Friday, September 28, 2007

Coffee and Rain

It's raining this morning! Well, o.k., it's sprinkling very mildly... but it was enough to have to use my windshield wipers on my way to work! I love it! I'm wearing a sweater, jeans, and tennis shoes, and sipping a Mocha - my Friday morning treat to myself. Unfortunately it's an iced mocha. I wasn't thinking properly when I ordered it and now am wishing that it was all hot and steamy to complete my cozy rainy morning fantasy. Hmmm, that statement can be taken really the wrong way. I'm talking about coffee guys! I mean coffee... guys, not Coffee Guys.

So, back on track, there is the most adorable perfect little coffee shop called Marie et Cie in Studio City that I drive by on my way to work every morning. It has a fantastic atmosphere with the most adorable indoor and outdoor seating. They also have a store where they sell cards, home decor, and furniture - really cute eclectic stuff. The coffee is always excellent and consistent, the service is amazing, and it's way cheaper than Starbucks! I've grown very attached to my local coffee house, despite the fact that I'm not a huge coffee drinker. Plus, it is a one of a kind, locally owned place that has been around for 15 years so it makes me feel good to be supporting their business. So this coffee shop has become my new beacon of temptation. I have strong desire to stop in every single time I drive by it and I'm not exagerating. So, the only way I have been able to curb my temptation to drink lattes 10 times a week is to turn it into a special Friday morning ritual. Starting with Monday, as I'm nearing the coffee shop and my arms are starting to tense at the wheel urging me to pull into the parking lot, I tell myself no, that I have to wait for the end of the week. So as the days of the week go by and I get closer to Friday, the anticipation builds as I look forward to my special end of the week treat with Marie.

This being a ritual and all, of course I order the same thing every week - a white chocolate mocha over ice and a cranberry muffin. Now, when I say cranberry muffin, I'm not talking about oversweetened, dried cranberries. We're talking about whole fresh melt in your mouth juicy cranberries with this incredible orange glaze on top. It reminds me of the time my best childhood friend Courtney and I made fresh Oregon Blueberry homemade muffins from scratch at her mom's house to enter at the county fair. Now I have this incredible urge to run out and buy a muffin tin and start looking for different muffin recipes to play around with. Although, if I were able to come up with a cranberry muffin recipe to make at home that are as good at the ones at Marie's, that might not be the best thing in the world for me. It's dangerous to have access to that much power. However, as I was turning to leave the coffee shop this morning, my eye did catch an item in the pastry case that just might lead me to move on from the orange glazed cranberry muffin. Behold, the Rustic Apple Tart. I already can't wait until next Friday. Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So Seumas is doing well in his recovery. The first night we brought him home he was definitely groggy and in pain. He whimpered every now and again - so helpless. It about tore our hearts out. Don and I did our best to comfort him. We wrapped him up in the afghan and nestled him between us on the couch and carried him outside so he could relieve himself every couple of hours. We also kept a close eye on him so that he wouldn't have to wear the cone thing as much as possible. For the first couple days he had some scabs and redness but those are starting to heal now. He doesn't seem to be in any pain anymore but he has been doing a pretty good job of monitoring his own activity level and keeping things low key. He still wants to jump off the couch and the bed though so we really have to watch him. Mostly he has been a little ball of utter sweetness. Of course we have been giving him the royal treatment including a diet of soft canned foods while he is still healing and lots of affection and attention. He is so good when we check him out to see how things are healing. He lays on his side for us and lifts his leg so that we can examine him. It feels pretty good to know he trusts us that much to voluntarily let us get that close to his wound. He still wants to lick a bit so during the day I shut him in the kennel by himself with the cone on and then take it off at night when we can watch him. He makes a pretty darn cute lampshade puppy. He obviously doesn't love to wear it but he deals with it pretty well. I just have to remember to take it off before I let him outside because it get's stuck in the grass and he can only move backwards and not forwards.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Drop Off

Today is Seumas' big day for his surgery. Luckily, I watched the episode of the dog whisperer earlier this week where Cesar takes in three rescue dogs from Hurricane Katrina to help rehabilitate them and in part of their physical healing process they all go in together to get spayed and neutered. So I followed Cesar's instructions for helping to make this the most positive and least stressful experience possible. We stuck to our morning routine as much as possible. Don got up and let the dogs out and then put them in bed with me where they got to snuggle for another 30 minutes or so. Then I got up and got ready for work like I normally do. when it was time I took Seumas for a big long walk to help him burn off energy, take care of his business, and get into a nice calm relaxed state before entering the vet.

