Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

We had been prepping for this day for a while now. I think we all wanted a sort of redemption for the horrible holiday season of last year. The biggest thing affecting the holidays last year was obviously the pandemic. On a more personal level, the holidays last year were derailed by my dad having to be rushed to the emergency room on Thanksgiving morning. He spent a week in the hospital at the time and what made it worse is that no visitors were allowed. The aweful winter surge was just beginning. So understandably, this year we wanted it to be much better.

This year, all of the family gathered and for the most part it was a great Thanksgiving. I even got to celebrate it twice! My dad unfortunately was not feeling well and was looking rather pale. We ended up taking him to the emergency room again the following morning and he spent 1 day in the hospital. It was not as scary as the previous time, but it was worrisome nonetheless. Turned out it was a complication from a side effect of a couple of medicines, but he is now home and well.

I did not get a chance to reflect on what I was thankful for on Thanksgiving Day this year. So I will do it here. I am grateful that my dad is still going strong at 95 years old, and that my family always comes together in times of need. We are united and we are strong.

Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood.

Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood.

Here are the pictures from the Grizzly Cafe in Wrightwood this past weekend. It’s a small town up in the mountains about 30 minutes away up a slow winding road into the mountains. I love the mountains and the way the city just fades into the distance and below. You’re high up above the city and yet the mountains still tower over you.

The snow is a little late this year, but the cold was certainly there. This restaurant has a lovely store with seasonal decorations and this weekend it looked as if Christmas had exploded. The daylight outside quickly faded away, and the warm glow of the lights inside made it all feel ever cozier. The food is standard comfort food and very delicious.

I want to come back and bring my parents next time once there’s snow.

Some random thoughts…

Some random thoughts…

Do you sometimes feel like just walking around with no real destination or route in mind? I feel like writing that way right now…

I got my booster (third) Moderna vaccine earlier today. Just like last time, I have had zero symptoms or side effects from the vaccine. Later in the day we drove up the mountains to have dinner at this lovely little restaurant. The temperature was quickly starting to drop towards freezing, but there is no sign of snow yet. I want to bring my parents back here once there’s snow. I need to do a post about it–even if it is only a bunch of pictures. The drive back was a bit scary as it was pitch black. The road illuminated by the headlights faded into nothingness ahead of us. On either side of us, there was an abyss with no way of telling if on either side of the road there were flat empty fields or huge 1,000 foot drop offs. I suspect the latter is probably closer to it.

Back home, I came across an email that told me I had not logged into my yahoo account in a very long time. I logged in and saw some emails from Flickr and I wandered to that site. My pictures from ages ago are still all there. I got a little nostalgic looking at them. I’m tempted to start posting on there, but very infrequently (perhaps once a week at most). There are so many thing I’d love to do, but tragically I don’t have the time to do them all. Even if I were to quit working I don’t think I would have enough time. I guess I should be grateful I was able to do the things I have even if no longer do.

Thinking of Christmas

Thinking of Christmas

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

The unthinkable happened. I requested six days of paid time off at once. I have so much paid time off accumulated that I was told I could no longer accumulate more and would need to start taking off or lose out on my PTO. So I am taking next Monday off to decorate my parents house with the help of some of my siblings. After last year’s awful Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we’re ready to pull out all the stops this year. The other five days I am taking off are during December. I was very strategic about these so that I can avoid going into the office between early December and early January.

I’m so excited about Christmas that I’ve already decorated my December section in my planners and I’ve penciled in a few things I’d like to do to celebrate the season. More than anything, I want to make sure I make a point of taking my out to places that are festively decorated for Christmas.

The other thing I was to do this Christmas is really take the time and reflect about the meaning of the season. I am afraid and embarrassed to admit that I want use the spirit of the season to get me closer to Jesus. Isn’t it tragic that I feel this way? I’m ashamed that I don’t have the courage to openly work on my Faith. With the mainstream world being intent on secularizing everything ridiculing Faith, I have felt a rekindling desire to go back to my Catholic upbringing. I know there are some fanatics out there and some teachings of the Church need to be updated, but there are far more good things than bad. I sincerely envy those people that are joyful about their Faith.

Time to write again

Time to write again

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here. Nearly a month! I don’t think I’ve gone this long without writing on here in well over a year and the interesting thing is that I felt perfectly fine not writing. I think a lot of it has to do with the move into the new house and the sale of the old one. So it has been a busy few weeks to say the least. The interesting thing is that I didn’t miss writing on here for the most part. Up until today.

I wrote the above about a week ago and again abandoned my little writings. I think it has partly to do with the fact that my routines have been changing. In the course of the last couple of months I moved to a new house, started going into the office a few days out of the week, and things have started to open up once again.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I wondered what it would be like once things were able to return to normal. As everyone know, this has been a very slow return to normal. It reminds me of a wildfire. You see smoke in the distance and before you know it the flames are racing toward you and everything goes up in flames. You look at the charred landscape as if it will forever remain that way and the world as it once was exists only in your mind. Then the wildlife slowly begins to return as seedlings everywhere begin to emerge from the ashes. Eventually it all starts to look lush again. Not exactly as before, but it’s getting there.

