Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Sunset - Pfeiffer St. Beach

By the time we finished exploring and enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner at Pfeiffer St. Beach,
the sun had sunk behind this rock, illuminating it.

We enjoyed the beauty and took several pictures.

Do you see the birds on the top left? It was fun watching and photographing them.

Another wave snuck up on me while I was taking pictures of the rock, soaking my jeans again.

I got one of Cam's foot shots to capture the moment.

Then, I noticed how the sunlight and water on the sand were combining to make a bit of a mirror and captured Cam's reflection.

He took a creative sun shot.

And a self portrait in the setting sun.

Cam suggested we pick up a bottle of wine and a pumpkin pie to cap off the evening. It sounded wonderful but since the pies were single serve, I opted for a Ben & Jerry's chocolate and cherry ice cream bar instead. Yum.

Thanksgiving Dinner - Pfeiffer St. Beach

After exploring the giant rock formations at Pfeiffer State Beach, we walked over to this flat rock plateau.

It made the perfect table for our Thanksgiving dinner.

While I'd been getting ready that morning, Cam packed everything we needed for the trip.

He's awesome. We had a wonderful dinner with things you'd never expect to find in our backpacks.

We enjoyed breath taking views.

And had tide pools to explore for after-dinner entertainment.

It was a wonderful day.

Exploring Pfeiffer St. Beach - Thanksgiving Day

As I mentioned in my last post, Cam and I spontaneously decided to road trip to Big Sur on Thanksgiving Day when Sam was in LA visiting his dad. We arrived in the area around 4pm, got a room and headed to Pfeiffer State Beach.

Sam and I visited this beach on our way back to the Midwest from California five years ago. (I will save the flashback pics until Sam and I are back there together.)

I didn't remember exactly which road to turn on but knew the turn-off was on the right just past a couple of signs for Pfeiffer State Park on the left. The first time, we missed the unmarked road but eventually circled back and found it. Luckily, there was a sign just after the turn-off assuring us we were on the right path. The one-lane road takes you through dense foliage for two miles, past horses and a man selling firewood, before you reach the parking area. Then, you walk along a little path through more trees until you finally reach the beach. This view, emerging from the trees onto to ocean, I remembered.

We walked over to the cove where Sam and I spent most of our time the last time but the sun was shining so brightly there that we decided to explore further along the beach.

The sun was playing off these rocks in a very dramatic way. We decided to take a closer look.

Cam climbed right out onto the rocks.

Waves were slamming into the rocks right behind him.

You can see the surf swirling around at his feet.

At first, I hung back a bit but a wave snuck up and got my feet and pants wet.

At least then I was free to take a closer look.

We could see the area much better from the shade of these rocks.

They protected our eyes from the brilliant sunshine.

The sun and rocks provided a majestic backdrop.

We had fun walking along, talking...

holding hands.

I am lucky.

I am loved.

Thanksgiving Decisions

We've had a lot on our minds lately. There have been a whole range of decisions made around this Thanksgiving.

Decisions have included everything from: What to do with Sam? He was scheduled to be off school for five days around Thanksgiving and hadn't seen his dad in six months. We probably need to help make this happen. Should we drive halfway? If we do, can we see my brother? Not really. His in-laws are visiting and he is working every day we are off. I don't want to spend my holiday driving w/o some enjoyment.

Then, we found out my friend, Melissa might be in southern California visiting her dad and step mom for Thanksgiving. If so, we are invited there which would mean I'd have time with a friend and Sam and his dad could also have some time together. But when we talked with Sam's dad about this plan, he wanted to split a plane ticket instead. And since Melissa wasn't sure she was coming, we decided to go for the plane ticket. At least we had decided about Sam's visitation plans.

Then, we wondered, "What should Cam & I do?" His friend, Malia generously invited us to join in her lavish Thanksgiving celebration - complete with wine, caviar and interesting conversation. It sounded decadent but they were ordering the turkey when we were still deciding whether we would be here or not. And if we were here without Sam, we might want some time for the two of us to be alone and the freedom to have an adventure if the mood strikes. So we declined.

