Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whose life is this, anyways?

Do you ever feel like your life is not your own? Between my two kids, my husband, and even the dog, sometimes I just feel like they get first dibs, and I get whatever is left over. It's kind of becoming an issue here. I know the kids are not going to be around a whole lot longer, but sometimes it would be nice to be off the clock. Just punch out, tell them to save any questions or comments until tomorrow when I return! Or how about some time off for good behavior? Maybe a vacation?

The firstborn has car trouble, "mom, you've got to come right now!", younger needs money for food, because he doesn't like what I make, "hurry!". School needs money for the uniforms, "right now!". The dog has to get walked. Dishes need doing, laundry doesn't do itself, floors, ceilings, windows. It seems like everybody and everything else gets priority! And, the thing is, the only time anybody notices my work is when it's NOT done! Something's gotta give!

I know a lot of moms. Some of them work, some go to school, some play tennis, some like to shop. How come they get to have lives?
I can't take it anymore!
I truly have to work on this. I've got to regain some part of myself before I go completely nuts! And, if things don't start changing around here, I'm thinking that's not too far away. So, the question is, where the heck do I start?!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy birthday, dad

My dad turned 82 yesterday. Normally that would be cause for a big celebration, 82 years, that's a long life! But unfortunately, my dad is one of the statistics. He's got Alzheimer's.
My family is pretty lucky, though. My dad is in a home, so we know he's safe. It was an agonizing decision, but the reality is, my mum just couldn't care for him 24 hours a day. She was exhausting herself. I live 3000 miles away from my folks, so I'm not much help. But my brother and sisters are there and help a lot, even still, the every day stuff was just way too much for my mum to deal with.
My dad

Last weekend at the surf contest, they announced over the loud speaker that a 59 year old woman with Alzheimer's had gotten lost on the beach. It was a really crowded day, and I'm sure they took their eyes off her for only a split second, and she was gone. When I heard this, I just broke down. I mean, can you imagine the panic that her family members must have felt when they realized she was gone? Meanwhile, the police helicopter began to circle overhead, and even a sheriff boat patrolled the the water, just past the surf break. Later that day, a friend told me that they heard she had been found, unhurt. Relief.

Like I said, my dad is in a safe place. Living so far away, that means more than I can put into words. And knowing that my mum, my sisters and brother are there to visit him and support each other is about all that anyone can ask for. Alzheimer's is a thief. It not only robs the person who has it of their memories, their life's worth, really. But it also robs the rest of us of the person that we knew and depended on. My family is actually planning on having a birthday party for my dad this Sunday. I won't be able to make it, but it really touches my heart that everyone still makes the effort to bring some happiness into his world. Even if he may not remember it, the rest of us will have that memory to hold onto. I hope my dad has fun at his party, and that my family sends me lots of pictures. Oh, and dad? Happy birthday, I hope you never forget that I love you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What happened to summer?

Summer is finally here. It took awhile to make it, but the windows are finally opened, the comforter is finally off the bed, and the living is a little bit easier. On the coast, we usually have some fog in spring and early summer. We call it May- gray, and  June- gloom, but this year we had July- ??( oh, why!), and even part of August- was a bust!
Gloomy day mid July
We are all more than happy that the summer sun has finally peeked out. But, hang on. School starts in a little less than 2 weeks! Now that summer is here, it'll be over before you know it!
In autumn we have the most amazing sunsets. The marine layer recedes, and Catalina Island becomes the focal point. The other evening, we had our first Catalina sunset. Pretty as a picture! The air was like silk, with the temperatures hovering in the low 70's.
Catalina Island is there, I promise!
 I absolutely love autumn! It's probably my most favorite season here in So. Cal., but I can't help but feel that we've gotten ripped off of our summer! Our entire June, July and even the part of August was gloomy, cold and drippy. We finally have a taste of summer, only to have school and other responsibilities breathing down our collars.

Ah well, and so it goes. The trick now is to enjoy the little bit of summer that's left. I still have a few things to check off my summertime to do list. Ride the trolley for one, and go to the Sawdust Festival. The clock is ticking fast, time to get a little summertime under my belt before it's in the rear view mirror.

Monday, August 23, 2010

49th Brooks Street Classic

There's pretty much nothing more local than the Brooks Street Classic. Surfers from only the 92651, somehow find out when this event is taking place, and sign up that very day to compete. For about 5 years in a row, the event didn't happen for lack of waves, but this year, the sun was out, the sets were rolling in and the 49th Brooks Street Classic was as much fun as ever. Two days of watching pros and amateurs alike, going head to head, to find out who gets this years title. In my mind, nothing could be better.

Both of my sons were among the surfers this year. It's pretty nerve wracking as a mom watching your guys compete against each other. And especially not easy when the younger pulls off an advancement, but the older doesn't. But that's all part of surfing. A lot of skill, with some luck sprinkled in, too.
14-17's waiting for the repechage heat to begin
my guys in red and orange
Egos do get bruised from time to time, and I guess that's the way we learn humility. But hey, I'm still learning that lesson, so I'm guessing it'll take my boys some time to learn it, too.

