Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Home selling update...

Well, the number of people coming to see our house has dropped off dramatically in the last week or two, so we called our agent to ask whether we should drop our price again or just be patient. She called around to a few agents whose clients have recently dropped their asking prices, and they report that going down 5 percent or less ($20,000!) isn't bringing any more potential buyers to their doors. Soooo, we may be looking at just having to be patient. How long, is unclear. Until October, if this were a normal year. And since this is anything but a normal year, who can say.

I've been hesitant to post because I don't want the blog to turn into a housing market vent, but when I think about it, we've been having a very good summer, aside from the impatience I suffer over the whole move.

Steve just finished six weeks of teaching an intensive summer school course, so the kids got lots of time with their grandparents while I worked at my surprisingly busy practice. I'd dropped one day a week from my schedule to save rent money and in anticipation of a summer slowdown, then was surprised by the continued strength of my practice. My two days are often filled and I've been doing a few outcalls to handle the overflow. I keep wondering how busy I'd be if I actually tried to market myself.

Our lovely neighbors up the street have offered us unfettered access to their pool and this has been the summer of swim for Harry. He now leaps fearlessly off the side and swims across the pool, holding his breath for the most part but ocassionally remembering to breathe. I've really enjoyed the luxury of a backyard pool and the lassitude of bobbing away a couple of hours in the afternoon heat.

We've also made some great new unschooling friends and have been socializing with old friends we haven't seen in a while. Nothing like an impending move to spur you to reach out and connect with friends again. It's been wonderful and, as always, I berate myself for not thinking of and doing it sooner, but I obviously wasn't supposed to until I did.

We've just rediscovered the Wild Animal Park, after having tired of it and visiting little in the last two years. It's fun to feel like a tourist in your own backyard again.

In the few weeks break before the fall semester, we plan to visit my friend, Mariel, and hit some museums in LA. My mom and I are going to take a four-day Qi Gong workshop in La Jolla mid-August and I think we'll get a hotel so that Steve and the kids can hit the pool or the beaches while we are in the workshop and we can hit the Zoo at night in the evenings. It might be fun to take a day trip to Tijuana while we're down there.

I keep thinking we should do something a bit more ambitious, like a tour of Arizona's wild places, but my money stories keep nagging at me. (What's the best use of money anyway, but to enable some wonderful life experiences? Hard to say no to clients who want to book though, so I've been having trouble taking time off.)

It's been an interesting summer, I think I've been much more present than usual, if only because I tell myself this will be the last summer I'll be living in SoCal. But I've also been more aware of my emotional states and it's been good to learn to ride them out.

Had a client yesterday at the retreat facility who introduced himself with rather more detail than I usually get (anonymity is of paramount importance to many of the folks who come to rehab), shaking my hand and saying, "Hi, I'm (insert first name here) from Fort Collins, Colorado." He proceeded to regale me throughout the massage with all the wonderful attributes of life in his hometown in Colorado.

Someday, perhaps, I'll be able to do the same, but for now, I'm trying to appreciate the wonders of Southern California (which I find hard to do, worrying that I'll some how stop wanting to move if don't keep my defenses up -- silly, I know.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007


First off, no spoilers here!
We all dressed up and went to the chain bookstore's release party Friday night with our homeschooling friends Rich and Felicia and Ben, Abram and Eli, and immersed ourselves in the frenzy. Photos to be posted shortly.
Maddie directed our costumes and I think we looked great, though I kept having to shrug off feeling silly to be among the minority (of both grownups and kids) in costume in the store. I don't think of myself as getting too into pop culture, but I have to say, this series has captivated me. Which was why the bookstore party underwhelmed me. Too many people, too little interaction, too lacking in real energy and heart. I would have much preferred a smaller gathering that included readings from previous books and real lessons on divination and other magical-themed learning. Ah well, we shall have to have a proper Potter party of our own sometime....
So, I managed to savor the first nine or ten chapters of the book over the course of yesterday, reading them first to myself and then aloud to the kids (Steve read several chapters to them while I worked at the retreat in the afternoon), but as the pace picked up, I became unable to stop reading. I tried, once, around 3 a.m. this morning, to put down the book and go to sleep, but my thoughts kept racing. So I gave in and read through to the light of dawn, blearily finishing the last chapter and a half as the sun was rising.
I *never* pull all nighters, I hate the feeling of sleep deprivation. I've been wandering around today wondering exactly how I feel and why I feel the way I do, and I'm sure I'll be processing the book for weeks, but what I'm noticing most strongly is that I'm mourning the end of the series.
I so wanted to stretch out the reading of this, but I was transfixed by the story. Others will write far more eloquently of what Jo Rowling has done with this series, I'm just amazed and thrilled that I got to experience it in real time.
And I'm impatiently waiting for my husband to get on with *his* reading of the book so I can finally talk about it with someone!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our Tomato Vendors