When we arrived at the vet he did quite well, he was very curious about all of the other animals in the waiting area - sniffing cats in boxes and socializing with the other dogs. However, I didn't factor in the Friday morning rush. We had to wait in the little waiting area about 20 minutes or so before we were helped so Seumas had lots of time to absorb all of the weak energy from all of the other spooked animals in the office and by the end he was quite frightened himself and wondering what was going on. He became little hunch puppy with his tail between his legs and his big spooky eyes really unsure of what was happening.

And this was the hardest part. Cesar says never nurture an animal when they are in a weak state of mind because it only reinforces their fears. Instead, remain calm and assertive like nothing is wrong and allow them to learn to deal with the situation (assuming there is no true danger). It was the hardest thing in the world to not pick him up and shelter him when he tried to crawl up my leg for protection. But I maintained my "jedi cool" (as Kristy put it) and projected a confident energy that he had nothing to be afraid of. It felt so cruel but I knew that if I were to rush in to the rescue and cater to his fears that it would be more about making myself feel better than doing what was actually best for him.

So finally I filled out the paperwork and accompanied him during a quick check up and then they said to come back between 4 and 6 to pick him up. I plan to be there by 4:01. I am only trying to hold off until about 1:00 or 2:00 before I call the vet to check up on him. Now that he is out of sensory range I can express all the anxiety I want until I go back to pick him up again and see that he is all right.

Out of all of us, Cordy is taking it the hardest. When I stopped off at home to change for work she was running all over the house looking for Seumas and panicking. I could still hear her inside the house whimpering frantically when I was pulling out of the driveway. Poor Girl.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kitty Lick

I found this picture on one of my favorite websites today - The Daily Puppy - and had to share.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Say Goodbye to My Little Friends

Less than 48 hours to go until Seumas' gets his lovely procedure done. I guess he can't be a real LA Dog until he has a little Nip Tuck anyway.


We have been having the loveliest weather. Nice cool temperatures in the 70s or so. It has been cool enough to walk the dogs straight away when I get home from work instead of having to wait until after dinner when it has cooled off. The days are starting to get shorter too. I had to set my timed lamp in the living room back one half hour because it was getting dark before the lamp turned on. With September more than half over, I think it's safe to say that we are transitioning into Fall.

I'm excited to see what the changes in seasons will bring. I have no idea what to expect as it seems that I am living in a whole new world. I imagine a fall and winter of mild to warm temperatures where the trees never lose their leaves and the sun stays out until 8:00 o'clock at night. Obviously that vision is not based in reality. But I have never experienced Autumn in the desert and I'm really interested to see how different it is from the rest of the year. Last night I turned the Auto-AC off and opened the windows and doors. It was nice to let the fresh breeze in until Don and I woke up at 1:00 in the morning to the sound of helicopters in our bedroom. Maybe we won't be sleeping with the windows open anymore. But I am excited to start saving a bit on electricity. It is so backwards to everything I know to have the expensive electric bills in the summer and the light ones in the winter. Don and I still look at our gas fireplace in the living room and laugh thinking "when are we ever going to need that?" Which is why we ran our speaker wires through the fireplace. Wonder if we will be regretting that anytime soon?

This morning I decided to take a peak at the forecast - something I never do anymore because it doesn't make much difference in one's day whether it is 70, 80, or 90 degrees. So I was quite surprised to look at the forecast and see that not only are we going to be having highs in the 60s for a couple of days this week but we are also supposed to get rain! Correction... showers! And possibly thundershowers. There have been a couple of mornings here where I have waken up to a little bit of mist in the air and slightly damp ground. But this will be the first actual rain I have experienced in over 17 weeks! That goes without saying that that is the longest I have ever gone without rain in my entire life. But I'm actually excited about it. I'm deadly curious to see what happens to Californians when you get them a bit soggy:)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Gaming Group

Here we are. Now you have something to visualize when I talk about the gaming group.

