“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”—Jack Kerouac, On the Road
After years of wondering who would have the first baby in our family, all three of my sisters gave birth to their first babies within the last year. It’s been an exciting whirlwind of baby showers, hospital visits, birthday parties (we’ve had one already!) and lots of firsts for the whole family. It also meant I quickly became the aunt I’ve always wanted to be.
Eva Marita, the oldest of the three, is now about fourteen months old, and she is just so much fun at this age. Lucky for me, I got to spend Fourth of July weekend down in Encinitas, Ca with my little sister Claudia, where I chased Eva around with my camera.
my least favorite color happens to be my absolute favorite in nature
I don’t know why I don’t like the color pink. There’s something about its overtly feminine stigma that just turns me off. It always has. I hate that little girls are assigned this color from birth and I mostly hate when grown women are dressed head-to-toe in it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve looked into my closet and I definitely have my share of pink things. I’m ok with certain shades, like a hot neon one. But I think it’s that Barbie, bubblegum pink that’s just not cute as an adult. Or ever.
Here’s the thing though: When I see the color in nature…it just takes my breath away. Like when a burst of pink, so bold, yet so translucent, like a veil of cotton candy, spreads so easily over the sun and the sky. Or in spring, when gray branches suddenly bloom to life with the brightest, purest rosy blossoms.
Where does this color come from? How does it come to being in such a magnificent way?
Like when, on an otherwise perfectly lovely afternoon of book shopping in Half Moon Bay, while Vu and I relaxed fireside at the Moss Beach Distillery, she decided to charge for an innocent King Charles Spaniel. Though tied to a chair, she pushed herself forward, eliciting a collective GASP from everyone around us, as she knocked our table and sent its precariously perched contents, (most notably a full glass of Cabernet), flying. As slow as everything felt (moments like this always happen in slow motion, right?), with swirls of Cabernet freed from its glass and suspended in mid-air, it just as quickly came down in one fell swoop, splattering Vu’s pants and dousing Milli in the process, paralyzing her from taking one step further.
And just like that—the patio erupted into laughter, as the little dog that thought it could, her eyes wide with fear (I’d like to think, embarrassment?), emerged from under a chair, painted in purple spots.
a small but mighty guard dog to ward off bears and other big scary things that lurk in the wilderness // a lake or two to gaze out at // a row boat ride // a long hike where said small-but-mighty-guard-dog is too exhausted to continue // one-pot meals like chicken nachos finished off over a fire // bird watching
Growing up in Southern California, we spent a ton of time outdoors. Especially in the summer. Even though it was hot, and I’m talking desert hot, we’d be outside playing. In the early evenings, we’d turn the sprinklers on in the front yard and transform my dad’s beloved green grass into a super slip-and-slide arena (much to his chagrin). Or we’d grill carne asada in the backyard, or have a big fish fry.
Being in such an urban environment like San Francisco has its perks, but I definitely miss having my own backyard. So six years ago, when I moved into my current apartment, it was definitely an added bonus that I inherited this little bit of a patio. And though it isn’t the biggest space, it was always enough to have two chairs, my BBQ, and a couple of mini stools to perch our plates on. (What else do you need?)
In the last few months, as the weather’s turned, I found myself coming home from work and swinging the back door open to let in all the afternoon/early evening sunlight. Suddenly this idea of making my patio a little more usable became more pressing. I wondered how I could turn the little bit of space I had into a more inviting place? An area where I could sit outside after a long day of work and read a book, without feeling like I was just sprawled on the back patio. Basically, how could I make this an outdoor extension of my indoor living room that I had spent so much time cultivating?
I decided the first thing I needed were some lights for ambiance. And so—up they went. Then I knew I wanted some more permanent type of seating. A bench that could occupy a space that wasn’t usable because of a large potted plant I had sequestered to a corner.
I explored many options for a bench. I thought about buying an IKEA one and upholstering a cushion for it. I thought about looking for one at the flea market, or on craigslist. But I had specific measurements and the best options seemed to cost a lot. That was another consideration: I didn’t want to spend a ton of money.
So I decided to make my own. At first, it felt like such a crazy unrealistic idea. I mean, I had never really made my own anything. I’m just not that crafty. But I had spent enough time growing up next to my father, the handiest of all handymen, and a self-taught carpenter, woodsmith, electrician, a man who sews, welds, reupholsters, fixes cars, cooks, hunts, fishes, plays instruments, basically does it all. I mean… how could I NOT know how to do this? Right? Ha. Well, that was the challenge I gave myself.
