Archive for May, 2013

Take a seat

Monday, May 27th, 2013

If I were a psychologist, I would study what motivates people to take action. Something along the lines of “Why does someone – who has thought about exercising for years – finally get motivated to start going to the gym?” Or why does someone finally quit smoking? I would love to know what pushes someone over the edge of knowing something would be good for them to actually taking steps to make it happen.

I suppose the reason that I’ve thought about motivation – in between the usual logistical questions that occupy my brain such as “what are we going to have for dinner” and “when can I squeeze in a trip to Target” – is because in the month since we moved across the street, I have taken action about some of the small issues of life that have annoyed me for years, yet I could never find the motivation to do anything about them.

Let me give you an example: for probably the last five years, I’ve looked at the holes in the upholstery on the chairs of our kitchen table and thought, “That really looks bad. I wouldn’t want any guests to see that; I should really replace that fabric.” The reason the cushions were shredded in the first place was because the orange devil that we call Nigel, our cat, decided one day that he hated that blue plaid fabric and went after it with his claws.

I looked at those ugly cushions for years – but did I do anything about them? Nope – at least not until this weekend. All it took was a trip to JoAnn’s, $18 worth of fabric, a screwdriver and staple gun, and a couple of hours to cut and cover over the stained and slit seats. It made me so happy when the first thing that caught my eye in the room this morning was the fresh, red-and-white checked seat cushions.

If you could only see how bad they really were

So back to my original question of motivation. I can’t help but wonder about myself, what motivated me to finally take action to do something that I knew would make me feel better once I did it?

I don’t have a really good answer – the best I can come up with is that our move earlier this month to a better townhouse has shaken loose some of the stress that we lived under ever since the recession hit. Maybe I’m finally over the trauma of moving out of our house 18 months ago and ready to tackle making where we live feel like a home again. Pictures on the walls are next.

Saluting the ‘Salute’

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I admire people who don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the mountain in front of them but instead take it one step at a time. And through perseverance and passion, they get to the top.

I think that describes John and Joetta Furrer, the originators of Petaluma’s Salute to American Graffiti. You couldn’t meet two nicer people. But the really cool thing about them is that while they have created a hugely successful event, they are not event organizers.

They didn’t sit down with an event marketing team and strategize about what feature of Petaluma they could capitalize on in order to bring a lot of attention to Petaluma. Instead, they just followed their love of cars and the movie, and lo and behold, John, a retired PacBell fleet mechanic, and Joetta, a former instructional aid for Petaluma School district, have built an event that has taken on a life of its own.

But John and Joetta will be the first to say that they did it with the help and dedication of many other people. That’s another really great quality of theirs – their humility. They say they are constantly amazed by what the event has achieved – that it brings 30,000 people from all over the world into Petaluma.

Steve and I have gotten to know the Furrers over the eight years since the inception of the event. Steve has designed numerous posters and programs for the Salute and witnessed how they operate under the stress of putting on such a large and complicated event. Steve says he has learned a lot from John in how to work with people; he is honored to consider John a friend.

It’s great to hear John talk about how as a shy guy, he has really had to come out of his comfort zone – as someone who is involved in coordinating Butter & Egg Days, I know that John has had to come way out of his comfort zone. You don’t close downtown, work with vendors, the police, retailers, sponsors and volunteers, without knowing how to respectfully get your point across in a way that people can hear.

Because the reason for the event isn’t motivated by dollars and cents but is about celebrating Petaluma as a filming location and a love of the kind of the classic cars that play such a big role in the movie, the event has an authenticity about it that people really respond to. But that’s not to say that “Salute” isn’t good for Petaluma. It is – raising tens of thousands of dollars that are invested back into the community.

John and Joetta say this is their last year taking the lead on the event. I know there is a great group who has worked tirelessly with them who are ready to carry “Salute” forward. But to the two of them, a big thank you for your vision and hard work. You’re the best.

