The start of a new year can only mean one thing…another Mardi Gras season is about to begin! I’ve been keeping myself busy in 2018, mostly buying another ballgown and hot-gluing red beans to a jean jacket in preparation for a surprise escape to the French Quarter just in time for Mardi Gras day. The Quarter is always the best spot to take a sit, but during Mardi Gras it’s a whole different enchilada. Fat Tuesday is a feast for the eyes and my imagination was put to shame by too many costumes to count!
Last year I spent Mardi Gras day behind a desk clutching my favorite beads and blaring brass bands through the office sound system. My poor attempt at making a King Cake haunted me almost as much as the harsh reality that I would not be wandering the magical streets of New Orleans, rubbing elbows with other excitable weirdos like me. This year, I was determined to make my rounds. Mardi Gras sets loose a lovely little light inside my heart for many reasons, mostly ones I can’t explain. The spirit of the city is alive during Mardi Gras like nothing and no where I’ve ever experienced. I cannot claim to know even a sliver of the groundwork that makes the city, and the season, such a powerful presence but you can be damn sure I feel it down to the bone. It is a time of revelry, indulgence, celebration, and hope. Oh and also of cake. Lots and lots of King Cake. It’s likely I still haven’t brushed all the sugar out of my teeth, a similar struggle to washing off all the glitter! If you’re really a pro, the glitter works its way into your every day life and you sparkle 365 days of the year! We should all be so lucky.
I’m one of those freaks that starts listening to Christmas music in July. We traditionally get decorating right after Halloween but this year between the wedding and the tree falling over almost every day because of Jack’s big butt, we put Christmas on hold until we got back. AND WE’RE BACK. Got a new tree, new year, new start and feelin’ funky!
Here’s a handful of tunes that keep my spirits bright for months at a time. HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you and you and you!
We’re back from honeymoon and life is rolling into a nice Christmas stride, thank goodness! The wedding was an incredible whirlwind and marriage is a sweet slice of pie so far. We even survived two hours stranded in the desert when our car broke down on the way from Honeymoon Part 1 in Arizona to Honeymoon Part 2 in Disneyland. By some stroke of luck, we still made it to our hotel on time! While it rained at home, we were in t-shirts buying too many postcards and cracked open rocks. Hip, hip, Honeymoon!
After a quick farwell to family we hit the road for Arizona! Most of our time was spent chasing Route 66 and basking in the wide open desert. In proper roadtrip style, a handful of discolored postcards quickly filled the glove box. We didn’t climb the mountain to Sedona until after dark, but the surprise of waking up in the midst of the Red Rocks was worth white-knuckling the steep drive in. I couldn’t wait to see what I’d missed three years ago when Jen and I visited during a freak snow storm and couldn’t see a damn thing. Thankfully this time the weather was fine! Everywhere you turn, whether you’re stopped at a red light or in the grocery store parking lot, Red Rocks tower over you. Sedona is a comforting mix of rugged Southwestern charm and crunchy granola hippie shit. You can buy crystals, visit a spiritual vortex, or get a picture taken of your Aura around almost every corner. I was sold immediately.
Once we settled into our SPA SUITE at the Sedona Rouge Resort, we took a half-day adventure on the Verde Canyon Railroad. It was one of the most relaxing activities of the entire trip. With our pal Bloody Mary hanging tight, we spotted two bald eagles and a lonely house in the canyon–of course inhabited by ex-Berkeley professors. How come they always get the good recluse spots!? My jealousy seethed straight through our visit to the Jerome Ghost Town a few days later. Jerome was abandoned by excitable copper enthusiasts in the 1950s and is built on a 30% grade. Today, it’s full of amazing junk and is pretty scary to drive around! A super-crowd of holiday tourists drove us quickly out of town and back to Sedona where we overloaded on fancy pizza from Pisa Lisa. In Honeymoon hindsight we should have just had pizza every day and never dined anywhere else. Next time we’ll know better.
I think I’ll be re-living our honeymoon for a while. Deal with it. Two weeks away is A LOT and more time than we’ve ever spent uninterrupted by life stuff. It was GREAT and now I’m so mad we need to have jobs or any obligations that keep us from hanging out. What’s the deal with that? Expect plenty more posts bragging about how much fun we had as a brand new family of jerks out on the open road.
Until next time!
On Saturday morning, our local Sikh, Muslim, Christian, & Atheist groups organized the second annual Lodi Peace Walk from Veteran’s Plaza to the Poplar Mosque to celebrate & promote peace in our community. I was surprised and excited to find something like this happening and couldn’t resist being a part of it. I admit that I had planned to drive & just take pictures but the energy of the small gathering overwhelmed me. I marched happily amidst a rainbow of Lodians, most of whom I don’t have the pleasure of rubbing elbows with very often. For two miles every conversation I overheard was positive and plunged below the surface. There was so much niceness in the air, I almost cried at least once. Thankfully, I was soon to have some kind of pudding forced upon me by an elderly Sikh man who, when I asked what it was, just said, “Sweet!” and walked away.
