For all intents and purposes, 2013 was a pretty brutal year. I went through a very bad bout of depression, as did my Charles. According to the parts of the blogosphere in which I hang, this was pretty typical for most of us. I feel it, in my gut, even down to my toes, that 2014 is going to be an excellent year.
While this year was pretty darn rough, there were also a myriad of good things and progress in our little house, and lots of things were a-cookin' in my brain pan.
2013 marked our fourth year of home ownership. My, how much we've learned in that time! Wherever our next house resides, we won't be nearly as intimidated with a bit of DIY. In fact, as long as it has good bones, I think we'll be good to go.
We finally finished the repairs, both on the inside and the outside of the house, due to the original leaky sliding glass doors that became one of the banes of our existence.
In fact, we finally got all of the dry rot dealt with on the outside of the house, and everything is now sealed up, and the rain (if we had any. 2013 was also a very, very dry year.) will no longer have a chance to puddle and snuggle with the house's siding.
My horizons were also broadened when it came to plumbing. Our tub surround, whom I've dubbed Disco Stu, and I still have some things to say to each other. Will Stu get to stay? Find out in 2014.
Not everything was about repairs. I rearranged and updated the look of our bedroom this year, and even after living with it for a few months, I'm still amazed at how much more cozy it is -- and how much more lush it feels.
I did some minor crafts, just to keep things interesting, and realized how much that bright blue color that I chose for the door, and more, makes me smile.
I even made sure to get a good dose of vitamin D and participated in a Pinterest Challenge this spring. The path I made is holding up beautifully, and I've planted some green, crawling leafy things around it that will probably fill-in in about ten years.
While I didn't make a lot of art this year, I did acquire a bit more, especially in the black velvet painting collection. Charles and I even got to host the artist at our house this fall, when Chris came through town on business.
Though I'll never be too keen on driving, I did get an awesome vehicle this year. It's zippy and I love it, and I listen to tons of music during my commute to work. I continue to tweak my play list, and it continues to bring a smile to my face.
2013 also involved a lot of soul searching for me. I realized how much the ocean is a part of who I am and made sure to seek it out a few times this year. And while currently, I only get to visit, I realized it's home, both because of the Pacific's proximity and because of the folks who live there.
Charles and I also got to take a two week vacation, something we hadn't done in quite a few years, and it was wonderful and filled with beauty.
While it may have been difficult, there was still a lot of joy and wonder to be found this year. Our neighborhood may have its unique challenges, but it's a pretty place to live.
So long 2013! We're all really glad you're done, but there were still a lot of lovely things you gave us. Thank you for the gifts, old year. Now bring on 2014!
I'm about to leave for a lovely vacation. (So no post next week.) Said vacation will involve a lot of driving, mostly accomplished by my Charles. As the title suggests, I'm not really into driving. I've actually posted about it in the past. There are two things that make driving bearable to me -- in the right mood, even enjoyable -- a spot-on soundtrack and my Fiat.
I love my little Fiat 500. It's a 2012 and spent its first year as a rental car. Claret, that's what I call it, treats me well, is fuel efficient, and fits into parking spaces like a dream. It's also the perfect size for the Cornish-inspired roads of Grass Valley and Nevada City.
As far as my current playlist, this combination makes me happy. As someone who has experienced a lot of anxiety when getting behind the wheel for quite a long time, happy feelings and driving are quite a gift. In iPod album order:
"Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele"
Eels "Beautiful Freak"
Tom Waits "Big Time"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "The Boatman's Call"
The Magnetic Fields "The Charm of the Highway Strip"
The Magnetic Fields "Distortion"
"Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" Soundtrack
They Might Be Giants "The Else"
The Magnetic Fields "Get Lost"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Henry's Dream"
The Magnetic Fields "Holiday"
Eels "Hombre Lobo"
The Magnetic Fields "The House of Tomorrow"
Future Bible Heroes "I'm Lonely (And I Love It)
Soul Coughing "Irresistible Bliss"
They Might Be Giants "Join Us"
"The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" Soundtrack
The Magnetic Fields "Love at the Bottom of the Sea"
They Might Be Giants "Nanobots"
8in8 "Nighty Night"
The Shins "Oh, Inverted World"
Tom Waits "Rain Dogs"
The Magnetic Fields "Realism"
Portishead "Roseland, NYC Live"
"The Royal Tenenbaums" Soundtrack
Peter Gabriel "Scratch My Back"
William Shatner "Seeking Major Tom"
Tom Waits "Small Change"
Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin"
Devo "Something For Everyone" (My absolute favorite driving music. Though it makes it EASY to drive fast.)
