Sunday, April 24, 2016

Recently

It's been a little quiet over here in my blog life.  Things have been a bit busier in real life...
They say that plastic surgery and tattoos are addictive.  Once you have something done, you want more and more, never being satisfied.  I'm feeling that way about home improvement!  Over the last couple of months I've had a few projects completed - and by "I" I mean I've hired someone to do them.  After each successful project, I've had another slightly bigger project waiting in the wings just itching to get started.  For the last three weeks the preparation of the most impressive of them all have taken place.  I GOT NEW FLOORS!!!  And when you get new floors you basically have to move out of the home packing up almost everything you own so the floors can be accessed.  That has been a project.  The work finished rather quickly this past week, surprisingly quick considering how long it took me to get ready for it.  They are so beautiful, I can hardly stand it!  Here are my stairs, entry, and landing.  More photos to come of the rooms as soon as everything is cleaned and moved back in.
For now, the itch is over.  I'm very happy with home things right now, plus I'm broke.  
On Wednesday night, some friends and I saw the musical Kinky Boots at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.  Going in, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I saw the film that it was based on years ago. The movie was good, but a little dark.  The play was inspired by that film (which was based on a true story) and written by Cyndi Lauper.  It was AMAZING!  Kinky Boots is so much fun.  One of the best shows I've seen.  
Thursday night was book club.  This month's selection was The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain.  It was a good book and not a story line I've read before - a family mystery of sorts.  Somehow, I found time to read/listen to some other books I enjoyed this month.  The Accident by Chris Pavone, The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One both by Jussi Adler-Olsen, and The Crossing (Harry Bosch) by Michael Connelly.  All four are also mysteries - the first taking place in the publishing world and the remaining three are police detective series.  I'd recommend them all.
There are 6 weeks and 4 days (Memorial Day shortens one of the remaining weeks) until the school year is over and summer break starts.  While summer break sounds awfully good now that it is in sight, I'm feeling a bit blue about this year's group of kids moving on.  They've been a lot of fun.  But I am looking forward to summer break where I will spend it hugging my new floors.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Trying My Patience

My next door neighbor is a married couple in their mid 50s with three children in their early-to-late 20s.  Over the last year, all three children have found their way back to living in their parents home.  While I pass no judgement on grown kids returning to the nest, this past year has created a slow-burning resentment inside of me for this family.  I'm a super easy neighbor.  I keep to myself, I'm considerate of others, and I have only one car that is parked inside the garage.  This couple, before the kids moved home had three cars - a small sports car (they never use), a mid-size SUV, and a large SUV.  Two in the driveway, one in the street in front of their house.  When the first kid moved back home, there were 4 cars (add a mid-size SUV) - two in the driveway, one in front of their house, and one along the street in between my house and their house.   Since this space in between our houses isn't all that large, none of the SUVs fit all that well there.  So, their car always hangs over into my driveway.  While not that big of a deal, it still irked me some.  But I soon got over it when the 2nd kid moved home.  This time with two additional cars - a truck and work mini van.  With those two, they had two in the driveway, one in front of their house, one in between our houses and two in front of my house.  That's been the case for about 6 months.  That space in front of my house was mostly open (unless I or another neighbor on the street had visitors) so it wasn't that big of a deal, other than annoying to walk outside my door and see these big cars in front of my house.  What was a nuisance was that there wasn't room to set out my trash cans (3 of them) on trash day because their cars blocked the space. On numerous occasions, I had to go over and ask them to move their car so I could put them out.  I hated that.  Confronting people you have to live next to is awkward.  The sons always moved the cars with an apology, so I tried hard not to get irritated.  Then one week, I noticed that a seventh car had arrived - a brand new large SUV - two in their driveway, one in front of their house, one in between our houses and THREE in front of my house.  I was out walking the dog and the dad apologized for all the cars.  I jokingly (sort of) said, "You keep adding more!"  He said, they had bought the wife the new one and one of the sons was selling his small SUV and acquiring the mom's old large SUV.  So after about a week, we were back to the previous set up for six cars.  Then, last month, the 3rd kid has arrived home with a small SUV.  So now we are back to seven cars in all, four of them in front of my house.  They've been better about not parking there on trash days, but the fact that they have four cars in front of my house - more than are in front of theirs - is bothering me.  But I just fake a smile and chuckle when they apologize about it.  What else can I do?
The good news is when I pulled out of the driveway this morning, all the stuff in their garage - oh did  I mention that they weren't using their garage for any of the cars because it was full of stuff - was in the driveway, and they were putting it into a moving trailer.  The dad stopped me and said at least two of the cars would be gone by the end of the week.  One of the sons is moving out and I think the sports car will be put back in the garage.  Fingers crossed!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Want to Vote!!

