Visiting Susan

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You’ll have to forgive me. I’m blogging about something that happened in May, in July. I refuse to give up blogging even though life is clearly trying to tell me that it’s not as important to me as it used to be. So, yes, this last May I took a little trip to Northern California to visit my good friend and fairy godmother, Susan.

They say you should have someone older in your life who can mentor you and someone younger who you can mentor. Susan is definitely my mentor. We’ve been talking about everything under the sun and encouraging each other for twenty years. TWENTY YEARS!!!

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Those of you who know Susan, know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that Susan is full of life. She buzzes on a higher frequency than the rest of us. She is like a hummingbird, or in my case a fairy godmother, leaving love bombs everywhere she flits. She’s been taking care of me for so long with gifts and little thoughtful acts of kindness,  I have to stop her now because I don’t need so much as I used to. I used to need her care desperately. From haircuts and loans to childcare to long walks and phone calls through tear strung marriage difficulties and clients that sucked my will to live…she has always been there for me. I wish everyone had a fairy godmother.

But also she is just my friend. A kindred spirit. No matter what we do together, we always have fun. Twenty years is a long time to have fun.

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Whenever I’m struggling with life, I like to pop in on Susan and rest up in her home that feels like a retreat. In fact, I hosted my 40th birthday retreat there and I’m contemplating hosting my 50th there as well.  Her home is so welcoming and unique. No matter what size your party, whether it’s one person or 50, that house can fit everyone like a hug.

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I’m sorry to keep bragging but Susan and I have been postcard buddies for a really, really, really long time. It started out as a way to keep in touch when she was recovering from a broken back but I just never stopped sending them. That’s twenty years of postcards! Susan has kept every single one. She brought them out when I was there and it was eye-widening. I didn’t read every single one but I perused them and with each card, I caught myself reliving chapters and chapters of my life. So much has changed over the years…

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We organized them and put them in a new box. It felt like I was looking over a manuscript. Who knows, maybe they will play a part in a memoir I might write someday.

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So many memories.

But as I said, I was at Susan’s to rest and recharge. I needed a little break from my regular life to get a new perspective on some thought problems that have been plaguing me. Nothing too serious or anything that I can really share but you know how life can twist and turn and you find yourself changing in ways you never thought you would…  I’ve been seeing a therapist for a while now and it’s making me stronger and stronger. I’m taking on changes that my old self wouldn’t even acknowledge. It’s a very weird and new place for me to be.

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Some of my growing pains have decided to manifest themselves physically in my back. I creak and ache and one hip likes to get really really cranky. I don’t like it at all. I thought I could stay young and spry forever but add a combination of weight gain, bad posture, and way too much anxiety and I think my age is starting to show against my will

Susan decided I needed time on her “bio-mat,” a heated yoga mat made of tubes with crystals inside them. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical of woo-woo crystals but I dutifully did my time as Susan prescribed: Ten to 15 minutes every morning and night. It took a lot of patience in the morning to stay still and at night I fell asleep on it. I’m such a morning person that I run out of energy like a dying cell phone as soon as the sun goes down. If you ask me to watch a movie or lay on the floor on a heated mat, I am out in less than a minute. Susan would wake me up after fifteen minutes and I’d hobble off to bed.

But it did work! The pain in my back got less and less every day. I’m not sure if it was the crystals or just being cared for by Susan.

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On my second day, we visited a warehouse sale of Japanese artifacts. This sale only happens twice a year and Susan is on the mailing list of special customers who wait for these things. I was very happy to tag along!

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My mom lived in Japan when she was growing up so I have a soft spot for Japanese tchotchkes. I have fond memories of opening my mom’s cedar chest, breathing in that cedar smell, and looking through all of her treasures… I’d try on her wooden geta shoes, finger her silk obe, marvel at the tiny kimonoed figurines and kokeshi dolls… I love it all. It was really fun to walk around the warehouse and take pictures of things to text to my mom that might bring back memories of her childhood.

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I wished I was an interior decorator with a massive budget and a shipping container because I would love to ship this whole wall of wooden drawers and chests back to my house. Isn’t it amazing? I did buy a few small things that could fit in my suitcase but no furniture for me.

Then in true Susan fashion, she whisked me off for some more retail therapy in Nevada City. We meandered through the usual touristy shops (which we both found so strange after being cooped up all year) and then hit up her favorite thrift store.

