North to Seattle!

We’re packing our bags and heading north to Seattle for the American Bookseller’s Association Winter Institute 9. A place to get energized and learn more about how to do my job better. We’re both going so it should be quite fun, especially since we’ll be hanging out with my buddy Sally and her adorable Melinda for the weekend.
Expect photos and perhaps a video.
Then we’re home for a week and off to the Caribbean for much needed week on a cruise ship. Ahhh, I can feel the sun and sea air already.

Things observed: You can pack for back to back trips in very separate suitcases if you go to extreme opposite ends of the continent for each.
Housesitters are not that tough to find if you ask around.
Work multiplies just before a trip. A new camera lens makes everything sparkly and new. Well, it will once it gets here.

Away we went

Sure the trip to Portland was wonderful. We visited family and good friends. Portland to St.Helens was lovely because you get to go through Scappoose.
But then I went to Kansas City, Mo. I’d never been there before and they hadn’t had that much snow in a millionty years. Or 50. Or something. It was beautiful, that’s for sure, but delayed departure for a day. Because a plane slid off the runway. Dumb plane. It did inspire me to make a little movie trailer though.

It so helps creativity to have good friends to travel with.
And thus is born projects that make present moment happiness last.

Things observed- it can be very cold in Kansas City, it’s good to defy the desk clerk and walk for a mile in the snow- at night- for barbecue, good friends are golden, friends who make you laugh even more so.

Away we go!

A weekend in Oregon is upon us. A little family time and good friend time is just what the doctor ordered. It’s going to be cold and damp and familiar and that I thin will be a good thing. Camera packed! Here we go!

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Fall

The season is turning a bit and I’m delighted. I love a little nip in the air, the quandary over whether to wear shorts to work or not. I do try to prolong the wearing of shorts as long as possible and now it’s not because I dress like a teenage boy, it’s because I get so warm at 50 that I welcome the ventilation.

The leaves are falling off the trees and walks almost always involve shuffling through the crunchy piles. We only have three pumpkins this year, down from 6 last year. Just wasn’t a great year for growing things. The tomatoes are okay, but not as bountiful. Of course, with a little more TLC the garden may have thrived, but it’s been a busy summer. And with what? Not much to show for it- where does the time go? The weeds grow a foot from one week to another. Or was that a month ago I was last out there? The hammock looks neglected. I don’t know how it does that, but it does. Maybe it’s just my longing for all the time I want to plant, garden, read, relax, and cook, as well as work, be politically active and aware, see friends, work on house projects and meet obligations. I think we get more passionate about the things we get involved in as we age, and that makes it much harder to give something up in order to make the time for something else. Always comes down to balance doesn’t it?

Things observed: Very little just happens, we have to put energy into it. Plants and people need care on a daily basis. There will never be enough time to do everything unless the list is pruned wisely. It’s a beautiful day. Every day. It’s easy to forget that. Doing something unexpected and nice for someone else is a really great manifestation of pmh.

Community

I love me some community. I grew up in a very small town and understood what it meant from an early age. Now I live in a very large metropolitan area and have managed to create or participate in communities all around me.

I have a wonderful community at my workplace. It’s a book store and the regulars are quality people who make up a community of readers, disjointed as they may be or as connected as it seems we all are some days. Someone will have a need, we try to fill it. Might be a book, might be an apartment. Or someone will drop by with homegrown tomatoes. There’s always someone with a fascinating bit of information or a recommendation for a book, play, movie or event. These folks make my daily life’s work worthwhile.

I have a wonderful community of neighbors. We watch out for each other. We trade veggies in the fall. We share lemons and keep an eye on each others’ house when we’re away. We share our yard waste bins and help each other with home improvement projects. We make suggestions for ways to keep our homes safe and what color to paint and how to best store the tools. These folks are people I can count on to be there when I need help and make my home life wonderful.

I have an amazing community of chosen family. We’ve celebrated together, we’ve laughed, cried, worked, planned, shared food and wine, and then shared more food and wine. We’ve traveled together, we’ve had falling outs and reunions, children, pets and partners. These folks fill my life with love and shared history. We’ll all be together for a birthday this weekend at the beach and I just came across pictures from 15 years ago doing the very same thing.

