Week 44: Color My Day

Okay, I’m going to cheat a little on this blog. I’m going to write about something that I have actually done before. I know, I know, I did set up my own rules for my 50 Weeks to 50 blog…I’m only supposed to blog about doing things I have never done before. And yes indeed I did the Color Run last year for the first time with some friends, and this year we did it again with a few more friends. But it was a lot of fun, and well, I’m a little behind with my blogging, so it’s my blog and I can break the rules if I want to.

colorrunwalkrun

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I-15 WTF!!! Why is there so much traffic, why did we go this way, are there really this many people doing the Color Run, will there be any color dust left, and is it okay to pee on the side of the freeway? These were the questions running through my head and spoken in the car as we were stuck on the 15 freeway southbound trying to exit for Qualcomm Stadium, aka the Q. We met early enough — 6:30 am in front of our local Starbucks — but maybe we spent too much time chatting with each other and to friends who we saw that were getting up way too early on a Saturday morning and to get their cup of Joe.

 

Regardless, by the time we got close to the event, the freeway was a parking lot. The last time I hit that kind of freeway parking lot, was in 1992 when the Rodney King verdict was announced and Los Angeles rioted. We had decided to get in the parking lot on the 405 freeway south and slowly escape to San Diego. Soon thereafter we moved permanently to San Diego, and here I still am.

colorruntraffic

We spent approximately one hour trying to get into the Q. While waiting in the freeway parking lot, we were reading Facebook posts of others already there and starting the race. Are you kidding me? I swear they are going to run out of color. Oh, and yes I was trying to hold my pee and not drink my Starbucks hot chocolate. In the meantime, cars really don’t understand the traffic etiquette of letting in one car in at a time, and no if you are going to stop in the middle of the freeway to sneak in, we are not letting you! Sheesh people. Can you say road rage?

colorrunpotty

Finally, once we get in, sweet Gigi parks right next to a port-a-potty. That is a true friend! In our car was me, Gigi, Lynn and Maria. The other car held Michele, Marie, Karen and her foreign exchange student house guest Taki. Now came the texting part of where the heck are you in this crowd of 10,000 soon to be colorful people. Thankfully we found each other, and decided to take our time, look at the store products and register wristbands. We were in no hurry. The Color Run lets participants go in waves, and heck, it took forever to get in, so we are taking our time. This is supposed to be a stress-free morning dang it!

colorrungroup    

BLUE We head on over to the start line where a large group is still waiting. Every few minutes a group is allowed to begin their run or walk. Our whole group will be walking. In the meantime, we get pumped up by dancing to the music, waving our hands in the air, shaking our booties — wait, or was that just me? Anyway, we wake up and get excited for our color walk.

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colorrunstart3

We get closer and closer to the front, take a number of photos (we take photos all morning long), and before you know it, we are released! Woohoo, blue dust here we come! Blue is my favorite color, it’s a very calming color and I’m trying to relax after the traffic stressed morning.

colorrunalcatel  colorrunmomchild

During the blue leg of the course, we spend time chatting and catching up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives. I will say that having sons makes for a whole different life than having daughters, and then those that have both, what a combo. Okay, here comes the blue arch and dusters…we cover our noses and mouths with our bandanas so as not to inhale. As we slowly walk by the dust thrower volunteers, we make sure to get blue all over us, front and back, head to toe. Whoa, first color done, we laugh at ourselves, what a sight to see! One guy looks like he’s a performer from the Blue Man Group. Four more colors to go.

colorrunblue  colorrunblueman

YELLOW I like walking with friends. You really get closer I believe, since you give each other your undivided attention. Plus I would probably trip and break an ankle if I was on my phone while talking to friends, which would serve me right. Now we are discussing jobs, retirement, travel, oh and we talk about sex too. Yes men, women talk about sex, probably more than you men. Us women like to research all topics, and well, you know at this age, things change and we need to discuss. Anyway, we had such interesting discussions that before you know it we’re almost at the yellow arch. Same routine, bandanas up, expose both sides of the body to the yellow dust. Take pictures. I just got a new phone and I’m getting dust all over it. At least mellow yellow doesn’t show up as much, so onward to pink!

colorrunyellow2

   colorrunyellow

 

colorrunwater

PINK Ahh, pink. October is the month to wear pink in honor of breast cancer awareness, so yay for pink! Although I don’t consider myself a pink person, I am ready to get lots of pink on me. But the sun has decided to come out, and it’s getting a little hot. I am ready for the water station, since silly me forgot to grab a water bottle thinking there would be plenty along the way. By the time we get to one, it looks like they are starting to run out. Great we’re only half way through and I’m thinking that I will die of thirst. Not really, but I could have sworn there were more water stations last year, which is why I didn’t bring my own water. As I get older I try and reduce the amount of “stuff” I carry around with me, but I guess it’s still best to be prepared. Anyway, we are a group and my group makes sure everyone has water by grabbing additional cups. Extras we give to other participants who look like they need water. Everybody looks out for everyone, that’s what you call humanity.

