Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crystal Cove Coastal Run January 20, 2011

This was my fourth sunshine-filled scamper
along the beautiful coast of Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach, CA
this time, I brought the camera
: ) 

Once again
I attempted to Hit the Trails of Crystal Cove/Moro Ridge
This was my 6th attempt
since the trails took a beating from the winter storms

The Moro Ridge/Pacific Ridge Trail Head was still closed

I'm really missing my trails and hills

With all the trail options
it's hard to believe that they're all pretty much closed
I was on the trails just after the rains
and it was obvious why they were closed.
Lots of land slides, huge overall big mess
: (

I "had to" head to the coast again to get some mileage
So I headed back to scamper along the coast of Crystal Cove State Park
for the 4th day this week
: )
I parked a mile north
of the "you are here" sign
and ran the coast to the end, by Abalone Point and back
decisions, decisions...
; )

I love this little boardwalk
I've seen tons of bunnies, lizards, caterpillars, lady bugs, chubby squirrels,
and beautiful birds.
I have also heard froggy sounds
but not sure who was making them

There is so much wonderful information along the boardwalk
it's worth taking the time to read before heading down to the beach

This is the turn to head down to the beach
: )
If  you stay on the boardwalk
there is a wonderful overlook of the Coastal Bluffs.

I had to get a closer look of the info
before heading to the overlook
So cool
I love seeing the little Garibaldi fish in the kelp beds
when I'm kayaking along this coast

I asked a random fella to take this dorky picture of me
before I headed to the beach for my coastal scamper.
The dude was fully camped out to enjoy the day.
Notice his chair, hiking pole, binoculars, paper...
Golly, I love this view
All that wonderfully packed sand makes running feel good.
I also LOVE
my PCTR shirt
I can't wait till Montana De Oro again!
Join us! Feb 13th!
Take the time to read these tidbits of info
It really helps one appreciate the beauty even more.
: )

The beach!
The wonderful sand!
I love the way this sand feels underfoot.
Just enough cushion, just enough of a challenge.
: )

For a gal who would rather be in her kayak
being so close to the ocean makes running enjoyable
Golly, I love it here!
Wouldn't you?

It was about 74 degrees today!: )
I could go on forever out here
I love the sound of the waves.
I can't get enough of the fresh air.

The end is near!
But I'm not in any hurry today
: )
I've paddled down to that point from the Coast Guard Beach
and had always wondered what the beach was like.
Now I know and I'm in love.
: )

I kick up my heels for running along the coast!
I bothered a sweet sunbathing couple to take this picture.
They laughed.
They smiled and waved at me as I ran by on my way back
: )
You know I'm happy when I'm kicking up my heels!
: )

At the end!
Yes, I had to kick up my heels again before heading back.
I bothered two young men who were watching their friends paddling out there.
They must have thought I was some loony tourist.
Lemme tell you one more thing
it's not easy picking up that big leg after running
and holding it up long enough for someone to take a pic...BUT CRAMP!
; D

Looking back...
: )
...before heading back.
: )

Ooops, almost forgot to get a shot of the cliff
It has given me relief from the sun each day that I have been here
It is so much cooler by this cliff
it feels so good after 4 miles to hang out here for a bit before heading back.
It almost feels as if it has it's own micro-climate
It is also were I have seen tons of dolphins.
: )

Time to take a break
This was my fourth time doing this coastal run
but the first time I decided to bring a camera, and relax.
: )

Taking a sun bathing break at Reef Point
Sweaty, happy gal trying to get rid of some tan lines
while taking a terrible self-pic.
; )

Airing out the tootsies!
Uh oh
those ankle tan lines need some help!

Hot Diggity Damn!
This is the way to enjoy a January Day!
: )
It's January days like this that makes living in Southern California

Yes, Life is Good
: )


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Would Have... Should Have... Could Have...

Remembering my Mom
on this earth
45 Years
Born January 9th
Passed January 9th

I have always made it a point to go on an adventure
in your honor, on your birthday
The adventures have always included something physical (hiking, kayaking, teaching a really brutal fitness class) and have ended with a beautiful evening of fine dining at one of my favorite restaurants where I have always had them leave a place setting for you.
Yep, I'm sure I've looked totally bizarre, sitting by myself, raising my glass to an empty seat throughout those meals, but I love honoring your memory and everything you've given to me.
This year, I was way too sick to do anything
and I was really upset that I wasn't going to honor you with an adventure.
I realized that the most honorable (and scariest adventure) would be to really grab a hold of when you died and explore my realtionship with you and your life and your death and what it has meant to me
Until today, I never locked in on the year you died, nor did I ever set it in my memory how old I was when you died.
I had to ask Willie the date.
Now it's real.
And so are the memories.

