30 December 2007

Trying to be better about Blogging in 2008

I realised that it has been a LONG time since I posted anything in my blog. My New Year's Resolution is to try and be more diligent. Perhaps even weekly (gasp!).

We shall see...

16 September 2007


Our last day at ACL was FANtastic. We started the day at Ryan Shaw (where we also left a chair to stake out a spot), then popped over to The Broken West. They announced they were going to be signing autographs over at the Waterloo Records tent. So we ran over there and got the CDs and got in the line and while we were there we also were able to catch Robert Earl Keene.

The guys from Broken West were really sweet. After Robert Earl Keene, we took a look at all the people coming in and decided to pass on Lucinda Williams. Instead we went back over to the stage where we had left our chair. While we were waiting for My Morning Jacket, we had to listen to Common. Didn't like that one bit. Really disappointed that Rodrigo y Gabriela weren't there because we would have been listening to them.

The best part of My Morning Jacket was that Andrew Bird sat in with them! HG had to leave right after so she took the chairs and I moved up front for Dylan. I shared my blanket with a jetski couple from Florida while we waited for Dylan to begin.

He doesn't sing the way he used to. In fact, it took some time for me to figure out what the song was. But it was a great set. Definitely worth waiting all day in the crowd.

Thank you ACL. See you next year!

ACL Update

I have spent two days so far at ACL and the last day is today. We have been having a fantastic time!

We started out seeing Pete Yorn (with Minibar, of course). Walked past Peter Bjorn & John on our way to the Crowded House stage. Sat and listened to Blonde Redhead while waiting for Crowded House to begin. Met up with the Minibar crew just before CH started. Decided against walking back to the stage where Pete had played to see Spoon so stayed put and heard LCD Soundsystem, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Kaiser Chiefs.

The lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs climbed up the scaffolding and injured himself when he jumped down, spent the whole set hopping on one foot. It was so PUNK!

Headed out before The Killers cuz Handicap Girl was exhausted. She'd had a Vicodin and fairly slept through the Chiefs.

Day Two was a bit more low key. Got there in time for Steve Earle, then planted ourselves for the remainder of the day for maximum band-age with minimum move-age. Saw Blue October, Andrew Bird, Arctic Monkeys, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Arcade Fire. Really bummed that I missed Damien Rice, but he was playing on the stage where Pete had played on Friday and there were just TOO MANY people to wade through.

Today we hope to see: Ryan Shaw, The Broken West, Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams, My Morning Jacket & Bob Dylan. Well, at least I plan to see all of those. Handicap Girl has a slightly diferent agenda. But we will be in touch by cell (if we can get a signal!)

More to come - including pics, hopefully.

13 September 2007

Austin City Limits

I'm so excited! My trip to ACL is finally here! So many bands to see. Time with my family. It should be really fun.

I will try to post during the trip. Don't quite know what the internet access availability will be.

Bands I am hoping to see include: Pete Yorn (with Minibar naturally), Peter Bjorn & John, Crowded House, Spoon, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers, Steve Earle, Andrew Bird, Damien Rice, Arcade Fire, Ryan Shaw, The Broken West, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Wilco or My Morning Jacket (they are on at the same time), and Bob Dylan.

I have my map and my schedule so I am all set.


10 September 2007

Diet Update

Everyone who knows me knows that I have struggled with my weight for my entire life. Largely due to a medical condition I have had since childhood and the lifelong treatments, my growth was stunted and my metabolism and liver suffered damage. On top of that is my genetic pre-disposition to be overweight. So it's not been easy to try and lose weight.

When I turned 40, I decided that I would stop depriving myself and instead decided to focus on improving my health. I started walking regularly and I also started cutting back on all things fried.

I also threw out my scale, only getting weighed once in awhile - at the doctor's office or at the studio nurse. I hadn't gotten weighed since being laid off in January, but this weekend I weighed myself on my new roommate's digital scale.

I have lost 25 pounds since last November. That is approximately 2 pounds per month. I am very proud of myself and just had to toot my own horn by posting it in my blog.

The great part is that it hasn't been that hard because my friends and family are so supportive. My softball coach invited me to join his "good health pool" which I did. I tied for 1st last month and split the jackpot! My walking buddy called and said she missed walking with me after work (since the layoff) and could we try it and meet on weekends or a couple evenings a week. A co-worker shared her before pics with me, told me how hard it was for her to lose weight, but how she persisted and had managed to keep it off.

So thanks to all of you and to my determination, I have this small victory. Onward!

23 August 2007

My trip to New York - The Beginning

My trip out to New York was pretty uneventful. My flight even landed a few minutes early. I met Katya and we got the bags and it all went very smoothly. We stopped at the A&P to pick up a few things and then headed over to the house. We got there and the air conditioning was so nice that Katya suggested I stay at the house rather than in the flat (with no air conditioning). I agreed!

We had a lovely little noshy dinner avec vino and when Hubby came home, we even sang karaoke until the wee hours (or so it felt with jet lag involved).

I was awakened in the night by the most furious thunder & lightning storm I have heard in some time - and yes it was also raining.

The next morning, Katya drops me at the station on her way to work and I head into the City. It is approximately 8:30 am when I board the train. The conductor apologised that the train was delayed by water on the tracks. No worries for me, right? I'm on vacation.

I get off the NJT at Penn Station and NYPD's finest are blocking the subway entrances - no subways running due to rain.

I am planning on going to Cloisters up in Harlem. I know the M4 bus goes there, but where to board? I head outside. I finally find the stop at Herald Square. Luckily, it's near the beginning of the route and there are few people lined up so I get on AND get a seat!

I get off the bus at Cloisters at 12:30pm - that's right! Including my train trip in, this adventure has taken 4 hours! Ridiculous, but I console myself that I am not trying to get to work or school or to an appointment. I am on vacation.

