The old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” But in our case, it’s “One man’s trash is the next man’s really rusty trash.”

Today’s our houseversary: one year ago, we moved into our house. We’ve found a lot of stuff since then. During excavation, some neighbors said we might find Native American artifacts. Not a one, nor any gold coins.

Here’s a sampling of the “treasures” we’ve found:

  • ceramic shards
  • glass shards, multi-colored
  • beer bottles
  • the top of a wine bottle with the cork still in it (Someone was thirsty and desperate.)
  • salt shaker
  • shovel with rusty teeth
  • toy boat
  • propane tank
  • bathtubs, several (We saved a rusty old cast iron tub, unsure still what we’ll do with it. If it ever had cute claw feet, they’re long gone, or very deeply buried.)
  • tires, more than a dozen
  • bird feeder

But the most surprising? An old truck hood, half-buried.

Who knows what we’ll find next? Probably not gold. And before any of you say “tetanus,” we’re both up to date on tetanus boosters.

Stop saying you’re moving to another country. Stop googling Canadian citizenship. You aren’t going anywhere. It’s an empty threat, meaningless venting.

You know where we should all move? One step closer to the opposing view – a step closer so we can hear what people are saying.  A little closer so we can stop shouting. Nobody can hear anything across the vast dividing line that’s been drawn between US and THEM.

This election has left me exhausted and disappointed – mostly at our inability to communicate with each other. There’s a lot of talk, but it’s mostly sound bites and arguments, not questions and clarifications.

This election was divided, yes. But I refuse to believe that half the county is racist/misogynist, just as refuse to accept the other half are bleeding-heart liberal communists. Discourse has devolved to “Go Team!” and “You people suck.”

I’ve mostly shied away from political discussions, not because I don’t care or because I don’t have opinions. Rather, I shy away because I feel nobody’s really listening. They’re too busy either trying convince me I’m wrong, dumb, stupid or they’re congratulating me for being on the same side of the argument as them. My shying away stems from growing up the outlier in nearly every single family discussion. I felt dismissed and unheard.

But I’m a grown-up now, and my goal going forward is to be more forthcoming with my opinions and beliefs as well as my confusions and questions –- and to encourage thoughtful, respectful discussion and debate by asking questions of those I may disagree with and really listening to their answers.

It’s more fun to say, “Hey, I never thought of it that way before” than it is to say, “HOW on earth can you think that?” OK, maybe not fun, but surely more civil and more open-minded.

Advice for next year’s Halloween costume. If you are going to a party, wear a comfortable costume. If you’re going to a concert/costume contest, which is sure to be crowded, don’t wear costumes that protrude out beyond you, for example, bat wings. Even more important, if you should choose to ignore my advice and wear bat wings, don’t hammer so many beers that you don’t realize that your “dancing” (drunken gesticulation) is causing your wings to molest everyone around you. Just don’t do it.

With that PSA done, here are this year’s Halloween photos. First, Cavity Cove. Because it’s always fun. Today as I was taking pictures, the owner of the house was still putting up finishing touches. I asked him how many trick-or-treaters they get, and he said depends on the weather and on the day of the week, but last year they got about three thousand (yes, 3000!). He said they’ve lived there 14 years, but that the tradition of insane in a good way decorations on D Street goes back 50 years. Thanks, Mr. Cavity Cove, for carrying on the tradition, and for raising money for the local homeless shelter, COTS.

On site dentristy = take a picture with Cavity Cove's resident "Demented Dentist."

On site dentistry = take a picture with Cavity Cove’s resident “Demented Dentist.”

Halloween2016-03

The dentist couldn’t help the mermaid victim of sharknado.

Halloween2016-05

Don’t like smoke? Suck it up anyway, because “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

Halloween2016-04

I usually hate these decals, but I’ll forgive you, Mr. Cavity Cove, because you and they are awesome.

Down the street a bit, this giant snake lurks in waiting.

Halloween2016-01

He’s so colorful, he’s a party.

The collaboration-competition houses have grown from two to four houses. They have a lot of stuff. Some of it’s themed, some just creepy.

Is that the Colonel?

Halloween2016-12

I’m not hungry any more.

Halloween2016-14

“Maybe if we look cute, they won’t want to eat us? How are we doing?”

Halloween2016-15

It’s like Farm to Table cuisine, only ickier.

Halloween2016-16

They’re hungry and waiting in line for the chicken diner.