You were no saint but you were deeply loved
Your life and your death, inspired me to live my life in a way that I would never say
"I would have...I should have...I could have..."

You led by example
When we were little, you were the perfect example of a healthy, active lifestyle.
You loved being a mom and we knew it.
You always made us feel loved, wanted, safe.
We ate fresh food
home cooked meals, didn't eat anything processed in our early years, and thought things like dried apricots and chewable Vitamin Cs were candy.
You would take us roller skating on the weekends
You'd take us to Trader Joes to load up on orange juice, kiefer, apricots, granola bars, and trail mix to snack on throughout the day.

You always looked so pretty roller skating
Graceful. Happy
: )

You were always so patient with us
and so willing to answer all of our questions
No matter how random or silly our questions would be, you would always give us an answer. If you didn't have an answer, you would let us know and tell us it was a good question to think about.
You were always affectionate and loving
Quick to give hugs, snuggles, and kisses.
: )

By the time we were older, you were the perfect example of  a wasted and depressing lifestyle
The perfect example of what I will never become.
I am glad we got the chance to talk, a year before you died, so I could better understand why your life was like that for so many years.

All your good and all your bad have influenced quite a bit in my life
The Good:  The first 3rd of our lives with you, you were an amazing mother.
You were kind, sensitive, and loving the entire time you were on this earth.
The first 3rd of your life with us was spent being healthy and active, and sadly, the last 3rd of your life, when you tried to re-embrace health and fitness, it was too late.
The Bad:  The 2nd third of your life was filled with lifestyle decisions that I will never welcome into my life. You were the most depressing and dysfunctional personal I sadly had to witness. You were never on time and chose to bring terrible people into our lives.
You made every excuse in the book not to succeed in happiness, and refused to let anyone help you who actually had your best interest in mind.
How you must have hurt our Grandma, and uncle with some of your shenanigans.
Witnessing your inability to be productive, your ability to be cruel to the people who wanted to help you, your desire to keep useless people in your life, were the best examples of what I do not want for my life.  
I cannot thank you enough for what you have taught me, but wow, how I wish you could have lived a happier life.
Because I love you

It is easy to remember the good times
There were many
When you were happy
there was never a doubt that you loved us
But wow, things could really turn dark.
And they did for many years.

I am so fortunate that we had that opportunity to reconcile before you died
I will never forget that moment, in my little studio apartment
when I said those cruel words to you
"I love you because you are my Mom,
but I wouldn't chose you as a friend if I met you on the street".

Anyone who doesn't know our history
would be disgusted to know I said that to my Mom, but had I not said those words to you, we never would have had the opportunity for you to share with me so many important things that had impacted your life...things that once you told me, gave me a whole new perspective and respect for you on that day.  
That day helped me to really see you as a person.
To realize that you weren't just my mom, but that you were once a young woman, a girl, a teenager when you had your kids.

You were in High School at LA High
when you met the father of your children
As we all know now, not a wise choice, but you were a girl.
I love these pics.
I was always amazed how I hadn't seen your senior picture (on the left) at the time that I had gotten myself ready for this 6th grade class pic (on the right)
: )
Not long after your senior picture was taken you had your first child
That day in my apt, you really put it into perspective
what you had endured before you were even 21.
Having to imagine being so young, with a child with so many problems, and then having him die at 2.
Then to go on and have 2 more children with that useless man
(I guess he was pretty young too)
I still don't know why you even bothered with him but I am glad you did or I wouldn't have Willie, and I wouldn't be here either. I am also thankful that you never said anything bad about him while we were growing up and let Willie and I come to our own conclusions about him when we got older.
What a piece of work he was
(and still is)

I am so glad I was born to you
You were the best Mom when we were little
This is one of my favorite pics
My baptism.
I love your hair and your dress
So pretty

I must be six months here since it's Christmas

I wish there were more pictures of you
but those dark years didn't make for pretty pictures.
I wish there were pictures of your last 2 years
You had finally gotten yourself on a happy path
and were taking great care of yourself.
You were happy, trying to be active, and actually looking forward to a future.
We were really beginning to get to know each other again and I was really gaining a new found respect for you and enjoying your desire to be my Mom again.
It felt so good to see you happy.
: )

One of my greatest last memories of us
is when you taught me to drive stick
Oh how I loved that Volvo
You were an amazing teacher. So patient, Never made me feel nervous.
You gave me all the confidence in the world.
Oh, how I loved that car.
Loved it even more after you passed. My last "material" connection to you.
It broke my heart when the car finally had to be laid to rest.
It was my last connection to you since your lame-assed husband kept everything.
To this day, I still have no clue where he is and what he did with your ashes or anything else that had belonged to you.
Geeze, you sure knew how to pick 'em!

