June 2009

I was looking through my old emails to find a contact regarding the Orange County criminal case we did, and stumbled upon a whole gob of emails I hadn’t opened because I was away on vacation going nuts with Jordan and James in Florida. Among those were some photos taken by the secretary at the Service Awards Ceremony. Here’s me trying not to cry outwardly at having been here 10 years…

In the audience of my courtroom with another clerk, Star. Star was honored, too, but had quite a bit more over me in seniority.

Here I’m being roasted by the boss.

The big wigs (courthouse administrator, presiding judge of the district aka my Family Law Resource Judge, district court administrator) and li’l ol’ me.

These are the honorees who DIDN’T ditch the ceremony.

…and now I’m officially 33.

This has been a great weekend so far. Saturday we did a four-way celebration at Ruth’s Chris for an early dinner: Mr. W’s daughter’s high school graduation, Mr. W’s son’s 20th birthday, my 33rd birthday, and his belated father’s day. After dinner, Mr. W and I walked to the Lake and watched the free Chris Botti concert. It was uh-MAIZE-ing. Click his link and have a window open with your speakers on as you read this to get a taste of my experience. Our lake association has magical powers. Not only did we get Chris Botti to come give a great concert, but he brought along top-notch musicans to play piano/keyboard, electric guitar, drums and bass guitar. These are Grammy winning musicians. The sun set over the lake as the jazzy bluesy notes seemed to make the very water ripples dance in syncopation, and my husband and I lounged on our reclining beach chairs before settling down on our backs on the blanket to watch the stars. Mr. Botti, you have a new fan. And I love your personality and stories.

Today, Mr. W and I got out of the house early to meet Brad L. for breakfast at an authentic German restaurant in Anaheim, Jaegerhaus (correct name has an umlaut over the “a”). Brad’s in SoCal with his family for a wedding. We had a great time chatting about geoducks and cell phones over breakfast, and remarked how the last time we saw each other, we were all single. Then we came home and I made a batch of lime jello shots (whew, mental note to lighten up on vodka for the party batch!) as testers before heading off with Mr. W to meet my parents, grandma, and grandma’s youngest sister visiting from Taiwan, for dinner. Afterwards we brought a little artsy green tea cake to Grandma’s to hang out and chat.

They talked about wishing they had a camera to document the day, and then everyone realized they had cameraphones, so out those came.

You have to imagine me with MY cameraphone behind my parents doing the same thing.

I’m optimistic about the coming years. Brad gave us a great lead for an all-inclusive guided tour trip through Japan, and we’re looking into it. For more immediate things to anticipate, we’ve spent hundreds in preparation for my upcoming bday shindig, and I’m surprised and flattered at how many people are planning to attend. And soon, I have the jujitsu campout trip in mid-August to look forward to. Between then and now, many bike rides on my new hybrid bicycle (birthday present from Mr. W), and many kayaking outings at our lake.

With prodding and prompting and occasionally downright pushing from Mr. W, I’ve decided to do an intimate (<20 people) birthday barbecue and cocktails event. We have an entertainment backyard, Mr. W recently purchased a nice fancy BBQ grill, and we ought to take advantage of our proximity to our private lake, only a mile away. I sent out the Evite over the weekend.

The plan is to have two legs of activities, lakeside fun (beach volleyball, kayaking, partyboating, pedalboating, sunning in the sand, fishing, swimming, etc, and did I mention you can drink on the partyboat?) from 1pm to 5pm, and back to our house for the barbecue and cocktails at 5pm. People can come to either/both. The Evite instructs people not to bring a gift but to bring a bottle of liquor instead (cuz gifts will make me feel old but alcohol makes everyone feel happy!). There’s a dropdown menu that lists all the liquors I need, and as people select one, it disappears from the menu. The idea is that with everyone’s participation, I’ll have a full bar up and running (Mr. W and I will take care of mixers, garnishes, supplies, food, beer, bartending, cooking) so I’ll get to combine some of my favorite things on my birthday: friends, outdoor recreational activities and mixology. I’m coming up with a drink menu, which I’ll attempt to make as personalized as possible. If this works out, maybe it can be an annual event.

I’m gonna be 1/3 of a century old. I’m gonna NEED a drink. Or ten.

I absolutely believe in the resilience of the heart and soul, and with each healing day, the return of the mind. I’ve found that being in an environment rich with humor, nurturing, learning, and support speeds up recovery by streaming positive energy at the injury, although I think time alone eventually helps one arrive at peace and balance, too, albeit this may be a slower path for some. For myself, I am grateful for every smile received, every hand extended, every light shone on me, and every type of wonder I’ve been open enough to realize I’m in the presence of. I am filled with appreciation for all my healers. The world has brilliance, and I welcome it.

