34: Getting Back

Birthday month, as many know, is always a big deal in our home. We celebrate our entire respective months and use “birthday month” as justification to let the laundry build a little more than usual and enjoy a few of our favorite restaurants. Birthday months are generally laced in fro yo and filled with non-Tuesday taco nights. This year, birthday month started a little rough and the repercussions of the rocky take-off have resinated deep into every single day. On the second day of birthday month, in an unexpected turn of events, we lost our beloved mascot and third wheel, Smush “Boogie” Cinderella, our faithful feline. With an above normal agitation for all things life-related, we booked a trip to the vet in hopes of some guidance on how to handle her growing anxiety. What it led to was the discovery of a massive tumor in her stomach lining. Our poor little creature was miserably uncomfortable and with heavy recommendation, we put her to rest. Knowing she is free of pain and lying somewhere on a clean pile of laundry in the sky does not make this transition any easier but will help someday. Just months shy of turning ten, we have years of habits, quirks and routines that are now empty of purpose. She was much more than a cat. She was our bitchy roommate that didn’t like to travel and stole things out of handbags. She worried about everything and ate plastic. She loved hair ties and if you went to the bathroom without her she stuck her paw under until you came out. She was the best. We miss her more than we can handle.

This year, birthday month also marked the second anniversary of LA-normal. An anniversary that felt rather empty, especially given the six month gap (giver or take) since my last post. There was a solid block of time after last October where everything seemed to be messy and writing was the last thing I could clear my mind enough to do. Our nation seemed to be jumping from one whirlwind to the next and it was hard to keep up with. On top of that our personal lives were thrown off whack as we exited the holidays and entered the new year with a trip to the ER followed with a gallbladder removal. Ryan’s, not mine. Throw in our constant house renovations, photography gigs, trips up and down the state and Ryan’s recovery time and general curveball hiccups life tends to deal you, LA-normal took a hiatus.

I will say, May 2017 hasn’t been a total bust. A major highlight this month was the Eichler Home Tour 2017 in San Mateo, a Mid-Century modern architect geek’s dream tour. In a neighborhood of hundreds, we had access to ten Eichler-built homes, including the notorious X-100 House of Steel. Joseph Eichler was a real estate developer that built neighborhoods of Mid-Century modern styled homes, our personal favorite style. Bringing the accessibility of an unattainable style of architect, at the time, to a suburban, tract home level, Eichler created communities that epitomized the definition of “California Living”. Open floor plans, seamless indoor to outdoor transitions, walls of windows, loads of natural wood, all classic characteristics that can be found in each one of his houses.

In conjunction with some local Bay Area businesses, the tour included a classic car or scooter parked in each driveway of the participating houses. It was an unexpected highlight of the tour. Some of the homes did not allow photography inside but outside had no limitations so I was able to get a shot of all ten vehicles. My personal favorite was the Cadillac parked at the second-to-last home we visited. Ryan had a hard time deciding on a top pick but he’s always partial to vintage Porsches. 

One of the homes was a two-story original, not as rare as a unicorn but close. Fully shingled and full of windows, it wasn’t necessarily my favorite but it had what I thought was the most interesting floorpan. The upstairs den, which I believe was originally the master bedroom, was a loft overlooking both the living room and front entry. We were tickled to find the same Eames chair replica on their second story that we have on our first (and only).

Some of the homes had been through renovations and it showed. Paint covering what was once intentional wood grain and mix-matched furniture that was anything but Mid-Century made some of the homes feel less authentic than others but all of them were obviously Eichlers. 

The X-100 House of Steel was the special showcase of the tour. At least, for us, it was the piece de resistance. Referred to as the “house of tomorrow” by the Wall Street Journal, people flocked to tour the innovative design that was created in part as a promotional tool back in 1956. The neighborhood of 700 Eichler built homes sits in the hills of San Mateo which, around 1955, when the X-100 house was built, wasn’t as easily accessible off the highway as people wanted. Judging by how full of life and occupied the neighborhood is now, and has been for decades, I would say it worked. The other supposed motivation to build the X-100 was to give the opportunity for home design advancements in technology to producers of just that. This led to some of my favorite features in the kitchen, the funky appliances. A two burner stove top hidden under the sliding dining table top, intended to keep the food warm at the table, the pink tinted blender built into the kitchen counter and the built-in wall-mounted vintage radio were the ones that caught my attention most.

I could go on forever about the strategically placed sky lights and the wall-to-wall sliding doors but no words will do justice to the feeling of standing in and looking out.

Although the majority of May has felt like an uphill battle with one thing after the next tossed our way, birthday month had its fair share of other unexpected pleasantries. A beautiful, new chair for the living room, which is major when you have outdoor furniture adorning your sofa, a family bbq full of house projects for all that attended, the baseboards being completed in our master bedroom (aftermath of bbq duties), seventeen inning Giants game (yes, we stayed the whole time), a classic car show in Sebastopol with the in-laws and lastly, the gift from my husband and his parents. My incredible husband sent a photo of Boogie and I to an insanely talented pencil artist we met in Palm Springs and had him reproduce the photo. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received and so accurately well done. The detail and photographic realness is unbelievable. It took my breath away and left me crying for hours. 

As we have said to each other numerous times this past month, at least we are in this together. No matter how deep our down may get, we will just keep holding on tight to each other and push through. This has been the only method we have discovered that has any sort of a success rate. It is easy to give up and I have never been a fan of easy. My husband faces life with the same willingness to go the tougher route. Its one of the important things we have in common. Every day, these past 31 days, he has made some sort of attempt to make something special. Recognizing how difficult things have been lately, outside of our control, and the lack of birthday spirit that I had, he did everything he could to make it better. That’s what being a spouse in our family means and it’s why I value what we have above anything else in the whole wide world. I am so lucky.

Cheers to you, my Noodle Joon. You are one in a million. I love you.

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