Tuesday, January 8, 2013

GoodBye, 2012

 We always say it's hard to believe the year is over. It's hard to believe.
The beginning of last year was one of anxiety and anticipation.  Unlike the famous phrase from Forrest Gump's mother, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get"....I did know what I was gonna get. Upcoming lay off.
It wasn't supposed to happen that way. I was supposed to leave my job when I was darn ready to, not the other way around.
The rest of the year was a time of reckoning: I reckon what I'm going to do now?
It was a productive completion of 2012. I was able to take care of a couple business matters, and to become a naturalized citizen. There were over 5,000.00 people in my group, and we were the first of the day. The next group was estimated to be around the same figure. Simply amazing, that there were so many of us. 
We managed to squeeze in a small vacation during the summer, and ended the year with some friends in a rental cabin with unexpected snow in nearby mountains. 
I've stepped through the threshold into the new year, 2013. I regret some things I didn't do, but more than that, I'm grateful that my loved ones and I are still here, that we have plenty of food and roofs over our heads. 
The journey beckons, and I look forward to learning new skills that will help make me more marketable. I look forward to tapping my toe onto the big ice pond of freelance writing, and seeing if it will hold me up, or if I will go crashing through. Regardless, nothing happens by itself. It's true, that saying...."you get out of life what you put into it".

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Channel Islands & R Reagan Library

Part One
We enjoyed a free, continental breakfast from the Best Western in Oxnard, Saturday morning. It was probably the best we could remember having in a long time, complete with warm, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cereal, bagels, fruit, milk, juice, waffles. We weren't due to port until noon, so we took our goodies and headed back to the room to chill a bit. We had come into town the previous night, tired from the long drive through Los Angeles on Interstate 5. Anyone familiar with traffic on the 5 coming through LA-especially on a Friday, and especially during traffic rush....no more words are necessary. Anyone not familiar, take it from me, you don't want to know.
That Friday night, Doug and I walked a couple blocks to a little Mom and Pop style restaurant. The waitress rushed over and said, "Would you like to sit in front of the tv?" - like she was pitching a sale or something..like it was a reeeeally big deal to sit by the TV. Who were we to disappoint? So, in front of the TV, it was. And then she took the remote and asked what did we want to watch, and she began flipping through stations, and we settled on Sanford and Son. We found the food to be hmmm...average...and completed the evening with the short walk back to the hotel, and watched TV the rest of the night until falling asleep.
Saturday was the big day. It would be our 2nd Channel Island visit; the first being Anacapa, which I chose first, because it had a lighthouse on it.  Vaguely familiar with the routine, we went to port, signed in, and waited a half hour beneath cloudy skies to board. Once we settled into our seats beneath the canopy, it would be an hour and a half ride to Santa Cruz Island; we enjoyed a bit of dolphin watching as they accompanied us here and there, and slowly watched the horizon of land disappear.

 Gray skies greeted us at the island, but we could tell the sun was making an effort to come through. The ranger gave us a set of rules, pointed the way to the trails, and we were off. We took a short, 45 minute hike to the top of one of the cliffs, and sat around with some of the other folks, taking photos and enjoyed the look out point and munched on light snacks. Going back, down hill, provided views of the ocean below where we saw people relaxing on the beach and some kayakers. At the bottom, there was a small visitor center where we whiled away the rest of our time, watching videos of the island, leaning about the island natives, and the wildlife.

Today, the island is owned by The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service. They maintain and preserve all the resources there. Santa Cruz island is over 96 square miles and is California's largest island, complete with two mountain ranges, canyons, and year round springs and streams. Other features include the Painted Cave, and coastline cliffs, tidepools, and beaches.
The natives of the island are the Chumash Native American Indians. They called the island, "Limuw" which means "in the sea".
Besides the small visitor center, there were remnants of what used to be a blacksmith shop and an old ranch house. At a ranch adobe, an oven still stands that once provided bread for the entire island.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

*(All videos are from YouTube. They're not my own).

