Sunday, September 29, 2013

What I didn't notice

I'm back. I think.
I'm starting to notice things around me again.  Perhaps it was the vacation, boredom, uncertainty, whatever.

The amazing man at the trolley station.  African American, white pants, black long sleeved dress shirt with white silk trim, black tie, white hat with black band.  I wanted to take a picture but that would have been rude I think.  So glad I looked up from my book.

A whole new group of whomeless (yes, that w is there for a reason, however obscure) on my walking route.  Friendly nonetheless.  3 black guys with grins asking me how tall I am, telling me I'm a fine woman.  The pregnant girl, always smiling next to her cart.  Good Morning I say.

I've been reading.  All sorts of interesting things.  Right now it's Dreaming in Hindi.  Besides just being an interesting glimpse into someone elses mind, it has some really thought provoking ideas/facts about the mind, and learning a new language through imersion in a culture.  The good and the bad.  Also reading Dancing with the Wu Li Masters , the dummys guide to physics. 

It's sunny outside, glorious actually.  The farmer's market run brought me beautiful kale, arugula and red leaf lettuce, a white eggplant , some green beans and a few tomatoes.  I've become addicted to the greens guys produce.  I finally asked them today what other markets they do,  because the Ecke/Leucadia market on Saturdays is a parking nightmare, and I can't always make it there an hour early just to find a spot.  Encinitas Wednesdays, Vista Saturdays.  Good to know.

All my laundry is done, going to start today by vacuuming the floor then wiping it down with water.  The laminate is beautiful, but I have a drooling dog so there are always spots on it.  Maybe I put a mask on the dog so the floor stays pristine?  Probably not.

Took a road trip to Del Dios yesterday. Used my memory to go off RSF Road then up the Norte road to Del Dios Highway.  Picked up a piece of art glass from my friend Garry at The Glass Ranch and chatted for a moment.  Saw the Hydra sculpture live-  pictures just don't do it justice. 

Drinking my Dry Cucumber soda with some mint and basil.  It's so good.  Blew through an entire container of hummus yesterday, along with some Mary's Gone Crackers!  The small container, not the Costco sized!

Noticed that the CoinStar machines now don't take a cut of your money when you use it.  I guess I can stop rolling coins -  (i'm probably the only person in the universe that does this-  I hate change.

Hey, today i may even start waxing my kitchen cabinets.  They need it as much as the floor.  Wish I could afford a cleaner. :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Re-Merchandising (the trend)

I'm in a snippy mood today.  Don't use that word often, never actually, but it pretty well sums it up.  No coffee before the weight watchers meeting, more irritated than inspired during the meeting, too much avocado on my scramble, obsession with cherry pie from Elizabethan resisted, then I stop at Trader Joes.  The newly remodeled Trader Joes.  Where in the heck did they move stuff, all I want to do is get my corn tortilla flatbreads, my marinated mozzarella, and carry on.

All the local supermarkets seem to be doing this, the big guys I mean.  It has irritated me for years, just when I know what i want and where it is they move it.  Or they decide that no one is buying my favorite bread, or the kind of 1/2 cake i like, or else they move it somewhere that makes no logical sense.

Now that that is off my chest, after sharing my thought with the cashier at TJ's , i think I should put myself on time out, until I have something nice to say. :)

Invisible Garage Sales

This morning, at the crack of dawn, I was headed for my weekly "remember not to eat everything that comes into your reach" meeting.   I follow pretty much the same routine every Saturday morning.  Alarm goes off, find the lightest clothing possible for the weigh-in, put on my flip flop crocs, quick look in the mirror, brush teeth, find my "activity monitor", pull out of the garage, get the dogs into the back of the car, prepare their breakfast, insert into crates, close the back hatch, hit the garage door "closer" and head for the freeway.  Get off 3 exits south, make a left at the stop sign, make a left at the second signal along the frontage road, make a right at the first street swinging way over into the incoming traffic lane so i can manuever into Quick Fix in Encinitas for a cuppa. 

Today, doors open wide, but no one there to make coffee.  bummer.  I wait 3 seconds (i'm already running late for the weigh in line and hate to get stuck standing in a queue for a half hour) and pull back onto the frontage road, left at the signal , pass by the place where they sell flowers under a pop up on the south side, then hit the red light approaching SDA. 

Across the intersection, on the south side, there is an empty lot.  I've often wondered who owns this, and why no one has ever built anything on it, as far as I can remember.  There are always signs for garage sales, plant sales, poinsettia sales, christmas tree sales planted there, and a couple of cars are ususally parked adjacent to or along the curb line with obvious sale signs.    I've never seen it full of weeds or trash, so someone must maintain it. 

