Tuesday, May 31, 2016

the power of nothing...

Peaceful.  Hard to believe that is a word I am using to describe this little spot in the middle of a huge metropolis filled with over 18 million people.  Apartments and homes mixed together in an odd puzzle like existence.  Filled with people from every imaginable walk of life.

And yet, it's peaceful.

The hustle and bustle exists.  In fact we will be out in it in around an hour as we head to Universal Studios for a day of fun and wizardry.  But for now sitting in my son's living room, the only sounds I hear are the clock ticking in the other room, the keys being tapped on my keyboard, and every so often the rustle of bags being shuffled on someone's should and the tap of high heels.  I am sure quite a few of the neighbors are taking a longer weekend, afraid to face that dreaded Tuesday after a holiday.  You know the day, the one that makes up for that day of rest, that makes you pay for it.

Yesterday was a day of complete rest.  I can't remember the last time I did that.  No television, no rushing around, just hanging out in comfy clothes chatting with my boy.  We sure weren't solving the problems of the world.  We were simply chatting.

While he played WoW and occasionally talked to a friend as they played, I spent the day just completely unwinding.

I am reading a book called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  Not exactly the type of book I usually by, but browsing in the airport waiting to come to visit I was struck by it.  It spoke to me and where I am in my life.  I'm not unhappy, but I feel I could be much happier.  Reading this, I've come to the conclusion that she is probably spot on.

To prove it, I spent hours yesterday, doing a very mindless task.  I cleaned out my email inbox.  For years I have bemoaned the way it is filled with "spam" and ads.  The very thing I hate about my real mailbox at home.  But accepted it as just the way things are, something I would have to dig through to find what I wanted and needed. The important stuff.  And hoping the important stuff didn't get overlooked in the sea of ads and LinkedIn requests.

But yesterday while sitting with my boy, watching him battle, making small chit chat about things that weren't important but were very important, I started the task.  Painful at first.  I avoid cleaning out that inbox at all costs, it's overwhelming. In a matter of days I can have thousands of junk emails.  And I never really believed going through the trouble to unsubscribe would take me off their dreaded lists.

For hours I painstakingly opened each one.  Scrolled to the very bottom (I feel I should point out that they hide them well). Grateful I was wearing my glasses and not my contacts, to make it easier to see the small almost invisible links.  And unsubscribed.  I wasn't mean, I didn't answer their survey with "you are making my life hell with your bombardment of electronic spam".  No, I simply said I was not interested in receiving any further communications.

I realized the biggest offenders were companies already getting a great deal of my hard earned dollars. Corporate greed at it's best.

Each unsubscribe making me feel a bit more in control.  Ahhh, the power of "NO".  After I had successfully hit unsubscribe on what appeared to be all of them, I started sorting out what was left.  I am fairly certain I no longer had the need to retain electronic receipts from 2007, for electricity to a property I no longer own. Or communications to my son's high school.  After all he is an adult almost finished with his Master's degree.

It was therapeutic. I felt empowered.  I felt lighter.  I felt, gasp, organized!!

I would love to say I helped my son work on his computer, reality, I kept him company and grabbed things he needed.  Because I am about the most non-technological person I know, did my Dad really insist all those years ago that I learn to program? Hmmm... must be a reason I don't play in that world.

Although I do believe moral support should count for something.  And my little Chromebook came in handy as he was searching for the information he needed.

Late in the day we decided we needed dinner.  And we both felt that it was a perfect night for ramen.  A short walk up to Ko-Ryu Ramen was the answer.   Beautiful LA night.  Cool, clear, slight breeze.  Ironically quiet and welcoming.

And the company was perfect.  My mom brain was jumping back and forth, remembering many walks with my little boy over 20 years ago, he was always searching for answers to questions, making me think.  He's still making me think, but now he has so many answers and ideas.  I cherish those times the most.

I am completely in love with the authenticity of the meals I eat here.  The taco's the other night were incredible - no mistaking that for any tex-mex meal at home.  And the ramen... indescribable.  It was absolutely perfect.

I've had a few break through emails, a couple I couldn't find an unsubscribe button for love nor money, those guys now go directly to spam.  But it seems my hours of work paid off.  It's nice having control.  It was fantastic having those quiet, non-structured minutes.  I think I had forgotten how refreshing the act of nothing is.

Today, it's time for laughter, fun and adventures.  Today we are off to Universal Studios.  My mini-trip is rapidly coming to an end. Less than two days left.  Every time I leave, a small bit of my heart stays here with my boy, I think that is why I fill it up so much while I am here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

filling my bucket...

Sitting in "sunny" LA shivering.  Hubs is in the Lou and it's so warm he can't be out on the back deck. He told me it's already 90 on our deck.  How strange, kind of the exact opposite of what you would expect.  Actually, it's been very mild since I've been here and  I am totally not complaining.  I don't like to be hot.