Don, "The Game Master"

Katie, a.k.a. "Jessamine the Half-Elf Favoured Soul"
and Jeremy, a.k.a. "Remus the Half-Elf Rogue Swashbuckler"

Matt, a.k.a. "Bullwork, the Warforged Knight"

Camille, a.k.a. "Bodiaca the Half-Drow Duskblade"

Me, a.k.a. "Drucilla the Elven Cleric"

Jeremy with Pirate Face.

Before and After

Because I am a dork, I took before and after pictures of some of my cleaning escapades last week. There is nothing more beautiful than a clean house with the occasional Wiener Dog accessory.










Early-Late Housewarming

It's hard to believe, but we are already halfway into September, over three months since we moved to LA. We have been Californians for a whole entire quarter of a year! Can you believe it? So, Don and I finally got our act together, and organized a housewarming party. Which we sent out to all 10 of our California friends. Six people made it (plus me and Don makes 8) and the others were mostly excused for being out of state at the time. We had a really nice time and loved the opportunity to introduce folks to our new home who had not been out to see us yet. Thanks Cindi and Dave and Ed and Jill for making the drive! We had plenty of games for entertainment but ended up spending the time relaxing and visiting and eating - lots of eating. Don and I grilled up some super tasty salmon on the weber (the first decent fish I've had since we left Washington) and Matt and Camille brought some awesome gourmet bratwursts which were voraciously devoured. We also had a nice greek pasta salad and some tasty garlic bread. We finished off the meal with a hearty slice of cheesecake and I followed Jill's bright idea to sprinkle it with mnm's which was awesome! And of course, let's not forget all of the appetizers and finger foods. I don't think there was a person there who did not reach the pleasantly full state of being.

After our lovely Saturday get together, Don and I lazed most of the morning and leizurely took care of the after party cleanup - an easy job since we were bad environmentalists and opted for the evil paper plates and plastic cups. But we were sure to recycle all of the pop cans and beer bottles! Sunday, having fulfilled all of our social needs for the weekend, Don and I were in the mode to lay low and enjoy each other's company just the two of us. So we had an at home date day where we spent the afternoon organizing our D&D miniatures collection. Don found a website where you can enter your collection and it will randomly generate warbands for you. This was a very exciting discovery as it can sometimes take an hour or more to organize a team just to play a 20 minute battle. So we got in two quick games in half the time it takes us to usually play just one. Plus it adds another element of chance to the game that is kind of exciting. The first game I creamed Don, and the second game was a bit closer but Don was definitely in control of the board from start to finish and his strategy definitely won out. The warband generator aside from saving time is also quite intelligent. It really puts together teams that play off of each others strengths so it is exciting to see what it comes up with and I can't wait to play some more games when we get a chance.

And of course we finished the day with our well named "couch portion of the evening" - our time of night where we sit on the couch with the dogs and watch our programs. Our current shows that we are watching are Heroes, Supernatural, and the 4400 - all on DVD so don't spoil the newer seasons for us! Heroes is pretty catchy and we are definitely getting into it. The 4400 has some interesting things happening but I'm not addicted yet. And I'm still not sure about the Supernatural. I think it's an interesting idea but not very well executed so far. I'm told it gets better so I am waiting it out to see what happens. Personally, I can't wait for the new season of Battlestar Galactica to come out. I thought it was going to be in October but somebody the other day said it's December now. Ugggh! Battlestar is the only show we like enough to watch it in it's current season. Since we don't have cable, we download the shows off of itunes which works for me because then we still don't have to bother with commercials.

