Living in Fullerton

October 15, 2010 § 2 Comments

It has been a great thing that Alex and I decided to up and move to Fullerton for year 2 of our marriage.  We live on the 650-square-foot top floor of a triplex, with interior walls of a light grey color, some beautiful painted white woodwork and built-ins, and a bedroom with two large windows that peer out on a lovely tree.  We live on the edge of downtown, close enough to walk to a frozen yogurt place, to Starbucks, to shops and to get our haircut.  Since Fullerton is an older town, it is home to some of the more elegant and quaint architecture in our area of L.A., including Fullerton College, which has a sort of Spanish Architecture and to which I walk every Monday and Wednesday for my dance class.

Yes, DANCE CLASS. This fall I started dancing again, and it has been so good.  I enjoy the teacher, and have enjoyed feeling my body get used to modern dance movements again, by learning to let go and sink into the floor and maintain balance and be strong in the midst of it.

There are some fun and quirky things about living in our new place, as well. I have already mentioned the strange habits of our garbage man and the dripping flowers on our tree. I should also say that our kitchen is the size of a small walk-in closet and the counter-space barely surpasses the square footage of an ironing board. Our shower also resembles a cave, which you must sort of duck/climb in to – but the drain works and the water works so we are HAPPY.

Overall, I love it. I love the light in our place  —  the early morning darkness that becomes a cool blue light, the tired, late afternoon light, the brightness of light mid-morning on a Saturday, and at nighttime, when the only light comes from our lamps, a few overheads, and the glow of the computer (it had to be said). And the company? (meaning my husband of 1.25 years) Can’t be beat. (It is Alex’s birthday this weekend. Consider this the birthday celebration shout-out to the one I love).

Three things that are funny, one that’s absurd.

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

ONE. Our forest green honda. It has tinted windows, a large dent on the drivers’ side door, and a subwoofer that takes up half the trunk. In its current parking space, a tree consistently seeps pollen on it so that 1) it is embarrassingly dirty two days after its washing, and 2) it attracts ants, who happen to like this pollen and crawl all over the hood and roof (also embarrassing, hoping no one sees the bugs crawling all over your car). One of the only bugs I fear is ants. Today when I was driving with the window down (because there is no air conditioning), I imagined lots of tiny ants flying onto me. Also, it is impossible for me to get out of the car in any elegant manner (it being so close to the ground), which is made even more complicated by the pencil skirts I wear to work.

TWO. Our trash man. Every time we leave for work on Tuesday morning, the landlord has kindly brought out the trash cans. These are neatly placed to the side of our parking spot, so that we can easily back out our car and head off to work. Every time we return from work that same day, we find the three trash cans spaced a yard apart from each other, ENTIRELY blocking BOTH parking spots we have been given, and making pulling in to our parking spot (without getting out to move the trash cans) difficult to impossible. I don’t know what we did to the trash man, but he is exacting his revenge, one week at a time.

THREE. The fact that we live across from a fire station.

ABSURD. How long it takes me to make decisions, and the number of times I change my mind while doing so. Today, I wondered around Cost Plus World Market for 45 minutes looking for cushions for our dining room chairs. I held 6 cushions in my arms, walked back and forth across the store to the various locations for cushions, scattered the cushions on various tables to see how they looked against the wood, asks the sales people whether the 14 different types of cushions they had in the store were all they had, walked next door to Target to look for cushions, realized their selection consisted of one small shelf of mismatched cushions, went back to World Market, resumed the process, chose a cushion, walked around the store with it once, put it back, chose another cushion, walked around the store twice, put it back, called my mom for advice, tried to think of any other friends I could call for advice, panicked, bought a bar of chocolate, refused to let the sales reps take any of the six cushions I was holding to the front because “I was deciding between them”, and finally ended up taking home two mismatched cushions so I could “try them out.” When I approached the register with these two mismatched cushions, the salesman looked at me and said, “Couldn’t make up your mind?”

Right man. Like I needed you to tell me that.

Chester, the Cockroach: A family reunion

August 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

Chester, our beloved Cockroach, has in the last seven days…. multiplied. And not just by two.

One evening last week, Alex and I were leaving for our midnight walk when we noticed more than one dark shape below our doorstep. There were three. Chester had, apparently, invited his two brothers over for a little family get together.

We turned the outside light on.

And all their children. I kid you not; there were too many baby cockroaches to count.

Evidently, Alex had noticed this surplus of cockroaches the night before, but had neglected to tell me. I think he was trying to protect my ability to sleep at night. At night — when all the cockroaches come out to chill in front of our apartment.

We talked to our landlord about it, and apparently this is a seasonal thing. The cockroaches never come inside (they would have a flight of stairs to make it up anyways), and he would spray for them soon.

All I know is tonight when we returned from our walk (which was a different walk then we had left for the week before), one of Chester’s brothers tried to chase me through the grass. I screamed like a maniac, jumped up the stairs, open the door, slammed it and left Alex outside to fight them off for me.

