Dangling off the map

8 November

I am grateful for this view, in any weather, during any season. 

20190108_171511

The base housing office has a website which features a cul-de-sac of houses with ocean views. Like “I’m just gonna toss this salad and watch for whales from my kitchen window” kind of ocean views. I desperately hoped to get one of those houses. We didn’t get an ocean view. We got a view of the Von’s sign and one of the many LAFD fire departments directly across the road. Between us and them is a busy stretch of road where people like to test the upper limit of their speedometers and see how much noise they can make while doing it. We don’t have ocean breezes, we have sirens.

But I can walk across the street, down the ocean path…less than a block away…and look at this. It’s not quite as great as looking at it from my bedroom window, but maybe I’m not supposed to have that. I believe in the grand scheme and I have always felt like we were offered this house for a reason. Even though we had to evict a gang of mice living in the garage and we have termites that pop up in unexpected places every few months…we are supposed to be in this house, with the perfect hill for finding lizards and the wide flat yard large enough for a trampoline and a Derby party at the same time. And whenever we want, we can walk across the street and see the ocean, reflecting the sunset with Catalina Island peeking through when she feels like it. I don’t love the beach. Blue and I both hate sand. But being able to walk from our house to a place where we can see it from up on the hill…watch it ebb and flow into eternity, that’s something special. Water as far as the eye can see. That has a way of making you feel like a very small fish in this very cold ocean.

What Does the Island Fox Say?

7 November

I am grateful for things hidden in plain sight. 

IMG_0158 (2)

This is the Island Fox. It only lives on the Channel Islands and this one happened to take up residence on Santa Cruz Island. It was cold and rainy when we took an island packet from Oxnard last January. The seas going to the island were rough, but they were worse on the return trip. The wind kicked up and I was glad I had splurged on that insulated wind breaker that was on sale in the gift shop. We brought a lunch, our cameras, not nearly enough layers, and the hopes of seeing an island fox. Just one. We saw about 6. One jumped up on the picnic table where Neal was sitting. One was rooting around in the grass next to the restrooms. If you caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of your eye, it was probably an island fox slinking by. They are not as elusive as I thought they would be, but you aren’t going to see one on your way to Von’s. You have to get out of town, you have to get on a boat, you have to pack in your own food and pack out your own trash. But if you can do all that, you will be rewarded with up-close encounters with one of the cutest little critters around.

Orange is the New Happy

6 November

I am grateful for beauty that springs eternal…or at least until the Instagrammers destroy it. 

The greatest irony about a “super bloom” in Southern California is that it springs from an unusually wet winter…which, in large part, is due to how many wildfires we’ve had the previous autumn. The fall of 2018 brought the disastrous Camp Fire in the north while we were experiencing hazy, orange sunsets from smoke blowing down the coast from the Woolsey Fire in Malibu. Driving through Zuma Beach one afternoon this summer, we saw the burned-out shells of multi-million dollar homes dotting an otherwise pristine neighborhood. Blowing embers are funny things. I always wonder if it’s Karma or just plain bad luck that makes them take flight and light where they do.

And I think it’s interesting that California’s state flower, the Golden Poppy, looks like a field on fire when it’s in full bloom. The orange flames licking at the coast gave rise to acres and acres of new, orange life inland. It’s not enough to forget the devastation of the year before, especially for those who lost families and homes, but it does soften the blow a tiny bit.

It’s illegal to pick a California Poppy. It’s also illegal to step on, sit on, or otherwise trample it, which is probably why Californians lost their ever-lovin’ minds last spring when scores of Instagramming social media influencers took to the fields with their floppy hats, big sunglasses, and jumpsuits. They sprawled out on a bed of flowers, picked them and then stuck them in their teeth, their hair, between their boobs, between their…well…never mind. They destroyed nature in an effort to prove that they were capable of being one with it. Thank goodness they were in the minority, although their destruction was magnified by their drive for more likes. On the whole, visitors stayed on the paths, refrained from picking them like weeds, and respected the fact that once a California Poppy is plucked, it could take generations for it to grow back in the wild.

