Monday, July 9, 2018

Fourth of July Holiday Shenanigans...

I know sometimes I write about stuff in a somewhat "catch all" type of blog - and this one is one of those.  Basically I want to remember.  This is my place to save all my fun times whether that be a trip, an adventure, an experience or just a collection of days that happen to fall over my least favorite holiday of the year - 4th of July.

I hate the 4th of July.  I've never been a huge fan of fireworks and now that I'm older and my anxiety has gotten worse and there are more and more illegal fireworks that aren't even fireworks but rather mortar bombs that just make a horrendous boom noise sending my heart racing, my anxiety screaming and my poor cats terrified - I FUCKING HATE THEM.  Hows that for a run on sentence?

Honestly - I don't know why we still "celebrate" this way.  Between all the poor terrified pets, the Veterans and shooting survivors who have massive PTSD and just people like me who want to cry because we're so jumpy - how about a quieter way to celebrate?

Also - lately  - it's not a very celebratory time anymore.  Being under "Trumps America" doesn't make me want to celebrate our country at all right now.

BUT - that aside - it does give us a few days off work, and in my case almost a whole week off!  Since the 4th landed on a Wed this year, we got Wed-Fri off!  Woot!  I of course pretty much just started pretending it was Stay-Cation time the weekend before with 2 random work days in there.  This created this lovely blog of just a bunch of lovely shit I did over the last couple of weeks!

The Saturday before the 4th - I had a lovely mom date day with mom.  You can take a gander of what that entailed here.

Sunday I had a Sunday Funday with my "hubs".  We brunched in DTSA then wandered the Orange Circle and did some antiquing and as you read a few blogs back - found a cache!

I love my "husband"
That evening found me at my dear friend Rick's place catching up on life over wine and air conditioning.

Monday and Tuesday we're work days - BOO - but we got cut early on the 3rd and I ended up on my deck with a lovely co-worker friend of mine sharing a bottle of Rose' to get the Stay Cation started off right!

The 3rd of July there's a big shin-dig at Fred Kelly Stadium here in Orange that does a big firework show (Side note - I don't mind the pretty flowery firework shows that are put on by professionals) and you can see it from my mom's front yard.  Some years she's has a little BBQ.  This year she invited a few of our closest and we had a lovely evening of burgers and convo followed by the front yard show.  For some reason I didn't take pictures because sometimes I suck - but Libby did get a shot of those of us that were OHS Alumni since we were all reminiscing a bit about the old days.

I did get one selfie with my girl!
The actual 4th of July I headed back over to moms for a bit to hang and now that Stacy and Robin are living over there I get to see them too!  Bonus!  Stacy and I decided to grab some sushi and we tried a place that's apparently been in Orange forever and I've never been!  And IT'S DELICIOUS!  It's called Koisan.  How the hell I have not been here is beyond me - but it was the only place open and holy YUM!  We then decided to walk off our full bellies and took a shorty walk to find the cache that mom and I had to skip per dude on bench.  It was hot, but since it wasn't far we headed out - and we found it!  And Stacy has joined the geocaching as well!  LOL!

It's hot
After this I headed back home to shut up the house, turn on music and the TV and my loud ass air conditioning unit to try to drown out the sound of the holiday.  My dude came over and we vegged and watched a movie before he ran home to make sure his poor dog wasn't losing his mind.  Did I mention FIREWORKS SUCK?  So no sleep that night.

The 5th of July brought the heat.  We had a nasty heatwave roll into our fair state (and actually the whole US is kind of getting creamed with weird heat) over the rest of the weekend and it began on Thursday.  Stacy and I did get up early and head out to a new hike before it got too brutal.  She brought me up to Modjeska Canyon and we did a little version of the Harding Truck Trail.  It's a quick but tough up and back kind of thing.  We went over the hill, then down into the ravine.  I'm looking forward to coming back on a cooler day and doing more of the ravine (There's a cache down there!!!).  I looked for a cache that was supposed to be just off the trail but no luck.

Hi Canyon!

Love this girl!
Trying to be candid

Such a pretty flower!