Not really. But I did scream and jump, just as I had earlier in the night when I saw a cricket. My poor husband.

Chester, I understand your desire to host your family party on our doorstop. You are, after all, a butler, and hosting must be one of your primary joys in life. But your brothers are a little wild, and the kids are over-running the place. The fun needs to stop. Now.

Memphis, Tennessee

June 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

Image Credit:http://www.semp.us/images/Biot566PhotoG.jpg

Alex and I just returned from a lovely trip to the charming city of Memphis, Tennessee. While I have visited there frequently to see family, this was his first time in the “Volunteer” state (nick-named so because of the number of volunteer soldiers from Tennessee in the War of 1812).  Alex’s dad grew up in Nashville, did his undergrad in south-central Tennessee and went to med school at University of Tennessee, so we were glad Alex was able to see one of the places that his Dad had spent some significant time (University of Tennessee is in downtown Memphis).

The last time I had been to Tennessee for an extended visit it was the middle of January.  It was cold-ish then. However, Tennessee has a reputation for being hot and humid – and boy did it live up to this reputation  in these early weeks of June.  I had been asked by my physical therapist to go on two short walks a day (which I did with joy), but boy was it HOT.  I think though, that the beautiful botanicals made possible by the humidity make it worth it.  I loved the hydrangeas, the crepe myrtles, and the lushness of the trees and bushes and grass that never have a chance to get so green in the desert of Southern California.

I also loved the architecture. I am not sure what inspired the designers to plan for red brick and white pillars in fifty percent of their work, but it sure does show-off some beautiful churches and homes.  Tall white steeples, large front lawns, symmetrical building fronts framed by towering trees. While I am coming to enjoy the Spanish architecture that characterizes the West,  symmetry is beautiful, easy on the eye and somewhat refreshing.

Southern food – ALSO delicious. We had the chance to be among the eaters at a delicious southern style buffet brunch, and feasted on grits, a southern style eggs benedict, Cajun seasoned fish with okra, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie. We also were treated to a wonderful dinner at possibly the most brilliant restaurant I have ever eaten at – FLIGHT. It is a restaurant based entirely off the idea that some people can’t make decisions to save their lives. Or so I like to think. For each part of your meal (salad, entree, wine, dessert), rather than choosing one item, you can order a “flight” of three items for about the same price. That means you can have a trio of watermelon/feta, blue cheese wedge, and caprese salads, and a trio of different white wines to accompany them. For dinner I had 1. lobster with roasted potatoes, corn, and asparagus, 2. Buffalo with mushroom risotto and cabernet syrup, and 3. Jumbo shrimp with tropical salsa and sriracha butter sauce. Yes, I had lobster, shrimp and buffalo all in one sitting. Yes, it was delicious. YES, you should go to Memphis just so you can go to this restaurant. Alas, when it came time for dessert, I was a bit too full to sample one of their chocolate or cheesecake flights (could it get any better than this?) I did try a small plate of white chocolate fudge, complete with a few chopped pecans and sweet dipping sauce. Definitely satisfactory.

We ended our feasting by going to Rendezvous – a rib restaurant Alex’s Dad had recommended. It was delicious. One has no idea how many ribs one can eat until the bones are piled on the plate in front of them. Also, one has no idea how messy one can get eating ribs until no matter how they try to get the barbecue sauce off their nose, there is no clean finger or square inch of unsoiled napkin to do the job…

During all my visits to Memphis I have never toured Graceland — this visit was no exception.  We did have a chance to see and hear an Elvis impersonation when we went to  “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,”  put on by Theatre Memphis. You know Pharaoh? The Pharaoh who tells Joseph his dreams about cows and hay and asks for an interpretation? Elvis plays Pharaoh. Or Pharaoh plays Elvis. I don’t know. I just know that he sang his dreams while doing Elvis-like dance moves and the Memphis crowd went wild for it! (The rest of the musical was well performed – one can’t go wrong with Andrew Lloyd Webber as the composer. Alex and I still catch ourselves humming tunes from the different songs).

Alex certainly got a feel for the town, and I became reacquainted with some of my favorite spots as well as learning a few new places. And, of course, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at my grandmother’s house, meeting her friends, helping my aunt redecorate and rearrange her room, and having several good conversations. Thanks, Memphis, for showing us a good time. And thanks Ga (and Boo) for showing us Memphis!

The (injured) cook and her (disproportionate) kitchen

April 21, 2010 § 5 Comments

This week I am learning to live life from a different angle.  My sad, damaged plantar fascias are having trouble healing,  so I have been told by the doctor to help the process by using them as minimally as possible.

This means I now must try to live my life from the seated position.  Working as a secretary makes the workday fairly stationary – I am taking advantage of the term “desk job.”  Sleeping happens to also be a predominately sedentary activity, save those prone to sleep-walking, which, fortunately I am not. Unfortunately, the third thing I give my life to (aside from working and sleeping), does not easily oblige itself to restful positions  — meal preparation.

