Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't be afraid!

Hey guys, hope you're having a great weekend! Can you believe that Halloween is tomorrow?  I thought I'd take pictures of some of the houses all decorated for Halloween. Oak Street is the most popular street for trick or treating. They get hundreds of costumed kids and spend hundreds on candy every year. Could you imagine? So, here is a smattering of houses throughout the different neighborhoods in Laguna.

Pretty spooky, huh?
Wishing you guys a happy and safe Halloween. Don't eat too much candy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The really real housewife

Reading the LA Times today, there was an article on the "Real Housewives". They just added a new cast of characters in Beverly Hills. I'm sure there will be more antics to follow, you know, like the predictable cat fights, hair grabbing, and bitch slapping. All the things that "real" housewives really do.
Awhile back, my son was sitting with me as I watched one of these insipid TV shows, and he asked why I don't have a spot on one of these reality shows. Immediately, I knew that he was pulling my leg, but I went along with him for a laugh. See, it's not all that farfetched. In my neighborhood we had a little brush with reality show fame when Lynn Curtain and her family lived around the corner from us. Her daughter Alexa was in my oldest son's grade in school. Well, that was just before they started shooting the show. They quickly moved from that house in order to live in a grander, more mansion-like house closer to the beach in Capistrano Beach. So, it could happen, right? I mean, why couldn't I be the next "real" housewife?

Reality sucks
"What a great idea," I told him, "you're absolutely right!" As I smirked, trying not to giggle, I suggested that the camera could follow me around while I washed dishes, cleaned toilets, walked the dog and picked up his poop, ( that one really got him!) and did load after load of laundry! Who wouldn't want to watch a show like that? By now we were both seriously cracking up. And he then added to the commentary with "what about going to the grocery store, you do that almost every day? And cooking dinner, and picking up dirty underwear and socks that we leave laying around, too!" I mean really, that would be one exciting show! Isn't that what "real" housewives really do? Well, there are those who have real jobs, and then come home and do all that too.

The happy homemaker!
Don't you dare steal my idea, but I just had a brainstorm for a new insipid reality TV show! How about "The Real Maids, Gardners and Nannies of the Real Housewives." I think I'm really on to something here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanks guys!

I'm pretty much computer illiterate. Yea sure, I'm able to open a Facebook account, and I'm not too perplexed with keeping this blog going. But other than that, all that techy stuff kind of hurts my head.

So, when I finally figured out how to read my blog stats, (for you guys who don't blog, it's right there in front of your face, who knew?) it was a real treat. The stats give a blogger all kinds of cool info, like where your traffic sources are coming from, and how many pageviews you've gotten. I guess it's useful info for a blogger who can actually control her stats in order to create more revenue, not that I know anything about that. But the one thing that I did notice, (and I can't tell you how completely tickled I am about this) is that I have over 1000 pageviews! It's actually, at this moment, up to 1011!  Ahem, but who's really counting anyways?

So, a HUGE thank you to all you guys out there in cyberspace! I really appreciate you checking in on my blog every now and then. It would be great if you'd consider following me, and don't be afraid to leave me a comment every so often, too. Does it sound like I'm groveling?  Well, that is a possibility. A blogger whom I completely adore, When Red Means Go, says something like: leaving a comment on a blog is like crack for addicts. Ha, ok, so she's completely irreverent and inappropriate, (and she does have nearly 2000 followers!) but she is so, SO good at it! If you're at all sensitive to inappropriateness, PLEASE don't go to her blog, otherwise, have at it! But she does have a good point. Bloggers do love feedback!

This blogging thing is way harder than I thought it would be. I was that guy who dumbly thought, "how hard can it be?" I admit, it's a bit of an ass kicking, but I'm loving every minute of it! And it's great to know that you guys are along for the ride, too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Walk this way

After a nice, leisurely weekend, it's hard to believe this week is moving forward so quickly! It's already Tuesday? Geez, slow down already!

Well, Sunday morning Mr. R and I went for a coffee and a walk along the beach. There has been so much bad weather lately, it really felt great to take a nice walk on the beach, feel some sunshine on my face, and just take in a beautiful morning in Laguna.

Fishing and pleasure boats
Morning surfer 
The light and the clouds were so pretty. Doesn't the ocean look cold? I'm not sure what the water temp was, I didn't even put my big toe in!

View looking North
Main Beach
As the gull flies
Then we continued up to Heisler Park, and walked along the path that winds through the park.

