Thursday, July 31, 2014

Big Bear Bikes

Enjoy some photos from our Big Bear Bike Adventure!
I am a fan of the helmet, but realize that it looks fashionable on no one.
We rode down these really cool old wood bridges
This photo reminds me of the VonTrapp Family when the children wore play clothes made from old curtains, then
they joyfully rode bikes all around Salzburg. 
"....And having a mahhhvelous time" as Maria described it.
The Captain was not happy.
We had to take a rest stop or two...
A True Rocky Mountain High :)
Our first day the boys played together. I am so thankful for music and their God given talents. Also-- grateful for healthy bodies and working legs that can ride mountain bikes. I don't ever want to take the little things for granted, because if they were taken away they would feel like BIG things.
God is good, all the time :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Five years of writing and riding

I'm sitting here, baking on the beach, wishing I had brought an umbrella and it just "clicked" that July 29th marked my fifth blogoversary. 
 Did you hear that?
 I had to hold up my hand and count fingers to make sure 2009-2014
really equals cinco anos. 
"But you have only blogged off and on for that time - so does it really count as five?" The demon nag on my shoulder says, trying to pull me down. 
Hate her.

Why yes, I have been blogging consistently on and off and on  for five straight years. Oxymoronic, I know. The way my noodle works is that I am a "binge blogger." Thoughts, ideas or life stories kaboom in my head and I am forced to stop and purge them out on paper, er, I mean keyboard. Over and over I do this for months. Then I stop.

Time passes and I find myself missing something. It feels like I am being  pulled down by that demon nag that wants me to stagnate. My way out is to write, journal and blog.  So, I purge my words for months. Then I  think  my writing stinks so I take a break, only to have life-stuff form like laundry piles on my floor that I can no longer step over.  So, I fold and organize my stuff by taking those life thoughts, stories and struggles, and putting them on paper, er-um, keyboard. It's a cycle.
This process helps me to stay balanced. 

 Back and forth, up and down, on then off.
 Like schizophrenia?  Sort of.
Which, I am not psychotic, by the way, I took the online test. 
Does that count?
 Just messin' with ya. 
 I'm none of those crazy labels, but just a regular meat-eating American, wife, mother, sister, daughter, human, doxie-lover who rides a unicycle on the side. Think french fries or coleslaw.

And, might I add, as of yesterday, I can raise my glass and "cheers" to five years of blogging!
 You see, writing and riding
are the main cogs to my balancing act.
 Yes, harmony. Both of these key elements have carried me into my 
uni-blog-cycle world.
Ah, hem.  
At this time I must give special recognition to my unicycle, Blanche, who holds me up like nothing else. She is always there for me in the living room with a scratched-up smile. That sweet thing has not complained once or said a peep about the weight I've gained.  Which is good, because if I heard my unicycle talk then psychosis is back on the table.
Here's to Five more 
 uni-blog-cycle years ahead

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sweet Memories and The Fonz

Henry Winkler was in my dream last night. He was helping me and I was tempted to call him "The Fonz" but thought probably everyone thinks they are being all creative and cute and call him that.  He was being so nice to me, helping me out while being kind and friendly! The Fonz was my buddy, if only in a dream.  I was inclined to point out his celebrity and how much I loved Happy Days, and his black leather jacket, and Jonie and Chachi and his motorcycle, and Pinkie Tuscadero ... do you see how difficult it was NOT to say something to my pal Henry?
 The Fonz was big part of my childhood, a weekly staple that defined some very important "kid years" for me.
Know what else was? Candy. Yes, Candy. Back in the 1970's you really only needed a quarter and you were set. A  whole paper dollar? That was a huge amount of dough to have in pocket and one needed a small brown bag to hold all that sugar-loot.
Growing up in Glendale, my buddy JoAnne and I would buy candy every day  after school and I have the cavities to prove it. When we lived at Silver Strand Beach we walked to Beam's Market and stocked up on Lemonheads, Boston Baked Beans, Red Hots, Razzles and Double Bubble - the rectangular kind that included a comic.  Didn't every kid smoke candy cigarettes back then... before we learned about harmful side effects?

