Ramona Play in the Sticks

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This last weekend I checked off a big item on my bucket list: Take the kids to The Ramona Play.  When I was growing up in The Sticks, The Ramona Play was pretty much the only thing that The Sticks had going for it. It was a really big, traffic-stopping deal in our small town. We went when we were in fourth grade as a class field trip and it left a lasting impression on me.

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What’s most amazing about this play is that it is set entirely outdoors in a huge amphitheater in the hills of Hemet.  (There, I finally revealed where “The Sticks” are. We’re famous for Scientology, The Ramona Play and meth heads.) Everything is real and life size. When the cowboys come trampling through the scene on their horses, it’s very dramatic. Add some loud gun pops and a cannon and even the shortest attention-spanned kid is sitting on the edge of their seats with eyes glued forward.

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The play was just as amazing as I remembered it. They let all the fourth graders see the play for free because that’s the year that fourth graders are allowed to act in the play as Native Americans that hide in the hills. It’s a great scene. Throughout the play, the fourth graders (dressed in drab clothing) wander off into the hillside and hide in a zillion hidden places. Behind rocks and bushes…you get the idea. Then during a big scene, they all pop out at once giving you the feeling that the hills are alive with tiny people. Where did they all come from?!

This year there weren’t as many “Indians” popping up in the hills as there used to be. I remember them covering the hillsides from all directions but this year they only took up one section. It was still impressive though. There were lots of different parts that changed. I think they expand and decrease rolls based on the talent pool. This year the señora had a huge monologue about her baby dying that I don’t remember at all.

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Of course it was just as hot as I remember it too. Hemet is a desert after all so the sun can beat down with a vengeance. Thankfully, the play takes place at three in the afternoon right when the afternoon winds start to kick up and offer some relief. Then as the hours go by it gradually gets cooler and cooler. I love that about the desert. No matter how hot it is in the day it always cools down at night.

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The kids really enjoyed themselves. I was worried that they might find it boring, you know since they are addicted to their phones and all.  Fourth-grader me had no television, no phone and pretty much no life so naturally to my entertainment-starved kid-brain, the play was the BEST THING EVER! But these kids? They can’t go five minutes without being entertained.  Well, that’s not completely true. We do practice boredom regularly as an exercise because I think it’s good for kids to be bored but they do love to be entertained constantly.  So when they LOVED the Ramona play I was so happy! A flurry of gun shots, a loud canon blast that made you jump, horses galloping in and out, a little singing and little dancing, some romance…what’s not to love?

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It was especially fun to get to pose next to Ramona herself after the play. We were a bunch of fan girls.

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And then of course the long drive home. I really enjoyed sharing a little piece of my childhood with Payam and the girls so I narrated the whole drive home with stories to which they promptly fell asleep.

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Just kidding!

So long sticks! Until next time!

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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