50 Days to 50 Years, Day 03: Napa Girl’s Weekend with Shawna Cypher!

29 07 2016

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving
for my friends, the old and new.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been so looking forward to this weekend, and thankful for my friend Shawna who helped to set it up.

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Shawna and I have known each other since 1994, when she came to Los Angeles as a nanny, and we have been the best of friends ever since. From weekends, to dinners, to impromptu road trips, she has been one of my best road dogs. I was sad when she moved back to Napa, but it also opened the door for trips up north to see her, with other friends and family in tow (as pictured above). This picture was taken the year before, when we went to Walnut Creek for the Foxx Family Reunion. We stopped in Napa on the way and spent some time with Shawna, and then Shawna crashed the reunion as our “sister from another mister”, and we all had a great time!

So when I thought of getting together a group of friends for a Girl’s Weekend, she was first on my list. Because of time, distance, and finances, some friends and family couldn’t make it, but I was looking forward to spending time with my cousin Donna and my aunt Everette, as well as my new friend Nicole, who was joining us on Saturday.

I had an amazingly smooth trip up the 5 freeway. Car rides are like a moving meditation for me, and also a moving prayer time. I have done my best praying and pondering on the road, and after the strains of the last weekend, it was needed. I enjoyed taking my sweet time, worshiping to my favorite Pandora stations, and listening for God’s wisdom and voice. Definitely time well spent.

I arrived at the Air BnB rented by Shawna’s friend Gina, and Shawna was there waiting for me. She and Gina helped me get the lay of the land, then Donna and aunt Everette arrived soon after. Shawna loved being navigator and chauffeur, and after 7 hours on the road that was fine with me. So we packed into her Rav-4 and headed to dinner at The Pear!

Shawna raved about this place, and since she has the same food tastes I do, I trusted her judgment. I was not disappointed! We started with Sunset Mimosas, Cheese Fondue, and Grilled Prawns. I love me some crustaceans, so I ordered Cheesy Grits with Prawns for my entree. It was melt-in-your-mouth, hearty goodness.

Shawna is a scrapbooker and crafter, so thanks to her mad skills, I received my first official 50th birthday card! Custom-made, no less.

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After dessert, we explored the Riverfront in Downtown Napa for a bit, and I realized this was the first time in a while that I had spent any quality time with my Aunt Everette. She is one of the last living Foxx matriarchs, and I wanted to soak up her presence as a living memory of that family and my mother.

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We saw all we could see of the Riverfront, so we headed back to the BnB for some conversation and a nightcap. Shawna had to go to work, and Everette went to bed, so me and Donna sat up a bit longer and had some good conversation about men, marriage, and how God wanted to use us as partners to the men we loved. Much needed conversation. My eyelids were drooping, so we prayed together, and both went off to bed.

Day 1 of the weekend had turned out fabulous, and I was looking forward to Day 2: Mani-pedis, and the Castello di Amaros Winery!

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 49, Happy Hour with Corey Woods

13 06 2016

“The beauty of friendship is loyalty.”
― Debasish Mridha M.D.

So I am a late bloomer to drinking and to Happy Hours; it just never was a part of my world until my late 30s and 40s. Now I love them, not merely for the discount liquor, but for the discount food! I admit it: drinking is an excuse to eat more, and I do far more of one than of the other!

This past year I have had the fun of trolling some local haunts with my friend Corey Woods. So for our “50 Days to 50 Years” date, we hit the Atwater Village Tavern on Glendale Boulevard, in what is the main street of Atwater Village Los Angeles. Corey gets the distinction of being the first participant of this 50-day “Odyssey” (His word—love it!).

Corey and I met in 2009 through his wife Andrea. Sadly, they are now divorced, but I am thankful that I have been able to maintain a friendship with them both. This is a rare thing, as one of the casualties of marriage dissolution is often the mutual friendships. But one of the traits I love about Corey is that he is loyal—if you are his friend, then you are a friend for life. That’s the way I roll too.

Had it not been for Andrea, Corey and I probably never would have met, because on their face, our lives are pretty different: He works long hours in sound and boom work in the entertainment industry, I spend my days in a Yoga studio or in front of a computer. Corey is an atheist; I am a devout Christian, and so on. Bur one of the hallmarks of my 50 years on earth that I am most proud is that differences have never been a determining factor in my choice of friends. I like people who are different than me because they give me a fresh perspective on life.

But friendship is also based on commonalities, and we have those too: we are both writers; we both have a biting sense of humor; we are blunt and to the point—a trait that is rare and unappreciated in Los Angeles; and, we also share similar ideological viewpoints: we are both constitutional conservatives. With this 2016 election cycle, there was no lacking of conversation and opinion.

I highly recommend Atwater Village Tavern, for the drinks and the eats. Corey had his favorite IPA, and he ordered me my current favorite libation, a Moscow Mule (killer!). The Happy appetizers included chicken and brisket tacos, pork nachos, and chicken wings; so a grand time was had knoshing, debating, and lamenting over the state of the world, the Republican party, and life in general.

Thank you, Corey for being first out the gate, being a loyal friend, and a fun barfly!