Monday, May 30, 2016

The Photo I Didn't Take, II

I'm sure that I took note of blue jays before my maternal grandmother died last summer. They're such a common bird on the east coast and with their bright feathers + loud squawking they are truly hard to miss. But I don't remember feeling any sort of way about them before.

After Mimi died last summer, I thought of her constantly. She's the only person whose last breath I was there to witness. It was an intense few days leading up to her passing, and I felt like a different person afterwards. At home, Heather's dad was in the hospital and she was spending long hours there every night. I found myself spending a lot of time on the back deck, watching the sun go down and star gazing. During the day, I kept finding that I would synonymously think of Mimi and look out the window and see a blue jay. The first time it happened, it felt like the snap of a rubber band on my wrist, a reminder of her. Each following time I caught a glimpse of a blue jay, it was a comforting sign, a message from home when you're missing it most.

This morning, I woke up early, before 6am. My heart was anxiously pounding and I felt a little sad. Nothing dramatic, just real life. I have an early flight tomorrow, and as much as I do it, I hate plane travel.

Despite my anxiety, or because of it, I forced myself to unroll my yoga mat onto the back deck. Stretching out my sore, popping joints (aging is tough, y'all) I watched the sun come up over the houses to the east. Each time I raised my arms overhead in mountain pose, I watched the little puffy clouds appear and disappear above me.

As I finished and leaned down to grab my meditation pillow, I felt a bird swoop over my head. I watched it land and settle in the tree just beyond our fence. The body was in shadow, but then it spun on the branch to face the rising sun. His little white chest and blue cap were so perfectly illuminated, it was like a lightbulb went off in his belly. It was a moment I wish I could have captured, but know would never translate.

Of course, it was my trusty friend, sending me that secret knowing sign.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ADS Turned 60!

Last weekend I made a mad dash up to Pennsylvania to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday! I was super excited because it was a double surprise. She didn't know Heather and I were coming for the weekend and we had a surprise party with all of her friends planned for Saturday night.

I avoided calling my mom all week because I was so scared that I would ruin the surprise, but we ended up texting all day Friday and it was SO HARD to pretend I wasn't going to see her in a few hours! After work Friday we skee-daddled to the metropolitan airport of Asheville, NC and got into Harrisburg, PA around 10pm. Marcus was texting Heather during our entire 1.5 hour drive to their house, as he was trying to keep my mom awake. Ads and I have the same 9pm bedtime, so our 11:30pm arrival was wayyyy past both of our bedtimes. Mark succeeded in keeping her awake and we surprised her in her bedroom as she was about to go hit the hay!

Of course we stayed up chatting for way too long after that! It was soooo good to see her, I seriously miss my mom every day and I really don't think that will ever go away. She is one of my most favorite people in the world.

After a late Friday night, we had an early morning on Saturday! Louisa was up at 7... so we all were too! Saturday was my mom's actual birthday so we sat around eating delicious breakfast pastries, drinking coffee and chatting for a few hours. 

 After breakfast Amanda, Heather and I went on a run on our favorite rail trail! Heather pointed out that I hadn't been home to PA in the springtime since moving to Asheville. Central PA gets a bad rap for being a hickish spot (which it is, but so is Asheville!), but it is so dang beautiful! That afternoon we went to an amazing plant nursery, at Ad's request. I've never seen anything like it. 

I kid you not, they had every single color of petunias/roses/pansies/etc. you could dream of, for about .25 cents per plant. They had a crazy selection of herb variations, every veggie you could ever want and these lush, overflowing planters for literally $15. Everything was so cheap! If it made any sense at all I would have rented a car to drive home so I could stock up. Alas, it did not.

Later that evening we got all dressed up (read: changed out of running clothes) and "went out to dinner" at Reba and Poncho's, our stand by spot for celebrations. Their food is phenomenal and it's located in an old house which makes for an intimate setting. AND it's BYOB. Done and done. When we arrived for our little family dinner, all of my mom's buddies were there waiting to surprise her!