The countdown continues to Seumas' surgery this Friday. I'm feeling a little better about things but mostly because I'm just trying not to think about it. Jeremy and Katie's dog Max (three legged beagle\yellow lab mix) stayed the weekend with us while they were out of town. The dogs mostly get along but Seumas is always having to fight that biological urge to make Max his girlfriend. He always did go for the blondes. I think his relationships with other dogs will be much more relaxed after his surgery. He is naturally a social dog, always interested in other animals and other people. However, other dominant dog types don't always appreciate his overly "friendly" behavior. So maybe now he will be able to relax and socialize easier without having to overcome the mating drive.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I just made an appointment to get Seumas neutered next Friday. And I feel horrible! For one thing, I'm scared that something could happen to him and how horrible would it be if we lost him during an unnecessary surgery. I know these veterinarians do this all the time but still, surgery is surgery and there is always a risk. For another thing, I hate the idea of causing him pain and discomfort and it makes me feel like a bad mother. And finally, I'm also going to be kind of sad to see those little balls go. There's nothing more comical than looking across the room and seeing Seumas' bottom half sticking out of the blanket airing out his little doxie package. I know it sounds really stupid, but it's always been a part of him and his identity and it's hard to let go of. Deep down I know that this is what's best for him and that it will help him to be a more healthy balanced dog, and me to be a more responsible pet owner. But knowing I'm doing the right thing does jack all for feeling like I'm doing the right thing. Whoever would have thought that this would be so hard? I still remember the day I picked Cordy up from her surgery when she was still a 6 month old puppy. Her bandage from the IV looked so big on her little leg that it looked like she was wearing a tiny pink cast and her eyes looked like she'd been crying from the soothing ointment they put on her during surgery. Why does being a good mother have to involve doing things that cause physical pain to your babies?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perfect Weekend / Perfect Evening

It's the quintessential get to know you question: Describe your idea of the perfect.... date/evening/weekend/getaway. Well, I am a simple person. I just had the perfect weekend followed by the perfect evening.

My idea of the perfect weekend includes minimal, if any, social obligations with lots of free uninterrupted time to relax, read/watch movies, and clean my house. That's right, I said idea of the perfect weekend includes cleaning my house. That may seem strange to some people, but it is not the actual cleaning that I enjoy, it is the after effect of the house being clean. It gives me a calm soothing energy and replaces feelings of chaos with a sense of control. I think if I had a neurosis it would definitely be obsessive compulsive disorder but lucky for me, I am relatively sane. Anyway, not only do I love the feeling of being in a clean organized attractive looking home, but I also love the time it saves me during the week. When I live in an orderly environment, I feel more efficient, more productive, and more inspired all the way around. I am likely to exercise more often, cook more often, save more money, enjoy the company of my husband and other guests, and sleep sounder at night.

So, as I said earlier, while I love the clean house, I don't love the actual cleaning part. So I have devised a cleaning process that makes it more enjoyable. It's my work/reward system of watching movies and cleaning in intervals. I actually set a timer and start by watching my movie for 15 minutes, then pause the movie and clean for 15 minutes. That way I get to play as much as I have to work and it can keep me going for longer periods of time. Don hates it when I do this. But he is smart enough to stay out of the way and entertain himself so as not to get charged with too many chores. He did, however, brave Costco for me on a Sunday to bring back Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, and a couple of months supply of Coke. My hero!

So this weekend was perfect. I had relatively two full days of cleaning my house with the perfect break on Saturday night when we went over to Camille's and she cooked us an amazing dinner and dessert as we watched movies, visited, and then I even fell asleep on her couch. Of course this worked perfectly with my weekend of cleaning as it saved me from not only not having to cook dinner myself, but I also didn't have to clean up the dishes afterwards - thanks Matt! Plus, it was awesome company. And I got to see Matt and Camille's new apartment now that they are all moved in (which is looking quite adorable and orderly itself, what now with the upgrade to a two bedroom, everything is so spacious and clean and nicely decorated). I also got to meet their adorable new kitten Ali.

I finished the weekend with a scrubbed, vacuumed, dusted, and windexed house; a spotless kitchen, dining room, living room, both bathrooms, and master bedroom; and every last bit of clothing, sheets, and towels we owned, cleaned, folded, and put away where they belonged. And it felt great! I even took before and after pictures of the house and will have to post them when I get some time. The only rooms I didn't get to were the gaming room, the spare bedroom, and the office (big surprise) so I am hoping to tackle those this coming weekend.