And now I have a new community. I joined an online group whose premise is that there’s a month’s worth of prompts and each day you post a photograph for that day’s prompt. I love the creativity, the immediacy, and the challenge of thinking creatively every day and getting feedback. Some of their photos take my breath away, some of their interpretations make me envious, some of their imagery makes me cry. But it’s quickly become much more than an art project. With images come stories, and from stories come comments and discussions. Someone rightly said that it’s like the book If You Give A Mouse a Cookie. One thing inevitably leads to another, and another.  One post lead to a discussion of silent husbands with chest pains, to faulty pediatricians, to past relationships, to communications styles.  All in the course of an afternoon in bits and bites. These people share themselves freely, live all over the US and Australia, and care deeply about each other. One has a family member who had a sudden medical emergency and others jumped in to auction off items to raise money for her. Mind you, they’re auctioning things to each other. And most have never met each other in person. These folks remind me that when you say yes to opportunities and open your heart, you get back so very much more than you could ever give.

Things observed: community can come in many forms, and where you least expect it. Creativity is something I crave. Amazing photos can be taken with a phone camera. Some of the best adventures are told by the best storytellers. And there’s more than enough love to go around if you just let it. And, I love my communities.

A day on the range.

A full day in Virginia City started with breakfast at our b&b Edith Palmer House. Highly recommended by the way.

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Not your standard bagel buffet. Then off to explore. We started at the very old cemetery.

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Pretty cool. Then it was off to take a short train ride to Gold Hill with a conductor who had the corniest jokes.

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Off to the Palace Saloon for some vittles and sarsparilla.

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The Bucket of Blood was next and there was a great cowboy band playing. All day there were people on the street in period Western dress and all the men were carrying guns. This afternoon most of them were at the Bucket dancing.

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I would say that we’re at the mouth of one of the smallest but deepest mines on the mountain. That in it’s day, this mine was counted on for cash to rebuild San Francisco after the quake. But it would all be a lie. It’s a tool shed on the property we’re staying at. But it is still pretty cool.
Tomorrow we gamble in Tahoe. Just for a change of pace.

Things observed: there is a lot of live music here, and most of it is really good. The karaoke folks, not so much. In the morning and evening, it is absolutely quiet here. No traffic, no radios, no yelling. I had forgotten what real quiet was. Must have more. Cemeteries are cool. The older the better. 100 miles is a long way to see across. There is some really tacky silver. Harleys are big. And loud. And the riders are nice. House made fudge is yummy. And there is a whole lot to see in a weekend and saying yes to a weekend away now and then should be easier to say yes to. Oh, and I love the west.

Virginia City

That drive from Oakland to Sacramento is brutal. But once into the foothills the scent of the dry earth and pines and madrones and air is intoxicating. We were at a wonderful Mexican restaurant for dinner, listening to a classical guitarist, watching the sun go down over the desert. Then a guy in a cowboy hat goes over to chat with him. Then takes his guitar, sits down and starts playing and singing. After the first tune, he says “don’t underestimate a hillbilly.” no kidding. We cheered for more. PMH all around. Tomorrow we explore.
Tonight there is only the sound of the breeze in the trees and crickets. PMH.

Another Adventure

Needing a weekend away, we’re heading for Virginia City, Nevada. Why? Well, I went there as a kid and have always wanted to go back. Old west town, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, mines, old buildings, the whole nine yards. And Em has graciously agreed to go too. So we’ll see what’s what, get away for a bit, and tell you all about it.  Yee haw!

Happy Summer (brrrr)

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, very warm day! Today, the first day of summer, and my day off this week, was overcast, windy and chilly. At least by Northern California standards. I had errands to run, two out of three were thwarted by things beyond my control. I had work to do but couldn’t seem to settle into anything so I cleaned up in the house and made up the guest room.

Our friend arrived from Philly and things took a much more fun turn. We went to my favorite Chinese restaurant, had one of my favorite dishes and all was right with the world. Pretty much.

Things observed: I’m not good at trying to relax. Yes I read for a while but just couldn’t sustain it. I have projects to do, but rambled and fidgeted. And yet, in the midst of all that, I got to see a lovely friend, eat good food, and experience PMH anyway. That’s the way it should be. I’m trying.