Two weeks ago, we had 330 wildfires in 24 hours. I couldn’t believe that statistic but the local news said it, so it must be true. Fueled by a significant Santa Ana wind event and seriously low humidity (producing some pretty impressive lizard legs on everyone), anything that sparked was in danger of becoming a raging inferno. And that will probably lead to another unusually wet winter this year. Just right for one more super bloom before we go. I think I’ll leave my Instagram account at home.

What’s Trapped in Tar

5 November

I am grateful for a place where the Ice Age comes to life. 

IMG_1366

Let’s be honest…when I tell visitors that I’m taking them to the La Brea Tar Pits in downtown L.A., the response is usually an amusing mix of confusion and anticipated boredom. Branding does not seem to be the museum’s strong suit. Perhaps I should start selling it as, “A day spent exploring the current excavation sites, filled with the bones of saber tooth tigers and giant sloths.” That sounds like we might run into Indiana Jones, or at least Catherine Zeta-Jones, at any given moment.

The La Brea (“bray-uh”) Tar Pits were just a check-the-box item at first. It was on every single Pinterest L.A. bucket list so it had to be something, right? But as soon as you step through the gates, you can smell it. It smells like every interstate construction site between Cincinnati and the Smoky Mountains. Orange cones, speckled black, dot the grass. These mark the places where tar is actively bubbling up…presumably so social media influencers don’t accidentally drop a Jimmy Choo in a puddle of goo. The tar lake at the front of the property, which is bordered by Wilshire Boulevard (considered the “symbolic spine of L.A.”), is constantly burping air bubbles that have escaped. The woolly mammoths trapped in the tar lake might be fake, but the gas exchange going on under the surface is definitely real. Walking around the excavation sites is free, but if you really want to be wow’d, pay the museum admission. The Ice Age animals that were dug up outside have been reassembled inside and they. are. massive. Like no kids’ movie featuring Denis Leary and Ray Romano can prepare you for. Mammoths, ground sloths, an entire wall of saber tooth tiger skulls.

And, really, the Tar Pits are kind of an allegory for L.A. herself. The siren song of something wonderful (water on a hot day, an extra part in Modern Family…whatever) draws you to downtown L.A. You drink from that watering hole (of fame). Suddenly, your weight shifts, your feet sink, you are stuck. You struggle. You sink deeper. You are drowning and no one is coming to help. Here comes someone. No, wait. That’s someone who has been waiting for you…waiting for you to come here and die so that they can eat you. OK…maybe that just took a weird turn. But you’re stuck here in this awful place with no way to escape and things are looking pretty grim. The only twist of Karma is that the predator ends up getting stuck, as well. Looks like you’re going down together. And that is the story of the La Brea Tar Pits. And roughly half of Skid Row.

And now we are all marveling at your bones and paying $14 each for the pleasure.

20190621_184133

Although as a homeschool mom, it’s just really cool to see something so abstract as saber tooth tigers and woolly mammoths being extracted from the ground on a daily basis. It teaches Blue that the world has not run out of discoveries. He just needs to put on his safety goggles and go find them.

The Great Escape

4 November

I am grateful for a place where we can lose ourselves. 

IMG_0233

It was never a question of if we would visit Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, but, rather, when. So, when some of us in the neighborhood started chatting at wine time one Friday afternoon about what our next adventure should be and someone mentioned these sibling national parks, it was almost a no-brainer from then, on.

When we arrived (after a somewhat harrowing journey down a narrow road that was barely meant for passing Priuses, much less trucks towing RVs), I had a headache, a pain in my right side that had been there for nearly a month, and sinus drainage that was threatening to become something worse. I had also started giving some serious thought to moving back to Kentucky for the duration of this duty station.  I needed to get out of L.A. 

