• corona virus 2020,  I forgot to tell you this earlier,  place holder posts,  rando bits,  Slow Living,  Tis the Season

    Christmas Catch-up


    Here I am back at the blog to document this past Christmas. It’s such a faux pas to blog something after it has happened but I’ve well established that this website is a glorified (expensive) journal (with photos!) and not a money-making business so who really cares about schedules?!! Not me! I like to keep the bar low.

    Speaking of low expectations: We had NO expectations for Christmas festivities this year since Covid has put a damper on everything. That means we had a pretty good old-fashioned family-bonding time.  Pessimists are us? Maybe so but it worked. We invited our pod over (Payam’s mom and brother) for dinner and unwrapping of presents on Christmas Eve. I didn’t grow up with any Christmas traditions so this feels right to me. Christmas day is snoresville to me. What do you do if you don’t have little kids opening presents? Netflix all day? Like any other Tuesday? But Christmas Eve is magical. I love that the lights are low, a fire is crackling.. everyone is chilling with something to eat or drink. It just seems sweet. And the kids are in a great mood because: GIFTS.

    Earlier in December, we picked up a tree from “the Lowe’s parking lot experience.” I call it an experience because it felt like those drive-through events you go to nowadays with people in costumes and masks walking around your car in sets that are six feet away. Not unlike sitting in traffic in rush hour.

    We picked out our tree from the astroturf-lined wedding tent, popped our heads in the little painted stand with head-cut outs for old time’s sake and then got back in our car to wait in line for our tree. It took about half an hour. In the scheme of things that wasn’t too bad. It’s not like we had anywhere else to go.


    Later in the week Grandma Pedram and Payam’s brother came over to see all the decorating we had been doing. It wasn’t all that much but Payam’s family is the call-everyday type and the only updates we really had to give were us decorating this or that. So when Grandma Pedram came over, I enlisted her and the girls to decorate the tree while I took a work phone call. Next thing I knew every single ornament we have was hanging on the tree. It was a mess but also beautiful. I had visions of only hanging my favorites and leaving the old Disney plastic ornaments in the bottom of storage but there you have it. All the ornaments on the tree! Kinda sweet.


    The girls messed around with the lights, taking photos, and being beautiful.


    I bought us matching pajamas this year. Cute red striped traditional pajamas from Target. They were cheap. I wanted us all to have striped pajamas but they don’t make these red ones for men so I bought Payam the next best thing: Nightmare Before Christmas Skelly fuzzy pants and then well, I had to buy the rest of us some too because who wants to be left out of that fuzzy skelly show?


    The skelly pants were a bigger hit than I expected and the girls took it upon themselves to have a style challenge and wear them as everyday wear. Yes, they wore matching pajama pants and walked down to the local shopping center dressed like this. Classy! I think the looped silver belt makes it.


    But back to decorating: We put lights up this year. I think everyone in our neighborhood did because we all have so much time on our hands! It made me happy. In the past, I had vowed never to put lights up again after we got in trouble with our home-owners association a few years back for leaving them up until February. Those bah-humbugs, they weren’t even turned on! But I guess having Christmas lights up after Christmas (even turned off) is super tacky. I wouldn’t know. I grew up in a neighborhood where it was totally acceptable to have three non-working trucks parked on your lawn AND a toilet growing geraniums. Lights seem like a petty infraction. But whatever. We’ll be sure to take them down early this year.


    You probably already saw my birdhouse milk carton craft and the baked citrus suncatchers. I love them. We’ve already undecorated for Christmas (I love a good purge) but I’ve left the orange suncatchers up because they are so cheery on these cold winter days.


    Did you see how we decorated our cul-de-sac with graffiti!?!!! What law-breakers we are! Except its chalk and washes away so psych! Phew! It was pretty fun to play around with. It felt super naughty and I was expecting my neighbors to call the cops on me at any minute but they didn’t.

    I actually bought this spray chalk misunderstanding what it was. I am the WORST when it comes to buying things on Amazon. I always misread everything and skim through important details without picking up on anything. I thought it was matte paint, like what you buy to make blackboards, but in pretty pastel colors. I bought it to paint my milk cartons. I don’t know why I didn’t notice the kids playing with trucks on chalk roads that was clearly printed on the packaging. That’s kind of a big detail! But then I’m also the person who orders containers three times too big AND sets up a subscription for toilet paper five times faster than we can possibly use it. (Handy mistake this last march though.) So anyway it wasn’t a total loss since I like to try out new art supplies anyway. It was pretty awesome but the cans ran out way too fast.

    That sums up the December decorating news…I think. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m brewing some things for the new year but I’ll get to those later.


    In other news, before we found out that California is in the DEEP DREADFUL DARK PURPLE OF COVID CASES and possibly the worst in the nation and therefore WORLD, a friend and I went on a really fun hill hike. We wore our masks the entire time except when we painted (six feet away from each other) AND when we took a selfie. Which was totally stupid and completely blew our germ-free protocol!!! I’ve noticed that I’ve done that several times. I’ll go out on a walk with my dogs early in the morning when no people are out and wear my mask the entire time and then a friend pulls up in their car to chat with me and they can’t hear/understand me so I pull my mask down to talk to them which completely defeats its purpose. I guess it’s all a learning curve and I’m new to pandemics but still, I can’t believe how stupid I am sometimes.  Thankfully we are all still well but it has hit our neighborhood and I do have friends who have caught it so now it’s more urgent than ever to be safe. So no more hill hikes for us. Boo.