colorrungrppink

Pink is a popular color and we all try and get pinked up. In the front and in the back, in our hair, just everywhere! The little girls especially love it too. As the residual pink powder begins to form thick layers on the asphalt, we see the lively youth lay on the ground and make pink angels. To be young again…is in your heart. Darn, I should have made a pink angel.

colorrunpinkangels

PURPLE Walking with friends, makes the time go by quickly, and we’re heading to the purple zone. By this time we start talking about kids and college. Some of us already have kids out of college, some in college, some applying to college, and some whose kids are too young to think about college. I love having friends that can share the experiences they’ve had with their older kids to help you guide your younger kids. You can learn a lot by walking with friends, and that is not an app.

colorrunpurple2  colorrunpurple

We talk about how the whole applying to and going to college seems so much more stressful than back in our day. As a parent you wish to be able to take that stress away from them. Okay purple, lay it on. Purple is the feminist’s color so lay it on thick baby. It’s also a color for royalty… did I tell you we were wearing tiaras? I just happen to keep one handy for such occasions.

colorrunteddy  colorrunmariaunicorn

GREEN Down to the final stretch. Our feet were getting tired, the sun felt hotter, and I was getting hungry. Our talk begins to revolve around more immediate plans. What are we doing today, the weekend, this week. We realize that eventually our little adventures end and it’s back to the day-to-day business of life — kids, home, work, grocery shopping, loads and loads of laundry. There are times when I wish I was Jeannie, so I can cross my arms and blink. Knowing we had to go back home soon made this leg of the walk seem so much longer. And like most things you don’t want to deal with, it eventually creeps up on you. Well, I do have some fun plans for the weekend…I wonder if I can get an hour nap in before I have to get going again…

  colorrunconfetti  colorrunjemfinish

CONFETTI I don’t even remember the green dust getting on me, because right at the finish line confetti was also being thrown about. Wait, I need to take pictures, darn I’m getting my phone so dirty – can my phone take a picture of my phone? Oh well, we try to all gather at the finish line for more photo opps, there are many staged areas for photos. We try our hand at the powder filled drums; the inside of my nose must look interesting. We also make sure to grab the typical giveaways of drinks and power bars. The music is still going and more color dust is being thrown around, what a fun morning, I don’t really want it to end. The music suddenly stops declaring the official stop time, but the dancing stays within my heart.

colorrundrums  colorrunmariagigi  colorrunkaleidescope  colorrunend

WASH I walk into my house and daintily try to hop into the shower without leaving a trail of color dust on the carpet. Ahh, the hot water feels good, and I look down towards the shower drain to witness see the colors of the rainbow down the drain. I wished I had a camera in the shower, it was lovely how all the colors of the rainbow mix together to form a beautiful pattern, just like all our cultures. Hmm, the Color Run may be over, but I will always want a colorful life.

colorrunkissme

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The Color Run, www.thecolorrun.com. The Color Run in San Diego may be over, but it will be back again next year. If you can’t wait until then, there are many Color Runs throughout the U.S., as well as many other countries. It can become some sort of travel to do list!

 

Week 43: Where There’s A Will

Death is not a subject we like to talk or think about. So it is natural to delay thinking about writing wills. I have never written a will for myself, so writing one was actually on my 50 Weeks to 50 list. I should have done it long ago, when my kids were born, but neither I nor Brian ever felt a desire to do so, probably thinking, oh well, the other will still be around. But then something happens, and you realize…I guess it’s time to write a will.

 

My good friend Sharon’s dad, Tom Ferrier, recently passed away. He was truly an all-around great person. He, like many grandparents in the UC area, along with his wife GeeGee, was a constant spectator at his grandchildren’s sporting events. That’s how we got to know him, since our sons and Sharon’s sons were always playing sports together. He was very supportive of his family, and ours too, and told me that he enjoyed reading my blog. Therefore, this post is in his honor. Tom, since you always had everything in order, it’s time for me to get my sh… um, paperwork together.

 

Again, not that I’m anticipating anything soon (which is why I don’t call this blog a Bucket List), but it’s best to be proactive and practice preventative measures.

 

Now, what does one put in a will? Of course, there are the obvious details of who receives your assets (if any)? Since I’ve procrastinated, my kids are almost legally adults, but if they were much younger — who would raise them, especially if for some horrible reason, both parents passed? How do you make sure their lives remain stable, and that they are raised in a manner which you would approve? Relatives, friends? And who handles their finances? Again, relatives, friends, banks?

 

What about all your personal stuff? Do you designate who gets each photo or piece of heirloom china, or make it a free for all? Do I want things sold in an estate sale, or divided up amongst friends and family? A family I know had their adult kids label all the things they wanted when the parents passed, I thought that was a little morbid.

