My Recent Trip to Santa Cruz

AS USUAL, MY PHOTOS ARE NOT GOING WHERE I ASK THEM TO GO, SO JUST GO WITH THE FLOW.

 

Christmas my youngest son and his sweet girlfriend gave me an open ticket to come for a visit. My first thought  was no way was I going to go in the winter, so I advised him I would postpone Christmas until April. I was still trying to thaw out from three years in Kula, Maui. So, when April came I flew from Kona to San Jose where Jaron and Alexa awaited. The flight was uneventful. Traveling is no longer fun. The seats are small, leg room cramped. There are no movies on overhead screens. Apparently one is expected to provide her own. No warm blankets, no hot towels, no hot meals. I couldn’t justify paying $12 for a box of crackers, pretzels and maybe a cheese spread. I longed for the 70’s and 80’s when amenities were standard.

Santa Cruz is spectacular. Within about 15 minutes one can drive from the beach, where the “kids” use to live, to the redwood forests where they now live. The scenery is stunning. The air was still crisp but not debilitating. As much as I love the ocean, I find inner peace in the mountains. These trees were amazing giants. Deer wander in and out of yards as do wild turkeys. They don’t seem afraid of us humans.  We had an adventure every day for the ten days I was there. Both Jaron and Alexa were able to take off work so I was able to see Santa Cruz up close and personal. We went to the forests, to the beaches, we visited farmers markets where I wished I could carry back all the produce I saw. I mean, a pound of beautiful strawberries for $3. I pay $7 for 6-8 oz. Corn on the cob at home, on sale, is 99 cents each ear. Here they are something like 6 or 8 for a dollar! The price of living in paradise I kept telling myself.

We went to the “artichoke” capital of the world, or at least the city. We saw roadside flowers covering the walkways with benches placed for viewing the ocean.

While so close I made arrangements with special friends from K-12. We met in the Amador Wine Country. What a fun time. We talked and talked and drank wine and bought wine. We visited a few of the wineries. It was perfect weather with such a marvelous group of people.

 

Jaron and Alexa are working on their new location. Jaron built a nice picnic table for BBQs on a very large lanai. It will be a great gathering place for friends.

 

We went out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant where there were several levels of dining choices. We rode in what seems similar to a ski left from one level to the next. The restaurant was beautiful, spacious and the food was good.

 

I have a ton more photos, but this is so frustrating I’m going to give up. But, the trip was such a highlight of my year so far. It was wonderful to spend time with the two people I love.

The levels of dining

Alexa

Our gondola, comin’ to get us.

The picnic table built from scratch by Jaron, painted by Jaron, Alexa and I.

lavender bliss

Marcia, Carol and Jean

 

The front yard where the deer and wild turkeys roam.

My son and I at the park close to their home.

Old Lady

This afternoon I turned on the TV waiting for the NCAA National Championship game and to kill time while I was cooking dinner I flipped on Law and Order, SVU. An “old lady” is raped and people are wondering why anyone would want to rape an old lady.  While looking for evidence, one of the detectives asked the age of the old lady. Well, she was 72. Now this is also my age and I’ve never thought of myself as an old lady. But, it did get me thinking about aging and what it means to each of us. I have certainly noticed several changes in my body. Things are starting to go south, my hair is getting very thin and getting silvery. I’m discovering age spots on my legs and arms from spending way too much fun in the sun as a girl. I spend a lot of time bending over my sewing machine and I spent many years taking notes on a laptop computer at work so my back is getting a curvature it never had before. It’s more difficult to get up off the ground when I sit on it to put grommets into my hula implement bags.

On the good side I still have a lot of energy. I take four classes of dance a week with extra practices here and there. I still have enough balance to work out on my Simply Fit Board which helps keep the heart rate up, the waist trimmed. I’ve kept my weight down at 125-128. I sleep well and eat well. I enjoy cooking healthy and seldom eat out. I can still mow my yard although the huge buffalo grass has me whipped. I keep my mind from atrophy by trying to keep up with current events which unfortunately also makes my blood pressure rise, but since it’s always been very low, I’m not worried. Although I didn’t grow up with computers and Smart Phones, I can usually manage to use them without a lot of problems except for Windows 10, which I loathe. I have a lovely relationship with my youngest son who calls me every week just to talk. We always seem to find so much to talk about. And, I’m happy that both my sons are doing well and have very special women in their lives.