Awhile ago, I spoke with my cousin, Ariel about the plans she and her girlfriend, Ash were making to move from Ohio to the Bay area at the end of November/first part of December. She asked if they would be able to stay with us for awhile until they got on our feet. They were supposed to have other options too. I know how hard it is trying to get here from the Midwest and wasn't able to do it without help. I wanted to help them and would love to have my family here but when we asked, "Do we have room for two people to live with us for awhile?" We decided we didn't.

Last weekend, Ariel called back. She said she was still coming out at the beginning of December but that Ash wasn't coming until after Christmas. She wondered, if she was alone, if we might have room. What if it is just one? We talked about it and agreed that while it would be crowded and undoubtedly stressful, we'd love to have her and she is welcome here. She leaves Columbus on the 30th and will arrive here sometime during the first week of December after stopping to visit people and see places along the way.

Then, Melissa called. She decided to come to southern California for Thanksgiving after all. By then, Cam and I were looking forward to not having to be anywhere and doing what we wanted to do for the holiday weekend. However, she is staying for awhile. So, I might drive down to see her this coming weekend. The thing is that we only have one car so if I go; whoever stays will be without one. And we are all a bit tired from traveling over the holiday. The decision about the coming weekend is still on the table. "Will Mary make get to see her friend?"

Also, I've been trying to decide what to do next professionally. While I like my current job and working part-time has its benefits, I'm not growing or learning. I know I want to help people but don't seem to have the qualifications to get a higher-level social services job. So, Does that mean grad school? Probably, but, Which school? Which program? What do I have to do to be accepted? "How will we pay for it? Will it be worth it?"

But the biggest decision we've been considering lately revolves around Cameron's daughter, Adelyn.

Some of you may not even know that Cameron has a daughter. She's not a baby anymore. Click here and here for more recent pictures.

Sam & I have never met Adelyn. There is a long, complicated story behind why but it is too personal to share on the web.

As the holidays approached this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about Adelyn. Our family was stable, secure and well on our way to being settled in our new home. What to do for the holidays was a big decision. We didn't really have the money to travel to see anyone but I could justify spending money on travel if it meant we would get to see Adelyn.

Cameron contacted her mom. She agreed to a visit. We finalized a date, purchased tickets and had a plan that was supposed to allow us to meet Adelyn, visit Cam's father's family in his hometown, attend Cam's friend's son's baptism and see my family too. I was elated.

Then, in the past week, we have been unable to agree on some major issues with Adelyn's mother and it looks like we may not get to meet Adelyn after all. "Will we ever get to know Adelyn?"

On Thanksgiving morning, Cam wanted to know what I wanted to do. I was preoccupied about the situation with Adelyn. We talked and I spent awhile crying over the heartbreak and disappointment I feel about the change in direction our plans are taking. He is disappointed too but thinks he is doing what is best for Adelyn. I absolutely want to support him but we don't completely agree about what is best.

The only thing I could say I wanted, aside from things to be different, was an egg casserole. Cam has made a couple of wonderful ones lately. I had an idea for one but wanted to make it together. He agreed that sounded like a good idea.

After talking, sharing a yummy breakfast and a shower, I felt better. I knew we needed something big, something different to throw ourselves into and save the day. We talked about a few local options and agreed that since Sam was gone, it would be a good time for a drive down a long, windy road.

Usually, we go north on Hwy 1, but since we had time for a really big drive, I tossed out the idea of going south to Big Sur. Cam enthusiastically agreed. We were talking about watching the sun set there then driving back but I threw a toothbrush and my contact solution into my bag in case we decided to spend the night.

Like Sam, my stomach gets upset when I am a passenger on winding roads too. Cam generously offered to let me drive. He took pictures along the way.

Neither of us had seen the stretch from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The sunlight sparkled on the deep blue green water. The prairie grass shown in the sun. It was gorgeous.

