Low Rider Mama

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Lovin the Low-Rider

Lovin the Low-Rider

Week 52

When I began thinking about starting a blog, one of the first experiences I wanted to share was taking a ride in what I call a “bouncy” car. A car with hydraulics. The low-rider kind that you see in rap videos. I saw myself sitting in a vintage convertible, top down, music blaring, bouncing down the street.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, there is a car event called “Scrapin the Coast” where hundreds of low-rider cars are showcased.   I couldn’t travel to Biloxi, so I had to find a ride near home. As the weeks went by, I would peruse the web only to find, I had just missed a car show by a week and the next one was too far away. I emailed a few low-rider clubs and only heard back from one. They didn’t have cars with hydraulics.  So I kept on with my other blog experiences, all the while searching for my perfect ride. Time went by fast and I was beginning to think my low-rider experience wouldn’t happen.

But then the best coincidence happened. As I’m on my way to jury duty (See post 10-27 ‘Sally Takes a Trip to Court’) I pass by this auto sound business that has a bitchen looking Impala convertible sitting in the corner of the parking lot. “Aha!” there’s my low-rider. I’m running late, so I can’t stop to inquire but keep it in my mind to go back. When I did return, I met Chris who works at the shop. I tell him my story of wanting to ride in a ‘bouncy’ car, my blog, my 52 weeks. Chris said the car does have hydraulics and belongs to the store owner, Jose, who was not at the shop at that time. He tells me to come back around five and Jose should be there.

I’m in the parking lot at 5pm sharp. I retell my story to Jose with Chris looking on. I am sure they think I’m a loon! Jose seems to be an easy going guy. He agrees to take me for a ride. We just need to arrange a time. I am so thrilled, I can hardly believe it!

It took a few weeks because, the car was in the shop, I was in jury duty. We finally we’re able to decide on a day and time to meet. My 16 year-old niece Shannen-Paige, along for the ride, I drive out to Jose’s shop to begin my low-rider cruise.

Jose and Chris are waiting for us. The sun is glistening off the windows that Chris has just wiped clean. A I’m walking around the car admiring the cool bronze color and the white seats. Jose says lets for a ride.

With the top down, I hop up front and Shannie climbs into the back seat. Before set out, with a flick of a few switches, different parts of the car start moving up and down. First the front wheels, then the back ones, we move side to side. I’m loving this. I can’t stop laughing. I notice Shannie also has a big grin on her face.

As we’re driving I am asking questions, (duh) about the car. Jose tells me it’s a 1964 Impala convertible. He has been restoring the car for about 6 years. The car has been featured in a few music videos including one by rapper Whiz Khalifa. This is definitely a dream low-rider. Jose is so good natured and patient with me. He smiles and laughs easily.

At the first stop light, a guy in the truck next to us tells Jose what a good looking car he has. I asked Jose if he gets a lot of compliments on the car. To which he grinned and says, “Yes”. He is very proud of his Impala.

They don’t make cars like this anymore. The seats are wide and cushy, the doors are solid, and the trunk is huge. The Impala has a radio on the dash, but the fact that Jose owns Xtreme Autosound the sound system is killer. There are awesome speakers on the lower portion of the doors and in the middle of the back seat. I didn’t even notice they were there. We’re cruizin along listening to Buckcherry, Snoop Dog and Tupac. Just as it should be when traveling in a low-rider.

Jose parks the car so we can take a few pictures. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo, but the car is actually leaning to the left side, so the passenger seat is higher than the driver’s side. In order for Jose to bounce the car around again, we need to go back to the shop because the batteries (it takes four car batteries) are running low and he wants to make sure the car doesn’t die.

Shannie and me

Driving back to the shop I turn around to take a few pictures of Shannie in the back seat. As the wind blows through her hair, the music blaring next to her, she smiles at me and says she likes the way the car sounds.  I do too!

shannie in Impala

Parked back at the shop, Jose has the Impala do one more ‘dance’ for us.  The allure of these cars is that they are fun!

It’s time for Jose to close up shop and for us to head home. I give hugs all around, whether they wanted one or not. Driving back home with Shannie, I’m giddy. Pleased to have been able to achieve one of my original blog ides.