I enjoyed the museum and had lunch in the cafe (Katya had packed me some squash pie!) but while I'm admiring the view along the Hudson, I get an urgent text from The Little Dutch Girl who will be joining me tomorrow morning. She's heard about the subways being shut down and is a bit agitated about our schedule the next day. We go over all of her options and I tell her to phone when she lands tomorrow.

Upon leaving the museum, I discover that the subways are indeed running again and grab the A train downtown. I hop off and catch the crosstown bus to 5th Avenue and manage to squeeze in a quick visit to the Met before meeting my Hillsides Gal Pal for drinks after work.

On the downtown bus, a VERY handsome doctor (think McSteamy & McDreamy put together!) sits near me and answers pages while reading a Leica magazine. Everyone's got to have a hobby, right? The morning tranportation woes seem to be a hazy memory.

Something else that's relegated to the past: The Plaza Hotel. It has gone condo! It's all covered in scaffolding and leads me to the mantra for this trip "I guess you can do anything if you have enough money".

More later...

18 August 2007

I love New York!

I just got back from a long weekend in New York. I have several new favourite spots. I met some great new people. I had the fun of being in the city the day the rain stopped the subways from running.

I will try to post some little tidbits about my trip in the next few weeks. But in case I don't, here are some places to try next time you are in the Big Apple:

The Cloisters & The Metropolitan Museum - $20 price is SUGGESTED so you can tell them what you would like to pay and they have to take it. Plus your admission is good for both places on the same day.

Dos Caminos - Park Avenue between 26th & 27th. Pretty decent margaritas and excellent guacamole but the menu is a bit too "nuevo" and the prices a bit "mucho". $70 for two for one drink and one appetizer each!

Kettle Of Fish - just north of the Christopher St station at 7th across from Sheridan Square. A classmate from Emma owns it now. If you had a bar in your living room, this would be the place. A comfortable watering hole with much more reasonable prices.

Pour - 74th & Amsterdam - a great wine boutique with free tastings, excellent staff, and great selection.

Josie's - 73rd & Amsterdam - an organic cafe with the best menu and most reasonable prices I saw on the whole trip.

Museum of Modern Art - free after 4pm on Fridays but make sure you are in line by 3pm.

Angus McIndoe - 44th across from the Majestic. A Scottish steakhouse? but the menu is excellent and the house wine (which MUST come from a box - vino collapsivo!) is excellent. Everything on the menu was fabulous and the best service I have had in a while. They even came to remind us that it was 7:30 in case we were on the way to the theatre!

Them's the highlights. Details to follow.

21 July 2007

Scofflaws Beware! You Have Been Warned!

I am inspired on this new series in my blog by an editorial in the New York Times. I have decided to make it my mission to record every incident of a driver who does not respect the rights of pedestrians as well as every violator of the recently enacted City Water Ordinance.

When available, I will snap photos of the offenders with my digital camera so I can illustrate their offense.

Today, we inaugurate this series with The Slut in the White Mercedes (partial license plate 5LZ) who turned left from California onto Maryland while I was in the crosswalk and couldn't even wait until I was on the other side of the yellow line before encroaching on the crosswalk. Next time I see this B@#$%, I will have my camera ready to snap her Ugly mug as well as her license plate.

26 June 2007

America's Women

This is a great book! i just finished it. One of the chapters even mentioned Emma Willard - how cool is that.

If you ever though that the history books left out the most interesting bits of the story - how women coped with everything - then this is the book for you!

20 June 2007


For the non-Irish or non-Joyce fans, Bloomsday is June 16th and is a celebration of James Joyce, his book "Ulysses" and the characters therein. Last year, for my own Bloomsday project, I decided to try and read "Ulysses". As a stream of consciousness novel, it can be quite difficult to get through.

I came across a really good audiobook of "Ulysses" on audible.com and decided to give it a try. It was great! It's much easier to listen to a stream of consciousness novel than to actually read it.

Still, it was no easy task. 22 CDs makes for one long listen. I listened on my summer vacation, I listened on my trip to Ireland last fall, I listened commuting to work when I started temping, I listened, and I listened.

Today, I finished it! Just a few days past Bloomsday this year! Woo Hoo!

Now I can concentrate on those other books I started when I couldn't take "Ulysses" any more!

14 June 2007

Let It Snow, Let It Snow (Make It Stop!)

I woke up Wednesday morning and couldn't see anything out the window. It was a definite White Out!

By the time, it stopped snowing, sometime Thursday afternoon mind you, we had 14 inches of snow and 2.5 inches of rain. FOURTEEN inches in June!

Luckily, we had books, magazines, Netflix, tv, and a computer to entertain ourselves, but by the end of the second day we were clamoring to escape our mountain retreat.

I ventured forth Thursday evening to our faroff parking place and retrieved bottled water from the trunk (we had run out). I got all the snow and ice off the trunk, but left the engine and roof for the next day (big mistake).

I would just like to extend a warm thanks to the sister of my friend. Said sis keeps me well-supplied in "throwaway" novels. I was never more grateful than on this particular occasion. Unfortunately, my aunt read them all the first day and she was quite bored by day two. I had managed to save one novel for day two so I was able to entertain myself.

We planned a full day for Friday and looked forward to being able to leave the mountain.

13 June 2007

The Irish in America

My grandfather always said that there was a sister born after he and his twin Peg and before his brother George. During our sojourn at the Family History Center, I found a baby that could very well be her. An un-named female born in August 1889 in Cleveland.

We weren't so lucky with the rest of our travails in the Library. We didn't conclusively find anyone who could be my great-grandmother. The geneaologist was all hot for there being a relationship between the furrier who hired Aunt Lil and paid Uncle Andrew's tuition being a relative, but that didn't pan out (though we did track down a relative of his and my aunt had a nice chat with the furrier's grandson).

