My Dream Car

I found myself reflecting on cars. I live in LA and cars are oh so very "important". The quotation marks are there because for some people, cars still are very important in a practical sense as a means to get around, even with more trains being built and electric scooters springing up on every corner. But mainly cars are "important" to show other people how much money or coolness you have - or both. Twice last year I was inside a fancy new vehicle belonging to colleagues and I found myself so glad that I'm not that person anymore. I used to dream of being that person, of having the brand new fancy, fast, sleek car. And then I got over it.

CivicI've been lucky with cars. I learned to drive and got my license at 15 in a hand-me-down Honda Civic (stickshift) (the image at left is similar to the one I had but mine was blue). I had been in a carpool up until then and now it was my turn to be the driver of the carpool. The car was small, 2 doors and a hatchback, but you could jam 5 people into it for trips to the beach or camping. I said good bye to it in college and didn't have a car in LA until sophomore year when I got a hand-me-down 1969 VW bug (stickshift of course). The car came with about 3 different colors and a few dents here and there. I saved up $100 and got a cherry red Earl Sheib paint job. It looked like this one except it had a black interior.  Bug

It was startling how much camera and film gear you could get in that thing. Or roommates to go to crew practice at zero dark thirty. Or how easy it was to jump start it when need be. I could jump it on my own, no help from extra hands -- one foot out the door to push it along, to build momentum, then a quick pop of the clutch and off you go. I will always have a special place in my heart for bugs. That special engine sound, the smell, the wacky pedals. 

After getting a license, there were cars to dream about. I dreamt about sports cars, I liked speed. Magnum's Ferrari and then later the Acura NSX. Had to love the NSX because it was a proper sports car but it was still a Honda. Of course there were more practical dream cars and one of my dreams came true. A few years after college, while still driving the bug, I bought a brand new Honda CRX! It was also read, also stickshift and came through the kindness of a partial loan from my grandmother. I kissed the bug good-bye (it went to a younger family member for more service) and proudly drove my dream car.

It looked just like this:

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I got the base model, the HF (stickshift). Oh it was spiffy with 105 horsepower, manual crank windows and no air conditioning! And I loved it. I looooooooved it. I drove it for about 8 years. It got into one crash (an insurance scam crash that I was a victim in, luckily no damage to me and easily fixed damaged to the car) and it got stolen once for the seats. Thankfully I had good insurance for both of these instances. But I was ready for a grown up car to go with my grown up job. 

My new dream car would have 4 doors and a trunk. I wanted 4 doors sooooooo badly. And a trunk that no one could see into. I considered some higher end cars but decided to keep payments low and went for a green VW Passat. (stickshift) Fun and new but not anything to break the bank. I said good bye to the Honda, thanking it for all its dream car services in my 20s.

The Passat lasted less than 2 years simply because my dreams started changing. I wanted to be freelance, not tied to a company where I didn't have much say in the jobs I worked on or the teams I was assigned to. I got laid off (which I helped engineer) and smartly sold the Passat right away. I didn't have another car to buy so I drove a Rent-A-Wreck for a month or so. It was a POS Nissan something something, but it was clean, cheap and got me where I needed to go.

Living in LA without a "nice" car was an interesting time. It was a fantastic lesson in what is really important to me: freedom. I shed all the exterior trappings of "what car do you drive" and "how much do you make" and really started to see what was best for me. I ended up buying a hand-me-down Acura Integra (2 doors, hatchback, stickshift). (I can't remember what year model it was....so I can't find the right pic to link to...) I drove that car for about 8 years and it served me well. I got all kinds of props from valet parking attendants who always were impressed that a woman drove a stick and would I want to sell that car. (Even now, when I drive our VW GTI - stick - I get props from the valet dudes who are probably more amazed to see this old lady getting into that car.)

Now we have that 10 year old VW GTI (stickshift) and a 3 year old Subaru outback (AUTOMATIC!!! First automatic I've ever owned). There was Kurt's Honda Accord (also stolen once) and his mom's 2001 Buick Park Avenue mixed into the last 15 years. 