In the kitchen countertops are built for someone to use while standing, making  them about 1.5 feet too high.  This means that as I try to do the dirty dishes from a seated position, I am knocking other items  into the sink (so far, nothing has been broken).  When I try to cut baked chicken off the bone my arms become achy and my progress is slow.  Maybe I could kneel, but there is only so much pressure that knee joints will take before they too join the force of dysfunctional body parts.

So I sit in my chair in the kitchen and manuever my body every which way to reach what I need.  At least in a small kitchen I can reach the stove, 90% of our cabinets, our fridge and our sink without moving the lower half of my body, or the chair.

Nonetheless (despite the mostly easy-reaches of our little kitchen), I can no longer cook alone.  I cannot reach the spices, I cannot move quickly, I cannot run and leap to hit the smoke alarm when the eggs start burning.  It is now a team effort — Alex is learning to cook.  While he struggles to get over his fear of raw meat, I am doing my part by taking over dish-duty, a task I can attend to comfortably (no matter how many innocent bystanders I knock into the sink).

On Stewardship…

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Image Credit: wendyusuallywanders.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/

“…to my way of thinking, God has more important things on his mind. Whatever the level of competency we reach is up to us–only us. It’s like the story of the Englishman who was walking down a cobblestone path when he came upon a small cottage with a beautiful garden next to it. The Englishman paused in admiration and said to the gardener who was down on his hands and knees pulling weeds, `Sir, what a beautiful garden God has blessed you with.’ The gardener replied, `You should have seen it when God was taking care of it by himself.’ Whatever gifts the Good Lord may have blessed us with, we are the ones who must get down on our hands and knees and do the work. It’s up to us to make the garden beautiful.” John Wooden

I am interested in and somewhat delighted by the ideas represented in I am also learning that good stewardship takes many forms.  Not only do I think that it is “up to us” to use and grow our particular gifts over the course of our lifetimes, but also that we must “dig in” to the raw materials of each day and make what we can of them.  I recognize that all people are given different circumstances and materials to work with, and that some people could be perfectly happy without seeking constant growth.  It is not by right or necessity that humans make gardens, but working hard to create things we admire can be a source of pleasure.

A couple weeks ago Alex and I purchased flowers, soil, and two clay pots.  It was a gorgeous day outside and we realized that our neglected patio needed some color, and our neglected hearts needed a dose of Spring.  After returning home with the flowers and taking a break for some sweet, iced tea, we proceeded to dig into the soil and position our lavender and double-impatiens as the belated day-light savings sun sunk lower in the sky.

This new little piece of beauty at our apartment is so enjoyable.  I like to think that in the acts of choosing, paying for, and planting our flowers, Alex and I were “good stewards” that afternoon.

A happy memory

February 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image Credit: www.chacerandallgallery.com

Today Alex and I attended a wedding of two friends.  It was a beautiful ceremony, the bride was beaming (as was the groom), and celebrations were merry.

This morning as we were preparing to go to the wedding, I reflected on the morning before our wedding last June.  I find the memory of our wedding day to be sweet – sweet to call back the accompanying nerves and jitters, sweet to flip through pictures and remember all the faces of the people there to support us and witness our marriage (and party, of course!), sweet to think of the progression of moments that were the beginning of Alex and my life together.

One of the most memorable times of the day, though, was before the wedding itself.  It was the morning of the wedding.

My mom had decided that with a late afternoon ceremony and a late morning hair and make-up appointment, we had plenty of time and opportunity to gather family and bridesmaids for a nice breakfast.  We asked my brother and his fiancee (now wife) to plan and cook the meal.

I had woken up and silently freaked out to myself that it was my wedding day.  There is nothing like that feeling – I still get it on Christmas morning every year, although its intensity has decreased some since my childhood.  I waited until I was ready to share that feeling with my family, and then went downstairs.

The first hour of the morning was laid back. I sat on the couch and peeped over the counter watching my family bustling around the kitchen. My extended family arrived and we chatted.  Then, around 9:15, the bridesmaids burst in to the scene — all of a sudden there were seven girls in pajamas and curlers running, jumping, hugging me, and exclaiming “AHHHH! It’s your wedding day!!!!!”

From there the morning unrolled in a rather friendly fashion.  We all dug in to a de-li-cious breakfast of huevos rancheros with fresh salsa, avocado and slices of carne asada, accompanied by freshly blended berry smoothies and coffee. We sat out on the patio in the San Diego sunshine. My bridesmaids took the time to remind me that their role as bridesmaids was to meet my every need.  At one point I began to get up for more coffee and one of them shouted, “Wait! Why are you getting up? What do you need? Let me get it for you.”  Unfortunately for them, they also promised to meet my every request – upon hearing this I promptly demanded that they form a human pyramid.  And they did.

I loved the quietness of that morning. I loved the excitement. I loved that we got to eat a yummy breakfast (half of us in our pajamas) on the patio on my wedding day: a relaxed two-and-a-half hours to be with dear friends and family, to anticipate the day and begin the celebrations.


* Image credit: Painting by Judith Lamb, http://www.chacerandallgallery.com/.

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