So, though I might be considered an “old lady” by some standards, by my standards I may be getting older, but I’m not feeling my age. I’m anxiously awaiting what is in store for me in the future…number one wish–a partner that dances!

The Oddest Memories

This morning I was on my computer browsing and came across a small bit about someone remembering something he had learned in college by Thomas Hardy. He mentioned that though it had been many years, he could still quote the passage. This got me to thinking about how our memories are quite amazing.

When I was in high school I had an English teacher who, at the time, I disliked for making us memorize the first few lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I can still, after 55 years,

still recite them and understand the Middle English:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
the droghe of Marche hath perced to the roote.
And bath every veyne in swich licour
of which ventu engendred is the flour.

This morning I decided to read the entire prologue’s 200 lines. What amazed me was although much of the English spelling has changed over the centuries, the sounds are still similar enough that I could read and understand much of these oddly written words  and in doing so could appreciate what an amazing poet Chaucer was. His description of some of the characters that would be featured in his Tales are so lively. He painted pictures with his words which enabled me to SEE his traveling companions in my mind.

I remember some time ago the movie “The Knight’s Tale” came out. I loved it. My favorite character was Geoffrey Chaucer, the “knight’s announcer” prior to jousting battle. I think now I will have to read “The Knight’s Tale” by the poet himself.

I guess I owe all of this to Mrs. Hall. Thank you so much for engendering the passion to continue learning.

Ariana, The Hunter

Ariana is my shelter cat. I got her when I lived on Maui. She suffered as did I during our first ten days or so back on the Big Island. Me, having to face the sad disrepair of my home and Ariana having to face solitary confinement at a good friend’s house. We did make it through all the initial discomfort and are now happily ensconced in our little cottage. When I picked her out at the shelter they told me she was a good hunter, but I had no idea how right they were. This week alone I have rescued six geckos, two coqui frogs, a bird and two mice. She never eats them. She just brings them into the house through her cat door to let go for me to chase. I think she gets pleasure in watching me scrambling around the little studio. Thank goodness it IS just a studio! Last week I came home to a room full of feathers…I mean, everywhere. Feathers on the bed, under the bed, on the kitchen island, the TV console, the computer desk. This little bird didn’t give up easily. I, as yet, have not found this one and some day I’m sure I will come across a naked little bird body in my laundry hamper or in a shoe box. I haven’t put much effort into finding it still secretly hoping it escaped or Ariana just got bored and took it back outside.

Lately though, her hunting has taken on a new dimension. She has evidently decided that small critters aren’t worth the energy expelled. A few days ago she was outside and I don’t like to see her close to the road, so I called to her. I She came out of the brush carrying a HUGE rat. It was dangling about four inches on each side of her mouth. YIKES! I immediately ran inside shut the door and blocked off her cat door, the whole time yelling, “no, no no.” About an hour later she came to the door without any critters so I let her in. But, the last few nights I’ve heard noises in my pantry and have found evidence of either a mouse of a rat. I’m thinking rat because it has eaten most of the plastic tops off of things like nuts or raisins. It had ripped open my couscous and pasta shells and about five other goodies. I have tossed more food than I have eaten. I went to town and now have just about everything in large jars or mason jars. I still hear it, however even with a flashlight have not been able to see it. I’m ordering an electronic mouse trap. It’s a speedy, efficient device that doesn’t involved squishing the poor thing, but I don’t want them in the house. Today, I locked Ariana out when she tried to get in with another rat which she eventually let go on my screened-in lanai. Hopefully, it will find the way out and not in. I also kept out another gecko. Frogs, geckos and an occasional mouse I can live with, but rats, no way! Hunter indeed. What to do, what to do?

