Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Garden - Slowly But Surely

Voila! My first garden bed frame is finished! And boy are my hands sore. It was quite a process beginning with digging out the bed and collecting enough shards of glass to reconstruct a six pack, enough shards of tableware to reconstruct a place setting and finding a cinder block buried just at the level I wanted to pound in the stakes. I then tried to dig out the cinder block and found that one corner is somehow attached to something even deeper, and the reburied the cinder block. I also found a small pretty shaped bottle (one of the only intact things I've unearthed -so far) which is soaking and I will post a photo later when it's all cleaned up along with guesses as to what it's original purpose was. I still have another to go and am wondering if I feel up to getting it done today or if I'll wait until I'm fresh again tomorrow -I think today. It would be nice to move forward with the whole thing. There's still the whole process of hauling in bags and bags of sand, soil, mulch, manure -what have you. And I have a fence that needs installing as well. 
Aside that I have a tray of seeds sprouting in the kitchen which will be ready to plant soon and have started reading up on what all the different plants need in their soil. Geez, it's complicated! Here's hoping for success.


(Later the same day....)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tonight I went to a meditation center to learn and practice meditating. I've tried before and I guess I haven't done so badly at it. In fact, it is very similar to the daydreaming I do regularly and without noticing except that the idea is to clear you mind and just focus on the present and your presence. I thought there might be something more to it that I didn't know but there's really not from what I can tell. The only problem is that it's hard to meditate at home when dogs are suddenly barking about nothing or pawing at me to play with or cuddle or neighbors are suddenly stomping around upstairs. I thought I'd learn the secret to it and that it would be somehow more profound in a foreign space with many other people meditating, too. One thing of particular note that I wasn't expecting was for the meditation room to be so brightly lit. I also thought it was kind of funny that there's a note on the website requesting that you not wear perfume and yet the room is so full of incense who would notice? Another unexpected bit was that every once in a while the person leading the meditation sounds a gong and announces walking meditation which means everyone gets up and walks around the perimeter of the room with their hands clasped a particular way in front of their belly.  This was fine and actually I really liked it because it just reminds me going for a walk or dancing -no thinking, just moving. But what was funny was my instinct to interact with people as they passed my line of vision as I would if I were out walking with my dogs -to acknowledge them. I managed to stay for nearly an hour but after the walking meditation it was hard for me to get back into the sitting meditation and I'd realized from the start that the bra I was wearing was very tight and the cushion you sit on to help you achieve the correct posture is really kind of hard and perhaps due to one or both of these things I couldn't get comfortable and kept noticing how tight my neck and throat felt which is not relaxing at all. But I think I did achieve something, though I'm not sure what, as I have felt a little floatier since I left but perhaps it's just that the incense clouded my senses.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A while back I posted a poem by Tom Absher in which he wrote "When I walk in the village these days I have taken to putting my hands in the hands of beggars -and secretly I bless the strangers I come across."
I have a sort of love of strangers these days myself. There's something about the complete spontaneity and anonymity of meeting and interacting with completely unexpected people for very brief periods of time that has a certain beauty to it. It's something I recognized a while ago and I continue to notice it every time I'm out doing anything. I have no expectations that these things will occur or what shape they may take and I think that is one of my favorite parts of it. I love to meet people who seem very sensitive to me for 78 seconds and then are gone -never to disappoint me by having a bad day. That's not to say I don't love the experiences I have of my long time friends but as someone who was once very shy I am still surprised by how amazing it is to connect with someone briefly that way and I love the freedom of that anonymity. If anything in the world has kept me hopeful for the past five years it is all the people I've met whose names I do not know and who I will never see again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I had such a gorgeous day today that now I don't know what to do with myself and think I will go to bed early tonight -would be best as I do have a job interview tomorrow mid-morning. But I also had a chocolate chip brownie that's got me all wound up. I'm like a child that way now that I usually avoid sugar (but love to bake desserts, I know) and am totally off caffeine. Very sensitive, everything sends me reeling. So I thought I'd post a Positive Sunday type doodle, for all that I am happy to have done today and all that I'm looking forward to this week. Here goes.
I finally made it back to my Sunday dance class. It's a contemporary jazz type class and everyone dances barefoot and the crazy rubber floor tears up my feet so I was trying to let them heal a bit (last time I went I really did a number on the bottom of one of my big toes). Anyway, it was awesome to be back. I sometimes forget how important dancing is to me, strange as it may sound that I can forget that. Really, though, it's like breathing -necessary. Got in a nice dog walk after that and then met up with a friend to get all chatty and it was super nice to talk about all that I've been doing and all that I am about to start doing.
So my latest idea is to work out a strict schedule of my activities and get myself to stick to it. For a while I was getting screwed up and forgetting the time and it would be too late to make it to class on the days I really wanted to go so yesterday I wrote it all in on my calendar including something new. I found a center for Buddhism nearby in Eagle Rock that offers free meditation sessions twice a week and I fully intend to incorporate these and fortunately neither session coincides with any of my dance classes so soon I will have something special that I enjoy every day except Tuesday and Saturday and I'm really excited about it all. Does it sound funny that I'm really excited about the idea of going to sit quietly and think of nothing for two to three hours? Maybe. But I am. I'll let you know how it goes. 
So here is my happy plan for the week: meditate, jazz, tango, nothing (or more accurately: whatever I want), meditate, jazz, tango, "nothing". Sounds beautiful, doesn't it? Very balanced. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wow. Have you ever tried to diagnose yourself online and made a hangnail into leukemia? I think I just did something like that with my avocado tree. I planted it about two or three weeks ago and for some reason lately a lot of leaves have been falling off and I don't know why or if it's ok or if I should do something differently. So I started searching to see if I could figure it out and it looks like a lot of people have had a similar experience and the issue seems to be everything from over watering to some kind of tree disease. I'm just not going to water it for a week and see how that goes...

