Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year!

I keep humming the song, Talkin' bout a revolution, you know the one by Jefferson Starship? But instead of revolution, I'm thinking resolution!

I usually don't make resolutions on New Years Eve. If I ever did, they'd be broken by mid-morning the next day. I'm not the disciplined type. But this year feels different somehow. This year I'm going to make just a couple and try to keep them. Keep it simple.

Here's what I'm resolute about for next year: 

To be a kinder, gentler person. If we're divulging truth here, let's just say that I have become a little bit of a, hmmm, how do you say... bitch grump lately, so I thought this would be a good thing to work on for the next 50 years, or so.

And with that goes being more forgiving. Of myself, especially. Oh, maybe Mr R and the kids, too. Buddy, my dog? No way, he peed on my carpet a few days ago, and there's NO forgiveness for that!

I think that's enough to work on for now. What about you? Do you make resolutions? And if you do, have you ever kept them?

Wishing you a very Happy New Year! I sure hope this year we'll all follow our paths and make the world a little bit better. 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Bloglessness is a word

 I am a very bad blogger. I am such a bad blogger, I shouldn't even call myself a blogger! I mean what other blogger doesn't even blog?

It all started with my damn back. It's still the same, bulging disc and no feeling in my leg, just in case you were wondering. It's been over two months, by the way. Then there were a couple more medical scares, and I swore that I wouldn't bore you with  boring details about bulging discs, lack of general good health and frailty. I mean really, I am completely bored by it myself! Why don't I just shut up already!

So, with all this fun and frivolity, I really don't have anything to say.

I can't even tell you how much I'm looking forward to 2012. A new year means a fresh start, right? RIGHT?

Anyways, there are plenty of things that I am grateful for out there in the world.

Here are a few of my favorite things... (you can start singing along at any time)

And of course, I can't leave out Mr. R and our two kids. 

If I don't talk to you before the holidays, here's wishing you a bundle of joy, world peace, perfect health and prosperity in the new year! Did I leave anything out? 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

I didn't know that

Maybe I should turn this blog into a step by step medical navigation blog, now that I'm on this path of medical intervention for a leg that doesn't feel anything. How exciting would that be? We could all discuss aging, how bad it sucks, aches & pains, and all sorts of other pains in our backs, necks and asses. Sounds fun, right?

Ah well, I'll try to indulge myself in this stuff as little as possible. No really, I promise! 

But today I'm going for it, ready or not.

Had the MRI yesterday and learned something about myself that I never knew before. I am claustrophobic! 

As they were inching me head first into the machine, I became completely full of anxiety and thought my heart and my brain were going to explode. The only things that kept me from jumping off the table and running far, far away were, 1. I can't feel my left leg, so I probably wouldn't get very far, and 2. I would have to start all over again if I ever want to feel my leg again. So, I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to even my breathing and not panic for the next half hour of torture, which, by the way, felt like a lifetime. I am extremely proud of myself for not pressing the panic button until the very end. Good girl.

The results of the MRI show that I have a bulging disc that is pinching my sciatic nerve. Now I have to see a neurologist. A neurologist, folks! Shit, do you think they'll find more wrong with me than just a pinched nerve? 

I got the referral back, called to make an appointment, but the doctor that I was assigned to has broken the machine I need. Now I'm now waiting (and waiting) for a second referral to come back. 

Aren't HMO's great? 

Meanwhile, I keep thinking that my leg will magically heal itself, kind of like that liver I keep abusing. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

What do I know?

I recently watched one of the Ted Talks by performance poet, Sarah Kay. Per Ted Talks, she was courageous, funny and inspirational to listen to, but something she said really struck a chord with me. She was asking each person in the audience to list 3 things that they know to be true, then listed her own 3 things.

So, that got me to thinking about my own 3 things. After thinking and thinking, scratching my noggin, and banging my head against the wall, I realized I don't know much to be absolutely true. And on any given day, what I know to be true one day may be completely and utterly false the next.