I've begun to notice that there are usually some people selling stuff on the lot.  Not commercial stuff, things that are pretty well worn, clothing and all sorts of random stuff, obviously used.  Today there were two tables, with a lady sitting on a chair behind them.  A string was tied between the two tables and what looked like kids clothes on hangers drooped towards the blanket placed underneath them- a bit of protection from the bare earth. 

There were 5 men standing there, chatting with the woman.  And oh,  by the way, no garage in sight.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The Rite Aid near my house has a new banner.  The garden section didn't work.  No one was ever out there, people probably stole stuff, half of it wasn't marked, and the plants they offered were never that great in the first place, definitely not worth trying to find an employee to find out how much it was.

The new banner says "Check out our new expanded wine section".  I knew they sold wine, have always thought it was bizarre that a drug store sold wine, but now it seems every store is trying to sell everything, and in my view, that's shooting yourself in the foot.

With the move towards farmer's market, and locally grown food, why would you buy groceries at Target or WalMart?  For that matter, why would you buy produce at a supermarket?  The variety maybe?  But if it isn't in season, it came a long way on a truck to get here.  And food in a gas station?  I'm still trying to get my head around that one.  It's not like it is your only choice.

A chef friend posted an article from somewhere that told the story of a yam from a supermarket that wouldn't "sprout" when you stuck it in water, suspended in a glass jar by strategically placed toothpicks.  We always did that with potatoes when we were kids, it was fun to watch the vines grow out of that old brown potato (this was in the days before new potatoes existed- at least in my family).  That yam just sat there, not a nubbin, not a root, definitely not a vine.  It's genetic character had eventually devolved to the point where the life was sucked out of it.

I've been studying the donors to the no on 37 campaign.  That's the issue where food companies would have to indicate if they used ingredients that were genetically modified.  It's a horrifying idea that this stuff is in the food we eat and they are allowed to use it.  It pisses me off.

Kashi.  Why would Kashi support a campaign like this with financial contributions.  Before I posted this I'm went to their site to see what they say.
Wow. It's the Kashi Go Lean cereal I've been buying, for years now.  All those other ones were too sweet for me.  The commitment is disappointing, and was written by the HR dept, the attorney and a PR firm.  Authentic, heartfelt....not.

I really don't know what I'd do if it were my company.  I have nothing against Kashi personally or Kelloggs- if people will eat stuff they aren't sure about, then companies will sell it.  I just would like to have the choice - and to not have to search for the information that is important to me, that companies of this size have been aware of for quite some time, and yet continued to promote themselves as "healthy" "natural" (in what universe). 

All of this is just an opinion.  My personal opinion.  This doesn't mean that it's valid, that I have done significant research on the subject, or that anything I've read or overheard is really true.  I recognize that, but do you?  Something to think about.

Copyright/All rights reserved SharonJCorrigan 2012


Listen when I say we have nothing in common
Listen when I say we are not a fit
Don't play to my nicer nature
It will eventually turn mean
When I get tired of the guilt of trying to be nice.

Let's shake hands and walk back to our corners.
Get out of the ring, and find a new partner.
Someone who perhaps isn't an identical twin
but has the same basic values.

Time is precious.
That is the most important thing I could say to someone younger.
That and travel is addicting.
Get out of your box.
Try not to call people names.
Try not to ruin people's days.
But be true to yourself, always.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
Not an original thought, but worth repeating, reminding.

Listen, I never hide my thoughts, just try to cloak them in manners.
I don't want to smother anyone.
I don't want to tell a friend, don't talk about that stuff around me.
I don't want to say, I have no interest in an hour long, or even a half hour long
political discussion - that is not fun for me, it makes my jaw tight and my head ache.
I don't want to discuss sports.  Watching other people playing games bores me when there are so many other things to do.

At this point in my life, I'd rather continue to walk alone than to sit and smile at someone who isn't a fit for me, as a friend or a lover.  I need to learn to let go of the guilt, and cut it off at the early stages, not whittle away at the string that is frayed from the start.

Listen when I say we have nothing in common.
Listen when I saay we are not a fit.
Don't play to my nicer nature
It will eventually turn mean
Trying to be nice

copyright/all rights reserved sharonjcorrigan2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sacred Cows Rev 1

I spot a whole herd of them rolling up from behind, approaching the intersection of two busy roads at full speed.  The alpha male yells rolling, and the group shoots through the red light barely missed by a woman in a car trying to obey the traffic laws.