The Sphinx

I just came back from checking in on my pet sitting charges of the day: a pair of hairless sphinx cats. They are absolutely adorable and you kind of have to get used to petting them as they do have a light fuzz like a peach and it's kind of velcro-y so your hands get stuck. Also, their tails look kind of like possum tails being bare as they are but overall they are gorgeous and delightful and now I might be a little obsessed. One is a calico and one is a siamese and their color markings are actually on the skin. These photos are not of them as I didn't bring my camera (foolish of me) but you get the idea.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mockingbird , Inez & Charlie Foxx .

Evidence of Life

I am not by nature the tidiest person and, as many people can relate to I'm sure, when I'm working full time or busy or have projects I'm working on I tend to neglect my housekeeping. It didn't always bother me but for a while I was very self conscious about letting people come over when I hadn't had a chance to clean and tidy to the extent I'd have liked. Add to that an old friend who would compulsively offer her opinion on the state of other friends homes and whether or not they should be ashamed of their lack of housekeeping skills. Yikes! I had to wonder what she was saying to them about mine.
As the years passed I learned better how to keep my house from crossing the line from comfortably lived into utter chaos and I learned to accept that it may not always be just as I like it when someone comes over.
These days as I'm checking in on pets while people are at work one of the things I'm enjoying about the job is experiencing what other peoples homes look like from day to day during their work week when they might not have enough time to keep it in whatever they consider ideal condition. It seems the messier it is the more endearing I find it. It is a beautiful thing to be so un-self conscious, sometimes the character of a home is less in the decor and more in the untidiness. If it weren't totally wrong I'd love to photographs bits of the houses I visit but as that seems like a betrayal of the trust they've instilled in me, I'm happy just to be comforted by my own reaction as it means there is hope that when my date picks me up and I haven't had time to tidy up it actually makes my home seem perhaps more inviting than if it were picture perfect.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Positive Friday

This is kind of a follow up to yesterday and also to an older post I wrote about how I'd tried to plan out my unemployment: take care of business, give myself a break, get down to finding a job, etc. We all know that things often don't go according to the plan you set for yourself. It's great to make a plan but it's just as important to be flexible and RELAX. Unforseen things come up, that's life.
So here I am at the end of the... 10th? week of unemployment and I find that I really have relaxed. After gagging at the job descriptions for administrative positions that I am on paper totally qualified for but which I find  truly repellant these days (not to mention how often they're offering a ridiculously low salary or how many include a long commute -why would I put myself through all of that again?) I got the message that if I want something different it may take a little more time than I'd originally planned for and that I need to be ok with that. Also, it's a beautiful thing to finally have a clear idea of what I want to do and how capable I am of doing it.
These days I don't even worry much anymore. I know that everything will work out perfectly well. That I'll find a new job I love and that it could happen any day or perhaps take a few more weeks. In the meantime, I'm working on my own projects and substitute dog walking/sitting which is the loveliest work ever and if I could just get that to include a health plan and get my own regular clientele I wouldn't mind doing it forever, or for a while at least. I've totally embraced not being entirely sure what's going to happen next and giving myself time to find something that is really good for me.
So that's my positive Friday post: it's all about embracing the uncertainty that comes with freedom.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This is What I Want