Bobby Chapman makes it look easy
A perfect peak, but nobody's in position

The weekend was perfect. Friends, challenging and watching friends, as they strive for something bigger, something to be proud of. It really is how local legend and lore is made.

Local Team USA surfer Taylor Pitz snaps the top
Looking for that bottom turn

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The death of an Italian suit

My son, who is about to be a high school senior this year, had his school pictures taken the other day. I was so proud of him! He got his nice suit out and tried it on to see my reaction. I almost broke out into applause! He looked so handsome, so grown up.
So, off we went to get to his appointment in time. Things went well at the photography studio, and his pictures didn't even come out that bad. All was well in the teen world.
The second we got home, he was out the door again, meeting his friends at the beach. When did we put a turnstile on the front door? Anyways, some time had passed when I went into the bathroom. There on the floor was his T-shirt and the Italian suit jacket. It looked as though there should be a chalk line and yellow caution tape around the perimeter! Yes, it's true that the Italian suit was from a thrift store, but it's still an Italian suit! And now he's gone and killed it.
I'm not sure when the services will be held, or if he'll be held accountable, but I did my best to resuscitate it. Poor thing, never had a chance. Italian suit, or dirty socks, all things land on the floor at the hands of the 17 year old man child.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fire season

Nothing strikes terror into the hearts and minds of Lagunans as much as the four letter word FIRE. Back in October of 1993, nearly 400 homes burnt to the ground in a devastating firestorm. I remember it so well. We were not living in Laguna at the time. We had bought our first house in Costa Mesa, and our first baby was six months old. It was terrifying as we watched from that strange, distant perspective, not knowing if some of our friends were losing their homes.
People are amazing though, and after the shock and sadness wore off just a little, some folks sold their lots, but many others rebuilt. And 17 years later, the hills are alive again.
So, as we approach the height of fire season again, (you may have winter, spring summer, and fall, but we have winter, spring, summer, and fire) we hope that we are better prepared both in prevention and in defense.
One way our city is handling fire prevention is with our very own herd of goats. yup, you heard me, goats. As we all know, goats eat everything. From tires, to couches, and pretty much everything else. So, it's a natural that we put them to work, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, doing what they do best.

Goats at work
And I have to admit that some weird spiritual feeling washes over me as I watch those goats chomp away. Seriously, I kid (he he) you not! There's something about the natural circle of life thing that just takes over. Sometimes, I even get a little weepy. Ok, so I'm an old softy, so what?
The whole goat thing can't be without some controversy, though. Some environmentalists claim that the goats are too good at what they do. They eat the indigenous plants, too. And not just a nibble,  they devour them, leaving no trace. Being somewhat of an environmentalist myself, I understand their concerns, but I really love those goats! So, for now I'm on the fence on the goat issue. Even if the fence is electric.
Hey, is that a native plant?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A life well lived

Our community has been touched by a huge loss. Claes Andersen, owner and pastry chef of the Hotel Laguna, has passed away. Although I had met him several times, I didn't really know Claes personally. His daughter and my son were classmates for a short time, and I can tell you from what I do know of him, he was a man who gave to many.
The Hotel Laguna first opened it's doors in 1888
Claes was a community minded man, and was a big supporter of both the Laguna Canyon Foundation, and Schoolpower, often holding fundraisers in his world class restaurant. He was a community builder, a man who brought us together. Back in 1993 when 391 homes burned to the ground, his included, he opened the hotel to the firefighters and neighbors who needed a place to stay. He then got up very early the next morning, and baked his wonderful pastries for his guests, wearing the only clothes he had left, the ones that he was wearing the previous day. When disaster hit again, and Bluebird Canyon slid in 2005, he again offered rooms and meals to those who lost their homes.

The landmark Hotel Laguna today

Andersen loved our town. We were lucky that he decided to call Laguna Beach home. Throughout his life here, his philosophy was all about giving back. He will be missed, as a chef and hotel owner, as a man who gave to so many, and as a piece of Laguna's history. Thank you, Claes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer reading

My two sons still have their summer reading to conquer. They are not showing much excitement about this, so I took it upon myself to go to the library and take out both of their books. I was certainly impressed by the chosen books. My 17 year olds book is Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and my 14 year olds is "Death Be Not Proud", by John Gunther. I am completely embarrassed to say, that prior to picking them up at the library, I hadn't read either one. So, I picked up the latter, and began to read. "Death Be Not Proud" is not a long book, only 205 pages, but it packs a powerful punch! It's a memoir, a parents view of their son's struggle with a brain tumor, and ultimately, death. As a parent, this book had a profound effect on me, and I couldn't put it down!