Divers Cove
Rock with shadow
We bumped into some friends, and chatted for awhile, our faces turned to the sun. It was a pretty good start to our Sunday, and I feel grateful for another nearly perfect moment. Isn't it strange how we forget to look in our own backyards for beauty and inspiration?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

En plein air

For the past two weeks, plein air artists from near and far have come to paint in the Laguna Plein Air Painter's Association's 12th annual invitational. Brought to you by the good folks at the Laguna Art Museum, this event is steeped in history. The first artist to call Laguna Beach home was Norman St. Clair. Living in Pasadena at the time, St. Clair came to Laguna in about 1903, and is considered to be the first artist to establish a studio here in town. Finding the light and subject matter to be of top quality, he began to urge other artist friends to paint here. With notable painters such as Granville Redmond, William Wendt, Edgar Payne among others, Laguna had gained the title of "artists colony." And we have clung to that title ever since.
William Wendt - The Mantle of Spring - 1917
The view northbound at Sleepy Hollow Beach

Loving history and art as I do, I can't tell you how great it was to see the artists working away, capturing our landscapes and seascapes in their own unique ways. But as always, there was a hitch. Nearly every day of those two weeks was dreary and drizzly. Well, that's no big surprise for us. With the weather we've had all summer long, and now into the fall, we warm blooded Southern Californians are finally kind of warming up to this weird, unusual gloom. Nowadays, we jokingly say that we're from Laguna Beach, Oregon. Yea, it's been that bad. But I couldn't help but feel sort of bad for these artists who had traveled from all over the country, expecting warm, sunny days, and that wonderful autumn light that Laguna is famous for. Oh well, sorry about that! It did however, make me really curious as to how they would individually paint the fog, clouds and gloom.

So, this past Saturday was the end of the event. All of the artists came together at the Laguna Art Museum, and hung their work for the public to view. And it was really cool to see how so many of the artists painted in muted tones, and how they somehow made the clouds and fog part of their subject. Ok, here it comes, but I forgot my camera! So, unfortunately you won't be able to see what the heck I'm talking about. Darn, I hate when that happens! Well, there's always next year, right? Anyways, here are some of the artists works that I stole off the internet. I think these were all painted in the last 2 weeks, but there were so many more I wish you guys could have seen! 

Jeff Sewell - Gold on the Horizon
Debra Groessner - Crystal Cove Memories
Gavin Brooks - Laguna Evening Walk
Daniel Aldana - Victoria Beach
Paul Kratter - South Laguna Light

And last but not least:

Ronaldo Macedo _ Laguna Morning Study
It was really fun meeting a few of the artists, and seeing their distinctly different styles. Oh, and I can't forget to tell you the best thing. They were actually selling their work! In this economy, that's close to a miracle. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Once hidden

I am addicted to social media. I don't think I need an intervention, yet, but I may be getting close. Most mornings when I get up out of bed, I make my coffee, which in itself is an irreplaceable ritual, then head for the computer. I force myself to check email first, just in case there is something of importance I have to face, then on to my guilty pleasure, Facebook. I get such pleasure scanning what my Facebook "friends" are thinking about, looking at the New York Times headlines, checking out what the folks at NPR are discussing, trying to pay attention to the Dalai Lama's words of wisdom for the day. It makes me happy. I guess it makes me feel more connected in this disconnected world we live in.
Yup, even the  Dalai Lama's on Facebook
I find Facebook to be a fairly peaceful place. Usually my "friends" are supportive, they share a kind word and give each other encouragement, but yesterday I had to actually hide one of my "friends".  Has this happened to you? So this guy was a neighbor, and our kids hung out together when they were little. I've always known our political and religious backgrounds were different, but that really shouldn't be an issue on Facebook. We can all agree to be adults and get along, right? Well, for the last few weeks he's been posting stuff that has been really getting under my skin. Intolerant stuff. And more specifically, intolerant stuff in the name of Christianity. So, this has been going on, and I am becoming more and more agitated. Apparently, I was alone in my agitation, because all his "friends" were agreeing with him, and adding even more aggressive, intolerant spew to the mix, all in the name of Jesus Christ.

If you're Christian, are you Christ-like?
I just couldn't take it anymore. Every time he posted something, I would actually write a response, pointing out his un-Christianlike behavior, but then I'd quickly delete it. Why do I care what this guy has to say anyways?! In my mind I gave him 3 chances. He blew the first chance with a post that said; To do list: pray, vote & buy more ammo. Really, I thought? Is that what Jesus would do? I became incensed! This guy was making me crazy! Ok, just ignore it, he gets 2 more chances. A few days later he posts that he "hates liars". What? This is the same guy who cheated on his wife, and broke up their marriage a few years back. His "friends" all commented on how liars are disgusting pigs, and liars should go straight to Hell. I guess he and his "friends" have pretty short memories.  Again, I became enraged! Why is this guy getting to me like this? The third chance was used up with a comment that was something about how he was seriously irritated that the mall was making room for Muslims to put down their prayer rugs so that they can pray, and ended with a "WTF!?". Oh, and if it were Christians trying to pray, they would immediately be barred! Poor Christians! Yet again, his "friends" added to his rant with even more brainiac statements. Trying to be patient, I gave him another chance before his third chance was used up. I really was trying! When he posted something about God, in His absolute wisdom, not giving him a girl child, because there were some teen boys that he was going to beat down, I turned the other cheek. Although, I was being driven completely insane, I let it slide, no contrary comment left by me, don't ask me why.