We found lots of families in the censi with the right Christian names and one of the accepted Anglicised spellings of the surname, but none of them had enough right for them to be my great-grandmother's family.

It seems like we ruled out a lot of dead-ends and that in itself could be a triumph, but it was quite deflating considering the high hopes we had at the start.

We definitely need to find a needle in a haystack and we just didn't have any luck in this go-round.

I tried to encourage my aunt to keep looking so that we could rule out further avenues. But with her daughter at home in the hospital and the progress not being what we had hoped, we called it a day.

After two solid days doing research, we headed back up the mountain prepared for a storm scheduled to keep us lodgebound the next day.

11 June 2007

Please Give Blood!

My cousin was in the hospital last week and needed four pints of blood. I thought this was a good opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of donating blood.

The United States is in a severe blood shortage mode at the moment. Blood only lasts so long and the supply needs to be continually replenished. If there were to be a major emergency in any given state, there could be a crisis situation as far as blood is concerned.

You can make a difference in your own community by going to your local blood donation center or calling the Red Cross 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to find a donation center near you.

They will help you determine if you are eligible to give blood and if you are, they will give you all of the pertinent information about donating (how often you can donate, etc.)

If you are unable to give blood, you can still help. You can encourage others to donate blood and you can volunteer at the Blood donation center. They often need people to help process donors. You can also organise a blood drive at your place of worship or workplace or school.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...

07 June 2007

My Own Private Idaho

What does one do on a Sunday morning in the Salt Lake Valley? Why, one goes to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, naturally!

That's just what my aunt and I did. We went to see the live performance of "Music & The Spoken Word". I have seen the Mormon Tabernacle Choir many times on TV, but it was absolutely thrilling to see them live. They are so wonderful. And the Tabernacle is such a beautiful concert hall. If you are ever in Salt Lake City, I highly recommend it!

We finished there about 10:30am and it was supposed to be a very hot day plus my aunt was not quite adjusted to the altitude yet. We decided that it would be a good day to drive out to the Golden Spike Historic Site. I pointed out to my aunt that it was only 40 more miles to Idaho so...

Now there are only 8 states that I have never visited: Alaska, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, West Virginia, and the Carolinas.

Unfortunately, there was no exit near the state line so we had to make an "emergency" u-turn.

Then we were off the to the Golden Spike site at Promontory Summit. We drove the auto tour and you should have seen us! I don't think the guy at the rental counter expected us to be driving on a historic railroad grade! But it was worth it to see the spot where 1500 men laid 10 miles of track in one single day. We paused to remember all of the Chinese and Irish immigrants who gave their lives to build the trans-continental railroad.

By the time we got back to town, we had just enough energy to lay in provisions for our kitchen and head back up the mountain.

We have a fair bit of research to tackle before we meet with the genealogist on Tuesday.

05 June 2007

Travels With My Aunt

My aunt has always wanted to go to Salt Lake City to try and find more information about her Irish grandmother (my great-grandmother). This year when I banked my timeshare week, I was given a free week and one of the places I could go was Salt Lake City. So I phoned her and asked if she would like to go.

This quickly put me out in front for "Niece of the Year"!

Airlines being what they are these days, though, our flight schedules couldn't seem to quite match up. She landed first, got the rental car (she got a free upgrade to the exact make and model she drives at home) and then had about an hour and half to kill before I landed.

After locating a Starbucks and getting her bearings, it was time to swing back by the airport for me.

We were both hungry and we were sure we would find someplace on our way up the mountain to our resort, but alas and alack, there was nothing.

When we checked in, our rooms were not ready and they sent us over to the Center to get lunch. By this time it is after 2pm. We drive over and park and find a restaurant at 2:35 only to be told, they stop serving at 2:30.

Everyone directs us to the deli, but she can't eat bread so that is not an option, and we can't buy food and cook it either.

Finally, some nice young men paving the parking lot come to our aid and we are directed to the next hotel over. The valet there, when he hears our troubles, vows that if the restaurant is closed, he will get us something himself, but it is indeed open.

Our server Matt was super friendly and said we were welcome to sit there until our room was ready.

My aunt was really suffering form dehydration and the altitude so she just wanted to lie down. After our meal, she did just that on a banquette outside the restaurant while I went to a house phone to call about our rooms.

They were ready so we came back and checked in.

Our rooms are fabulous! We have a one bedroom apartment with two full bathrooms, fireplace and two balconies. Plenty of space so we aren't tripping over each other constantly and two tvs so we don't even have to watch the same movies!

I walked back over to the center to pick up something snacky for dinner and decided to try Polygamy Porter (why have just one?).
The name is better than the beer, but the label is great!

We pretty much went to bed right after dinner. We had been up very late, and we plan to be in Salt Lake City by 8:30 in the morning.

27 May 2007

The Age of Aquarius

I felt like I was in a flashback to my youth at the Topanga Days Country Fair this weekend. The majority of the attendees were dressed in their hippie garb. They were dancing, and drinking, and smoking weed. But it wasn't a flashback. In fact the majority of the hippies that we saw weren't alive during the Summer Of Love so they couldn't even be nostalgic about it. My friends and I remarked on the number of scantily clad young women dancing up front who kept falling out of their clothing and kept right on dancing!

Yesterday was Indie Rock day. The music was fabulous, especially Minibar! It was a good day for celebrity sightings as well. There was an Indian food stand that had yummy berry tea and I got the best 10 minute massage of my life. She spent the whole time on my number one trouble spot.

We plan to go back on Monday. I may even dig up something paisley from my closet!

20 May 2007

A really fabulous birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I had a really fabulous day (as you could probably tell by the title of this post).

