• Life Lessons,  party party,  Shop Talk,  spilling my guts,  The Desert,  working woman

    Winter Forever

    still-winter

    I know everyone is feeling it. The lack of sunshine directly contributes to the lack of serotonin in my brain and so many of my fellow warriors in the trenches of mental illness. We are fighting a monotonous, endless war against depression and the human condition. Every day is a battle to see the bright side. But there are bright sides! They still exist! I’m spinning as fast as possible to turn every negative thought into a positive one. Let’s keep up the good fight! Let’s find the sunshiney glimmers between the dark, dreary winter storms!

    bug-bday-part1

    I’m lucky enough to have a big birthday to celebrate after Christmas and New Year’s. It was good planning to have a kid in January to give myself something to look forward to in the dark days of winter.

    Bug, however, does NOT like having a winter birthday. All she wants is a pool party with sunshine and friends splashing around in bikinis.  And every year, we have to fret about whether or not her party will get rained out. I mean, yes, we are lucky that these are the problems we have to worry about when other kids are just fortunate enough to wake up alive and not to the sounds of bombs going off. But you know what I mean. Real-life problems in my small world are weather and paying rent.

    This was probably the first year in her eighteen years that it rained, and we had to consider a plan B: cramming all twenty of her high school buddies into our tiny apartment. We opened the weather app daily and discussed the predicted rain percentages.  On Monday, there was a 40% chance; on Tuesday, there was a 60% chance; by Friday, there was an 80% chance. It was not looking good, but the plan must go on!

    Because the plan was a good one! This year, Bug planned her birthday party from the invitation to the location of our local park to the bounce house and the piñatas. It was painful to step aside and let her make all the party-planning decisions, but I had to do it.  I had plenty of opinions, but just like I’ve had to step aside and let her do her school art projects, I’ve learned that there is a time for the teacher to be the student, and now is that time.

    bug-bday-part2

    Her theme was impeccable—”Party like when you were little.”  It was such a good idea!  Her friends dressed how they dressed when they were little. She made cupcakes and took them to school (the day before, which was a great way to hype the whole event). She had two Minecraft piñatas filled with all their old favorite candies and party-city-craptastic toys. Cheese pizza, a pink castle bounce house, bouncy balls giant and small… sticky hands, sparkly crowns and glow bracelets. It was brilliant!

    bug-bday-part3

    It was an absolute hit.  Bug had hyped it up so much at school the day before, and because teenagers will congregate anywhere under any circumstances, EVERYONE SHOWED UP! And THEN! At the last minute right before her party, the rain stopped for the exact hours of her birthday party!!!!! Everything was sludgy, muddy, and cold, but the rain stopped! Can you believe it?

    The bounce house was so fun. The kids didn’t really bounce in it much until the rental company showed up and told them it was time to deflate it. Then they all crammed in, and it deflated on them because bounce houses are not made to hold twenty full-grown bodies. It was hilarious. All the weight shifted to one side, and no one could hoist themselves up and out of the descending castle. Photos were taken, and everyone bonded in a huge laughing heap. It was amazing. We all relived our little kid dreams, and this mama was happy.

    nb-winter-sunset

    Let’s talk about another glimmer during winter: Winter light! Winter light is the best on the coast because the usual foggy, humid marine layer goes out to sea somewhere, and the skies are clearer and brighter than ever. Sunsets are beautiful with colors you never see any other time of the year. Golds and scarlets, pinks and purples. It is a beautiful thing to be by the sea during winter. Cold as heck but beautiful. I mean, comparatively speaking. We don’t know about snow or freezing temperatures, but our blood is thin, so we shiver when it’s 60 degrees and below.

    nb-winter-sunset-with-DJ

    Shiver, shiver, shiver. But look! So pretty!

    winter-at-the-cantina-1

    I also traveled to the desert to check on the Rasta Rita Cantina. Since my little flower business has a few weddings coming up in April, I thought I should get reacquainted with the venue.

    winter-at-the-cantina-2

    The wall is slightly faded but not bad, considering it’s been through a severe summer (118F) and winter (30F). I might have to do a few touch-ups.

    the-U2-RastaRitaCantina-sign

    Mario and I also visited the billboard we worked on. I was so NOT a part of this creatively (Mario and his buddy art-directed it; I was just the hands working the software), but it is my first billboard, so I’m slightly proud. I thought we’d get sued by U2 for blatantly ripping off their album cover, but since I didn’t have the correct photo or the right font, it wasn’t close enough to flatter myself. So hey! Billboard! Woot. It’s too bad I’m not proud enough to put it in my portfolio.

