Monday, April 22, 2013

Maybe (a Little Piece of) My Heart Belongs to Hollywood, After All

The view from one of my flights home from BC.

A funny thing has begun to happen to me lately. In the midst of counting the days until I can get out of Hollywood and get up to Santa Ynez, I've begun to feel a sort of nostalgic affection for my current city. Perhaps because I know I'll be leaving it soon, this strange, sweet appreciation for it has moved to the forefront of my heart.

I've found myself smiling more often at the sight of the colorful people walking the streets. And feeling warm pangs for the tourists who ride about town in their buses, snapping pictures of everything they see.

I even had to bite my tongue on the plane ride home from Vancouver last week when I overheard the Canadians in front of me disparaging my city. "Hollywood is pretty sketchy" one of them said to the others. Like she was some expert. I wanted to tap on the back of her seat and say, "There may be some slightly rougher parts but it's not nearly as bad as you think and the people in the neighborhoods are quite nice." It's sort of just like a slightly egotistical, doped up rockstar village. It may wear too much eyeliner and curse a lot, but there's goodness underneath.

It surprised me to feel that way. After all the beheading/weird neighbor/traffic-induced instincts I've had to flee the city as soon as possible.

But there are still so many good things here. And I'm trying very hard to see and savor them over the next several months. 

I took this about a month or so ago and am astounded by how much the grapevines
have grown in such a short time. They're about 5x this size now. I do love our little
Hollywood "vineyard." It's a good start for the real one we'll have in the next couple years.

This is my favorite tree on our street. I love eucalyptus anyway, but this one makes
the most soothing rustling sounds as the wind blows through it. It's like a natural
relaxation wind chime.

Mr. W hates that we have rogue California poppies popping up in the backyard,
but I love them. They add so much cheer to the scene back there.

Yes, the weather has been so beautiful, I've spent some hours working like this.
And my ghostly white legs are ever thankful for the vitamin D.

I was delighted to partake of a little spring feast this weekend from backyard pickins.
Everything was great except that golden beet. It tasted like dirt so I had to throw it
away. But the artichoke and tomatoes were delicious.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

36: A Year in Review

I can't believe it has taken me an entire year to write about what happened to me on my 36th birthday. Last April 12th, I woke up to an email from one of the carpenters from FoodNetwork's Restaurant Impossible. He had seen my Etsy store and wanted to know if I could make him ten of the wine bottle hurricanes I had for sale. Here he is. Lynn Kegan. He's in really good shape by the way...surely he frequents the gym....

The show didn't air until August and by that time, I'd lost some major steam on the Etsy thing. Here are a couple shots of the bottle hurricanes in the renovated restaurant space:

The same day I got a call for the Etsy order, Mr. W and I went and bought a new couch. And that weekend, we threw a great wine and cheese party to celebrate the completion of Mr. W's last movie project. It seemed like 36 was going to be a great, easy-peasy year. 

And then on April 19th, our friend Pete died. And everything changed. 

It's strange how it still doesn't seem quite real that he is gone. I still picture him walking through our front door from time to time. I guess he probably does walk through that door and I just don't see him as clearly as I used to. 

Losing Pete broke open this strange sense of urgency and impermanence and clarity.

I think Mr. W and I both started looking at life differently and felt like we needed to make some important changes. So 36 became the year of change. A constant ebb and flow of undefined, yet wholly palpable change. 

I found myself feeling my way through the year, using my gut and my heart as my guides.

I enrolled in a life coach training program after ruminating on it since 2008. Mr. W and I bought our dream house. We began the never-ending process of packing up our current life and transporting it bit by bit to a new one. We got comfortable with the fact that we wouldn't be seeing each other a whole lot over the next year or so. We scheduled a multitude of flights between LAX and Vancouver. I made friends with all sorts of interesting people in Martha Beck's program. I did my first oyster shooter. I learned new ways to deal with stress and paid more attention to the small joys. I did a lot of crying and a lot of laughing. 

I feel very ready to go into this 37th year, even though I know now that there's no telling where it will go. The unexpected will creep in again and again. The change spin cycle probably won't stop. 

But that's all part of the ride. 

And this aging lady is finally beginning to be at peace with that.       

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grudge-Busting with Gratitude

I saw a new word on Facebook recently that I completely loved: Blesson. When the lesson you are forced to learn ends up being a huge blessing. I think every lesson might be a blessing. Except maybe some of those Algebra lessons from back in the day, but maybe I just don't know their purpose yet... Anywhoo...

I'm talking about lessons and grudges and gratitude over at The Path to Wonderful today. It's amazing how thankfulness can shift everything.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Acre of Weeds and Screaming Foxes

I've stayed up at our house in Santa Ynez the past two weekends and have gotten quite a taste of what rural living is really like. Having an acre of land means there's endless room for veggie gardens and succulent-scapes and our future chickens, however there's also an endless supply of weeds. They're like those errant body hairs that seem to just appear overnight.

Our sweet neighbor cleared part of the lower yard with his tractor.
I loved typing that sentence right now...

This picture so doesn't capture just how big the field of weedy grass is.
We have our work cut out for us in a major way.

In total, I spent nearly 8 hours pulling weeds and ripping out some very stubborn, rose-bush-engulfing bulbs. And I have the awful farmer's tan to prove it.

Little bastard.

The floppy green plants were taking over everything—including the roses. Not sure
what they are, but they were a beast to tear out. Mr. W filled the wheelbarrow twice
with what I removed. I think I need to buy a machete.

So much better without random 3-foot tall grasses popping up between the flowers.

Last weekend, I lucked out and had Mr. W in town to help me. He's pretty badass with the weedwacker. And he handled all the wheelbarrow runs while I showered and got ready to go wine-tasting. There is nothing better than finishing up a hard day of work in the yard with a few stops at the local tasting rooms.

I think those might have been decent plants at one time. But once they started
looking like deconstructed straw hats on steroids, we knew they needed to come out.

So the yard is in better shape. With the exception of the potential continuation of the fox situation... It all started at the beginning of March when my brother and his family stayed at the house. They were sound asleep when—somewhere from the deep recesses of the backyard—they heard a series of bloodcurdling screams. Naturally, my brother thought that someone had been brutally murdered in the structure my nieces call "the killin' shed," and that their ghost was haunting the yard.

This is my only picture of the killin' shed—from before we moved in. I promise
the yard is cleaner than it appears in this Sanford and Son shot.

A little research the next morning revealed that it was actually foxes calling each other because it was mating season. Take a listen to what it sounds like. You'll be scarred for life. 

I was fortunate enough to hear the screaming foxes myself at 2:45 a.m. one morning. What a treat. Thank goodness I'd been warned about them so I didn't go into a panic-induced seizure over the sound. 

I'm hoping the new azaleas and lavender we planted will have some sort of fox-repelling qualities. Or at least detract from the overnight-growing weeds...