So here's my recipe for the perfect birthday day:

Sleep late (or later than usual)
Watch movie -pausing to answer the phone and chat with faraway friends who remembered your birthday
go to Starbucks and try a coffee you have never tried before (hopefully paying for it with a Starbucks card you got as a gift)
go shopping for books & dvds
have a lite lunch
get a manicure & pedicure
maybe a bit more shopping
go out for a great fondue dinner with good friends, don't drive yourself (you'll be drinking), and bring your own wine (so you can drink as much as you want and you know it will be good)
Be sure and end the day with a long chat on the phone with a faraway family member.

Repeat as often as necessary. Birthday not required.

Today is my father's birthday. He would have been 80 years old today. He passed away 20 years ago, just before his 60th birthday, while I was still in college. I think he would have enjoyed my birthday recipe as well.

Tonight I am having dinner with an old friend from High School who is in town on business.


18 May 2007

Pardon my venting

Isn't it bad enough that the Postal Rates went up? Do I have to suffer because the Post Office won't send my stamps?

I ordered the new stamps last week and some 2 cent stamps so I could use up the stamps I still have.

USPS.com was happy to take my money but they still haven't sent the stamps to me. 8 days later and I can't mail a letter unless I go to the Post Office tomorrow and buy more stamps.

I called but they were completely unsympathetic.

Be warned - do not buy stamps from the United States Postal Service online. They don't know that doing business on the internet means that they have to actually send the merchandise that people pay for.

I have filed a dispute with my credit card company and I refuse to pay for what I have not received. I would recommend that everyone stop using the Post Office to mail their letters, but unfortunately they have a monopoly.

We now return you to your regular programming...

10 May 2007

So many bands, so little time

First the back story on this adventure:

My cousin & I are the same age - just a few months apart. We wanted to plan something together when we turned 40. She was going through a pretty troublesome divorce at the time so we put it off a year.

Then we made plans to see a favourite band touring in the Midwest in August near our family roots. This time a drunk driver had his say when he broadsided her car over Memorial Day weekend.

Thankfully, she survived and, though she suffered severe brain trauma, she is determined to return to her life before the accident in as many ways as possible. She has made tremendous steps. So, we decided, at last, to make plans.

We are going to Austin City Limits this year. We bought the tickets a month ago. She convinced me not to wait until they announced the lineup and assured me that there would be a selection of bands that I would want to see. OMIGOSH! Was she right!!!

The announcement of the lineup was made this morning. Pete Yorn will be there (with Minibar backing) and that alone would be worth it, but there are so many more. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I don't know if I will be able to see them all (I may have to develop a ranking system - unfortunately the LA bands will be lower on my priority - except Pete).

Woo Hoo! I can hardly wait until September.

07 May 2007

The thrill of victory, the agony of the feet

My softball team, The Heat, had our second game of the summer season yesterday. We won again, 14-5, but the game was not without incident.

A newbie on the team had a rather serious injury. He tore his Achilles tendon and will require surgery and that means he is on the DL for the rest of the season.

It's really a bummer because he was a great all-around player and we really enjoyed having him on the team. I hope he will still come to some games and consider playing again next season.

I had another great day (other than worrying about the injured player). I walked (thrown out at home - AGAIN!) and singled (left on first - but an RBI for me!). My batting average for the season is still 1.000. YAY!

The only bummer about winning the two placement games is that we may be bumped up to a higher division. And of course, the injury to our new player.

If you, dear reader, are the praying sort, please pray for our player and those taking care of him.

UPDATE - Our Player had surgery to repair his Achilles tendon. He is expected to recover in a few weeks.

03 May 2007

Marian The Librarian

As part of my temp job at WDAS, I am in charge of the Library on the 2nd Flr Concourse.

I have spent two afternoons shelving new and returned books since taking on this gig and there are just a few things that are driving me crazy.

First, the call numbers are not in alphabetical order. This just drives me crazy when I am shelving books because call numbers that begin with C are between W and T. Really! Who thought of this system?

Second, people re-shelve their own books. There is a sign that clearly states to leave returned books on a specific bookshelf next to the check-in computer, but people don't listen. The problem is that they also don't re-shelve them where they are supposed to go. This makes my job harder when it's time for me to re-shelve.

Third, there's no room for the books. Seriously. Today I had to put a book on a shelf two stacks over because there was no room any closer. See above for how irritated I'm going to be next time I have to put something on that shelf.

We have an intern coming for the summer and I think re-organising the Library is the perfect task for us to do together (or for her to do with the permanent person if I have gone by then). I think I will mention that at the next weekly staff.

The funny thing about this job is that I worked in the Library in High School and in College and it is deja vu all over again to be doing it now.

Everything old is new again...

29 April 2007

Take Me Out To the Ballgame

Softball season is here. We had our first game today which we won 15-5. This game and next week's determine which league we will play in. We are pretty recreational players, not overly competitive, and don't enjoy playing in the upper leagues where the teams are much more serious about winning. Hopefully our success today won't affect our placement in a negative way.

I had a good day. I walked (thrown out at home) and singled (left on second).

We have some new players this year and they were great today. I am really looking forward to the season. I miss the people who aren't playing with us anymore, but I'm looking forward to quality time with my ol' dugout pals.

To top off the start of the season, I am going to see the Dodgers tomorrow night. It's my first experience with their new parking system so we'll see how that goes.

Play Ball!

26 April 2007

The Return Of The Orange Dot

I am currently temping at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Today is Bring Your Child To Work Day and, as part of my job, I get to help shepherd the kids through the morning program. Yesterday, the woman in charge told me I would have the Orange group who would all have large orange dots on their nametags.

I'm a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and their symbol is an orange dot. My co-worker didn't know this at the time, but I found it quite ironic.

