Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Going, going, gone...

I guess I can't really complain about a year that started with an ugly divorce (is there any other kind?) but ends with me floating in a turquoise ocean in the arms of my true love...

And so it is that we are off to greet the New Year the best way we know how...Lounging like lizards in the sun. I wish everyone a holiday season full of food, sleep, laughter, amazing gifts, and positive thoughts for the future. See you in 2007!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

I had been putting off blogging about Mr. T's Christmas present for fear that he would read my blog while on his business trip and discover the surprise. Now that he's on his way home from Chicago, I can safely write this post.

I normally don't consider myself a talented gift-giver. My brother has always been the "thoughtful" one in the family, coming up with creative ideas like giving Sarah Brightman CDs, only to discover concert tickets inside the jewel case. You know, those cutesy "ahhhh" moments...

Not me. I've always been more practical: A sweater for mom, a shirt for dad, a jacket for brother. While I was married, the ex would throw temper tandrums if I didn't get him what he wanted (apparently, he was 54 going on 7...), so I stopped trying to surprise him after my second failed attempt.

Of course, you can imagine my excitement when I came up with the perfect Christmas present for Mr. T!!! And a great part of this gift is that it was also a gift for me! (After all, isn't getting stuff for yourself what makes Christmas shopping bearable?)

When I was married, I always wanted a garden but the ex never "allowed" me to have one (he controlled the money, blah blah, long story...). When I decided that I would not be staying in the marriage, I stopped thinking about a garden because I knew I would eventually be moving out.

When Mr. T came into the picture, I told him about my gardening dreams and he lovingly and generously opened up his back patio for me to revamp. He took me to a gardening store, where we loaded up with beautiful plants, pots, soil, and everything I needed to transform his unkept patio into a lush paradise. I worked hard to revamp the small space in the Spring, spending countless hours potting, trimming, and watering our lovely roses, freesia, and fuschias.

Two months later, a record-breaking heat wave combined with a nine-day trip to Europe killed most of the plants. So much for my dream garden. Check out what was left!

garden before
(Donations for the fern's burial can be sent via PayPal.)

Mr. T had been bemoaning his dead garden for several months now, and I kept telling him we'd get around to it after the Winter frosts. But then it hit me...That could be the perfect Christmas gift! So, look what I did! (Yes, that's the fern in the lower right-hand corner, pleading for mercy.)
garden after
Because Mr. T and I travel a lot and his patio gets blasted by the harsh So Cal sun all day long, I wisened up and decided to go low-maintenance this time. As soon a he left on his trip, I dashed over to Cactus King and acquired the most fabulous succulents and cacti on the planet!! I had always dismissed these plants as thorny, ugly critters, suitable for inept novice gardeners.

Yes, they are thorny and ugly...But apparently, I am also an inept and novice gardener. Touche.

pots small pots large pot
I am now fascinated by these hardy, alien plants. One looks like a warty lettuce. Another one resembles a pre-historic tree. There's a lovely aloe that brings back memories of the Mexican countryside. While Mr. T's patio might not be the lush rainforest paradise we once envisioned, I am LOVING the funky look my new green friends add! What do you think?

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Past, present, and future

Can you be transported from the womb to old age in one day? If so, then today was the day it happened to me.

It all started this morning, when I finally completed my Open Water Diving certification. This was my final chance to get certified before Mr. T and I go on our dream vacation, so it was now or never!

Due to bad weather and high surf at the beach, we ended up diving at Mission Point, a calm, sandy inlet. As I waddled into the cold water, it was apparent that the visibility was disturbingly low. Because I had to get one more dive in before my trip, I popped my regulator into my mouth at my teacher's request and began my descent.

As the pressure of the water squeezed the wetsuit to my body, I looked around me and saw...NOTHING! A cloud of silt surrounded me, enveloping me in a claustrophobic cocoon. I tried to control my breathing as a feeling of paranoia overwhelmed me. I couldn't see my instructor or my companions anywhere, I couldn't even see my hands in front of me...I was completely alone!

I felt the ebb and flow of the currents rocking my body as I remained suspended in the murky depths. I became hypnotized by the sounds of my own breathing, a tinny inhalation of compressed air followed by a rumbling exhalation of hundreds of bubbles. For a moment, I envisioned myself inside my mother's womb: unseeing, constrained by the tautness of her tissues, and conscious only of her rythmic breathing. It was an intensely discomforting sensation...

A few seconds later, a hand grasped mine and broke me from my reverie. My instructor started to guide me through the darkness and I clutched his gloved hand, thankful to leave behind the feeling of aloneness that had sent shivers down my spine. I swam blindly next to him for what seemed like a couple of minutes, and then...LIGHT! We surfaced from the murky depths with gratitude and recovered from our unearthly experience.

"How long were we under?", one of the students asked.

"Ten minutes," responded the instructor. Ten minutes??? We all agreed it felt like two minutes...What had happened?!?!

My diving experience completed, I headed home. While walking my dog around the neighborhood and pondering the morning's unsettling experience, I caught sight of a flashy red convertible coming down the road. Driving it - with the top down in 50 degree weather - was a lovely old lady in her 70's wearing a large white hat. Our eyes met and she gave me a radiant smile as she drove past.

At that moment, I realized I had just seen my future. I have struggled with an unfulfilled passion for convertibles since the age of nine, when I dreamed of one day owning a WV Rabbit. My love for hats dates back even farther: from the age of two I would refuse to travel on airplanes or attend special family occasions without wearing a hat. But it was the smile, the glorious, happy, radiant smile of someone who is at peace with her life, which cemented our unspoken bond.

I smiled back, joyful in the knowledge that I don't have to wait forty years...I am at peace with my life today.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


A few nights ago, waiting for Mr. T to get home, I shared with my friend R. that I really had no desire to make dinner.

"I'm going to visualize Mr. T taking me out to dinner," I told her via I.M.

"Great idea. I'll help you visualize. Now, what kind of food do you want?", she asked.

I considered her question carefully. Visions of aromatic vegetable curry, cool raita, sweet chutney and perfumed basmati rice filled my head.

"Indian," I declared.

"Oh, yum! O.K., Indian it is!" R. agreed.

A few mintues later, Mr. T arrived and noticed I hadn't made dinner. "Let's go out for dinner," he suggested.

Wooohooo! My first visualization had become a reality! All right, so maybe I helped the Universe along by not actually making any food...

I asked Mr. T where he wanted to go to dinner. He seemed indecisive, and knowing his tastes, I started listing his favorite Italian restaurants. I didn't even think of mentioning Indian because he's not normally in the mood for it.

"Let's go down to P.B.; there's a little restaurant with good vegetarian food," he suggested. Letting go of my Indian visualizations and deciding to focus instead on enjoying a night out with my boyfriend, I happily agreed and settled back to enjoy the short drive.

We pulled into a small shopping center, and Mr. T pointed to a restaurant. "There, that's the restaurant I was telling you about."


I'll be darned...