Ok, this is being posted as a message to the universe and I think I'll follow it up with some images to really get the point across. I had a weird, wonderful, sometimes challenging week. Let's not bother with all the petty details.
I applied for two jobs in particular that I reeeeeally want. One is to be a bakers assistant and the other is to be a hairdressers assistant. I spoke with people at both places and both were super nice, friendly and even expressed enthusiasm and positivity in regard to my calls. Yay! And now I really want to get to the next part where I figure out if I will do one or both. And if one, which one? So let's get me there!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thrift Shopping and Movie Star Crushing

Thrift shopping in Los Angeles has been totally corrupted. The other morning when I went to St. Vincent's to see if I could get a better price on the remaining "entertainment center" that matched the one swiped from me there was a girl there with a mountainous shopping cart who bought ALL the purses behind the counter where they keep the good stuff. As one of them was very cute and I would have liked to have it for my own, this annoyed me. Ofcourse, seeing as I'd just lost my "entertainment center" and was therefor suffering a setback to both my garden project and my wallet I simply wasn't in the most forgiving mood. Obviously she's got a shop somewhere and will take that mountain of booty and mark it up 150%. There's something about knowing it was right there a minute ago where I could have bought it for $10 that makes it unacceptable to pay $30 for it somewhere else tomorrow.
I can't decide if I love or hate (strong word, unnecessary) the vintage shops all over the place where everything is both cute and out of my price range. There was a time when I could leave the Salvation Army, or similar, with two garbage bags full of very cute clothes priced at $3 a piece. I used to have a small collection of great faux fur coats that I purchased from warehouse sized thrift stores that stocked everything and catered to no one in particular. I still find the occasional pair of leather boots that fit perfectly for $4 (r.i.p. burgundy boots lost to the puppy years, sob...) or the occasional cute blouse or dress. But they're fewer and further between now that everyone and their mother has a vintage shop or an etsy shop or an ebay shop. They swoop in bright and early when I (used to be) at work and buy all the good stuff. This, in fact, is one of the many good reasons that I off and on think about moving far away. Somewhere where there is still plenty of untouched thrifting potential.
I think that besides seeing the girl with the mountainous shopping cart and ALL of the purses, the other thing that inspired today's thrift ennui is that I watched Broken Enlgish (twice) the other day. I always love Parker Posey but this is my absolute favorite film. It's very romantic but the story is so believable as possible in reality and Melvil Poupaud is sooooo adorable! (sigh....) And, ofcourse, Parker Posey wears the cutest outfits which are likely not thrifted but probably are mostly designer, but her clothes remind me a lot of styles I used to be able to find in thrift stores. Above is still from the movie of Parker (and Drea DiMatteo) in a cute blouse and here is the very handsome Melvil, just because.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

