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Archive for January, 2012

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New Things

While I was standing in a redwood tree 100 feet off the ground on Sunday, I realized that this was not the first adventure that I had this year.  In terms of trying new things, I’ve had quite a successful year!  In fact, I am really proud of myself, because each of these new things was previously WAY outside my comfort zone.

1.  Scuba diving at night with the manta rays

Night dives scared the beejeezus out of me, because you can’t see what’s beyond your light.  Being underwater was daring enough for me, so I though that not seeing what was underneath me would be terrifying.  Turns out, I was totally wrong.  Aaron and Bee gave us a dive as a thank you present, so I decided I would be brave.

It was absolutely captivating and magical.  The manta rays are so graceful, agile and gentle- and ginormous!  They would swoop right next to you as they were feeding.  The excursion was also satisfying, because Chris said it was one of the best experiences that he’s ever had.  This wasn’t our video, but you can see for yourself here:

2. Rode an ATV and got muddier than ever

Growing up in Vermont, it was not uncommon to hear of some doofus who got drunk, rode his ATV in the woods at night, and serious maimed himself.  Needless to say, we were not allowed to go near 4 wheelers.  And, honestly, they didn’t appeal to me.  They’re noisy and dirty and dangerous.  So when Becca and Chris wanted to ride in Hawaii, I was not that excited.  But Chris and I really wanted to do something special for the little sis, so we went for it!

It was the best thing I have ever done in my entire life.  I drove full speed through puddles, laughing as the mud flew into my smiles.  I went full steam around corners, and I certainly didn’t want to stop.  This really surprised me.  I was especially caught off guard because all the sudden, I turned into a bit of an adrenaline junkie.  Now, I want to do things that go fast, challenge me physically, and get me I have a need for speed!  In fact…

3.  Ziplined in the redwoods

This was actually WAY tamer than I expected it to be, so I thought it was a bit boring.  Looking back though, I realized that I had a relaxing, enjoyable morning from a different vantage point.  Plus, it turns out that I’m not really afraid of heights, yay!, but that I still want to jump off ledges when I’m on them.  I know, that’s weird, but I have ever since I saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and they looked out of the Sears tower.

Really, 32 held a LOT of firsts, but these were the printable, publishable, big ones.  I am truly thankful that I was able to spend the year doing new things and growing in so many ways.  I’m sure this year ahead will bring some firsts- maybe not as adrenaline filled as last year- but firsts nonetheless.  The cumulative experiences made me realize that I am braver and bolder than I thought I was- and that I can rise to the exciting challenges that will present themselves.  I’m looking forward to it!

So Sweet

I LOVE opening presents early and since we were getting an early start on celebrating by going to Sonoma, I got to open some of my gifts on Thursday night.

Along with some chocolates that were soooo tasty, this is what Chris found me:

Panda spirit hood

That was funny and super warm, and we had a fun time playing with it…  but then, this is what his mother, Leigh, did for me:

Writer's Toolbox

I have to admit that I cried a bit when I opened it.  This is what was on the inside:

Contents of said toolbox

How thoughtful and sweet, huh?  I’m really thankful that she is supportive of what I’m trying to do.  And with the toolkit, I’m off to a great start for 33!

And there will be even more tomorrow.  Woo hoo!

It’s Sunday Night

Reasons I am not posting a thoughtful, contemplative note this evening:

1.  I had an extremely busy and fun day, and I’m spent.  We went soaring through the redwoods while ziplining this morning at Sonoma Canopy Tours (my first time ever!) and had an awesome and humungous lunch at Howard’s Station in Occidental.  Then I drove all the way home and tutored.  Plus, after all that, Chris and I spent 1.5 hours cursing IKEA and saying WTF as we put together our new bed.

But look!  We did it!  It is great in our room, and even though it doesn’t match any of the rest of the furniture, it somehow pulled it all together.  The room feels proportioned; the bed is the right height; and we even get some under-the-bed storage.  It sure makes me thrilled about my new plan to get our house in order…  Except the vacuum broke again.  Damn you, Hoover!