Each morning I have watched the sun chase away the heavy morning clouds, I am not so sure that is going to happen today.  Today's seem heavier, almost like they are considering dropping some rain.  Although the forecast is not calling for any.

I think today is going to be about resting.  We've been really busy each day, out and about and doing things. And my boy is even more of an introvert than I am.  Although he's gone out of his way to humor me.

Yesterday we were in Long Beach.  So much fun!  I love Aquarium of the Pacific, and despite the incredible number of people and kids there, there was still much to enjoy!  I only slightly touched one of the sharks, simply couldn't make my hand stay there.  I tried.  The sting ray's don't bother me so much.  I was bummed to not be able to touch the moon jelly fish again, but did get to touch the horseshoe crabs.

They have the most amazing displays of jellies.  I am fascinated by them, not really sure why, but I am.  The fluidity and motion can mesmerize me for hours.

I truly enjoy touching the starfish, urchins and anemones. Those darn anemones can definitely freak you out a bit.  Some of them are soft as silk, you almost can feel them.  And others "grab" your fingers.  Not strongly and definitely something that you can pull back from.  But it's startling.  The young lady working there explained that the more people that touch them the smoother they get, but in September - when it slows - they are very sticky and grab on to everything.

We didn't make it to the docks in time to go whale watching, but we did manage to take an awesome cruise through the harbor.  Sea Lions were resting on buoys and docks. The islands that carefully conceal they are really oil platforms drilling away. The Queen Mary and the Soviet Sub resting silently for tourists and residents alike to tour.  My favorite part... being with my west coast kiddos enjoying the sweet, fresh, salty sea air.  It was relaxing and enjoyable.

We also spent a bit of time at Knotts Berry Farm.  America's oldest theme park.  As we are not on rides or crowds we probably didn't do as much as we could have.  Although we did ride Bigfoot, a water ride.  We waited in line for well over an hour, but it was definitely fun.  Other than the fact that neither of those kiddo's got wet and I got soaked.  It only took a few hours to completely dry off.

The evening concluded with some quiet television watching while munching on some of the most fabulous tacos I have ever had.

As today slowly wakes up, I feel we will probably celebrate those incredible men and women who wrote a blank check to this country, up to and including their lives and who have gone on to glory, by simply staying around the house and enjoying those freedoms.  The boy will probably play some video games, his girl... I don't know... I hope we will see her, but I completely understand that hanging out with the boyfriends mom could be pretty darn boring. And the mom... well she's going to go with the flow.  Eventually we will go and eat some lunch or maybe we can all go out for a great dinner.  My boy is the truest definition of a man that lives alone.  He has water and monster in his fridge.  That is all.  Thank goodness for instant coffee.

Hubs is heading off on a ride up the river road today, I am so blessed that he understands not only my need to see my boy, but my need to not worry about my boys at home.  The day will come when these visits aren't solo, the boys will have crossed the rainbow bridge, and he will join me.  I miss him when we aren't together. And at the same time, I cherish the time I get to focus on my boy.  I love that I can spend quality time with each of my men, and just spoil them both.  Hubs gets far more time than my young man, but that role is for his girl, not me.

Just having time with him fills my bucket.  His girl... added bonus!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

fun in the sun...

Around 5 am each day there is a hauntingly beautiful owl calling, it echos and seems to go on for a very long time with each deep hoot.  Calling it's mate?  There does not appear to be an answering call, each one sounds exactly like the one before in tone and pitch.

I live in the Mid-West where tall trees and owls are in an overwhelming abundance.  To hear it echoing in this adobe filled desert is hard to fathom. There are plenty of trees, just not the kind I've ever envisioned owls to rest in.  Mostly, there are houses, apartment buildings, structures as far as the eye can see.  I am not surprised that it is not only a desert, but also in the midst of one of the longest running droughts this state has ever seen.  Green space is not in abundance.  Or maybe that isn't an appropriate term - as it is a desert area. None cement, paved or built upon space is rare.  How can the ground absorb the bits of rain that fall?

Yet it's beautiful in it's own right.  The palm trees that hover as you drive into LA look almost like a vision from one of the old invasion movies.  Giant pods with long stems, the base of which can't be seen as you rush along that busy, over crowded highway.

And the highways are immense.  Layers upon layers, all filled beyond capacity.  Yesterday was the first time we zipped along.  Seems the folks that live here tend to head to other places over holiday weekends.  We simply were not complaining.

Spending time with my boy and his girl were my top priority.  Having fun is simply a bonus! Hard to believe how quickly time flies.  Today is already the start of my third day here.  And we've been busy.  I love spending time with both of them!

I love the diversity and depth of people and cultures in this area.  The first night we had dinner in a precious little Thai restaurant.  It was incredibly good.  I was humored having to sign in and wait outside, as they had not waiting area inside. It was only after we left that I was told it wasn't in the best neighborhood to be in at night.  As I work in a downtown area, I was rather shocked to hear that.  It was quiet and very few cars or people were around, evidently his girl and I have differing opinions of "unsafe".

