Category Archives: I Left Home for Awhile

Weather Tricksters!

It was last Friday evening and I was gathering my stuff to go to the gym, debating in my mind whether I’d do an easy work out that night and a heavy work out in the morning, or just do a normal work out and wait until Saturday evening to go again.

Tony walked in the door and said, “It’s raining outside. They’re forecasting thunder and heavy rain for tonight.” I turned to him and replied flippantly, “Huh. Maybe we should go to the mountains…”

His eyes lit up and, a few phone calls later, miraculously, everything we were scheduled to do that weekend was able to be rescheduled and completed that Friday night.

You see, we never go to the mountains when it’s already raining (which means snow up there), but always when there’s snow in the forecast and then 99% of the time, it wimps out on us and we just go up and see dirty snow. Or no snow at all. Also known as sunshine at a higher elevation.

So it was that last Friday, it was raining heavily and halfway up our drive on the twisty mountain road, the rain that was loudly splattering on our windshield, turned to snow which gently, quietly settled for a moment before being whisked away by the windshield wipers. We were the ones making the noise at that point, shouting giddily at each other, “We tricked it! We tricked the weather!”

It was around 2am that we settled in the cabin and finally went to bed. We awakened the next morning to a world blanketed in white. I love fresh snow. When it lands in the night, it’s as if it makes nature pause — everything is so still and quiet. Before it’s touched by humans, the pure white, drifting mounds seem to go on and on. It’s so beautiful. This is the first snow we’ve seen this season, so we were reveling in the magical quality of it.

On our way to breakfast, we drove past our neighborhood donkey, she was contentedly under cover munching on her breakfast. The wicker couch on a porch, which not that long ago held a woman basking in the last rays of sunshine while reading a book, is now covered by a blue, plastic tarp. Dogs reveling in the snow were out with their humans who were alternately shoveling and laughing at their pet’s antics. People wearing snowshoes and winter clothing were briskly heading to mountain trails, replacing bicycles that were not long ago being idly pedaled down the road. Instead of people fishing alongside the bridge, birds were standing opportunistically in their place, waiting for the ice to break just enough…

Our favorite restaurant was pleasantly busy. One of the waitresses was just back from maternity leave, and it was so good to see her. We sat at the counter, as we usually do, and partook in the camaraderie that is such a part of the place.

While eating at the counter, the lady next to me took a phone call. In a low, discreet voice, she asked her caller a few questions and then left her seat for a more private spot. I asked her husband if she was a bail bond agent, he gave me an assessing look, and replied in the affirmative.

Knowing I have a magnetism for strangers telling me most anything and everything about themselves, I mentally shrugged and asked him what he did. He replied, “I’m a criminal lawyer, but I also do Federal Marshall work…” and the conversation continued on to discuss his work, his hopes for his future career, the economy, long-time restaurants in Los Angeles, and continued for another 15-20 minutes, when his wife returned to finish her meal, she joined in the conversation.

After we left, Tony said to me, “Did you find out if they’re on LinkedIn? Maybe you should network with them.” I blinked a couple times, laughed, and replied, “Nooooo?” I’m still trying to figure out if Tony thinks we’ll maybe need a bail bond agent and a criminal lawyer in our future?

After making our rounds in town, it was back to the cabin for movies and peaceful afternoon naps. Relaxing and rejuvenating.

Someone once made the statement that we move at such a fast pace in this world, we need to stop and let our soul catch up with our body.

That’s what the mountains do for us — the beauty and peace, devoid of everyday obligations, allows our souls to catch up with our bodies.

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Filed under I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, Life Encompasses Me, Sometimes I Sleep

How It Came In.

A few months ago, the good Samaritan in the house (aka Tony) jumped his co-worker’s car for him. The guy, in an off-hand manner (everything this guy says sounds kind of off-hand, actually) told him, “Thanks, man, I owe you one.” And, as cool guys do, Tony said, “No problem.”

Fast forward to last Thursday, and I received a text message from Tony saying, “We have tickets to the Lakers game for New Years Eve.” My first thought was, “… and you’re taking me??? Yay!” My second thought was, “Are they real?” Ha! My thoughts are funny. Turns out, that was the guy’s way of paying back a favor. Which is how we ended up in Staples Center on New Years Eve, 7 rows up from the floor, center court, above the score tables.