The whirlwind of food and kids and dogs once we landed at Blakely Park was overwhelming in a good way. The organizers, in addition to Mayor Doug & Chief Patterson, gave kind and inspiring speeches. In each one, our slogan “Livable, Lovable, Lodi” was repeated with gusto. Turns out, Lodi is more livable when we interact in peace and more lovable once we get out there and do it. I feel proud to live in a town where things like this happen and can’t wait to see this little walk grow into a big one. Maybe someday it will be a real parade! A girl can dream.
Be like me and push past your anxieties over a bowl of mysterious pudding. Next time, I might even drink the Koolaid. Live in peace, Lodians!
Holy cow, it’s hot out there! Are you ready for summer in Lodi BECAUSE I AM NOT. While this heat wave promises to be short, my recent switch to natural deodorant is being tested in a very real way this week. Thankfully I am in good standing with someone who has a pool AND a shade-filled canopy. Looks like it’s time to start buttering her up!
In preparation for a world filled with mosquitoes and sunshine, here’s my go-to recipe for cooling bug spray that will leave you smelling fresh AND feeling fine plus NO CHEMICALS!
Cooling Critter Spray
You need: Spray Bottle (8oz), Witch Hazel, Distilled Water, Essential Oils: Citronella, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Lavender, & Peppermint. I highly recommend Edens Garden essential oils. They’re a woman-owned company in California with free US shipping, what more can you want?
- Fill spray bottle half full with distilled water
- Add witch hazel up to about an inch from the top, leaving room for oils.
- Add 10 drops of each essential oil (total 50 drops).
- Shake to mix & SPRAY ON! Store in the fridge for that extra chill.
While you’re out enjoying your freedom from chemicals and mosquitoes, don’t forget to drink lots of water, protect your skin, and stay cautious around our rivers this weekend! That Sierra snow melt means business. Be safe out there, folks!
I have the distinct pleasure of working in the Lodi housing industry. Last week, a new client admitted that he’d been visiting Lodi on a lark, fell in love with an old Victorian, and promptly uprooted his young family from San Francisco. He said he wanted to give his daughter the slow, safe life he remembered as a kid in the 1970’s and that Lodi was the place to do it.
Our little town is special and in the past few years it’s more than just us Lodians who know it. My Sacramento-born friends joke that “downtown Lodi” is actually in the middle of a vineyard. They’re not completely wrong. Lodi has a reputation as a backward place to get stuck where nothing happens ever to anyone and that’s just fine with us. When asked about the famous nod from CCR’s 1969 hit “Stuck in Lodi”, Lodians have been known to say things like, “Whatever, we like it here. It’s boring but it’s a good kind of boring.” And it is.
I feel lucky to live in such a “boring” place. Last month marked two years since I moved home and well-being is the name of the game. There’s something magic about being nestled in this peaceful town full of friends and family. Life can be violent and charge ahead of you at break-neck speeds if you let it. DON’T LET IT. Time is precious and we have a truly golden opportunity as Lodians to enjoy the slow lane. Be like my client and take back the slow life you deserve!! Even better, take this pretty weekend and rent a Kayak on Lodi Lake or throw all caution to the wind (literally) and GO SKYDIVING or watch the divers from the safety of the Airport Cafe. Get out there and have fun, folks!
If you’ve got a three day weekend, there’s more than enough time to escape down Highway 1 toward Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named for the adventurous and kind-hearted daughter of Big Sur’s first wave of Homesteaders. I recommend taking the Slow Coast from San Francisco to Monterey before you rush off to Big Sur. Take your time! You can even stop for Taco Bell on the beach in Pacifica and sleep affordably at The Otter Inn on Cannery Row. We needed a mid-trip break from sleeping in the car and this little hotel with an ocean view saved our lives. Ditch the hotel coffee and run full speed to Bright Coffee on Lighthouse Avenue for quality beverages and some very very tempting artisan home goods browsing.
Of all the spots to love in Big Sur, my favorite is the Henry Miller Memorial Library. It’s “the place where nothing happens” and where I always take advantage of a little time alone on the porch with the cats. This trip, I didn’t even make it inside! The library is a sanctuary. I use my time there to breathe, reflect, and reset. It feels safe, like home, and I don’t visit half as often as my soul requires. The library is a bookstore, performance venue, and art center devoted to the memory and spirit of Henry Miller, an American upstart and resident of Big Sur. You don’t need to know anything about him or the story of the library to enjoy it but it definitely helps. Take a moment, donate generously, and have a good sit. Pet a kitty, take a load off, and find a bit of peace.
