A Monday Blog

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I was going to just pop in here and talk about a market basket I bought on Saturday (I’ll get to that later) but then I started going through my photos (from my phone) and I realized I do have quite a few photos to share. I’m kind of sad that I’m the photo-sharing kind of blog and not the written word kind of blog but it is how it’s morphed to be over time. I used to write long rants and stories but now I start with photos and when I get down to writing I sort of peter off, distracted by all the pretty colors or something. Also life is different now. I can’t just rant about any old thing. I do have a lot of things on my mind that I’d love to rant about but this is not a private blog and people have a way of finding things you write about them. Also time is different now. I don’t find myself with hours and hours of time to rattle off into space. I think I use that time up with scrolling instead. Anyway! That’s neither here nor there. We all struggle with time.

This last Saturday was such a strange day. I’ve been a ball of anxiousness lately (what else is new?) and I had big shoot at the beach at the end of the day. There is nothing better to ruin your day than plans later. All day I stressed about that shoot. Did I need to? No! It’s not like my clients were difficult or that I haven’t shot people at the beach before. But if I have enough time I will use every minute of it to stress. It’s just something I do. I probably would do better if this photoshoot was sprung on me and I had no time to prepare. I prepare myself silly.

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Finally, the the hour to go down to the beach neared. I went early because I like being early and I was quite stressed about finding parking. The beach at sunset is typically crowded and my worst nightmare is rushing to a shoot and missing golden hour because you are parked too far away. It’s kind of like that feeling you have as a kid rushing home before the streetlights go on. So I rushed and I made it with plenty of time to spare but just as I was coming over the hill to descend onto the beach, I was met with a big puffy wall of clouds. No!!!!! Not bad weather! My heart sank.

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However, I also know that clouds can also produce the softest light and that is good for skin tones. A moody beach can be very photogenic beach. Sometimes even better than a sunny beach. So I found parking and set off to explore potential locations.

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It was crowded. People were everywhere. Thankfully, I have a pretty good lens that can blur out the background and some photoshop skills so it wasn’t too terrible. The sun lowered and what do you know, it peaked beneath the clouds! So I had soft light from the clouds, dynamic skies AND golden hour!!! What good luck! All that stress for nothing.

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But that’s how I roll. All the stress all the time. I don’t have any photos from actual golden hour to share because those belong to the client but let me tell you they turned out soooooooooooooo good. I’m really happy with them. I will be spending the rest of today photoshopping out people and hopefully send them off to the client soon and maybe if she loves them, she’ll give me permission to share a few in my portfolio. Wait, do I have a photography portfolio? No, I do not! But I should get one. I do find myself doing more and more photoshoots these days. I should at least try and make this camera pay for itself.

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All of these photos are just regular life photos taken by my phone. Phones take great photos these days! Won’t it be weird when we start paying photographers and they show up with nothing but their phone? I swear I could do just as good of a shoot with my phone these days as I could with my big-lensed camera. In many ways my phone is smarter than I am with a camera. The way it takes moving pictures and then averages the light between the lightest and the darkest shot to create a perfect shot where nothing is too bright or too dark?? That’s hours and hours of photoshop in the old days.

I digress. I’m sharing these photos because I’ve been taking more and more photos of myself and my crazy gray hair. I’m as confused by my new identity as you are. Who is this gray-haired forty-something and what is her style? Is she old, is she old trying to look young? Who knows! Do I lean into the gray hair grandma style or try to hold onto the patriarchal stereotypes of the sexy midlife fifty-something? Both?  Everyday I’m changing. Kind of like puberty all over again.

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What else is new? My parents brought my sister-in-law out to visit me. It was so good to see her! We haven’t seen each other in years and the pandemic makes any kind of get-together feel like finding a long lost friend. It makes my heart hurt how much I miss people. Yes, you say, didn’t you just shoot someone at the beach? I did but I wore a mask the whole time and it’s not the same. It’s hard to really talk with a mask on your face. It was really good to see her and hang out. She and my brother are splitting up which is terrible but they’ve had a good long run so maybe marriages have expiration dates. I don’t know. I’m just glad we are all staying close no matter what.

Oh and my car broke. Sigh. It is fifteen years old after all. It’s also had a good long run. I’ve been hanging onto it to give to Bug when she drives next year. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. BUG WILL BE DRIVING NEXT YEAR!!!! Toby and I bought that little car when she was six months old. And now they are both fifteen, turning SIXTEEN!!!  I love that car. It has been so good to me. I remember when I bought it everyone shook their head and said I was going to have so many problems with a high-maintenance German car but guess what? They were wrong! This car has been a dream to drive. It’s had very little maintenance (maybe I’m genuinely blocking it out) and I couldn’t love it more. So I’m taking this latest bad turn with thankfulness. I was due for some car trouble. I’ve had way too many years getting off Scott free.