On February 1, primary season and the media-induced three-ringed circus that is our presidential election process began.  I have been so disgusted by the words, actions, and utter BS that has taken place over the last two months.  My second graders are better behaved than some of these candidates.  And it's such a shame that we have to put up with it for 8 more months!  With that being said, I'm dying to make my choice of who I want to run for president.  I want to vote!  Unfortunately though, living in California means I have to wait until June 7 to have my say.  And that has always been so confusing for me.  As the most populous state in the nation, we have almost 200 Republican delegates and almost 500 Democrat delegates up for grabs, and most of the time the candidates are already chosen before our election day.  With approximately 1/8 of the nation's population, it does irk me that we don't get our say in a timely matter.
I've heard a few different reasons for this late date.  One being because of our large numbers, an early or mid-primary election could push a candidate over the edge to clinch their spot, leaving the rest of the country without a reason to vote.  My problem with that logic is while making sure a smaller state gets a choice, our very large state representing a huge population of people basically has zero influence on the decisions.  The other reason that comes up is that our state primary elections are held in June.  The cost of holding presidential primaries earlier in the year and then again in June would cost the state gobs of money so instead the primaries are combined.  While I always appreciate a cost-saving decision by our government, it doesn't make my vote any less worthless.
The only hope I'm holding out for this year is that the race, in both parties, is quite close.  Our newspapers are reporting that this may be the year our votes do actually count and we could be a swing vote for one or both parties.  Giving someone a large quantity of delegates could make a candidacy. 
So, now I'm following every Tuesday and Saturday elections with bated breath, hoping none of the candidates run way with the votes.  Because, damn it, I want my vote to count!

Monday, April 4, 2016

More Photos From a Hike

This past weekend, we ventured out into the mountains again for a hike.  This time it was to Towsley Canyon.  Towsley is also part of the Santa Susana Range, across town from the Wm. S Hart Trail from last week.  This is good park because there are actually 2 different loops, one about 5 miles and one about 2 miles.  It warmed up this weekend so we went early in the evening.  There was only enough time to do the shorter loop before dark.  Another short but steep loop.
It's kind of strange to be in this park as the parking lot area and paved road to the trails used to be a riding stable called Rivendale.  I spent many-a-Sunday growing up at horse shows hosted by Rivendale.  There isn't a trace of the stables anymore, which is odd.  
On the Canyon View Loop trail looking at the Towsley View Loop Trail.  
I still can't get over how green it is right now.  We had 2-3 more days of night rain this past week, which is making the color last longer and the wild flowers bloom.  Soon enough it will be yellow and brown, but right now it is breath taking.  
Looking down at the Towsley Lodge which was once owned by the Rivendale Ranch.  It is now used for parties and events.
Once reaching the top of the loop and ready for the descent, we headed in the direction of the 5 (Golden State) Freeway which, in this area, runs right through the mountains.  The other side of the freeway is the general area of where we were earlier in the week.
The color and wildflowers were so pretty along the descent.  There were even a lot of California Poppies (our state flower), but most of them were closed up for the day due to the waning sunlight and wind.
 I wanted a picture of Rigby in this grass with these little purple flowers,
 but she wasn't having any of it.
 I like this loop.  The longer one has a lot more to see (a spring, tar pits, caves), but this was a good workout with the incline.  I've felt it in my legs the last day or two.  This area is known for snake sightings.  I was sure glad that we made it through without seeing any!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Saturday 9

This week's Saturday 9 song is The Beatles "Fool on the Hill".  
1) Friday was April Fool's Day. Did you pull any pranks? Did anyone put anything over on you?  No.  I was hoping for this though.   I'm still holding out hope that it's all a prank. 
2) The practice of playing tricks on one another on April 1 dates back at least to the 14th century and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales includes a mention of it. Geoffrey Chaucer has been called England's greatest poet. Quote a bit of poetry for us. (It doesn't have to be English, or great.)  
The final stanza of "Litany" by Billy Collins.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine. 