After 3 days in the forest, Neal had to drag me home. I didn’t want to leave the place where I could finally breathe, hear nature, feel nature, feel relaxed, be unafraid. I did not worry that Blue ran out of sight for a second. I didn’t scold him for picking up trash, worried that meth residue might be on it. We ate our meals under the stars, listening to the crackle of fire and the creatures moving around under the cover of darkness. For over a year I had been lulled to sleep by the sound of drag racing between the stop lights behind our house, the sudden sirens of the fire station across the street. It’s like every small-town-country-girl-goes-to-the-city movie ever made…where she beds down for the night in her roach-infested motel room and drifts off to the sound of cursing spouses, screeching sirens, and the constant whine of traffic. I think maybe I hadn’t slept well in 14 months. But for 3 days I slept so deeply it almost made up for it.

And during the day, we explored shaded paths, lined by ferns, and found shelter inside the Sequoias. We looked up, as far as our stressed-out, city-dwelling necks would allow, stretching a little further each time. And we knelt down to smell the forest floor, the crushed bay leaves, and the pine needles that softened our step. We made a mile hike last for 3 hours. We went to bed by 9. We were 5 families escaping the city and, no, I did not want to come home. But having been in the flesh, I can now return any time in my mind.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

3 November

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about different cultures and share them with our son. 

20191103_133450

Southern California has spent the better part of the weekend celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Technically, I believe, it falls on 1 November for children who have passed on and 2 November for adults, but it was extended to the 3rd this year because of the weekend. So, festivals kicked off Friday night and didn’t stop until late this afternoon. All the better because everyone got an extra hour of sleep last night so they were fresh for today’s festivities.

My introduction to Dia de los Muertos was, like most other white girls who grew up in the southeast, wholly thanks to Coco. Although the first time we watched it, Blue only stuck around for the music, I remember thinking, “this is a beautiful, Mexican tradition that keeps the memories of those who have passed on from fading over time. It ensures that even more importantly than being honored, they are not forgotten.”

I have begged my parents to sit down and write out the stories they remember from childhood. Because the telling and re-telling of the story, from one generation to the next, is what we have left of those we may have never known. Right now it’s not as pressing because if it isn’t the plot of a Pokemon episode, Blue doesn’t have time for it. But someday that will change and I want to be ready. I can tell him that his great-grandmother loved eating at Carino’s and shopping 3 malls in one day until she was so tired, she didn’t know which one of the girls she was. I can tell him that his great-grandfather grew a garden that was the envy of the neighborhood and he knew the names of all the tellers at the credit union. But I can’t go much further back than that. If Dia de los Muertos was part of our family traditions, perhaps I would know more. I could re-tell more. I would certainly be able to remember who was who in the grainy black and white photographs that fill the shoebox in the top of my closet.

The ofrenda, with its punched, paper flags that flutter in the breeze, let family members know that the spirits have arrived. The sweet scent of Aztec marigolds draw those spirits even closer and their favorite foods and drinks adorn the alter, welcoming back those loved ones who have passed on. And, of course, the sugar skulls with their delicately piped features, colorful and creative.

I suppose we have Memorial Day. But that has become more about kicking off summer with a rack of ribs and a nap in the hammock. You don’t see Dia de los Muertos mattress sales or discounts on bulk meat. Maybe an influx of brightly decorated cookies, but I think it’s safe to say this holiday still revolves around remembering, in vivid detail, and sharing the stories of those who have passed on with younger generations. And there’s something deeply satisfying about knowing your stock.

Next year, Blue and I will construct an ofrenda. We will include pictures of his great-grandparents, his “Aunt” Traci, our cousin Chris, our friend and neighbor Sunny, our dear Lulu and Poppy. And perhaps we will include Shep, as well. There will be cat toys, a baby blanket, a plate of bacon, some beaded jewelry, and plenty of chocolate. We will, as they say in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, “commune with the dead so that we might understand the living.” And, perhaps, in doing so we will make death less about the devastating, permanent loss of someone we treasure and more about finding ways to relive, refresh the memories they made with us before they passed.

What I Now Know.