Moved to happiness

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Although our new condo has exactly the same floor plan as our old condo, Steve and I keep marveling at how different and better this place feels to us. Where we were living before always felt temporary and a little precarious – perhaps that explains the reason or at least I can use it as an excuse – for why we never really made it a home. We hung a few pictures on the walls but we never unpacked our photo albums and mementos – they stayed taped up in moving boxes for the 18 months that we lived there.

However, in the short time that we’ve been in our new place, I’ve already undertaken some very small projects that I wasn’t motivated to do in the old place. Small details though they are, they make me happy every time I come across them.

For instance, in our old place, whenever I opened the cabinet door, the cat poop scooper and dustpan fell out. I’d get annoyed but did I do anything about it? Nope. But after just a new days in our new home, I finally bought some Command hooks so I could hang them on the inside of the cabinet door. Happiness.

I have a lovely Italian Majolica ceramic platter that Steve bought me at Haus Fortuna back when times weremore flush for us. Yet I had never had it on display. On my way home last Friday, I stopped at Pier 1 and for $7, I got a stand for it. I get pleasure from it every time I glance across the living room.

Another benefit of moving is having a fresh start. You know that top drawer in the kitchen that everybody has – the one that has pens and paper clips and coupons and batteries and all the other bits and pieces of life shoved into it? I know it probably won’t stay this way but for now, all the little containers are free of pencil shavings and crumbs and there’s clean, white Contact paper lining the drawer and it’s all organized like a Tetris game. It makes me happy every time I open it to reach for the scissors.

The only negative that we’ve encountered so far in our new place is that one of our cats sticks to the carpet. Our little gray kitty, Blossom – she was adopted when the Powerpuff Girls was at its peak of popularity – somehow never learned to retract her claws when she walks. Our new home has loopy Berber carpeting so with every step she takes, we hear pluck, pluck….pluck, pluck, pluck. Always kind of a skittish cat, at least now we can hear her coming.

Deja Move

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

It turns out that not ever unpacking all the boxes of books from our move 18 months ago paid off – it saved us having to pack them all up again in preparation for our move last week.

I think we’re done moving for a while – and just when we were getting good at it. We’ve pared down our belongings by at least 50 percent since our first move. Who needs five frying pans when I always use the same one anyway? If we take many more trips to Goodwill to eliminate redundancy in our stuff, Steve and I will be taking turns using the same fork.

As chaotic and stressful as moving is, this move was about as easy as it gets because we were just moving across a narrow street within the same condo complex.  We could practically throw the throw pillows from our old front door to the new one.

However, there was a point about midway through the move on Wednesday when we were neck-high in boxes that I wondered if moving to a place that is virtually identical in layout and square footage was really worth the disruption. Because the master bathrooms look exactly the same, I kept getting confused about which condo I was in. “How come these drawers are empty? I don’t recall packing them up.” And then I would realize that I was standing in the bathroom in our new place. Moving is hell…remind me why we’re doing this?

But now that we are in and mostly unpacked, I can say without a doubt, it was worth it and I’m so grateful that our gracious neighbor made it possible for us to rent her home. In the short time we’ve been here, I keeping wondering why this place feel so different and so much more like a home than the other condo. We never had any motivation to personalize the other place yet Steve has already hung more art on the walls in his office in the four days that we’ve been here than the entire year-and-a-half that we were in the other condo.

Everywhere I look, there are touches that make me happy. I now have a window over the kitchen sink so when I’m loading the dishwasher I can enjoy the contrast of the burgundy leaves on the Japanese maple with the shiny green jasmine behind it. My computer sits on the desk that is part of a lovely built in office with cute little cubbies for envelopes and folders. There’s berber carpeting throughout that makes it feel clean and spacious. And a lovely little patio outside the sliding glass door with a small urn fountain.  

Now for us, we just need to unpack the rest of the boxes, perhaps replace our lumpy brown couches with something more fitting our brighter outlook and enjoy the gift our new home.