Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mark Twain was right

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Mark Twain's words. I would like to add our fair city 90 minutes south of San Francisco to that, as well. It is another cool and overcast weekend here in Monterey, and we are donning our sweaters and jackets once again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Yard Sale Drum Roll

Last Saturday morning arrived with that frenzied feeling -- we got to get moving! Thanks to Lys and her boyfriend, we managed to get all the stuff hauled out to the driveway by starting time for the neighborhood yard sale. Only a few early birds had to be shooed away. It was cold and drizzly, and despite the fact I continued cleaning the garage throughout the morning, I was still freezing! First I tried to get by with a sweater, then a light jacket, but by mid-day had to resort to my winter jacket.

People weren't spending. They would pick up and set down items that I had priced ridiculously low ($1.00 or even 50 cents), and then walk away. The tough economy has taken its toll even on the yard salers. We tried to read between the lines of the comment made by two women who said our sale was the best one in the neighborhood -- the only one they actually "got out of the car for". Did that mean we had the most junk, the weirdest stuff, the most attractive items, or what? We didn't want to think too hard on it....

We were pleased with our final total of $288 -- a third of which was Lys's for horse stuff she sold. We threw old curry combs, lead lines, and suds scrapers in buckets and sold them for $5 each. Outside of an old guitar I sold to a musician in a local band, nothing big sold. At 2:30 the guys from Good Will came by and I was happy to see a lot of clutter loaded into the truck. Lys and Josh patiently carried back upstairs the large doll house, craft table, and leather chair that didn't sell and I am not ready to just donate.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I have always had a hard time understanding the concept of war. Those with the biggest armies, smartest maneuvers, best artillery, and the most left standing supposedly win.... Seems an archaic, almost bullying, way of settling things, and what about those who lose their lives? How many lives does it take to win a war? I guess the reality is that summits and meetings between leaders don't always work. Knowing that war is inevitable, I do bow my head and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our country and its' ideals.

My Uncle Bill lost his life in WWII. He died before I was born, but my dad talks about his brother Bill, quieting his voice when his name is mentioned. My dad also served in WWII. It is hard to imagine him jumping out of an airplane as a paratrooper, or being stuck in the trenches of Guam. He came home with shrapnel in his body and a Purple Heart. He is writing his memoirs and after all these years, he is writing more stories about that period of his life than he ever shared verbally. We've been proud of Dad for serving his country, and time makes the WWII vets' service even more humbling.

My brother's number wasn't pulled during the draft to Vietnam in 1969/1970, but I remember one of his buddies was drafted. My brother asked me to bake him a farewell cake and he helped me put green food coloring into the frosting because he wanted it to be camouflage colored. It was all a big joke to his buddies who came over that night, listening to Led Zeppelin and Creedence Clearwater Revival, but it was a gallows laugh, and there was tension around the table. (His buddy made it back, safe and sound.)

It's sobering to think of the tremendous bravery these men and women face. I'll never understand war, but I have a heartfelt appreciation of what it must be like to lay your life on the line for your ideals. And when you think of that, you realize that Memorial Day is one of the most underrated holidays we have.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Yard Sale Cometh

Twice a year a realtor living in our neighborhood sponsors a community yard sale. She does all the pre and post organizing -- ad in the paper, map to the participating homes at front entrance to our development, balloons on the mailboxes of those selling items, even lines up the Good Will truck to sweep by at 4:00 to pick up the rejects. We've played this game a couple times in the 11 years we've lived here. The first time Lys and I ecstatically counted our $350. The second time we dragged in, exhausted, counted our $67 and said, never again. Well, it's been a few years. Times, tastes, and interests have changed. Visions of someday downsizing to an easy to care for condo dance in my head some nights. So next weekend, we're going to try it again.

Among our "one man's junk is another's treasure" (we hope) are:
Equestrian clothes, horse tack, a slide projector that's been on the top shelf of the garage since we moved in, desk organizers (how many do I really need!), duplicate scrapbook supplies, stereo speakers (not working--hmmmm), bleached out lawn chairs, videos and CD's, cutsie decorative teapot (I've moved on from that phase), an office chair, a couple lamps, dust ruffle for the bed, soccer and basket balls, stuffed animals (the girls have moved on), and who knows what else we'll find.

Today Lys is going through her closet -- she claims there is nothing in there, but I spied a plastic zebra peeking out of a box and I know she doesn't play with those anymore (she's in college afterall).