So, if that is my idea of the perfect weekend, you must be wondering what my idea of the perfect evening is. Well, my idea of the perfect evening was exactly what we did last night. First, you have to start with a nice clean house. Check. Second, as soon as you get home, you get the exercise portion of the evening out of the way. Last night I ran 45 minutes on the treadmill while I watched the first episode of Season 4 of Buffy. Check. Third, you get the dogs some exercise so that they will be calm and peaceful for the rest of the evening and not annoy you while you are trying to relax. So Cordy and Seumas got their own 45 minute tour of the neighborhood last night. Check. Fourth, you make an awesome healthy but very tasty dinner and clean the dishes as you dirty them so that there is not a huge pile in the sink to work on after you finish eating and are ready to relax. This is a good time to involve your partner as it's much more fun to cook and clean together than it is by yourself. Check. Fifth, you eat your awesome dinner together at the table that is normally covered in papers and junk but isn't today because you cleaned it off over the weekend. You maybe even light a nice smelling candle. Check. Sixth, it is time for the couch portion of the evening where you and your partner relax together with your pets on the couch and watch your favorite t.v. shows for an hour or so. Last night we watched two episodes of The 4400. We just started the second season on Netflix. Check. Seventh, go to bed happy and tired but read a chapter in your book before you fall asleep. Last night, it was Harry Potter IV. Check. I give you...the perfect evening.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Christmas Comes Twice a Year

Don and I have made our Christmas plans. It's still three and a half months away but I'm excited already! With our families coming from different states and us living separate from them all together, it is always a challenge to figure out how to spend the holiday season since we can't be in two places at once. Usually, when our work schedule allows us to get away (unlike our first married Christmas in Bellingham that we spent just the two of us - still one of my most special Christmas memories - Don spoiled me) we try to split the difference by doing Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with the other.

Of course it sucks living so far away from our families. I do get jealous sometimes when I think of Terri and Matt raising Amber in Eugene where they live 5 miles from both sets of Grandparents. And I do wish that could be me. It would be nice to be able to see both of our families all of the time, sharing not only the holidays together but getting together on the weekends and even living close enough to meet for lunch! I think this will become even harder when Don and I have kids eventually and have to raise them all by ourselves without all of the first hand family support that lucky little Amber gets to have.

But getting back to the holidays, you learn to make the most of what you have and in some ways it is kind of nice to be able to indulge fully in the holiday season whether in Oregon or Idaho and really enjoy that time with the family that you are with rather than having to drive back and forth from one house to another. I do hear stories from friends - married couples with children especially - how living close to family doesn't make the holiday scheduling any easier. Instead of just choosing here or there - like Don and I do - it is more like, here, there, around the corner and back again- 48 hours, 32 relatives, 6 houses, and 4 Christmas dinners later can turn a Merry Christmas into a very chaotic Christmas that is hard to enjoy in the happy relaxing vacation mode that Don and I usually get to enjoy ours.

Well, for the first time ever, Don and I will get to enjoy Christmas with not one but both of our families. Don and I are having not one Christmas this year, but two. We were able to work our schedules such that we are flying to Boise Friday the 21st and will be there through the weekend and Christmas morning. Then Christmas afternoon we fly back to California and arrive at 4:30 to spend Christmas evening and the rest of the week with Kristy and a few of her friends (including my 30th birthday on the 27th of December) who will be out here enjoying a nice holiday vacation in our sunny state. I think it will be quite an interesting and exciting holiday getting to have Christmas with Don's family and then come back home and do it all over again with mine. I also think it will be a crazy experience to go from snowy Christmas in Boise back to sunny Christmas in LA. Talk about two different worlds! But I can't wait!

The jury is still out on what we will do for Thanksgiving. Don and I will both have the 4 days off but after looking at tickets this late in the season they are already a little too pricey especially after purchasing the Christmas tickets. So it looks like we will be staying here in California but if anyone wants to come out here for Thanksgiving we would be happy to host! Any takers?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Good Start

Last night was our first night of gaming for our Eberon Campaign in 4 weeks. Missed one week due to traveling, skipped one due to low energy, and one week we play tested the Quick Start guide to the new Demonhunters RPG (super fun). So it was like coming back to an old friend...with old friends. :) We had some very strange encounters last night that were quite interesting to role play especially from the perspective of my character who has a bit of a fascination with the dead. We came across the aftermath of a battle in which the entire battlefield was littered with casualties but some magical element in the land had perfectly preserved all of the bodies even though they had died years ago - very erie. It was pretty devastating and hard will oneself to move forward even in a fictional world. Kudos to the Game Master. Anyway, we had a good session as always, beat some bad guys, and after the experience points were awarded last night my character leveled! So I am now a 4th Level Elf Cleric. And now we must game a lot and game hard because I just realized I get some really cool spells when I get to 5th level!