    A few of you have commented on my winding ways lately. Yes, I’m throwing everything at the wall, hoping it will stick. Flower business, behavioral therapy for autistic children, job hunting and travel… I suppose it’s not often a mommy blogger continues to tell tales and document her humdrum life after her children are grown. But the thing is, this never was a mommy blog. I just happened to be a mom for a big chunk of it. Mommy blogging made me famous briefly, but I’ve been journaling, sharing, and creating my, for lack of a better word, *digital magazine* of my “little life” since I was ten. Except when I was ten, my dad and I were in our converted back patio office punching out columns of copy on his Texas Instrument computer and pasting them into a newspaper format that we copied on the Xerox copier and I then handed out at Thanksgiving. Crazy. I guess I’ve always wanted to be a journalist writing “puff pieces” about my own life.

    I say all that to tell you about my latest whim. I’m trying out something new. Something new to throw at that wall, let’s say. I call it my 100-day project. I will spend 100 days putting all my energy into my own business. This might sound strange since I’ve been working for myself for the last twenty years, but I’ve spent a lot of time and energy making other people wealthy while living paycheck to paycheck myself, and lately, those paychecks have NOT been enough. I’ve created so many campaigns, logos, and business plans for others, scrubbed toilets, fetched dry cleaning, organized closets, and bought coffees… I’ve decided for the next 100 days, I will put as much energy as I’ve put into others into my own business instead. I’m not paying myself, but I’m paying it forward.  I will clock in at 9 am and work straight until 2 pm on my books, my art, and whatever crawls into my idea-popping head. If I can make other people successful, why can’t I make myself successful?

    I realize I’m all talk, but it’s only 100 days. Today is day four. Let’s see how it goes. It’s got to be better than everything I’ve been doing that has been failing so miserably, right?

     

    xo

  • Life Lessons,  party party,  spilling my guts,  Tis the Season

    Free 2024 Calendar! and words…

    happy-end-of-the-year

    I’m just going to get this little belated Christmas gift out of the way right off the top because if you are here for the calendar, you don’t want to have to read to the very end!

    HERE YOU GO! (click and print!)

    Have at it, proofreaders! Whoever finds the most typos wins! Email the corrections to secretagentjo@gmail.com, and I will fix them and post a final draft by the first week of January. Happy Printing!

    To the rest of you, let’s get into it!

    2023-thanksgiving

    It’s been a winter. All the cliched parts: the dark, the cold, the war in the Middle East, babies dying, people getting cancer, seasonal depression…anything else you want to throw in that murky pot called November and December?  Let’s talk about the bright bits.

    Thanksgiving was sweet. Bug and I have a tradition of cooking a turkey section (not the whole thing) and only preparing and eating food Bug likes. That means no stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, or green bean casserole, and all the pie we can make. It’s a sweet tradition, and because Bug special requests it, there is nothing I love doing more. I’m a sucker for a special request. This year, we chose a pre-cooked turkey breast from Trader Joe’s, which was NOT good, but we are “Trader Hos” now that Bug works there, so we had to test it out. I can officially weigh in that it wasn’t great, but we didn’t care. We had brussel sprouts, fresh cranberry orange relish, and PIE to look forward to and obsess about. I love having moments like this with Bug. I’m so lucky I birthed a daughter who loves my company and food.   I miss having a big family but love the peace, tranquility, and one-on-one time with Bug. Lately, I’ve realized I would feel very alone in a family or crowd. Being alone with all my thoughts and feelings is where I need to be right now.

    golden-cody-winter-mornings.