Love the intense look on Kobe’s face. This was one second before he stole the ball, ran it down court and scored.

Pau Gasol is awesome. This series of pictures I took of him taking off his warm-up suit and running onto the court cracked me up… like he’s some supermodel or something, flinging his hair back…

You tell ’em, Fish!

Men In Yellow

Luuuuuuuuuuke!

Gotta say, nice biceps, KB.

We recorded the game, and I was glad we did because I’d forgotten how much I rely on being able to rewind stuff to understand exactly what happened and why the refs sometimes make the calls they make. Things happen so very fast during basketball games!

It was a close game… closer than it should have been. I don’t know what’s going on this season, but the Lakers just aren’t playing that well. But, for that game at least, the Lakers won (yay!) with over 100 points, and managed to keep the other team under 100 points. This is noteworthy because, since it was a home game, it meant that everyone who was there got coupons for two free Jack-in-the-Box tacos. Hooray for free food!

The next day, we were watching the recorded game and Tony goes, “Hey, there we are!!”

What? You don’t see us? Let me help you… that red spot is my jacket which I had just put on. To the left of the red spot is Tony’s purple jersey and beige shorts.

There we are! In the spotlight! We’d just been told that Staples Center was closed and we needed to exit the facility, so we turned around to gather our belongings and that there is our behinds. We definitely made the most of our 15 seconds of fame for the year.

Coming home after the game, we were traversing the opposite direction of massive amounts of traffic (imagine that, everyone going into LA to party for New Year’s?) and made it home just in time to watch the replay of the ball dropping in New York for the west coast.

And that’s how we brought in the new year. Oh, and they gave everyone those fun hats when we entered Staples Center.

Of course, I did other fun stuff over my four day weekend — highlights included a family dinner, organizing our tax book for 2010, sorting my vitamins for the next 4 weeks, water changes in the fish tanks (always), and weeding through the 500 pictures I took at the Lakers game (I discovered the rapid shutter feature on my camera a couple months ago).

With exciting stuff like that (and that’s just a small sampling), now you know why I don’t write more about the mundanities of my life every day.

(Love and Loathe is in the works, plan to post it Saturday-ish, but wanted to get this written and posted before it’s February. I would have had it up sooner, but instead I called my mom to wish her a Happy New Year’s. I knew you’d understand!)

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Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile

Up & Down the Hill.

While you were here wishing us a Happy Anniversary, we were in San Francisco having dinner, riding the cable car and walking.

We’ve been to San Francisco a half dozen times together and we’ve never had the time to ride the cable car. Thus, our main goal this visit: Ride the freakin’ cable car, already!

We walked over to the Cable Car Museum from our hotel, and caught a ride on the cable car down to Union Square. They emptied the cars of all passengers there and reloaded them. We’d been shooting the breeze with the brake guy, so he told us to walk a block up and catch it there to ride it back. Except all the cars were full. So we shrugged and just kept walking, following the cable car route, walking, all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf, walking. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, you can start smiling in amusement at us here. I’ll cue you at the appropriate time later for the laughter.

We got to Fisherman’s Wharf, and there were all the cable cars and the cable car guys taking their lunch breaks. The guy we’d been chatting with exclaimed, “Hey!” With a wave, he pointed at us, and then, “You didn’t WALK all the way from Union Square, did you?” We replied with much chirpyness, “Yep, it was great!” He was mightily impressed and we were pretty pleased with ourselves and our athletic prowess.

We walked over to Pier 39 and decided to grab a bite to eat for our own lunch. We were quite hungry given we’d just walked from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. And then… we made the mistake of sitting down while we ate… (cue for laughter here) and all our muscles froze in place. After lunch, we barely made a standing position, and then limped and gimped and hobbled (note I did NOT say “walked”) back to our hotel, where we proceeded to take a two hour nap. I guess you could say we drowned the loss of our athletic prowess in sleep?

I would normally declare a two hour nap on a Saturday afternoon decadent, however, given the state of our muscles, this nap was downgraded to the status of necessary. In fact, we could happily have made it into a 10 hour nap, except that would have smacked of admitting our age (one of us had a birthday this week, not naming names, but I’m pointing at him). No one our age wants to say truthfully that they went to bed for the night at 4pm because San Francisco kicked their a**.

