Summer Nostalgia

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Bug and I finally made it out to the sticks to take advantage of my parents over-achieving gardening skills this summer. My parents have a HUGE over-grown garden that is producing tomatoes like a factory. Their nectarine tree is literally breaking it’s branches to hold all the nectarines it grew and of course there are grapefruits coming out their ears. This winter’s heavy rain probably had something to do with the bumper crop but the rest is all my parents and their giant green thumbs. They also may have an alergy to staying inside. Let’s just say my mom’s approach to housework is to close the door and garden instead. I should make her a shirt that says that.

I love taking the kids to The Sticks but we haven’t been much this summer because it’s been hard to leave our perfect 70-degree weather to go hang out in the 102 degrees of blazing heat that is The Sticks.  We have a big olympic-sized pool in our community. My parents have a tiny above-ground pool that sits in the sun and promises a darker tan in three minutes. And that’s not a good thing.

I can’t even take the dogs with me which is sad because the dogs LOVE The Sticks even more than the kids! But I feel horrible taking them out to that heat no matter how much they love exploring the wonderland of dangers that is my parent’s foxtail-infested half-acre yard and the twenty-seven cats they get to chase.

Cody is not allowed in their pool because his hair would clog the filter in about a minute. It would just be mean to take them on a long hot car ride just to tell them they couldn’t swim. You know how Cody is. He is a SWIMMING DOG.

So Bug and I decided to tough out the heat on our own and it was totally worth it! (Like you knew it would be of course.) I love visiting with my parents. We hide out in the cool of their mobile home, chatting away in the living room. The drapes are drawn to keep it cool and the swamp cooler blows that soft cool air that reminds me of my childhood. Bug takes quick breaks to run outside and visit her old friends, the many kittens who have now grown up into lanky cats.

I love that Bug and I have The Sticks as a big part of who we are. We are both sentimental about it in a way that bonds us deeply.

I almost forgot the one funny thing that happened while we were out there! We found Mongolian Grill!  I can’t even believe it myself because usually eating out in The Sticks is limited to horrible chains with 2000 calorie entrees or fast food. It really is Walmart Culture at it’s worst and everywhere you look are depressing choices. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my Yelp app and I found a whole underground of Asian food in The Sticks that I had no idea existed! Why didn’t I discover this sooner!  I even made my Dad try it and he loved it!  Sticks WIN!

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We came back home from The Sticks with a giant bag of nectarines which were about to go bad in a day so you know what that means: PIE. Except I forgot that they are super maximus juicy and I should have added gelatin or five tablespoons of flour or something to my pie when I made it because my beautiful pie turned out to pretty much be cooked fruit soup with a crust.

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Mmm… soup. Sadly, I left the pie out on the counter too long and fruit flies got it. That’s what happens when people are on stupid diets and things don’t get eaten fast enough. Sigh.

Maybe the pie didn’t get eaten because some people like to spend all their time in the garage and they forget to eat. Harumph. Jealous much? Yeah. I am.

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As you can see, Payam has finished his workshop in the garage and it’s pretty cool! I’m sure he’ll keep tweaking it and getting it more and more just right but I have to say it is very cool and yes, I am jealous. Good thing he lets me come hang out here and I’m even trying my hand at creating some of my own wood things. Power tools are fun!

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They are also scary. I’ve been customizing Payam’s work bench with illustrations and reminders not to cut himself. He’s on blood thinners after his recent heart surgery so I’m pretty much visualizing gushing limbs on a regular basis because I’m fun like that.

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You know what else is fun? My laundry room! I love my laundry room/craft cabinet corridor that sits on the other side of Payam’s shop. It’s like my own personal Diagon Alley.

You laugh but really it is awesome.  I look at this and smile as memories flood me from all my past laundry rooms… All those days of schlepping laundry to a laundromat in the next town over. Doing so many loads with a baby hanging off my hip.  Watching the loads go round while my baby napped in a wire cart. All those playdates at drug dealer park… I love this room, torn linoleum and all. It even has a man-cave refrigerator in it, covered in stickers! Care for an ice-cold soda in a glass bottle while you hang those wet swimming suits? Don’t mind if I do!

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Grass Valley, The Buddha Embiggerment Project and other News…

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Another month goes by and I have been busy! Time to report!

My friend, Teri, and I flew up to Grass Valley (via Sacramento) last week and visited my friend and fairy godmother, Susan. It was a business trip disguised as a girl’s getaway which means we visited the spa, sipped wine and tea, ate at all the good restaurants, shopped in groovy downtown shops and talked our heads off deep into the night. I think we got about four hours worth of work done but those were concentrated hours!!!  And a baby business was born so there’s that! I’m sure I’ll share more on that later. Maybe more later than sooner but things are always cooking around here.