Nearly twenty years after leaving Art Center, I am still in the Orange Dot Crowd.

16 April 2007

It's a $mall world, after all

Yesterday, I took a friend to the Happiest Place On Earth for her birthday. She really wanted to go but all her Mouseketeer friends passes were blocked. I had some tickets left so I offered to take her. This was my first trip to the Magic Kingdom since leaving the Mouse House.

The first thing I noticed was how expensive everything was. I had completely forgotten that we would have to pay to park. It was all downhill from there. Everything cost more than I thought it should, except the caramels made by my pal Candy Man at the candy kitchen on Main Street.

How do real people pay for the merchandise and stuff?

Anyway, sticker shock aside, my first trip back was not only pretty painless, but I also got my best score EVER on Buzz Lightyear.

So it was a pretty good day.

Happy Birthday Bunny!

10 April 2007

W(h)ine Country

One day last week, I went wine tasting with my friend who writes Golly Blog Howdy.

We had such a good time. I saw all the sights (Denny's, Long's Drugs, Wamu, Vons). And we got in a nice long visit while tempting our taste buds with all the lovely drops of grape.

Here are the highlights of our day:

Inn at Churon Winery
I recommend the 2006 White Merlot (trust me on this one), 2002 Carignane, 2005 Merlot, 2003 Petite Sirah and 2005 Zinfandel Port.

I could take or leave the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I did not like the 2005 Savignon Blanc or the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I joined the wine club (reds only) and came home with half a case of their wines. I plan to stop here on my next trip also. The port alone is worth the trip!

Wilson Creek Winery
I recommend the 2004 Mourvedre, 2005 Petite Sirah, 2004 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Almond Champagne (again - you have to try this one) and Angelica Cream Sherry.

I could take or leave the 2005 Riesling and Decadencia Chocolate Port. The Port in a chocolate cup was nicer. I also liked the blend of almond champagne and sherry.

I did not like the Quartet Blanc (smelled like green peppers) or the Grand Cuvee Champagne.

I didn't join their wine club as their wines are available out in the world. I did bring home two bottles of Almond Champagne.

They had the nicest tasting room. It was like you were in an upscale bar or someone's home and not like you were in a shop.

This was the only place where I enjoyed the whites.

I recommend the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Riesling, 2005 Amore Rosa, 2005 Muscat Canelli, 2004 Merlot, 2004 Syrah, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Krystal Ice Wine and 2003 Port.

I could take or leave the 2003 Syrah and 2003 Frolich.

I didn't try the 2005 Chardonnay so I can't say if I liked that or not. I don't normally like Chardonnay, but I will definitely try it next time.

I joined their wine club too (whites & reds) and came home with two bottles of Ice Wine and a bottle of Muscat as I thought those were the most unusual of all of the choices.

We followed our day of drink with a lovely Italian meal at Presto's. I think I had the best tri-tip of my entire life and followed it up with the best Creme Brulee.

We were having such a good time that we left too late for me to make the train in Riverside so my hostess drove me to the Corona station which I made in plenty of time. She discovered that it is actually closer to her home than the Riverside station so that was something.

The adventure of the day was me changing trains at Union Station with my case of wine and bag of glasses. I think my arms have finally recovered.

All in all, it was a lovely day. And if my hostess is reading this, she should know that I passed along all of her Easter greetings and everyone wished her and her family a "Happy Easter" right back.


29 March 2007

They Fly Among Us!

Every since my trip to Ireland last year, when we kept running into Rachel Weisz in the airport (at the ticket counter, on the escalator to the restaurants, in security), I've kept a weather eye for celebrities in airports.

On our way home from DC recently, we had to change planes in Dallas (we had exactly 10 minutes to change terminals because the flight was nearly an hour late leaving Baltimore). We rushed onto the plane and I spotted a young woman in first class animatedly chatting with a cute young man.

I thought to myself "I've seen her before". I figured she was a print model or something and I didn't think too much about it.

When we deplaned in LA, I stopped at the Ladies' Room, and there she was again. My companion was waiting for me outside and so was hers. We practically walked with them all the way to the luggage carousel. We lost them briefly. They probably saw their driver because they seemed to have less hand luggage when they caught up with us at baggage claim.

My companion recognized the guy but couldn't think of his name either. This is what happens when you turn 40. Your brain just doesn't fire on all pistons all the time. Of course, they aren't exactly in my circle of experience in the way that Rachel Weisz is (The Mummy, The Constant Gardener - even the movie I'm watching right now - Sunshine).

Today at lunch I was reading Entertainment Weekly and I read her name and BINGO, I knew who it was. Rachel Bilson. According to the fanzines, that makes the guy Adam Brody. He didn't look like any photos I've seen of Adam Brody, but he was wearing a hat and could have cut his hair.

I feel so much better now that I have figured that out. My brain has so many other more important things to worry about.

Oh, and one other thing, our suitcases not only made the connection, but came off before theirs.

So first class isn't all it's cracked up to be!

27 March 2007


Our Last Day. We spent the morning leisurely and bade a fond farewell to our hosts. We left and headed to the airport via Arlington National Cemetery.

It was a beautiful day. We opted for the Tourmobile tour which stops at the three most popular sites: The Kennedy Gravesite, The Tomb of The Unknowns, and Arlington House. Along the way, a tour guide points out other sites. It's quite a hilly location so I recommend this tour for anyone who has any mobility issues. It's also nice for those of us who are just plain wore out!

Our first stop was the Kennedy Gravesite. This is a beautiful setting. The trees were in bloom. The visitors were respectful - mostly - and the view is breathtaking.

The next stop was the Tomb Of The Unknowns. We were in time for the Changing Of The Guard. Nearby are the memorials for the Challenger & Columbia astronauts so we visited those as well.