And with the ride it brings me full circle to a complete 52 of new and different experiences and challenges.  I’m proud of myself for having finished what I started.  I’m sure I’ll continue my shenanigans. I just won’t have the objective of one a week. In the upcoming days I will write an overview of my year. But for now, thank you for following my adventures and taking a little trip with me!

“Low Rider”
By War

All my friends know the low rider
The low rider is a little higher
Low rider drives a little slower
Low rider is a real goer
Low rider knows every street, yeah
Low rider is the one to meet, yeah
Low rider don’t use no gas now
Low rider don’t drive too fast
Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip and see
Take a little trip, take a little trip
Take a little trip with me

 

 

No Need for Take Out

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Week 51

For years I have been keeping stacks of recipes I cut from the newspaper, steal out of magazines or research online. One would think that from the volume of recipes I should be a master chef, but not in reality. I love to read the ingredients, see how much time the recipe takes to make. I imagine myself making the dish one day and serving it to appreciative dinners. Inevitably I put it in the pile with countless others. I even have them organized, salads & soups, main course, followed by dessert recipes.

I like to cook for dinner parties, but the daily cooking has never been overly appealing to me. As my husband says, like the old joke, what I make best for dinner is reservations.

I do like to eat. I’m willing to try different things.

The thing about cooking at home every day is that when the kids were little, I heard, “I’m not eating that!” “That looks gross”.  So I tended to make the same dishes that I know everyone would eat. I don’t mind the cooking part. If someone just told me what to make, gave me a shopping list, and assured me everyone in my family will eat it, I’d happily cook it.

That’s why cooking for dinner parties is so much fun. I can experiment with a group of captive friends. In fact, in the process of writing this blog entry, my friend Doreen gave me a beautiful French cookbook. As I’m opening it she says, “I know you’re always throwing wine dinners and entertaining”.

I finally decided why wait for a dinner party to try something new? I don’t care what response I get from the family, I’m going to try making Thai food. I have had a Thai cookbook sitting on my shelf for the past four years, ever since I brought it home from my friend Susan’s house in Seattle. Time to give it a try.

I decided on three courses. Dana loves the chicken and coconut soup, so I’ll start with that. We both love green curry with chicken, I added that to the menu, and also a recipe for ground chicken with crispy basil.

Now for the shopping list. Most of the items I’m familiar with. Chicken, garlic, coconut milk, basil and limes. However, what the hell is galangal? Where do I get fish stock? Help…. The curry recipe includes eggplant, I like eggplant but everyone says you have to let it sweat before you cook it, what?

First stop, 99 Ranch Market, it’s a chain of Asian markets. Thank goodness the produce guy, Miguel because I asked him at least a dozen times where different items were located. What an adventure walking around the market. You can purchase fresh frog legs, live fish that they will cook for you, varieties of items I have never heard of. I was able to gather all the produce I needed but decided to pick up the meat at another market as I didn’t see any organic chicken that I wanted to use.

I ended up changing one item on my menu. I decided to use ground turkey because I already have two recipes that included chicken.

Throwing caution to the wind, I begin peeling, chopping, dicing, and slicing, becoming familiar with new and exotic vegetables. Hurray for the Cuisinart and small chopper I own. I even made my own green curry paste, instead of using store bought.  The aromas began to engulf the kitchen.

Tasting my dishes as they simmer, I feel proud of myself as they actually taste like they came from a restaurant. Will my family feel the same?

As the rice finishes cooking, Ellie and Dana enter the kitchen. Both investigate the pots on the stove. So far I don’t hear anything about the food looking gross. I give Ellie a little taste of the soup and she actually says it taste good. Like it surprised her that I was able to produce a restaurant copy.

The final test was Dana.

First I served him a bowl of the soup, (Tom Ka Gai). The lime with coconut milk and lemon grass was delicious. I then arranged on his plate brown rice, topped with green curry (gang keyo wun gai) and a spoonful of the ground turkey with basil (pad grapao gai) I even crisped the basil. Both dishes were tasty. The green curry paste was spicy, but it needed to be a thicker. I should have added more coconut milk or chicken stock.

homemade green curry paste

homemade green curry paste

Overall, I did good! From cooking this one meal I am no longer intimidated to make new and different recipes for every day.

The best part of the meal was the leftovers. Everyone knows that dishes that have many ingredients always taste better the next day once the flavors meld together.