People still ask me what my dream car is. And I haven't had an answer for that since 1990 with the Honda CRX. These days its more like "does the bluetooth work, are there 4 doors and is there a back-up camera? I'll take it".  

But this morning I woke up thinking about cars (I have no idea why) and realized what my dream car truly is:

A rental car that takes me and the family on new adventures. 

2 years ago it was a white Citroen in Lucca, Italy. 1 year ago it was a blue Vauxhall that took us to magical places in England. Those were dream cars. 

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Now I can't wait to see where the next dream car takes us.

 

 


Happy New Year!

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It's been two months. Two crazy months. But now I can finally say Happy New Year! and mean it.

December is always a whirlwind of Harper Birthday and Christmas and holidays and stuff and stuff. Then January rolled around with a teacher's strike and some planned medical stuff for Kurt that was stressful. It all went very well and he's fine - hooray!

As always, I have some goals and some plans. January included two goals: No drinks and No buying stuff on Amazon. I made it to January 11 without drinking. Ha! January 12 saw an afternoon kid's party at an indoor trampoline park and OMG that drove me to drink when I got home. Then the 13th was my birthday and Kurt had a friend in town and we all went out to a fabulous restaurant on my birthday and the cocktails and wine were so yummy. Why did I want to not drink in the first place? More of a reset, really. And while I definitely had a lot of wine during the teacher's strike and medical issues week, I stopped again and have just had a beer or a glass of wine on the weekends since then. And that works just fine. 

As for Amazon, it was really more about stopping the impulse buying. Being conscious of what I was buying and asking myself - do I need this or just want it? Can I make do with what I already have? (98% of the time YES!) It's been a very good change in my thinking and I want to continue being this conscious about what I buy/what I spend. I've gotten better at figuring out how to fix things and actually FIXING things instead of buying new. Or making things like the gauzy flowered canopy in Harper's room*. I am using the library instead of buying books (my biggest amazon pleasure) and am loving the library. I actually started the library using last fall and am so glad I got my head out of my butt and am doing that. It also helps when the book I want to read doesn't really hold my interest and I can just chuck it back to the library and not feel bad that I bought it and only got half way through. (Also, life is too short to finish books that don't spark your interest!)

The only actual 2019 Resolution I have made is: Wear a necklace when I go out of the house. I've accomplished that about 80% of the time and really enjoy it. 

For the rest of 2019 - Oh I have plans. Plans that I'm already moving forward on. Creative, juicy wonderful plans. If we are on Facebook or instagram or twitter together, you've seen some of my projects playing out! Keep watching!

What's new with you??

 

 

 

*I think I wanted this canopy more than Harper. I ALWAYS wanted something like it when I was growing up with fanciful thoughts of romance and castles. Harper doesn't seem to be a romance and castles type. Not at age 7, anyway...


I Was Busy Winning!

I haven't written in a few weeks for a few reasons, Thanksgiving, other projects, etc. I am a bit disappointed in myself as I had made it a goal to post at least twice a week. But I forgive myself too. That's because during November I was signed up with National Novel Writing Month. I mentioned it early in the month, but didn't write more about it here because I like to tell you when I've DONE something more than I like to talk about planning to do something. 

So I did it! I wrote Every. Single. Day. in November, and I wrote past the goal of 50,000 words in that 30 day period. Do things like "winners badges" make a difference? Hell yes. I'm still a 7 year old kid sometimes. GIVE ME THE WINNER STICKER!

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There is much more work to be done on this particular writing project, so you'll hear more when I've gotten to my next milestone. 

I think I didn't realize how tired I was after getting up between 4:30 and 5am almost every day, even though I would be asleep by 10pm most nights. Last night at dinner out with Kurt and Harper, I had two glasses of prosecco. This was around 6pm. I was SOUND ASLEEP by 9! I also slept in till 6:30 today and am taking a break from writing today. Back at it tomorrow! 