Our last stop was Arlington House. Arlington House was the home of Robert E. Lee and the Union government confiscated it for burial of Union Civil War dead during the Civil War. We decided that we would walk back to the front from here. We didn't wait in the line for the house since all of the furnishings have been removed and there are only photos of what the rooms used to look like.

On the way back to the front, we passed the graves of Robert Todd Lincoln, William Howard Taft, and General Omar Bradley.

We stopped at the Women's Memorial and saw the art installation "Faces Of The Fallen" which has portraits of all the servicemen killed in Iraq for the first two years of the war.

We tried to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial but couldn't find the right turn and kept passing it so we decided that we had indeed SEEN it and headed off to Baltimore to fly home.

25 March 2007

Mount Vernon

Our next to last day in DC. We slept in and by the time we were ready to leave it was 11am. We headed to Mount Vernon.

It was closer than we thought, only 20 minutes. It was also the first time we paid admission to see a site here (except for the advance fee at the Washington Monument).

It was cool, literally, overcast and one of the colder days of the trip. There was a 45 minute wait to get in to the house. Unlike Williamsburg, the docents were not in period dress and spoke just like us.

The whole visit took three hours, including SHOPPING! It was by far the best shopping opportunity of the trip and I couldn't make up my mind which souvenir I wanted for myself. I finally settled on the Annual Christmas Ornament which commemorates the 275th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. I always knew I liked George, but I have a special fondness for Martha now that I know we have the same taste in dishes (blue & white all the way!).

On the way home, we passed the most enormous Krispy Kreme store I had ever seen. My companion on this adventure had been craving doughnuts since the drive home from the first Pete Yorn show so we pulled in and bought doughnuts for our hosts. Neither of us is a huge fan of Krispy Kremes, but we figured the boys would like them. The featured doughnut was 100% Whole Wheat. I could almost justify that on my High-Fiber diet so I tried one. Very delicious.

We were trying to decide where to eat lunch (at 3pm) when our host called to see if we wanted to have dinner together late this evening. We said yes, of course, and that did help us decide where & what to eat for lunch.

We have been thinking about Arlington after lunch, but by the time we were finished it was 4pm and too late to really see anything once we got through traffic.

So we went back to the house to relax for a while. This is supposed to be a vacation, right?

So now the plan is to see Arlington on our way to Baltimore tomorrow to fly home. If we have time, we will also try to visit the National Archives.

I definitely plan to return to DC some day.

24 March 2007

Monuments & Memorials

Today we slept in. Finally! Our third day in DC. Today we have decided to go to the National Mall and see the Memorials. Depending on how long that takes, we may go to Arlington Cemetery. But we have to be in Alexandria for dinner by 5:45pm so we may have to put off Arlington until tomorrow. The DC Marathon is tomorrow so we definitely don't want to come in to the city again until Sunday. This may mean that we don't get back to anything that we have missed. Guess I'll just have to come back some day.

We decided to park near the Washington Monument. Jokingly, we thought perhaps we could park in the same spot we had the other day. I kid you not - we did! We were in exactly the same parking spot. What are the odds of that?!?

We walked over to the WWII Memorial. It's very nice albeit controversial because it destroys the reflection of the Washington Monument in the Reflecting Pool. There were a few wreaths here and there.

Then we walked through Constitution Gardens. Some cherry trees were in bloom by the Signer's Memorial.

Next stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was the one memorial that I did not want to miss. I wore an MIA bracelet for most of my childhood. A young man from my hometown had been shot down on my 3rd birthday. I wore the bracelet until his parents had him declared legally dead which was junior high or high school.

After Vietnam opened up to the West, his sister went to Vietnam and she was able to discover that he had, in fact, died not long after the crash.

We started at the wrong end and didn't have a list to look up his name, but I noticed papers that had the dates and locations. Since I know the exact date (how can I forget it), we were able to locate the panels for the month and it was just a matter of time before we found the name (see photo) James K Patterson. I have to admit I felt a little weepy. We left the memorial and were able to locate his name in the list on the other side. After a moment to compose myself, we set off for the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

I think this is a pretty cool Memorial. There are life-size sculptures of soldiers walking as though they were on patrol in Korea.

Then we went up to the Lincoln Memorial. After some time there, we walked along the Reflecting Pool back to the car. We still had an hour left on our time!

We headed over to the Jefferson Memorial and also saw the George Mason Memorial before heading home.

We didn't have enough time to go to Arlington before we had to get home for dinner so we decided to do it another day (we have two left).

At dinner, our hosts assure us we can do Arlington and Mount Vernon in one day. We decide to go to Mount Vernon first tomorrow as it is the furthest and we could always do Arlington on our way to the airport on Sunday.

I realize that I'm not going to see everything I had hoped to squeeze in on this trip, but I have seen and done quite a lot. I'm really glad I came on this trip.

The Halls Of Government

Our second day in DC. We have to be at Congressman Schiff's office at 10am. Our host says we MUST leave at 8 to get a parking spot and allow for traffic.

With only 4 hours sleep, it was really hard to get out the door and we left about 8:45. oops. We get off the freeway at the Capitol at 9:30. After much stress looking for street parking, and getting turned around by one way streets, we park at Union Station. It is now 9:55. I called the Congressman's office and let them know we were running late. A very friendly member of DC's finest gave us further pedestrian-friendly directions because you can't walk from the Senate side to the House side straight across the front any more.

A very nice intern in Rep. Schiff's office gave us a private tour of the Capitol. At the end we went to see the House in session and they were voting when we arrived. We saw our Representative vote. We looked at the time and it was noon. We had a White House tour at 1 and you have to arrive 15 minutes early so we had to go. I didn't even have time to go to the gift shop!