I am a Virgo who was raised by a Virgo. If you know anything about astrology, you know that results in an adult who is wound fairly tightly. I give Neal a lot of credit for marrying me anyway. But I think he also saw some potential for loosening, especially when I got pregnant. I didn’t see it. I had grand plans for this child. Mozart before birth, no TV for 3 years, wood toys, cloth diapering and homemade baby food. Nothing that needed batteries. I didn’t even buy a swing because it seemed so unnecessary. A month in, I was at Target with my best friend buying a swing, a package of diapers, and the latest V-Tech (not to knock any of these things…it was just not in my vision because I was raising something like Tarzan mixed with a Scandanavian love child). I did eventually go back to cloth diapering, but only because the “experts” said that cloth diapers made it easier to potty train. That’s a load of poo in a plastic diaper. That child outgrew his cloth diapers, it took so long. And that’s saying something because each diaper had like 14 different levels of snaps. But 3 years later, there I was…back at Target buying diapers and cursing the load of laundry I had done everyday for 36 months.

I say all of this because something somewhat revealing happened to me last month. I half-assed Halloween. Remember the year I had 3 different costumes? Or the year I made mummy hotdogs? Or the year the whole family dressed as characters from the Peanuts strip? None of that happened this year. In fact, this is what happened this year:

20191102_081935

A Hobby Lobby, half-off, find from 2 years ago that I still haven’t gotten around to finishing painting. And it hung in our hallway for a month like this. Maybe it looks intentional. Or maybe it looks like I’ve stopped caring, in my daily yoga pants, sports bra, messy bun, and worn-out Birkenstocks. Maybe this sign says, “Hey, at least the family was fed a homecooked meal almost every night, the sheets were washed weekly, and Blue has learned how to add double digits in his head.” Or maybe it says, “Nothing to see here. She thought she could…but then she quit.” And the thing is, whichever signal it’s sending, I didn’t give it more than a passing thought for more than 30 seconds for all of October. It is what it is and this is the season we’re in. The season of hiding food wrappers behind the couch, and squeezing in workouts during an episode of Wild Kratts, and fighting about the need to be educated instead of just agreeing with the 7 year old that he already knows it all. There are priorities and, right now, this sign was not one of them. I’m not even a little bit sorry.

I know that this blog (and my other one, Behind the Garage Door) have not been a priority, either. Instead of writing posts and then boosting them on blog author Facebook pages, I’m on Pinterest downloading math worksheets and trying to find Youtube videos with a catchy melody and an easy way to explain multiplication. And at night, all I want to do is finish Ken Burns’ new docuseries, Country Music. By the time we get through it, it won’t be new anymore. We’ll probably have a new Ken Burns docuseries to catch up on. I have 8 years of photos on my laptop, made worse by how many pictures I take of the same shot on my cell phone. I have a running commentary of blog posts that live in my head and never quite make it out the door and onto the page. That’s probably the worst. Right now, Blue is re-watching The Spy Who Lived Next Door and practicing yo-yo tricks and if I was a better mom, I would be playing a board game with him or making pancakes with blueberry eyes. But I want…I need…to get some of this out. Not for you, but for me. Anyway, he isn’t complaining…yet.

One more thing. We are in our final months of L.A. living and I’m not even a little bit sad. It has been hard to write here because I try to keep this a positive space, but this duty station has brought out the worst in me. Me…an Army spouse who has been called a “chameleon” more than once. I just could not change my colors enough to fit in or love it here. I’m not even sure I like it. I tolerate it. But most days, I have not tolerated it very well and Neal has probably caught the worst of my frustration. My only saving grace has been my friends, this neighborhood, this family that lets me vent and then gives me wine.

But this L.A. life is not for me. Maybe it once was, back in the 70’s. When you didn’t have to pay $20 to park at the beach or smell weed seeping from every corner or constantly worry that your curious child was going to pick up a meth pipe. But I am not leaving L.A. better than I found it and L.A. has not changed me for the better. I’m more suspicious, jaded, angry. And we’ve paid through the nose to feel that way. We are still waiting on the assignment list to come out, but I’ve never been so eager to see what our next adventure is. To leave L.A. in the dust, taking only photos and friendships with me.

