Category Archives: 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!


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.


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.


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

Peering Through Pain.

Tony is a little amazed that I just seem to keep going, pain or not. He says most people would just stay home… I suppose he’s right. But the thing is, I learned a long time ago that if I let pain control my life, then pain becomes my life. I’d rather have a life and deal with pain, than to isolate myself because of my fear of pain, or fear of showing others my pain.

As with most life altering things, I’m learning that having a miscarriage is one of those things that silently twines itself around the daily happenings of a person’s life. Of my life. It’s weird, because it’s like this quiet grief of which no one ever speaks. No one I meet on the street has any idea that at the moment I’m telling them “I’m fine,” in response to their standard greeting of, “How are you?” I’m actually losing a life I’ve nourished for 2 1/2 months, and a dream for which we’ve prayed for 3 years.

Today would have marked the beginning of my 2nd trimester.

The dreams are hard, and I’ve awakened more than once the past few days because I’ve been crying in my sleep. ~~ I felt like I’d been punched in the gut the other day when I saw a woman holding her newborn close to her cheek. ~~ I wanted to punch someone in the gut when, within the first five minutes of meeting him and his obviously pregnant wife, he made more than three comments about his wife being pregnant.

Irritable. Sad. Sensitive. Tired. Impatient. Cramps. Bleeding.

Yet, despite the pain — emotional and physical — I’ve been able to carry on a semblance of a normal life. I’m able to go to work, learn new things and practice my craft as an assistant. The people I work with are cool and hip. There are fun perks at this company, like free breakfasts every Friday, sponsored by the company.

Tony and I were able to have a great weekend together. Friday night, we went up to the local mountains and, Saturday morning, visited our friends (the cook & waitresses) at our favorite breakfast restaurant up there. Which also means we’ll think of them and our time up there for most of the week, because we have breakfast leftovers.

We drove down Saturday afternoon to attend a Honda-sponsored dinner event for the people who rode on their float in the Rose Parade. A dinner at a ritzy steakhouse, with appetizers, salad, main course (filet mignon for us, please) and dessert. The representative from Honda said they’d stayed away from having riders on their floats in years past, but now might reconsider that policy in the future because all the float riders this year were so wonderful. As a thank you, beyond the experience, memories and dinner, they gave all the float riders photo albums and DVDs. I continue to be so impressed with Honda corporation.

This weekend was also Marigold’s birthday and the Steve/Marigold/Huck/Milo Show invited us to join them at Disneyland. Our schedules meshed up, so we spent the afternoon at the happiest place on earth, riding kiddie rides with the kiddies and getting our picture taken with Mickey Mouse.

The best ride of the day was the Jungle Cruise, because I got this picture of nephew Huck just after we saw the hippopotamuses get “shot at” by our guide. He wasn’t pleased.

Grateful. Blessed. Loved. Grace. Amazed. Miracles.


Filed under Best Husband, Entertainment can be Cheap, Health/Endo, I did something Special, I feel Sad, I have Family, I Left Home for Awhile, Kid Quest, Money Hump Building, Sometimes I Dream

First Day.

Whew. I’m here to tell you that I’m tired. Or as I used to say when I was a little girl with a southern accent, “I’s tiiiired.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve used my brain AND stayed in an upright sitting position for a full day. Now that’s multi-tasking, right there.

Seriously, though, as far as I’m concerned, the first day went well and no one told me otherwise. I’m thinkin’ that’s a good thing, yes? There’s a lot for me to take in, a lot to learn. The typical learning curve of who’s who and who does what, as well as learning about an industry that I’ve not worked in before. I just need to be patient with myself and hope that they’ll see that I do have lights on in my head and that I am making the connections. There’s also the part where I’m used to being the person to whom questions are referred, and it’s a little odd to have the roles reversed.