We hot foot it back to Union Station. Dividing to conquer, one goes to the car to leave the purses (you can't take anything into the White House except keys, money and id) and the other goes to get Cokes because we haven't had anything to eat yet today and we really need the caffeine to keep going.

Then we hop on the Metro and we arrive at 12:50, only 5 minutes late! The friendly Ranger said we could go on in. Rep. Schiff's aide had told us that he didn't think we would enjoy the tour of the White House as much as the Capitol. Another friend had said it's not as great as it used to be. They were both right. We finished in 15 minutes. But I had never been before and now I have so I am glad that we went. If I am ever in DC at Christmas time, I might go back and see all the Christmas trees.

We took the Metro back to Union Station and had a nice lunch at America. The menu had something from every state. My only complaint was that their "Hollywood, CA" cobb salad was NOT really a Brown Derby style cobb. The food was delicious and the service was fabulous.

A bit of shopping and then we were off to Baltimore. We had tickets for the Pete Yorn show at the Sonar club. We had encountered quite a bit of traffic going to get our luggage and we thought it was better to drive to Baltimore early. We had a recommendation for a restaurant and it was quite close to the club. We arrived, parked and walked over to the restaurant.

The sign on the door of the restaurant said "Closed For The Summer". Either they are REALLY late or REALLY early, but they are definitely closed. So we went to the deli nearby and ate outside on the plaza.

We headed back to Sonar for the show. Tonight was even better than last night. We have had six or seven hours sleep in the last three days, but we managed to last through the whole show. I hadn't seen the whole Moses Mayfield set the night before, but I did tonight. I really liked them! I obviously am already a huge fan of Minibar and Pete Yorn or I wouldn't be at their show in BALTIMORE!

When we arrive home, we leave a note for our host on the counter: "Don't wake us up in the morning!"

All of our scheduled itinerary items are finished. We are now at leisure. We can sleep.

23 March 2007

I'm 550 Feet Tall On A Good Day

My first trip to our nation's capital. I'm very excited. We land at Reagan airport and our adventure begins.

We go to pick up the rental car and they are out. We have a choice of two and while the guy is pointing them out to us, someone takes one! We had reserved a compact and got a full-size. As we are driving away, we chuckle and think our friend the Pilot would be proud of the upgrade we finagled!

Off to the Washington Monument on three hours sleep. We are on Constitution Avenue and see a parking spot. One slightly legal U-turn later, we are parked! We have three hours. We walk up to the monument and ask a Park Ranger if we can get in earlier. He says no. (Very firm about that!)

We haven't eaten since Dallas so we head toward the Old Post Office Building for lunch - it's a food court & shopping center now. They also have a tour where you can go up the tower and see the bells and view the city from above.

If you go to DC, I highly recommend the Tower Tour. One of the ladies on our elevator asked the Ranger if the elevator would drop suddenly. Gotta love Disney fans!

We walked back to the Washington Monument and arrived about 30 minutes before our tour time. This time the Ranger (same one) said "Come on in!"

We went up to the viewing level at 500 feet and we had to take the elevator back down. The Park Service is understaffed and not able to have visitors walk down the stairs. They do slow the elevator down and illuminate the shaft so you can see the commemorative stones. But someday I will have to go back and walk down (I'm going to ask first).

Back to the car we went. I think we were the only car on the block that didn't have a parking ticket. Obviously people don't read the posted signs. We still had time on our three hours, but now we were off to Baltimore to pick up our luggage (see previous post for the explanation).

90 minutes later, we are back in DC and the cell phone rings. Our host wants to know what we want for dinner. About 45 minutes later, we are approaching our exit in Virginia when we hear someone honking and we turn and it's him! So we had an escort to the house, which was lucky because there's a certain jog in the road that we would definitely have missed.

We hate to eat and run, but we have tickets to a show at the 9:30 club that evening. The guidebook had warned that this neighbourhood was a bit rough but we knew there was a parking lot nearby. We only got lost once, in a traffic circle, but we just went around again and made sure we were in the correct lane. Who laid out this city anyway? I am used to midwestern and western cities that are virtually grids with some diagonals, perhaps a few jogs for farms or whatever. DC is crazy!

I loved the 9:30 club. I have heard broadcasts from there on NPR. I love that you can go in and out. The staff were friendly, the patrons weren't too rowdy. I met some very nice people, and had an excellent time. It goes without saying that the musical entertainment was BRILLIANT. Minibar, Moses Mayfield, and Pete Yorn. A show so nice, we are seeing it twice (tomorrow night in Baltimore). I finally got my Desert After Rain CD signed. Silly me forgot to take it to the last show I went to.

We got a bit lost again on the way home. One way streets that don't go all the way through are nearly as bad as traffic circles. We ended up near the Old Post Office and were able to get our bearings at last.

I'm very grateful to be staying so close. All I can think about is sleep, but we have to get up tomorrow morning. We have an appointment with our Congressman's office at 10am.

Sleep is for the weak!

22 March 2007

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane?

I am writing on a flight from Dallas to Reagan Airport. This might sound like a perfectly normal way to start a vacation in DC, but I was actually booked into Baltimore. When we landed in Dallas, the helpful flight attendant read a laundry list of connecting flights, but not Baltimore. So we checked with the gate agent.

(Aside here - In my experience, gate agents at DFW are THE BEST. They love to help you find ways to get out of their airport. And it ain't that way anywhere else in Texas so there must be some special pixie dust in Dallas!)

The gate agent informed us that the flight to Baltimore had been cancelled (did they not know this when I checked in at LAX?) The airline had already re-booked us on the next flight, but it would have been impossible to get to the Washington Monument for our tour time. She said we could fly in to Reagan and arrive at the same time as our original flight. If we wanted to do that, we could just go to the gate and ask to switch.

The rental car company was happy to move our reservation. It was even cheaper! So we asked another very helpful gate agent to rebook us to Reagan.