Honey and Chris enjoying the bed

2.  I keep forgetting that tomorrow morning starts a 9 day cleanse with my friend, Chandra, who lives in New Jersey.  Since I just remembered (for the zillionth time in the last 3 days) that it begins so soon, I am spending some time planning and steeling my mind to the challenge ahead, i.e. no coffee, which she just reminded me of.  It’s a good thing that I (actually remembered for a brief moment on Friday and) ordered extra veggies and fruits from the CSA for the upcoming week.

This is the plan:  2 days eating raw foods, 5 days juicing, and 2 final days eating raw foods.  It’s an interesting way to end year 32 and begin 33!

3.  See numbers 1 and 2 above.  Nighty-night!

Vacation Contemplation

Vacations are tricky for me.  I love being away from home, relaxing, exploring, and trying new things.

Those very activities, though, also tend to make me melancholy.  Stepping away from the normal routine in my life gives me time to reflect without as much noise.  And that’s where I start to get into trouble.

One minor example is that I always decide that I want to move to the place where we’ve travelled (except LA, yuck).  For me, the grass is literally greener…  San Jose is dirty, smoggy, and expensive.  In Hawaii, I can buy an oceanfront condo in Kona for $199,000.  In Sonoma, a house on the Russian River surrounded by redwoods goes for $300,000.  Compared to the prices in the South Bay, those are a steal!

Vineyard, W. Dry Creek Road

But, honestly, it’s not really that the housing prices are more reasonable.  Sure, though places are quieter, cleaner, and more peaceful than being near the junction of two major highways, but I’m just not settled, and I haven’t been for a very long time.

Being in a new environment somehow forces me to think about my life and what I would like to do differently.  Maybe it’s because when I’m someplace different, I am the only thing that hasn’t changed.  (Well, Chris and Honey haven’t changed either, but I just bring them along for the ride!)

Olive trees, W. Dry Creek Road

So today, while taking the long way and driving through the various wine growing regions, I started to get sad- for no apparent reason.  I think I have a clue, though.  The last six months have brought major changes, and I’ve struggled with the transitions… And there are even more on the horizon.

Some come as soon as Monday, when I start looking for a new job.  Part of the quiet contemplation as we drove came from the fact that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  After years of switching jobs, industries, etc…, this prospect is daunting and exhausting.  While I am sure that I will find my niche eventually, the road seems as narrow and windy as our off-the-beaten-path trek today.

The bright side to this is that come Monday, when I put my nose to the grindstone and start my search, I will be rested and invigorated after having some fun excursions.  Maybe this time up in my brain is just setting me up to be successful and more grounded during the changes.  Maybe the new job is right around the corner.  In the meantime, I’m still bringing home the bacon as a tutor, and I am very thankful for that.

Plus, being away does have it’s perks too.  Yesterday, I brainstormed my idea for a cookbook (watch out, Rachel Ray) and came up with a way to make our home office a more pleasant place to work (plants outside the window).

But if I moved to Sonoma, I could just be a farmer.  🙂

Red Champagne

Chris and I have been taking long weekends in Sonoma for the last 3 years. I’ll share more about them in a future post, but I want to tell you about one of the most important things we do each time. We drink this champagne:

Korbel's Rouge Champagne- best food ever!

We like sparkling wines that may be fancier, but this one holds a special place in our hearts. The Korbel winery was the first place we ever went tasting together (in 2009, on our first long weekend away), and we spent a leisurely afternoon eating lunch and drinking red champagne on their patio with Honey at our feet. Plus, the champagne is beautifully sparkly. AND it’s actually so yummy that I forgot to take a photo to show you. Oops!

Up close, in case you want to buy some

Chris and I started dating after an evening drinking champagne, so it seems fitting that a fabulous start would grow into a wonderful tradition. Today, our first stop in Sonoma was lunch and tasting at “our” little spot. It was an amazingly gorgeous day, and we sat outside under the redwoods with Di—- (doesn’t want to be mentioned) and Montana as we sipped. After the drive from San Jose, we were able to unwind and get into relaxation mode.

Gorgeous day!