I had quite the adventure getting to work today. I was told to report to work at 9, and I was all set to get there a bit earlier than that. Mostly because I wanted to avoid traffic. As it turned out, my “early” goal turned into an “on time” target, because there was a minor glitch with the cat’s litter boxes and, since they’re in the garage, those things are the last view I have of our home before I leave. Which means if there’s something wrong with them, I don’t see it until I’m literally getting in my car.

I left the top down on my car since rain wasn’t in the forecast. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I got in the middle of traffic AND a torrential downpour of rain. I kept adjusting the brim of my hat and muttering to myself, “Come ON, people! 35 miles per hour, that’s all I ask of you…” (35 MPH is the magic speed that aerodynamics kick in and send the rain over my car’s cockpit.) I swear, it must have looked like a movie set, because what are the chances the rain and traffic hit at the same spot on the freeway. Then when traffic cleared up, so did the rain. *shrugs shoulder* I guess a little rain never hurt nobody.

Beef stew in the crock pot for dinner, a few nice hours with my husband this evening, and I’m ready to call it a perfect day. Here’s hoping the rest of the week goes just as well.

One day at a time…


Filed under I ♥ My Miata, I Left Home for Awhile, Money Hump Building

Where’d It Go?

The weekend went way too fast, but don’t they always?

Our mini trip to the mountains went smoothly. We even had a dusting of fresh snow when we woke up Saturday morning. It looked so nice and pretty and fresh, because it covered all the dirty snow. Like a fresh coat of makeup, though it wore off when the sun came up.

Fresh snow…

We had breakfast at our favorite restaurant up there. Funny thing, that. One of the waitresses had seen us in one of the stores up there last November. At the time, I had been looking for dark chocolate covered marshmallow candy in the clearance bin from Halloween. She remembered that incident and found some dark chocolate covered marshmallow candy on clearance from Valentine’s Day and bought it for me the previous weekend, thinking we’d be up there. Well, we weren’t and sadly, the candy didn’t make it through the week, but it made for a pretty funny story.

Ohhh, also, the waitress shared about her trip down the mountain to some sort of gag store where she picked up The Freeloader. What’s The Freeloader, you ask? It’s an expandable fork. How hilarious is this?


Expanded… looks pretty handy, doesn’t it?

Sunday was church, and then went to pick up the husband’s parents at LAX. They were full of stories about their Habitat build and, also interesting, that it had been mid-summer (hot!!) where they had been (New Zealand). Coming back to California, with our rainy weekend, was quite a bit cooler than where they’d just been.

Field of flowers by the in-law’s house…

View on the way home. That shiny ribbon on the horizon? Ocean. Not always visible from this far away.

We had movie night last night and watched a marathon of Ice Age movies. Someone tried microwaving some expired popcorn and the house hasn’t smelled the same since.

Like I said, the weekend went by way too fast.


Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile

One More Day.

We tried to send my mom home this morning. We really did. We took her to the airport and everything. Normally, we just dump people at the curb, you know? Why go through all that heart wrenching goodbye stuff. For some reason, we decided to break from the norm and park the car and wait in the check-in line with her.

Thanks to the east coast folks who are hoarding all the planes due to the weather (How can it be so cold there, when it was 84°F here today?), our airport was short on planes, and her flight was canceled as a result.

We could have driven her to LAX, but that would have put her at her ultimate destination late at night, with luggage, to be greeted by snow and public transportation.

So, she’s staying another night. We’ll try again tomorrow morning, and the next morning, and the next morning, until we’re successful. Or Tony will, I’m not getting up that early. HA!

One of the fun things we did a couple days ago was a drive-about. I always enjoy driving out in the hills and canyons near my home. Those are the types of roads for which my little car was built! This time of year especially, the fun driving part is enhanced because it’s all green and Ireland-looking back there.


This picture wasn’t on our drive-about, it was later that evening. My cat, Tug, took over my mom’s lap. Totally cracked me up, because my cat is just about as big as my mom.

