I just finished a long post on the events of the last few weeks.
At the end, I explain how I've come to make a change in my perception about where my life is at this point and where I'm going.
A few months ago, I happened to scroll down to the bottom of a post here. Someone had added (and I still haven't figured out how they did this) "Blah, blah" to the bottom of the first page and "Blah, blah, blah" to the bottom of the second. It was rude, intrusive and just downright mean. It pissed me off because - and I'm very upfront about this - this blog is my journal. A place "for family and friends" to check in and see what I'm up to. I have some readers who have stumbled in and decided to stay and I value them, but the public is not my target audience. This is a record of my life and a newsletter for the people I love.
That said, Mr. or Ms. Asshole did manage to make me self-conscious about what I write here, so I will preface this post with a little warning. There is a previous post also called "Puttering" below. It is long and traces the lead-up to this post. I went through a hard time. I've come out on the other side and this post will be my record - for myself - of some happy times I've had lately. You are welcome to go read the previous post, just as you are welcome to read this. But I want you to know that both will be long as I record the details.
Blah, blah, blah.
So, where did I leave off? Oh, yeah.
I spent my winter break taking care of my mom, contracting phlebitis from sitting in an ill-fitting chair too much. On the day after New Year, I was concerned enough about the painful lump traveling up my inner thigh to spend three hours of my last day off in the emergency room. They ordered an ultrasound, which found no clots, thank goodness, and told me to use ibuprofen and heat for comfort (which I had already been doing.)
My only concern about this was that in one week I was scheduled for a visit to Disneyland that I had been looking forward to for months. Friends from the East Coast were coming for their annual visit, and I knew there was no way that I could stay more than a couple of hours hobbling with phlebitis in my right leg and my left knee still needing surgery.
So I did something impulsive. Best impulse ever. Maybe.
Last Saturday I was included in the birthday dinner for my son's girlfriend at a local restaurant where he was accompanying a singer/piano player for the night. It was the first time I had met her family, and they were lovely. I spent the day doing one of my favorite things: sewing a birthday passport purse individualized just for her.
I had an appointment the following Monday for a fine-tuning on my eye (should be the final little surgery after two years of work on it). My ophthalmologist is in Santa Barbara, and I planned to leave directly after the surgery for my annual drive up the Central Coast to see the Elephant Seals have babies. But, my appointment wasn't until noon, and I was afraid if I waited that long I might not make it up there in a relaxed trip.
So, I decided to make my trip on Sunday.
What a glorious day, filled with happy twists.
First, I discovered that I had a gift card for IHOP I had forgotten, so stopped on my way out for breakfast. While I waited, one of these little guys entertained me by tapping on the window at my feet.
A common Yellowthroat warbler. I'd never seen one before. He brought the missus and they spent my breakfast scratching for nesting material (she was better at finding stuff for her nest; he just kept tapping at the window.)
It was a glorious, sunny day and I thoroughly enjoyed my drive up the coast. As always, I took the first Cambria exit off Highway 1 to make a pit stop at one of my favorite nurseries near Cambria Pines.
Just three weeks before I had traveled two hours down the coast to Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar searching for sweet pea flower plants and Apricot Chiffon poppies. Roger's had lots of sweet peas but no poppies, so I was thrilled to find lots of healthy plants here.
They had been delivered just two days before by Annie's Annuals, the very company that posted this picture online. I was thrilled to be able to buy six pots of poppies and two varieties of passion vine I hadn't heard of.
As I left the nursery, I decided to leave Cambria through town.
Years ago - maybe decades ago - I had visited the gallery of a photographer named Bill La Brie. His photographs were stunning, and I never forgot them.
At least once a year, something would trigger these into my consciousness and I would promise myself that someday I would go back to that gallery and buy one. I could never afford it, but over the years I would do what I was doing last Sunday. Drive down the main street of Cambria and look for La Brie's gallery and reinforce my promise that someday...
So, anyway, here I was on this beautiful Sunday with time to drive, money in the bank and an old promise tickling my memory. I drove out and checked again. The gallery was still there.
I headed out of town and up to a spot that has become one of my favorites along the coast. Just a few miles past San Simeon. A big Elephant Seal Rookery.
First, though, I had to stop for a picture of the zebra. Last year on this trip the hillsides were bare dirt and the rancher had to put out piles of hay for the cows and zebra. This year, they were happily grazing on new grass. (This is what's left of William Randolph Hearst's zoo.)
Once at the rookery I was thrilled to find it was again pup season. Lots of babies.
|You know a newborn because they are kind of scrawny and wrinkled and the seagulls are fighting over the afterbirth.|
|See, wrinkled newborn. They flip sand to protect themselves from the sun.|
With a comfortable chair and a warm blanket (maybe a cup of cocoa) I could have stayed all afternoon enjoying this fine show, but it was getting crowded and once I had all the photos and videos I wanted I decided to give up my spot on the rail to someone else.
As I drove out, the idea that had been percolating took full root.
I was going to drive through Cambria again and see what the current prices on Bill La Brie photographs had gone up to. And, if I could afford it, this might be the time to treat myself to one.
I turned into Cambria at the west entrance and drove slowly down the street. It was full early afternoon and the town was packed; no parking places anywhere near the gallery. I almost gave up, then decided to go back to the highway for a second try. Maybe someone would have pulled out.
No such luck, but as I crawled by the gallery the second time I noticed something in the window I hadn't seen before. A banner declaring "Retirement Sale."
It had to be that day. He was retiring. I would never have this chance again. I didn't care if I had to walk the four blocks from the Veteran's parking lot, I had to get my print that day.
I got back on the highway a third time and was thrilled when I saw a car backing out just a half dozen cars up from the gallery. Once in the gallery, I recognized the photographer and began one of the most delightful purchases I've ever made. He explained that if he had the print I wanted in the gallery, it would be 50% off (excluding the framed prints). If he had to order it from the printer, it would only be 20% off.
"Well, then," I smiled. "Let's start over here." In the first rack I found the first of my dream pictures.
|Zion. Utah. I remember driving through in 1974. So beautiful.|
Within the hour I was the giddy owner of BOTH of my dream prints (already matted, signed and ready to frame) plus three 8x10s for under $400.
I stopped for gas in Cayucos, then enjoyed an uneventful trip home. Sunset arrived just as I emerged from the Gaviota pass, and I was back in my hometown just about dinnertime. I treated myself to a steak dinner at Lure and was tucked in with my prints leaning on the counter across from my bed so that I would see them when I woke up the next morning.
Which found me again heading north on the 101 to get my eye zapped. On the way home I decided to stop for a magazine at the Barnes & Noble. While there it occurred to me to go up to the Michael's to check out the frame selection for my new prints.
60% OFF!!! They didn't have anything big enough for the Zion print (20" x 24") but I was able to find the perfect frame for El Capitan. The two frames I got for the 8x10 are too small (but will be fine for the 5x7 prints I had purchased from La Brie all those years ago).
On the way home, this happy experience reminded me of another photograph I had been obsessing on in recent years. I had even written to the photographer and he had sent a price list, but between my email and his price list I had learned the hard way the difference between taxes as a married versus a single woman and couldn't afford it. Flying high on my good fortune with the La Brie prints, I contacted photographer Antonio Busiello again.
"Anacapa Arch" will be on its way soon.
Eventually I will gut my family room to re-decorate and these prints will be the inspiration for whatever I do. In the meantime, who will notice the ripped up carpet and worn out furniture when I have such glory on my walls?