 As children, we also had a favorite liquor store at Oxnard Beach that Miss Piggy and my cousins renamed "Licky Store" and we created a song that we sung on our parent-less walk, arms locked together, skipping down the street ... "Lick, Lick Licky Store. We're coming back to buy some more!" 
When we moved to Camarillo in 1978, Sprouse Ritz was a bike ride away and they had the most amazing candy counter - Abba Zabba, Pop Rocks, Charms and Charleston Chews were some of my favorites. Do you remember that JC Penny even had a candy counter back in the day? I loved their sour balls! And don't get me started on walking through Farrell's candy section after a nice big ice cream meal. Remember their gigantic jaw breakers you licked for six months, only to make a small dent in that handheld sugar planet?
With my extensive "Candy History," it should be no surprise that my inner child burst with fruit flavor when we visited the Sweet Shoppe in Big Bear Village. This place had a bubble machine attached to the roof and colorful gigantic "hand" chairs in front that you wanted to lick. 
Big barrels of taffy (even buttered popcorn flavor) and a gillion other wax-paper wrapped delights boasted their own room in this palace. The Sweet Shoppe had classic candies that my kids had never had the joy of polluting their mouths with ... Necco and Chick-O-Stick, to name a couple. Adrenalin kicked in as together we filled our cellophane bag with a little of everything our mouths told us to grab. It ended up being a $32 bag of candy, but it's an indulgence I don't regret.
It almost felt sinful spending so much money on candy
This was the biggest candy store I have seen and I caught a sugar buzz from the rich, bright hues and smells that filled my nose and peripheral vision at very turn. I can only compare this juvenile and magical experience to having a dream where "The Fonz" is your friend. Unreal.
Did I mention The Sweet Shoppe also had a Gelato counter?
I know, I know. Sugar is poison for our bodies. As an adult, I understand the consequences sugar brings. But still, even at forty-six, I am weak to the candy shop experience and "The Fonz."
 Some things will never change.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Canoeing in the Rain

It started out sunny and dry ...
It never rains in Southern California, so when we heard there was a 20% chance of rain on Sunday in the San Bernardino Mountains, we shrugged it off, applied sunscreen, packed lunch and headed to the lake. When we arrived, thunder in the distance was the backdrop to seeing the boys off in their canoes.
We all thought it would be neat to have a little rain.
 I said, a little.
Fast forward thirty minutes and what started as a slow and welcomed drip, drip, turned into a summer storm extraordinaire. Pouring rain, crashing  thunder and lighting -- it grew so heavy that we had to admit defeat while we huddled under the palapas and beach umbrellas to stay dry.

 The kids returned exhilarated and drenched from their short jaunt in the welcomed, but untimely rain. They knew if they saw lightening nearby that they had to return to shore! The troops help load up as we headed back to Robin Hood Street to eat our picnic lunch inside. I am happy that "Captain Johns" honored our rental, so we will try again tomorrow.

Back at the cabin severe thunder storms loomed on top of our heads and heavy rained pour down like Niagara Falls ... reminding us that we were not in Kansas anymore. Part of me wanted to sip hot chocolate and build a fire, but it is summer and not near "fire-and-hot-cocoa-cold outside."  It just sounded that way with all that racket in the clouds. I had to retreat outside and sit closer to this tropical storm because the guitars and ukuleles were getting loud; the cabin was alive with the sound of music. It sounded lovely, but I could no longer hear the falling rain or reoccurring thunder due to concert like conditions in the cabin.
Fast forward to Monday ...
After a night of playing Taboo and watching the Lego Movie (which I highly recommend for family entertainment - clean and so, so funny) we returned to Captain John's Fawn Harbor late this morning. There was some sunshine and huge amounts of boy energy that needed to bust out. The boys LOVED the kayaks and canoes and I kept thinking of Huck Finn, and the  simple joy that nature provides. What a fun day for them and for us parents sitting dry on the shore reading and lounging. 
 This was our last stop on the Big Bear vacation circuit
and I look forward to sharing more pictures.
 For now? Back to life, back to reality.