Halloween2016-10

The Zombie Drum Band

Halloween2016-11

Moonshine, a hillbilly treat

Halloween2016-09

Scary swamp people

Halloween2016-08

More scary swamp critters

Halloween2016-17

Ack! Even scarier critters

Halloween2016-07

The scariest critters of all

 

 

My saxophone lessons were going well, until I became determined to learn “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock” in time for last Christmas. Then, I over-practiced “Tequila.” I ended up with an injured thumb. For real, I have a saxophone injury. Worse even than pausing my musical progression is that my trigger thumb has stopped my knitting. This may not sound like much to a non-knitter, but imagine the one thing you do to relax and de-stress and then imagine being unable to partake in that activity. The hole left behind allows stress and worry to fester, and it’s not as if I need assistance with stress and worry.

So, I decided to train for a half marathon. I figured it would take my mind off my thumb, get me closer to Fit Before 50, and maybe feed my creativity a little.

In the course of training, a foot issue that I’ve had since I was about 20 decided that it had had enough with the relentless pounding of mile after mile. It didn’t hurt while I walked, but it throbbed afterward. The podiatrist I found was kind and snarky at the same time. He suggested that I didn’t HAVE to do this event, but understood when I told him I needed a sense of accomplishment. I didn’t want this to be the Year of Thwarted.

With the decision to continue training, I finally understood the athletes I’ve seen all these years, the ones with braced up knees and taped up whatnots, still pushing through the miles. Sometimes, you just have to finish what you start, even if it’s not a pretty or entirely joyful process. Happily, it didn’t all suck. I discovered new trails, listened to happy music, learned that training alone is fun (no worries about slowing people down when you’re walking sola).

And? I finished. I stuck to my training. I did the half marathon. Faster than I was 17 years ago when I did my first marathon! Nearly 30 minutes faster. It’s probably the end of my walking endurance events, but it’s nice to go out on a high note, instead of surrendering to the thwartedness.

UnThwarted

The turtle necklace has done every endurance event with me. I almost quit before my first marathon. My brother in law reminded me of the tortoise and the hare. “Slow & Steady! You’ve got this!” The next day, I went out shopping for Tortuga. My dad said, “I’ll buy it for you, so I can be there with you during your marathon.”

Stay tuned for what I decide to do next (back to swimming? cycling?) and for what I decided to name my demon.

I had a dream last night set in a tasting room, and we were tasting. But we weren’t tasting wine. We were tasting gluten. Various strains of gluten, with different varietals hailing from different terroirs and whanot. We sniffed and chewed and commented on flavor profiles and characteristics.

My favorite was the purple gluten. “Mmmm, purple.”

In honor of Mother’s Day, I present one of my all-time favorite pictures of my mom, from a Christmas Party in 1970. She loved to entertain, and those are homemade tiropitas (yum!).

We had a dinner party recently, and I decided to pay homage to this photo. Mom would’ve been disappointed with my store-bought appetizers, but she would’ve loved that we’re entertaining friends and she’d have loved our new place — especially when critters walk by the windows.

Love you, Mom.mom-tiropitas-small DaughtersTribute

Recently, four different friends have said, “Seeing your house makes me want to go home and clear out all my clutter.” I find it ironic and hysterical that I, of all people, would inspire anyone to de-clutter. I’m such a recovering pack rat!

I am in the process of losing nearly 20 pounds. Of paper. More specifically, letters — you know, the correspondence that existed long before email was invented. I’ve always loved writing and receiving letters, and I had regular pen pals through high school and college. Inveterate letter writer plus chronic pack rat equals one very heavy box that I’ve carted around through all my moves. (Another friend recently said she’d moved three times in the past five years, and my first reaction was “wow, that’s a LOT” and my second reaction was, “oh yeah, me, too.”)

letters

The box barely survived this move.

Why didn’t I just chuck the box in the recycle bin? I was tempted, very very tempted. But back in high school, I went on a retreat and part of that retreat was receiving surprise letters from our parents, telling us they loved us. I’d misplaced those letters years ago, and wanted to find them, especially since my mom passed away.

So, I kept this box in the hopes that I’d jammed those letters in there at some point. But I wasn’t ready to go through the old letters or even to read the one I wanted from my mom. Looking at those letters made me feel overwhelmed, both with memory and with the task at hand. Until last week, when I did this:

So many letters, so many memories.

letters-2

I want to get it done, so I can get outside!