As you all know I've been working in my yard planting fruit trees and getting ready to install a vegetable and herb garden. After Amy suggested looking for a free bookcase to use as the frame for a raised bed I went over to St. Vincent's and found exactly what we needed. A huge, solid wood, backless "entertainment center" (I don't know why I've never cared for that phrase). I bought it on the spot with faith that I would find a way to get it home. I had three days and a couple days later I got up early and went off to trade cars with my father -who's wagon has a roof rack. I raced over to St. Vincent's where they staunchly refused to tie the beast to the roof of the car. Hmph. I have to say, we almost had them convinced but when the saw the car and became even more stubbornly opposed to it I knew they were right. So I went home, called up Home Depot and asked if they had any rental trucks available. Nope. But they said if I called back and there was one available they could hold it for 20 minutes. Super.
Went about a few other things I needed to do and came home and tried again. Success! Raced over to Home Depot, got the truck, drove a few blocks to St. Vincent's blah blah blah. Got home, got the shelves unloaded with the help of my neighbor who drove up just behind us. And we left the shelves on the curb. It's a big heavy piece of furniture, almost immediately barricaded by parked cars and as the space was really just barely big enough to fit the piece I figured it'd be hard to maneuver out and no one would bother trying to snatch it. Plus, I'm just an optimist and most of my endeavors (and the risk taking they require) are protected by the bubble of my optimism I'm convinced. I figured I'd call my brother on the weekend to help me move to the yard and this morning I did just that. While waiting for him I turned over the soil of the large area I planned to place the shelves. I pulled a strip of plywood out of the ground, an old plastic tree pot, a lot of broken glass and plate shards, a spoon, a few marbles, chunks of cement. I raked the loose earth into an even surface. I was all ready to place the frame and sooo excited to keep moving on the project. I called my brother to suggest he bring work gloves with him to avoid splinters and then went up to the street to see if there were many cars in the way. My entertainment center was gone. I was in such disbelief that I looked into the neighbors driveway, up around the corner of the street, down the street. As if maybe it had wandered off and I could catch up with it. No such luck.
I drove over to St. Vincent's for the umpteenth time. They had another just like it that I had seen first for twice the price. I thought maybe if I told them my sad story they'd mark it down for me and I could do the whole thing over again. The guy offered it for $50 (almost the $40 I'd paid but not quite) and for some reason I thought it seemed better not to. Certainly no one had meant to steal it, it was on the curb as if discarded and Amy's "Not trash! Don't touch!" sign had been blown off by the wind. So I went inside and made a sign explaining that it was on it's way in and I could understand the mistake but would really appreciate if it was returned. I seriously do believe this is possible. I live at nearly the dead end of the street and think it's pretty likely that if anyone took it they live right around here somewhere. I'm giving it time and trying to enjoy the rest of my day, which is hard as I'd intended to spend it gardening.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's funny, after working for nearly 14 years in a huge art museum. You get so accustomed to seeing art and seeing people putting it up, even. It doesn't seem unusual to me anymore. So the other day when I was driving down the street and saw some guys pasting up a huge black and white image of a face to cover the entire front side of a building, I just thought. Huh, there's some guys pasting up a big photo. I did wish I'd bought my camera at the time, in fact I believe that's one of the things that finally convinced me to go home and push the button, but I knew how lousy it would look on my cell phone camera and I just couldn't bear the dissatisfaction.
So imagine my surprise when I read that the artist who installed this poster is a French street artist by the name of JR who is on the scale of Banksy. Wow. And I saw that. And if I'd had my camera I would have stopped and likely would have met him. Damnit. But oh well, if that's the kind of stuff I'm living amongst it's bound to happen again.
Check out this link here for an article that was written about that day and his project in LA and also his new project that is open to anyone! Oooh, what does that mean? Go see! And then go check out his site. I've seen his work in the favela's of Brazil in photographs in books. I can't believe I didn't meet him! Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Still Waiting?

All that build up to Neptune leaving Aquarius and then I didn't even mention it on Monday (or since). Not that I wasn't aware of the day. I guess I was expecting to feel noticeably different and I'm not sure I do. Even significant changes can take some time to show themselves, though, and this is just a taste of Neptune in Pisces as it will only be there a few months and then back into Aquarius for a little while longer before it moves into Pisces for years. We'll see how this goes...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day two of garden work, got some of the big root balls from the weeds dug out and that is all. Bigger garden news (to me, at least) is that after Amy suggested we look for an old bookcase rather than buying the wood to build raised beds I went to St. Vincent's today, where I am convinced that if if I have wished to find something they magically have it, and bought at half off the original price a huge, solid wood, already backless entertainment center that will be perfect. I am now wishing for help getting it home...
Another revelation, while watering the trees this evening, is the identity of the small mystery tree that has been in my yard forever but has never more than about five leaves on it. It's a plumeria!

This is very exciting as they're one of my favorite tropicals. While watering it this evening I noticed that there are tiny leaves beginning at the ends of all the many branches and finally that feeling of knowing it seemed so familiar cracked and I finally realized what it is. Anyway, it seems healthier today than every before with all of its many branches leafing and I intend to care for it diligently and hope to see it bloom this spring. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just Before the Garden...

So here are photos of my yard now. I'm going to try to document the entire transformation because I have great visions for this garden and it's a huge process and to see it only "after" will not illustrate all that goes in. First, though, I have to say that I'm a bit sad without the overgrown jungle of lush weeds that had to go to make way for all that we're going to build here. I know all too well that in a matter of a couple weeks it would have begun to turn brown and fall down and become even more depressing than the removal of the jungle but there's nothing like greenery to lift your spirits. And sadly I don't have a very good photo at hand of what it looks like at the height of its wild beauty. With that, here is "before" (a touch late as the trees are already in) and photos of the new fruit trees.

These photos also reminded me that I have yet to figure out how to adjust the aperture on my camera, the  one bit of instruction for this that I found so far I don't seem to be doing right. It's a bit frustrating to use a machine that will only allow you so much freedom, allowing you one set of options while removing others. 
I must remind myself today that while this phase looks a little bleak it is gold. It is the raw foundation for something lush and bountiful. This is the theme I see in my life right now. It is both golden and bleak. I have just gotten the information and application to enroll in an apprenticeship program but still need to find a salon to hire me. I have two very busy years of hard work ahead of me and I'm both eager to get started, as I know that once I begin it will pass very quickly. And reluctant to give up this brief period of freedom, the likes of which I've not experienced since I was a teenager. Sigh. This too shall pass.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Came upon this little tryst this morning. Kind of creepy, it looks like one is trying to kill the other but in actuality I think they were mating...