These two really enjoy being together now that
they are both teenagers. They are not only brothers, but friends.
 It's a joy to watch them grow up!
 I'm meeting with the new fourth grade teacher this week. Yes, back to work and prepping the class for the next batch of fourth graders to show up in about a month. 
Right now I just can't imagine the hustle of a school and work schedule. It's seems like it will be impossible to wake up early and be productive in that way. But, the time will come and I trust a boost of energy will arrive with it.

Here is a photo from our mountain bike ride,  my favorite day of the trip.
Oh, and when we went to the candy store in the village and loaded up on oodles of
overpriced candy. Why was that so fun?
As for the present? It is the gift of now ... and a super memory of canoeing in the pouring rain with booming thunder one summer afternoon.
These are the days we'll remember :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Big Bear Day Two

Blogging at you live from the McDonalds in Big Bear (free wi-fi).  I want to grab this opportunity to catch  ya'll up on our latest adventure.
The Wiener Sisters did NOT Like us leaving home again. They saw us packing and started to strategize. Just like before, they both climbed in our car and parked their long cans on the floorboards, hoping we would not notice and leave with them. Nice try, girls.
 Also, disregard the "y'all" in the second opening sentence -- we are NOT in the south, but  tucked high up, 6500 feet, in the San Bernardino mountains in Big Bear (BB). We arrived on Thursday and settled into our A-frame cabin on Robin Hood Street high up in the mountains. I brought my American flag to hang proud. Not pictured here :)
On Friday, we rented mountain bikes and cruised ALL OVER BB... from the ski area of Mt. Summit (killer ride up that left one kid in tears) all the way to the bike path along the lake -- just lovely!  Of course, we made a stop at 7-11 for slurpees. It was a active, great day and we were all very tired. Pictures are not available at this time. Coming soon.

I Love it here! If only I could afford a cabin and have our first names carved out in wood hanging next to our address number, and a three-foot-wood-carved black bear with a trout hanging from his  mouth on the porch to welcome folks. 
I can only dream.
Today we did a big hike up to "Castle Rocks" on the North Shore.  It was all up hill, like a stair master, and when we finally arrived at the tipppy-top, you had to rock climb to get this beautiful sight that my Teckie is showcasing. 
My boys climbed up and LOVED the thrill of adventure. I hung back and ate an apple and took a lot of pictures that I can't download at this junction. But here are the kids, stopping on the way for some practice climbing ...  I can only imagine how scary and awesome it was to climb up there and see Big Bear Lake with a birds eye view. 
I have to sign off now and leave much to your imagination. I am tight for time - no other friends here are blogging and  they want to go on with this Saturday night. The nerve.
Some Highlights so far?
  I will note  that it rained while we BBQ-ed this afternoon (at last) and we have been smothered in tons of live music. Everyone brought their guitar or ukelele (sans me) and it has been a festival of game playing and blues tunes for the last 48 hours.
 I will note that I love the bed Teckie and I are sharing. It has a huge valley in it and Teckie and I can not  help but be EXTRA close at night.  At home, with that old mattress of ours, there are two carved in valleys and we rarely touch! I realized that we need a new mattress.
 Not complaining, just saying. 

Tomorrow is kayak rental day at the lake. 

Spending time smothered in Mother Nature ....  I can't think of a better way to keep the balance; besides recycling. Because... we should be at least be a tad green in some area of our lives. At the very least there should be no tossing our trash out the window like we did in the 70's. Shameful.

Last thought... so sorry the photos here are GINORMOUS. I don't know how to fix that sort of thing on my ipad. Until we meet again, 
Keep the balance and reapply your sunscreen every two hours.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Balance Tip of the Week

Be Kind; Everyone You Meet
 is Fighting a Hard Battle
Personal battles take on a gazillion different styles, faces 
 and characteristics.  I’m talking about THAT battle (unique to each of us) to obey the angel or devil on our shoulders or, like many folks, who crusade a fight for good health or making the right decisions. Either way, we are all in the middle of something. I believe it's also known as being a human. 

It’s true that things may look peachy-keen on the outside, but inside most are in a tug-of war with a person, place, thing, health, habit, fear, relationship, themselves, finances or ??? Just fill in the blank!  