Me shooting said flower

Looking for the damn cache I couldn't find!
There was a cache though apparently inside the little gift shop at the Trail Head.  We finished hiking just before 10am and the lady let us into the store as they were opening up - and guess what -  there was a cache!  It was called a "letterbox cache" which I hadn't seen yet.  This was a huge ammo box full of stuff!  It had the log, but also a journal like think and a stamp (but no ink) and all kinds of goodies.  We looked around, but when Stacy asked the gal - she was like "Oh Yea!  Here!" and pulled it out from behind the counter - so yeah.  No searching on this one.  Ha!

Next time I'm here I'm bringing a stamp to add to the journal!

Added a unicorn to the box!

After this we wandered over to Tucker Wildlife Center which is across from the gift shop and it was so cute!!  We didn't stay long though since it was warming up and we were getting hungry.  But it's a super cute little thing and there's a bird porch!  I must bring my mother here!

Hi Blue Jay!

Hi Hummingbird!
I'd also like to interject and say that also during my time off - my land lady was Kitten Sitting.  That's right - KITTENS!  Her friend rescued three kittens from a feral situation and was going away and couldn't leave them - so guess who played with them every day and named them and loved them and Keri called me the "Kitten Whisperer" because they were scared and underweight but would purr and come out for me and we cuddled and OH MY GAWD.

I named her Midnight

Keri's grandson named him Whiskers

I named him Boo


Can you even?!?!
Anywhoo - the rest of the afternoon/eve I kinda did my chores and got stuff done since we were rolling into a scorcher.

Friday - The Sun landed on the earth and it was hotter than balls.

It got to 110 degrees where I was, and hotter in other spots.  It was too hot to do anything, so I hid inside my house I shut up like a tomb and DIED.  I did paint my toes and a bunch of rocks (yes I paint rocks sometimes) and they dried in like 3 seconds.  There were a couple of hours that were just miserable and I did everything I could to cool me and the cats down.  Best part - my landlady finally did something to make my rent increase worth it - got me a 2nd air conditioner.  My place has no insulation but it made a huge difference and helps so much. So hopefully future heat waves I'll be more prepared for.  JESUS.

That night - I did go out.  I KNOW!  It was hot.  So fucking hot.  But my friend had an art show and I was hoping night fall would bring a little coolness (HA! NOT!).  The boy and I met up with Rick at one of my favorite spots in Downtown Fullerton - Twisted Vine for some yummy dinner before walking over to the gallery.  It was so hot.  They were handing out otter pops.  Seriously.  My poor friends putting on the show were melting - but he still ended up having a great show!  Yay Bryan!  I didn't take any pictures (again goddamnit) but here's one from the night that someone else took.

Great show Bryan!

I forgot I took an Insta pic (that's my Insta people - follow me if you like!) of this creepy dude

Afterwards Pat and I wandered over to Fullerton Museum to check out their exhibit then to Bourbon Street for some drinks and caught a great brass band!

Saturday brought a pretty chill day, little pool time with Libby and the kiddo, then off to Corona (yes Corona because I like to go where it's fucking hotter) for a 40th birthday party.  One of Pat's good friends whom I also adore decided to have a Halloween Themed Birthday Party.  Yes in July.  This is why I like her.  So  - that was hot but fun!

Welcome to the 40's Club Miss Mandy!
Sunday was the last day of the Stay Cation (Sad Face) but it was a lovely day.  Pat, his kiddo and myself tried to beat the heat wandering around Mainplace Mall then back to his complex for pool time fun then dinner at BJ's.  The kiddo and I were playing around with my slow motion feature on my phone and we capture a perfect summer fun video!

Aside from the blistering heat it was a lovely few days of fun with friends and family!  Yay to making more memories!!

Finding Joy...

I'm constantly going all over the place trying to figure out how to be happy.  To have joy.  To live as I believe we are all meant to live.

Post - SAH, if you've forgotten what that means click here, I am really jumping onto this train.  Over the past 5 years I've been trying meditation, reading different self help type things, starting to see a therapist, learning how to deal with being an empath.  I still have no idea what I'm doing but I thought I'd start to jot things down.  Since it's a bit scattered I'll bullet point my thoughts.

This got inspired by the book I'm currently reading - The book of Joy.  I mean it's the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.  Check it out - Book of Joy.