The ignition broke. It just locked up and wouldn’t budge while Heather and I were parked in a Wahoo’s parking lot. Two TripleA technicians were called and nobody could get it out of gear. Finally, after some fancy fifty-two-point backing-up ballet, a tow truck towed it to the nearest Audi dealership and she’s sitting there waiting for a new part from Germany. It won’t be cheap but I should get her back this week sometime. Sigh…

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There is the market basket! See that thing? I don’t know if I’m a farmers market sucker or it it really is the most beautiful basket ever. I’ve seen them at farmers markets for years and always wanted one. I figured they were good for carrying all your produce because it’s a bit stiff and things can sit on the bottom and keep from getting smushed into each other like the usual plastic bags do. So I bought one. It cost me fifty big smackaroos. I think it was probably handmade in Africa so I hope some of that money is going back to whomever made it. But as I bought it and sucked on my green juice with a paper straw stuck under my mask, I saw two twenty-something boys staring at me and laughing. Were they laughing at me? Was I fulfilling some farmers market stereotype with my gray hair and my sloppy workout pants stuffed into Ugg boots? I probably was but they also were probably just laughing about a fart joke or something  because NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU LITTLE HOO! Sigh… Anyway, I love it. I plan to go to the farmers market every Saturday from now on and get my money’s worth out of that pretty basket.

The rest of these photos are me trying out new styles with my new fifty-shades of gray coloring. I follow a mom style blog, The Mom Edit. Do you know it? It’s a fun way to halfway stay up to date with what all the kids are doing without embarrassing yourself completely. Although the older I get the more I am embracing embarrassing myself. Who cares about trends! Wear whatever you like! If you have confidence you can rock anything!

But when you don’t have confidence with silly things like, why do bootleg jeans look completely stupid with boots then The Mom Edit comes in handy with all kinds of tips. It’s good to know I’m not the only one struggling with certain styles. Like the no-socks trend!!! I am so glad it’s cool to wear socks again. I was sick and tired of cold ankles. It figures that when I’ve finally gotten rid of all my scrunchy thick socks and replaced them with those tiny no-see-em socks, it’s time to start buying regular socks all over again. I should have stuck to what I liked all along.

That’s all I got!

Happy Monday!

Bug Turns 15: The Road Trip to Nowhere, Part 3

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I don’t have any pictures from our trip to Pismo Beach (because it was horrible and I was driving) but let me just describe it as this: bedlam. I was so desperate for a bathroom and there were none in sight. I pulled into town practically buckled over my steering wheel in pain only to find everything packed with people everywhere. Bug stepped up and was frantically searching for clean bathrooms on yelp. Did you know there was such a thing? I did not. Kids for the win! We found one at a convenience store but there was no place to park! I pulled into a residential driveway where two cars were parked already and I would block them in but I was desperate. No sooner had I put my car in park and started to open my door when a woman hollered over the fence from a beer garden next door (or maybe it was a bar that served outdoors) that I could absolutely NOT PARK THERE!!!! I totally understood. Her staff was parked there and they needed to do a shift change and NOT be blocked in. I was probably the fiftieth person she yelled at that day. So I swallowed my pain and got back on the road.

Fifty u-turns later, a stop at a public park bathroom that was LOCKED and nothing but traffic and people, Bug remembered a hotel her dad had taken her to on a previous trip. We knew they had no vacancy but figured they would at least let us use their lobby bathroom.  AND GUESS WHAT? HALLELUJAH THEY DID!!!

It was the nicest hotel. Five stars for sure. We wanted to stay there but not during these crazy times. There weren’t any people in the lobby and the really nice concierge told me that of course I could go downstairs and use their facilities. What a contrast to the public restroom we saw earlier that had a line of people around the block and several anti-maskers partying it up nearby. I was so happy to finally find a place all to myself in peace and quiet. I have never felt so introverted and relieved in all my life.

So here’s a little TMI thing about anxiety: having to urgently and painfully pee can be a symptom. Yes, I had good reason to naturally need to urinate but also my stress was kicking in and I was a mess. I often fret about this and it can completely ruin a good time for me. Poor Bug was so patient with me.

I remember my grandmother was the same way. When I was a kid I did a personal research project on people’s biggest fears and how they related to their nightmares and I remember my grandma telling me she often had nightmares that she was traveling and couldn’t find a bathroom. So I come by this genetically. I think of her often when I’m fretting like this. I used to the be expert on all public restrooms but now that Covid has closed so many businesses I’m at a loss.

Anyway!!! Enough about having to pee. Let’s get back to our wonderful birthday trip! That was the horrible no-good terrible part of our trip and we survived.

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We got the hell out of Dodge, I mean Pismo Beach and headed north for two more hours to Carmel. It was never my intention to go so far north but after Pismo Beach I was desperate for wide open spaces. It’s funny how some beach communities are full of rich people and others are full of hardcore partiers. Show me to the beaches that are deserted and only nature-loving artists live there and people who like to be alone. I know that’s a high ask and it’s not like I haven’t been a hard core partier myself but you get my drift. I just want to be alone with my kid on a trip and look at nature.