 

Then there’s thinking about whether to have Living Trusts, Do Not Resuscitate Orders, where to store all these important papers for your family to find, and what to do with all your social media accounts? Now, it may sound like a trivial thing to spend time on, but seriously, what do you want done with your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram? Or if you are a blogger like me, what do you do with your blog website? Do you want everything to continue as some sort of post mortem memorial? Or taken down instantly?

 

Plus you need to leave login info and passwords. It’s really quite a bit of work, because in preparing this info for my own will — I needed to go into each account and login to make sure I had the correct info. Then if you change passwords, you’ll need to update your Social Media Will attachment. It’s something that you need to continually update and revise. Because the way technology is, there’s probably a new social media platform that will be the next big thing before you even finish writing down all that info. I bet there’s an app you can download on your phone to make it easier, but make sure to leave the password for your phone.

 

In my business of valuing intellectual property rights, many projects for which we are hired include valuations of post mortem rights of publicity. Now, of course, these are usually for well known celebrities, artists or musicians, but who knows, what if my blog becomes a famous written material, what would my works be worth after death? Some famous people are worth more dead than when they were alive. Sad, but true. Their heirs benefit (depending where they lived or died – state laws prevail).

 

I didn’t intend for this blog to be about business, but you do have to think about what you want done with all your “stuff” when your physical body dies. Again, you can have the attitude of to hell with all my heirs, they can duke it out amongst themselves; or I would like to make the transition as painless as possible. I went for the middle road.

 

I’m not going to divulge what’s in my current version, but realize that as time goes on, you will most likely need to revise your will or make additions, known as codicils. Maybe I should go into the practice of writing wills for people.

 

Finally, you need to think about the celebration…you know, the celebration of your life. Well, I consider it a celebration. What kind of party should it be? Quick and casual, or prolonged and fancy, or somewhere in between. And do you want to be buried six feet under, burned into ashes, or frozen til they find a cure for whatever took you away. Once again, you can decide to leave no instructions about post death events and leave it up to your heirs to argue about.

 

I still haven’t written those instructions down myself. I will probably name a committee…I try to be inclusive at times…probably the same folks planning my birthday party. Food. Drink. Decor. Invites. Music. Equipment. Like a dream wedding, do you have thoughts about the perfect funeral and reception? Maybe I’ll have a destination funeral. I love to travel, so why not travel in death as you do in life? Can you have a pop-up funeral?

 

Ehh, F it, I’ve done enough event planning in life, death is time to rest.

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We will miss you Tom. As your son-in-law Joe said, you are a renaissance man in the true sense of the term. Your family put together a wonderful tribute and gathering in your honor, I’m sure you’re very proud of them and the legacy you left.

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The best gift you can leave your heirs is your legacy. Now is the time to decide what your legacy will be. Make it one from your heart, and one that will make a difference. Love you all.

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Resources: The State Bar of California offers a simple will that you can pretty much fill in the blanks. It will at least give you a general direction. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/SimpleWill.aspx. AARP has a number of articles and resources on writing wills, including a Social Media Will template. www.aarp.org

Week 42: This Ain’t My First Rodeo…Well, Actually It Is

We visited a Pow Wow (see week 38), so it makes sense to visit a rodeo too, right? My original plan was to experience Wasteland Weekend in the Mojave Desert, but those plans had to be put aside. So instead I was looking for something local, and the Poway Rodeo was going on. Perfect, I had never been to a rodeo, so this will be my first one.

rodeolines  rodeocrowd

Well, I didn’t realize how many people go to a rodeo…I guess it was a Saturday night in Poway, what else are you going to do? And since it wasn’t that far from Richard’s place, we thought we had plenty of time to get there. Well, we were mistaken. First off we hit long lines to park the car, then more long lines to buy tickets. Being a somewhat spur of the moment activity, we didn’t get tickets online, plus only general admission were available. I don’t know if there was a maximum capacity for the rodeo, because it felt like they exceeded it. Ushers kept telling people to move down on the hard wooden stadium seats towards the center to fit in more people, we eventually got squished into a couple spots close to the aisle. Packed like sardines, we try and enjoy the show, realizing there’s no way we’re going to get up from these seats until it was over.

rodeoflag

Since we are somewhat comparing the event to the Pow Wow, it really was more like a show rather than an experience. They have female riders ride by with their horses carrying the sponsor flags, which happens every now and then throughout the night. Reminded me of the girls at boxing matches that walk around the ring announcing the next round, but at least the rodeo women were covered up properly.

rodeoteam  rodeoroping

The show continues in a very orderly fashion, and I will say the events happen so quick, I apologize for my lack of clear pictures. The tie-down roping guys get down to business, and as you can imagine, the riders throw a rope around the calf’s neck, jump off their horses and tie down the calf’s feet. The same goes for steer wrestling, where the rider drops down from his horse and wrestles the animal to the ground with his bare hands. The team roping event lasts a little longer with one rider roping around the horns of a steer, while the other rider tries to rope around the back legs — the goal is to get both legs, which seems really difficult.