I’m sick of the arrogance of bike riders.  I’m not going to call them anything else.  Anything more sophisticated.  How can the guys look in the mirror in those little tight pants and stupid shirts advertising some brand?  Did they pay for that?  And watching them walk when they manage to detach from the bikes, little mincing steps, a funny gait, funnier even than my halting limp when my hip is acting up.

You hear complaints all the time from these guys.  I know there are girls too, but most of what I see is guys or girls with too much testosterone who wants to be boys.  That asshole, they say, opened his car door right in front of me, almost nailed me.  No, I wasn’t in the bike lane; I don’t have to stay in the bike lane I can go in any lane I want.  

No.  it doesn’t bother me that I sound like a narcissist.  I guess I am. I’m saving the earth, reducing my carbon footprint.  But aren’t you causing vehicles to idle when you block their path, how does that make sense when you have convinced entire counties, entire regions to give you your own lane, but you choose to tool all over the place.  Sorry, bad choice of words.
Maybe I’m just ignorant, I say.  I thought the traffic laws were for everyone using public roads, but apparently I missed some exemption for bikes.  It’s just too common to see the bikes shooting through a red light for there not to be an exemption.

I have a bike.  A $400 Trek bike sitting in my garage.  I’ve got the helmet too, and a pump in case the tires lose air away from home.  I’ve ridden it once for 10 minutes- in the parking lot behind the bike shop where I bought it.  It’s been in my car twice, the first time taking it home, the second time taking it back for a tune up so I could ride it since it’s been sitting in the garage for so long.  I can ride a bike.  I can.  I just don’t find it that entertaining.  I like to walk.  When I walk I can actually look around at the scenery, at houses, at peoples garden’s, chat with dog walkers and random strangers reading books on benches, or feeding bread to the birds.  When you ride a bike, you can really only look ahead, if you want to ride safely that is.  Or you should only look ahead.
I live in a beach town, where herds are on the road every day.  Either they are all trust fund babies, self-employed, or lost their license to a DUI, they like to ride side by side and chat.  6 or seven of them, taking up the bike lane plus the right lane, the turn lane.  I particularly love it when I need to make a right turn, but there are 10 bike riders spread out chatting away, leaning on one leg, totally unaware they are holding up an entire line of traffic. 

Maybe there is some study showing you are less likely to be hit in a herd.  Maybe it makes you more visible for some nut that is sick and tired of waiting for you, who is sick and tired of being late for work, late for appointments, late for lunch.

I’ve heard that bike riders love hot tubs, they love getting naked with other bike riders and showing up their negative body fat ratio.  Jagged hip bones, bruised by his rib cage in an intimate moment.  Where did he go, rolled right off the bed, didn’t even make a dent in the mattress.  Hope he can get up.  And out.
I have friends who are bike riders, or acquaintances who are bike riders.  Seem like nice enough people.  They do lots of outdoor stuff like hiking and camping.  I got that out of my system in Girl Scouts, at church camps when I was a kid.  I prefer a comfy bed, and food without dirt and twigs in it.  Real food not rehydrated food.   

I think bike riders get to eat lots of carbs though.  Like runners, they get to eat pasta and bread, fuel they call it.  That part I would like.  I would also like it if there were bike paths and no car traffic, and no aggressive bike riders permitted.  I would give them fines if they hogged the lane, tailgated, or cut me off.  I don’t need any gears on my bike, I’m not going to go up mountains, or across open fields, or (gasp) up big hills, or even small hills.
I don’t necessarily think I’m better than a bike rider, or smarter, or more interesting.  I just don’t get it; don’t get spending my spare time riding on or in a vehicle, except as a means to get somewhere.  Just riding to get exercise, or to take up time on a sunny day when I could be reading, or drinking wine with friends, or meditating.  I don’t get it.  I just don’t.

But you know what.  I stop at red lights.  I look both ways before I cross the street, I try to be aware of everything and everyone around me, whether I’m driving or walking or sitting somewhere.  I use my turn signals so people don’t have to be psychic to understand what I’m planning to do.  If I miss my turn, or miss my exit on a freeway, I don’t back up into traffic.  That one, I’m sorry, is just stupid and bizarre.  I’ve seen people back up on exit ramps from the freeway because they were in the wrong lane and got caught.  So go on ahead and turn around, what can I say?
to be continued
copyright2012sharonjcorrigan all rights reserved

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Journey Begins 2012 Part 1 Rev 1

Caravane du Livre 2012

My path to this journey began in 2004.  I was on my way to work in San Diego, California on a commuter train “The Coaster”.  I had noticed a girl sitting in the same car as I normally sit, and as many of us do, we smile hello each afternoon at each other.  On this day, it was crowded, and I selected a seat across from this girl.  She told me her name was Jamila, and she was a traveling bookseller from Marrakech.  She was here studying English, and today was her final day before she returned home.  She told me about her book project, and as she departed the train she handed me her name on a piece of paper and said “Google me”. 

