The Terrible No-Good Apple-Picking Weekend


Most people would take it easy on a weekend before they jet off to another country but I did not. I decided to schedule an apple-picking expedition with my kids because that’s what you do when you are “basic” and it’s fall and you can’t fit it in any other time.  But really, there is a reason so many white people like to go stand out in an orchard and take pictures of themselves picking apples. It’s pretty! And it makes all the cozy seasonal bells go off in our heads which aren’t really going off normally because we live in Southern California where seasons do not exist.  I hate pumpkin spice lattes so I have to find my seasonal jollies where I can.

We were due for a visit to my mom and the kids hadn’t painted pottery in sooooo long. They’d been begging to go since this last summer but we never got the weekends right. It was time. They wanted to see my mom’s new house etc etc…

EXCEPT an epic storm blew in and messed everything up! As you know we don’t have weather here so when something so much a little puffy cloud blows across the horizon we all send out massive storm warnings and freak out. The roads are slick because they are covered in oil and dust that hasn’t been wet in half a year and everyone goes crazy driving their cars into each other.

We left as soon as the girls got out of school but that didn’t help the traffic problem at all. In fact, I think everyone and their cousin had plans to get out of town at that exact same time. Add some rain and it was mayhem. Google maps routed us off to some tangent mountain road and then stuck us there for HALF AN HOUR because of course mountain roads are not any safer than any other road and of course there were five wrecks. Good times!

Actually it was kind of awesome though because we didn’t have wifi or a radio signal because of said mountains and the girls had to actually get off their phones and talk to me. It was great. We sang, we laughed, we connected our bluetooth to Joon’s playlist and rocked out with the sun roof open. It was QUALITY BONDING TIME with a light sprinkle.

Long story short we made it to the pottery painting shop, painted until 9pm, had a quick Panda Express dinner (my worst favorite place to go but the girl’s favorite) and then finally made it to my mom’s at like 10pm.


But the story doesn’t stop there! Oh no! There were spiders and a few mishaps with my mom’s dog that may have traumatized Joon who is not used to our ways in the sticks. Spiders and poop are not Joon’s cup of tea. They are not really mine or Bug’s either but we’ve been to this rodeo before and have grown a thicker skin.

My dad is away earning extra money driving a potato truck for some family in Idaho so my mom is left alone to take care of her animals by herself. This is all fine except my mom has a bad knee and she can’t take her dog out for the long walks her dog is accustomed to. Her dog is Miss Priss and doesn’t like to go outside in the yard and poop. She wants to go on long excursion walks to the special pooping place under a willow tree or on some nice grass up by the clubhouse. So you can see how some bad things might happen. My mom is at her wits end. Add some rain and her Miss Priss dog is even more uncooperative. My mom is literally pushing the dog outside by it’s rump and the dog is putting the breaks on with all four paws. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating and sad for my mom.

It’s 11 o’clock at night, I’ve walked the dog to the special green grass at the clubhouse and I’m trying to settle the girls into their collapsing recliner beds. I’m soothing their spider phobias when suddenly I hear my mom call out for help from her covered patio. Guess what?! IT’S FLOODED. Of course it is. Because we don’t know what to do with rain and all the drains are plugged up with leaves and debris.  My mom is still in the process of unpacking so of course her covered patio is stacked with cardboard boxes that are now standing in three inches in water getting soggy.

You know what’s sad? I’ve been to this rodeo before too. My mom has had so many valuables ruined by flooding over the years (more a side effect of hoarding than weather) it’s sort of created a trigger for all of us. It’s almost midnight and there we are hauling boxes to her garage, wading through cold water in our pajamas. Good times!

I gotta hand it to my mom though. These things happen regularly so we just grin and bear it and think about how it will make a great story someday.


Somehow we all got over that and got a few hours of sleep. We woke up early and took the dog for a long excursion walk in the fog. It was so pretty. I think we all forgot about the trauma from the night before because now the weather was creating all kinds of dramatic instagram content for us. Win, win!


We loved it.


It’s so pretty! Click, click, click. Snap, snap, snap. Musically, musically, musically.

Then we went to breakfast at IHOP because we love that and headed off to the local hills to go apple picking! It was super foggy and a little treacherous but we made it.


We were worried that the apple farms might be closed because it was still drizzling pretty hard. But they were open and they were magical because they weren’t super crowded with tourists like they usually are. In fact, now that I’ve been here in this “awful” weather I don’t think I can go back in any other kind of weather. Give me drizzle and fog any day over crowds of people and sunshine.


I mean, look at these photos! The secret on the top photo of me is that I accidentally left the *food* filter on my phone camera (which rocks by the way) and it made everything all orange and fall-ish looking. That’s why the blur is so extreme. But whatever, I’ll take it.

