Monday, October 28, 2019

Auburn Ghost Tours

Auburn has an amazing history and we want to preserve all of it for all generations, including that of our dearly departed souls who have stayed on in our little town. Every year we all can’t wait for October! One of our good friends Melany Hall was born and raised in Auburn, she left when she became an officer in the US Army, she traveled the world and came back to Auburn where she is raising her family. She started the Auburn Ghost Tours to share Auburn's rich, spooky history. This year, Dave and I got to participate by telling another part of Adolph Webber's story and I helped by sharing some of the spooky stories of more present day oddities in one particular building in Old Town Auburn. If you are going to be in our neck of the woods in October, try to get tickets and do the tour, it's incredibly interesting and so fun. Even more fun, Mason helped do makeup this year! I so love our little town!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Best 16th Birthday Ever!

Mason's 16th Birthday Weekend

Happy Birthday, Mason! It was yesterday but it was epic. Let's look at this and tell the whole truth, Mason was not all that excited leading up to his 16th birthday. History has shown that we Partaks travel during the month of October and it's typically been a vacation that Mason would love. A few of those recent past-years vacations have been -

2018 - North Carolina where Dave and Mason went to a Panthers/Bucs game and Nashville. 
2017 - Orlando and Tampa where Mason and Dave saw a Bucs/Panthers game at the Bucs home stadium in addition to Universal Studios for 2 days & Volcano Bay water park.

2016 - Chicago and then Southern CA and an NFL game watching the 49ers/Bucs play.
2015 - San Antonio, Sugarland & Houston where we had so much fun.
2014 - 4 day Disney Cruise to the Bahamas and then we spent a few extra days in Orlando. 
2013 - 3 days in Disneyland staying at Paradise Pier, a Disney Hotel.
2012 - Earlier than his birthday (August) he and I went to Minnesota for a week - EPIC!

The birthdays prior to these he was littler and enjoyed a party at Old Town Pizza, several years at our local Community Festival that had bounce houses, food, crafts, and live music, and of course at our house. The point is that the last 6 years have been big family vacations and there was not such a trip planned this year. I was thinking it may involve a car but Mason has not been all that interested in even getting his driving permit so that idea seemed kind of silly. He mentioned having a party and I loved that idea. I asked him when, and what he was thinking for the theme (as a 15-year-old boy thinks about those things) and he never brought it up again. Of course, Dave and I talked about birthday dinner and we got him gifts, a very expensive high school letterman jacket that he took possession of before his actual birthday and he also opened the Amazon box that had his fun gift in it before I could wrap it up. I advised him not to, noting that he would be bummed if he didn't have gifts on his actual birthday but he assured me, he didn't care. The few days before his birthday he made it very clear that this was shaping up to be the worst birthday ever - clearly, he cared. I had to laugh and asked, "How can this be the worst birthday ever if it hasn't happened yet?"

Later that same day Hotty Roddy called to see about stopping over while he and Cat are traveling the country in their RV and that set in motion a chain of events that I don't know if I could have planned. We all got together late in the afternoon and it went into a night of lots of old stories and laughs when Rod said, "What have Greg and Heather been up to? I sure miss them and want to see them." Mason was at the homecoming football game on Friday night so on my way to pick him up, I called Heather to see if they could come and hang out with us on Saturday. Saturday we got our day underway and Greg, Heather, and the boys came to Auburn to play with us. We had a great day and then night eating, drinking, and laughing out back with a fire in the chiminea. Jennifer came over as well. So. Much. Fun! Now I know you are probably thinking, "Who's 16th birthday is this anyway?" Yes, Sunday was Mason's birthday and with our longtime friends that we don't get to see often enough sleeping over, sharing stories of Mason being little, and all the fun of what's to come, even Mason finally conceded that it was "THE BEST 16TH BIRTHDAY EVER!" Mason played with Josh and Jake, talked culinary skills with Rod, opened a few presents that though none of them were car keys, were still pretty oaky. I made him a scratch banana cake with Nutella frosting (as per his request) and our neighbor Jen made him a brownie with coffee ice cream cake! Yeah, it was SO GOOD! This was not a birthday of jet-setting or Disney cruising, but it was a birthday of love and family and friendship. I hope Mason will look back and realize that it really was the best 16th birthday ever! I'm bummed that the photo of Cat, Rod, and Mason is not so good, but it's all I have so it stays.

If you are interested in more, here my annual birthday post for Mason...

Happy 16th Birthday Mason!
Through the years I’ve written to you on your birthday so it’s safe to say that you know about the day you were born, the weeks leading up to that day, and of course the year and a half after when your dad deployed to Iraq. On your 16th birthday, I’m going to simply tell you how much I love you, and how proud of you I am.