In the days or months ahead, I did just that.  I found many articles about her in many languages.  I looked at her website, I told my friends about my encounter with a girl from Morocco.  I had lived in Sydney Australia from 89-94.  One of my boyfriends during this period was a Moroccan man named Omar who was a wonderful cook.  He was from a village outside of Casablanca, his father a Berber and his mother from Persia.  Omar’s business partner was a man named Henri, also from Casablanca, but a French man.  Omar used to create dinner parties every Sunday afternoon where we and all of our friends feasted on his Moroccan concoctions and tea.

In 2010 I made a decision to take a cruise in the Mediterranean out of Barcelona.  I figured it was time for me to travel in a herd, so that if I go missing, someone might notice.  When looking at the cruise route on the Internet, I saw that Morocco was very close, and very cheap to fly to, from Barcelona.  I managed to find the email for Jamila, and sent her a note asking her if she remembered me, from that one conversation years ago, and told her I was considering coming to Marrakech for a few days after my cruise.  She responded quickly, and said “come on down”.   I booked my airfare from Barcelona to Madrid to Casablanca to Marrakech.  I think I had only 5 days left of vacation.

I was very happy to escape the cruise and fly to Morocco.  Jamila had assisted in finding accommodation at a riad near her home for me at a very reasonable price, operated by a couple from France.  I used my iPhone translator to communicate with this couple and book.  The woman and her friend picked me up from the airport and drove me to the riad.  It was after dark, and I was amazed at the wide streets, and modern looking hotels and fountains on the way.  The riad was very beautiful with tiled walls, built around a central courtyard and a terraced roof for lounging and breakfast, which at night was covered by a canvas roof.

I discovered that the caravane du livre for 2010 was beginning the day after I had to return home, but that many of the participants were staying at the same riad.  Jamila’s friend Francoise, who spoke some English, was arriving on my second or third day.  The others spoke only French or Italian, so I looked forward to her arrival.  I hung out with Jamila, went to the library (bookstore), and to a clothing designer who did custom djellebah including very elaborate gowns for weddings and formal dress.  Jamila also found a driver for me who drove me out to Imlil, a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains for a day so I could wander around.  I spend another day with her friend Malika, a French/Arabic language teacher, and we shopped and made a tagine at her apartment and became friends.  I had a magical few days before returning to Barcelona to fly home. In Barcelona, I discovered that the volcano had erupted in Greenland and CNN was reporting all airports in Europe were closed down.   I wished I could accompany them on the caravane, but my vacation time was over, and my money was gone.

I decided I would return in 2011 and participate in the Caravane.  On my 60th birthday in 2010, I set a box in the corner of my party, asking my friends to contribute to my voyage, if they wished.  I had printed out copies of the Reflections article written by Francoise and people at my party were reading it.  When the party was over, I discovered that my friends had donated almost $800 US dollars towards my trip.  I had told them that I would use ½ for my airfare, and the other ½ I would give to Jamila for her use in operating the caravane. 

As the year progressed, I began having pain in my right hip, and was afraid I would not be able to physically take part in the Caravane.  I got an email from Jamila that her sister Bouchara was coming to visit their childhood friend near my home.  On Thanksgiving Day 2010, I went to meet her and their friend Souda, and gave her the money intended for Jamila so that she would still have it for the 2011 Caravane as I planned.  At the beginning of 2010 my hip was not getting better and I decided that I should not make the trip that year.  After medical advice, it was determined that this pain was something that I would have to live with and tolerate—I could not have surgery, but could take shots or pain medication to relieve the symptoms- which I chose not to do.  I was happy that Bouchara had visited so I had fulfilled my plan to help with funding.

I began to focus on the Caravane for 2012.  For the first time I began contributing to a retirement fund out of my paycheck, and tried to live on less money and a budget for the first time in my life. I was afraid that I would not be able to afford to go back to Morocco.  At the beginning of the year, I decided I was definitely going to go no matter what, and booked and paid for almost everything I could control, outside of food and some ground transportation.  I told Jamila via email that I was coming.  In February I wired the money for the Caravane to Francoise, and began planning my trip.