Practice compassion, benevolence, thoughtfulness  and friendliness, even when it takes effort to react that way. 
 Because everyone is in conflict whether big or small, obvious or not.

For God did not give us a spirit of of timidity,
 but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In and Out of Balance

Working with The Hospice Supper club 
keeps a certain balance in my life. 
It feels so good  give! 
The perspective it lends it priceless. 
Everyone I've met is so appreciative.

I spent half an hour with ninety-two year old Ethel and enjoyed hearing about her life. She told me about how she had her twin girls when she was forty and "back then" it was unacceptable to be pregnant at such an "old age." 
Times sure have changed!  Ethel said her dad didn't talk to her for six months because he was disgraced because, (she thinks) in her father's eyes, she was too old to have sex. She said that to me! 
Once the babies arrived he got over it.

I discovered she is hooked up to the braille library and she listens to an entire book every day. You heard that right. An entire book a day. 

She took a fall getting out of bed and had to use her Life Alert for the first time. Her walker was tangled in her throw rug. Down she went! 
 The paramedics came and helped her up. They took the rug with them. 
I could tell it was a big deal, the whole fall thing, as she went on how it wasn't her fault. Blame it on the throw rug. She's so cute!
Dad's Baby -- He parks the Shiznit  in his metal shop,
never drives it and refuses to sell it.
Go fig. 
On another note, Wrecked Rex is fixed! We pick up Lucas's car tomorrow and return the Shiznit to my Dear Old Dad. Family-car-harmony will be restored!

Lucas' UCLA heart test results arrived this afternoon 
and I have no idea how to interpret the three "Result Impressions." 
One mentions that 
"The RCA coronary artery flow reserve value is abnormal, however it is due to the increasing resting value, therefore...blah, blah, blah." 
No Comprendo! 
Until I know what it means there will be no worries
Let the problems find you, I say :)

Finally, there is mucho to cram in tomorrow with
 the car switcharoo and leaving for Big Bear.
 It's overwhelming and I am 
out of balance 
just thinking about  it.
 Feeling in and out of balance is the natural flow of life!
Right?  Das Right!

Hospice Wednesday

Today is my hospice cooking day. I baked my quiche (turkey, onion and cheese), brownies then cut up watermelon  for my 92 year old friend that is blind with one arm and leg that's paralyzed due to several strokes. Despite her health issues, "Ethel" is still on top of her game mentally!  We have conversations and she asks about my job and kids. She tells me about her grandchildren and daughters. I can't believe how sharp she is! Old people love to visit and talk. I think it's because they spend so much time alone.
 I have been cooking for hospice for almost one year. In that time only one person passed and it was not due to my chicken tacos! The branch of hospice I'm involved in meets the needs of old/sick/disabled folks that are not necessarily dying tomorrow, but could use a homemade dinner/support once a week. 

If you were wondering if this quiche was made with our organic free range chicken eggs from the surviving six chickens in our coop? Then, yes!  And, they are delicious! I must add that the days of collecting fresh eggs are numbered over here. After the last chicken died from mites (gross) and Teckie had to powder all the chickens down and treat their bedding (I use that term loosely; they poop in their bed), he admitted he was growing tired of his brood. The last chicken death was about six weeks ago and I could tell he was "finished." The novelty has worn off -- finally! 
Don't get me wrong, the six in our yard are friendly chickens. Some like to be pet, like cats, and they love to eat our scraps. Last week one laid a jumbo egg that I'm almost positive is a double-yolker. It's crazy big and I don't know how she pushed that baby out!
 You can tell by the photo that Goldie and Sara still ache to feast on those fresh chickens. Sara actually licks the fence every day, like she can almost taste them. However, It looks like until they die off, they are here to stay. How long will that be? Nobody knows.  For the time being,  it works out wonderful because "Ethel"  LOVES the custom ordered quiches I deliver. 
I'll  squawk to that -- Bak, Bak!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

From SB to Oxnard -- Life's a beach!