I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day… I scored a ton of chocolate, and chocolate is always good. Unrelated to that (even though it’s in the same paragraph), half of my throat feels weird and swollen. I hope I’m not getting sick…


Filed under Entertainment can be Cheap, I have Family, I Left Home for Awhile

Forever Day.

Wow, is it STILL February 1st? Really? Because it feels to me like this day should have ended about four hours ago. In a good way, I mean, because I packed so much into it.

We went up to the mountains again this weekend, it was a much more normal and relaxing adventure this time… less driving since all the roads were open, and thus, much more relaxing.

We came back a little early yesterday to take Tony’s parents to the airport. I have to say, with all the visits to airports in the month of January, this airport thing is starting to feel like a regular mode of transportation. Last night, as mentioned, we took the husband’s parents to the airport, and then today, I was back at another airport picking my mom up, can you say “parent switcharoo?” The best part is, after all the adventures we each have had, we have new stories to tell each other!

Between that, and driving to two different stores to replenish my raw milk supply (Monday is the day they get their stock), and a swim at the gym, I still managed to cook up a 16 pound turkey for dinner, along with mashed potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce. I figured that would be a good homecoming dinner for my mom.

We’ve been joking that by the time she gets back to her home in Korea, she’ll be too big for her britches… for some reason, that thought makes me very happy.


Filed under I have Family, I Left Home for Awhile, Life Encompasses Me

Determination vs. Mountain.

After I took my mom to the airport on Friday, I decided to take that pesky tire of mine into my tire place… since I was driving by it, you know. In fact, I was so confident it was going to be a waste of time, I nearly got back in my car and left. But I persevered. Turns out, the water test showed nothing, so they took the wheel apart and found a small hole on the inner part of the tire, and a staple inside. The puncture, they said, was sealing against the wheel in certain positions, so it wasn’t a constant leak but a persistent one, when it did leak.

A relief, really, because that means I didn’t tick anyone off to the degree of anger it would take to spend time deflating a tire. So there you have it, tire deflation mystery solved.

Friday night we headed up to the local mountains, only to be turned away, along with hundreds of other people, by CHP and CalTrans. Something about an avalanche up the front way and the power company needing the road to restore power on the back way. We tried both ways a couple of times Friday night and finally drove back home and slept.

Since we had no plans for the weekend other than going to the mountains, we decided to try again the next morning. So we drove back up… checked the front way, then the back way… both were still closed. So we headed to the back-back way (and final way, except for aircraft) and waited in line with 5 miles of other people from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, which is when the road opened (they had to clear an accident).

It then took us an hour and a half to drive 9.5 miles because really, people, listen to the cop who had to drive up and down the line of cars — DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to adjust or install your snow chains, PULL OFF TO THE SIDE.

Seriously, when did common sense become such a priceless commodity?

BUT, we made it up to the cabin, shoveled out the driveway, spent the night, saw incredible amounts of snow, had the best breakfast ever, helped a friend shovel out her car, played with our friend’s dogs, including an adorable puppy (puppy!!!), closed up and winterized the cabin, and came back home.

Tony shoveling, before I got out and helped… and I DID help.

Best breakfast ever…

Look, I found a car under there…

Puppy love!

It was truly a grand adventure and I can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

More pictures can be found here: Link Oh, go on, click it, you know you want to…

Happy Birthday to my friend, Tamara, today (you lurker, you!!) and to my bestest-est friend, Grace, tomorrow. I love you both. *muwah*


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

Going Places.

Since you last saw me, I’ve been to northern California and back. Monterey/Salinas area to be precise. The handful of times I’ve been there was with my ex-husband and while I loved that area, he had a tendency to cast a pallor of gloom over everything. A little advice right here? If you have a suspicion that you’ll love some place, don’t let someone who’s a weenie take you there. Or just avoid weenies.