Now it’s time to dig in to my recipe pile. Begin to try all those yellowing pages of recipes. No longer will I imagine myself making new and yummy recipes, time for me to create!

 

 

 

Bad Ass Babes

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Bad Ass at the Roller Derby (with mouth guards)

Bad Ass at the Roller Derby (with mouth guards)

Week 50

During the summer of 1972 I went with my sister, Laura, her friend Susan and my friend Robin to see what I thought was an amazing movie. The movie involved subject matter that my little 11 year old brain had not yet been exposed to. “Kansas City Bombers” staring Raquel Welch was a ground breaker for me! It was about life in and outside the world of Roller Derby. Beautiful, strong, aggressive women. Fierce competition. Independent single women trying to figure out their love lives.

After leaving the theater, Susan in her 14 year-old wisdom, tells me that the couples were ‘French Kissing’ in the movie. I had no idea what she was talking about. She proceeded to explained what that meant. Seriously! I didn’t know whether that was good thing or not. But it looked like the actors in the movie liked it. Anyway…

Roller Derby began in 1935 gaining popularity in the 1960’s with record attendance in 1972. Which I’m sure is what spurred the creation of the movie. As a kid I would watch the local LA team, The Thunderbirds (T-Birds) in action on channel 11 KTTV. I wasn’t sure if the theatrics were real or not.  Seeing these rough and tumble women on skates fly over the railing or knock each other off the track was exciting. I thought someday I’m gonna go see a game in person.

Forty-two years later my wish came true, two-fold.

The Los Angeles Derby Dolls (LADD) were founded in 2003 by Rebecca Ninburg, (a.k.a. Demoicious) and Wendy Templeton, (a.ka. Thora Zeen). The teams practice and play in a large industrial warehouse called the Doll Factory, just north of downtown Los Angeles. Inside the Doll Factory is the 100’x60’ banked track, a flat race track, merchandise stand, bleachers, standing room only viewing, as well as a flat race track.

While researching the LADD, I found out that they have a training program where you can learn how to skate like a Doll. “Derby Por Vida” is an eight week course where you learn different derby techniques on the banked track. Oh, ya, I have got to try this! I don’t live near the Factory but after emailing Sweet Home AlaBAMM’ya, (I just love these derby names), and she agreed to let me try one class. And if I’m going to try a class, you know I’m going to recruit one of my ‘college girls’ to go with me. Maryann agreed to meet me after work to also try her roller derby skills.

To attend the class you need $10, a fitted mouth guard, and your health insurance card! LADD will provide the skates, helmet, knee and elbow pads. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was knowing I would be skating on a real banked derby track!

The class that Maryann and I attended was advanced stops, taught by “Shady Hawkins”. We learned that she was originally from Wisconsin and had no idea how to roller skate when she first came to the derby. Now, three years later she skates on the LADD Varsity Brawlers team.

Learning from the best Shady

Learning from the best Shady

As we were donning our derby gear, the junior derby girls were finishing up their training session. The girls are ages 7-17 who are learning the sport. Once fully outfitted we climbed the steps to the track. As per Shady’s instructions, we went onto our knees and slid down the track into the infield. Maryann and I joined two other women that are currently enrolled in the Derby Por Vida.

First, warm ups consisting of stretches, then a few laps around the track. I haven’t been on roller skates since I was a kid but it all came back. I was skating on a real derby track! I even passed Maryann because she was just creeping along. The thing about skating on a banked track is that you’re always using the inside edge of the downhill foot, unless your skating backwards, which we didn’t try.

One advanced stop is called a hockey stop. The hockey stop is done by bringing both feet around to one side that achieves a fast stop. I did it, but not well. Maryann didn’t even try. Another advanced stop is called the snowplow. Maryann and I are both snow skiers so we know all about snowplows. On skates this can be achieved by putting one foot around in front or pushing both legs out, toes in. We practiced this by standing at the top of the ring and walking down to the middle in the snowplow position. Then Shay set up cones on the track. We would skate around the track then stop before hitting the cones. I must say Maryann and I were quick to learn.

me trying the hockey stop down the track

me trying the hockey stop down the track

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but, I think we impressed the other women and Shady! I don’t think they expected these two ‘old ladies’ to be able to keep up. But we did!  This could just be my ego talking. However, I would not want to be put on a crowded track and try to stay in the game. I’m so glad Maryann agreed to try the class with me.