Really really proud of myself. 

 


Juice Box Crocodiles and Harry Potter

We've been reading the Harry Potter series out loud to Harper. We have just finished Goblet of Fire. Harper asks us to read all the time, not just at bedtime, but before dinner and on the weekends. We love it. 

The other day, before dinner she asked me to read. Harry and Cedric had been transported to the graveyard of Tom Riddle. SPOILER ALERT - Then Cedric died and now Voldemort was back and wanting to duel with Harry as pretense to killing him. 

So - two things. 

1) The whole time I was reading this very dramatic passage, Harper had been drinking a box of apple juice. As it got more dramatic, I wasn't really paying attention to her except that she was cutting up the empty juice box. I finally glanced up from the stress of Voldemort wanting to kill Harry and Harry with no one to help him and saw that Harper was making this fantastic thing:

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I love it!

2nd Thing) When you haven't read Harry Potter (or seen the movies) in a long time, you forget the details. All I remembered about book 4 is that Cedric dies. What I didn't remember is that when Harry and Voldemort are dueling and they are connected by the golden beams between wands, ghosts start to come out of Voldemort's wands - Cedric, a couple others and then HARRY'S MOM AND DAD!! And they all come to speak to Harry, telling him to hold on, don't give up, they will give him time to run to the goblet/portkey to get back to Hogwarts. 

If you know me at all, you know I'm a big CRYER. So at this point I'm a mess. Harper is still cutting away on her juice box crocodile and she looks over "why are you crying?" and I laugh and beg her for some kleenex, which she kindly gets for me, and say "His mom and dad are here and they are helping him when he thought he was going to die!" She shrugged and kept on with her croc.

When does empathy kick in for kids??? 

She loves the stories and I know she's paying attention because earlier in the graveyard scene Voldemort talks to the Death Eaters who have apparated in to meet their newly reformed master. Voldemort talks to Lucious and Harper says, "I think that's Lucious Malfoy!" and when it is confirmed, she is pleased to have figured that out. I was pleased to know she's been really taking it all in. 

For Christmas I got Harper the Illustrated versions of Books 1-3. Don't tell her. 

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5 MORE Things I Miss About England

I miss my commute. It wasn't always this route, maybe about 50/50. This route would often be a good 5-10 minutes faster than the main roads. This route would also mean a 5-10 beats per second increase to your heart rate. Some days there would be HUGE farm trucks coming at you. Some days a ton of other cars (with far more experience on these roads). Some days no oncoming traffic at all. 

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I miss Pret-A-Manger. Pret became known to me in 2006 when I went to London to work for about three weeks. It was the cheapest, best quality quick lunch or coffee place in Soho. I still love it to this day. Fantastic variety, lots of veggie options, hot food, cold food, kid sized food. I wish we had one here. 

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Speaking of good eats: Wagamama is also a big favorite. Lovingly referred to as "Snobby Noodle" by friends here who have spent time in London and love Wagamama as well, we were so pleased there was one in St. Albans. We must have eaten there at least every other week. Sometimes we'd order it in for lunch when I was working. (In my brief window of working.) My favorite was the Shiitake Donburi. Or the Vegatsu. Or any of the ramens. 

Dammit. Now I want some. 

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Moving on to dessert -- Bakewell Tarts. I'd never heard of them before this trip. (Astonishing) A tart made with raspberry jam and almond? DONE. I haven't looked for any here. I haven't learned how to bake it. YET. I asked someone at a cafe what a Bakewell Tart was. And they were so confused.

"It's a bakewell tart." 

"Okay but what's in it?"

"It's a Bakewell." 

Okay sold. 

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(picture by Brynn from Wikimedia Commons)

These horses who lived on our route to Harper's school. 

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I asked Harper if she wanted to live in another country again and she said yes. And I said, England? And she said, Yes! So. Watch this space. I'm going to figure out how to make that happen.

 

 

 

 

 


You Can Learn A Lot From A Seven Year Old.