I had a nice dinner planned of fresh sandwiches and watermelon and was planning on being healthy but when Matt and Camille showed up with the Hard Apple Cider and Chips Ahoy Cookies that went right out the window. Plus, Katy made these awesome green tea truffles but those were from the South Beach Diet cookbook so at least they weren't too bad for you. So I went a little overboard with the snacking and a lot overboard with the cider. But this morning I made up for it by getting up early and walking the dogs before work. It felt really good to be out when the air was still cool and damp and of course the dogs loved it too. They even did well considering I walked them both at the same time which is usually a bit of a challenge. But I just put one on each side of me and for the most part they kept in line. It makes me want to try to get up early and take them out more often.

So now I have arrived at work. I figure since I am off to a productive start of my day I will try to keep that running and get some good work done today here at work (after I finish blogging of course). I don't have many deals pending today so I think I will do some more organizing of the office and then split my time between reading my leasing books and putting some more work into my training manual. Then, assuming I can still keep my productive streak going, I hope to spend some good time cleaning and organizing at home this weekend. We have been in the house long enough now (3 months) that we have started to acquire more STUFF and so instead of the prestine house we had when we first moved in and everything had a place where it belonged, we are now starting to get a build up of clutter. So hopefully we can get everything back in order again and get clean flow of calm energy flowing through the house again. This will make me a much happier person and far more relaxed which I'm sure Don will appreciate as I have been most unfortunately quite edgy and irritable this week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back to School

Well, it is official. The school year has definitely started. I can tell because my nice non-highway street commute is now suddenly congested all around the 15 schools in between my house and work. So I have been experimenting the last couple of days trying to find the easiest route to take around all the schools with the least congestion. Also, with back to school season, two days a week I am now primarily by myself at work as my instant message buddy, my sister Kristy, is now back to her part time student status and taking classes during working hours when she could be at her desk talking to me! Can you believe it!

Anyway, although it has been a few years since I have been a student, I do still get a little excited thinking back on the start of a new semester and nostalgic for being a student again. But I guess the process of learning doesn't have to stop just because one is not paying thousands of dollars a year to attend university. I'll just have to spend a little more time perusing the library, squeezing in time to read my Leasing books at work, or getting more into book clubs and the like. But the beauty of it is, this I will get to do without deadlines and a grade hanging over my head. I don't even have homework! I guess there is some benefit to not being a student anymore. :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Post Labor Day

Well, we got Kristy safely on the plane yesterday and here we are back to regular life and the working world again. Don got back to the working world much sooner than I did at the 5:30 hour where as I'm still an 8 to 5 gal. Actually, it's more like 8:00 to 4:00 most of the time.

I had a chance to balance the checkbook this morning and found out we did not go too far overboard this weekend. Still wish we hadn't spent the 80 dollars on the mediocre (if not bad) sushi but you live and learn, hey? Don and I recently joined our friends here in a "No New Doodads" Campaign. Doodads are those items that you spend money on which fall into the non-necessity category. All of our core group here in California are trying to save money for one reason or another. For Don and I, we have decided to join the "No New Doodads" kick until we pay off our credit cards (which financed our move to California). Practicing a little fiscal discipline is never an easy thing but it does help when you can join together with the support of your friends. When you are all in the same boat, it helps a lot because you don't have to be the one couple that stays home when everyone else goes out to a nice dinner or expensive events. This way, you can all plan fun inexpensive things to do together where you have just as good a time but don't spend lots of money. Since we started a couple of weeks ago we have already paid our Credit Card debt down by over a $1000 dollars. At this rate, we would love to have the whole thing paid off by Christmas time. It is something to shoot for at least.

I'm still basking in the highlight of the weekend - our trip to Santa Monica - and itching to go back and check out some of the other beach scenes now that I've had a taste. Next time I go back I think it would be fun to do with a group of people. Also, it would be nice to pack a picnic lunch and bringing an ice chest full of cold beverages is a definite must. With public parking only $8.00 for a full day, it can be a really reasonable way to spend a day especially in the heat of summer. Speaking of the heat of summer, our heat wave is finally coming to an end. Today it dropped ten degrees to 100 and tomorrow it is supposed to drop another ten back down the the 90 again. I can hardly wait! My house has definitely started to suffer as the heat zaps your energy to do anything. Plus, with the heat emergency, our lovely governor Arnold begged us all to conserve energy and not to use heavy household appliances such as washers and dryers unless absolutely necessary. Good enough for me! I wish politicians would ask me not to do my laundry more often! It was my patriotic duty to let it pile up like it has!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

As you can tell by our post yesterday, Kristy picked an interesting time to visit ... during a heat emergency. Since I picked her up on Friday we have had temperatures around 110 each day. It definitely limits the kinds of things you can do to entertain your guests and the energy you have to do them with. California is not as interesting a place to visit when you can't go outside. Theme parks are out. Gardens and parks are out. Walking and tours are out. Cooking is definitely out. In fact, movement of any kind, well let's just keep that to a minimum.