After about four hours of driving, we arrived. We decided to spend the night so we would have the next day to explore on our way back. We found a room and decided to set out to investigate this area and soak up the sun.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another reason I love my husband

As I type this, Cameron is at the Blood Centers of the Pacific's Marin location, hooked up to some device. Cameron has donated blood regularly since before I knew him. The last time he gave, he learned about a different way to donate blood called Apheresis.

"Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis) is a special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give specific blood components, such as platelets."

I guess that normally, after someone donates whole blood, it is separated into three components, platelets, red cells and plasma. The blood center says that only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. So, six whole blood donations are required to provide a single platelet transfusion. Conversely, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for a complete transfusion.

So, why wouldn't anyone who donates blood agree to this procedure? Apparently, they use a larger needle and it stays attached for up to 2 hours. For a needle phob like myself, this sounds worse than hearing nails on a chalkboard for two hours straight. Cam, however, assures me he will be fine, happily surfing the web or watching a movie.

I am thrilled he is so willing to give in this important way and wish I were half as brave. Who needs fictional role models? The man I am married to has "traits others can appreciate and learn from..."

I'm so proud of him for literally helping save lives in this way.

It is one more reason why I love him.

Shut Up & Sing

For my birthday, last June 2nd, Cameron surprised me with the Dixie Chicks' new cd. While I enjoy their music greatly, in the midst of planning our move to California, I hadn't even known they had a new cd coming out. It was quite a treat.

That weekend, I went online to see what the Chicks were up to and noticed they were scheduled to play near our new home shortly after we arrived in California. Tickets for their Oakland show were going on sale that morning. I have been to and been blown away by Dixie Chicks' shows in the past. It seemed like I was supposed to go to this one too.

If everything was going wonderfully for them (the top selling female band in any genre), I might have been content to listen to the cd from the comfort of my home. But, in light of recent controversy, I wanted to show my continued support for them by going to the show.

You are probably aware of what transpired, but if not, the gist of it is that during a show in London, at the beginning of the Iraq war, the band's lead singer, Natalie Maines, made an off-hand comment which had big repercussions. She said, "By the way, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." While this is undoubtedly an inflammatory comment, she was hardly alone in expressing the sentiment at the time (or since then) and we are all supposed to have the right to free speech.

However, her comment was used to set of what Rolling Stone calls, "a concerted right-wing effort to kill their radio play and concert appearances, especially in the South." Incredibly, this effort had success. The hostility aimed at them escalated to include death threats. The intensity of the reaction was uncalled for and ludicrous.

The CD Cam gave me, Taking the Long Way, was their first release since the start of all the drama. It includes songs inspired by the saga including once called, "Not Ready to Make Nice."

The Chicks have always sung about individuality, rebellion and love with strong emotion. I am inspired by their defiant attitude and their refusal to submit to oppression.

So, in early June, the Dixie Chicks had a new cd and I had concert tickets. As an added bonus, another of my favorite musicians, Pete Yorn was scheduled to open the show.

Pete sings, "Convince yourself that everything is alright, 'Cous it already is."

I was excited. Then, as the show was finally on the horizon, it was canceled. I was given a chance to get my money back or save my tickets for a later show. I decided to keep the tickets. The show was rescheduled for November 17th with a new opening act. No Pete Yorn after all.

When I bought the tickets, I'd thought Cam and I would go together. But that meant finding a place for Sam to hang out. It turned out that Cam wasn't too excited about the show. So, I decided that since Sam has been listening and singing along with me to their music since Wide Open Spaces in 1999, I'd take him to the show.

Finally, last Friday night, it was time. Sam and I had good talks in the car during the drive over and shared laughs running through the parking lot to the Oakland Arena. Waiting for the show to start, we jammed to Green Day over the loud speaker and Sam saw his first wave.

Shortly after 8:00, Bob Schneider came on to open. He was talented and his music had off-beat, quirky lyrics. Once, he and his band mates played their guitars behind their backs. They stood aside for their drummer's solos which was cool. We sang along to a song called, Tarantula. It was a good show. I imagine if I knew his music better, I would have enjoyed it even more.