Sea of Bees "Songs for the Ravens"
Talking Heads "Stop Making Sense"
Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra "Theatre is Evil"
X "Under the Big Black Sun"
The 6ths "Wasps' Nest"
The Magnetic Fields "The Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Trees"
Eels "Wonderful, Glorious"
Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"
The Magnetic Fields "69 Love Songs"
No matter how poor I may be, I always feel like I should leave at least a dollar for buskers. They're creating beauty after all.
Currently, this guy is playing incredibly gorgeous music outside of the store.
I had a dollar in my pocket. It's his now.
Ouch. My whole body hurts, but it’s okay. It’s because I’ve been helping harvest wine grapes.
This morning my Charles and I got up at 4:30 after going to bed late because we saw Billy Bragg who was fucking awesome (sorry, Mom). I haven’t been so stoked to be at a show in quite some time. Anyway, this morning we had a bit of oatmeal, chugged two cups of coffee each, and departed to Montoliva Vineyard & Winery. We were supposed to be there at first light, and so we were.
Equipped with gloves, pruning shears, and buckets, (plus I scored the one and only stool, lucky, lucky me) we headed out to pick us some Sangiovese. It was cold, it was wet, it was back pain and knee pain, and we had a blast. Mark Henry, vineyard owner and winemaker extraordinaire was a wonderful host, as was his wife Julianne – who made us the most scrumptious brunch – quiche and apple sausage and pumpkin scones and mimosas, oh my!
Mark, Julianne, & their awesome wine*
Then it was back out to harvest some more. Everyone moved a bit slower as our bellies were full of good food and our backs had been given the opportunity to stiffen. At the end, we got to hang out, drink great wine, and thieve some vino from a barrel. (One of my favorite things. I always feel like such a VIP.)
It was the best Halloween my Charles and I have had in a long time. We ache and it’s great. And hopefully, we helped contribute a little bit to the creation of some kick ass Sangiovese.
*photo from Montoliva's FB page. Seriously -- check out their wine already!
Tonight is my work’s annual meeting. It can be a bit of a yawnfest if you break it down into what HAS to happen: Board of Directors’ presentation, potential bylaw votes, etc. I’ve been in charge of organizing it for the last two years. (I guess I should probably add event coordinator to my resume.) My opinion is that we have to have the meeting, so let’s make it fun. This year’s theme is Oktoberfest, in honor of that glorious tradition’s 200th anniversary. I don’t find event planning too difficult, but the day of can be pretty stressful. This morning, I got in the car and blasted the Future Bible Heroes and got my blood pumping and a smile on my face for my 14 hour day.
The tomato season is leaving us, and we ended up getting a pretty glorious amount for a year of wonky weather. My CSA gave me the best thing to do with extras: cut them in half, lay them out on a casserole dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and cook in a 350 degree oven until the liquid completely cooks off. Then you just put the goopy stuff in the freezer and use it for pasta sauces during the cold days of January. Good stuff!
I hate driving. I didn’t even get my license until I was 34. But some things become a necessity, and me behind the wheel became one of those things.
I still don’t drive nearly as much as my Charles. Since his dad went into hospice, we’ve driven 13,500 miles to go back and forth from the Bay Area to our home.
Even though cars aren’t really my thing, I do enjoy the opportunity for tune-age. Those 13,500 miles have offered up a ton of music blasting time. My Charles prefers more folksy stuff, but for my own indie ear, I’ve come up with the perfect playlist for the drive there and back again.
In no particular order, my album list goes something like this:
Pavement, “Slanted and Enchanted”
Smog, “Wild Love”
Amanda Palmer, “Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele”
Tom Waits, “Rain Dogs”
Eels, “Blinking Lights and Other Revelations”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “The Boatman’s Call”
The Moldy Peaches, “The Moldy Peaches”
The Magnetic Fields, “69 Love Songs”
and depending on whether or not we want to push our sad off until later:
The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Cat Power, “The Covers Record”
I’ve also played old tapes of my radio show, but because I was such an indie snob in college, my Charles doesn’t really appreciate them too much.
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