I recently got called out by a friend here for being so negative about this duty station. She said I’m going to miss this place. She said I’m going to look back with fond memories and recall adventures with Blue as he gets older. And I don’t doubt there’s some truth to that. I probably needed that fairly harsh scolding because it will stick in my head and I will hear her voice over the next few months. Every time I begin to complain about the 110 or the drug addicts roaming like zombies down Gaffey, I will hear her say, “There is more to it than this and that’s the part you’ll miss. It’s not all bad.”

So, to that point, I’ve decided to blog my SoCal gratitude for the next 26 days. Filed under: The Virgo Loosens Up a Bit, I’m already a day late. But I’m used to playing catch-up so for yesterday and today:

1 November

I am grateful for negative tides.

20191029_151040

Negative tides are a result of the moon and the tilt of the earth (or something like that) and they only happen during daylight hours in the late fall. We caught one last week and were able to see my first bat star in the wild. More to come in November and we’ll be on the lookout for octopuses and sea stars. But the best part is that we can be at the beach in about 4 minutes. Of everything we have experienced in California, this has to be in the top 5.

2 November

I am grateful for our little military family Cub Scout Pack.

20191025_195437

(I’m also grateful for Mr. M’s new Samsung that can take pictures practically in the dark.)

This was during the first night of our fall campout last weekend in an area of SoCal that I was sure was going to catch fire any second. But the most exciting thing that happened all weekend was the pack of coyotes that howled their way past our campsite when half of the boys woke up needing to pee. The port-a-potties were not that close. We weren’t sure if this Pack was going to happen this year, just because everyone is busy and the pot of volunteers changes, literally, every year. Such is life with a military-only Pack. But we pulled it together and I couldn’t be more pleased. Neal and I, as Cubmaster and Committee Chair, are having a blast and we are solidly backed-up by gung-ho parents who only ask, “How can we help you next.” I am going to miss this.

A Field Trip to the Fair

Field Trip Friday fell on a Wednesday this week. It isn’t preferable to be “out of school” in the middle of the week. Coming back to Math and Language Arts felt like pure drudgery, even after I made up a fun song about our grammar lesson. (And it’s no small thing to find something that rhymes with “simile”.) But we were taking advantage of Homeschool Days at the L.A County Fair. We attended the Orange County Fair last year and because we can’t afford to do both of anything in the same year out here, we saved L.A. for this summer, knowing it was our last chance.

So, for those of us who have set a high bar for county fairs (and really anything short of what you conjure up in your head while reading Charlotte’s Web is just a night at the carnival and should not rise to the esteemed level of county fair), let’s talk about what the L.A. County Fair does well.

1. Anything life-sized. Life-size condiments, snack foods, books, toys, creepy as hell Halloween characters. I mean, there’s no 1000-pound carved butter sculpture of a remote Amish homestead, but I guess you can’t win em all.

20190904_135640

20190904_133309

20190904_142658

20190904_143646

20190904_131703

2. Capitalizing on area attractions. Since you can no longer hike anywhere near the Hollywood sign without LAPD tight-circling in their chopper overheard, we thought this was a decent consolation prize. (Fun L.A fact: When LAPD helicopters fly in wide circles, it means they are just checking out the area below, but tight circles mean whatever you are doing, you are so busted. Hide the weed! Oh wait, never mind. You can keep that.) We also could have indulged in a Randy’s Doughnut (which gives me a cavity just thinking about it) and a Pink’s hotdog (minus the 45 minute wait on a heat-trapped downtown sidewalk).

20190904_143921

20190904_143039

20190904_143743

20190904_145523

3. The Midway. Filed under, “Y’all are making me smarter,” I just looked up why it’s called a midway. Apparently the term originated with the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. It became the common noun for the area reserved for amusements at a state or county fair. According to Wikipedia, the Canadians use the same word. Although I’m sure it sounds much nicer when they say it. Anyway, the midway of the L.A. County Fair is more than just mid…it’s like 2/3rds of the party. Not one, but two, Ferris wheels spinning simultaneously. And ride after ride after ride of screeching fun, guaranteed to drop your stomach and bring back up that hot Cheetos-encrusted doughnut turkey leg you just ate.