  • One of the things that made me raise an eyebrow was when the author talks about meeting with the Scientist, Richard Davidson.  He says there are 4 separate circuits that influence our lasting well being. 1 - "ability to maintain a positive state". 2 - "ability to recover from negative states.  3 - "ability to focus" and 4 - ability to be generous.
    • Ok - first of all #1 and #2 are different circuits.  I find that fascinating and explains a lot about how I am and deal with things.  I'm a very positive person, especially now.  I get so happy and caught up when good things happen.  But when there is a low I have a hard time crawling out of that.  I also find #4 to be fascinating as well.  It is wired in our fucking brains to help others.  This is why people rally together when tragedies happen.  It's naturally in us.  It's why we feel good when we help others, someone helps us or we witness this type of thing.  The book also goes into talk about how the West Coast mentality unfortunately isn't like this as much as it should be.  We live in a stressed society, worrying about bills, jobs, etc.  Our society rewards power, money and greed.
  • The book also talks about how we are people through other people.  We need those connections.  This makes sense to me - I need my friends/family to get through life.  I really believe that is why I so desperately want to find a companion.  I'm currently in a relationship with man who has a beautiful compassionate heart and that's what attracted me most to him.  I hope we work out, because I'm so happy being in a relationship with someone I can share my hopes and dreams with.  There is also a part that talks about scientists have proven that we need love to survive.  After birth, if the child is isolated without the mother or physical touch it can be very harmful.  They have found that a mothers caress triggers activity that improves cognition and resilience to stress in a baby's developing brain.  There it is!  We. Need. Touch.  It reminded me of a blog I wrote awhile back called Human Contact.
  • At the end of the chapter that addresses Envy there is a lovely prayer by Jinpa I thought I would share: As for suffering I do not wish even the slightest; as for happiness I am never satisfied.  In this, there is no difference between others and me.  Bless me so I may take joy in others' happiness.
  • It discusses the eight pillars of joy: Four of the mind - Perspective, humility, humor and acceptance.  Four of the heart - Forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity.
  • There's a whole chapter about Humor.  It talks about how humor helps people relate to each other and diffuse tense situations.  I love at the end of the chapter when Archbishop says "But I believe very fervently that one of the ways of getting into the hearts of people is the capacity of making them laugh.  If you are able to laugh at yourself, then everyone knows your not pompous.".  I love that!  It makes me feel like I'm on the right path with my sense of humor.  I do believe that people enjoy it and I'm so glad I have that gift to share!
  • At one point they talk about employers - and how if you treat your employees like friends/family rather than just a paying staff it makes a huge difference.  I can so agree with this, because when Carol was my boss here, I wanted to do well.  I tried harder.  I cared.  I wanted to be the best employee and make her proud.  Ever since she's left and this organization could give 2 shits about their employees - I've lost all that spirit.  I come to work, do my job, go home.  I don't care.  I don't try harder.  I'm over it.
  • Another point is made about joy.  A reader asks "How can you have joy when there is so much suffering in the world?"  This is one I struggle with as well, but The Archbishop says - "It helps no one if you sacrifice your job because others are suffering.  We people who care must be attractive, must be filled with joy, so that others recognize that caring, that helping and being generous are not a burden, they are a joy."  
  • More people care out there than not.  When you want to be generous, when you want to help when you want to spread kindness you'll find it's so easy and people will come out to help you.
  • Reading this book really helped me retrain my focus back on spreading kindness and compassion as best as I can.  Our country is in a terrible situation right now with so much hate being fueled and it seems to just get worse every day.  There are days I just want to give up on hope but I just can't.  It will get better.  In the meantime us kindness activists need to keep working!

I don't know if this blog is really anything other than me throwing down some thoughts, but I wanted to put it out there.  I have to live my life this way.  I don't know how else to.  I may not be fighting at the front lines, or at every protest going on but I'm here and I'm listening.  I'm doing what I can to make the world a better place and I truly believe that there is more good in the world than bad.  It's harder to see.  As Mr. Rogers wants said - "Look for the helpers."  We're here.

Monday, July 2, 2018

More Geocaching...

Ok, I'm still totally obssessed.

I bought these little fantasy creatures to leave as swag!

So cute right?!

So mom and I took a walk one evening on the Santa Ana River Trail.  We looked for 3 but only found 1.  We probably could have found 2, but some dude was not leaving the damn bench that I think one of them was by.  Oh well.