It's Spring and We're Making a Garden

Happy new garden day to me and my neighbor Amy. We planted two trees in the yard today, avocado and blood orange. Bought some berry vines, jasmine, strawberries and peppers -which still need a home in the yard and will live in pots for a little while. And most exciting of all is that the guy at Home Depot showed me some kind of mulch that you mix with the soil in your yard if it's clay (which ours is) and it turns it into good planting soil. This was an awesome revelation for me as I didn't know such a thing existed.
Next on the agenda (I'm thinking) is to build a fence around the area we want to install raised beds for veggies and herbs. I'm so excited about having started to transform the yard that I had to post without photos as it's too late now to take any tonight but will post some tomorrow.
Wooooow. Just had the most surreal online adventure. For some reason I suddenly remembered once seeing someone perform on the glass harmonica. This, in case you're not familiar, is an "instrument" consisting entirely of glasses, filled to various levels, with water. The musician then runs his finger around the edge of the glass to make in "sing" and does this is whatever pattern to create whatever song. It's brilliant. I saw this guy open for a friend of mine years ago and it was seriously beautiful. So first I went looking to see if I could find a good video, there are many and I must admit I only watched one which was great but didn't exactly express the originality of the performance I saw, before getting distracted. Because then I remembered Gwen, who I was there to see perform, and started to look for videos of her music.
I was hoping for, perhaps, some bit of an old live performance. I would assume she's still playing but bands change over time and you never know who they'll be next or what they'll be called. I'm going to make a long story short because I have a feeling it's not all sorted out in my head yet. So here it is:
Once upon a time I knew this really wacky girl named Gwendolyn (listen to samples of songs, look around the site...). Really imaginative and fierce and crazy talented. She played something like freak folk ages before anyone that phrase was coined or anyone else seemed to play it. Her influences seem to be totally unrelated to her sound.... always a sign of brilliance (yes, I used it twice) as far as I'm concerned. We both grew up around the same city, were involved with people in the same, huge crowd. All my friends back then were musicians and film students, it seemed, and most of my social engagements were going to see bands play or screenings of somebody's short films. There was a lot of variety, it wasn't a crowd where everyone was doing the same thing, everybody had their own idea's and sounds. It's been a while since I found such a group of original, eclectic and inspired people.  Anyway. It seems Gwendolyn went on to form a band that performs music for children. I remember hearing this somewhere years ago but didn't really process it entirely because to me her music had always seemed like it was sung for children and even a lot of the content seemed appropriate. Gwendolyn and the Gooodtime Gang, however, is truly for children. (Go check it out and then come back, no really.) So? Oh my god! Isn't that FASCINATING? It's just me, isn't it? But I'm just so impressed with her for her confidence in following what she loved and using it to create something that she enjoys and that supports her (notice also, she scored music for the show Weeds).
Most of all I'm totally impressed and happy for her for creating for herself the kind of life I'm sure she wanted, although I'm sure it's not exactly what she thought might happen because that's how life works. And what hit me second was: that's all I need to do. It's not that hard just don't be discouraged or worry too much, just do what you need and want to do for yourself and it'll turn into SOMETHING.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Alright, I'm climbing out of this cave slowly but surely, though we had unfortunate weather today which made for no inspired outfits and I am in semi lock down mode as there have been workers in my yard all day clearing the jungle of overgrown weeds and tree trimmings that have been left behind for far too long. It's like a miracle that I can actually see the dirt. It's a good metaphor for Neptune's exit as I'm now left with the raw foundation for the garden I'm going to plant.
I want vegetable beds, herbs, giant succulents and lot's of fragrant flowering plants like roses, jasmine, and gardenias. I might also need a pineapple guava tree. We'll see what happens once I get out there. I think I'm going to have to hit some nursery's this week and likely snatch some babies from the wild agave on the side of the stairway up my hill. Perhaps tomorrow I will get one area planted as a christening to the new garden. Now for some inspiration....

What do you think, too dark? Will everyone think this is a blog about death metal? I'm having a bizarre day and I definitely feel like I'm peering out into the edge of a big bright light from the darkest cave. Not really sure how I got here, either. I will change it as soon as I change my mood.