Sweaty and worn out, our hour class was up. Great exercise.

We stuck around for another 40 minutes to watch the Derby Dolls practice. Going about 5 times faster than we could have imagined, pushing and maneuvering each other around the track. Watching them got me revved up for the match I planned on attending in a few days.

I introduced my daughter, Ellie, to Roller Derby antics with the Drew Barrymore movie ‘Whip It’. Because of this, I was able to convince her and her boyfriend, Andrew to tag along with me to the roller match. The Sirens vs. Fight Crew. It promised to be a great match up.

When we arrived at the Doll Factory streams of people were already headed in for the evenings match. In the parking lot there were three food trucks, with people milling about. Inside the Factory was buzzing with anticipation. By the flat track was a bar, vendors selling a variety of items, (I bought a big chunky heart necklace), and a stage where the band Characula would be playing at half time.

The other side of the warehouse where the match would be taking place, had large screens on the walls showing pictures of the LADD and sponsor messages. The team merchandise stand was busy with people buying t-shirts and other souvenir items. I bought a Derby Doll tank top for me and one for Maryann.

When purchasing tickets you have two options. VIP tickets for $40, includes VIP bar area, open seating in the bleachers and use of the indoor bathrooms. For $15 gets you standing room only and use of the porta-potty outside. I opted for the VIP mostly because of the bathroom.

It’s 8:00pm, match time. The lights go up on the track, the announcers introduce the teams and each player as they take a lap around the track. The excitement builds. A brief description of how the game is played is explained by the announcers. This is a description from their website:

A roller derby match is composed of two teams of five players each: four blockers (one of whom wears a striped helmet cover as the “pivot”) and one jammer. Points are scored when a jammer breaks through the pack, races ahead to rejoin the back of the pack, then attempts to jam through once again scoring a point for each opponent passed. The jammer has 60 seconds to score. The game consists of two halves, each half has two 12-minute periods.

And yes, roller derby has a strict set of rules, none of which allows for elbows.

Don’t mess with these Dolls. Let me tell you, these women move! And they look good doing it! The Dolls wear spandex shorts with a matching tight shirt with their name and team number on it. Some painted their face, others accessorized with leggings or ripped tights. They fall, they get up. When they’re knocked off the track into the infield, they are up and back in action just as quickly. As a team they “whip” the jammer to help advance her, they block the opposing team and they skate backwards. They use every inch of the track!

Derby Dolls come in all shapes and sizes. Our favorites for the night were Fight Crew #245 Rebel Killson. And on the Sirens (who we were rooting for) #75 Regulateher, #888 Bionik Blitz and #248 Goodnight Doom.

The crowd is rooting and hollering for their teams. Ellie was a little worried the crowd was going to be as she said, “a bunch of gangbangers”. But they were far from. There were some families with kids or LADD parents, but mostly, the crowd was made up of white twenty something’s with tattoos. It looked like a date night, an evening with the girls, or groups of friends out for an evening of fun that was beyond the ordinary.

During intermission we browsed the vendor booths, used the inside bathroom and listened to Characula play.

Back in for the second half, we moved lower in the bleachers to be closer to the action. Now we could hear the skates as they scraped on the track and the Dolls calling signals to each other.   Sirens win!

My derby dream complete, I am satisfied. I will definitely go back. I think what I liked is what first fascinated me about the sport. Strong women being aggressive without losing their femininity.

Maybe in another life I could have been one of these women. I realize I learned something from them even this late in my life. I need to learn to shove back. Instead of being the one pushed out of bounds, I should be aggressive, strong, stand up to the pack. All the while keeping my cool and womanly charms.

For more on the Los Angeles Derby Dolls please visit http://www.derbydolls.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally takes a Trip to Court

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Doing my civic duty

Doing my civic duty

Week 49

See Sally sit. Sit Sally sit.

Look at all the people in the room. There must be at least 300 or more.

Sally is in group B. Watch as lots of people get to leave. Not you, Sally. You get to stay.

“Group B, group B”, the nice lady says. Do you get to go? No. Up the stairs. Up the stairs to the courtroom.