The kids have earned at least $15 so far, and the neighbors don't seem to be running out of appetite for tomatoes yet!

The excitement of living on the edge

I read and hear often and in many places of well-off people reminiscing about when they were younger and living hand to mouth and how, paradoxically, those were the best times of their lives. I've never thought to wonder too much about why that is until just recently.
I sat down last week to pay the month's bills and realized that we had come to the end of Steve's LA Times buyout money. Eighteen months later, we'd run through the $22,000. We did well, I think, putting $16,000 into IRAs during that time, and putting $14,000 into home upgrades and repairs. (Hmmm, how exactly did we do that??)
I had a moment of panic as I wrote out an enormous check to cover our Visa bill (granite countertops and aging car get the biggest share of the blame), but after taking a deep breath and asking myself "Is it really true that we're in trouble? Nah.") I had a curious sense of excitement well up. "Okay, now the game gets interesting. How can we cut back? Let's really get intentional again about our spending. Here's more incentive to learn to cook new and delicious meals at home," and other intriguing thoughts surfaced.
I think living closer to the fiscal edge makes life more interesting and more vivid because it spurs us to be more conscious and aware of what we're doing. It's a prompting to mindfulness. It forces me, at least, to be more awake and aware and to consider alternatives that often are simpler and more satisfying.
I won't argue that a life of plenty is very appealing, lots of toys to play with, less worry about finances, frequent and enjoyable indulgences (not to mention social approbation.) But after a while, a life of plenty can be deadening, so much stuff and distraction, more choices (each of which costs us mental energy to make), more to maintain and to clean and to store.
A season of simplicity and fiscal contraction feels like the right thing to do from time to time. I've read that humans are meant to fast from time to time, that our bodies expect and are attuned to have times of leanness and hunger, but we never experience that any more.
I find that I'm rather excited about the idea of a spending drought, a consumer famine, a break, however minimal, from this crazy whirlwind material culture we are in...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Manifest celebrity

We were down at my folks' house over the weekend, to get out of the way of the droves of people wanting to see our house (not. sigh.) and went to downtown Fallbrook on Friday night for a little date.

We ended up at the Irish pub (because it was the only place still open at 9 pm) and sat in a little room in the back, away from the very loud cover band in the main bar. I was telling Steve about my friend Carrie, who was in LA last weekend (actually at a bar in Malibu) to hear a band called Fu Manchu and ended up standing right next to Elijah Wood, whom she said was very cute and very small.

This got Steve to rueing that in all his years working in LA at the Times, he hadn't rubbed elbows with more Hollywood types, which led us to laugh about the time we were invited to a Christmas party hosted by the opinion page editor (who was the sister of a major producer) and met Harry Shearer and didn't realize who he was or chat him up at all, and how we left the party early because we weren't having a good time and discovered that Warren and Annette had arrived shortly thereafter.

We'd just paid the bill and were thinking about heading out, as the band was getting louder and not better, when the waitress leaned over and told us that if we waited around a bit, Tori Spelling was on her way in. Sure enough, an entourage of LA-looking people, followed by a guy in a kilt and then Tori. She posed for a few photographs with several other patrons and Steve and I sat there for a while, waiting for something interesting to happen, which didn't. (All I could think of is the rich and famous, but mostly just rich, who I work on at the drug and alcohol retreat facility on Saturdays. It's taken all the glamour out of celebrity and fortune for me, I'm afraid.) Eventually, we went home, chuckling about how we had manifested a small dose of celebrity...