"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheap Dates on California's Central Coast

Stuck for ideas about where to go for fun?  Short on money?  There's more to do on the Central Coast than just wine tours.  Here's a whole list of ways for sweethearts to celebrate Spring! Or for old timers to celebrate the fact that they're not dead yet. Don't live in CA? Substitute your own fave's.   

Hike the trail and watch the whales at Montana de Oro State Park

Picnic along the Nacimiento River

Catch the wildflowers at Shell Creek Road off Hwy 58 near Santa Margarita 

Take in the National Geographic Theater at Hearst Castle and visit the sea lions further up Hwy 1

Visit the gardens at the Cambria Pines Lodge then walk Moonstone Beach

Take a weekend drive to the Pozo Saloon for lunch or dinner. 

Visit the Museum of Natural History at Morro Bay State Park

Drive to the end of the Lopez Canyon rainforest.

Walk around Atascadero Lake.  Bring bread crumbs for the ducks

Dance barefoot on smooth concrete in the dark

Make fudge

Visit an animal shelter or a pet store

Wash and wax your cars together

Catch a movie at the Sunset Drive-In.  Arrive early for a tailgate BBQ

Go treasure hunting at the Nipomo Swap Meet

Attend services at different churches and synagogues

Pick up coupons in any hotel lobby
 Visit all the local beaches: Avila, Cayucos, San Simeon, Pismo

Hunt for sand dollars at low tide near Morro Rock

Go roller skating or bowling

Go paintballing at Central Coast Paint Ball Park or Franklin's Pond

Serenade each other on guitar/harmonica/kazoo

Climb Bishop's Peak

Go swimming at Franklin's Pond in Paso Robles, Sycamore Mineral Springs or Paso Robles Hot Springs

Play tag after dark in a park with Glo Sticks or flashlights

Read poetry on the steps of City Hall after business hours

Catch the moonrise over the hills of Shandon and have dinner at the Parkfield Inn

Fly kites on the summit of Hwy 46 West, on the way to Cambria

Hike the trail to the Indian relics at San Simeon State Campground

Take a Sierra Club hike on Saturday mornings

Ride bicycles to the beach

 Fish off of a pier

Visit the Missions at S.L.O., San Miguel, San Antonio

Drive the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road from Fort Hunter Liggett to Hwy 1

Visit the PG&E Community Center

Take a tour of art museums and art shops

Listen to old records on a vintage phonograph

Visit the Dalidet Adobe and the Jack House in SLO, the Rios Caledonia in San Miguel

Visit the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero

Take your town's historical walking tour

 Take free golf lessons at your local golf course on Saturday

Pick your own fruit at Cal Poly or local berry farms

Hike the boardwalk at the Guadelupe Dunes

Give each other a foot massage

 I've had these and a million other adventures in my own back yard. What can you add about your own back yard? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ten Tips for Marriage: Advice from the Maritally Seasoned

 Here's a few rules my sister and I made up one night while we were drinking wine. Sixty three years of marriage between us. We call them "Tips for Transitioning between Honeymoon and Honey-do."

1.        Tools are important to men.  When you borrow something from his tool chest, leave the tool drawer open so you’ll remember where to return it when you’re finished.

2.    Before you disturb anything, study the method he uses for storing his tools.  Know whether he sorts by order of earliest purchased, (FIFO), biggest-to-smallest (BIGO) or pile-on-the-workbench-and-search (SWEARO).
3.      A real man never borrows. If he plans to use a tool more than once he'll purchase the Professional Model with every attachment. No matter how much it costs, his argument is that “It’ll pay for itself in time.”
4.      It is a far graver thing you do by leaving his screwdriver on your kitchen counter than for him to forget it on the driveway so it punctures your tire when you run over it.

5.      When he offers to take over a chore, put it in contract form and try to get his signature notarized.  “Paper Trail” may seem like an ugly phrase now, but after the honeymoon, good intentions dry up faster than an open bottle of cinnamon body oil.
6.      Get him to landscape your yard before he signs up for a gym.  Try to convince him that a good push mower will work the same ab cluster as a rowing machine.  A shovel will substitute for a stairmaster.  Pulling weeds-two-three-four will stretch the calves.
7.      Before planting anything precious or expensive in your yard, observe his path and avoid those locations.  Men, cattle and deer make paths. Don’t try to change nature.

8.       He possesses the remote control as surely as you own your grandmother’s pearls.  He won’t expect to wear your jewelry, leave his remote alone.

9.      The toilet seat is the first to know you’re now married.  Till death do you part, the lid will stay up.  It’s the man’s trade-off for wearing a ring.

10.    A man’s memory is fail-proof. If he doesn’t remember making a mistake, then it's your fault. This rule moves up the list with each anniversary.
Bonus Hint: a married man keeps his dirty socks on the floor so they’re easier for you to find.

That’s my advice.  Now I have a question.  Could one of you young brides explain why all my honeymoon lingerie shrunk?   