Watching you grow up there are lots of things that I love about you. I love how you embrace life, I love how you are willing to do things by yourself, you don’t need other people to enjoy a movie or go to a water park - not many kids have the self-confidence to venture out on their own like you do. You are so strong yet you have such a tender heart, you care about people on a level that I don’t think I understood until I was well into my late 20s. You have a wicked sense of humor, you’re talented in so many ways, and you work hard if you decide the work is worth doing. But the thing I’m most proud of you for is your ability to communicate so effectively. Not only are you articulate, but you can keep your cool and find words even when emotions are running high, either angry, sad, or frustrated. You say how you feel with kindness and conviction.

You are wise Mason, you have good instincts and I am sure you have crazy success in your future. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I love you son, your dad and I are both so proud of you. Happy Birthday! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Power Is Out

If you don't live in California, you don't know about Pacific Gas & Electric and their planned power outages, yes, planned power outages. PG&E has been found responsible for the Camp Fire a year ago in Paradise, CA and I believe the fire in Santa Rosa 3 years ago. It's a long story, but the gist of it is that PG&E cut costs 20 years ago and let go of their crews of employees who job it was to clear their power lines. Over time, the overgrowth combined with aging equipment and infrastructure we've had several super fires. PG&E is a conglomerate that has such a monopoly on electric service, that even when someone installs solar on their home, they still have to have PG&E and be tied into them to manage their power, it's total BS. With that said, we had a 3 day stretch of no power and then another 2 day stint. Greg and Heather loaned us two of their generators and to say we were grateful is a complete understatement. We were able to loan one to our neighbors so we could all keep our refrigerators running, our freezer food frozen and some of us may have plugged in our television sets. I'm really only writing about this so it's documented, and because if this is to keep up, I suspect the already masses that are leaving California will have more company. As a real estate agent, homes will become difficult to sell as people have to deal with outrageous fire insurance and now scheduled, days-at-a-time power outages. Even though this is a real pain in the butt, we tend to keep our sense of humor. Here is a fun video good friends of ours produced, it pretty much sums it all up.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Orange Roads

Isn't it crazy how life never seems to follow the direction you planned? We find ourselves at crossroads every day. Some are simple little decisions that barely cause a ripple, where others are life changing. I am careful not to make decisions that I believe I will regret and in general I'm happy with my life. My hope for you is that you feel that way as well.

I've had a number of things I wanted to be when I grew up starting with an Actor, then a Florist, and back to an Actor, then to an Olympian who would ride/compete in the 1994 Summer games on my horse who was in no way, shape, or form that calibre of horse, a cake decorator, and back to an actor. Yes, I always wanted to be an actor so when I turned 30 I started to take acting classes and became a working actor. Let's be clear, that is a far cry from a famous actor, a working actor is one who makes a paycheck here and there from auditioning A LOT, and booking a job once in a while. Through all these life experiences I found a love of writing, storytelling, and speaking. One of my orange roads in life has been the road to public speaking. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a women's expo in Sacramento and wouldn't you know, it was another defining moment in my life. It was a moment when I had to walk my talk and follow through in a really uncomfortable situation. Here's the short story...

The first lesson that I learned is something my public speaking mentor talks about at length and that is naming your speech. Mine was titled, “Let’s Be Frank. How to have tough talks with confidence and ease.” All that was printed on the program was, “Let’s Be Frank.” As if people not fully knowing what to expect from me wasn’t enough, the woman who was speaking before me brought in a full-scale Hollywood production crew to record her talk. We had a very strict 30 minute time limit and she spoke for 50 minutes And then her crew seemed to be in no rush to break down the sound and lighting equipment for me to speak after her. Needless to say, for the couple of people that were in my room waiting for me, they got to see me in action have a tough talk with two grown men. I very directly, though kindly told them that they needed to move their equipment out of the room and break it down in the hallway. I was not the last speaker of the day, however, to the two people that were in the room with me (both people I know) I delivered my speech as if it were to a packed house. “Thank you, thank you very much!”
I’m sure the title of my speech on the program in addition to all of the activity outside the door of my room contributed to me having nobody from the expo hear me speak. However, I am not one to cry over empty chairs. This is going to make an epic story in 10 years when I have a gazillion speaking engagements under my belt. I’m going to be able to talk about the day nobody showed up to hear me speak and yet I spoke anyway! LOL!

Those detours in life, when we find ourselves traveling a road we didn't plan to take, I call those the Orange Roads, the roads that we would never plan when taking a trip because they are not the direct route. I don't know that I know anyone who has set out to just travel where the road takes them, to purposefully travel without a destination in mind, or at the very least, a timeline for when the trip will end. As I've grown and paid more attention to the little things in life, I can see that there need not be a destination or even a timeline for a journey, that to just pick up and go somewhere is a wonderful idea. The roads in life that are not the planned route may not be the shortest, they likely will not be less expensive, and they may or may not be the most scenic. What I have discovered is that they are almost always the roads that will take us to our dreams. ~ Kathy P.