But we have managed to keep ourselves relatively entertained. I picked Kristy up from the Burbank airport on Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. and was pleased to discover how tiny and convenient it was. From the outside, it looks no bigger than the Eugene airport. And, I gave myself 45 minutes to get there to account for traffic, and it only took 15. Which meant I got to sit in a parking lot for a bit and start on Harry Potter IV. (I've already finished the first three.) From now on, whenever possible, Don and I will definitely try to do most of our flying out of Burbank as opposed to the crazy LAX.

So after picking up Kristy, and getting her back home with a quick tour of the house and greeting of the pups, I had to muster up the energy to head back to work and put in a few hours of face time. This was very difficult as picking up relatives you haven't seen in a long time at the airport definitely puts you into "I've already started my vacation mode." Anyway, work wasn't that bad, I got my month end reports and invoices done, caught up on some email, balanced my checkbook, and played some computer games. In other words, it was very relaxed. So Kristy got to rest up a little bit from her 3:30 a.m. wake up call and then by the time we met up for lunch, my boss said I could pretty much take the rest of the day. So of course I did! We had lunch at the Armenian deli which I am so fond of and was excited to share with Kristy. Then we decided to go to the grocery store and pick up some frozen treats to surprise Don and his staff with at work. Our surprise was greatly received. So we hung out a bit with Don in his office and Kristy got to see where he worked too. As we tried to figure out what to do with the rest of our evening, we decided that we would escape the heat by going out to Sushi for dinner and then renting some movies to watch in our lovely air conditioned home. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a decent Sushi restaurant here in California. So we tried a new place and it was not much better than the others. We left a little disappointed but at least it was better than trying to cook something ourselves.

Thankfully, we had a little bit more success at Blockbuster. We ended up renting Fracture with Ryan Gossling and Anthony Hopkins which we watched Friday Evening. It was a really good movie with some very clever twists and big payoff at the end. I highly recommend it. Also we rented Children of Men which we watched Sunday Night. This was one I had been wanting to see for a while. I would say that the plot was interesting but not totally compelling, and the ending was kind of abrupt and obscure. But some of the shots they got in the movie were really impressive - like continuous single shots that went on for minutes at a time without cutting away. The planning that must have gone into those was truly impressive. We also rented The Good Shepherd which we still need to try and watch today before Kristy has to head back to the airport. Kristy bought some movies as well including Man of the Year with Robin Williams which I have been wanting to see for some time. The premise is that a comedian announces on a farce that he is running for president and then ends up to everyone's surprise getting elected. This movie is worth it alone for the debate scene in which we see a brilliant showcase of the way the elements of truth in comedy can so poignantly address some of the more difficult political problems that people are otherwise afraid to talk about or address openly.

So we did spend a lot of time watching movies this weekend, but we also found a few other things to do as well. Saturday was our big trip to the Santa Monica beach. In order to get the full effect of the day, Kristy and I decided that it would be best to head out in the early morning where it would be easiest to find parking and orient ourselves to the different options before it got too hot and crowded. After the week that Don had and his definite need to catch up on sleep, Don decided to stay behind so he could recooperate a bit and meet up with us later in the afternoon. So Kristy and I arrived at the beach around 9:00 a.m. It was exciting to see how close we actually are to the beach, Santa Monica at least. We are only 10 miles away and with traffic flowing freely it didn't take us more than an easy 15 minutes to get there. Parking was a breeze and we were able to get front row parking right on the pier which made it easy for us to stop back at the car throughout the day to drop things off or grab extra towels, etc.
While it was still cool, we decided we would head up to the street and check out the shops and stuff. We found a little Visitors Kiosk and got some good pamplets and maps with options to check out in the area, but most importlantly we got some good advice on where to go for breakfast. We choose a nice little cafe called the Cafe Crepes. It was hard to select just one thing, everything on the menu looked so delicious and reasonably priced too. In the end, Kristy and I decided on the same thing. We both ordered the breakfast bagette, which was a breakfast sandwich with scrambled Eggs, fresh basil, tomatoe, avocado and bacon served on a fresh whole wheat baguette. It was so delicious, it tasted like everything had come fresh from the garden picked in the last two minutes. Of course we accompanied it with two tall refreshing ice waters.
After we energized up with breakfast, we did a little window shopping along the Promenade which is a fun street with lots of shops.