Never too old to rock and roll... and dig the blues....
     If you ask, I'll tell you.......and so will all the people we saw at the Doheny Blues Festival @ the end of May. Even the weather cooperated, lending us the best of both worlds...clouds and sunshine. Temps were in the 70's - perfect, considering there was hardly any shade in the general admission area. This year, we chose something a little different. We opted for both days, Sat and Sun with general admission versus one day in the VIP area. We were running a bit late and had to follow the "overflow" parking signs to a vicinity two miles away. We grumbled about it a bit, but then re-considered that we were probably better off after all, because we would be able to ride the shuttle at a much less cost than it would have takenfor us to park at the venue. Also, we wouldn't have to deal with the hassle of all the cars leaving the P/L all at once. What a nightmare that could have turned out to be. And so, it was a blessing in disguise...we rode a nice, comfy bus and let someone else deal with the traffic. We liked the idea so much, we chose to do it again the next day.
     The 14th annual festival is held at Doheny State Beach. There are always vendors of clothing and jewelry and other miscellaneous sorts, and our favorite-the booth where they sell the event clothing (Doheny Blues t-shirts, jackets, hats, etc). We settled for two t-shirts. The first day, we munched on polish sausage smothered with all the goodies, and I got super greasy sweet potato fries that I was unable to finish. It was like, have some potatoes with your grease. Ugh. Oh. And then there was our favorite of all time- roasted corn on the cob. 2nd day, we opted for huge burgers and fries.
    The first day was a bit disappointing, as the main act, "Experience Hendrix" came on stage and basically tried to emulate Jimmy - and nobody does that. Nobody. No matter how spectacular....maybe it's psychological, but it's difficult to accept that anyone could be as good as he was.
     The prior statement is said with mixed feelings, because one of the pieced-together band members of the "Experience" was none other than Jonny Lang, who is one of our very top favorite blues performers. I suppose if anyone could come c-l-o-s-e to "awesome-ness", he would have to be one of the top contenders, in my book.
     I will state for the record, however, that Ernie Isley was pretty darn cool playing the guitar with his teeth.....see above YouTube video....
     It seemed to be the year for "pieced together" bands (and when I say "pieced together", it's a band comprised of individual performers that all come together and share the stage under a pseudo name-ie; "Experience Hendrix". Another such band called itself the "Wyland Blues Planet Band". Wyland's main redundant message was 'save the planet'. My opinion: it's good to take care of the planet, yes, but .... does every single song have to be about the environment? Every single one? Really?
     Included in this band, was another of our favorites,"Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers", and they were, in my opinion, the main reason we stayed and listened to the entire performance of the Wyland band. We know that the Mighty Flyers are always on the top of their game.
     Our guy, Taj Mahal was supposed to be included in the "Wyland" band, but he was a no-show due to health reasons.
     Susan Tedeschi. Her electric blues band teeters on the edge of blues and rock...she and her husand, Derek Trucks formed their own band they call the Tedeschi Trucks Band. And they're good. I came, I saw, I liked.
     Big Head Blues Club was another "pieced together" band. I had never heard of any of the members that comprised this one, but their mantra was playing music from the legendary Robert Johnson (said to have traded his soul to the Devil at the crossroads in exchange for expertise in playing the electric guitar).
     Walter Trout was awesome. It was the first time we saw him in concert, and we soon understood why he was so popular with the crowd. He's a definite recommendation.
      We were disappointed we missed Doug Mcleod. We remember him as a host on XM radio for Bluesville. It's been a while since we've had XM, and don't know if he still hosts, but we sure would have liked to have seen him perform.
     Mavis Staples entertained in the realm of soul/gospel/blues. Her musical background comes from her family who, in 1959, had a big hit called "Uncloudy Day". Mavis paid tribute to her father by saying, "Pops, you laid the foundation, and I am still working on the building".
    All in all, the entertaiment was great. On the way home, I asked Doug what his favorite performance had been. He wasn't sure. I was. My favorite performance was................from the living legendary band, CCR, John Fogerty.
    John played last on Sunday night. I have always considered him to be rock more than blues, but have always enjoyed his music. He played all the popular well known songs as well as a few unknown (at least to me). I can tell you, for his age, he still rocks the house! And he still has a great voice!
    In short, a good time was had by all. Looking forward to the 15th Doheny Blues concert. Maybe we'll even get a camp site. All I have to do is remember to reserve 5 months ahead......

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The time has come for Spring
Life and love,
roses and things
..and on life's journey....

keep your colors true...
...when the road gets rough................................................................................don't

your true colors are always there
in all that you see

in all that you do

..in all that you cherish

...and that cherishes you...

("friends forever")