Bikes and Santa Barbara go together. Having our wheels this weekend made everything easier... mainly, no parking. We cruised everywhere and locked them up and went on our way to the beach, to eat, to a volleyball tournament. 
We even rode along the ocean through  Santa Barbara (SB), then through fancy Montecito neighborhoods, then along the bustling 101 Freeway (there's a safe bike path) all the way into Summerland! It was forty minutes each way and an exciting sweaty adventure. 
My favorite destination was out to the pier at sunset. 
Santa Barbara ... what an amazingly beautiful city! Teckie and I are both very thankful Lui and Miss Piggy LIVE there. In summer, there are so many tourists. It's interesting to ride around hearing all the different languages. It's like "It's A Small World" ride at Disneyland! This is a city where everyone is active and it just feels plain good to be alive and immersed in all that action. A blessing for sure!
Locking up our wheels to a palm tree
It felt like Miss Piggy and I were seven again -- we lived on bikes as children.  It was our set of "wheels" and enabled us to ride to Sprouse Ritz for a candy run, or over to a friend's house to play in the sprinklers - not play video games.
Miss Piggy and  Teckie look like so happy together. 
Did I mention that this weekends jaunt up the coast was practice for our boys to stay home alone? I was anxious at first,  but we had some good conversations that lead me to believe they wouldn't t pull any shenanegans like we did when our parents left town. But still -- I had my neighbor keep an eye on the house as she catches a lot that I miss.

Like a few weeks ago when she texted me and asked if I was home. I was home on the couch (potato). Concerned, I  asked if she was okay. She went on to tell me that she just witnessed Lucas driving down the street slowly with Daniel holding on to his car riding his skateboard!  I flipped!  Boys are so reckless, I don't like to think about it. Of course, they both received a good talking to. During which, one asked, 
"How did you know?" 
"I live here." I said, as if I saw it first hand. 
They still don't know about the spy next door.
Anyways, they did fine home alone. They washed the Shiznit and The Wiener Sisters. I hoped to keep them busy because idle hands are the devils tools, no? 
Sunday we attended a beach BBQ and the weather was clear (you could almost touch the Channel Islands), water was warm and the company fabulous ("10" all the way around). We were celebrating a friends 49th birthday. This is a neighbor I grew up with playing Pirates in the backyard and acting out The Grease songs to the 8-track in my bedroom. She always got to be Olivia Newton John when we sang "You're the One That I Want." Not fair, but she was older so I had to shut up and be John Travolta. 
"I got chills, they're  multiplyin' " ...Good times :)
The birthday girl  AKA "Sandy" with my boys 
I loved getting to spend time with her friends and family and enjoy
 their beautiful house planted right on Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard.

The birthday girl's big sister was our babysitter! 
I love and cherish this family :)
The weekend was so go-go-go, that I was happy to catch up on laundry and do a million little things  in "mi casa" on Monday. Daniel spent the day at the beach surfing and Lucas was working at Overboard's house doing odd jobs. Why?

 He is paying us back for the insurance deductible from his car accident a couple weeks ago. So, before regiment band starts up, he has to bust a move and earn just $150 more dollars, then we are "square" as my dad would say. If you have any odd jobs - babysitting to gardening, please contact him.

My Monday concluded with a late evening unicycle ride. It was much easier than on Friday with the falls and puffing. The key to distance riding is consistency. That's not always easy. I want to beat myself up for not being better at it. 
But instead, I choose to put grace in those places I fall short and just be thankful that I have legs that work plus a body and mind that can keep the balance.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Rideday

Work, love and play are the great 
balance wheels of man's being.
Orison Swett Marden
Ah, yes ... balance! What a wonderful thing! Riding my unicycle today required an extra dose  because my son overfilled my tire and it was tight.  That results in being squirrely when cruising. I fell a few times! A lot of that is because I haven't unicycled my four-mile course in a while, hence the low-air tire. 
I can't juggle, but I CAN ride a unicycle and take a picture of my shadow :)
Did you know that a unicycle is easier to ride if the tire is just a tad low/flat? That's how beginners are supposed to start. Blanche needed less air in her only tire today. Oh, but what a beautiful morning to go for a ride.  It's Friday! The sun is out, temperature here in Southern California is perfect, many kind people waving, lots of smiles and there I go riding off kilter and falling on my feet (thankfully). Then, hopping right back on my horse! Repeat. Repeat.
Jeez Louise!
Losing balance is the sign that I need to get out and cruise Blanche more often! The bottom line? It was sweaty-challenging fun and a perfect start to my weekend.  This afternoon, Teckie and I are taking our bikes (the two-wheelers) and driving them up to Santa Barbara for an overnight-er with Miss Piggy, Lui, and their dog-child, Cinco. They live blocks from the ocean so we have fun putzing around, walking on the beach, going out to dinner, you get the picture.
Whatever you do this weekend, may God bless it with joy, harmony and safety. 
Peace and keep The Balance!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get Ricky Out!