I say window shopping because both of us were on a spending budget. They had a good mix though of spendy shops with more reasonable priced ones. Also, they had the cleanest most well organized Old Navy I have ever been to. I told Kristy that next time I wanted to go to Old Navy I would drive all the way to the beach and pay for parking just to come to this one. Everything was hanging nicely on the racks where they belonged and the dressing rooms were not a zoo. This even on Labor Day weekend! Also there was a really fun Toy and Hobby store that I would love to go back to some time where we spotted some old childhood favorites - Kristy's old Darth Vador, and the Sylvanian Figurines Terri and I used to collect as kids.

Here is Kristy next to one of the Giant Chia Pet fountains on the Promenade. After we finished touring the shops on the Promenade, we checked out the local Saturday Market where we got some tasty samples of super fresh watermelon, peaches and perfeclty ripe pink grapefruit. We thought about picking up a watermelon but decided it would be dumb to have to carry it a mile back to our car and that we should just stop at the grocery store on the way home.

By the time we got back to the beach it was a much different picture than before we had left it. Kristy commented that this was more people than she had ever seen at the beach in any single place. Looking out for miles, you could see crowds of people every where you looked. We picked out a little spot for ourselves where we layed in the sun for a bit, and then decided that it would be nice and refreshing to to just walk along the shoreline and let our feet get wet.

It was pretty impressive, though there were thousands of people there, nobody got in each others way, there was so much beach that it was easy to find your own spot. It was fun to see all the kids having so much fun in the water, running into the waves and then running away from them, building sandcastles and then seeing them get washed away. There were people speaking all sorts of languages, people sunbathing, people body surfing, people hiding under the shades of their umbrellas. But everyone was there to have a good time and to escape the heat. The cool refreshing water and the blessed fresh air breezes have me itching to go back with friends some time soon. After wading our ankles along the beach for a mile or so, we decided to head up to the pier and check out the fun time options. Standing at the edge of the pier out over the water the breeze was almost cold. It felt awesome! Finally, before we called it a day, we decided to split a funnel cake and spend a few bucks at the arcade. With our four dollars in quarters, we got in a game of air hockey (I won!), fooseball, a couple rounds of the basketball shooting game, and skeeball (I forget who one those ones...;).

It was hard to top our fun at the beach since it is the only place in California that it was cool this weekend. But we did also make it to church on Sunday and tried a new restaurant that I have been interested in called - The Good Earth Cafe - as in the Good Earth Tea that you can buy at the grocery store. Well, this restaurant definitely made up for the Sushi Flop. It was awesome. Again, we had a hard time picking just one thing. It was full of healthy fresh food options and Don and I can't wait to go back. We may have to make a Sunday morning brunch routine of it after church.

If you would like to see more photos of our weekend trip to the beach I have started a new Webshots account (it is bigger and more flexible than the Flicker). Just click on the Webshots Link. I will be adding to my albums as I have time so check back for more pics in the future. I hope everyone has had a nice Labor Day.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hot Poetry

I am hot.
H-O-T ... Hot.

Snowy mountains. Icicle branches hanging in the frigid mountain air.

Whole body plunge into glacial mountain lake. Numb from cold. Can't feel my toes.

Cool breeze in my face as I skate on the Ice. I fall down. I stay down. Ice cold on my face. Tongue stuck to ice.

Making snow angels in the snow bank. In the nude. Rosie Pink Cheeks. Goose bumps.

Watermelon. Gazpacho. Frozen Margaritas. Ice cold lemonade. Snow Cones - Blue, Green, and Yellow. Dairy Queen. We treat you right.


- An original poem by Cindy and Kristy Messler trying to escape the 108 degree weather.