rodeobullrider2  rodeohorse  rodeohorse2  rodeoriderswait

Watching the bareback riding, the saddle bronc riding, and the bull riding gave me mixed feelings. While you can appreciate the riders skill in staying on the bucking animals, I felt it somewhat sad for the animals to have that flank strap attached to them to help encourage the bucking. Apparently, they do not constrict the animals testicles, but close enough it seems that it’s unnaturally irritating. You men can relate, right? And you know those bulls really don’t like it, because there were only four riders competing. Why? Apparently, it has not been a very healthy season for bull riders.

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Every now and then you get the cheesy rodeo clown doing his act, including the invisible flea making the climb up the ladder and dropping into a bucket of water resulting in a big splash..

rodeodrill  rodeobarrelrider

I did enjoy the female horse drill team, riding around and creating different formations. I also liked the primarily female adult and junior barrel races (there was one male teen in the junior races). In the barrel races, there are three barrels spread apart in the ring and the rider starts at one end, rides around all three barrels and speeds back. It’s all based on speed and time is added if a barrel is knocked over. Exciting and to the point.

rodeomuttongrp  rodeomutton

Now the mutton bustin races. Well, these races kind of come off as cute, but I have so-so feelings on this one. Here kids, as young as three, ride sheep and hold on for dear life as long as they can. The sheep tend to run as quickly as they could out of the chute, with most of the kids falling off quite quickly. There was only one sheep that took it’s with the young rider fully embracing the animal. They do wear helmets, and lots of people are nearby. But I don’t know…I guess it’s supposed to promote the bronco riding type of sport for the future, and supposedly many of them continue on. I guess it’s what you are exposed to as a kid. My sons were exposed to baseball, so they play baseball. If you’re exposed to mutton bustin, you become a bull rider?

rodeovendors

The best part of the night…the New Zealand meat and cheese pie! Sorry there’s no photo, we ate it too quickly. Flaky crust, meaty meat, and melted cheesiness; warm and tasty down my throat. Yummy.

 rodeopano

We decided not to stay for the free Rodeo Dance, and instead waited with the herds to slowly get out, and just as slowly drive out. That’s what cowboys do, drive out the herds.

rodeorichard

In comparison, Richard and I both liked the authenticity of the pow wow, whereas the rodeo felt too much like a staged show. Oh, I forgot to mention, I really didn’t like the announcer having the crowd yell out “yee haw” when he mentions “cowboys”, and when he says “native americans”, the crowd is supposed to go “woo woo, woo woo” while moving your hands back and forth in front of your mouth — you know the sound like, when Tommy Boy says “Luke I am your father” in front of the fan. It just didn’t sit right with me, especially in this day and age. Am I getting sensitive in my old age? I think I would have much rather visited a dude ranch type of place and get my hands dirty…

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Poway Rodeo, www.powayrodeo.com, $19 general admission, to $60 for Silver Buckle seating with food. Next year’s date is not yet posted.

Week 40: Island Girl Ink

I’ve been in physical pain lately, so what’s a little more pain? I had previously scheduled an appointment with visiting tattoo artist Soane Tavataina Paninia, who is French Polynesian and now makes his home in Rapa Nui on Easter Island. It was his last week in San Diego inking at the Island TAT Tattoo Shop in Lemon Grove, so I was determined to keep my appointment and make sure my tattoo would be something special.

 

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Getting a tattoo was on my 50 Weeks list, but with a question mark. I have always been hesitant to having something on my body so permanent. But this time, quite frankly, I was going to be a hypocrite. I always warned my kids not to get a tattoo because what you like now may not be something you want on your body 50 years from now. Well, now that I’m approaching 50, I’m a little more certain of what I want, just a little.

 

I wanted a dragon and scorpion tattoo. Why? Well, my astrological sign is Scorpio, and I was born in the Year of the Dragon. What a combo, right? So, I thought it would make a nice combo in a tattoo.

 

My friend Rosey suggested Island TAT, which hey I do come from a country with over 7,000 islands, and I’ve always liked the island/tribal look. And since Soane was visiting just at this time and had a couple openings, I felt it was meant to be. Because of the language barrier (Soane speaks French and Spanish), Island TAT resident artist Felix Santos was the one who I consulted with for my design and actually drew it for me. The dragon and scorpion intertwined, with an island tribal feel – perfect.