But finally, enough was enough, and with much trepidation, I hit the hide button. I couldn't help but think that this guy's intolerance has made me intolerant! Now I can't help but question myself. Have I become just as intolerant as these crazy people? I mean, what would you have done?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time flies

Today is Mr. R.'s and my 22nd anniversary. It sure doesn't feel like it's been 22 years, well, until I looked at our nearly forgotten, dusty wedding photo album. We were no spring chickens, both of us were feeling pretty mature at 29 years old. But looking at those photos now, we looked so very young, and even less mature and prepared for what was about to unfold.
Me and my Dad. 
Ellen, my maid of honor, and John, the best man

Marriage is an interesting, and intense journey, to say the least. Living with another person while trying to remain kind and loving is not always the easiest thing to do. And, believe me there are some days that we've botched that mission completely. I really don't have any amazing tips to divulge for a happy, long marriage. Maybe, if somebody desperately pressed me for answers I'd tell them that I think it's just taking one day at a time, (like AA?! Sheesh!) and forgiving one another for our dumb mistakes.
Looking good, kids!
I always thought that at some point we'd feel we were safe from divorce. But lately our friends marriages are crumbling all around us. In my own observations I've realized that couples are never safe, and that complacency is something that actually contributes to divorce. In a perfect world, you would appreciate each other every day. Note to self, start making it a perfect day as many days as possible.

See you in 22 years!
So, happy anniversary, Mr. R., and thanks for 22 fun, eventful, often crazy, sometimes calm years. Life keeps us moving forward, and I really hope we can continue moving forward together.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A night to remember

Hungry kids are in every community, in every city and town across our great country. With the economy still suffocating, the problem is only getting worse. I learned about this appalling truth from a documentary called The Motel Kids of Orange County, written by Alexandria Pelosi. There are hundreds of struggling people living in our very communities who are trying to raise their families while desperately trying to keep any sort of roof over their heads.
And sadly, their kids are hungry. The documentary was shocking, mainly because Orange County, CA is one of the richest places in the world. In the shadows of Disney Land, the self titled "happiest place on earth", there are hundreds of kids who are living in such squalor, that sometimes they can go days without a bite to eat.
Finding toys in a dumpster
Chef Bruno, of the Anaheim White House Restaurant, is one person who is making a difference in these kids lives. Everyday he makes pasta for these hungry children, and delivers it to the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim. For over 5 years now, the kids have at least one hot meal which is made by one of the top chefs in Orange County. He is only one man, but he's one man who is doing so much. And the amount of mouths he feeds keep growing. When he started this program, he was feeding about 30 kids. Now he feeds close to 200, and he has a goal to feed 300, because he knows there are kids out there who just don't know that there is a safe, friendly place to go, where they can even get a hot meal.
Plates of spaghetti
A friend of mine, Sandie Ward, and her husband Joe decided to try to help Chef Bruno out by raising one months budget for the meals. Each and every month, for more than 5 years, Chef Bruno pays $2500 out of pocket to feed these kids. So, as you can imagine, every ounce of help is greatly appreciated. As the economy slows, more and more kids become homeless and hungry, but the restaurant is slower, too. Yet Chef Bruno would never think of not feeding these kids. It has, however, made him a little more creative. Now he asks his patrons to contribute one package of pasta when they come to dine. It's so little to ask, really.

Sandie & Joe Ward with Chef Bruno
It was an inspiring evening, the kind that makes your heart feel full for doing just a little bit to help out. Chef Bruno explained to us why it was so important for him to bring so much hope to these kids. His life is a story in itself. He came from a large family, and was one of many children raised in small village in the French countryside. His family was so poor that the neighbors often took pity on them and donated their hand me down clothes to Bruno and his brothers and sisters. Although they didn't have much, his mother would never turn away a hungry friend. There was always enough of pasta to share with others. So his devotion to his Mother continues with the devotion he shows to these kids. There are all kinds of heroes in our communities, and Chef Bruno deserves a medal of honor for being a hero to these motel kids of Anaheim.