But we found one!

Pat said I should have taken that pin

Mom and I after walking and caching!
Patrick and I went on a little walk around his neighborhood a few weeks ago and he took me to a trailhead where he knew a cache was hidden.  I found it!!!  Unfortunately it had a very large brown spider chillin that gave me a mild heart attack as well.

One night last weekend Stacy and I tried to find the one at Pitcher Park in Orange.  No luck.  DAMMIT.  I want to go back and look for that one again.  I feel it should be find able.  It started getting dark on us though, so hopefully that was why we couldn't find it.

Then I had my Sunday Funday play date with my "hubs" and introduced him to it as well.  I know there's a couple in the Orange Circle and we found this one!  It's just a log - no swag but yay!!!  Justin actually gets credit for finding it.  We were in the right spot but I just couldn't seem to locate it.  Then I hear him "I got it!!"

He gets credit for this one!

Kinda looks like a pocket rocket...tee hee
The Geocaching peeps are also doing some kind of "Hidden Creatures" thing.  Basically the more you find, you get these little souvenirs that show up in your account. I've earned the Fairy and Bigfoot so far! I just need one more to get a Unicorn! Ha!

Also - since I upgraded to premium there are other kinds of caches.  There also looks to be puzzles and others things to try!  I can't wait to do this stuff!


I can't wait to find more!!!

I want to Cache them all!!!  Get it?!  Sigh.

Turtle Rock Hike...

So as you know - I'm dating a hiker.

It's great for me because for some reason I have never thought to go "hike" around the OC.  I'm familiar with Peter's Canyon, but that's really about it.  So he's been introducing me to lots of places around here that are super pretty and it's way better than the gym and now I have this geocaching thing so it's just all around awesome.

So - I was introduced to the Turtle Rock Trail in Irvine.  Sadly it's pretty brown.  Thanks SoCal drought.  But it's still pretty.  Flowers scattered here and there.  Lots of lizards.  A few bunnies.  Lots of bees.  And you get up pretty high so the views are spectacular!  What I wasn't ready for was how high and how long.  There's a few pretty good size hills you hike up.  He told me hikers will come here to train.  You should also expect to be out there a while because it's quite a long walk if you do the whole thing.  "Suicide Rock" was the steepest, but was pretty short.  My calves are still sore 3 days later, but I totally enjoyed it!

We parked right by the trailhead near a school and immediately tried to find some caches.  It looks like the same geo person hid a bunch a long this trail.  I'd like to come back and try to find them all.  We tried to find the 1st three, with no luck.  This is when I wonder how long I'll actually continue to geocache.  Ha!

We got to the top of the 1st hill and what a view!

We continued on and guess what - WE FOUND ONE!

How cute is "Jamikat & Pat"

Left a little Pegasus as my token!


As we were hiking along, it's actually surrounded by suburbia, so lots of gorgeous Irvine houses.  We also kept seeing these fun purple blooms that Patrick digs.

We headed down to an area that seemed to be the major bee haven.  They were everywhere!  As we dodged the little honey friends, we found another cache!

This one had the log in a film can.  We had to fight to get this one open!

Left a green dragon this time
Hiking along, chatting and enjoying the view.  We heard a band.  We realized it was actually a live band!  They were practicing in a nearby garage.  I couldn't help but find myself dancing along as we looked (but failed to find) for another cache.

We did find a 3rd cache along the way though!  So - for the geocaching portion of the hike we looked for 6 and found 3.  Not bad!

How cute is this little log book!!!??

This cache gets my purple dragon


Now it was time to stop looking for caches and trek forward so we could finish the hike before dark and in time to get some food.

We found ourselves walking through neighborhoods and streets for a while (I was starting to wonder if we were lost...) then back onto the trail.  This is where my calves got a work out!

You want me to walk up that?!

Pretty sunset!

I was debating if my calves could handle this one...

Top of Turtle Rock!

Fellow Photogs!

As the sun was setting we ended up back through a neighborhood as we headed to the car.  It was a really pretty area and made me realize living in Irvine probably wouldn't be so bad!

We rolled into Pita Jungle just in time for dinner.  If you haven't checked this place out, do so.  It's delicious!

A lovely way to spend a Friday evening!