Here is a quote from the last chapter of the book, "A Word from Frances", the boys mother. This is sort of long, but it touched me so deeply, I feel I have to share it with you now.
"I did not for one thing feel that God has personally singled out either him or us for any special act, either of animosity or generosity. In a way I did not feel that God was personally involved at all. I have all my life had a spontaneous, instinctive sense that the reality of God, in faith, beyond ordinary belief. I have always prayed to God and talked things over with Him, in church and out of church, when perplexed, or very sad, or very happy. During Johnny's long illness, I prayed continually to God, naturally. God was always there, He sat beside us during the doctor's consultations, as we waited the long vigils outside the operating room, as we rejoiced in the miracle of brief recovery, as we agonized when hope ebbed away, and the doctors confessed there was no longer anything they could do. They were helpless, and we were helpless, and in His way, God, standing by us in our hour of need, God in His infinite wisdom and mercy and loving kindness, God in all His omnipotence, was helpless too."
What amazing thoughts. And,  the ability to put those words together is stunning! But more amazingly, here's a poem the boy, Johnny, had written as he lived his life, and asked questions until the very end.

Unbeliever's Prayer

Almighty God
forgive me for my agnosticism;
For I shall try to keep it gentle, not cynical,
nor a bad influence.

And O!
if Thou art truly in the heavens,
accept my gratitude
for all Thy gifts
and I shall try
to fight the good fight. Amen

What a story! What a life!
Hopefully, my son will read this wonderful piece of literature. How can I convince him what a magnificent read this is? Meanwhile, I've still got "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" to sink my teeth into! And, plenty of time before the books are due.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Northbound? No way!

Southbound #4

Along the way

Heisler Park

Almost there!

Disneyland claims to be the happiest place on earth, but I think they've got it wrong. The happiest place on earth really has to be the Laguna Beach trolleys. I swear, you hop on board and are immediately transcended to that happy place. You doubt me?  Well, you'll just have to try it for yourself sometime. And, that's what I intended to do last Friday. You see, Mr. Right meets his buddies every Friday evening after work. I give him some unwinding time with his friends, then usually meet up with the gang a little later. So, last Friday I had the brilliant idea to climb aboard the trolley, and travel several blocks North. I'd get a little taste of that happy touristy thing, and be in a great mood to join the guys. I parked the car, and headed for the trolley stop. Trolleys are supposed to come every 15 minutes, but I had been waiting on that bench for awhile. By now, 3 trolleys had passed, all going South. Dammit, the darn thing never came! Good thing it was a beautiful day, and it was not a very long walk. I just had had my heart set on a trolley adventure. Oh well, I walked along, keeping one eye looking backwards, so I could get to the next stop in time, but no Northbound trolley ever came! In front of the Hotel Laguna, I spotted the 4th Southbound trolley loading up. Giving up on any chance of trolley hopping, I crossed the street, and walked along the boardwalk at Main Beach, up the stairs and through Heisler Park. And you know what? It was a great walk, and I was in a great mood! Mission accomplished. Well, maybe half the mission, anyways.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ah, summer vacation

View of T Street surf break

The Beachcomber

View of the pier

Last Saturday, our friends asked us to join them on their summer vacation, down at the well known Beachcomber Inn in San Clemente. Vacation? San Clemente is only 2 towns away from Laguna. More like a STAY- cation. What a brilliant idea, I thought! Instead of being holed up in airports, and trying to cram your oversized luggage into whatever economy size rent-a-car the keys you were given fit into, just drive 15 minutes south, down PCH, unload a couple of bathing suits, and crack open a cold one! And really, it was great! The vibe was buzzing with happy, vacationing people, and local kids hanging out. The setting couldn't have been better. The Beachcomber sits right above the beach on the south side of the pier. So, you have an amazing birds eye view of the beach below, and at sunset, the pier is perfectly silhouetted against the evening sky. For dinner, we dined at a sushi restaurant that I've driven past dozens of times without noticing, that was fabulous. And, our friends were so relaxed, and loving life, enjoying their vacation full tilt. Generally, my family doesn't take a summer vacation. But, next summer? Maybe we'll pick a spot close to home, and try out a stay-cation of our own.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Isn't she great?

Treasures and trash

Admittedly, I am a trash collector. Really, you might say? Well, to me, it's more about the treasures. If you ask my husband, or any other logical thinker, they may call my collections trash. Maybe it's my New England roots, but I unabashedly, and completely adore flea markets. It's one of the most favorite of all my guilty pleasures. All those wonderful, quirky things just waiting to find a new home, a new place of honor. It's almost more than I can take! Today, heading out to the Irvine Swap Meet, I got a really late start. Finally, I made my escape around 10:30. Usually, I try to leave at the very latest by 7:30. Who knows how many wonderful things have already been snatched up getting there so late? I was pleasantly surprised to see the place packed, all those happy people, in their element, milling about and haggling for better pricing. Some days, I don't even barter for one single thing. It's simply a pleasure to touch and see all those lovely trinkets, jewels, pottery, oh, you name it, and it's there. Today, the clouds parted and the sky got a little brighter when I saw two amazing Russell Woodard wire chairs. Both with rocking bases. They were of course, completely out of my price range. What are the odds? So, I asked the seller for her business card, and for the next few days, weeks, or maybe even months, I'll try to convince Mr. Right just how badly we need these chairs! Wish me luck! A girl can dream, can't she?