Sit, Sally, sit. Listen, Sally, listen. Listen as the judge calls your name. You are juror 11.

Now it is lunch time. Let’s go to lunch. But come back at 2:00.

We are back. See everyone sit quietly. Sit, Sally, sit.

Time for a game. When your number is called you get to sit in the jury box.

Sit, Sally, sit. Sit in the box.

Sally’s answers questions. Answer, Sally, answer.

You win! You get to stay.

Sally is now in a big group of 12 plus 2 alternates.

Guilty or not guilty.   DUI? PTSD? Sally and the other jurors must decide.

Go home. Come back.

Can you count? 1, 2, 3, 4, days. Day 5, 6, 7, think you’re done? Not just yet.

Sit, Sally sit. Don’t fall asleep.

See the judge? He looks like he’s sleeping. But he is concentrating.

All witnesses are done. Both sides rest.

Think Sally’s done? No, not yet.

“This case ran longer than we thought”, says the judge. So guess what?

The 12 plus 2 get to come back. But not tomorrow or the next day. The judge is going out of town.

Wait, Sally, wait at home. Come back to court in three weeks.

Then the 12 plus 2 will decide. A person’s fate rests in their hands.

See the jury deliberate and decide.

Sally has done her civic duty.

Smile, Sally, smile.

 

 

“You’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

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Ready, aim, fire

Ready, aim, fire

Week 48

I hate to admit it, guns kind of fascinate me. I don’t own one or plan to own one, but the power they possess intrigues me.

When I was a kid, my brother, sister and friends, would go to the empty field across the street from our house and line up cans and bottles to use as target practice with my brother’s BB gun.   The sound of the BB puncturing the can or shattering the glass gave me a thrill. It made me feel confident that I could aim, fire and actually hit a desired target.

No one ever shot their eye out, hurt anyone else or killed any animals with the gun. I don’t know what happened to my brother’s gun. I probably jammed or broke and that was the end of that.

In college, I went skeet shooting with a friend. I discovered you need good aim to shoot the clay pigeons out of the sky! I wasn’t prepared for the kickback of the rifle, but I held my own and didn’t fall down.

I have never shot a pistol. I wanted to give it a try. I made plans with my husband Dana, my friend Robin and her husband George to go to a shooting range. George is a gun owner and enthusiast. He’s all about gun safety so I knew I could learn a lot by going shooting with him.

I also invited our neighbor Steve who is a sheriff and on a search and rescue team. He wasn’t able to join us, but he did bring his personal 9mm over for me to use.

Standing in my backyard with Steve’s gun in my hand turned my fascination into respect. One must be serious when handling a firearm. Feeling the weight of the gun in my hands and learning about the different parts of the gun made me realize how small handguns can wreak havoc in the world. Because they’re easy to use and manage. At first the hardest thing for me to do was pull back the slide. But after pulling it back and forth several times it loosened up. Steve said, “The most important thing to remember was to never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot”. (which George also emphasized later at the shooting range). Steve showed me how to load the bullets in the magazine and how to load the magazine into the gun.

It’s illegal to have a weapon inside your car when driving, so George locks up Steve’s gun in his case with his four guns that he decided to bring and puts them into the trunk.    At Rancho Magnum Range you can hear the gun shots inside the building from the parking lot. I definitely feel nervous.

We pay $50.00 for bullets, our targets and 2 hours of shooting time. George also paid to try out an assault rifle. We are given headphones, goggles and told our lane numbers.

Robin and I getting ready to try our aim

Robin and I getting ready to try our aim

Once inside and set up, I am startled at how loud the firing sounds are from the guns around us. Every time the gun in the lane next to us is fired, I find myself jumping. George motions for us to go back into the lobby. He hands us earplugs he says we will be need them in addition to the headphone because the loud gunshots we’re hearing are coming from a 45mm. It’s a powerful weapon.

Robin showed me how to hang up the target on the clips. Just like in the police movies there is a little switch on the wall that moves the target forward and back into the range. George shows me how load the 7 bullets into the magazine with this great little gadget he has that pushes each bullet down so they stack properly. The bullets, or the correct term, ammunition. The actual bullet is just the rounded tip on the end of the cartridge, the complete piece is called ammunition. But, as a lay person, I call them bullets. George first wants me to try his 12mm.