The brightest thing I have learned from my travels is that wide open space and the marvel of nature have authentic restorative powers. It’s best not to waste them. When you’re driving around town, plan ahead and take the country route. Roll down the windows and take a look around. Even a short drive down a pretty road can do wonders. Quiet your mind and indulge in the moment as often as you can.
Until next time!
The only time I’ve had my Tarot read was in a dark corner of a company Christmas party last year. The first card she drew was The Hermit, no surprise. The Hermit card represents a conscious choice to separate yourself from others “for a certain purpose where being alone is instrumental.” I have always been drawn to lonely stretches of highway and had fantasies about fully giving in to a life of contemplation. If allowed, I could retreat into myself for years on any number of Big Sur cliffsides like so many slow-rolling, adventurous folks have done before me.
The days of my most recent roadtrip down the Slow Coast to Big Sur all blend together in the best way. Luckily, the storm took a short break. Mudslides kept us sequestered above Lucia and forced to go slow. I don’t know how many times we drove back and forth throughout the day within the same 18 miles of cliffs, looking for bits of sunshine in which to warm up. I learned that bringing some groceries and a camping grill really can turn a roadtrip around when you wake up too early for anything to be open and want to watch the sun come up with a grilled cheese.
Here are a few of the rules that help us slow our roll and get in roadtrip mode:
- No Bad Days. Bad days are a waste of time on the road. Leave that shit at home and go with the flow. Don’t let life’s little problems get in the way of your appreciation of the journey. Invest in yourself, take a deep breath, and move on.
- Chase the view. Most of our driving hours are spent chasing the prettiest view of the sun going up or down. I have yet to capture a decent photo of it and so in these moments I put the camera down and pause to breath, think, and focus.
- Be safe. Nature can be a cruel mistress, it is best to listen to her. Don’t get cocky. Along the way we stopped to watch the sunset and sleep. After the sunset, chit-chatting in the cold darkness, we heard a handful of rocks fall down from above. Time to move. The most beautiful places are often the most dangerous. Make sure you’ve got solid footing. This is true on cliffs and in life, so be careful out there folks.
- Drink water. You may have to peeside seaside but your body will thank you for staying hydrated. Sunlight and excitement are taxing on the body. Take care of yourself. Like the ocean, you are mostly water so drink up!
The only paid job I had while “living” in New Orleans was a one-night gig for a band I’d met earlier that day. For three hours and the promise of sixty dollars I yelled FANCY MUSIC, FANCY DRINKS, COME ON IN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN over and over. At the end of the night after getting stiffed half the pay and charged for drinks, I left the barking industry with a small shred of dignity. I know I was avoiding life by running into the arms of the Crescent City and I have no shame or regret about that. The short time I spent in New Orleans taught me many things about myself and the world but most of all about celebrating the experience of life no matter how hard that can be. The strength of the human spirit is alive and well in New Orleans along with many pieces of my trumpet-loving heart.
Yesterday marked the beginning of Carnival and I am sad to be in California. Carnival in New Orleans is a magical month that drags you into it no matter who you are. The spirit of the city is always alive but never like it is from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras and for at least a month after. During this time of year, I can’t imagine being anywhere else than crowded behind a barrier, rushing out into the street between floats to hoard parade swag. And yet, here I am in Lodi sorting through pictures and overplaying (if it’s possible) the Mardi Gras playlist I made to get in the spirit of things.
In honor of the season, here’s some of my favorite Mardi Gras-related(ish) music to keep you dancing through the day. Slow down, stay loose!
Happy New Year! As we chug forward planning our wedding, recovering from the holidays, and crack open fresh new planners (my favorite) the itch to hit the road and leave it all behind (at least for a few days) is ever-present. Sometimes you just need to go on an adventure like, right now. This time, we trekked up Hwy 4 to celebrate the new year in a cabin full of dogs.
2016 was a whirlwind of a year; I turned 30, got a puppy who is now all grown up, and became engaged to the best human I have ever met. I’ve lived in the same apartment for over a year and am thriving in a new career job, holy cow! For me, sitting still is hard. Living in the same place or having the same job for too long has, in the past, driven me to violently break the shackles of my life and hit the road with no concrete plans or money. These days, the prospect of cultivating the life I have holds so much more excitement and adventure than living solo life on the road, waiting for my moment. The moment is now!
This year, I’m digging in deep and I hope you are too. Let’s take it up a notch, 2017.