• 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…

  • out out out of the house!,  place holder posts,  rando bits,  Tis the Season

    I’m still alive!

    bag-maker-sewing-class-finisher.

    I’m still here I promise! I just got clobbered with too much work. I’ve been gasping for air whenever I can but that leaves no room for extras like blogging.  I was desperate for work so I asked everyone I knew and it all came flying in. Feast or famine! But I’m very thankful. As long as I keep the pipeline full I’ll be able to pay my bills. Them’s the breaks for a freelancer. You can never really relax. But you also can drum up work pretty easily when things get lean.

    First off, I finished my first beginning sewing class in the Fashion Design certificate program I’m going for at our local community college. It was super easy and I aced it. I can now make totes, aprons and pajama pants from memory. If you’re family, that’s what you can expect for Christmas.

    feels-like-autumn

    Did I tell you about the courtesy clerk job at Ralphs? It was such a social experiment for me. While I loved it, it quickly became clear that it was way too hard on my body for way too few dollars. I’ve been exhausted every day after my shift and found it nearly impossible to sit at my desk and continue my regular work that actually pays the bills. No Bueno. I put in my two-week notice and my last day is November 10th. I’m kinda sad to leave because I loved it. I love the people. I love chatting to customers in quick little non-commital snippets as they go through the checkout line. I love working so hard that I don’t have to think about working out and I can eat anything I like and still lose weight. It was really fun. But it also was really physically demanding and I know it’s only a matter of time before I injure myself. Lifting heavy pumpkins from counter height to a cart and then lowering them at an awkward angle was just asking for another Dr. Pepper ice pack necessitating back spasm. I don’t want to go through that again. So I’m cutting my losses and saying goodbye. But I’m also leaving on good terms in case I ever get another itch to work blue-collar again. There is something super satisfying about clocking in an honest day of hard work.

    in-la-with-matt

    Things with Matt are still going really well. (Would I tell you if they weren’t? Nope.) But they are good. We had a really fun weekend in LA with trips to LACMA and Nobu where I tried wagyu beef for the very first time. I had NO IDEA steak could taste like bacon and drippy popcorn butter at the same time. It was mind-blowing. No wonder it costs so much. Definitely a treat I won’t be having regularly. I do like being spoiled though. The weekend was over so quickly. Now I’m anxiously looking forward to our next trip. Long-distance relationships are tricky but they do have their perks.

    amazing-sunrises-1

    Back at home Autumn has been showing up and showing out. I LOVE October so much! It’s so pretty. Just when it seemed like summer was going to last forever it got delightfully chilly. It’s been lovely to sit on my patio and sip hot chocolate, wear sweaters and cuddle up in a blanket. The sunrises have been amazing. I’m so glad I’m a morning person and I can catch them by the lake.

    reflection-is-everything

    This one really killed it. It didn’t even look like much until I got up to the lake and focused on the reflection. Reflections make my happy bells go off. What is it? Do our minds love symmetry? I don’t know but give me a pretty view and add a reflection and I’ll get you a better picture.

    and-ducks

    I love my morning walks. They offset the madness that is the rest of my life. I can’t go on them daily while I’m still working at Ralphs (my early shift starts at 5 am) but I squeeze at least two in a week. They are the reason I’m feeling good.

    fall-color-palette

    Next up are all the concerts we’ve been going to. No wonder I’m feeling ragged! You can’t get up early like a workaholic and then stay up late and party like a rockstar too. Not good for you! But it was fun.

    harry-styles-concert-love-on-tour

    First I dragged Bug to Harry Styles. She is not a fan but she humored me. I got really good tickets which was a nice surprise. I’m used to the nosebleeds. All those canceled events in 2020 are finally paying off in credits for new shows.

    harry-styles-concert-love-on-tour-2

    It was a great show. Harry truly is a showman. All the girls screaming around us kinda made it hard to hear anything. My ears were ringing for hours afterward. But it was worth it. It was a lively event and I’ll always remember the fun it all was. I love that people can still be playful and lighthearted in a heavy heavy world.

    getting-ready-for-the-garden-concert

    Two nights later it was Bug’s turn to take me to see one of her favorite bands: The Garden. I’m not a fan. There are a few songs I like but the rest sounds like trash cans being banged together to me. But since she suffered through a pop concert for me, I can sit through a punk concert for her.  It was also lively and fun. I loved people-watching. Everyone had make-up on like Bug. She’s found her people.

    dark-church-in-pomona

    We took this shot at a church nearby the Fox Theatre where The Garden was playing. It was black and white and reminded me of a very very humble and small version of the Duomo in Florence.

    the-garden-concert-in-pomona-2022

    Then inside the theatre, it was chaos. Black and white jester-faced chaos.

    fox-theatre-in-pomona

    I got to explore the theatre which is like many old theatres: full of really cool art deco details and pretty staircases that lead to abandoned back rooms. I’m surprised it was open as much as it was. Inside the tower was a room that looked like a VIP room with velvet couches and pillows… but it was completely dark. I got up the guts to go inside and turn on my phone flashlight but the extremely high ceiling kinda gave me agoraphobia.

    pumpkin-patch-22-with-teens

    That’s pretty much it for October. I haven’t been able to do all the fun fall things we usually do because I’m a working woman and I have no time for domesticity. But I do have high hopes for November!

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