Target ready, gun loaded, heart racing, I’m ready to shoot.

My stance is shoulder width apart. Left foot slightly ahead of the right, to help with balance. Hands cupped around handle of gun. Index finger of my right hand, not yet on the trigger but resting alongside the barrel. Target in place about 25 feet out. I close my left eye to aim. I put my index finger on the trigger and with a not-so-steady hand, I fire.

Since the gun is only a 12 mm, there is not too much kick back. It’s hard to tell if I’ve hit the target. After I fire all 7 shots in the magazine, I flip the switch to bring the target back to inspect. Surprisingly, I’m seven for seven.

I’m ready to try Steve’s 9mm. Acting like the ‘professional’ I have instantly become, I load the ammunition into the magazine, load the magazine into the gun, take aim and fire. This gun definitely has a kick to it. From my position I can see exactly where I’ve hit the target. I must say, for my first time firing hand guns, I’m not too bad. I hit the target more than I missed it.

Dana and I took turns shooting the 9mm and 12mm as well as George’s revolver. Dana also tried the assault rifle George had rented.

 

The four of us played a game of accuracy. One of the targets consisted of rows of playing cards. Each of us picked a row and with the 9mm tried to shoot our designated row. Robin, Dana and I hit 4 out of 5 in the row using 7 bullets. With precise accuracy, George hit all of his targets as well as a few in the next row.

After leaving we talked about how you get used to the sound of the gun fire around you, but at the same time you really don’t get comfortable with it.  In my mind, I kept thinking I just wanted it to be quite for a few minutes.

I’m usually a happy-go-lucky person, but holding a gun in my hand made me understand that handling a firearm is serious business. It did not go un-noticed that one of the targets I was shooting at was a person’s torso and I was aiming at the head, eye, etc. When watching movies that involve shooting, I’m always thinking, ‘how did they miss that guy’. But after shooting a handgun, I get it. Between adrenaline and aim, it would be very easy to miss a target that is moving, running and shooting back at you.

torso target

It’s ironic, I just looked over to my right on my desk as I write this and I see a mailer for the ‘Distinguished Speaker series of Pasadena’, staring up at me is Gabrielle Giffords. Of course I know who she is, but at first the connection between her and what I’m writing about doesn’t connect. Then the light went on in my brain, here is a woman who almost lost her life because of a crazy person with a handgun. She had a powerful will to live. She not only lived, but is talking, walking amazing us all with her determination.

I don’t have the answers to gun control. Obviously it is, and always will be a topic of debate. From my day with friends, I realized that guns are not frivolous play things, but weapons not to be taken lightly.

What I do know is, I enjoyed being that kid in the empty field spending time with my sibling’s innocently passing time on a summer day.

 

 

Run, Forrest, Run

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I'm in the race!

I’m in the race!

Week 47

For the past three years my family has participated in the Megan’s Wings 5K run. This charity event is currently in its 10th year and was started by the Savage family of Upland after they lost their young daughter to cancer. The organization helps to financially support families whose children are battling cancer.

I’m not a runner, but I’ve been keeping in shape with a mixture of walking and running and various other exercises.

The 5K course starts out at McCarthy Park just down the street from my house. From the start line we head north, beautiful Mt. Baldy as our view. We start with a steep uphill for ¾ of a mile. At the first turn the course levels out. I feel a slight nudge on my shoulder as my daughter Ellie and her friends pass me.   I can see my husband up ahead of me working his way along the course.

The second turn takes us downhill for a mile. At the next to last corner, there is a steady slow uphill grade toward the finish line. Oh, but wait. This year we had to make an extra turn and head back uphill toward the balloon arch finish line.

I’ve been practicing sprinting so I can make a push at the finish, to try to get those extra few seconds. When I saw the balloon arch, I began my sprint. Knowing the end was near gave me the energy to power through. But much to my surprise the balloon arch I was looking at was actually the start line. Up ahead a few yards was the actual finish line. Oh, no, just when I thought I was done I had to keep up my sprint!! My brain must have sent out the right message, because I was able to keep going. I saw the timer, but couldn’t quite see what my time was, mostly because my heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to explode.

