Tasha, Tasha, Tasha! (Or, Why I Hate Travel — “A Lion’s Meditation” by Boris)

I feel just like Jan on the Brady Bunch.  Remember how everything was always about Marcia?

Marcia Brady

Well, around here it’s “Tasha, Tasha, Tasha!”

Tasha the herding dog

I’m so sick of that stupid dog.  Naturally she got to be Kate’s first guest blogger, even though I have lived with her far longer.  Just because that moron dog likes to go in the car, that’s supposed to make her a travel expert?


My name is Boris, and I’m Kate’s cat.  And as you can see, I am by far the best looking creature in our house:

Handsome Boris, a non-traditional ragdoll cat

And even though I like helping Mom with this blog:

[]”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””u8iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihjnb v8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

(that was me, walking across the keyboard),


Even five minutes in the car makes me hyperventilate.  The only good thing about travel is that when dopey Tasha goes with them I get the house to myself.

cat and dog are not friends

Would you PLEASE leave now?

It’s not like I’m ignorant about travel, mind you.  In fact, I’m the only pet in this house who has ever flown on an airplane — First Class, no less.  Even though a casual observer might think I’m an average tuxedo cat from the shelter, I’m actually an exceptionally rare breed:  a “non-traditional” ragdoll cat, directly descended from the infamous Josephine and that alley cat (supposedly spliced with human genes) who knocked her up.  After Mom lost her favorite kitten (another non-traditional ragdoll) to cardiomyopathy, I guess she was desperate for a replacement and found me online.  (Kind of like how she found Dad online to replace her first husbandI would praise the internet for making upgrades so easy, except she found that disgusting dog online too.)

As a breed, we ragdolls are supposed to be super affectionate and almost completely resistant to pain.  I only share the first trait when I feel like it (NEVER with Tasha), and I test the latter frequently.  Dad calls me clumsy.  He claims I’m the only cat who consistently falls off things and doesn’t know how to land on his feet.  (I think he’s just angry about all the vet bills.  Well, if that idiot dog wouldn’t chase me all the time, I wouldn’t need to climb so high.)

The only part of travel I really love is when Mom brings out the suitcases.  Unlike Mom, I LOVE packing.  But doesn’t she know that suitcases are meant for sleeping in?

cat sleeping in suitcase

If it were up to me, Mom would stay at home ALL the time — with me.  Dad can travel all he wants, so long as he takes Tasha with him.  Mom clearly likes me the best anyway.  We don’t have any dog art in the house (who would want to paint a stupid dog?), but there are LOTS of felines around here.

My favorite is the life-sized bronze lion above our staircase:

Boris and bronze lion

Except when he tries to steal my food:

cat and bronze lion

Hey, I got here first!

It’s so obvious I’m the favorite around here.  Mom even bought me a souvenir from her last trip.  It’s called “Lion’s Meditation,” by Michael Parkes:

Lion's Meditation by Michael Parkes

I love it.  The artist got things right, the way life should be:

Feline plus adoring Female equals happiness. 

A lion’s meditation, indeed.  At home alone, with no loud obnoxious dingos messing things up.



Mom says there are only 36 days left for this blog.  I think people are sick of reading about travel anyway.  What do you think?  Will you read MY blog?  (I’m thinking something like “The adventures of Boris-the-Badass cat and Natasha-the-Nincompoop dog?”)

I Left My (WTF ??) in San Francisco …

Part of the challenge with travel is how you deal with the things that inevitably get forgotten at home (my most common: sleeping mask, headphones, toothbrush, umbrella, bandages, tampons, meds, wine opener, socks, underwear, passport, and did I mention wine opener?) or lost along the way (like my curling iron in Paris).  Without fail, the forgotten or lost item is the ONE thing that would make your present moment more comfortable.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know I generally try to mitigate this situation by overpacking.

This trip is no different.  As I write this from San Francisco, I realize that even though I packed five pairs of shoes, three pair of pants, two dresses, three sweaters, and two jackets for a single long weekend, I still lack the right clothes.  (Who would predict 80 degree weather at this time of year?)  My boots and winter shoes are worthless, but at least I remembered to bring one pair of sandals.

That was a mistake, as you’ll soon see.

