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Posts Tagged ‘California’

DP’s prompt for today was:  If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

 

The answer to this is so easy for me.  The scenario is truly an expats dream.  The only thing that could make this more appealing is if you included a teleportation device to make the travel between the two places as simple and quick as possible.

Most readers of this blog know that I am an expat living in Liverpool, UK.  I absolutely love the city of Liverpool, as it is just large enough to have a fair representation of the arts and culture that I thrive on.  It is also small enough that I do not feel claustrophobic here, as I have in larger cities like New York or London.  Liverpool is small, but it doesn’t feel small.  It is large (really, it’s not a suburb, which is *just fine* with me!) but not too large.  The climate here is actually pretty mild, though you’ll hear everyone in the UK complain about the weather constantly (I believe it is the national sport).  Liverpool has amazing local bands, great museums, a proud history and the friendliest people I’ve met in the UK yet.  If you asked me what I love most about Liverpool, the answer is immediately going to be the people here.  We also have the best sports team ever.   (Ha ha, made you look! It’s true, though.  Very very true!). I am a train ride away from London, Glasgow, or Edinburgh.  I am a quick easy jet flight from Dublin (though I have yet to make that trip). I’ve had great food here and been to some great pubs.  And really – I’m near the water.  This is what I need.  It might be colder water than I am used to, with a sometimes bitter off shore breeze, but it IS the water, and that soothes my soul.

 

Image of Liverpool's skyline at night.  Attribution Unknown

Image of Liverpool’s skyline at night. Attribution Unknown

 

This is a shot of Bold Street, my favorite street in the city.  It's not where the chain stores or the posh stores are.  Most are locally owned artisan stores, and there are a lot of really good restaurants here.  My favorites: Kashbah, Leaf, The Custom Cupcake Company, and Passage to India.  Photo by Catherine Cavendish.

This is a shot of Bold Street, my favorite street in the city. It’s not where the chain stores or the posh stores are. Most are locally owned artisan stores, and there are a lot of really good restaurants here. My favorites: Kashbah, Leaf, The Custom Cupcake Company, and Passage to India. Photo by Catherine Cavendish.

Part of the city's rejuvenation projects nearly 10 years ago, the Albert Dock was restored and museums, cafes, and attractions were opened.  I love this part of the City almost as much as Bold Street.

Part of the city’s rejuvenation projects nearly 10 years ago, the Albert Dock was restored and museums, cafes, and attractions were opened. I love this part of the City almost as much as Bold Street.

 

This is the city, lit up in the night.  The Mersey River divides New Brighton and Liverpool.  So beautiful.

This is the city, lit up in the night. The Mersey River divides New Brighton and Liverpool. So beautiful.

 

The place I would split time with is unlikely to surprise anyone – my home-region (I will not say home town because we moved when I was young and there are several places within the region I could call home) of Southern California.  Specifically, I was born in Huntington Beach.  What can I say about Huntington Beach? Except that it can be paradise.  It can be crowded – the houses are small and close together and the population is high – but the beauty of the region is impossible to deny.

Yes, this.  Picture by me.

Yes, this. Picture by me.

 

One of my sons, enjoying the beach.  Picture also by me.

One of my sons, enjoying the beach. Picture also by me.

 

The food, oh the food! I can’t actually talk about it because I will drool.  I miss it so much.

There’s a lot to do in So Cal.  Every conceivable kind of beach or water sport, is, of course, obvious.  What few people know is how convenient it is to other types of sport.   Where we moved when I was 12 (and where my Dad and brother still live in Lake Elsinore) there are vineyards and lakes nearby, and a short bit of a drive further will take you to the mountains.  Idyllwild and Big Bear have skiing in the winter.  I used to hike there many weekends with my friend Denise from work. I spent one summer at Idyllwild Institute Fiesta, a leadership camp for girls.

One of my favorite places to hike, ever.

One of my favorite places to hike, ever.

 

Or, if you go a bit further south east, you can go to the Mojave desert and Ocotillo (where my great grandmother lived, and I spent some formative parts of my life).  I grew up with the sands of this place between my toes.  I learned what it was to cover my skin with the scalding sand in order to protect it from the sun, much more likely to burn it in the end.  My family grew up here.  My brother and his family still go here to ride their bikes and their sand rails and their buggies.

 

Ocotillo

 

Nearly every possible climate in the world is in Southern California (yeah, maybe not the rainy wet climate of Liverpool or Seattle).  Southern California is roughly the size of the entire UK, I’d say.  Don’t quote me on that, I haven’t done the actual measurements.

So Cal is where my family still live.  I miss them incredibly. The lot of the Expat is that no matter how they love their new home, how much they adore the people they meet, they will always miss those who are left behind.  So Cal still holds everything I was made from.

So yes, please.  Let me split my time between the two.  And get me that teleporter, ASAP.

 

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The daily prompt is: Simply Irresistible.  What dish can you  never turn down? 

My temptation dish is Lumpia. 

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I don’t know how much of this is because of the emotional associations I have with the dish, and how much of it is just because it is the most amazing food in the universe.  Entirely unhealthy, entirely delicious – I can never turn lumpia down.

The first time I had lumpia, it was at my friend Lina’s house.  Lina, who I’d met through my friend Rosemarie, is a beautiful Filipina woman who can cook the heck out of lumpia.  I remember there was a group of us gathered at Lina’s house, some holiday or other was fast approaching, and we were there to cook lumpia so that it could be frozen and given as gifts to whomever wanted some.  We all sat around the table.  Rosemarie and Lina showed me how to roll the lumpia, how much of the filling to place in the wrapper, how the thinner rolls tasted different than the thick ones, what the optimal level of filling versus wrapper was.  Lina had prepared the filling in advance, and she stood at the stove frying the rolls we wrapped as quickly as we were done wrapping them.  The apartment was filled with amazing scents, the laughter of all of us as we worked, the amount of lumpia we ate versus what we ended up rolling – I have few memories more dear to me than this one.  And I was hooked on lumpia from that day forward.