The next day my boy had a surprise for us.  And what a surprise it was!  He found a fantastic little alpine village not far from his house.  The market was enough to make me want to sell my house and move to this diverse and crowded mecca.  At least for a few minutes.  Instead I think I will stock up on a few things while I am here.  We had a wonderful lunch of schnitzel, spaetzel, and a truly authentic German pretzel as an appetizer.

Yep this little holiday was off to a fabulous start.

His girl then suggested a trip to Little Tokyo.  Having never been there, it was definitely something to do! We had a shortish day, as my boy already had a commitment for the evening when I booked my flight, his girl was going to visit with friends and honestly this old body needed sleep! Switching time zones is tough.  As we wandered through the little shops, enjoying the tiny treasures, the sounds and ahhh the smells, I could easily understand his girl telling me that with Asians its always about the food.  How could it not be.  Sadly, we were still far too full from that incredible German lunch to even consider sampling any of those incredible smelling treats.

I was intrigued to find out the town my son lives in is where they actually filmed on of my favorite televisions shows.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Yep, I said it out loud.  That show was truly one of my favorites, and it was filmed here, where my boy lives.  Good thing it was fantasy... sure wouldn't want that kind of horror around my sweet boy.

I may not have packed right again this time.  Because 66 degrees at home, is definitely jeans and at least a long sleeve shirt.  Here... simply not the same.  Luckily, I packed a random assortment.  We started yesterday wishing for those long sleeves and ended wishing for a lightweight sundress.

I bought each of us a three day  Go Card!  These are awesome!  We have already used one day and over half the value of what I paid for them.

We went to the Natural History Museum, it was so fun!  Dinosaurs, mammals, insects (um yeah - gross), the gems were incredible!  Although all three of us were concerned about entering a vaulted room.  That door definitely looked ominous.  We walked through the gardens, well the vegetable and fruit side, his girl is allergic to the flowers and we definitely didn't need her miserable for the rest of our fun filled day!

Next up... La Brea Tar Pits.  Have to say, this is by far one of the coolest things I have ever been to.  I am fairly certain I could sit by the lake pit all day and watch in fascination the bubbling up of the gases.  It was so random the way you'd be walking through the park and out of no where there would be a cone, slightly covered with tar, covering a new ooze.  As we were standing by one of the smaller pits watching it bubble and ooze I noticed a little girl a few feet away playing with a stick in an unprotected oozing hole.


In the heart of LA, right on Wilshire Avenue, only three miles from Hollywood proper, brews, bubbles and oozing a prehistoric tar pit.  Actually, far more than one.  I believe I saw a sign that said there were 100's.  It's very hard to wrap your brain around that.  Even harder when you are standing there in the midst of the hustle and bustle.  High rises as far as you can see, and yet... there are active tar pits.  They are still accumulating small animals, birds, and debris in a never ending cycle.

A few hours and three miles later we were navigating the masses of people on Hollywood Blvd.  Our destination... Hollywood Harley Davidson.  Hubs needed a present after all.  I have never been in a smaller more packed HD shop - well... ever!  The boy found the size and style I wanted, just as I was fearing we would need to give up in defeat.

Hollywood Blvd is unique.  A small stretch of a long road, filled over capacity with hordes of people.  Some walking, others in costumes, insanity seems to be the flavor of the day.  Mixed in with all the people looking for stars or looking at the footprints and hand prints outside the Chinese Theater are the people trying to save lost souls.  I am not sure most of the folks in those few random blocks are the souls they should have been reaching out to with their huge signs and loud speakers blaring over and over again that we are all sinners damned to a fiery hell.  Seems a more subtle approach a bit further away where there were people laying on the streets clasping their alcohol bottles and needles in drugged and drunken stupors might have been better served.

As our passes gave us ample opportunities to do things in the Hollywood area, we decided on Madam Tussaund's Wax Museum.  Wasn't on my wish list, but it was included and we still had time to enter.  And... well... it was right there!  So of course we went! The boy wasn't as charmed as the girl and I were.  She and I had enough fun for the three of us!

We ended our evening going to Three Flames Mongolian BBQ - Hubs has been telling us to go since the boy first found out he was moving here.   Well... all I can say is that in the 70's it may have been incredible, maybe even into the 80's... but... as we are now in the teens... I feel it is time for the owners to retire, and close up shop.  Despite the dirty tables, I am fairly positive we were the only people that had chosen to eat there all day and while no one ended up with a tummy ache, it was by far not worth the money.   Oh well... We've been there now.

Today as we wait for his girl, we are preparing to go to Long Beach and Anaheim for another fun filled day... I am loving being here.  I get the joy of sitting and talking to my boy while he plays video games, of doing fun and silly stuff with him and his girl, and to just delight in being a mom with fabulous grown children that I get to spend awesome time with!  Whether at mom with my girl, or on the coast with my boy... I am truly blessed!


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and ...