3) Beatle Paul is a huge Elvis fan and is happy to own the bass that was played on Elvis' 1954 recording of "That's All Right, Mama." Tell us about one of your prized possessions.  There are few things I own of sentimental value, but nothing prized as far as being famous or worth a lot.  

4) In contrast to his easygoing persona, Sir Paul has been described by former band mate Ringo Starr as strong willed and "determined to get his own way." Do you consider yourself strong willed and determined? Or are you more easy going?  Ha!  I wish I were more easy going, but instead I am strong willed and determined (that's a nice way of putting it).
5) The Beatles once bought a Greek island, planning to live and record there, but sold it after a few months because it started to seem like a bad, expensive idea. Tell us about a purchase that gave you buyer's remorse.  I tend to overthink every large purchase to the point that there isn't any buyers remorse on those types of things.  Any buyers remorse I've had is usually over an item of clothing or shoes.  Those items are easily given to Goodwill however.

6) Legend has it that the Beatles officially broke up in Disney World. John Lennon was staying at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort when he received and signed the court papers that dissolved the group. Have you ever conducted business while on vacation?  No way!  But of course any trips I take are when schools are on break so that makes it a bit easier.  

7) George Harrison loved puttering around in the garden and dedicated his autobiography to "gardeners everywhere." Do you have a green thumb?  Nope!

8) Ringo regrets not having saved more Beatles memorabilia, which he realizes now would be worth a fortune. Are you a pack rat? Yes and no.  I tend to acquire things but when things get too cluttered I get rid of them en masse.  Usually spring break is when I do my spring cleaning.  So far I have packed up 6 large garbage bags of stuff to be given away.  

9) Random question: Which do you prefer, Girl Scout cookies or Boy Scout popcorn?  Neither really. I don't find Girl Scout cookies all that exciting and didn't even know the Boy Scouts sold popcorn.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Hike

My bestie Kristen and I spent yesterday morning hiking the William S. Hart Park trail.  William S. Hart was a silent film and then western film star.  He retired to a large ranch and left the estate to the county when he died.   The walk is only a couple of miles through the Santa Susana Mountains, but most of it is straight up and straight down.  We have had a couple of overnight rainstorms this month so the color was amazing.  It doesn't take much to get things green.  It's been a few years since we've seen it like this.
We had had some rain early that morning and the storm clouds keep things cool and crisp.  A great day for a hike.  At the bottom of the trail, you are rewarded with a herd of bison to greet you.  Hart had been given this herd from Walt Disney over 60 years ago.
 After we visited with the bison a bit and Rigby stood on guard quite concerned about these giant snorting beasts, we didn't finish the loop which heads back to the parking lot via the street.  Instead, we turned around and went back the way we came.
While I have been to Hart Park before (it's a common place to take school groups), this was the first time I've walked it.  It was a good one, and Rigby slept the rest of the day.  I may take her back next week.

Monday, March 28, 2016

This Salad Makes Me Happy!

It's always hit and miss trying new recipes.  Since I'm usually just cooking for myself, a recipe's leftovers and its portability (for school lunches) are pretty much just as important as the original outcome. Often, a recipe, even a good one, isn't made again if the leftovers are lousy or too complicated to reheat or pack in a lunch bag.  This Citrus Chicken Quinoa Salad checks off the boxes on all of my requirements, and I've already made it three times this month.
Not only is this quinoa salad a breeze to make, it only gets better sitting in the fridge waiting to be leftovers as all the yummy citrusy dressing gets sucked up by the quinoa and chicken.  Plus it's good warm after being prepared but also delicious as a cold meal.  My final glowing endorsement for this salad is that it is easy to change up the ingredients as you like.  I don't like avocado so removed that without changing the integrity of the recipe.  Broccoli or the "Cruciferous Crunch" salad (kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage) from Trader Joe's make great add-ins.  I've made the chicken as prepared in the recipe, but have also just thrown it on the grill with garlic pepper.  And it would still be good without the chicken.  I know that cilantro is not loved by everyone as much as I love it.  I put an entire bunch of cilantro in the salad, but the salad would work without it.  See, it's SO versatile.
I whipped up a giant bowl of the stuff this afternoon to serve as a quick lunch or dinner during the first week of spring break.  My schedule is a bit less defined during break, so this is a great last minute meal.