20190904_095520

But we didn’t ride a single thing because it was hot and I’m cheap. Wristbands were $50 and we didn’t drive 75 minutes on 7 different interstates to get closer to the sun. We came to learn about the life cycle of a goat and what a chick looks like when it’s just hatching from the egg.

But that’s where we would be wrong about the L.A. County Fair. Because we didn’t learn about any of those things. We saw brand-spankin’ new, barely walking goats, but no one to ask when they were born or how long it takes them to learn how to walk. We Googled it.

We saw a calf chillin with some sheep, but no one to ask how old cows are when they first start mating and producing milk. We Googled it.

We saw some sheepdog puppies hanging out with the sheep, but no one to ask what their role is in herding or how long it takes for them to learn the skill. We Googled it.

We did watch one cow-milking demonstration and learned that the 3 healthiest dairy foods are yogurt, milk, and cheese (not Blue Bell ice cream, I guess). We also heard the dairy farmer refer to “almond milk” and “oat milk” as “almond juice” and “oat juice”. (He later blamed zealous animal rights activists for the loss of public access to the local dairies. He said that to me privately and I don’t think he’s wrong, but also this is why we can’t have nice things. California is the largest dairy producer in the country and we are hard-pressed to find a cow we can milk this side of Kansas. If they aren’t careful, California kids are going to grow up thinking all straws are supposed to disintegrate in your mouth and their milk hatched in the dairy case overnight).

And we didn’t see any exotic rabbits, roosters, turkeys, chicks straight outta the egg, draft horses, alpacas, sheep being sheared, cattle being hosed down, 4-H high schoolers cuddled with their cows, or baby chicks tumbling down a slide. (OK, to be fair, the animal rights activities probably did away with that one a long time ago.)

IMG_8076

This is obviously where the cool kids are every January in Pennsylvania. 

IMG_8214

This is everything that’s great about the PA Farm Show. And somewhere above their heads, Charlotte is weaving, “SOME PIG.” 

But this wasn’t the Pennsylvania Farm Show, where kids from the countryside are competing for blue ribbons in everything from baking to bull-riding. This was, if we are being precise, a city fair plus a petting zoo thrown in for good measure. And it was a perfectly fine petting zoo.

20190904_102825

20190904_102423(0)

But I paid $36 for 2 cheeseburgers from a food truck, not from the California Cattleman’s Association. And $6 for a root beer float from the Esports Gaming Hall, not the California Dairy Association. Food that was fried, on a stick, between 2 doughnuts, dipped in flaming Cheetos, on the bone, and wrapped in a tortilla. But none of it seemed to be from here. Even the “L.A. Made” section of the expo hall was disappointing and underwhelming. It could have been any county fair anywhere. Where is the Los Angeles pride? One of the most unique cities in the world is hosting the most vanilla fair we’ve ever attended. Los Angeles is so not vanilla. It’s horchata and edamame and dirty chai and Sriracha. Flaming Cheetos? Maybe if they are rolled in guacamole and lit on fire. That’s Los Angeles.

I don’t expect the L.A. County Fair to be the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The Imperial and Central Valleys can’t leave home for a month just to show off their award-winning pigs and heirloom chickens to those high-fallutin’ Hollywood types down in the city. And those 4-H kids are probably hesitant to get any closer to the INS office. But it sure would be nice if someone learned how to carve butter, or put a shade over the garden area so we could learn what squash looks like when it’s shooting off the vine without melting under the Inland Empire sun. And maybe the Cattleman’s Association could set up a grill. I would buy all. the. burgers. And a Dairy Association milkshake to wash it all down.

IMG_8186

Finding My Way Back

Epictetus (which is, coincidentally, what I would name our next child if we had another) once said, “If you wish to be a writer, write.” Seems simple enough. This sentiment pops up on Pinterest from time to time, adorned with sunsets over the ocean or a garden of flowers. As if all that’s missing from my desire to write is an orange-tinted sea and some begonias.