I didn’t even notice it till now, but my blog is 4 years old this month! Happy birthday, bloggy. Mike (“wilco”) brought it into existence June 1, 2005, but my first post was June 3. It’s odd to read some of the really old stuff and see that I’ve come full circle and even recently had some of the same feelings. I think I’m at a pretty decent place now, though. And like in June, 2005, I am inspired to DO stuff. I’m a little bummed to see some of the stuff I had on my list then that I still am unable to cross off, but I think my list now is more realistic. For example, instead of getting a Honda street bike, I’m getting a mountain/road hybrid bicycle. Much healthier. I’m back to wanting wholesome activities in my life — camping, hiking, biking, and now I add kayaking to the list. And I can’t say there was NO progress in my life. In the last 4 years, the blog holds evidence that I’ve…
* picked up a martial art, and stopped going to the martial art.
* picked up belly dancing, and stopped going to belly dancing.
* got certified in mixology.
* made some brand new lifelong friends — who says that once you’re in your 20s, you’ve already got everyone in your life that you’re gonna be close to? Right, Vanessa, Josh, Ann, Mike, Christi, Brigitte, Jordan? I probably left some people out.
* reconnected and bonded tightly with some old friends, who’ve grown up a lot.
* picked up a godson.
* ran my first half-marathon.
* dated some weird and wonderful people, and married one.
* bought my second house
* cured Dodo’s eye issue and got him out of his cone for the first time since 2001 (the new vet helped a little, too. 🙂 )
* checked Cancun, Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean, off from the will-visit list

…and most recently, got my first speeding ticket; got my first parking ticket.

This month, I will hit the 1/3-century mark.

The last posts were so chock-full of gosh-darn wholesome goodness that I need to post something less wholesome to even things out. How else would this blog represent me?

I JUST had the realization a couple of weeks ago, and confirmed with Dwaine last week, how the male mind works when it sees a female. I’d always kinda thought of it as, guys just admire the appearance of something aesthetically, like “Hey, nice rack.” That’s what we girls do. “She’s got a tiny waist, I’m jealous.” “Nice shirt.” “Cute butt.” But then it occurred to me that maybe guys go beyond just a 2-D perspective of the view, they actually IMAGINE stuff while looking at the subject. So I asked Dwaine about it.

He said that for men, it’s an aesthetic appreciation of what they see WHILST a porno is simultaneously playing in the guy’s head. So it’s more like, “She’s got a tiny waist, I can imagine my hands around it while I’m pounding her from behind.” “Nice rack, bet it’d look better if I went up to her and yanked her shirt buttons open.” It was quite an epiphany! He said that the porno is automatic and even plays when the view ISN’T pleasant, which is why guys cringe and have those awful expressions when they see a giant rolly woman wobble her way around the beach in a bikini.

How did we get on this topic? On the drive back from Yosemite, I received a text from Dwaine that said, “I’m at a bar in Brea and my bartender is REALLY hot. I got her number. ;-)”
So of course I wanted to know where this new bar is. How could there be a new bar open where I frequent that I’m not aware of?
Dwaine: “It’s a new bar called Sky Lounge. Opened 3 weeks ago. It’s my first time here and I really like it. Great location and layout… We should grab a drink here some time, but not while my girl is workin. ;-)”
So I protested. “Hey, I’ve been a good wingwoman in the past!”
Dwaine’s response: “Yeah, but she might see you as competition. You fucked up at got too hot.”
I actually GIGGLED before I realized the back-handed insult.
Me: “How slick is someone who could tell one girl about hitting on another girl, but yet make the first girl feel good about it and herself at the same time? *bowing down*”
Dwaine: “It’s a gift.”
And then somehow the conversation went from that to all the dancing cleavage at the Renaissance Faire, and then much later still about theories re FTFs.

This is Yosemite National Park, California. Mr. W and I drove there last Thursday, checked into our hotel, then went to explore the Park and scope out potential activities to plan our visit. These are all photos taken with my cameraphone.

Famous landmarks: the steep cliff on the left is El Capitan; the waterfall to the right is Bridalveil Fall; behind the Fall toward the center of the photo is the silhouette of Half Dome. In between the mountains, the trees permeate Yosemite Valley.
A closeup of Upper Yosemite Falls from the Valley floor:

Here’s another angle looking up at Upper Yosemite Falls.