My attitude toward this yard sale is -- if it doesn't sell, what the h__ -- at least my house has less clutter!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who have cared for a child, a mom, a pet, or a sibling that brought out your maternal instinct. I had a nice Mother's Day. Lys brought me a lovely arrangement of pink roses this morning, then picked up the tab for our lunch. Tonight she gave me a beautiful card, a gift certificate to Starbucks and a gift certificate for a pedicure (a couple of my favorite treats). What a thoughtful girl, eh? This afternoon we went to see "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" -- chick-flicks remain one of our guilty pleasures. This one is not worthy of wasting time on, however. Despite the thumbs-down film, we had some great conversations before and after. I was disappointed to have missed Ash's phone call attempts from England. The time difference makes it such a challenge to connect sometimes, but she wished me a Happy Mum's Day on my answering machine. Ash and I shared a warm, indepth conversation on the phone yesterday, anyway. I'm incredibly blessed to be the mother of such wonderful daughters.

My own mom has been gone for 13 years now, and I miss her. She was a wonderful mom, with good old common sense about raising kids -- she was our Mom first and foremost, but also could be a great friend. There was a creek behind our neighborhood in Ohio where wild violets grew. I often went down to the creek and would pick violets until they burst out of my little fists. I'd then take them home to my mom to put in a vase. If Mom were here today, I'd give her a big vase full of violets for being the wonderful woman she was.

It's Me or the Dog

While Dad was visiting, I became addicted to a couple shows on Animal Planet. These addictions are usually short lived as after awhile the episodes all start to look alike. One was Escape to Chimp Island, which makes you want to climb trees and hug a chimp (until you see them charge each other with those big teeth). The other is It's Me or the Dog, with British dog trainer Victoria Stilwell changing the lives of those living with unruly canines. (So much better than the Dog Whisperer's nonsense.)

After a few episodes of It's Me or the Dog I began to appreciate even more how terrific Chaucer and Frosty are! They don't have nearly the number of obnoxious behaviors that so many other dog owners semi-tolerate. That said, I certainly have identified some areas that need some work!

Chaucer (a poet at heart)~
You have to look hard to find fault with laid-back Chaucer, our four year old black spaniel mix. He rarely barks or demands attention, a real sweetie-pie. He proves he has a competitve, playful side, though, when we bring out the retrieval toys to toss. His demeanor changes: ears up, posture alert, he is quick, and he will bring the toy back to you. He has even more pep in his step when I go in the kitchen and he wants a treat. Ahhh--there it is. The training behavior I want to work on. He will come up behind me and scratch the back of my calf to get a treat. No matter how much I ignore him, he continues to dig at my calves. Ouch.

Uncle Frosty (named after my great Uncle Forest whose nickname was Frosty)~

Frosty is our six year old maltipom (half Maltese, half Pomeranian). He's a different story. I've heard that poms are big dogs in little bodies. Yes, he has attitude and is a bit spoiled as he is definitely my lap dog (though at 20+ pounds he's not exactly tiny). While Chaucer is a bit shy, Frosty is the extrovert. He loves everyone he meets -- he's even great with kids. He seems to wake up with a "Hey, it's a great day!" attitude every morning, tail wagging, spring in his step. BUT, he is our barker. From his perch on the back of the couch in the upstairs home office, he guards not just our house, not just our yard -- but our entire street. Everytime the UPS guy drops off a package or someone walks by with (or without) a dog, we are subjected to Frosty's incessant bark until they disappear. Thankfully it is low pitched, and not a high pitched yap! And heaven help us when the door bell rings and someone comes to the front door. We have to put them outside, or on a leash, or hold them so they don't bolt out the front door or scratch other people's legs.

So I have identified the negative behaviors, have my treats ready to go, and Victoria Stilwell's voice is in my head. I'll let you know how the training goes. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Birthday Tea

My friend Lynn celebrated her Forever 49 birthday last weekend by inviting a few friends to join her for high tea at a quaint tea house in Santa Cruz. We were tucked into a corner table in the restaurant, with a comfy window seat full of red and gold pillows on one side, and a view of the courtyard garden for those sitting on the other side. The sun was shining, the food was delicious, the conversation bubbled over, and we all had a great time!

Party favors included M and M's with childhood pictures of Lynn on them!

There was a two page menu of just the various teas available. We were each brought our individual teapots. I enjoyed Mother's Boquet, a wonderful citrus blend.