Faithful readers, I apologize. You've probably noticed I've been posting less these past couple of months. The reason? I haven't figured out how to add another day to the week. Here's what life has been like around here lately:
In April I traveled to North Carolina for a weeklong art workshop at the Kanuga Center just outside Flat Rock. It was a breathtaking setting for a truly wonderful experience -- taking a workshop from one of my most favorite artists and art instructors, Jo Toye. Jo is an amazing workshop instructor and I came away from Kanuga with so many ideas and new techniques that I thought my brain would melt down.
Two weeks after returning home from the workshop, Hubs and I flew to California to attend our niece's wedding and spend vacation time with two of my brothers and their wives. We hit some of the art galleries in Laguna Beach and enjoyed lunch in a restaurant there overlooking the Pacific. Sister-in-law Barbara and I did some serious treasure hunting (Orange County has awesome thrift stores!!), and got in a fascinating tour of a dichroic glass manufacturing company that's normally off limits to the public. (That's because Barbara, who teaches silver smithing and other creative skills, is one of their customers.) All in all, it was 12 days of pure fun -- and the wedding was the stuff of fairy tales.
It had been years since I had visited Southern California, and so I didn't really know what to expect. It took me about 10 minutes after de-planing to decide I loved the climate. It was great...No bugs! No humidity! The absence of those was enough to fall in love with SoCal, but the cost of housing in California is so outrageous that three quarters of the population can't qualify for a mortgage. Houses that sell here for $200,000 go for one million out there. With bidding wars, yet.
But oh, the food! It was amazing, and everything was so fresh. We had wonderful meals every place we went, from a hole in the wall taco place to a swanky Italian restaurant to a chain of restaurants called Avila's that served up Mexican food to die for. (We hit Avila's twice.) There was also an out of the way Chinese restaurant (I forget the name) that served out of this world Honey Walnut Shrimp. We went there twice, too.
You know how Californians claim to be so laid back? We got an upclose look at just how "laid back" some of them are. Thanks to California's lenient marijuana laws, you can buy weed everywhere. It's like buying bread or milk. One afternoon we stopped in at WalMart to pick up a few supplies. Our cashier at the checkout -- a ponytailed guy who looked to be around 30-- was so stoned he could barely function. His eyelids were at half mast, his speech was distant and slow and his moves were even slower.
The woman ahead of me in line had arranged her purchases into two piles so they could be handled as separate transactions. The cashier managed to ring up one of them, but seemed to be at a total loss as to how to ring up the other one. The logistics of ringing up two separate purchases for the same person threw him for a loop. After a lot of fumbling and mumbling, he finally gestured at the second pile of merchandise and told the woman, "Oh, just take them."
She, obviously being an honest person, protested and said no, she couldn't just take the stuff because it wasn't right. The cashier replied with "I don't know how to ring those up...go head, just take them." And he indicated for her to remove them from the counter. She tried to press some bills into his hand, insisting that she couldn't just walk out with the stuff, but he refused to accept the money. She tried again, and again he told her, "No, just take them." Shaking her head in disbelief, she gave up, added the items to the bag she was holding, and left.
Watching this exchange, Hubs and I were incredulous. I just wish I had thought to capture it with my cell phone. For our purchase this cashier somehow gathered his wits sufficiently to operate the register (it was a single transaction, we were paying with cash and we weren't buying much) so we were spared our own round of Fun with Puff. But we were troubled at what we had just witnessed. A giant retailer like WalMart might be able to absorb losses to greater degree than most companies, but an employee like this could put a small mom and pop operation out of business in short order. And one more thing: Come the end of his shift, he'd be on the road and behind the wheel, driving while stoned out of his mind. What a comforting thought. I can't help but wonder...when they made marijuana as easy to buy as margarine, what in the heck were California's lawmakers thinking???