I looked up in the sky at one point and realized that the moisture in the air from the nearby waterfalls caused a rainbow halo to form around the sun. I tried to capture it with the cameraphone, but I didn’t do it justice. Here’s the gist anyhow:

This is Bridalveil Falls, from across the Merced River. Gorgeous Thursday.

We did a low-key hike to Lower Yosemite Falls, then made our way to the Visitor Center and spoke to some rangers there. They recommended that to avoid the crowd, we hit the popular long hikes early in the morning on a weekday, i.e. the next day, Friday morning. We decided to take the scenic 7.2-mile round trip hike up to Upper Yosemite Falls (2425 feet above the Valley floor; hiking this requires a 2700ft elevation gain). This is the highest waterfall in in North America. Yeah, you know the waterfall in the pictures? Yup, right to the top.

This is classified as an advanced, strenuous hike 6 to 8 hours in duration, with lots of switchbacks. It wasn’t very crowded, especially as we passed the halfway point and saw others turn around. The view along the way couldn’t be beat.

This is the half-way marker: the first glimpse of Upper Yosemite Falls from the hike path:

Curving around another bend approximately an hour later, tenacious hikers are rewarded with this moist angle:

“Don’t slip, don’t slip, don’t slip…”

Some more uphills and rocky switchbacks…

…and we’re finally there.

Walking to the Overlook…

It’s a scary thing when you realize you’re looking DOWN at the source of a waterfall:

At this point, I’m still higher than the Overlook. But I’m making my way down.

Let’s lean over and see where the waterfall goes, shall we?

I realized that day, as I laid belly-down over an unrailed cliff so that I could get a better look at nature with my binoculars, that I’m not scared of heights as I’d previously thought.

Looking down through binoculars, I was actually able to see our car parked below.

See the circular road below? The car’s at the bottom of the circle. I made a mental note to take a photo from the car pointing up to where I was now looking down. And here is that photo.

See the rock above and to the left of the waterfall? That’s where I was hanging down.

The next day, Saturday, our calves were so sore we could hardly walk (plus I think I tweaked my right knee a little since my hiking shoes were so old that I spent parts of the descent stepping awkwardly sideways so I didn’t slip more than I had to to my death), so we flip-flopped a shorter, flatter hike in the Mariposa Grove, where the tallest Sequoia trees live.

I love my $5 Hawaii flip flops; if I ever find my way there again I’m gonna buy 10 pairs. They were more comfortable to hike in than my worn hiking boots that gave me bruises under my toenails and blisters. They greatly eased my painful limping during this hike.

This is a taaaall tree. And I thought I felt short standing next to DWAINE…

Doe! A deer! A female dear! And her buck and fawn.

I thought this cabin in the clearing looked so quaint, I half-expected dwarves to run out as a black-haired cartoon girl chased after them with their suppers.

I saw these triplets, and I looked up…

…and up.

We soaked our sore legs in the hotel’s jacuzzi Friday night after the hike, then hung out at a nearby Starbucks for a nightcap. Saturday, we discovered an outdoor shopping and entertainment center close to our hotel and had the best Italian food we’d had in awhile. We also caught a movie. Guess which one:

Great movie, BTW. We saw it in 3-D. We drove back on Sunday and stopped by a great shopping outlet on the way, where I spent hundreds of dollars I didn’t expect to. Oh well. We also pulled over TWICE to catch the beginning and then later the end of the Lakers vs. Magic Finals Game 5, which turned out to be the series-winning game. Marie Callender’s bars: great place to watch games. Who knew?

Mr. W enjoyed the trip because this was his first time in Yosemite, where he’d always wanted to go, and he said he’d never seen so much natural beauty in one place. I enjoyed it cuz I actually had someone to hang out with at night; he didn’t hit the hay at his usual 9pm bedtime every night. Plus, the last time I was in Yosemite, I was a cranky 14-year-old on a family trip with my parents’ friends. I wasn’t terribly excited about it. Mr. W and I bought the annual pass which gets us into all federal parks around the country, so I’m going to invest in some hiking shoes and toss my 15-year-old slip-n-slide Nikes. This makes Mr. W happy, as I’m now intent on DOING stuff. Today, in fact, I helped organize an upcoming biking and camping trip with my jujitsu friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I think I’ll be investing in a good bicycle, too, in anticipation of this trip.

Where’ve I been, you wonder? Well I’m so glad you asked! I’ve been here:

Anyone recognize the famous landmarks here? More to come!

I also realized while “doing” stuff this past weekend that I’d inadvertently left out a few things from my List, namely:
* swimming offshore in Barbados
* reliving the 19th Century on Prince Edward Island
* white-water rafting down the American River, camping downstream along the way (I want to do this REALLY soon, anyone wanna join?)