    It was really fun though. I love Plein air painting. My painting didn’t turn out super special but I’ll cherish it forever anyway because it was such a fun time. I think it’s better when paintings are more about the process than the end result anyway. It captures the emotion of where we were and how beautiful it was even if it technically missed the mark.


    Other than that, all I have to add is that winter is here and I love it! I hated this last summer. I was so sick of being hot and sweaty. I have such a lower tolerance for heat now that I’m older and menopausal. I don’t love the gray days but I do love a chill in the air. I LOVE wearing sleeves and sweaters in the house.

    That bright orange caution-cone-colored hat Bug has on is a product from my dad’s business. We really wanted to get them promoted for Christmas but at the last minute he figured out he couldn’t stock enough of them to fill orders in time for Christmas so we’ll save that idea for next year. But I’m planning on making day-glow orange (and yellow) beanies a thing so brace yourself. And if you are smart, go buy one and promote my dad because he is AWESOME and deserves to have a real business to support himself instead of gardening and odd jobs at his age.  He is supposed to be retired but I’m thinking he’s not quite done being an entrepreneur yet.


    Last but not least, shall we talk about winter skies? Why are they so much more awesome than summer skies? Probably because there isn’t a marine layer in the air like there is all summer when things are sticky and hot. I just love a clear sky with scribbles and dribbles of bright orange and purple clouds.


    Whether it’s sunrise or sunset it never disappoints.

    Until next time! xoxo

  • 15 minute posts,  crazy stuff,  gardening,  Life Lessons,  Moody Blues,  place holder posts,  rando bits,  Slow News Day

    Everyday is the End of the World as We Know It


    Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 in the morning to worry. Not on purpose of course. It’s probably that I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking a few cups of coffee in the afternoon AND having a glass of wine when I’m cooking dinner at night. This is not good for me. Coffee and wine mess with my sleep but sadly, I’m not always on my best behavior and sometimes these vices, disguised as treats, sneak in. Sometimes might be all the time.

    Super early yesterday morning, after ruminating in the dark for what seemed like hours, I finally just got up and decided to walk the dogs at dawn. I love doing this because there are less people out and lately it seems like there are people everywhere. Running into people with three not-so-well-behaved dogs (I still have my mom’s dog, Spreckles) AND navigating social distancing etiquette is challenging. I’m always finding myself taking weird routes I had no intention of taking just to avoid people. Hello, stranger. I guess I’ll just take a right turn here to avoid you!  Doesn’t it seem like everyone is always out these days? Not that I blame anyone. I’m sick of my house too and sunshine and space are all that’s keeping us sane these days.

    I often listen to books on Audible while I walk. I also listen to podcasts and I call my dad regularly. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The books I’m reading are often stories about social injustice and while they are super educational and meaningful, they often make my habit of over-worrying even worse. Podcasts are great too but the health and wellness spectrum that I often find myself in also tends to make me over-worry. And even though I love my dad to pieces, sometimes talking to him and absorbing his problems ALSO makes me worry too much. I am just the worriest worry wart there ever was.

    This worrying tendency makes me think of my grandma who passed away forever ago. She was known as the worry wart of the family. I miss her so much. I wish we could talk about this worrying habit. But maybe it’s good she’s not around today to see all the things that are going down. It is not a good time to be a worrier.

    The other day, I walked out into the orange light of mid day (due to all the fires burning in California) and there on the wall of our entryway was the biggest green bug I have ever seen. I looked it up and I think it’s a green Katydid. I’ve seen small bugs like this a lot. Small finger-nail sized versions but this thing was HUGE! It was as big as my palm. And then later I walked out into the backyard and there in the track of our sliding glass door was the hugest slug I have ever seen. All I could think was, it’s the end of the world! Giant bugs, heat waves, weird orange light, pandemics, crazy political scenes, the country on the brink of a civil war… I just wanted to hide like Chicken Little.


    I decided books and podcasts and phone calls were just too much for my poor stressed-out brain. (I know. Eye-roll-worthy.)  I often walk without listening to anything but I decided to turn on my favorite “chill” playlist and a Moby song came on.  I don’t know why I don’t use music to calm myself more often. I don’t remember which song it was but as the softly repeating base line echoed around the inside of my head, I felt my cortisol levels lower. I gazed up at the trees that line the sidewalk path and I started to notice how they were pruned.

    Every tree was pruned differently. I know a lot of this is dependent on the tree and how it grows but the more I examined the branches of each tree, the more I thought they looked like individual works of art! Some were trimmed to flay out symmetrically in all directions. Other trees were pruned to turn in on themselves in spirals. Some were weirdly pruned to grow over the sidewalk…It got me to thinking about who pruned them.  I bet there is a tree-trimmer on our neighborhood route who decided to create his own masterpieces on every tree he comes across! How cool is that?!


    I’ve always thought our neighborhood was a little over-aggressive with their gardening (seriously, it seems like every day is a new and different very loud gardening task: blowing, edging, trimming, mowing…) but today I actually appreciated it. In a community where everything looks the same, I thought, how cool that it actually isn’t!

    Then I started to imagine the cool animated graphic I would create with long willowy purple trunks and branches spiraling around each other to pretty music and wished I was an animator with 3d graphics skills. But that’s just a typical Brenda rabbit hole to fall down.


    But let me tell you, it’s a whole lot better than all the other worry rabbit holes I’ve been falling down lately! A whole lot better than worrying about civil war!!!

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© Brenda Ponnay