On a whim, and totally unprepared to commit to this project, I headed to Lowe’s with a friend of mine to do some pricing on materials.
Well, “pricing” turned into sketching my bench, doing a ton of math and coming home with all the materials, including all my chopped pieces of wood, paint, and screws, to makesomething.
It took me the weekend, and a few mistakes, which resulted in me hand-sawing a few pieces of wood myself. But the result, well, I’m totally proud of it.
I thought the coolest thing was that I had actually made something that I could sit on and wouldn’t fall apart.
But the best part came a couple of weeks later, when the sun came out and warmed the city to a perfect 70 degrees, and my friends responded to a last-minute-call and came over with ceviche, beers and Its-Its. I fired up the grill and made steak and chicken tacos, grilled some veggies and corn on the cob, and we mashed together some avocados for chips & guac, listening to cumbia’s blasting on my mini jambox. Even the neighbors in the building next door came out, despite having their own birthday celebration, to comment on what a great bench I had made myself. The afternoon really couldn’t have been more perfect.
And finally, when the sun began to dip, I turned the lights on, and the party continued.
Something so intoxicating, so soothing. A place that seemingly hands out promises with every sunrise and sunset.
Sayulita is easy to love. I mean, I’m certainly not the first to feel this way. It’s here in this small, quaint fishing village, slash surfer haven, just north of Puerto Vallarta, in the beautiful Mexican state of Nayarit, where people from all over the world come to visit…and never leave.
Why? What is it about this place? I think it must be something mágico.
Something about the ordinariness of this pueblito, the kindness of its people, something that makes my heart feel right at home. I mean, it’s not like I fell in love with something new, and exotic. This time, I fell in love with the familiar…
Maybe it’s in all those Buenos Dias’, or in the captivating colors of the casitas. In the cobblestone streets, the salt in the air, the way the warm water envelops you, and the sounds of the selva (the jungle). Maybe it’s in the bubbling of the chicharron being fried on the corner, or the daily gasoline prices being announced early morning over a megaphone on a truck. Or the thumping of the cumbia bass from El Pato competing against the definitive crashing of the waves.
It’s in the simplest of things. The quietness. The reflective solitude that takes place when, in awe, everyone sits on the sand to watch the sky change colors, bathing us all in pink light.
It’s a place that feels so close to home, it makes my heart ache.
It’s been a while since I’ve found a pair of sandals that I couldn’t take my eyes off of, let alone take my feet out of. Then I saw these.
I have to say, it was a little like love at first sight, and when I actually received them in the mail, well, they were everything I had hoped they’d be. And though it’s only been a few days…I can’t seem to take them off. (Minus for those teeny blisters on my heels.)
I’m already looking forward to all the adventures we’ll have together this summer.
every now and then i’m reminded that when things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s best to just let go and see where the day takes you.
yesterday was one of those days.
after a long traffic-ridden drive to the Santa Cruz mountains, my friends Michelle and Nicole, and I, spent the next part of our late morning trying to find this one dog-friendly trail that seemed next-to-impossible to find at Henry Cowell State Park, where there are only a couple of areas that you’re allowed to have pets. Finally, after driving through the whole park with no luck, we made an executive decision to just stop the car in an unmarked area, with only an old railroad track to serve as our entry point. It was the best decision we had made yet.
so…it wasn’t what we had initially planned (a walk down the river seemed much more exciting!), but the dogs were ready to get going. And we couldn’t blame them.
besides, the railroad tracks were an instant distraction! so off we went. traversing trails surrounded by 100-year-old redwoods, catching beams of light every now and then, marveling at the height and beauty of these tree beasts, and just enjoyed each other’s company.
then we had burgers and beers, and finished the day off with ice cream on the beach.
as off the cuff as it may have turned out to be, i wouldn’t have had it any other way.
it’s changed over the years… but the last few springs have felt warmer than ever. global warming? perhaps. but if that means pink sunsets and evenings warm enough for fried chicken picnics at the beach…well, then, I think i’m Ok with that.
It’s not that we spend five days looking forward to just two. It’s that most people do what they enjoy most on those two days. Imagine living a life where every day are your Saturdays and Sundays. Make every day your weekend. Make every day a play-day…
where for a brief period, I got to be a kid again.
sitting cross-legged on a foam mat of the alphabet for my niece Eva’s one year music-themed birthday party, while we sang songs, shook maracas, chased bubbles, and fought over foam letters, especially the ones that our names begin with.
some of us even (ahem, Eva), indulged in birthday cake. just as she should.