Just like me but her: Visiting the Sister Abroad 

My sister and brother-in-law outside my train window

It’s the end of my trip, a visit to England to see my sister. The week-and-a-half went by pretty quickly, and how much I miss having my sister being geographically accessible didn’t hit me as hard before as it did when she and her husband saw me off on the train platform at Paddington Station. I suddenly clung to her and made sharp, mousy little crying gasps as the doors of the coach opened, and it was time for me to board. I did my best to be a big girl, but sometimes  it’s just out of my control- my brow crumpled, my mouth contorted, and hot tears dribbled down my cheeks. It was quickly becoming an ugly cry, not unlike that of a child when throwing a tantrum… but from me, a grown adult woman… and little sister. Not a complete meltdown, don’t get me wrong, but the potential for an even more dramatic farewell  presented itself as my sister and I continued to wave to each other from either side of the train window; me in my seat and she standing just behind the yellow line on the platform, within arm’s reach, distance-wise. We made faces and obscene hand gestures to make each other laugh, with tearful smiles, until the train pulled away. And now I’m on my way back home. Sitting in the London Heathrow terminal. I can feel a sort of exhaustion from my crying (which lasted, with fewer gasps and squeaks, the duration of the express train ride to the airport), and a calm sadness. Strangely, the feeling isn’t much different from the usual toll of airport security and the annoyance of crowds and waiting until boarding.

My sister mentioned how good it was to have me around and was happy that I’d made it out for a visit (first of many, I hope). I think about her new life in England, and how, even though she’s there with her husband and has made some friends since relocating over a year ago, that she might be lonely. Must be a little weird for her.  I think about if it were me, in a new place, away from family etc., if I’d be sad, wondering if everyone had already forgotten about me. She’s just like me in a lot of ways, so no doubt she wonders this sometimes… can’t let her start believing it.

There were a lot of good times over this visit – don’t let the tears fool you! Fun England posts to follow, as I’ve been taking notes, but just horrible at blogging while on the move.

Cheerio till then! Boarding time.

Got Love?

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It’s been a rough past week since the results of the election.  Still hopeful for the work to come, but definitely feeling the weight and concern of my country.  Too many things to be said, and I’m often frustrated that I don’t feel articulate or knowledgable enough to address what’s going on.  One thing to focus on, no matter the cultural climate, is making sure that love is my main output, to my community, to strangers, to family and friends.  The work… the work ahead will come from love.  Do we have it in order to make something out of it?

Yay or Neigh: Finally Rode a Horse

Title sound familiar? Kinda sounds like a post I had a couple weeks back when I finally tried yoga. Finally. Finally! No, I’m not exasperated. I’m completely excited! One, that there are still simple things I haven’t tried before in my life. And, Two, that despite maybe never really having an interest in these things, I am open to the idea that I might actually enjoy them.  Isn’t that refreshing?  Way to not be jaded, KB (pats self on back).

But, really — there are times in your life when you feel like all the fun stuff is done.  Like, I guess this is who I am and this is what I like and do.  I already know what I’m interested in and what I’m not interested in, so I’m all set.  Of course not.  I mean, you don’t have to try anything crazy new to feel like you’re really getting your money’s worth on life experiences, but don’t discount the small stuff.

You might say horseback riding isn’t “small stuff,” and I agree.  Horses are huge.  Like, the size of cars, sometimes, except they’ve got eyeballs and teeth, among other things, that freak you out when it registers that OMG-this thing is alive!  Kind of amazing.

This little excursion was a birthday gift (the weekend around my birthday that we’d originally planned to go, we were rained out and had to cancel) from Mike D.  He knows how  much I enjoy “experience” gifts, and was excited to gift me an experience I’d never had before.  The trail was out in Sunol Regional Park, about a 40 minute drive out for us.  Our ride was scheduled for 9am on an overcast Sunday.  The roads and the park were still quiet and chilly, with the cold air still fresh and clean.  Just right for a calm, first ride on a majestic beast, where getting away from the rest of the world makes the experience a little more yours — the outdoors, the horse, the morning… all yours.

My horse was a mare named Dusty, a seasoned gal who knew the trails, and was all about following the rules.  She took good care of me, from the second I climbed on to her.  Responded to the slight guiding movements I was instructed how to gently make with the reigns when the edge of the trail would start to narrow along the side of a cliff (eek!).  I figured out how to sway with her a little on inclines, and how to put my weight into the stirrups when she galloped so I could control the bumps a little better.  It was during these moments where I thought to myself that I would’ve made an excellent cow girl.

The trail was beautiful, so there was a lot to pay attention to, aside from just the sheer OMG of what Dusty and the other horses in our little group would do.  Mike D’s horse, Ladybug was a little younger, and would make naughty, rebellious snorts, and try to insist on pace and direction.  Our guides (one at the front of the group, and one at the back) kept the horses on their best behavior, but explained a bit about their different personalities and social dynamics.  So hilarious to think about the lives of horses, the annoyance, the drama, and the little delights they must experience in their day-to-day interactions with humans and each other.  Some Real-Housewives kind of stuff, I imagine.

 

I really loved the ride.  I smiled the entire time, which might have been weird for the guides whenever they turned to talk to me, but whatever.  I love the surprise of simple joy when I try something new, that giving it a chance brought an unexpected invigoration.  Plus, now I know of this cool thing that I’d likely do again.  Probably in the Spring, when the foliage on the trail is in full color bloom.  More food for my imagination, as I daydream about life on a ranch, riding horses in the wilderness.  Career change?  Lifestyle change?  It’s fun to think about.