 

So one afternoon we go to Island TAT for my tattoo. Gigi went with me for support, especially since she has been my unofficial nurse during my pain filled days. Again, I was still in some pain that day, but what the heck, it’s now or never.

tatsleep

We go to the tattoo room, and we verify the location of my tattoo — a secret spot (see if you can figure it out – oh wait, the pictures give it away). I lay down, expose myself, and close my eyes. I grab Gigi’s hand, tight squeeze as if I’m in labor. He rubs alcohol on the spot, and I hear the tattoo machine turn on. This is why I haven’t been to the dentist in ages, I hate hearing the machines. Soane begins. Hmm, doesn’t really hurt, so I let go of Gigi’s hand. I think I will take a nap.

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced the pain of childbirth, including getting induced with pitocin with no epidural for hours — I was trying to be supermom and give birth without drugs, stupid me. But the insertion of the tattoo needles wasn’t that painful at all. Depending on the area he was working on, the worst I felt was a sort of pinching. I think the more fat you have, the less pain you experience. Later when Soane was filling in certain areas, it actually seemed a little ticklish.

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The inking procedure lasted a little more than an hour, and I was pretty relaxed the whole time laying there. My other pain seemed to have diminished too. It was almost like getting a massage, but not really.

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When it was complete and I took a look, wow, I immediately thought it was beautiful. I admit it was larger than what it seemed on paper, but I suddenly felt so proud to have such an artistic piece on my body. Now, I sort of wished it was in a more visible part of my body. I want to show it off, but I will need to find some creative cut out clothing designs.

tat1

Although getting a tattoo was a question mark item on my 50 Weeks list, I’m glad I got inked. Would I get another one? Yes, but it has been commented to me that it’s great that I got it checked off my list, but please do not get another one. I guess I will comply.

 

What do my teenage sons think? They think I’m crazy. That I’m getting old and it will become a glob later. And it’s a good thing I didn’t get a tramp stamp.

 

As Nike says, just do it.

 

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Island TAT Tattoo Shop, 7912 Lester Ave., Lemon Grove, CA 91945, 619.469.1583, www.islandtat2.com, Facebook: Island TAT Tattoo Shop. Tattoos are not cheap, my design total was $200, designed by Felix and inked by Saone. Elaborate tattoos can take hours, and over several days and will be priced accordingly. Soane returns to San Diego once a year and is also on Facebook: Soane Tavataina Paninia

tatartist  islandtatfelix

Week 39: Stomping on Those Grapes

I Love Lucy, and one of my favorite episodes was Lucy’s Italian Movie shown in 1956 — of course I was watching reruns. While in Italy, a film producer asks Lucy if she’d be interested in auditioning for his new film entitled “Bitter Grapes.” To do some research for the audition, Lucy goes to one of the only non-automated wineries left in the area outside of Rome, gets picked to crush the grapes due to her large feet. And as situations always go with Lucy, she eventually gets in a falling down, grape soaked brawl with the Italian woman stomping in the barrel alongside her.

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Being that grape stomping was on my list (A few of Lucy’s antics are on my list, and for one I just couldn’t get that candy factory job!), and we were starting birthday month celebrations for my friend Lynn, the annual Julian Grape Stomp Festa was the perfect activity for this week.

 festabuckets

It was another hot weekend, but we didn’t think much of it. Mistake. As Lynn, Gigi and I make our way north, then east, through Poway and past trailheads to popular mountain hikes, down the main street of Ramona to rolling hills to Santa Ysabel, then a right into the curvy mountain roads when at Wynola we turn left towards the outskirts of Julian to our final destination: the Menghini Winery. I look at the temperature and it was the high 80s. It is hot. Am I repeating the miserableness of last week’s pow wow? Nah, I think this may be worse.

 festawalk

As usual, we’re not as prepared as we should be. We park in the dusty dirt lot and get in line for admission. We start to see people with beach umbrellas and folding chairs. Hmm, I have a picnic blanket in the car, but no shade. With our admission of $15, we get a souvenir wine glass good for stomping on the grapes. We did not realize it did not include any wine tastings. Good thing we got some cash.

 festatables

Well, the actual stomping hasn’t started yet, so we were all hungry and decide to get food. There weren’t as many food vendors as we expected, and it looked like some people brought their own provisions. (Darn, I had a ton of picnic food at home.) The BBQ place didn’t have enough food ready, so we turned to the one other food vendor (there also was an ice cream place); I got a pizza slice, Gigi and Lynn ordered sausages with grilled veggies. We found some seating at the end of a table, but not under any shade. We ate quickly since the festivities were beginning.

 festaparade  festablessing

The “parade” starts, which is a tractor bringing out the grapes with the host dancers sitting up front. Everyone gathers round and cheers them on and they stop in front of the two wooden barrels — one large, one small. Before we begin, the priest gives the Grape Stomp Festa Blessing. And once completed the crowd is invited to grab the buckets of grapes and dump them into the barrels. Once all dumped, the stomping begins.