MARRAKECH 2012                          

I arrived on 20 April 2012 and had arranged for a driver to deliver me to the riad I had found online, Dar Atta.  As we drove into the old city, I saw the artist’s cooperative where I had bought hand cream for Jamila’s mother on my last visit.  The driver turned left into the next street, and there was my home base for this trip.  I knew where I was, it was the perfect location for me.

I got settled in my room and called Jamila.  She had invited me to her parents’ home at 8:00pm and it was now about 7:30pm Marrakech time.  She asked me to meet her at Café Malizia which was in the same building as her apartment, and near her parents’ home.  With the help of the riad manager, I got a cab and negotiated the fare to the café.  I stood on the corner, and called Jamila to let her know I arrived.  In just a few minutes I heard “Sharon!” and was greeted by my friend.

We got into the car and drove to her parents’ home.  We entered the front door, and I was greeted by her mother, all three of her sisters, her three nieces, and Francoise.  Our meal tonight was prepared by the nieces, all youngsters (I know Ghita was 10, but am not sure of other ages).  We had two types of soup, pasta, bruschetta with tomato and garlic and lots of bread – and wonderful mint tea. Jamila and I tried to figure out applications on the iPhone while we waited for dinner to be served.   We had a lovely meal with all the ladies, and then Jamila drove Francoise and I back to our accommodations, which by coincidence were on the same street. 

I went straight to bed, it was around midnight, and slept in the next morning.  I walked up two levels to the breakfast room in the riad, and had my first breakfast.  Great strong espresso coffee, Moroccan bread, some sort of muffin, some sort of pastry, a crepe, orange juice and three kinds of jam (orange, apricot and strawberry).  I knew that Francoise and Houda were going to a jewelry exhibition, so I tried to text Francoise to join them, but knew I was probably too late.  I finished breakfast and walked over to the Katoubia mosque and past the tombs, the long way into the souks. I stopped at one of the hotels with the covered patio and had a coffee for an hour or so, just watching the world go by.  Snake charmers, men with monkeys, henna tattoo ladies, young men doing acrobatic tricks, the orange juice sellers, the guys with the traditional outfits, musicians, and the horse drawn carriages lined up outside the Club Med (yes- right in the entrance to the djema al fna-   I refreshed my memory of my location and wandered through the souks reminding myself of the different sections, leather, babouche, textiles, carpets, ironwork, jewelry, spices, nuts and everything imaginable.  I headed back out of the square and had lunch at the same restaurant I had in 2010, and had a coffee and a margarita pizza flatbread. 

It was hot and muggy and dusty and crowded.  I walked back towards the riad, making a stop at the artist’s cooperative and buying a tunic and a striped djellabah.  I returned to the riad and checked on messages and email in the central patio before taking a quick nap, and catching the cab to café malizia again.  Tonight I would meet the 3 ladies from Milan who were also joining us for dinner at Jamila’s parents home.  

Jamila picked me up and dropped me off at the home, where we were shortly joined by the rest of the women.  We had another wonderful meal of the coated chicken that I was too full to eat when it was served in 2010, that is one of the best meals I have had in my life.  You soak up the paste and the juice as you rip off pieces of chicken with a piece of bread.  This is a communal feast and this time I was ready, and soon my fingers were coated with the yummy, oily, paste.  I listened to everyone speaking the Italian/French/Arabic combo language, and then jamila took the ladies home to their riad, while Francoise and Bouchara talked upstairs,

I sat with her mother, and sisters, and niece and watched the Moroccan version of American Idol.  All the ladies were enthusiastic with the traditional singers, but bored when one younger girl tried to sing in western fashion.   I was very tired and ready for sleep, and eventually Francoise came back down, we said out goodbyes, and Houda and her husband and the youngest niece Sarah drove us back to our riads.  I played peek a boo with Sarah on the 15 minute drive. At the last roundabout prior to entering the old city, we got stopped by the police who checked the car registration and indicated we had made a rolling stop.  The policeman was quite amiable, and we soon were dropped off.   Francoise told me they would pick me up the following morning at 9:00am. 

I told the riad manager I would be leaving at 9:00.  There were many more guests now and the patio area was full, and the hamman area on the top floor had many people, looked like a party going on.  They departed pretty quickly, and I repacked for the caravane and went to sleep.  I awoke and went up the two flights for my breakfast, and saw many French families with lots of young children.  I sat at the bar area and finished up my breakfast, and returned to my room, and hauled all my luggage downstairs.  I paid for my two nights and dropped off one suitcase in the manager’s office for my return on the 26th.  The door rang and I ran up the flight of stairs to ground level and the beginning of our journey.