After our nap, we managed to make it out to the Golden Gate Bridge for the sunset. If possible, I think one should always see the sunset from the Golden Gate Bridge. If not there, then definitely from Alcatraz island.

Truly, though, we really had the best time. San Francisco is such a fun and beautiful place, and while our home was experiencing a summertime heatwave, the weather where we were was a perfect 70°F. Some drizzle/fog in the evenings, but warmed up right nice during the day. Awesome.

We also had a bit of warm reminiscent memories, for we stayed at the same hotel where we stayed the very first time we went to San Francisco together back in 2004. We enjoyed it just as much this time as we did then. They charge a bit more now than they did then and, personally, I think they charge more now than they should. Thing is, they have a great central location and they know it.

I guess I should also mention that I’ve never been to Chinatown there. Now, I don’t know what exactly I thought Chinatown was, so my ignorance (or lack of aforethought), and Tony’s desire to please attributed to yet another long walk on already stressed leg muscles. So, we get to Chinatown and we’re “walking” along slowly, feeling all the while that we’re about a second and a half from being pick-pocketed and I turn to Tony and say, “I guess I’m not much in the mood for shopping?” And he’s all, “That’s pretty much what Chinatown is, babe, shopping.” To which I responded with a grunt. I put the venture to good use, though, because I was on the lookout for Thee Dried Plums. While there were dried plums aplenty, and I didn’t find Thee Dried Plums, there were the scariest looking dried WHOLE FISH and dried WHOLE other stuff that smelled really nasty. I’m still shuddering over those dried whole fish. After that experience, we came the conclusion that Thee Dried Plums must have been homemade — they were simply too good to have been purchased somewhere.

The flights were fairly non-eventful, memories bountiful and enjoyment of each other top on the list — just the way we like it.

P.S.1 — I didn’t even mention the most delicious strawberry cheesecake we were given for free for our anniversary, did I?
P.S.2 — Or that we saw Tony’s twin (everyone has a twin, right?) playing hoops Saturday morning. Tony even said the guy looked like him, which really means there was a similarity. So weird.
P.S.3 — There is a store called Chocolate Heaven at Pier 39 — it really is. They even have chocolate pasta in there.

P.S.4 — We walked past several enclosed fern gardens (glorious!) and a 20′ tall wall of wild blackberries (unbelievable!).

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Filed under Best Husband, I did something Special, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy

Ping Pong, Fairies, Balloons, Bikes & Pirates

With a title like that, why bother writing anything else?

Right?

The month of June is over, marking the fact that a whole bunch of kids are now a year older!

Nephew Milo has had a love of ping pongs and ping pong paddles since, well … I remember him just learning to walk, wobbling around with a ping pong paddle. Not doing anything but holding it. Then when he started talking, he would say, “Ping pong paddle!” clear as day. Just one of those things where everything lined up in the universe when he first saw them and he fell in love with ping pongs and ping pong paddles.

Given that love, his mother decided the theme for his 2nd birthday party would be ping pong. All the food was in the shape of a ping pong — even the cake. Mini pita bread on popsicle sticks were the ping pong paddles and every adult had to play in the “tournament,” with the winner being judged by the kids — and bribing of the judges was encouraged.

Somehow Uncle Tony “won” the tournament. We were all so surprised.

The next birthday party was for my friend, Grace’s daughter, Mia, who turned 4. (Can someone tell me how all the commas are supposed to go in that sentence? Nina?) For the most part, Mia has had an undying love for all things that are bug related. Snails, roly-polys, ants, flowers, spiders… they’re all her friends. Much to her mother’s chagrin. This past year or so, she’s also developed an affection for Tinkerbell. Who knew Tinkerbell also loved Mia?

And the balloon artist? This guy was really good. Not only with his balloon creations, but with the kids. I found myself entertained by him, and could have watched him create balloon creatures for hours.


After Mia’s party, we headed over to get gas, and on a whim, decided to stroll through the strip mall in which the gas station was located. As we rounded the corner, we spotted Tony’s brother, who was hanging out with a bunch of bikes. Also known as working (for him). We had nothing on our calendar, so we decided to sit and visit with him.