The first year I participated in the 5K, I walked 80% of the course. Last year I tried to run at least 50 % of the course. This year the challenge was to run the entire race. I didn’t successfully attain my goal to run the whole race, but I came pretty darn close. My times improved:

2012       46:34

2013       34:21

2014       32:13     that’s 2:08 better than last year and only 16 seconds behind my husband.

Out of about 1300 people, I placed 277. That’s okay with me.

My goal is to still run the entire race.  It’s just that darn uphill! The bonus is, I can feel good about helping to support a worthy organization.

We're all smiles after the race!

We’re all smiles after the race!

 

 

Hey Ma, look what I made (part 2)

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Maryann, Doreen and I channeling our inner artist

Maryann, Doreen and I channeling our inner artist

Week 46

I have proven once again that I do not excel in the arts.

Three of us ‘college girls’ (myself, Doreen and Maryann), were getting together for an overnight at Maryann’s house and decided to do one of those paint and drink nights. We found a place close to her house in Redondo Beach called Paint ‘n Pour. An instructor stands at the front of the class giving step by step instructions on how to paint the chosen picture for that night. Beverages are allowed as you’re painting. We brought a bottle of wine, but they do serve wine, beer and soft drinks at the location.

At check-in we were given a set of brushes. Set up on the tables are an easel with blank 16”x20” canvas and a paper plate that will serve as a palette. The walls of the classroom are covered with various paintings from other classes.  The most important and first thing we did, was to have our wine opened. A little wine may help my inner artist emerge.

You probably can’t tell what I painted from the photograph, but it is a beach scene consisting of a Woody wagon with a surfboard leaning against the car parked by the ocean with a wave crashing in the background.

The room fills as our instructor, Marie takes to the stage. She explain that she will be working on the painting, as her husband Rich, will be acting bartender and helping hand. Marie explains the brushes, how she will be breaking down the process of painting and what paints we will use.

The first task we do is wash one of the brushes. As we dry it on a towel, she says to look to the person sitting next us. “Don’t they look artistic?” Marie says.   As I’m looking at Maryann, I say “no”. To which Maryann makes a silly remark. Which sends both of into school girl laughter. The kind where you’re laughing really hard, but you can’t make any noise because you don’t want to disrupt the class or get in trouble. So this is how the class is going to go…But this is of no surprise, because I’m with ‘my girls’.

One key thing Marie said struck a chord with my friend Doreen. She said if you didn’t want to paint the designated picture, you are welcome to paint one of the others seen on the wall or a creation of your own. Doreen decided on a painting of the Eiffel Tower with snow on the ground and the trees covered in flowers. Marie did explain that if you chose a different painting, she would not be able to help as she was specifically instructing with the beach scene. That was okay with Doreen.

We begin

We begin

Time to unleash my inner artist.

Mixing blue with some white, we create the sky. Adding more white, the breaking wave takes shape.   Maryann complained that my paint somehow sprinkled onto her arm. I’m being a very zealous artist.

Green leaves start emerge with the stroke of my brush. The plant looks large and out of place. But, hey, I’m just following Marie’s instructions.

I need more wine.

The painting is taking shape. Next, the surfboard and Woody Wagon.  At this point I felt like throwing my canvas across the room. Sky, surf and sand are easy, but a Woody wagon with dimension, that’s another thing.

Anxiety about the art is now creeping into my mind. Where’s Rich, my wine glass needs filling!

What was to be a relaxing, fun experience turned out to be very fustrating. Doreen says we just need more details. “Add more color to your plant”, she says. You mean that giant green thing in the corner of my painting?

Maryann and I look over at Doreen’s Paris scene. She seems to be in a world of her own. Three brushes in her left hand, one in her right as she adds blossoms to the beautiful trees framing the Eiffel Tower she has so effortlessly painted. Who knew Doreen had a hidden talent as a painter?

My painting is one only a mother could love. Moms are so good at that. They think everything you do is a masterpiece.

As always, we girls were happy to be together. We missed Robin, but we’re secretly happy Kerry hadn’t come. Because Kerry is a fabulous artist and would probably have taken over teaching the class.

We finished our painting as our wine bottle empties.

Looking at my painting, I feel agitated that I couldn’t do as well as I thought. At least I tried.  Obviously, this is not my calling, but I’ve suffered for my art. I will hang my beach scene proudly on the back wall of my office, where no one goes but me.