It’s strange to go to the LA Philharmonic or the LA Opera and be wearing a mask the entire time, but it’s refreshing to be able to experience the music once again. Our world continues to be ill, but it is on the mend.

The end of Summer at the Hollywood Bowl

The end of Summer at the Hollywood Bowl

This concert a few nights ago was the final LA Phil concert at the Hollywood Bowl for the season. Summer is now officially over. I picked the wrong night to forget my jacket as it was by far the chilliest night at the Hollywood Bowl that I ever remember experiencing. I was surprised and delighted to see such a large audience for a Tuesday night classical music concert. It was an all-Mozart program and a perfect way to close out the 2021 Summer season.

The final concert of the season felt a little different this year. As I was exiting, I kept looking back and trying to take it all in. “Until next season” didn’t feel as guaranteed as it did every other time before the pandemic. When I said farewell to this wonderful summer venue in 2019, never in my wildest nightmares would I have imagined that there would be no 2020 season and that the 2021 season would be in limbo due to a crisis faced by the entire world. So on this last concert of the 2021 Hollywood Bowl season, I was grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to attend seven concerts; and I am hopeful that in 2022 the show will go on.

Next week, I get to go back to the LA Opera for the first time, and the week after that I will be returning to my beloved Walt Disney Concert Hall after almost two years.

Autumn is in the air

Autumn is in the air

This past weekend was far calmer than the last few due to all of the moving and getting the house up for sale. So it seemed almost poetic to see the season change so abruptly over the course of a few days. We went from having some crazy hot weather to overcast days and chilly nights. We are finally entering my favorite time of the year.

I enjoyed a quiet dinner at Nano’s Café in Sierra Madre in a big outdoor tent. It seems everyone prefers to dine either inside or in the patio facing the street out front, but for us it was perfect to be sitting in the quiet solitude of the back tent. The evenings are certainly starting to darken earlier. I love it when you have yellowish lights contrast agains the cool grays and blues of a cloudy evening. It sort of reminds me of the huge extended family get-togethers we used to go to many years ago. It also brings back memories of night markets in other countries, or the kermés my elementary school parish would have at least once a year.

We tried a new farmers’ market in Claremont, which is closer to our new home. Even though there are less organic options at this farmers’ market, I much prefer it because this street has a small town feel and it was so beautiful to be walking under the canopies of trees on this overcast morning. I love living so close to the mountains now. I love all of the foothill communities! I grew up seeing these mountains all of the time which is why I probably find them so comforting. Now that we’ve been going to farmers’ markets for almost a year now, I’ve come to really enjoy seeing the seasonal changes of the fruits and vegetables that are sold.

There wasn’t much sun the entire weekend and I am perfectly fine with that. The seasonal changes in LA are subtle, but they do exist; and this weekend definitely felt like Autumn. The leaves here don’t start to change until late fall and there aren’t too many deciduous trees here since they are not native. So the only Autumn leaves I’ll see for the time being are the decorative stickers on my Happy Planners.

Guilt and body image issues.

Guilt and body image issues.

My planned walks early in the mornings Monday through Wednesday did not happen this week. Moving over the weekend left me exhausted and there is still so much to do in the house to get things where they should be. I feel guilty, because I know that where there is a will there is a way and frankly my willpower wasn’t strong enough to overcome excuses that may come my way.

I came into the office today so I’m wearing dress shirt that is such a huge distraction because it doesn’t fit well and all I can think of is how large my belly has gotten. The positive side is that I probably won’t be as inclined to eat anything too heavy. I really just need to take a walk this evening around the new neighborhood. I can’t just make plans and put them off for another day.

Speaking of the office, I saw a coworker this morning that I had not seen in person since the start of the pandemic. Despite the mask, I could tell she was smiling from ear to ear just as I was. She said “oh I don’t care, I’m giving you a hug,” and gave me a nice big hug. It was a nice antidote to my negative body image thoughts.

First night in the new home

First night in the new home

I’m now typing this from my new home. I really like the new neighborhood and the brand new house.

However, it feels strange. I think of my nightly routines and the spots around the house where I would like to sit or lie down. It was just a night ago, and already it feels like an eternity. I am the sentimental type and I feel like I left a little part of me in that house. The old place will hopefully sell soon, but in the meantime most of the rooms are dark when they would have had light. The lights in the stairs and in the hallway are still still doing their normal routine of varying brightness and color temperature to mimic the daylight outside as I programmed them to.

I often imagine a soundtrack accompanying things that are going on in my life and tonight I am listening to John Adams’ Harmonielehre. I often think of this song when I look at large urban areas at night. It’s very unique: at times it can be suspenseful, frightening, depressing, uplifting, and other emotions I can’t quite put into words. I feel as if I’m soaring and as I look at the modern city below I feel incredibly small.

I don’t know why I’m writing about all of this just to tell you that I am now spending the first night in this new home. I guess my feelings at the moment are about as complex as those in Harmonielehre. But I’m happy to be here at last and looking foward to a new adventure.