… till the next time I “finally” try another something new.

Bookish: An Inspiration Story

Every couple of months or so, my husband, Mike D will get a request from my mother-in-law to help clear some things out of the house.  Each project seems daunting, and we can only imagine how much more daunting it must be for her, Mama D, whose awareness grows daily that she’s living in a house full of things – things that need to move out, and move on.  So we commit some time to help her chip away at it.  It’s too much for her to do on her own, after all.  Not to mention the stuff more than likely isn’t hers.  It’s a bit of an undertaking every time, where decisions have to be made about sentimental belongings, and the time cleaning and sorting becomes a lot of time going down memory lane.  As much as we drag our feet around facing these de-cluttering demonstrations, we end up enjoying it, getting stuff done, and relishing in the sense of accomplishment and alleviation it brings.

A couple weekends ago we took on the project of Steve D’s books.  My father-in-law was man who really loved to read.  Mysteries, spy novels, non-fiction, classic literature, travel guidebooks, humor, language books, history; not to mention the hard-core volumes of law — they all colored the book shelves of his office, the body of his intellect, the far corners of his imagination, and the swirling momentum of his curiosity.  He was a smart guy.  Bookish, yes, but he loved the life that reading gave him, and longed to exemplify the same gusto and passion that books inspired in him in his every day life, just as a dad, a husband, and a guy who loved to learn.

As we divided the book collection into “keep” and “donate” bins, we got to spend some time with Steve D. again; Mama D and Mike would remember interests he’d picked up here and there, his tireless pursuit of foreign language and world travel, his quirky sense of humor and love of clever word-usage.  It was incredibly sweet to watch my husband’s face as a book he held in his hand to consider keeping brought a memory over him.

I admit, I don’t have many personal memories with Steve D.  The moments I shared with him, I feel odd to say, were the kind between a man and his son’s new girlfriend — still getting to know each other, and unsure, under the circumstances, if building a new friendship was the best use of such precious, little time he had.  I think a lot of who I’ve come to know and love as my late father-in-law is the guy I hear stories about; the husband he was to Mama D, the friend whose love and loyalty we benefit from in continued relationships with his peers and former colleagues… of course, the dad my husband drops anecdotes about on the reg, and misses daily.  I imagine he had as ridiculous a sense of humor as both his sons, had all kinds of old-timey, hilarious expressions, and could skillfully use a pun to demonstrate incredible intellect as well as severe silliness.  I’ve gotten to learn he has a wonderful sensitivity about him that’s nurturing to others, and for himself, allows him to be a dreamer.

“Dreamer” might not have been a word used to describe Steve D very often; certainly not as he sat on the bench in his courtroom, or when he was standing in front of a college classroom lecturing about family law.  But those closest to him knew that this was a big part of who he was.  And this was something that I could identify with.

As I rifled through his books, I didn’t have any memories of my own of Steve D, just my imagination of him.  I felt a kinship ignited by the treasure trove of vintage book covers. Cover art that clearly reflected a style of a certain era brought me to think of a teenage or college-age Steve D, indulging in Julius Caesar, getting lost in Dickens… immersed in mysteries written in French and engulfed in 007 espionage.  It’s like he and I were getting to spend some time together.  After having very limited time to bond with him while he was alive, I was finally connecting with him, and not just hearing about him through other people.  We were bonding as I escaped in the cover art of the same stories he found escape with in reading.

It wasn’t as long of a project as we thought it might be, sorting through books, packing up boxes, and uncovering memories Mama D and Mike associated with different titles.  Memories about Steve D reading up on how to build a totem pole, or how he’d talked of wanting to write a book of his own someday.  We ended up with a good amount of books to give away, to feed the minds of other hungry readers out there.  And, of course, had a few boxes of books to cherish as pieces of Steve D.  Books whose beautiful binding and cover illustrations we would study and admire, imagining that he’d done the same at some point a long time ago.  Books we might someday read to feel like we were sharing an experience with him.

I started this blog post excited about sharing some cool, vintage book covers… talking about color and style, maybe talk about the evocation of characters and themes in the aesthetic choices made by the cover artist…  cool, creative stuff like that.  Just wanted to put it out there to spark some inspiration (Go ahead — look at the pics!  I mean, they’re still really cool book covers, and I’m totally in love with their look and feel).  I guess these book covers did inspire me, after all, to tell a story about the books’ owner, and how, by their look, feel, scent and content, can transport and connect us through our imaginations and affections.  Gotta love an unexpected ending.

 

Color Occurrence: Instagram Catch-up

I love when I’m able to snap a pic of a beautiful color occurrence and post it to Instagram to commemorate the sighting.  It’s nice to revisit these Insta-posts and isolate the actual palette I see.  This helps me to appreciate the individual hues, their role in the harmony of colors, how they each behave to make the moment visually impactful .  Here are some palette catch-ups from recent #coloroccurrence posts:

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That unexpected, unforgettable Indigo moment, captured on the drive through the desert on our way to Palm Springs
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Caught this one on a night-stroll down Telegraph — finding color in the dark is always enlightening
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Every cup of coffee brings a symphony of natural tones to excite my morning eyes
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Delicious, nutritious ruby hues in this little tomato
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Commuter Colors:  a zen moment on the way to work