But anyways, here are my 3 things that I know to be true today:

1. Bad things come in increments higher than 3. (but hopefully not more than 10 or 11)

2. There are usually good things that come alongside bad things.

3. Not being able to feel your left leg stinks.

Ok, so I'm wondering what your 3 things are?

I'll keep you posted on my number of bad things after I get my MRI appointment set...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My new project!

Like I don't have enough going on, right? Well, if you must know, I really don't have enough going on, but taking on a huge project like this is still pretty daunting.

You may not know this, but my father-in-law, James Strombotne is an unbelievably incredible artist. He's been painting since the mid '50's, and has been garnered with awards and fellowships and has really famous people collecting his art.

My all time fave Strombotne painting
Red Nude
With the hopes of even more exposure in this tech savvy world, and with the help of my husband and his computer guy, Nick Brunson, because normal people cannot understand anything about Wordpress, I have taken on another blog called Studio Strombotne. Although we're still building and working out kinks, (Wordpress, right?) I feel its time to unveil the canvas. (Like the arty reference? Canvas, get it?)

And I can't tell you how thrilled we are about James' art being included in the Pacific Standard Time art event of the century!

So, I hope you stop by and visit, and let me know what you think about the new project! But please be kind, we still are changing and tweeking here and there, but I'd love your bloggy input, too!

See you there! I mean, here!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When life gives you tomatoes...

So what if it's the hottest day of the year. I have too many tomatoes, and by god, I'm going to attempt to can them!

Down to the garden I go to collect LOTS of tomatoes. Did I mention that it's down 27 stairs? And the chicken coop, did I also mention that it's down 27 stairs?

Oh, and speaking of chickens... today when I went to go feed my precious hens, one was missing. Yup, gone. Trying not to panic, and trying to assess the situation, hmmm... no sign of blood and guts, so no coyote or raccoon had gotten her. Everything was locked up tight. I looked inside the coop, outside in the run. She was gone! Wha? As I scratched my head, I decided to start poking around in the coop. I started to move the food can, that's when I saw her. She was all squashed up in the corner. My heart sunk.

Wait a minute, she was nesting! Did you know that chickens don't always ever want to lay in their nesting boxes (that we so carefully built for them)? Nope, they want to lay wherever the heck they want. And really, who can blame them? So under missy chicken was 4 eggs she and the others had tucked away. As of now, the egg laying count is 5 out of 8 of the hens!! Hooray!! Maybe, just maybe, I'll never have to buy $4 eggs again!! Ah well, life on the farm, right?

Soooo, back to the tomatoes and making life hotter than it's supposed to be.

I decided to make stewed tomatoes. A dumb idea in this blazing heat? I am not going to answer that.

First, cut an x in the bottom of tomato and dip into a nearly boiling bath for a few minutes, until skins start to separate. Remove from heat and place into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

No, wait. First, first - sterilize jars and lids. You can run them through your dishwasher, or boil them in hot water, or if you're like me, I quickly boiled water in my microwave and put the lids in the boiling water, then microwaved the jars.

Then peel them all. It's kind of a pain, but not nearly as much as deseeding all of these buggars. That was a real pain.

I added about 2 pints of water and added all of the peeled, quartered and deseeded tomatoes, adding some basil, also from the garden after about 10 minutes. There were probably about 3 lbs of tomatoes altogether, and I brought them to a slow boil, about 30 minutes. I'm very accurate when I cook, as you can tell.

Pouring into the jars. Sorry it's blurry, but 1. I stink at photography, and 2. it's really hard to take pictures while pouring hot stuff into jars. You'll see when you try this!

Into the boiling water for the final step. I read somewhere that this only takes 20 minutes because they've already been cooking. So, 20 minutes it was.

Voila! (Sorry, still blurry!) Ready for a cold winters day. I'll probably have to do this again soon, my tomato crop is still going strong. Never having done this before, next time I think I'll keep the stewing going a little longer, maybe about 45 minutes.