When we got into Carmel we found a cute little ancient hotel called The Pine Inn. It was creak-ity, (why is that not a word? am I spelling it wrong?), smelled like an old folks home and probably haunted but VERY charming. After the Kimpton we were pretty spoiled but you gotta find a safe place to sleep so this was fine by me. Our room had an old antique radiator that made super loud banging sounds at five in the morning that scared the crap out of us. Thankfully a quick google search by Bug informed us that this was perfectly normal for an 18th century hotel and there wasn’t someone downstairs trying to wake us up by banging on pipes.

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I enjoyed wandering around the deserted lobby and creaky stairs. This photo I found was super interesting.

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What a bunch of stylish old chaps, no? I know there is a ton of Ansel Adams history here. Apparently we stayed in one of the first hotels that was ever built in Carmel by the Sea. Good to know! It’s seen better days I’m sure but I kinda of felt lucky that we could stay in such a famous tourist spot and NOT be swarmed by tourists. The Il Fornaio that is attached to the hotel was closed but they did offer us a complimentary breakfast of packaged danishes, bananas, yogurt and some craptastic water that faintly tasted like coffee that I quickly dumped in a trash can outside and replaced with a proper coffee from the coffeeshop across the street.

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Then we walked down the street five or six blocks to the beach to enjoy our breakfast. Not too shabby!

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It was cold though. A stiff wind blew right over our heads and somehow blew the waves but not us. We found a log in the sun to sit on and warm up a bit.

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Then we packed up our hotel and headed off to one more spot before starting our long journey home.

Next spot: POINT LOBOS!

I was feeling a little bit nervous about being so far north and needing to get home in one day but Bug assured me that Point Lobos was well worth delaying our homeward trip, even if it meant possibly missing some plans we had back home. So off we headed. I’ve been here before with Toby when I was married and Bug has been with her dad a few years ago but my memory had faded some.

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There was no parking available in the park and not anywhere near the park. I was super worried, what does that mean? The park is full?  Bug was adamant about going. She assured me that the park was big enough that we wouldn’t run into anyone. I guess the last time her dad took her they couldn’t find parking either and hoofed it in. Well, hoofing it in was like a mile and a half!!! Normally I love a good 20K step walk but lately my hip has been giving me trouble so I was not too pleased. But Bug insisted. She is a bigger wuss than I am about walking so if she insisted it was worth walking a mile and a half to get there then it really must be something else.

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She was right.

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Point Lobos is AMAAAAAAAAZING! I don’t really even know how to properly describe it. I know the pictures will help but it was so much more. Just imagine all encompassing fresh air, color and nature coming at you full force! I think of it as a bunch of coves with jewel-like colored water splashing and crashing all around you in vibrant colors of blue and green. It’s God’s own personal crown.  It’s kind of weird when you look up the history of this beautiful place it is known for whale-killing, abalone harvesting, mining, military secrets and NOT it’s crazy beauty!!! I’m very happy that it’s preserved now.

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We walked the trails and thankfully Bug was right! There weren’t that many people. I’m not sure where they were but they weren’t on the trails we were.

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Sometimes I’m not sure which is prettier, Bug or the scenery.

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She’s growing up. That’s the hard fact.

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I’m so happy Bug is a nature-lover. She takes after her dad that way. She’s also taken up old-school film photography so that makes us all super proud.painting-in-point-lobos

I found a spot to sit and paint. Bug sat behind me and photographed. She even made a movie using my phone that I put on my instagram stories. I’ll have to find that and save it. It was really cool.

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Pretty pretty waves. Not so pretty hunch back neck.

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Hi Bug!

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Then it was time to pack up, find some lunch and start our long trip home.

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I’m so glad we were able to go on this trip. Especially now that I’m over feeling so guilty about it. Thank you for bearing with me. I’m a stress case and I let that get in the way of our enjoyment of an important mother-daughter journey. The trip was a good thing but it was also a risk. I think taking a risk like this was dangerous. Of course there were lots of ways to go and be careful but as you saw from my needing-to-find-a-restroom nightmare, even the best intentions could go haywire.

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Like hair blowing in the wind! You never know which way it’s going to go!  Hahaha. That was a lame segue but I gotta get through all these photos and put words between them!

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Or not. Just looking at pictures is nice too.

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I love this one. I title it: Small Girl in a Pandemic.  I always try to block out things like cars, people, buildings… masks and evidence of a pandemic but I know someday we will look back on these photos and the mask will mark a huge historical pinpoint. I wonder how we will change and how masks will stay with us.

Personally, I know I haven’t been sick since I started wearing masks regularly and I usually get at least one cold every season so I’m thinking I might keep my masks around for good. They work!

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But this post is not about masks. It’s about finding the good in the midst of bad. It’s about being safe and and also scared. It’s about a girl growing up into a beautiful young woman who’s mother might be a bit of a basket case. But aren’t we all these days? Aren’t we all just trying to do our best and hope we don’t have too many vulnerable spots that can be shot at with troll arrows?

Love you guys.