Then, about 9:30, the Chicks came out. Our seats were in row 25 on the floor which were supposed to be good but having 24 rows of adults stand up in front of us made it difficult for Sam to see. Thankfully, they had a large, mounted TV screen. We stood for the first few songs then I sat down to be at his level. (He hadn't wanted to stand on the seat and I don't know if they would have let him anyway). He sat down too and soon had his head on my lap. The next thing I knew, he was sound asleep.

While Natalie's singing was still powerful, and Martie & Emily played impressively, it was a fairly traditional concert. The awesome production I have seen at other Dixie Chicks shows and have come to expect from them was missing. These Chicks came across as a bit tentative and more reserved. They seemed to think we as an audience were less dynamic too.

Once, after Natalie introduced a song by saying they'd written it for their seven children, I thought the audience was listening appreciatively, in anticipation of the song but she interpreted our response differently. "Not a lot of parents in the crowd?" she asked.

It occurs to me that while the Chicks may have lost some fans for political reasons, they likely lost many more of us to bedtimes. Natalie was perceptive, noticing that many of us, who were, "Ready to Run" with them a few years ago, now had children sleeping in our laps. It doesn't mean we love the Chicks any less.

Their music has meant so much to me. They have shared my pain: "You always said, the day that you would leave me would be a cold day in July. Here comes that cold day in July." And cried with me: "If you could see me now. The one who said she'd rather be alone. If you could only see me now." "I've been too long in the wind, too long in the rain."

Helped me voice my anger:
"There is no good reason I should have to be alone. I'm smothered by this emptiness. Lord, I wish I was made of stone. Like a fool, I led my soul to love and it paid me back in change. God help me, am I the only one who's ever felt this way?" "If I fall, you're going down with me. Going down with me, if I fall." And overcome sadness with humor: "Tonight, the heartache's on me. On me. Let's drink a toast to the fool who couldn't see."

Respond with attitude: "Let it rip. Let it fly. Come on baby, say it. Do you think I'm going to cry? I ain't about to bawl and I ain't going to die. So if you're gonna say goodbye, don't take all damn night. Let it rip. Let it fly."

Start again: "He pushed me round, now I'm drawing a line. He lived his life now I'm gonna go live mine. I'm sick of wasting my time." "Well, now I've been good for way too long. Found my red dress, now I'm going to throw it on. 'Bout to get too far gone." "On a mission to make something happen. Feel like Delilah looking for Samson." "When its my turn to march up to Glory, I'm going to have one hell of a story."

Become stronger and wiser:
"Hole in my head. Hole in my head. I need a boy like you like a hole in my head. I need a boy like you like a HOLE in my head. Let's just say we will and then don't instead."

Made me feel understood:
"She needs wide open spaces, room to make the big mistakes. She needs new faces. She knows the high stakes. She knows the HIGH stakes."

Yet still hopeful and open to others: "More love. I can hear our hearts crying. More love. I know that's all we need. More love. Flowing between us. To take us and hold us and lift us above. If there's ever an answer. It's more love."

Not take it sitting down when we are treated badly:
"How in the world can the words that I said, send somebody so over the edge?" "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell and don't have time to go round and round and round. Its too late to make it right. Probably wouldn't if I could. 'Cause I'm mad as hell and can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should. Forgive, sounds good. Forget, I'm not sure I could. They say, time heals everything but I'm still waiting."

Given voice to the deep love we share for our children:

"My love will fly to you each night on angel's wings."

"God speed. Sweet dreams."

"Superman's in pajamas on the couch. Good-bye Moon will find the mouse. And I love you."

"How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough?"

A movie documenting their experiences since "the incident" was just released. I have yet to see Shut Up & Sing but was intrigued by the trailer. The letter they were wearing at the time was so scarlet that even the American Red Cross turned them away when they tried to give $1 million donation.

Natalie joked that the movie has been nominated to be nominated for an academy award. I hope to see it soon and will let you know my take when I do.

Thanks ladies, for being there for me. I'm happy to be there for you now.