For all your faults, you gave us so many amazingly important gifts
You taught us about life, death, love, loss...even before you died.
No topic was ever taboo with you.
You always said things like
 "...parents never leave their children until they're ready..."
"...death is a part of life and it shouldn't be feared..."
On January 8th, I knew you were going to die.
No one believed me because you looked and sounded fine.
I knew you weren't going to want to be in the hospital on your birthday.
When I wheeled Grandma into your hospital room to see you and she spoke perfectly, and in English,
that was the moment I knew you would be leaving.

I'll never forget the night before, sitting with Uncle Butch at The Panda Inn off Brand Blvd and telling him
"Mom's not going to want to be there on her birthday"
I loved how he was always there for us
He loved you so much

He took me home and said that we'd go see you in the morning.
I sat in my little studio, waiting, dreading, knowing...
I'll never forget what I was doing, sitting by the TV, filing my toe nails (many times, if I file my toenails in the evening, I think of that night) when the call came from the hospital that you weren't going to make it through the night.
I went ape-shit-crazy all by myself in my little studio until my uncles came
Then I went silent
I don't remember much until we were by your bedside and they were asking Willie and I to make the decision about DNR
That was the worst
We didn't want you to think we had given up on you
but you had always raised us to not fear death
and you had told us
you didn't want to be kept alive if you were going to be a vegetable.
I am so glad you were not alone and that we were there to hold your hands as you took your last breathes.

When you were 17, you were going to be a mother
When I was 17 I had no place to live because of you and your destructive lifestyle
When you were 19 you were going to have your 2nd child
When I was 19 I had been living on my own for almost 2 years, going to college, and holding down a full time job with no help from anyone
When you were 21 you had 3 children and you were a loving Mom
When I was 21 I was skipping my Design and Lit classes to go to dance classes, managing a retail store, and trying to figure out what to do with my life.

I was almost 23 years old on the day you died
When you were 23, you had already given birth to 3 babies
one who had passed away when he was 2 years old, then Willie, then me.

You didn't know you were dying
when we started to communicate again, and I am so fortunate I had the time with you, before you passed away, to get to know you.
Not just as my mom, but as a person.
The sum of all your parts.

Willie and I are the sum of all your parts
and I am hoping you have been proud of what you have created.
For all the things you didn't do, you set a foundation in our early years, you were an excellent Mom when we were little and I think that made a huge difference

I cannot thank you enough for all you taught me
and for giving me the best brother in the world

There were so many questions I never got to ask you
So many things I never would have thought to ask you until now

I will be 39 this year and it freaks me out to think that if I were you
I would only have 6 more years to enjoy life on this earth.

I am proud that you were my Mom
I love that I am your daughter.
I Miss You
I Love You
: )

Gloria C. Lastra
January 9th 1950
January 9th 1995

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Remembering that Facebook Note "25 Things"

Originally Posted as
"By Popular Demand...25 Random Melissa Facts"
since that note was posted
so many wonderful things on the list have been realized
I cannot wait to see what 2011 has in store for Us
: )
this picture was from NYE
Who knew that the next NYE at Bashan would be so important
in my decision making for
Here are the "25 Random Melissa Facts"
1. I want to have a beautiful edible garden that has more than just the regular rosemary, lavender, basil, sage, chives and thyme that I’ve always had.

2. I love waking up before the sunrise. I am such a morning person but I don’t like to talk first thing in the morning. I will happily stay up late into the night when I have been inspired by something wonderful and want to enjoy it more…I will still wake before the dawn even if I went to bed just an hour before sunrise.

3. Most people know my social side. Most people do not know that I crave solitude.

4. I love my “scent” after backpacking alone on Santa Rosa Island for 4 days…nothing is more beautiful than 4 days with a beach all to myself and the ocean as my bath…I come home smelling and feeling like heaven. I have done this 4 time since 2000 and will be doing it again soon. Mister Matthew Mascaro, where are those pictures you took of me when I came back from the island the last time?