I rifled through, read very few, and found the missing letters from my mom and dad. I sat there in our entryway and cried. But then I felt light and ready for the purging task at hand. I’ve sorted by sender. I’m reading a few at a time, laughing and remembering, and chucking most of them in the recycle bin. The picture of the overturned box is unintentionally symbolic. The letters are in shadows…and a whole world of light and adventure exists beyond them.

Admitting failure or defeat is scary. But in the name of starting off the new year fearlessly, I admit that I’m an abject failure. At least in terms of the goals I set for 2015:

  • Take 52 photos and write 52 blog posts to accompany photos – according to Lightroom, I have 1,400+ photos from 2015 (the ones I’ve kept so far). But did I post a photo a week? Not even close. Instead of 52 blog posts, a measly 11.
  • 12 stories or articles – Nope.
  • One novel – Negative. I am closer to finishing novels 2 and 3, but not done with either.
  • Read 30 books – Only 25. Since I’ve been keeping track, I’ve averaged 26 books a year and maxed 29.

But I did taste some success in 2015:

  • I got published! One of my stories was chosen for this anthology.
  • I knit seven chemo caps – I actually exceeded this goal by one hat. It doesn’t help me professionally, but knitting lifts my mood and lowers my stress level.
  • We moved into our house! Finally.
  • Our Christmas card photo was the hit of the season.

    LumaGothic

    Making spirits bright. (Yes, it was hard not to laugh.)

And 2016?

  • A photo a day, just for me. Everyday, I’m photographing something I’m grateful for. I know it sounds like a whole lot of woo, but I figure there’s nothing like stopping to acknowledge the good in my life to counteract failures and frustrations.
  • The resurgence of WTF Wednesdays. Not every Wednesday, but I have a closet full of boxes that I’ve promised myself I’d weed through this year or chuck ‘em in the trash. Those papers, photos, ephemera, and flotsam are sure to contain a WTF or two.
  • Read 30 books. One year! One year, this is going to happen.

 

 

Here’s the rest of the best of last year’s Halloween. Two or three houses collaborate — or is it compete? — on themed displays. As you scroll through the photos, admire how many mannequins they assembled, how many signs and t-shirts they created, and how much time (not to mention storage) they must spend. I kind of want to interview the homeowners to ask them how this all started, but with Halloween less than two weeks away, they’re probably frantically busy.

Last year’s theme was “Satan High.” One house had the quotidian activities of high school, including the science lab and the resultant visits to the nurse’s office.

20141031-Halloween-043

Is Biology a required course? Can I skip it?

Ouch.

The lunch ladies.

20141031-Halloween-046

No, thanks. I think I’ll just get a candy bar from the vending machine.

Detention.

Detention and shop do not mix well.

And, of course, football.

20141031-Halloween-036

Don’t mess with any of them. And that goes double-time for the band.

My money’s on the Devils.

Burning hot!

20141031-Halloween-039

I can even forgive the misspelling, because “Clip Their Wings” is genius.

The house across the street focused on end of year activities such as the prom, complete with King and Queen and live music.

20141031-Halloween-029

Those kids are square pegs.

20141031-Halloween-032

Nobody else stood a chance.

I love live music, but this band scares me, especially the drummer.

And graduation.

20141031-Halloween-050

Voted least photogenic.

20141031-Halloween-054

Go Team! No, really, go. Get the hell out.

 

You could say I’m woefully late with last year’s photos, or I’m early for this year’s Halloween. Doesn’t matter. I’m celebrating the crazy spirit my town has for this holiday. Go Petaluma!

Kids trick or treat in the downtown area, and several of the shops hand out candy.

I learned that a pirate fairy is a thing.

Some of the shopkeepers get into the fun and dress up.

Bunny was excited to see all the little ones.

On my way to the mansions on D Street, I saw this kid. He saw me taking his picture and posed for me. Love him.

Reminds me of when my nephew went as a cheerleader.

This is just a warm-up for the Halloween decorations. Ha ha. Should I say cool down?

I sometimes feel like a dead dog after yoga.

Camp Scare was open again last year, with some new activities.

Fishing. And look, there’s water — proof that it did rain some last year.

He doesn’t seem to enjoy the zipline.

And once again, Cavity Cove did not disappoint.

As panoramic as I could get. That tree on the left moved. Creepy.

20141031-Halloween-022

Beware the kraken.

It was an election year. When I first drove by the Cove, I was disappointed to see politics in their display. Until I got closer. I fully endorse this measure!

I vote YES!

There’s still more. Stay tuned for another post. But beware if you have coulrophobia; there may be some clowns (and not the cute kind).