Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When in Maine...

I guess one cannot visit Maine without visiting L.L. Bean. I had no idea as to how large the store was. There are many different stores all connected to the main store and it is open 24 hrs, 365 days.

The L.L. Bean boot with the lovely Ms. Erica
posing for me. 
The L.L. Bean boot car. (Only in America right?)
One of the stores. 
I love the door handles.
An indoor trout pond.
And I so wanted to make a wish. 
The stuffed animal section. Kinda creepy.

Poor stuffed bears. 
Somehow this one doesn't look as intimidating as the ones I have seen
in the wild. 
Long, long wall with all the catalog covers. 

One cannot go into the tent section and not play.
Main Street in Freeport, Maine
It was a great day and Erica and I decided that if we had an unlimited budget, our packages would have been numerous.

Except for the mom khakis. We would totally skip those.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birthday Blessings.

Today is my birthday and my day could not have started any better when I received this video.

My cousin's adorable little children just melt my heart every time I am with them. Prima means cousin in Portuguese although Daniela pronounces it as Bama.

My email inbox started filling up with the most amazing letters from family and friends. These were not just your ordinary birthday wishes, but letters telling me what a difference I have made in their lives and what I mean to them.  Every single one had me in tears. A dear friend even wrote an entire blog post just to me with wine being the common bond and theme. Another friend wrote a list of things of what him and his wife love about me and this one had me laughing out loud. "Hilarious, with a wit so sharp and dry it will cut you and make your face pucker." 

I also received cards and gifts each one with a mini thesis attached. I have to say that the most incredible email I did receive today was from T. You all know how I hate the term, 'I am blessed', but in this case I have to say it. As a parent you know you have done something right when your child writes you more than a one paragraph letter.

There were three letters/emails that really touched me as these were from people I have known for a long time, but have never met in real life. To know what my friendship means to them, just makes me feel incredibly humble.

My cousin aka as Gorgeous had planned on us all going out for dinner, but the dreaded blizzard has hit New England and we have decided to wait until this all clears. So in true Princess fashion I get to celebrate my birthday longer.

To everyone one of you that reached out today with letters, emails, phone calls and Skype calls, thank you for making my 48th birthday one to remember.

I really am blessed.

My beautiful flowers from my cousin BoozaBell

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My visit to Brunswick, Maine.

Maine Moose
This weekend I visited with our friends Jon and Erica who live in Maine. It was a much needed break and mini vacation. Jon was T's Biology teacher in high school and you can read about him in this blog post I did a while ago. Brunswick, Maine is home to Bowdoin College and a very quaint college town. It reminds me a lot of Corvallis, Oregon.

Jon and Erica have just purchased a home and have started doing renovations and I couldn't think of a better way to take out my frustration on peeling off wallpaper and taping up shit. My OCD was in over drive. My weekend adventure is documented in photographs, a type of graphic novel for those that don't like to read lengthy blogs.

Erica putting the finishing touches on the
crown molding.
Jon making sure that the caulking is perfect. 
Me on the phone to RyRy and peeling wallpaper.
Marley, my godchild, supervising from the bedroom.
All the ducks in the neighborhood.
Ducks hanging out at the neighbors. 
Brunswick Saturday Flea Market. 
Nightmares in the making. 
For my friend Berta
Amazing collection of salt and pepper pots.
The wonderful Hannah from Gracie's Garden
Lacto-Fermented vegetables. They are awesome. I bought the beets to
bring back home to Oregon. 
Wonderful cheese from Balfour Farm. 
After the farmer's market we had to have Gelato.
So much to choose from. The winner was the Vegan Chocolate Gelato.
What I woke up to this morning. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hello my name is America and I am depressed.

Becoming a US Citizen and all the amazing people who came to witness
this incredible moment.

Growing up in South Africa I always thought of America as a very intimidating country. Watching the news America was always portrayed as the quarterback, the main man, and the rest of the world just mere spectators.

In 1990 I had an opportunity to come to America and I embarked on the journey with my carefree adventurous spirit. America was nothing to what I thought it would be. I thought that everyone was wealthy, there was no homeless and kids didn't get lower than a B in school. I guess I watched too much American TV and the news to not think any differently. To say that this was a huge culture shock is not giving the in your face glaring reality of something that wasn't, zero credit. There were homeless people, lots of homeless people; the ignorance and lectures I had to endure from many people when they learned I was from South Africa are too numerous to mention and I quickly learned that not every kid in school got straight A's and there were even some who didn't go to school.

There was, however, one thing that remained the same. The confidence of the American people with some bordering on arrogance was still intimidating to me, but then I saw what many accomplished and how their dreams were being realized and it opened my eyes to a different perception. Everyone worked together in some form or another, smiled and the tone of the country was contentment. It became the house with the white picket fence dream and I was taking on all that it had to offer.

Fast forward to today and this is not the country I was introduced to 24 years ago. We have a government who can't seem to get their shit together and have lost the "We the people" mentality to the "What's in it for me" attitude. Daily on Twitter I watch people name calling, trash talking and generally hitting below the belt when you happen to mention your opinion. A while ago I had posted an article that Rachel Maddow had written and immediately someone who followed me wrote "Hey look everyone, another feminist c___ on Twitter." I was floored. I have seen an ugly side to people who when they feel they are not winning the argument the name calling begins. We are truly a country divided.

We salivate over reality TV to see wealthy, poor et al go at each other. We are no better than the Romans going to the Colossum to watch Christians being barbarically murdered. The news media is split and the non fact checking garbage that is out there is enough to make ones head explode. My husband's philosophy is that anyone who listens and believes what a person is saying on the TV/Radio must remember that these people rely on ratings to help fatten their wallets, and the more bizarre the claim the better.

No one smiles anymore. Today I went for a walk and every person I passed I smiled at and it wasn't reciprocated or maybe they thought that there was something wrong with this smiling woman all bundled up.  I watched people in cars on their cell phones rushing to where ever they were going, like ants on a mission. As I sat in the bakery I overheard a conversation about money and Christmas debt and how this person was going to have to find a second job to pay off their credit cards. One only has to see Black Friday and what it has become and you have to ask yourself "Why?" what void is trying to be filled.

Did you know that 105 suicides are committed a day in America? According to The American Association Suicidology  those numbers have dramatically increased since 2010. After the Wall Street fiasco life in the house with the white picket fence America was no more. So many Americans lost their homes and are living out of their cars or in tent cities. We have people losing their unemployment benefits, college students graduating with an insane amount of debt and many families taking on second jobs to survive. It seems that the majority of the American people are just surviving and that depression is slowly eating away at that confidence that I witnessed many years ago.

As we face 2014 my wish for everyone this year is to be kind to yourself and each other. Focus on what you have, what is around you, take long walks, dance in the rain, laugh more, love as if this is your last moment on earth and most importantly, smile.