Oh, Christmas Tree

My oldest son’s birthday is in early December, so I’ve always waited until after that to “go Christmas”. And, even though he now lives on the Mainland, I still adhere to that tradition. However, every year trees from the Northwest come in earlier and earlier. This year they arrived before Thanksgiving (a travesty). But, I knew if I bought a tree at this time, in this humidity, it would be dead by Christmas, so I waited. Luckily, Home Depot didn’t bring their trees in until after the first week in December. I’ve always disliked artificial trees, eventually they will end up in the landfill and stay for, what I’m sure, is about a thousand years. I real tree can turn into mulch in a matter of weeks! As you know, I live in a small studio cottage so space is at a premium. I don’t have the room for a large tree, about 4 feet tall will suffice. So, off I go to HD. They had a great assortment of small trees, unlike most of the sites in town. I carefully chose one that “called to me”. It has thick needles, a lovely piney smell and good spacing. Of course, NOT $8 or $10 like in the “olden days”, but worth the $30 I spent.
My Little Christmas Tree

My Little Christmas Tree

 

Somewhere in my storage shed were all my ornaments I’ve treasured for several decades, but, well, I didn’t really want to put forth the effort to try to find them. So, I opted for lights, silver garland and lots of tinsel (I so wish it was the old kind that was heavy and stayed on the tree through cat meanderings). I did find that box. And, lo and behold, it had two little ornaments in the corner. So, along with the shiny things are now a “Jack in the Box” holding a sign of “JOY” and a beaded blue tree! I’m not classic white when in comes to lights. I like mine in a riot of color. I need a top for the tree, maybe a bright red bow, yes!
I’ve had so much fun this holiday season. I’ve been line dancing my fool head off. Went to the Elks club and joined about 75 others on the dance floor. It was fun to see so many men dancing! Many wearing cowboy hats and boots which, for me, is an immediate attention getter. Dancing at the Eagles club this week. I’ve been to way too many potlucks, fun gift exchanges, concerts and cantatas. There is now snow on Mauna Kea so the feeling of Christmas is in the air.  I do love this time of year!

Renewal during the Holidays

A couple of days ago I went to Ben Franklin Craft store to get a wreath form for making  autumn and winter wreaths for the house. I found so many pretty leaves in “autumn colors” and silver, red and white for the winter wreath. Yesterday I worked on my “Thanksgiving” project–and it’s beautiful. But I find it’s more than just a wreath at my door, it’s a symbol of renewal.

Autumn is a time for losing those leaves of old, so there will be room for new leaves come spring time. The colors of fall are in my “color palate”. I love the oranges, yellows, reds, golds. They are uplifting colors preparing us for the wintry colors of, um, winter and the soft, muted pastels of spring…the jolt to get us through the colder days. Well, here in Hawai’i, the cooler days.

Autumn is also a time for reaping what has been sewn during the spring and summer months. I have worked hard to sow seeds of joy in my home, in my town. I’ve made new friends, I find great pleasure in the company of old friends. I’m now reaping the benefits of belonging to a community where everyone says aloha when passing on the street. Where my church members greet one another with hugs and kisses, where people get up and dance at restaurants when the music moves them.

So, when November is over and I replace my autumn wreath with my winter wreath I will make my Christmas wishes and be oh so thankful for having such a joyful life.

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A New Passion In My Life

Nope, it’s not what you’re thinking. No new man in my life. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that again. I’ve discovered Country Line Dancing! I’ve been dancing my entire life. I started out at age 4 dancing tap and ballet, then in Jr. High my mom taught all the neighbor kids to rock and roll or swing. I loved that! This carried my through to high school. I took ballroom dancing in Jr. High as well which I enjoyed, but most of the boys didn’t so finding a partner was a challenge. In high school I danced everything from rock to modern to jazz. In my Jr. and Sr. years I had a boyfriend that was one of the best dancers ever and we went to all the school dances. We both raced gymkhana on horseback so attended a lot of “barn dances”. In those days no one line danced. We did the two-step, country swing, cha-cha. Then I moved to Hawai’i. I started working and seldom went dancing.  I married a non-dancer at age 30 and though we did a little disco it was never his thing. It wasn’t until I was in my early forties I discovered hula which became a passion. I’ve now been dancing hula for about 30 years and still look forward to twice weekly classes. But, about two months ago I just got a hankerin’ to try line dancing. This turned out to be some of the most fun times of my life. Because I’ve danced so much of my life I catch on fast and I now have about 10-12 songs under my buckled belt. Last month the Elk’s Club sponsored a Country Night with a live band, $3.00 dinners and $2.50 beers! When it comes to dancing, I’m not shy. I got out there even if I didn’t know the dance. By the second or third round I usually had it down. What fun. They are having another Country Night tomorrow and I can’t wait to go. I have jeans and a cute shirt with a fringed scarf attached. I might even dig out my old belt with the big buckle! I have boots! I will dance the Tush Push, Waltz Across Texas, Baby Bubbles, Huggable. I will be smiling and laughing and having the time of my life. If I can get someone to take a pic or two I will post an update.