My neighbor was able to take a photo of Ricky Raccoon when he visited her front yard.
Remember the "super moon" a few nights ago? It lit up the night sky like a giant light bulb -- so cool. Wild animals are extra active around here when the moon is that big and The Wiener Sisters go berserk being able to hear and see the nocturnal rodents outside. 

The doggies started barking at 4AM and I let them out the back garage door while I walked around and saw a silhouette of a huge rodent drinking from the dog's water bowl on the patio. I flipped on the light and hurriedly stepped outside to try and scare him away before my dogs made it to the backyard. This raccoon was MUCH bigger than them and could easily hurt or snack on them. 
You know how much we love The Wiener Sisters! 
I was freaking out. Adrenalin activated.
Does somebody need a hug?
That scene from Elf flashed in my head while I nervously clapped and yelled to get him to scat.  I didn't want to get too close. Ricky looked right at me, taking his sweet time leaving. 
The nerve.
I am keeping a bat by the back door to defend myself and dogs should Ricky return. What aggressive hungry raccoon  wouldn't  love to feast on some delicious hot wieners? 
 My solution?  
We'll trap him, like we do when we have opossum problems. Then, animal control can haul him off to the raccoon slammer. 
I want Ricky out of our hood for good.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smooth Sailing with a Little Obama Head

Todays trip to UCLA could not have gone any smoother. We made it down to Los Angeles and knew exactly where we were supposed to go (this time). At the Nuclear Medicine Department there was one small glitch.  The guy putting in his IV messed up the first time and he had to be poked again. It totally made Lucas anxious, but inside I knew it was a small blip ... NOT even a smidgen close to "open-heart surgery!" 

They did not let me watch, but Lucas said he laid in a big tube for the PET/CT cardiac perfusion test. At one point they put something in his IV that made his heart pound and have an overall feeling like his body was working hard. It was difficult to breath, he started sweating and his heart was walloping in his chest. He said it only lasted minutes; then they gave him antidote to stop his heart and body's reaction. The hardest part was having to lay completely still for so long. We get the results in the next few days.
 When we left, they informed us that he may still have small amounts of radiation in his body and is capable of being  detected by radiation monitoring equipment. Lucas was literally radioactive!

The best part of the day was smooth sailing home and then later taking him for Senior Pictures. What a milestone! I told him it was a blessing for a parent to "get" to do this. All the sick kids we have seen though the years that didn't make it? It  was their parents that were heavy on my heart driving home. So, I said an extra little prayer of thanks that I was given the gift to see him looking all handsome in a black-tie tuxedo on top and shorts and flip flops on bottom.  It's the little things bring big joy.

Totally off the subject but ...
Google is not letting me log into my blog on my computer; it says "I don't have access to this service." My personal Teckie has worked late every night this week so I am stuck coming at you from my ipad that has a blogger app that doesn't have all the fan-dangled options. It basically stinks. That's why this post looks so different; a tad off balance from the usual. As a result of this faux pas, you "get" to read a little post that I was putting together because I can't figure out how to work this lame blog app and the two are strangely connected. I should have used Wordpress! 
Ah Hem ... 
Have I ever mentioned that I keep a file labeled "Things that make me laugh" 
Here are two of my current favorites. I don't usually get politcal, but I laugh everytime I see Gene Wilder holding little Obama head. What creative mind thought this one up?
We always watched MASH growing up, so I enjoy this one too.
Finally, the end of my drivel! If you are reading this, it means you have stayed with me all the way through this "off balance" post. 
Congratulations! You are either a true-blue friend or my mother :)