I’ve never really wanted to jump ahead and read the ending of the book of my life. I hadn’t even wanted to skip to the end of the chapter, “just to know.” I think knowing would influence my decisions, and I risk losing the lesson. But today, I took a stand in my life and wavered a little doing it, so my court reporter invited me to meet her at a coffee shop after work and talk to a specific clairvoyant who conducted a free workshop there every so often. I did. I didn’t think I had questions as I was in a now-rare moment of clarity (or so I thought), but soon the questions came. A lot of what Rebecca said was dead-on, although I gave her virtually no information except a first name. Some information was not comforting because they were things I already knew and was hoping wasn’t the case. Other information answered questions that I’d had for years, and confirmed things from earlier in my life. A great thing I took was when she answered someone else’s question about a screenplay he was working on. She said that altho it’s going the independent route, it was going to be picked up shortly before Sundance, but that it wasn’t going to happen for a few years because one member of the writing team would take a brief hiatus to take care of health issues, and they were going to do a major rewrite around 2010. When it REALLY picks up and takes off, she said, is in 2012. This is significant because…that means there’s a 2012! My uncle was wrong, the world is NOT going to end in 3 years! Yes!

Yesterday evening, Mr. W and I visited my parents and Aunt Jessica (who was also visiting at their house) and took them out to a newish Japanese restaurant near their house for dinner. It’s noteworthy that my aunt ate raw fish for the first time in many years, because she still swears that the last time she had raw fish, she felt parasites crawling around inside her chest. (:/) I found out over dinner conversation that my mother regularly checks my blog’s image hosting site for photos. YIKES. I must’ve stupidly neglected to delete my history when using my mom’s laptop. This is quite a disturbing revelation, cuz you guys know the photos I post here. =P I wonder what my face looked like when my mother made the comment that the photo of the sashimi platter we ordered at Yama Sushi looked good. Thank goodness she doesn’t have this blog address. (I hope.) After dinner, we sat around my parents’ kitchen table having tea, and my dad and aunt mentioned that one of their Canadian brothers (the only member of the family to have a phD, I might mention), believes all scientific evidence suggests that the world will end in 2012. I did not enjoy that conversation. Seeing the discomfort in my face, my Aunt Jessica said, “Lemme tell you what kind of person your uncle is, Cindy. Remember when he came down from Canada for Grandma’s funeral in ’99? He believed THEN that the world was going to end in 2004, and sold his property in Florida because he didn’t see the point of owning land when it was all going to be gone in a few years, anyway. And here we are in 2009 and the world hasn’t ended. Also, when we were younger, he was so mean, he tied a string to a tree and he had the other end, to mess with your cousins –”
“No,” my dad interrupted, “That was ME.”
“That was YOU?!” my aunt asked my dad incredulously. What? What?
Then my dad told the story about how their eldest sister’s two boys (who are now in their 40s) were spoiled brats as children, so he’d decided to teach them a lesson. They were all sitting around the table chatting one day, much like we were that night, no one knowing that my dad had rigged a tree outside by tying a long fishing string to a branch by the front of the house, winding the string along the outside of the house and in through the screen window, and tied the other end to his foot. And then my dad asked, “Is there a ghost here? If you’re here, tap the house one time.” He moved his foot under the table, and the tree banged against the wooden door out front. The boys looked up in alarm. And then they said it was a coincidence. My dad ordered the powers that be, “If you ARE a ghost, pound on the door THREE TIMES!” And the door banged three distinct times. My aunt remembers the boys hysterically crying.
“I can’t believe that was YOU!” my aunt said.
“You knew about that?” my dad asked.
“Yeah, I saw broken string outside the next day so I knew it was trick, but all these years I thought it was our older brother. Did you ever tell the boys it was really you with a string that night?”
“Not to this day,” my dad gloated.
The conversation then went into all the horror and disturbing stories inflicted on us in our childhood by our older relatives, and the psychological scars they left. Stories with such characters as giant man-eating apes, hopping zomboid dead bodies out for revenge, tigers disguised as old grandmas eating little girls’ fingers. My aunt Jessica was afraid to look up into a tree at night for YEARS. I wouldn’t let her tell me why, because I really don’t have room on my plate right now to be scared of looking up into trees. As for the cruel joke my dad played on my cousins? It came back on me. I can’t write all the disturbing crap the younger of the two boys fed into my head when I was growing up. Over about a gallon’s worth of tea, we had some good laughs at the absurdity of my dad’s side of the family.

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