IMG_6204On Sunday I did a brave thing. I had two girls from Harper's grade over for a playdate. I was warned not to have three girls at a time-there could be too much drama. Well guess what? No drama! There was one moment, right at the very end of their play time when Harper had a hurt feeling. It last about three minutes. Whew.

They arrived around 11:30, played in Harper's room for a bit. Then I gave them luncheon: quesadillas, apple slices, tangerines and blueberries with a choice of apple juice or water. They also got a small slice of the mistake cake I had baked. (I was baking cakes for a friend's birthday that night and my first cake came out not quite right, so I started over. Bonus for the girls and Kurt. More about cakes and baking in another post.) 


After Luncheon, Harper offered each of her guests a candy from her Halloween bag. Very generous. Then, as Harper said, they did "an activity". I pulled out paint and toilet paper rolls and they made thanksgiving turkeys. I traced feather shapes on construction paper and the cut them out. One of them wanted to freehand her feathers so I said, "Rock on" and she did. I, however, forgot to take pics of their turkeys. Here is Harpers:

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That's a crown and a cape...

While they were working on their "activity" one of the girls got frustrated that it wasn't come out the way she wanted. I said that we had plenty of supplies so she could start over or get new pieces or whatever she wanted.

I said, "Practice makes perfect"

She whipped around and said, "NO!" 

I looked at her and said, "No?"

"No. Practice makes better. Because nothing is perfect." 

I told her I loved that and that I was going to write it down, which I did.  IMG_6276

While the paint was drying they went outside to play on the chair swing and use the sidewalk chalk. 

It got a little rowdy and I caught a couple of moments of the girls almost getting clobbered by the chair as it swung wildly. Fortunately none of them had to learn how to play safely the hard way. 

It was a good time! And I'm pleased it went so well and I learned an important lesson from a seven year old: Practice Makes Better.

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National Novel Writing Month Has Started!

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I am writing a novel. You should too! I joined up with National Novel Writing Month organization. They've been around for a while and this year I'm finally DOING IT. The goal is to write a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. Totally doable!  A draft is a draft.

Today is my 6th day in a row so I've earned this badge already: 

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My story came to me while we were in England this year. I kept jotting down notes and thoughts and ideas, expecting to get to it sometime. Then I was reminded of NaNoWriMo and signed up. So glad I did! I like keeping score, which is what the group and website encourage you to do, very motivating.IMG_6134

There are challenges. The actual putting words to (virtual) paper is not the hard part.

My challenge is switching back to freakin' Pacific Standard Time last weekend! (I write in the early early hours before anyone else gets up.) But since the time change, Harper has been getting up even earlier than she normally would have. UGH! And she comes right to me. This morning I had been at it for about 20 minutes (My goal is 1 hour) and she came in and sat on my lap.

Mama, I had a bad dream

I'm sorry sweetheart! 

Can you read Harry Potter?

No.

I then made her lie on the guest bed in my office and doze for about 1/2 hour!  I wrote as far as I could before she started sitting in my lap again. And yes, I then read Harry Potter (we are in the middle of Goblet of Fire, FYI).

With all that, I have still written every day, can't wait to get my fingers back on that keyboard and continue! Hopefully she'll settle back into her normal sleep pattern and I can have my full writing time back.

Challenge yourself! You can still get started.


What I'm Reading: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Speaking of books written by men that I read for a specific topic: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath inspired me greatly last week. The examples they used to illustrate their points were fascinating, sometimes down right amazing. (Solving malnutrition problems in Vietnam or stopping abusive parents.) Their book is mentioned in the other most inspiring book I've read lately - The 12 Week Year. - which is how I found it.

Change can make you crazy whether you choose it or it chooses you. Books like Switch help you identify pieces of the puzzle that you might not have seen before. Taking the challenge from angles you never thought of. If you feel stymied, give this one a read, see if it makes you go "huh, never thought about looking at a problem from that direction." 

And be prepared to do the work!

 

PS Affiliate links above.