This is actually Tony in the picture, but trust me when I tell you, all those bikes are NOT Tony’s…

Who should stroll by, but Captain Jack Sparrow! And the balloon guy had a gig down at the end, so we went to get the nephews some balloon swords and surreptitiously watched Sparrow pose with random kids. It was weird; we felt like it was just a continuation of Mia’s birthday party, except Mia wasn’t there and our nephews were. Weird.

This weekend, we get a holiday from birthday parties (don’t worry, we have two next weekend to make up for the time off). To kick the weekend off, we went yesterday and saw Eclipse. Something always goes wonky when we go to movie premieres and yesterday was no exception. The movie started, but the sound died and switched to playing the radio, and the curtains in front of the screen didn’t open all the way. They couldn’t fix it, so they upgraded us all into the IMAX theater. Oh my, IMAX. Can you say LARGE SCREEN with dizzying proportions? I can now say with certainty that even vampires have pores and nose hairs… and Taylor Lautner has very nice abs.

How big does a screen need to be anyway? See that guy way down there? That’s actually a concession stand.

Today was a relaxing, but busy day. We were on the go from the moment we got up. But it was relaxing because it was stuff we wanted to do… you know, like swimming (for me), basketball (for him). A deep tissue massage (for me), and another movie (for him). A drive in my convertible and working on a garden (both of us). Gaming (for him) and blogging (for me).

Just a nice day of freedom. Happy 4th of July.

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Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I did something Special, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

Just Big Kids!

We all know that June is the month for weddings, but who knew it’s also birthday party month for kids? I’m looking at our calendar, and we have a party to attend every weekend of the month. Gives a whole new meaning to September being a hot month. Yeah, think about that last sentence for a second.

To kick off the month of birthday parties, our Parallel Lives Neighbors invited us to their kids’ birthday party. Their oldest turned 4 the end of May (for the record, she was actually supposed to have been born in June), and the youngest turns 1 next week. So they had a party for both of them this past weekend.

They hold their birthday parties at a nearby park that’s well-hidden, and owned by the company where they both work. It’s kind of this place that you want to ensure you’re with someone you know and trust, because otherwise you’re driving and driving, and you turn off the main road and you’d swear the person you’re with is gonna take you out and shoot you.

When we get to the parking lot, we’re greeted with this sign…

And then we noticed a bunch of turkey vultures circling above us. Like I said, you really wanna know the person you’re with.

There’s a clearing with picnic tables and a cement slab, on which the bouncy house was placed. I mean, what else would you do with a cement slab in the middle of nowhere?

We didn’t know everyone there, but we knew a few. Enough to feel comfortable visiting or just making small talk with those we didn’t. Tony was envious of all the fun the kids were having in the bouncy house, so he was kind of hanging out there… and if you know Tony, you know that kids just kind of flock to him. It wasn’t long before the kids involved him in some sort of monster-roaring, fake punch throwing kind of game.

Tony playing with some random, unknown boy child.

Tony kept a close eye on things, and when the kids gathered around the pinata and cake…

The big kids took over the Tweety Bird bouncy house!

On Sunday, we managed a kidnapping of my friend, Grace, and off we went to CaliforniaLand. It was a warm day, and I’ve never gone on the Grizzly River Rapids ride. There were warnings everywhere that we would get wet.

Oh my, did we get soaked!

No trip to Disney theme parks is complete without a visit to one of their bakeries for their chocolate drizzled macaroons. I took this picture because it struck me as amusing… one shelf of healthy apples, and the rest of the display cases were full of sugar laden goodies guaranteed to put you in a sugar coma for the rest of the day.

Believe it or not, I only bought one macaroon at that store. I did get a rocky road cup and a chocolate covered strawberry (sort of healthy, right?) at the candy store. I promise they’ll last me all week!

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Filed under Best Husband, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

The Long Weekend.

The sun had slid silently, without drama over to the other side of the house, casting the porch into lengthening shadows. Pine trees surrounded the house, the tips of their branches opening like candelabras reaching toward the heavens, standing straight, tall and green, like silent sentinels to the weather changes. Last week there was snow, this week there was sun.

A soft breeze flirted with the skirt that covered the white wicker furniture on the porch. The breeze, combined with the lengthening shadows encouraged the woman curled on the wicker couch reading a book, to pull the blanket closely about her. The book she was reading in peaceful solitude had distanced her to the passing of time.