Why do I feel like Old McDonald? E I E I OH.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Look what we found today!

Finally! I seriously was beginning to think that we had the only chickens every born hatched that would never lay eggs. But just look at these beauties!

And they tasted pretty yummy, fried up with some veggies and served slathered in hot sauce. Just look at the pretty orange color, and check out how fresh eggs cook, the middle doesn't cook as fast as the edges.

Tomatoes and garlic courtesy of our garden.

Here's some more veggies from our garden. I'm not sure what to do with all those peppers. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A beautiful story

My Dad's birthday is next week, he'll be turning 84. My Dad has Alzheimer's disease.

This picture was taken a few years ago, when he was more "himself". He now lives in a nursing home, and maybe wonders why he's there. Who knows, Alzheimer's has taken him away from us.

I recently came across this beautiful story of a son's love for his father with dementia. It's a wonderful story about how much we care for each other. Of course, it reminds me of my own family who look after my own Dad.

It's written and photographed by Philip Toledano, here's the link to his website: Mr Toledano.

I love how he is so gentle with his Dad, and clearly loves him so much. Stories are meant to be told, and this one is a beautiful tribute to all of us who are touched by Alzheimer's and dementia.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Point and shoot

It's remarkable, really. Now that I have my new camera, my kids are begging me to hang out with them at the beach and snap pics of them while they surf. I should have bought this toy years ago!

For instance, when younger son asked me to tag along with him to the beach to take some pics, I didn't hesitate. I grabbed the camera as fast as I could. As a mom of teenagers, it's these kinds of moments that we don't even dare to dream about.

I dropped him off with his surfboard at the top of the stairs to the beach, and turned the car around to find a parking spot. Anybody who has ever been to Laguna knows that finding a parking spot in summer is like finding the Loch Ness monster, or Chupacabra, or any other mythical thing out there. They may be out there, but it's not likely that you'll find one. But fortunately I was pretty lucky that morning.

I dashed down to Thalia Street Beach, set up my camera, and started looking for my kid. Even with my eye glued to a 300mm lens, I still couldn't find him.

 I decided to shoot some pics just to practice. I got some ok shots of some guys out in front. I'm still learning a lot, so this kind of practice is pretty valuable.

The waves were good, but I noticed that just south, at Brooks Street, some big sets were coming in, so I pointed the lens south, and shot a few streams of pics just for the fun of it.

We uploaded the photos, and he immediately noticed that the pics that I took at Brooks Street were of him!

Monday, August 1, 2011

On being a tourist

When you live in a tourist town for a very long time, you tend not to do what the tourists do. In other words, we usually avoid crowds, and head for the hills in summertime. It just so happens that our home is 1000 ft. above the crowds.

So, when guests from out of town come to stay, guess where they want to go? Yup, right smack in the middle of the sea of humanity. And guess what they want to do? Yup, everything that the tourists do.

Let me tell you, I did not think that I would like it one itty bitty bit, but do you want to guess what else?
It was fun. Did you hear me? It was really fun!

We browsed the crafty art at the Sawdust Festival where my sister-in-law bought a cool amber ring from Greg Thorne. We stand up paddled, (ahem) in the ocean, among the amazing kelp beds, renting our gear from Stand Up Paddle Co. on Oak St. and PCH. We actually walked the boardwalk at Main Beach, an activity that I would usually avoid like the plague.

Photo by: Syrahgirl
And we spent an afternoon on Balboa Island and Newport Beach. I haven't been there in years.

A lot of years. With my new, now working camera in hand, we traipsed around Balboa and rode the ferry over to Newport pier, pointing at the gulls and flotsam and jetsam, just like every other tourist in the vicinity.

Balboa Island is a very nautical themed place, as you can imagine. Surrounded by water, and sporting every kind of boat, from huge yachts for the uber wealthy, to sweet little dinghies tied to a pier and sabots navigated by kids, you really get the sense of how much these folks love their boats.