But let me back up to the good parts of the trip first.  We start the weekend at an oceanfront B&B at Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay.  With possibly the world’s grumpiest front desk clerk, I wouldn’t  exactly call it five star, but the included breakfasts and happy hour wine more than make up for this. Plus, there is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of waves:

View from our room of Miramar Beach, Half Moon Bay

room with a view

The surrounding area is quaint, with pumpkin patches everywhere:

Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay

I think it’s charming, but Hubby still calls this the Redneck Riviera.  We’re not that far from San Francisco, and this is possibly the only place on the planet where real estate values actually fall as you get closer to the water.  (Maybe THIS is the place I can afford that ocean view home?)  I wouldn’t mind; it’s quite stunning here:

Half Moon Bay - Montara

It’s also romantic.  We even witness a marriage proposal from our Adirondack chairs outside an old speakeasy at Moss Beach:

Moss Beach proposal

From there, it’s on to see a one-man show by my favorite magical realism artist, Michael Parkes (the one I purchased that “Gold” painting from in August).  I even sweet talk Hubby into letting me buy this:

Golden Finch by Michael Parkes

It’s all going swimmingly, until we drive back to San Francisco and check in to the lovely old St. Francis hotel on Union Square:

Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco

In contrast to the lackadaisical service in Half Moon Bay, our bellhop volunteers to upgrade our room before I can even ask.  After a fantastic caviar embellished dinner at Farallon, I immediately remember everything I miss about Northern California wine country cuisine.  (As much as I love Newport Beach, Orange County people have no clue about fine dining — with a few notable exceptions, it’s mostly still “big slab of meat on a plate.”)

So what’s the problem in San Francisco?

Nothing, until I decide to wander around the city in my sandals. 

Warning for the faint of stomach: Do NOT view the next photo.

You see, of all my “enhanced” or artificial features, there is only one I’m truly ashamed of …

I have fake toenails.

Not by choice.  Call it a casualty of growing up in Wisconsin, where my very first job at age 14 (it lasted all of three days; even then, I couldn’t handle manual labor) was detasseling corn.  Three days of sweaty drudgery in non-stop rain and God-knows-what-is-really-lurking-in-our-produce caused me to lose both big toenails.  (They occasionally grow back, but mostly not.)  I’ve probably spent thousands over the years getting new acrylic ones applied, and every time I’m still embarrassed.

So when the San Francisco “street performer” (I can’t really tell what he’s trying to do, unless this is supposed to be a performance art piece demonstrating “mayhem”) gets into a scuffle with another guy and stumbles right onto my foot, I’m mortified.  My toenail goes flying across the plaza and lands right in front of Nordstrom.

It’s not pretty:

not pretty - my missing toenail

I think about retrieving the toenail, but realize I didn’t pack any nail glue anyway.

So, I put on my best OC Housewife face and march straight back to hotel, hoping no one will look at my feet.  At least I packed boots.

And thankfully, it’s time to go home …


Question:  What is YOUR most embarrassing travel story?  (I wish I could say this was mine, but unfortunately it’s one of far too many …)

Grasshoppers, Ants, and a Blue Moon (or, the Art of Practical Alchemy: Transforming Gold into Gold?)

Have you ever wanted something so badly it keeps you up at night? 

Although I’ve admittedly gained a more materialistic side as a byproduct of living in Orange County, I’ve generally always valued experiences (i.e., travel) over possessions and spent my money accordingly.*

* OK, Hubby is probably suffocating in sarcasm right now.  According to him, I’m clearly a champion “Spender” who is quite accomplished at throwing large sums of money at both travel and frivolous things.  (My retort: Someone has to save the economy?)

But I still contend that it’s rare for me to obsess over an object for months on end like I have been since even before this blog was born.

Maybe it’s the moon?

In case you missed it, this is what Friday’s Blue Moon looked like from our driveway:

Blue Moon on August 31, 2012

Assuming that 12/21/12 isn’t really the End-of-the-World, there won’t be another Blue Moon until July 31, 2015.**  (Of course if 12/21/12 really is THE END, then I really hope you saw that moon!)

** This is using the common definition of Blue Moon, meaning the second full moon in any month, rather than the Farmer’s Almanac definition referring to the third full moon in any season with an unusual four full moons — we’ll see another one of those moons on August 21 next year.