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Susan took us to the Ananda Gardens in Nevada City to see the 15,000 tulips they planted this year.  Fifteen thousand bulbs!!! Not all of them came up because of the crazy rains we had this year and other challenges but they were AMAZING. Like they always are.

Ananda is a meditational retreat seeped in spirituality which has been kind of a theme with me lately, even though I do not subscribe to woo-woo in general (being raised the way I was).  I do, however, connect deeply with the thousands of happy-faced tulips covering the terraces and hillsides and that powerful sense of peace and quiet you feel when you stand on the edge of  a vast ravine. The sheer compounding of atmosphere in a space like that is overwhelming and beautiful.  It demands respect and reverence.

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We tripped around downtown, tucking into shops for trinkets to bring back to our girls. I swear every shop in Nevada City has a yoga studio sound track playing and crystals dangling in the windows, catching rainbows. It’s not a bad mental state to be in. I wish Southern California could get a little more of it’s woo woo on sometimes and a little less of it’s stress and traffic and real housewifery. It’s very beautiful there and everyone seems to be an artist or a connoisseur of something delightful. I could definitely see myself living there someday.

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Speaking of woo woo… I’ve made some progress on the embiggerment of the Rockin’ Buddha painting. I busted it out a few weekends ago and now only have the details left. It was a blast to paint. I got lost in the movements and swirls of the paint and kind of forgot what I was painting. I might put a light wash over it to bring down the garishness of the colors. It just feels a little loud for our living room. I didn’t mean to make such a big Buddhist statement with it. I was just trying to replace the artwork Payam already had there.

Sadly, I think some of my relatives (and friends) who are devout Christians have found this painting offensive which I never meant it to be. It doesn’t feel that way to me, even though I was raised to believe that any idol or graven image was a portal for Satan to come into my life and wreck havoc. And here I am painting a giant one for my living room!!

I have mixed feelings about it. I may or may not keep the giant Buddha in the living room. Right now (s*)he feels very happy and pleasant, like she’s rocking out to The Weekend and she wants you to come stay awhile and stop being so afraid that bad things are going to happen.

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In other news, Payam has been rocking at the woodworking. He’s been making some beautiful things!  He’s also had some health issues and is on blood thinners right now which sends me into a deep state of fear every time I hear him fire up his bandsaw. I’m sure you can imagine all my daymares.payams-striped-coasters

Thankfully, he has not cut himself and he humors me by wearing gloves, big sturdy construction worker boots and being very very very careful all the time. But still I am a mess worrying about this.

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We’ve been tightening up his branding which I LOVE. He has a logo that is now on a branding iron and he can brand all of his wood pieces with a searing hot logo. It’s very cool but also difficult to get just right so you can imagine the carefulness it takes to brand a cutting board that you spend hours and hours working on and is made from expensive materials. No pressure! OR more accurately, JUST THE RIGHT PRESSURE! Just right. Then we wrap it all up in salvaged coffee bean bags I found and ship them off to customers. It’s been fun!

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What have I been making? I’ve been making lots of stuff. Mostly our house has been full of pink boxes, ribbon and pretty silk flowers for this Mother’s Day jewelry box craft we did for alphamom.com. (Do click through and watch the movie, I worked hard on it!) It’s funny because I needed a jewelry box which is what prompted this craft and now I have about five. Payam also bought me one from a thrift store that he is refinishing. (It’s really cool and has yellow velvet from the 70’s which I LOVE.)  Now I just need another dresser to display them on! I’m not complaining though.

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And, and, AND!!! Big news alert!!!  WE ARE GOING TO LONDON AND WALES this coming fall. With the kids! Can you believe it!? Seriously, making friends with a travel agent was my best decision ever.  Of course, the next trip I plan needs to be to the country of Payoffyourcreditcards but I am really happy that we can have these experiences and especially with the kids. I love travel. I am happiest when I am planning a trip or a party! Bring on the adventure!

Speaking of parties… you knew I was going there! Joon is having a Harry Potter-themed birthday party in a few weeks and I am in my favorite mad-manic party-planning mode. I love the challenge of combining a pool party with an unlikely theme like Harry Potter. I’m thinking terry cloth robes made from long burgundy towels I find somewhere cheap like Walmart, white helium balloons that look like owls, flying envelopes as a garland and of course brooms made out of pool noodles! Bring it on! Underwater Quiddich anyone?