There was a funny, short lady who ran a food truck that would come to my work every day at EMWD.  She would sell three rolls of lumpia for one dollar.  I went every day on my break to get some of her fabulous lumpia. Then I started to get really heavy, so I stopped. 😀

When I moved away from California, and split up with my ex, my roomate Mary was Filipina as well.  She didn’t make her own lumpia, but whenever she would go to Florida to visit her family, she would bring back a batch of frozen lumpia just for me.  And then when I met my husband and we moved to Ohio, the fabulous Jungle Jims International Market sold frozen lumpia.  I would make it a treat to buy a package – only for a holiday, or my birthday.  But it was still my favorite dish. And one of my favorite memories.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/daily-prompt-travels-2/

I thought it would be dirty.

Blame it on my youth.  Blame it on my naivete, or on the fact that Russia was a gigantic, scary propagandized place for a blonde, blue-eyed California teenager.  I was only 16.  I was sheltered in the way that only a young person from a warm, affluent, paradisical land can be; Wasn’t every place like California? Didn’t everyone have sunshine and air conditioning and the ocean only minutes away? Even if not affluent, we always had plenty.

And then I was travelling, my first big trip away from California.  And it was a big trip; half a world away, to Moscow, for a foreign exchange program.  It was 1988.  The wall was still up.  Soviet Russia still held its thrall on the US, as a mysterious communist nation (which I didn’t even UNDERSTAND back then, it was just a strange, scary thing that was NOTWHATWEWERE). Russia was the boogeyman built on propaganda.

I’d been raised on Cold Wars, on Gorbachev and Reagan and the rhetoric of world leaders who used each other as the threat to subdue their own populations.  I expected poverty.  I expected grime and dirt, and people lined up in the streets for a loaf of bread.  I expected chain gangs of people, working hard labor for their meager salaries. This is what I’d been programmed to expect.

What I found was the same thing I’ve found in every city I’ve visited since.  I found people, and beauty, and laughter.  I found artwork, and science, and literature, and history. I found national pride, and curiosity.

Today, a friend of mine posted a brief video about the method the Olympic committee in Moscow is using to get people excited for the upcoming games.  For one brief moment in that video, I saw some of the stunning interior shots of the Moscow Metro system – and was instantly transported back in time to July 1988, when I stepped into those underground tunnels for the first time and felt…awe.  I was not in a subway, a metropolitan train line, like we have in New York or Chicago or Boston.  I was in an art gallery, a museum, a gorgeous Baroque era mansion – this was not the dirty I was expecting. This piece of mundane, everyday city life in Moscow was BEAUTIFUL. It showed pride and exceptionalism and a population that cared about their city, their country, and themselves.  I found this throughout the city – in its parks, in its shopping areas, in its streets and in its gutters.  Clean, maintained – even in the poorer parts of the city.  These were not the boogeymen I’d been taught to fear.  They were a population of people, with different values than the ones I’d been taught, yes – but mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons.  Happy.  Smiling.  Hard working.  As afraid of us as we were of them.

I haven’t been back to Moscow since – I’d like to see how the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of Capitalism has changed things – but I do now know that I’ll see that same magnificent Metro when I do make it back there.  My travels since have taught me that I will see the same people – the people I’ve met the world over in my travels.  The people just like me.

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More Transitions

I am not certain whether I should leave the title of the blog as Transitions.  It seems that one transition barely ends before another begins.  In my life, I am changed by transitions and losses so frequently that I wonder if the state of change is, itself, the story of life.

We have been living in the UK for  a year now.  A year ago, we were excited about the adventure of living in a new country.  We were experiencing everything.  And we have.  I still adore almost everything about  England, especially the Liverpool region. There have been bad points, serious lows, actually.  I have been rejected based upon things out of my control, my place of birth, my religious background.  That is a sharp kind of pain.

On the other hand, I have been loved and accepted unconditionally by other groups of people. I have made new friendships that I know will grow and last a lifetime. I have support and kindness and love in my life.  I am thankful for that on a daily basis.

About 6 weeks ago, my mom called me.  She told me that she hoped I would be able to come back soon to visit, that my dad’s illness was progressing, and that she wanted to talk about the future with me. DH and I did what we could to make that happen quickly, even pulling the kids out of school early and coming to the US at a rather great expense.  You see, Mom just didn’t talk like that unless it was urgent. I wanted to give credence to her words.

We did come soon, and we did visit, and Mom and I did talk about the future.  Dad is very ill and his illness is progressive. So we talked about all of the eventualities – My Mom, My Dad, my brother, and I.

Then Mom had a heart attack.  Unexpectedly, she passed away on August 1.

I think pain hits you harder when it is unexpected. You are moving along in life and suddenly something flies at you from a direction you are not looking.  There’s no preparing for that, and I think sometimes preparing can blunt the blow.

And I’ve learned that grief does not meld with grief, that grief stacks on top of grief.  Because you are grieving one thing does not mean a new grief happening at the same time will absorb into the other grief.  There is a lot of grief stacked here.

What helps with that grief is those people, those ones I mentioned above, whose unconditional love and acceptance and support is offered.  I have been blessed to have those people on both sides of the Atlantic shore.  I have them here, on the Pacific shore.  I have them the world over, demonstrated by family and friendship and love. They talk to me, they remember my grief, they seek me out when I am trying to hide.  They read between the lines.

Thank you. You will never know how much it has helped.

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