I hauled my big camera around in my purse all day but I didn’t take it out because it was raining all the time and we were kind of in a hurry to get out of the rain. Nobody thought ahead and packed a raincoat or an umbrella or anything. What are those anyway? We don’t even know what they are!apple-picking-2

I really wish I would have set up a proper photoshoot though because this magical combination of colors and weather will probably never happen again. In fact I know it won’t. I have to move to Oregon or somewhere like that.


Long story short we had kind of an awesome weekend even though we sat in traffic for hours, we nearly got in a few wrecks, we sloshed around in water in our pajamas, we dealt with poop and spiders and tween-age angst…the list is so long. It should have been a very horrible no good weekend but it wasn’t! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

OR maybe getting awesome photos for your social media far outweighs the crap of dealing with every day problems. I think if this had happened back in 1980-something we would have groaned and complained and filed it away as an epic failure of a weekend but now in 2018 we look at a bunch of rosy, pretty pictures and call it an epic success! We remember what we want to, right?

I will say I am going to remember all the laughing and singing with the girls forever. I love these girls so much.  Of course we missed Payam and wished he could have come along too (he had work and somebody had to stay home with the dogs) but it was super sweet to have this time together. Especially since I am leaving for Italy today!


Every time I ask the girls what they want me to bring them back from Italy they say a plane ticket. They want to come with me so bad. We all have the travel bug since London and Wales. I want to save up to take Bug and Joon (and Payam!) to Paris on Bug’s 16th birthday. I always promised I’d take Rapunzel but I never could make it happen. Now I really have to make it happen.

I should wrap this post up here because it feels like the end but I wanted to share about the new app that Bug accidentally spent ninety-nine dollars on. That was another part of our horrible, no-good, apple-picking weekend. We were bumping along on that mountain road and Bug asks me if she can download this really cool cinemagraph app. I’m driving and dealing with people slamming on their breaks in front of me and causing wrecks so I’m only half paying attention to her. But I’ve seen those photos that are part moving gif and part still photo so I tell her to go ahead and spend the $9.99. It seems like a pretty good deal to me.

I can’t figure out how to embed the picture right now but click here to see what it does. Really neat, right?

Then I get an email on my phone, that I look at even though I’m driving, and it says that iTunes has charged me $99 for a year subscription to Cinemagraph. Not the $9.99 that Bug said it was. What?!!  OOPS x 1000.  This is what I get for driving in weather and traffic and approving apps without paying attention.

The girls figure out a way to share the app on their two phones and spend the next hour or so making the coolest moving pictures ever and my anger fades. In fact, I love this app and I’m super bummed that I can’t use it on my Samsung phone! The girls have promised to edit photos for me and I think I will take them up on it. In fact I know I will.

And that is the end of my terrible no-good apple picking weekend. Not too terrible after all!

Next up: ITALY!!!

Serpenises and fangirls and ants, oh my!


Have you been to the fair yet this summer? I’ve been three times. Except one of those times doesn’t count because we couldn’t actually get inside. Parking was insane. We circled the fairgrounds for a mind-numbing half-an-hour in traffic and one by one, every single parking lot closed on us.  I think there are five or six lots and all of them filled up right before our eyes when we were two or three cars from the entrance. It was maddening.

Then we attempted to park in the college parking lot across the street and one by one those spots disappeared right before we could get to them too. We pushed further out to a metered lot and finally found one spot. We didn’t have any quarters so we bummed eight of them off this really nice lady who refused to take our cash. Pay it forward she said. Then with quarters finally in hand we discovered that our meter, the very last meter, was jammed. It just wasn’t meant to be.  We gave up and went home with sad faces. Of course promising the kids we’d come back the next week they were with us and we’d definitely leave early to beat the rush. Defeated, we stopped for Panda Express for dinner on the way home and paid our eight quarters forward to a cashier who thought we were tipping her.

The next week we did make it back and we left early enough to get an actual parking spot. We had a great time eating fair food, checking out the baby animals, the wood working room and of course getting henna tattoos. The girls wanted matching Riverdale tattoos on their forearms and with a little extra cash they found an artist willing to try it. They were so proud of their tattoos BUT when they were done we got hustled into a crowd and Bug bumped her arm on my purse or something and the “t”  in “serpent” got smudged so that it looked like an “i.” Southside Serpenis was just not gonna work. Back we went and while the artists in the booths tried to smother laughter, they fixed the “i” back into a “t.” I thought it was pretty funny too. Bug was mortified.