festadump2  festadumpgrapes

Time to get in line. Well, note to self, next time get in line as soon as you get there, because there was a reason people were getting in line prior to the official start — it got long really fast. And once you figure out it will be some time for each group to get in, stomp around a little, take the obligatory pictures; you realize this will be one long afternoon. Well, we drove all this way, we are going to crush some grapes gosh darn it.

 festaglasses

We look around and see all the people that must have done this before. They brought their own canopies, chairs, tables, etc. I jealously feel that they all look so comfortable…and cool. We were sweltering already. What the heck, all the wine tasting booths were surrounding us, what shall we try first? But because of the heat, and knowing too much wine will make us loopy, we decide to settle for a glass of some very tasty Sangria. Hey, I’m the driver, so I need to be responsible and take care of my gals.

festadancehosts  festaline

Even though it was miserably hot, we did have a great time waiting under the hot sun for almost two hours. Primarily due to, as Lynn said, a “wildly entertaining group of three women.” These women, with Italian heritages, had driven to Julian with their husbands from San Gabriel, a Los Angeles valley suburb. We got to talking with them (what else are you going to do but make new friends) and shared funny and true stories about life, marriage, family, kids, sex, and aging. They talked about their lives, we talked about ours, and we commiserated together — about the weather, what people were taking way too much time stomping in the barrel (that chick in the white tee – you know who you are), and is this stomping thing sanitary?

 festaspray

The ladies very generously shared their beach umbrella with us, all six of us squeezing under our shaded territory, which was very much appreciated. There were the occasional and welcomed cool breezes, and we kept seeing some clouds in the distance and wished for them to hurry our way and provide relief from the sun. Their husbands were sitting relaxed in tree-shaded chairs. One of the event volunteers starting going around and spritzing us with a spray bottle, just like what we would do for the kids when they are playing games on hot days.

festadance  festaband

Yes, we are almost there! Hold on, you mean all those people who paid for the $50 VIP tickets get to cut in line whenever they want? Reminds me of the Disneyland Fast Pass. I am ready to strangle someone since I thought we were next, yet it seems all these VIP ticket holders decide to show up right at our moment! Please hurry up and go back to your white tents and appetizer filled tables. We should have paid the extra, but then we wouldn’t have met Marie, Carmella and Sylvia.

 festasteps

Okay, we are next. Finally. First, we need to soak our feet in a tub of vodka, I assume to sterilize our feet. Well, I don’t know how many people stuck their feet in there, but it doesn’t look very clean itself. I bravely stick my feet in. Oh well, the grape juice collected isn’t for consumption anyway. It’s bottled as a souvenir for next year.

festalegs  festafriends  festafeetgrp

In we go…I slowly climb down the ladder as it seems slippery…I stick my right foot in, then my left…hmm, mushy feeling. Gigi and Lynn get in, we take a few pictures. Then Marie, Carmella and Sylvia get in, their husbands having walked over to watch. More photos. We stomp around, trying to look like we are actually crushing grapes. By the time we get in most of the whole bunches have been crushed, but we find a few in the bottom recesses of the large barrel using our toes. We stomp around a bit, and take more pictures. We want to take our sweet time, heck we waited so long in the first place, but we are also aware that many more are waiting for their turn. Basically, we want to make it worth our while.

 festagrpstomp

Time to get out. As we get out of the barrel, we were glad we experienced it, but ready to go on. Hugs and goodbyes were wholeheartedly given to our new friends, as we go our separate ways, but living through common memories.

festawash

***

The ice cream line was too long, it was still hot, and we weren’t in the mood to shop the vendor booths. So now what? Time to head back down the hill for a stop at the Julian Pie Company in Santa Ysabel. Hey, what else would you expect from me? Of course, as we leave, the rain clouds start to mosey on over and cause a bit of trouble. We get to Santa Ysabel just in time to get out of the pouring rain, sit at the counter and comfortably scarf down apple pie slices with vanilla ice cream, pure deliciousness.

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Once fulfilled, we make a quick stop at Dudley’s Bakery, because if you’re driving all this way, you’re going to get some fresh bread and baked goods too. My parents will be happy with the squaw bread and coffee cake rounds. Quite content, we get into our cars for the leisurely drive home…so we thought.

 

Almost immediately after getting back on the road, our phones start squeaking about the flash flood warnings for the area. And wouldn’t you know it, the clouds opened up on top of us at that very moment, and for the life of me I could not see the roads. That’s what you call a timely app! Being the responsible driver that I am, I decide to pull over and wait it out. It died down about 15 minutes later, but still heavily raining. As we start to leave the area, I carefully try to drive through the roads and mini-rivers of water. At one point it looked like some sort of water tank fell into the road. Where the heck did that come from?

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It wasn’t that much further that it was dry as a martini. Was it our imagination? Couldn’t have been, because my car looked clean from the natural car wash. Oh well, it seems none of these adventures ever go smoothly.