Cooking at Home

One of the things that make me feel like I’m home again is cooking. Today is a cooking day. I make fresh strawberry crepes for breakfast, luscious berries with a dusting of powdered sugar…a good way to start the day.

Yesterday I did some planning ahead for today’s dinner so I took out a beautiful thick pork chop. I am inspired by an Asian style marinade. Into a reusable bag goes the chop and the marinade, squishing to make sure the marinade infuses into the chop. Into the fridge it goes for over night. Once I am ready to eat again I take the chop out, heat the grill to high, cook some rice with red beans and a splash of Sriracha for a little kick. I cut some broccoli into flowerets and get out my bamboo steamer. While the broccoli is steaming to a slightly crunchy perfection, I throw the chop on the grill. After a few minutes I take it off to rest while I plate the rice and veggie.

When I cut into the chop I want to tear up with joy. It is sooooo tasty, tender and juicy. I pour a glass of wine and enjoy. I’m home, I’m cooking, I’m happy.

Perfect Asian pork chop

Perfect Asian pork chop

Back Home on the Big Island

After three years on Maui, a somewhat long three years, I was so excited to get off the plane at Hilo Airport. One of my best friends picked me up and suggested I spend the night at her house and drive out to my cottage in the morning. In hindsight this turned out to be the best decision of my life! We drive out only to find my little cottage in shambles and a good part of my things stolen. I no longer have a water heater, washer nor dryer. I was missing two screen doors, a microwave, bookcases, all my gardening and lawn-care tools. My beautiful kitchen floor tiles are cracked, my wood floors are plastered with children’s stickers. The cabinetry have been “Magic Marked”. My drywall has several holes obviously from being punched. The appliances, while still here, are dirty, faucets are either missing or damaged. The shower is damaged, fixtures taken…toilet paper bar, towel bars. Instead of a manicured lawn with beautiful trees and flowers I’m now encased in a jungle. I sit on the floor and cry. This was, at one time, my place of peace in a wonderfully chaotic life.

If it wasn’t for my friend, I would still be sitting on my floor. But, she reminds me that getting up would accomplish a lot more than what I’m presently doing. So, a quick trip to the store to buy cleaning supplies. We spend the day scrubbing floors, walls, appliances. In one day it is already looking and smelling better. But, still not ready for occupancy. I end up staying with my friend and her husband for almost ten days! During that time I buy a water heater, a microwave, screen doors. Art works tirelessly putting things together, patching walls. Jan and I paint the interior. I still have the ceiling and beams to paint, but that will come in time.

I’m now in my tiny house. It’s feeling like home. I have new valance curtains on the windows, a have a wild carpet, a colorful bed comforter. I’m able get back to my on-line sewing business. My sewing machine table is still in my living area, but soon will be relegated to a permanent location yet to be decided. I have a couple of options in mind.

I know I should have taken photos of the mess, but I simply wanted to wipe the visions from my memory. When I left the interior was a soft sea foam green and peach, but I feel the need for a more cheery décor. So, this is what a part of it looks like now.

Lookin' on the wild side

Lookin’ on the wild side


I recently added a small black leather recliner. Since I’m suffering a low back injury during all the unpacking (one particularly heavy item) I am now enjoying the massage option! I look forward to bringing in my TV console and getting my sewing to its own space so I can finish my decorating. After that I start tackling the yard.