It’s more complicated than that.

Some health stuff crept up over the summer (thanks, 40. I was wondering when you were going to show up and cause me to start falling apart) and then I made the very conscious decision to homeschool Blue this year….which has turned out to be a lot of work. It has been great fun so far, don’t get me wrong. But every night I’m teaching myself math all over again so that I can turn around and teach him in the morning. When all is said and done, at 8 PM all I want is a cup of tea and a marathon of Murder, She Wrote on Amazon Prime Video. I don’t necessarily want to write. But I want to be a writer. Sort of. Mostly, though, I want to raise a kind human who has some critical thinking skills and knows how to brew his mom a silky almond milk latte. And if writing fits in there somewhere, awesome.

In case you were wondering, this game plan is not how you build a brand or successfully monetize your blog. And that’s why I’ve abandoned the idea of making any money off of this whatsoever. You know what’s super annoying? Scrolling Pinterest, spotting a killer monkey bread recipe, clicking on the link and getting accosted by pop-up ads and videos that make you watch them for 10 seconds before you close them. I’m trying to teach my son how to say “ten 2” in addition to “12”. I do not have time for your time lapse video of the perfect roast chicken. I’m not roasting a chicken in my kitchen. Ever. I’m going to Sprouts and eagerly handing them $7 for a perfectly roasted, organic, seasoned, chicken. It’s going to be buttery rich and moist and then I might….I might…throw the bones in the crockpot with some veggies and let it simmer for 3 days. Or I might toss all the scraps in the trash and let the insects duke it out on the garbage truck.

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh, right. Pop-ups. Hard pass on that and also the annoying ads in the sidebar that are trying to sell me pasties or knock-off Birkenstocks or Martha Stewart cookware. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve totally nailed my buying habits, but I came here for a high carb dinner I can make in my bundt pan, not an opportunity to score another pair of Firks.

So, if I’ve taken the time to write a review here, it’s because I used it, I loved it, and sharing is caring. And I get approximately zero dollars off of anything I say. Call me a Social Media Influencer and there will be retaliation. I’ve gotten pretty good at PhotoShop lately. Just sayin’. Those are fightin’ words in SoCal, where everyone in a white linen dress and a floppy straw hat wants something for nothing and their clicks for free. (I had to look up that lyric because this week I may have been reminiscing with friends about the “Gonorrhea” song…which I had totally confused with the “Diarrhea” song. Whatever. Still works.)

I do not want to try your bourbon/rose petal/sea salt ice cream and then write a post about it. And I certainly don’t want to be in a position where I have to lie about how great your parking is, how affordable the food is, or how family-friendly your event was.

All of that to say that I’m back. I took a photography class last week (and by “take”, I mean I skimmed the emails between burning my oatmeal and teaching homophones) and my one take-away is that to make something a habit, you have set a time to do it everyday and you should attach it to another habit. For example, after I eat breakfast, I will dress in something other than a stretched-out sports bra and yoga pants. Boom! New habit created.

Blue will only focus on his history and reading work at bedtime. I’m sure this makes for some fascinating dreams. A magic tree house lands at the top of a ziggurat in the City of Ur and Little Pear must write a letter in cuneiform asking Zeus to drop tridents across Mesopotamia. (I made a “De Nile” joke last night. Then I had to explain to Blue what “denial” was…which detracted from the joke, but is also, as it turns out, a super abstract topic to teach. I should have just said, “It’s what you are doing when I say things like, ‘Did you hide a fig bar wrapper under the couch?'” DENIAL. DE NILE. Not just a river in Egypt.) But he named his left shoe Euphrates and his right shoe Tigris, so that’s something, I guess.

Anyway, after I put Blue to bed, I will come downstairs and write for 30 minutes every night because Jessica Fletcher doesn’t need all my time. And Neal is spending a little more time with his spreadsheets these days. It’s cool, though. They are more logical than I am.

2019-07-28 14.56.24

I napped a lot this summer. Some of it on the beach. Pretty much all of it with Blue’s elbow in my face.