Her back was to me, her aged white hair pulled up into a bun, the entire essence of her that I glimpsed in the 30 seconds it took us to pedal past her house, gave me the sense that she had enjoyed the sun and was enjoying the shade just as much, but the book she was reading took priority to her comfort.

I enjoyed that moment of imaginary and, despite a 5 hour journey (2 hours normally) to get to the mountains on Friday (due to this), then coming down with a nasty cold early Saturday morning and getting the first period since my miscarriage (a helluva doozy, if you’re curious), there were lots of good moments that more than made up for the pain and inconveniences.

We BBQed chicken skewers and spontaneously invited friends who happened to be up there to join us. We talked late into the evening and it was such good fellowship.

On one of our bike rides, we stopped and visited with the donkey who lives a couple streets over from our mountain cabin, and when we left I received a rather loud serenade of sad donkey hee-haws… “DON’T GO, DON’T GO!” He seemed to say.

Taking my coffee out on the back porch in the early morning hours and listening to the squirrels “chaw-chaw-chaw-chaw” at each other from the tree tops, while they performed a strange dance of hops and runs from one tree top to the next, fearless of heights, sounding for all the world like a strange bird.

We had breakfast at our favorite breakfast place, and one of the waitresses, hoping we would be up this weekend, brought me a dark chocolate candy bar with almonds. She was so excited to be able to give it to me, and I was so touched at her thoughtfulness.

The cook at our favorite breakfast place cooks two nights a week at a fancy restaurant. He’s always encouraged us to come by, with stories of deliciously prepared food. Sadly, we’ve never been up there on the nights he works there, but we were this trip, so we made a date of it.

On the way down the mountain this morning, for the first half of the drive, there was no one in front of, nor behind us. If you’ve ever driven a twisty mountain road and been stuck behind someone, you know what a blessing that is.

And the Sweet Broom is blooming — the fragrance is amazing. We rolled our windows down, things a-flying about in the car, the bird chirping away at the havoc of it all, but the fragrance, oh, the fragrance!

The snow has melted (this is one of my favorite views on the drive down, in case you hadn’t noticed).

It was one of those weekends that made you believe that if you could just blow a dandelion in one deep, long breath, that maybe, just maybe, you could have another weekend just like it. Starting now.

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Filed under I did something Special, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

Don’t Fit In…

… or I have temporary ADD and can’t seem to put together a coherent post about one topic. So you get bullet points. I know, you’re thinking “Hey, that’s no different than your most recent posts!” And I’m here to tell you, it is too. Because I’m not using asterisks, instead you get two dashes for each new thought. So there. Don’t argue with me, you won’t win.

And now that we’ve settled that, here are things I’ve done in the last couple of weeks but don’t seem to fit in anywhere.

— I got a new cell phone. A Samsung Reality. Yes, mom, a Korean brand. It has a QWERTY keyboard and I feel like I’ve now upgraded to the Big Time (even though I didn’t get a data plan). Text messages? Bring ’em on, baby!

— I also got a 2nd computer (remember my other one’s monitor died just after I lost my job last year). I got a Gateway Netbook and I love it. It also has Windows XP, which makes me very, very happy.

— I upgraded the RAM in both my Netbook and my Notebook. My Netbook hadn’t even been turned on when I did it. After seeing how fast my Notebook booted (with Windows Vista, no less), I now cry out, “Why didn’t I do that sooner? WHY?” Vince even told me to, way back when it was new.

— Graham crackers are delicious. Who let me forget that?

— I colored my hair a golden brown color for summer. It’s pretty.

— Umm, I think yesterday marked one year with no usage of shampoo. I’m too lazy to check my archives, but I think that’s right. I also think that’s pretty cool.

— I got a Furminator for the cats. It appears that they think my hand has grown a purple cat tongue that grooms them. They now fly across the room when I open the drawer it’s kept in.

— Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that I got a bit sunburned (slightly pink, not ouchy, ouchy burn) on Saturday when we went to Sea World, and now it’s raining outside? So, you know, here I am walking around all tan-like and there’s no sun.

— We saw Bill Cosby on Sunday evening. He’s 72 years old, married 46 years and is the only person I know who can bring a thousand people to hysterical laughter just by saying, “Aaaand then…” Worth every penny spent for laughing for two non-stop hours. Awesome.

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Filed under I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy, Kid Substitutes, Tidbits