But back to my object of desire.

Remember Aesop’s Fables?  Lately I’ve been pondering the story of The Grasshopper and the Ant.  (Maybe this has something to do with Mitt Romney’s “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps/create-your-own-success-in-life” rhetoric we can’t seem to get away from on TV these days.)

In any case, here’s a quick recap of Aesop’s version of the tale:

All spring and summer through the time of planting and reaping, an industrious Ant toils all day while a lazy (but artistic) Grasshopper kicks back and relaxes, not caring to plan for the future. Winter comes and the Grasshopper finds himself in dire need. He begs the now prosperous Ant for help, but is turned away.

The Grasshopper and the Ant - Aesop's Fables

The lazy Grasshopper quickly freezes and/or starves to death.

But somehow, the childhood version of the story I recall must have been Disney-fied, because I distinctly remember the ant in that tale did NOT let the grasshopper freeze and starve, but invited him into his home to share his hard earned wealth.

I am a Grasshopper.

Poor Hubby is the Ant.

Apparently men have known this about women for a very long time.  Just look at this painting by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre called “La Cigale” (the Grasshopper), first displayed in 1872:

La Cigale (the grasshopper) - by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, 1872

Will she starve when winter comes?

I don’t think my grasshopper tendencies are my fault.  With all these online Goddesses and Queens (especially those purportedly blogging from exotic locales around the world) enticing us to “become more feminine” and simply “get better at receiving” in order to allow our “true prosperity” to arrive as result of our “higher vibration,”  who’s to blame us women for wanting to take a few grasshopper shortcuts?

But I digress, yet again.  What I’m trying to get at here is my mindset leading up to my big splurge last Friday on the night of the Blue Moon.  So just what is this object that has been keeping me awake all week?  A piece called “Gold” by magical realism artist Michael Parkes:

"Gold" by Michael Parkes

The unusual thing is not that I invested in a piece of art, but that I did so not as an impulse buy, and not by adding to my (often alarmingly growing) credit card balance. Like Scarlett O’Hara transforming her silk drapery into a gown, I plan to trade in some of my much worn gold for this “gold.”

I call it practical alchemy.

You see, last week I took this gold necklace and bracelet into Tiffany’s for repairs:

Tiffany & Co. 18K Gold Multiwire Necklace and Bracelet

Hubby gave these to me back in 2005 for our first anniversary.  Sentimental?  For sure.  Reparable?  Sadly, no.  I wore both pieces nearly every day of my litigation career, and I’m pretty sure the stress of that profession translated into the kinks and frayed, unraveling gold that make the jewelry almost unwearable today.

Don’t get my wrong: I truly love gold jewelry and always will.  But I love the “Gold” picture more.  I first came across Parkes’ work eleven years ago in 2001, when I moved to California from Australia in the midst of a failed marriage, right before 9/11.  The work that captured my imagination at that time was Parkes’ The Last Lion — a very sad piece that fit my mood perfectly at the time.  (You can read a previous blog about that artwork here.)

Yawn.  Yes, okay, I know people trade in jewelry for stuff every day.  But for me this is a breakthrough: letting go of something valuable to me in the past to make room for something valuable to me now It almost seems as if the Universe was conspiring to make sure I acquired this art: the gallery where I bought it was closing on the night of the Blue Moon (thus offering a hefty discount) and the price of recycled gold was where it needed to be.

The melt price of the gold is substantially more than the “Gold” artwork cost.

But it’s more than that.  The “Gold” picture represents my journey from the broken, scared girl I was in 2001 (as in “The Last Lion”), to the abundant, loving, and (more or less) healed woman I am now.

And like my litigation career, my stressed out, frayed, overworn and abused jewelry has been retired.

Hopefully to serve a higher purpose.

At the risk of sounding, guru-esque, I believe we need to combine the traits of both grasshopper and ant to live well.  True prosperity is something we create within, but in the best of circumstances also shows on the outside in the objects we care most about.  The things we find beauty in.  The things that keep us up at night.


What about you?  Are there objects in your life that symbolize something greater than mere materialism?  Things that demonstrate your love of beauty or another value you hold dear?  Would buy the same item again at double the price?