5. I usually prefer dining alone 90% of the time in order to give a thoughtfully prepared meal my full attention. Anyone who has dinned with me is someone that I hold in high regard and brings something extra special to the experience.

6. I miss my Mom, My Grama, and Claude Thompson so much lately. 3 very important people who have had such an impact on me. How I wish I could just talk to them and hear their voices. I’ve been dreaming of my Grama so much lately.

7. My brother is more important to me than anyone will ever know. I have lost my Mom, my Grama, and some very important people in my life, but I have no clue what I would do if I ever lost my Brother. He is a wonderful man and someone I would choose as my friend if I had met him on the street.

8. I cry every time I watch an episode of Cold Case, Ghost Whisperer, and Kimba the White Lion. I am such a sap.

9. I loved dancing and singing for Andy Williams in Branson, Mo. I miss the Ozarks more than I would have ever expected. If it weren’t for that show, I never would have become such an amazing outdoors(wo)man. : )

10. I had always wanted a pair of diamond earrings and was going to buy myself a pair for my 27th birthday…I bought a kayak instead and never regretted it. I still want a pair of diamond earrings but I get to kayak every weekend or whenever the urge hits me. I have owned 3 kayaks in my life…only two remain.

11. I worked as a dancer on a Carnival Cruise ship…the only contract job I’ve ever quit. What a nightmare.

12. I’ve been the “Doll in a Box” as a Magician’s Assistant.

13. I’ve spent 1 month in Tasmania as Wilderness Medical Support for a Climbing Expedition. I can’t wait to go back…such an amazing place. Pristine nature, organic food, humanely raised livestock, and some of the best mushrooms, dairy, fish, wine I have ever eaten.

14. I have no regrets that I’ve not yet been married. I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced glorious amounts of romance during my traveling days. Kisses atop glaciated mountains in Tasmania, 2 gents at one time following me across the country trying to win my affection, flights to LV for amazing 13 course meals and Jimmy Choos, songs written for me, dishes made for the menus of amazing restaurants in order to woo me, a fine man who hiked 15 miles to bring me a bottle of wine and then sent a Coast Guard boat to bring me back to the island the next week for my dream meal…I don’t know any women who can say they’ve experienced spontaneous “romance”. I will be married to a wonderful man someday. I can’t wait to find out who it will be.

15. I slept in a tent behind a kayak shop in Key Largo for 3 months in order to have access to the kayaks. It was an amazing summer (even with all the mosquito bites). I lived off $7,000.00 that year and I was the healthiest I had ever been.

16. 8 years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do when I could no longer be a dancer, I did some career counseling sessions with Career Transitions for Dancers…I listed my main priorities for my next career to be: #1. I do not want to have to wear shoes to work. #2. I want to be able to get paid to sweat and stay in shape. #3. I want to be able to eat, drink, and travel thanks to my new career. Life is sweet. Remember y’all, you can have what you want. : )

17. I have tons of pillows in my house and on my bed but I do not use a pillow for sleeping.

18. I love it when my man places his hand on my face…it is such a sweet gesture and the fact that I want his hand there says so much about him.

19. I’ve lived alone since I was 17. I’ve never lived with a roommate, a boyfriend, or anyone else. The only person I will live with is the man I marry and any children or pets we will be blessed with.

20. I hate dusting but I enjoy vacuuming.

21. I sleep flat on my back, hands right by my side, or on my hip bones if I am cold, I do not move , and do not have to make my bed in the morning…I just slide out of the covers and tidy them up a bit. I’ve woken up with my eye glasses still sitting perfectly poised on my chest after a 4 hour nap.

22. I sometimes wonder what it will feel like when I grow up. When do we know when we have?

23. When I had a bathtub I would love to soak in it while eating a bag of pork rinds, drinking a bottle of wine, and listening to Gene Kruppa and Anita Oday’s “Drummin’ Man.” Now, since I don’t have a tub, I just settle for a bottle of Bubbles and something salty and yummy like bacon, eggs, and tatertots!

24. I am afraid of heights.

25. I cannot wait to share a home with a wonderful man who inspires me, will grow with me, challenges me, and will be happy eating the wonderful meals I will be cooking with the beautiful things that I will grow in my garden.
These "25 Random Melissa Facts"
were originally posted
 on Monday, August 31, 2009 at 4:55pm
So much has stayed the same

Happily, so much has changed
Stay tuned for the next post for the
2010 Recap!
Happy New Year!
: )