***

Oh, remember the I Love Lucy episode, well Lucy returns to their hotel room all messed up and grape stained, meanwhile Desi had the producer waiting for her. But after seeing her, he informs her the movie isn’t about winemaking because the title for the film was a metaphor. He was actually looking for someone to play the part of a typical American tourist. Therefore, he gives the role to Ethel. Lesson here, bitter grapes isn’t worth your energy.

***

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The annual Grape Stomp Festa, www.julianca.com, is held at the Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Road, Julian, CA, http://www.menghiniwinery.com.

Although both Julian Pies and Dudley Bakery items are now found in many local grocery and specialty stores, visit Julian Pie Company locations in Julian and Santa Ysabel, www.julianpie.com and Dudley Bakery in Santa Ysabel, which also has a deli and gift shop, www.dudleysbakery.com. Both can be found at the intersection of Highways 78 and 79 in Santa Ysabel, CA.

I Love Lucy episodes available on cbs.com, Hulu, and Netflix DVD.

Week 38: Overnite Pow Wow

The official festivities of the Barona Pow Wow are over, but I lay here in the middle of the night listening to the true soul and spirit of the Native Americans who have gathered together this past Labor Day weekend. Out of the public eye, we listen to the beating drums while men and women sing in harmony to wordless songs, but telling of a strong and emotional story.

 

***

 

I have always admired the Native American culture. My interest started during my college days when a former boyfriend had family in New Mexico and I went out to visit. I later went on a solo research excursion for my Cultural Anthropology class to the San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblos, located north of Santa Fe. There, I was welcomed to view private collections of galleries, local homes, a high school basketball game, dinner, and introduced as if I was one of their cousins. Those heartfelt moments inspired me to begin collecting black pottery as mementos of time spent with them. I chose black pottery because I liked the look of the black on black designs as it was popularized by Maria Martinez who was from San Ildefonso, and who had learned techniques from the Tafoya family of the Santa Clara Pueblo.

 

Thus, attending a Pow Wow was on my 50 Weeks list. The Barona Reservation hosts a yearly Pow Wow on Labor Day weekend, and they offer free admission and camping. How welcoming they are to visitors. It was definitely time to visit a Pow Wow.

 

***

The day didn’t start off so great…it was actually horrible. As Richard and I begin the trek to the Barona Reservation for the Pow Wow, we first hit construction traffic near my house, which was a big pain in the you know where. Really, construction on a holiday weekend, really? Then as we leave the bank ATM, our exit was blocked by a delivery truck, and no driver seemed to be around. Finally, the truck was moved. Thankfully we are on the freeway headed east. Besides the escalating heat, everything seemed fine now. We get to the pow wow (the baseball fields) and the locate the campsites — basically any spot amongst the eucalyptus trees. We find a nice cozy area with shade and start to unpack and put the tent together. The tent was borrowed from a friend, and as we try to sort out the pieces, we realize the main tent itself was missing. Are you kidding? Now what? Richard decides that we will go north to Ramona, buy a tent and return. Okay. So we head on to Ramona, on some scenic roads that I had never driven on, find a Kmart and buy a tent for $25.

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These things happen in threes right, so hopefully that is it. We quickly regain our campsite, and put up the tent. In hindsight, buying a new tent was a better choice, as the borrowed one looked very complicated. Tent in place, we then decide to head on over to the Pow Wow and see what’s going on. First thing we see are all the merchandise vendors; later. We head on over to the food vendors and I get a much needed ice cold lemonade, and Richard inhales an overloaded chili cheese dog. (I’m going to start calling him Hoover.)

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We sit under one of the humongous white tents, plopping down in the middle of all the other saved chairs. We can’t tell if the areas are reserved for certain groups, but oh well, I guess we will sit until someone tells us to leave. There is some Gourd Dancing contests going on, primarily with the younger age groups. We notice there are two groups of drummers, the center drum circle which look to be elder types and experienced, and the outer drum circle, which seemed younger and more energetic.

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But we are still so hot and miserable from what transpired earlier, I contact my friend Rosey, who coincidentally is staying at the Barona Resort down the road. We leave the Pow Wow to meet her, and as soon as we walk into the Casino, greeters hand us lemonade, such a nice touch. I like this place already. Rosey finds us, gives us a quick tour and hands us a keycard for the pool area. We cool down in the pool, and relax on the shaded chaise loungers. And to top it off, she gives us two buffet vouchers. Rosey, you are a lifesaver!

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Once refreshed at the pool, and bellies filled, it was time to return to the Pow Wow for the main events. Another friend, Lisa-Marie, had decided to go to the Pow Wow with her husband Jimmy and their sons. We meet them in the grandstands just in time for more Gourd Dancing and the Grand Entry. It’s really quite an amazing sight. Men, women and children enter the center one by one dressed in full finery, while the drums continue to be played. Some in feathers, other with metal decorations. Some in buckskin, others in soft cottons. The colorful parade continues with one person after another entering, creating a spiral formation. The younger males with the double feathered regalia are the ones doing the fancy dancing, twisting, turning, leaping — what energy they have and they keep going and going like Energizer bunnies.