I know, I'm pretty artsy with my new camera.

Looking south from Newport Pier toward The Wedge.

Yea, so the tourists are definitely onto something here. They know where all the hot spots are, they know where the fun is, and they surely know how to have fun. I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Naw, never mind, I'm heading back up the hill.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


It's been a whirlwind of activity around here. People coming and going, dinners in and out, visiting and entertaining. I feel like I've just run a marathon, except for the fact that I haven't actually excersized at all, and I've put on 5 more dreaded pounds. But it's all over, for now. And although it's nice to get back to my normal life remembering what my family and friends look like, and catching up on the scrubbing detail that I've been ignoring, I really do miss all of the energy that has been swirling around me for the last 3 weeks or so. I kind of like ditching my responsibilities for play time, yea, that's the kind of person I am.

So, catching up a little...

My new camera that I was going on (and on) about - well, it broke after only having it a few days. I contacted my photographer guru, Ed Krebs, after scouring the internet trying to figure out what was wrong with it, and luckily he was able to fix it. Whew. It had felt like a new love that had soured after only a few wonderful, blissful days together. But, thanks to Ed, the love affair is still going strong.

Since the end of June, we've had a friend of mine's son staying with us from Houston. He was interning after his first year of college, and what better place to intern than Laguna Beach? He wasn't much trouble, and actually really liked pretty much everything that I cooked, unlike my own offspring. After he was here for a few weeks, his mom, one of my best friends, came to stay, too. I love this woman, she is so full of life and energy, and I get to see all of my friends who live in town (she used to live here in Laguna), but I never see because we are all too busy to get together. Strange that it takes someone visiting to see friends who live right down the street.

Then my sister-in-law from Maui came to visit. We don't get to see her very much, because, well, she lives in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so it's always a real treat to have her here. The Houston gang and the Maui sister-in-law overlapped for a couple of days, which was just a little crazy, but a lot of fun.

All was back to normal(?) yesterday. The guests are gone, the house is quiet, and my chores are calling  me to get my butt in gear. I've got to get back to my routines, however boring they seem to be. Besides, I don't think that I could physically handle another wine induced day. Well ok, maybe that's going a bit too far.

I like my random picture of lifeguards. It may take me awhile to get any sense of focus back.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I've had an ok camera for a while now. And although it's a pretty decent point and shoot, with a few extras, it just never quite cut it for me.

So, when I spotted the camera of my dreams on Ebay, I placed my bid, upped my bid, chewed my nails, and low and behold I actually won the little buggar.

When the UPS guy dropped it off on my front porch a few days later, I frantically tore open the box, and there it was. The camera was really mine. It was better than Christmas.

But as I picked it up, I realized the unthinkable. The camera was way smarter than me, I had no clue how to use my new prize. Yea, I was shocked. I thought I was pretty darn smart, even though I'm still waiting for my MENZA membership to show up in my mailbox.

A couple of days ago I met up with local photographer/musician Ed Krebs for a Nikon for Dummies lesson. Lucky for me, Ed is amazing with a camera, and he just so happens to have one similar to mine. While I fumbled around, Ed patiently explained most of the gadgets and dials.

Well, he must be an incredible teacher, because his class worked. Check out some trial pics with my new camera. (**gush** I LOVE my new camera)

All photos by Carey Strombotne (yea!!)

I could have never gotten these shots with my other camera! I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me, these are not touched up or cropped at all, but heck, it's not a bad day at the office.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th, 2011

A beautiful morning for a dog walk on the beach. Lots of people out enjoying the summer morning.

The water temp must be warming up. At 7:30 there were already folks out paddle boarding, surfing and swimming. Just let me know when it gets to 70.

All the rocks are visible at low tide. Check out this tide pool.

Bird rock to south of Main Beach.

 Such a sweet Dad and son pic. I don't know who these two are, but just thought the moment was completely adorable!

Happy 4th, everyone!!