Knowing that we wouldn’t be back for a while, we bought some for home… Come over, and we’ll introduce you to a great treat. {In case you’d like to order and live in a state that’s not run like it’s 1925, click here.}

Morning Glory

This morning was glorious here in the South Bay.  It rained last night, so the air was perfectly still.  If the birds hadn’t been chirping, it would have felt as if the world had stopped moving.  Because of the light, the sound, and the peacefulness, I was more conscious of my neighborhood on my daily walk.  I decided to take photos of some of the things that caught my fancy.

Honey loving her walk

January is an incredible month in San Jose.  While the leaves have just fallen off the trees over the last month or two, life quickly reappears in new blossoms.

At the Rose Garden, the bushes were all trimmed back last week, but the cherry trees are showing their tiny pink flowers.  Combine this with the green-tinged bark, and it is just beautiful.  They smell spicy and sweet.  I want to stand in front of it all day and breathe it in- fragrance and color!

Rose Garden in Winter

Cherry tree from afar

True love! Cherry blossoms up close

Birds of paradise, foxglove, and calla lilies are in their full bloom at this time of year.

It really looks like a bird!

Foxglove

Calla Lily

Fruit trees are producing too.  Lemons, avocado, and oranges are all vibrant and ripe.

Lemons

Can you see the avocado up there?

And there are signs of even more to come!  Freesias and magnolias are just around the corner.

Magnolia bud- more beauty on the way!

Luke 12:27- Consider the lilies how they grow : they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

What a great day to be aware of all that’s out there- and to be alive!

House (Beautiful)

I live in a lovely little home.  On the outside, it is kinda ratty, but inside is open and light.  It has a built-in hutch and an actual dining room, and the kitchen holds every necessary appliance (rice cooker, coffee pot, small food processor, large food processor, panini machine, air popcorn maker that makes the worst popcorn ever, and tea kettle).  It is colorful, which is just the way we like it.  The art hung on the wall is soothing and vibrant; our midcentury TV stand/bookshelf is amazing.  If you come on a day that it’s clean and you keep your eyes off the ancient carpet, it looks great!  The 1930’s bungalow suits us well because of its layout and all the sunshine it lets in.

If we could own it, we would!  (We keep trying to convince our landlord to sell it to us, to no avail.)  I had a really fun time decorating when we moved in, even on a limited budget, and this summer cleaned out all the crap from the closets.  It’s been a nice home to entertain in and grow with Chris.

Chris' graduation party- Because it was raining, our plan for dinner under the stars was foiled. Instead, we cleared out some of the furniture, rented some tables and chairs, and had set up for 14 people to eat. It was a great celebration!

I am the problem in this relationship, though.  For the past 6 months, we have been looking for a new place to live.  I’m sure you’ll find out why in future posts, but we have our reasons.

Because of this, I have spent 6 months avoiding making any major furniture purchases, doing meaningful organization, or making it my home.  I honestly believe that as soon as I find a place for everything and have the perfect pieces in each room, we will move into a house that won’t fit what I’ve bought or will not match the new place.  And that would really stink.

I realized today that this is a bad plan.  I looked around at all the little projects that I keep putting off- going through the boxes in the closets, repackaging things, weeding more stuff and donating it, getting a bookshelf for Chris to use next to his desk, buying a bed.  The procrastination just adds to the clutter and disorganization of our lives.

Some of this is due to lack of funding for the remodel- boxes, bins, furniture, and the likes really add up!  I try to find things on Freecycle, Craigslist, or at thrift stores, but those don’t have it all!  I know that the chaos really affects Chris, yet still, we don’t tackle it.  So, even though we’d like to move, I decided that we are worthy of feeling settled in our own home.

Right now, I am trying to find a new job while working full time and don’t have many extra hours in the day…  I’m going to endeavor to make a dent in these projects.  The peace of mind that will come from knowing what we have, where it is, and that everything has a place will certainly be worth it.  Instead of being a source of frustrating or guilt, my house will provide a place for us to thrive.  It will be restful, a comfort, and an escape.

Today, I finally bought the bookshelf for Chris.  Abby and Susan had to help me get over the pain of parting with an extra $70, but in the end, I’m really excited.  He is going to love it!

And in place of apathy, I am taking action.

The Dods in a clean, cute home

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