I really enjoyed seeing all of my parents friends, who at this point I consider friends too. My godparents were there and some of my parents' oldest friends whose children I grew up with. It was so nice to rekindle those connections and see how much everyone loves + cares for my mom. And some of her friends brought flasks, so let's be real, being 60 is awesome.

At 5:30am Sunday we were back in the rental car, starting our journey back home. It was crazy and SO short, but it was SO worth it. 

Happy 60th to the woman that brought me into this world and continues to help me keep my feet on the ground.

Love you Mom!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday {The Thirteenth} Favorites!

Happy Friday the 13th! I love the number 13 and I feel like it's a lucky day for people. So here's hoping something awesome happens for you today.

Happy Birthday to my Mamacita, Adelyn, who gave me her middle name, love of reading and low tolerance for bullshit. Love ya Mom!!

Sharing some top moments + favorites from the week!

I have been so on and off with my yoga practice, truly since it began. Not going to pretend otherwise. Even when I was teaching...especially when I was teaching. It was so hard to make time for yoga for just me when I was planning classes and teaching every week. I recently stumbled across this article about how meditation makes you smarter and this handy list of calming yoga poses. Sometimes all I wanna do is a juicy twist or some handstand hops, ya know? It's always good to have a motivation, at least it is for me! Been back on the yoga train this week and I like it!

Life-changing tips for Apple users. Promise!

Morning workouts on the back deck

In about a month I get to go celebrate Louisa's second birthday. Can you believe it? Shocked? Me too! It's trippy to look back and when she was just a newborn nugget

For fun, some old posts:

She is so smart, wild and loud and I am slowly learning how to play with children. Honestly, I didn't babysit and have never gravitated towards children. Once Weezy came into the world, that all changed. AND it's extra exciting because we have another baby girl arriving later this summer! I can't wait to smell her baby hair and just indulge in those sleepy baby moments. They don't last long!

On Sunday, we took the long way along the river and walked to New Belgium. They've been talking about and working on this brewery since I first moved to Asheville in 2012. It's right on the French Broad so we've watched the process from floats, canoes and kayaks over the last couple of years. I didn't have high expectations since it's a Asheville. Been there, done that.

But but but, I highly recommend! Their tasting room is really cool and they serve beers you can't buy in the store, which is probably obvious, but made me happy! The outside patio was rbeautiful and situated right on the river and there is even a grassy area for dogs. And food trucks. Done! Check it out, people!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

24 Hours in Chattanooga + My Sheltered Life

When we purchased our little camper, Daisy, last spring we knew she needed a bit of TLC. She was functional but she popped a leak in the "skin" (as they call it) last fall and wasn't looking so hot. After searching for someone in Asheville to fix her up, we got a recommendation from a fellow Scotty owner for a guy in Georgia with a restoration business. His work looks amazing online and he was agreeable on the phone, and best yet, his shop is 10 minutes from Chattanooga so we decided to make a trip out of it.

Last Saturday, we woke up early, hitched her up and struck out on the trail. Seems simple enough, right? Well, a 3.5 hr trip turned into almost 5. There were torrential downpours and the door broke off while we were driving. Daisy's door, not the truck, gracias a dios! When we arrived at his shop in Georgia the rain had cleared and we super duper happy to finally be there, checking a major to-do off of our list.

He showed us around his gloried junk yard of rotting and abused vintage trailers. Pretty much a secret garden of Pinterest dreams gone to hell in Gray Gardens themed hand basket. Know what I mean? Basically, I was in heaven. After our grand tour, I was getting hangry and had to get down to brass tacks. I lead Darrell over to our camper to take a look-see and I'm like:

"Alright, give it to me, how much is this going to cost to fix."

Darrel: Well ma'am, I'd say about 12-15 thousand.

Me: Oh, you mean 12 - 15 hundred. Well, that's probably worth it.

Darrel: No. Ma'am. 12 thousand.

Me: Oh cool, 12-15 hundred dollars.

Darrel: No. Ma'am. THOUSAND. I mean 12 thousand dollars. And it's gonna take me a year and a half.