One of my friends from high school, Bridgett, lives up there and so it worked out that we were able to hang out with her quite a bit of the time, which was thoroughly enjoyable. The last time I saw her was in 2001 and we determined that nine years is far too long of a time between visits. She and her roommates were incredibly hospitable, generous and welcoming to us. In fact, I’d never met her roommates before in my life, but felt as if I’d known them for years. I love people like that.

Bridgett is a starving artist, or we can call her a cartoonist at large! She’s had creative artistic talent for as long as I can remember and I think high school art class is actually how we met. She did something with it, though, as far as college and schooling and education, and her comic strip recently made it into the local paper. I’m so proud of her. You should be, too, because I said so and also, because she was really tolerant and humble when I embarrassed her by making her autograph everything she gave me. A copy of her cartoon on the front page of the Monterey Herald’s Sunday funnies? Please autograph. A piece of paper with directions? Please autograph. HAA!

Bridgett’s strip, Squid Row, on the front page of her local newspaper… autographed

You can find her stuff here: LINK

Besides visiting with her and touring her studio, or rather, her Cartoonery, other highlights while visiting the area included driving the 17 Mile Drive and ogling the breathtaking scenery, which included enormous waves colliding with immense power upon boulders and sheer cliffs, Bird Rock covered with so many sea lions that it looked as if, from a distance, it was covered with brown, wiggling worms, but we could hear them noisily expressing their opinions from shore, and in contrast, deer quietly standing alongside the road with green beards of grass dangling from their mouths as they quietly observed us taking their picture, and, of course, the Lone Cypress secured to the rock upon which it stands with cables, a stark silhouette against a gray sky, reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree when compared to the lush cypress trees nearby.

Bird Rock with sea lions…

The Lone Cypress

Deer with beards…

When we picked Tony up from the San Jose airport on Saturday, we visited the Winchester House. Truly, a spectacular experience. I took a ton of pictures, many of which were highly illegal (you know me and my pictures!). We did both the Mansion Tour and the Behind the Scenes Tour and they were equally entertaining, fascinating and informative.

One thing, though, if you have kids who are under 5 years old, I would not recommend taking them on any tours of the mansion. Kids love stairs and, yes, there’s a whole lotta stairs. The problem occurs when you pull the child away from the stairs to stay with the tour, and you combine that with a tour time when your child would normally be napping. Can you say “meltdown?” One child with a non-stop, hour long, shrieking meltdown equals 25 unhappy tour guests. Ugh. The tour guide offered them a credit if they wanted to “take a tour at a later time” and suggested that they could “leave and join the tour at any time”… but the parents resolved to stay with the tour, for what purpose I have no idea. It’s not like they (or anyone else) could HEAR anything the guide was saying over the 100 decibel siren that was squirming in their arms. Common sense, people, common sense.

We also went to the Steinbeck Center, which was a really educational and interactive experience. Since Salinas is a valley whose main history is rooted in agriculture and farming, and the cycle of same, and Steinbeck’s life was influenced by that, there was also a section in the museum showing the stages of crops and how they get from the fields to our kitchens. Another section in the museum was dedicated to the fine arts and local artists, however, we didn’t visit that part since Bridgett wasn’t featured in it! We could have spent much longer there, but we needed to head off to the airport… two hours is enough time to get a good feel for the place.

Oh but that all crossword puzzles could be solved just by pushing a button!

In the agriculture museum, I got to be a trucker!

We had dinner out a couple of times, once in Salinas at a wonderful Italian restaurant and once at a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. Both restaurants were suggested, and dinner was generously gifted to us, by Bridgett and her roommates. I truly am blessed to have good friends.

Sadly, we didn’t have time to go to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium (they have an octopus!!) because we departed Sunday afternoon, just before The Big Storm of California, January 2010, swept through the area. I’m currently listening to it beat down on the roof of my home and I’m so glad to be here and not out there in it traveling in a tin can through the sky.

Soooo, what have you done since last Thursday?


Filed under Best Husband, I have Family, I have Friends, I Left Home for Awhile, I Stimulate the Economy, I'm Never too Old to Learn