war isn’t pretty) and subject matter and possibly for nudity because we saw one soldier’s entire naked backside several times.  Here’s how to annoy your teenage daughter:  Try to cover her eyes when a naked man appears on screen.

(For the record, I know a LOT of other ways to annoy a teenage daughter.  I never knew exactly how annoying I am until I had a teenager daughter.)

Anyway, go see that movie.  If you want.  I’m not the boss of you.

What I’m reading and watching

Out of sync

Ponto Beach – when the sunset is a dud, you have to get all fancy with a #Prisma filter.

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I have an ongoing obsession with the nightly sunset. I track the exact time the sun will set. I scan the sky during the afternoon for promising clouds which can enhance the beauty. I ponder my schedule.

Lately, I’ve been out of sync. I will be driving one kid or another to this location or that and as I drive, I look west and see the colorful skies, the amazing clouds and I know that I am missing out. When I’m dead, my kids will probably remember me most by my bitter complaints that “I’m missing the sunset!”

My husband tells me that it’s okay because the sun will set again tomorrow, that there will be plenty of glorious sunsets throughout my life, but I’m not comforted by those platitudes. I know that each sunset is a once-in-a-lifetime event and to miss even one feels like a sharp stick to the heart.

I blame this fairly new weird obsession on several factors.

1) I grew up in Washington state where the skies are cloudy most of the time. In fact, I just looked it up and 62% of the time, the skies have “heavy cloud” cover. That’s 226 days of the year.

2) Now I live in San Diego County where we have an average of 266 sunny days a year.

3) My kids are old enough to be left home alone.

4) I live fifteen minutes from the beach.

Add these factors together and I am making up for lost time. Think of how many sunsets I never saw in Seattle because it was raining or cloudy. Think of how many rare sunsets I never saw because I was busy taking care of small children, stuck at home (and I mean “stuck at home” in the nicest possible way, of course).

And I live (sort of) close to the beach, where sunsets are just better. Am I right? I’d also like to see the sun set behind a mountain range (as I did while growing up in the Pacific Northwest), but right now, I live by the ocean.

This week I’ve missed some amazing sunsets. Twice, I’ve managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the beach, only to have the sunset be a dud (caused by a ridge of low clouds on the horizon). It’s maddening, really.

Tonight, I dropped off a son at work (at 5 PM) and then drove across town to pick up a lamp I was buying from someone on a Facebook garage sale group. As I was driving, I noticed some puffy clouds hanging in the sky and thought maybe I could detour on the way home.

I barely had time, but I drove as quickly as I could to the nearest beach access. I parked and hurried over the sand, only to see a ridge of low clouds blocking the sun. Plus, it was only about two minutes before the actual sunset. The rest of the sky was mostly clear, so that meant the sun slid past the horizon and the sky faded and that was it.

A dud. However, the tide was out and as I reached the glossy sand I found an intact sand dollar. I picked it up and brought it home. It felt like a sandy promise in my hand.

I took the photo above as I left the beach.

I can only hope that my schedule, the skies, the tides and the clouds converge into perfection and I get to photograph some beautiful sunsets again soon.

Out of sync

Ghost of Halloween Past

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The days leading to Halloween used to find me busily sewing and crafting and creating.  I’d grudgingly carve jack-o-lanterns and happily bake cupcakes and sneak candy from the stash I’d purchased for trick-or-treaters.  It was a busy time.  The kids would be jumpy with excitement.

Then the inevitable happened and my kids grew up.  This Halloween found me with idle hands (and a bad cold).  Until today, in fact, I hadn’t even managed to locate the fake jack-o-lantern, the one I plug in every year to make the season officially spooky.  The holiday seemed to have lost its magic.

My 14-year old did not want to wear a costume or trick-or-treat or carve a pumpkin.  Instead, she met some friends at Starbucks while I stayed home and worked and her dad participated in our church’s “Trunk or Treat” festivities.  I would have sewn my girl a princess costume and bought her sparkly shoes and a cool trick-or-treat bucket but that’s not really what a 14-year old wants, is it?

So when I saw all the adorable costumed children on Facebook and Instagram, I felt a twinge of sad nostalgia.  How I loved Halloween when my kids were little, the fun of taking them in the dark streets, instituting a rule that they must take turns ringing the doorbell.  (The fights over the doorbells!)  When we lived in Washington, the rain would usually fall and we’d be cold and wet and before we’d even circled the neighborhood, the littlest would be complaining about the heavy bucket.

They’d run up the sidewalks and run back down, thrilled with the dark, the candy and each other. Those were the days.  Then we moved here and I was down to one trick-or-treater, but my girl and I would go out (I in my flip-flops and her in her costume) and circle our palm-tree dotted neighborhood and she’d collect candy while I got sweaty from the warm night.  But no more.

Tonight, my 18-year old son, (formerly known as SuperZach) worked at Pizza Hut delivering pizzas.  He dressed up in his traditional Halloween costume, the character he’s been ever since we moved here:  Santa Claus.  Four years ago, he was Santa for the first time.  He had recently fractured his collarbone, so he donned a Santa robe we had from a previous Christmas.  He answered the door to trick-or-treaters and passed out candy while wearing a sling on his arm.  Ho-ho-ho!

Thus, a tradition was born.  He has been a variant of Santa Claus every year since.  He has been Emo Santa, Gangster Santa, and this year, Pizza Hut Santa.

I miss my little sweet trick-or-treaters, but Pizza Hut Santa is pretty awesome, too.

I guess we have to let go so our hands are open to receive what’s next.  I guess that means I need to let go of the snack-sized Snickers . . .

Ghost of Halloween Past

Mine eyes have seen the glory

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Processed with Snapseed

This morning I checked the weather on my phone, expecting to see some relief from the hot weekend weather we just endured.  Instead, I found that it was already 95 degrees, heading for over 100 degrees.

That’s just dumb and the result of the Santa Ana winds.  I guess it’s not all that unusual for this time of year here, but I’ve seen people wearing jackets in Facebook photos from other areas of the country.  I want to wear a jacket!  That seems normal for the end of September.

I worked today from 3 PM to 5 PM.  After work, I had to drive about 30 minutes away to a pizza place to do a “mystery shop.”  When I finished, I couldn’t help but notice the sky and I knew it would be a spectacular sunset because of the clouds but I rushed home because my husband and I planned to watch the presidential debate together.

The entire ride home, I was distracted by the sky.  (I took this photo at a stoplight.)

I rolled into the driveway at about 7 PM.  My husband betrayed me by watching the debate when it started instead of waiting for me.  (I joke.  He started because he realized we wouldn’t have time to watch it together because one or the other of us would have to drop off and pick up some kids  I’ll watch the beginning tomorrow since we recorded it.)

So, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the reasons I missed another glorious sunset.

Next time, I’m skipping the debate and heading straight for the beach.

Mine eyes have seen the glory