My parents are selling their home in the Sticks finally. They’ve been wanting to move since forever and they actually have almost sold their property. Cross your fingers, say a prayer that the escrow closes. We went out there to help with packing some boxes and pick my mom up to take her to Cat Con.

It was about 110 degrees. Well, not 110 but it really doesn’t feel much different from 101 to 120 when you’re in the thick of it. It’s hot and miserable and the worst time to be moving.  I can’t even humble brag about helping them because I only helped them one day while they have selfless church friends (and my aunts) who have been helping them for MONTHS! I am so thankful for their friends (and my aunts). We might not get along or agree on some pretty big things that keep us at odds but we definitely agree on loving my parents.

It was kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to my parent’s property. While I’m so happy they are getting the hell out of dodge and leaving the meth heads and drug dealers behind for a quiet gated retirement community on the other side of town, I will miss their giant green park-like front yard. I’ve taken so many pictures of those red chairs in the shade. Bug has played on the swing set and picked tomatoes from their garden since she was old enough to hobble around. We will definitely miss all their fruit trees and abundant tomato garden. But they won’t miss the old mobile home with the floor that was falling through!

It will be a good move for them. They are moving way out in the country by some mountains near a state park that we can explore. Their community has a big olympic-sized pool that hosts aqua-aerobic classes that will be awesome for my mom. I can’t wait to visit and take the kids there to swim. Since they are way way out in the sticks now, they will be in prime coyote territory so my dad has to build a giant cattery for their eight cats. It will be fun. I look forward to helping him design it.


It was quite timely that we were going to Cat Con and we had an extra ticket for my mom. It was supposed to be me and the girls going (because we had so much fun last time) but Joon couldn’t go because she is taking a vacation with her mom.  My mom was happy to oblige for cattery research purposes and for free cat food. My mom loooooves free stuff, which may or may not be why it’s taking them MONTHS to move.

Whenever Bug and I lost her in the crowds of Cat Con we’d just look for the nearest free cat food booth and find my mom there filling out some form. She had a blast.


And so did we! One of my favorite things about Cat Con is checking out all the illustrators. Someday I’d love to have a booth there and illustrate a bunch of cats. I know I could do it. I’m just in an owl phase right now but you know I have a few cat characters in me too.

Anyway, we stopped by the Emily the Strange booth and I actually got to meet the artist, Rob Regur! I was shy because I’ve been a fangirl since forever. Finally on the second swing by his booth I got up the courage to ask for an autograph. It helped that Bug was shelling out some funds for a really cool cat-scratch black sweatshirt for herself. He was super nice and even drew me a picture! Of course I put my foot in my mouth and said something stupid about liking him since I was twelve, which is totally not true because he is only 50 and I am 46. I got my age wrong. It just felt like I’ve been a fan since I was 12 but it was probably more like I was a fan since college. Whatever. Fangirl brain has dumb.


Speaking of illustrating I have had a brilliant idea. What about Christmas Postcards! I was going to make cards for Christmas this year and sell them in my shop but as you probably know if you follow me on Instagram, I have a thing for postcards. I like to draw and write at least one a day. So why not make Christmas postcards! Who needs an envelope? I always struggle with filling up all that white space in a card anyway. It’s wasted! A postcard is nice because you only have enough room to scrawl a few lines. So that’s my plan.


I’m thinking Little Hoo Christmas cards. Though I would totally use the Papa Hoo card all year around. I might add a few more designs (Christmas Fairy for Gingermog and Stringing Popcorn and Cranberries for Heather..) or I might not. Still thinking on it. Of course I’ll brand up the backside with some cutesy SAJ style.


I was also thinking about making some SueBee cards. Remember her? She’s inspired by my mom. Which style do you like better? Vector on the left or sketchy on the right. I like the vector style better personally but Bug likes the sketchy style. I’m torn. Bug usually has good taste.


You know what else is happening this summer? ANTS. It has been the summer of the Great Ant Conquest. They are out to take over our house with a vengeance. I swear they will probably outlive us and slowly eat our entire house bite by bite. Everyday we find new trails and spend hours spraying them with poison and then cleaning up their trails of dead bodies.

I can thank the ants for my sparkling clean pantry that is now all reorganized and purged of anything with a sugar content. In fact, I got so into cleaning and reorganizing that I asked Payam to build me small shelves in the giant shelves that I used to always lose things in and he did! It is soooo much better. It’s amazing how now I can see everything in the pantry at one time and I don’t have to dig. It’s the best thing ever. So I guess having an ant problem has it’s perks.

We think they have a colony in the attic so we will be calling an exterminator and taking care of that soon.


That pretty much wraps up this summer as I know it.  As Cody says, Stay cool, dudes!