    I spend a lof of time alone while Bug is off with her friends and boyfriend or working.  Cody is my stand-in buddy. He’s gross and needs to be groomed right now, but we get along fine. I don’t mind his stink or greasy fur.  Especially since I’m moving out of my apartment this coming Spring, I’ve given up on keeping the rug white. It was a lost cause once the dog moved in. Sigh. But he’s such a good friend. I always said if I ever had empty nest syndrome, I’d get myself the neediest dog. Done and done!

    2023-pre-christmas-flowermarket

    Right before Christmas, I got invited to have a little nighttime pop-up holiday shop in Laguna Beach. It was a bust, though, because there were no lights where I was set up, and I couldn’t go back in time to get some in the mad bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic. The inebriated townspeople out enjoying the festivities didn’t notice my holiday bouquets. I did sell one, but mostly everyone just wanted free margaritas and to wish everyone a merry Christmas. It was a jolly night.  Not the best for business but a fun time anyway.

    My loyal friend Tamie (best friend from second grade!) drove out to meet me and brought me a FULL Christmas tree to hack up for holiday bouquets. (!!!)  I had bemoaned to her that I didn’t know how to make Christmas bouquets with no budget and before I knew it she was off  on her lunch break to the dollar store and bought me a bunch of wire wreath frames (which I LOVE, where have you been all my life!!), holiday bits and bobs, AND a whole tree. I am so lucky to have such friends.

    2023-pre-christmas-flowers

    The next day, I made two wreaths and a bouquet for delivery. I was in flower heaven.

    I-have-a-tree-on-my-patio

    Here I am with my tree on my patio. It made an excellent addition.

    crafting-mess

    I also got into crafting. I manic-crafted for a full day.

    morning-at-the-lake

    morning-at-the-lake-2

    2023-SF-xmas-party

    Life goes on even when you are worried you are losing your mind. I seem to be able to continue to show up. I went to Matt’s work Christmas party and had a lovely time. Like I always do. I miss him so much when we are apart, but this is our life, and it probably won’t change for several more years. We both have commitments on opposite sides of the state, which is our lot in life.

    2023-SF-matt-time

    When we get together, we have THE BEST OF TIMES. It’s concentrated quality time, which is my love language. He spoils me rotten with fancy dinners and drinks.

    kusama-2023

    sfmoma-cafe

    Visits to coffee shops and museums…. all my favorite things!

    sfmoma-with-matt

    north-beach-sf-2023

    We had the best weather in San Francisco and visited all my favorite haunts in bright sunshine, quite different from my last rainy visit.

    tunnel-tops-sf-2023

    Matt took me to a new place I’d never been before: Tunnel Tops by the Golden Gate Bridge. It was lovely, and it was not cold or windy for the first time in my life! It’s always reliably cold in San Francisco. July: freezing. August: freezing. December? Warm and nice! SF, you’re drunk.

    the-hard-part

    Then, the hard part: coming home. Home to cold, rainy winter weather.

    winter-in-socal

    Bug loves to celebrate the winter solstice and cheered me up with hot hibiscus tea and orange slices on the stove. She lit candles, played music, and talked about starting a new year and letting go of the past. She’s a wise old soul.

    hot-couture-dog

    Cody landed a modeling job. Bug was scrolling through Instagram, and one of her friends was looking for a dog for a photoshoot. It wasn’t a paying gig, and we have no idea what the photos are for, but it was fun to show up to the shoot and be the “animal handler.” Since Cody is my buddy every day and very food-driven, he performed like a champ. All the photographers and assistant people ooohed and awwed when Cody did precisely as he was told. Usually, I’m a terrible dog owner, and he barks his head off and wants constant attention, but this day, he was perfect. I was so proud.

    the-christmas-puzzle

    I had a calm, quiet Christmas. Bug spent Christmas Eve with me and went to her Dad’s the next day.  I would say, Oh, poor lonely me! But I needed quiet alone time. I sat and did my puzzle and listened to a book on Audible.  I felt calm and at peace.

    Peace on earth, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum…

Secret Agent Josephine
Creative Agency
© Brenda Ponnay