Have I shown you Susan’s yard? Retreat is the theme here:

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Everywhere you look in Susan’s yard there is something to see. Angel statues, gazing balls, twinkling wind chimes, stacked rocks, rose gardens and flowers everywhere…

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In the very back corner of Susan’s yard is a strange installation that looks like a small oblong spaceship made out of copper pipes. It’s called The Omega. I don’t understand it completely but Susan described it as a series of pipes that encapsulate crystals that are pointed in a strategic direction to beam positive energy at all the negative energy in the world. Kind of like if there is a war in the middle east then this sculpture is beaming positive crystal energy at it. I know, it sounds crazy but there are crazier ideas in the world and this has good intentions so let’s just go with it. It’s installed by a guru of some sort who has all the coordinates figured out. In fact, Susan accidentally moved a plant in her yard and he called her up distressed. Apparently, he could tell with his spidey sense that something was not right in the crystal energy field as it were and by triangulation, he narrowed it down to a plant that was obstructing the beam. Go figure!

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I’m not a convert yet but I did find it incredibly interesting and maybe I might have picked up on something because when I stood next to it I felt a weird buzzing sensation in my chest. Or it could just be the power of suggestion. Either way, it was weird!

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It’s always good to have a friend who’s into woo-woo stuff.

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On our third day, we headed out to nature. Because everyone knows nature is good for healing all that ails.

 

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It was hot. But I’m glad we went because now it’s even hotter.

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There is nothing I like better than a hike through the wilderness along a stream. The flowers! The dying fauna…

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California is such a beautiful state. I’m sure all the other states have their beauty too but I am very proud of my California girl status.

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It just suits me. Or I suit it. I’m not sure.

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After hiking quite a bit we cooled ourselves off in our own little “Mermaid Grotto”  of giant boulders half-submerged in the stream. It was so nice to hide in the shade and let our feet cool in the icy cold water. It was just what I needed.

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Then we headed back home for our traditional glass of wine on her front porch. Susan has the best view. Unfortunately the mosquitos like it too so we didn’t stay out there too long.

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The next day we gardened! I mean, we’ve hit all the other R and R menu items so gardening falls in there somewhere!

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Susan had a small spot in her yard that was in need of some TLC so we built a little rock garden with pebbles and river rocks she had around.

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She also has a pretty nice collection of clay figures that a friend gave her so we placed them around.

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Can you tell Susan loves her garden?  We spent the rest of the mornings and afternoons there soaking up the tranquility. It’s the perfect little spot to sit and chat while you sip on a cup of coffee.

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At the end of my visit, I felt completely rested and recharged and ready to deal with the big decisions I needed to take care of when I got home.

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We finished off the perfect week with a parting dinner at one of Susan’s favorite Italian restaurants. You can’t really go home from visiting an Italian without having at least one superb pasta dish, right? It was delicious of course and I can’t wait to go back.  But I got what I came for: some restorative advice from a trusted friend. Now to take on the rest of my life!

And then it was June

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My summer has been going like these peonies: fast and furious. This month has been in such a great big hurry to make a flashy show and then get the hell over already. I’ve been meaning to blog since May about my trip to visit Susan in Grass Valley, Joon’s birthday, my mom having double knee surgery, and my constant trips back and forth to the desert…but in all the commotion I’ve somehow left my head unscrewed and it’s still swiveling around in circles making me a bit sea sick.

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But I am still here! I’m busier than ever with work which is great. I’m stuffing in lots of family time and plenty of “hot girl summer” memories but I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to document them. So in the meantime here are some beautiful fleeting peonies.

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Bursts of joy that make the maximum impact and then float to the floor as fragile whisps of their former selves, kind of like memories.

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I have a giant print on my wall of some dead peonies fading on my dark scratched wooden table.  I love that print and the longer it hangs there in my dining room the more attached I am to it and to all fading peonies. They are the dark siren of the flower world. I join the masses who sing their praises.

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So quick, so fleeting, so dramatic. Just like life.

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I wish I had time to pick up each petal and remember them one by one by one by one. Maybe that’s what the afterlife will be like, just sorting through all the petals of memory. There surely are enough to last forever! Anyway, deep wandering vague thoughts that don’t make much sense. I’m just filling space until I can get back here to properly document things.