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Eventually a break is taken for the Pow Wow blessing, honoring those who have traveled far and near, and keeping in mind those who have served our country and who are still serving our country. For a group of people whose lands were taken over through bloody force, Native Americans are very patriotic and feel a strong connection to our country. Various dignitaries are introduced and more drumming and dancing. It was also pointed out to us that the Barona tribal chairman was sitting there amongst the crowd in a black shirt and jeans, just one of the guys.

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We decide to hit the vendors and check out the goods. Lots of interesting things: thin-skinned drums, hand carved wooden flutes, animal skins, rugs, ponchos, tons of jewelry, pottery, dream catchers. My favorite booth was the one from The Indian Store of Vista which housed all sorts of things like the skins, books, costume items, medicinal herbs, everything.

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After looking at every single booth, listening to and watching more drumming and dancing (I do wish they had some sort of official program, because I couldn’t understand a word being said through their speaker system), we decide to turn in. From the campsite, we can hear the Pow Wow continuing, but little did we know that our true adventure would be experienced right in the privacy of our tent. (Oh, I know you reader #9, get your mind out of the gutter!)

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***

 

Many Pow Wow participants are staying overnight in the campgrounds and have gathered together out of the public eye to reconnect with friends and family. They come to Barona year after year, continuing the tradition of the Pow Wow. And like most cultures, any gathering is a good reason to celebrate. (My own Filipino culture loves to honor every saint with a fiesta.) Well, those that hitched up their tents in the campsite came to party!

 

Just when it seemed that it was silent enough where I could hear the stars twinkle, the drumming begins. Then the singers join. Are you kidding me? Aren’t they tired? The Pow Wow has been going all day, and festivities start again the next afternoon. Don’t they know we are trying to sleep in here? Ugh…hmm…the music is actually…quite beautiful.

 

The drumming, the singing, the passion. You can hear it in their voices. The soul of the men and the heart of the women singing of vocables (no actual words) combine to provide those around with a glimpse into the rawness of their spirit.

 

I close my eyes and dreamily listen. I dare not walk outside to physically intrude, but I am trespassing on their impromptu private moments. I imagine them all gathered around the in-ground fire pit we had seen dug up earlier in the night, with boiling pots steaming on top of a metal grill. One by one the camp dwellers walk on over, each adding their individual vocal talent to the operatic menu. The drumming, the singing, the passion continues, and I admit, I don’t want them to stop. But after a final crescendo, they do stop…for a moment.

 

The laughter begins. Okay, yes they were probably drinking some adult beverages, but these type of gatherings are meant for such activities. Again, I felt somewhat of an intruder, listening in on their conversations. I dared not leave the tent, but rather I observe with my ears. I learn to enjoy the sing song laughter of the women after a good joke, the choruses of their ayes. And boy did we pick the location alright, as we can hear several camp parties forming all around us. I did have to get up and pee, and yes indeed, I see that all around us were groups standing, sitting here and there, enjoying the company of friends new and old. Secrets were shared, and egos were boastful. I wonder if they knew someone was listening in on their private moments. I’m not a gossip columnist, really.

 

Before you know it, someone starts singing, and again, one by one others walk over and join in, like a flash mob. The drumming, the singing, the passion continues all night…and into the morning…5:00 am to be exact.

 

Yes, it did bother me at first, but I soon felt privileged to experience this true view of the people of the Pow Wow. Pow Wows are meant for Native Americans to gather, and the campsite lets them do just that, away from the public eye of those that want to experience culture for the a couple hours. To capture the depth of another culture is truly a gift, and I felt we were given a gift that night. And it wasn’t only me, Richard felt the same way commenting that they are the “happiest people I’ve ever run into” and that “everyone needs to go to a Pow Wow just to forget about our materialistic society.” Ditto.

 

The impromptu gathering brought out their naked souls and gave them all true joy. Hearing and feeling their emotions made the bad start to our trip worth it. I would gladly camp amongst the Native Americans again, next time I will crawl out of our tent and try to sing along…wait, with my voice, drumming may be more neighborly.

 

***

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Barona Indian Reservation is located outside of Lakeside. The Pow Wow is usually held over Labor Day weekend, and 2015 will mark the 45th annual celebration. www.barona-nsn.gov

 

The reservation also has a museum that provides insights into Barona’s history and the Kumeyaay-San Diegueno culture. www.baronamuseum.org

 

The Barona Resort and Casino is an excellent place to stay for both an adult getaway or for family excursions. Besides the casino, there is a pool, day spa, golf course, and lots of dining options. Make sure to join Club Barona for discounts and free offers. www.barona.com
For more info about Pow Wows throughout the United States, go to www.powwows.com.