 Got any to add to the list? Or rules for women? Thanks for commenting.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Thank-You to the Universe for my Zihuatanejo Connection

Shameless promoter that I am, this essay is entered in Sonia Marsh's Gutsy Story competition. I'd love you to drop by and vote for me. I  write about this trip and other experiences of the Social and Sexual 
Revolution in my baby boomer memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite

The flight is on time as it descends over the basin rim into the desert. Phoenix in mid-April is green golf courses and swimming pools surrounded by alfalfa fields and sprinklers. I pull my eyes from the magazine I’m pretending to read. My hands are trembling from the apprehension of meeting my oldest daughter, Sam, to board a plane to Zihuatanejo. I know she has not agreed to this trip without persuasion.
The trip itself is the result of many hands. God has a plan.
In the taxiing plane I hear my friend’s stern voice, two months earlier, brooking no dissent:  “Just hear me out before you say anything. I’ve booked you into a writer’s retreat in Zihuatenajo for late April. You need to go. You’re not writing and you need to be. Go and let it change your life.”
That phone call had frozen me with apprehension. Mexico—alone? From the way my stomach dropped at the idea I knew I was not brave enough to go alone. My heart, my instinct, called for my daughter.
She had voiced her objections—a single week of vacation built up, not enough money—but beyond the stated, I heard her apprehension about spending a week together. And her fears weren’t without reason.
I was fresh off the farm, a college sophomore when I got pregnant. Her childhood was over before I figured out who I was and what I had to offer her. She was born at the end of the baby boomer generation—stuck between two generations without seeming to belong to either.
We were the classic Peter Pan and Wendy with no idea what to do about it. I knew she didn’t like me very much—but what if I discovered she hated me? She had left home at seventeen for college and never returned. What if after all the years of living apart—of chasing separate dreams and missed connections—this was our only chance and we blew it?
If we didn’t try we would never know. Still—maybe knowing wasn’t all it was cracked up to be!
She stalled. I fussed to her father about her indecision when secretly I was doing the same thing. It was her father who negotiated the truce, the guy who didn’t really want me to go—because it was southern Mexico and he would have no power to save me if something went wrong—this husband of mine called his daughter and told her I wouldn’t go without her.
Fate had decreed it was time.
 Miles from home, the novelty of adventure frees us. Tears turn to laughter as we struggle to find common ground, mother and daughter, offspring of my teen years when I had little to offer her except my love.
Lying on our beds that first night, lost in the weight of awkward silence, we begin to talk, first of inconsequentials, then of the disappointments we have each suffered at the other’s hand.  When exhaustion claims us my firefighter daughter demands that we make an evacuation plan. She places a flashlight and our shoes by the door while I scoff, not yet ready to relinquish the parent role to this adult daughter who has grown tenacious in the missing years.
When the first temblor rocks the hotel I accept the small earthquake as a sign that flexibility and respect might be a good thing.
Seven days later we are friends in a way we have never before managed, our hearts healed of the nagging fear that we have somehow missed our connection. Here’s what I write to celebrate our week.
                                                Thank you, Zihua’
The week was productive and inspirational. My daughter and I left our mark on the little town. I asked questions of every bartender and waiter, every vendor and taxi driver who would tolerate our Spanish. We rode a bus with broken windows to Petatlán and were taken in hand by a couple of eager seventeen-year-olds. We caught the stench of freshly-butchered pigs, ate cow head enchiladas, and brushed off flies and proposals of marriage with equal adroitness.
We adored Lenore and Veronica and Elsa and her husband. We dined with an opera singer from Mexico City and advised her in her marital distress over a bottle of wine at midnight. We rose at dawn and ate cerviche at the fish market, and enticed Jose the cantina owner into telling us his story of lost virginity at the hands of a Greek goddess who was nineteen to his seventeen.
Sweet days. We made friends with the geckos on our wall and nodding acquaintance with the iguana in our tree. We toted home fresh cocos and pinas and laced the shells with rum. We tossed Else's bougainvillea into the sea at midnight and made a wish to return. We bought Latina sandals that made our legs look long and hootchie- mama dresses that made us feel great.
We danced to a Bolivian CD in the dark and watched the houses on the hill
swell with the afternoon light. We bought morning coffee for the Indian woman who carries flan on her head, and turned down an offer of product from the local drug dealer. We taxied to Ixtapa and ferried to Las Gatas and attended Easter Mass at the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe. (And knelt in reverence at the cathedral at Petatlan) and saved our sunburn for the last day.
Oh yes, I finished twenty-five pages of most excellent prose for a total of seventy-five pages on my novel. If we missed anything we'll be glad to retrace our
steps. We have found paradise.
When we returned, my husband wanted to know why I looked so relaxed. I told him it was the humidity.
           In a lifetime a mother should be so lucky. We were both profoundly touched by our experiences. The words started flowing, woman to woman, and they’ve never stopped. Thank you, Universe, for your part in my journey.
What's your story? Any life-changing adventures with your children or grandchildren? Share them with us and please write them down for yourself.