At this point, I am having a heart attack and just totally clam up and excuse myself from the conversation. Heather is much more polite and picks up the conversation from where I drop kicked it onto the pavement. It's 3pm and I haven't eaten since 9 that morning, and I'm about to lose it. After lots of throat slashing hand gestures (when polite Darrell wasn't watching) Heather hashes out some details with Darrell and we high tail it into Chattanooga. I am so hungry and thirsty and stressed that I can't think at this moment. I yelp vegetarian restaurants and we run a few red lights as we roll into Chattanooga to feast at Sluggos'.

Sluggo's was highly recommended on Yelp so we grab a seat outside and try to ignore the last few hours of our lives. Darrel was so kind to us and told us we could leave the camper with him for as long as we wanted until we decided what to do. I'm not gonna let this get me down, so we refocus on the matter at hand: What shall eat and what shall we do? We order massive plates of food and I devise a plan for the evening. I have to say, the food was disappointing and tasteless, but our bellies were full, so c'est la vie!

We decide to drive up to Fairyland, as recommended by our Air BnB host. What a crazy little spot! The entry road that climbs up to Fairyland, and Lookout Mountain, was so green and lush, our moods totally changed and we were just taking it all in! There are insane views of Chattanooga from up there, and we pull off at a few touristy spots for some photo ops.

After a beautiful drive + walkabout, we freshened up at our quaint little Air BnB and headed downtown. We wandered the Warehouse Row area, which was super cute, and then headed towards the river. Chattanooga is right on the Tennessee River and surrounded by mountains on the opposite side, earning its nickname of the "Scenic City." Last year, it won Outside's Best Town Ever award, which is what really motivated us to visit. I'd also heard that it's a top spot for climbers + hikers, which is appealing for obvious reason. Because, rocks, right??

We grabbed a drink at the Hair of the Dog and then took an Uber to the Boathouse so that we could eat with a view. And damn, did the Boathouse suck! While I was in the restroom and Heather waited for a table, a group of drunk 50-somethings started chanting "1-2-3, we love the gays!" It was hard to tell if they were hateful drunks or just overly friendly drunks. Either way, it's never a comfortable moment for a stranger to highlight what makes you different from them, loudly and publicly. Shouting "We Love the Gays" is not the same as just treating people like people, and silently letting everyone be themselves without comment. I didn't call you out for being a loopy, lush. You do you, you know?

When we sat down, the view was beautiful, but the appetizers we ordered (ceviche + chowder) were terrible. After that awkward experience, we decided to just leave. Why eat terrible food, surround by negative vibes? I am aware that that sounds super woo-woo, but vibes are real. 

I know I am super lucky to even get to complain about that experience. Discrimination shrouded in friendliness is fairly tame, but still hurtful. It proliferates their little construct of "otherness" but I consider myself lucky to be able to report that moment as one of the "worst" I've experienced. Asheville allows me to live a very sheltered life as a queer woman, and for that I am thankful. 

All was not lost though, Chattanooga still totally charmed us! The next morning we drove up to Craven's House to hike the Bluff Trail. Craven's House was a part of the Civil War and the location of the aptly named, Battle of the Clouds. 

The trailhead was right in the parking lot, where we departed into a glorious wonderland of lush greenery. This hike has got to be one of my favorites of all time. Massive boulders make this an obvious favorite for climbers and create a beautiful contrast to the foliage of the mountains. The half-way point of the trail is marked by Sunset Rock, where there is a view of the Tennessee River that crosses through downtown Chattanooga.

Post-hike we explored their insanely large farmers market. It was obvious that this market is a social outing for lots of people. There was a live band, tons of food trucks, plants and crafts for sale, fresh breads, fresh-pressed juice - and lots of beer. There wasn't much on the vegetarian front, but we made do. And I got fresh, hot, cinnamon-y kettle corn. That makes up for a multitude of sins.

After this sensory extravaganza, we wandered back to Asheville, without Daisy in tow. The end of that saga has yet to be decided so stay tuned!