Of course, our luggage is going to Baltimore so we will have to get it later. But at least we can eat lunch and see the Washington Monument before we need to do that.

More exciting trip news to follow. Well, at least I hope it's exciting...

21 March 2007

Don't Know Much About...

There's a great series of books called "Don't Know Much About..." I've just finished "...Geography". I actually DO know much about most of the books' topics, but I really enjoyed "...Geography". Questions are posed and answered and it's kind of fun to learn the whys and wherefores behind things like Time Zones.

There are versions of these books for adults & kids.

It was more fun than going back to school and the format made it easy to stop and start.

20 March 2007

They Walk Among Us!

My friend, the Writer/Fighter, sends me a lot of jokes. If not for her, I probably wouldn't have heard of half the Internet/Urban lore that I know about.

Today she "sent along" the following and I actually laughed out loud.

Rather than forward any of these on, however, I decided to post them in my blog thereby saving the inboxes of my friends for more serious emails from Viagra retailers. ;-)

I copied & pasted so am not responsible for the content!

I walked into a Quizno's with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon
for a sandwich. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a
little chalkboard that said "buy one-get one free".

"They're already buy-one-get-one-free", she said, "so I guess
they're both free".

She handed me my free sandwiches and I walked out the door.

They walk among us, and many work retail.


One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when
one of them shouted, "Look at that dead bird!"

Someone looked up at the sky and said, "Where?"

And they walk among us!


While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent
which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the
sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the

When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, and has for sometime,
she shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff."

They walk among us!!


I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center.
One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call
center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day,
7 days a week."

He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?"

Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific."

They walk among us!


My sister-in-law has a life-saving tool in her car designed to cut through a
seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.

They walk among us!


My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the
cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases.

The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

They walk among us!


I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I
went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my
bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she
was a trained professional and I was in good hands.

"Now," she asked me, "has your plane arrived yet?"

Yes, they walk among us!


While waiting for my order at a pizza parlor, I observed a man ordering a
small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him
if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some
time before responding.

"Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."

Yep, they walk among us!


And. they reproduce!

19 March 2007

Ultimate Fan vs. Semi Pro

Since I am currently unemployed, I have time to enter contests, and do things during the workday that I might not otherwise have the chance to do. So, when a friend told me that they were looking for extras for the new Will Ferrell movie "Semi Pro", I signed up. I wasn't going to get paid, but I thought it might be a fun thing to do of a morning.

A week or so later, I heard about a contest for Ulimate Pirates Fans so I entered that. I won two tickets to see the World Premiere of the Pirates 3 trailer along with a screening of the original Pirates movie and other surprises.

These events were, as luck would have it, scheduled practically back-to-back.

So I rounded up a gal pal and we headed down to Hollyweird to the Ultimate Fan Event. There were plenty of pirates there, matey. It took FOREVER to get into the theatre and get the event going. Once it started, there was plenty of fun, raffles and even three actors from the film: the monkey who plays Jack, the dog from the prison (who was SOOO cute - wagging his little tail and looking at all the people), and - oh yeah - ORLANDO BLOOM! ;-)

By the time we were finished, and went to dinner and drove home, it was nearly eleven. I thought to myself, am I really going to get up at 5 to make my call time tomorrow? hmmm.

I set the alarm clock. And I did get up when it went off, but that was only to turn it off and go back to bed.

So I suppose that Ultimate Fan trumps Semi Pro. But I still had fun and got to do something I wouldn't have been able to do a few months ago. I can live with that!

BTW - Pirates 3 - At World's End - looks really great. I can't wait to see it!

17 March 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

I went to one of my favourite Irish Pubs to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the Celtic Lasses who are on a road trip for the High Hooley day throughout our lovely state. Unfortunately, we were not the only people who decided to celebrate at the same time and place! For the first time in my life, there was a line to get in to this particular establishment!

So, instead of seeing an Irish band while we ate brunch, we went to the mainstay of road trip cuisine, Denny's, and had plain old breakfast.

Then the two of us who were more local went shopping and the rest of the lasses continued on their hooley way.

And so I am celebrating instead in the comfort of my own home. A round of Jameson for the house!

And if you ever find yourself in want of good pint in the San Fernando Valley, and perhaps some good Irish music to wash it down, I still recommend Ireland's 32, but please, don't go on St. Patirck's Day!

12 March 2007

Two A Tea

On Saturday, the Tea Ladies ventured to a new tea shop in Glendora called Two A Tea.

This was a very nice place and we will definitely go back. The scones were just the right texture and sweetness. Condiments and hot water were swiftly and graciously replenished. The sandwich selection was excellent. The soup and salad were tasty. The fruit salad was fresh and the desserts were scrumptious.

We especially liked the cranberry scone, the Forrest Berries tea, the tomato bisque florentine soup, the turkey cranberry sandwich and the apple cranberry cobbler. I think cranberry was our theme for the day. One of the tea ladies is allergic to raspberry and she was pleased that raspberries were only present in one of the desserts so she was able to enjoy everything.

Not eating chicken, I avoided the chicken apricot sandwich but the other ladies said it was too sweet for their taste.

We especially liked our table - the Chelsea Chintz table - as it was in the window and really felt like we were in a semi-private room. The ladies at the adjoining table were quite friendly and we enjoyed comparing notes on tea shops in the area. They had a favourite place in Alta Loma but as that is too far for us, I didn't may much attention to the name.

The front of the shop is an antique store. Some of the things were cute, but they did have a few scary dolls.

Overall, it was an excellent day!

10 March 2007

White House Tour!

I was very excited to get a phone call from my Congressman's office yesterday. They were able to get me tickets to a White House Tour. It's my first visit to DC so I'm thrilled.

I've ordered tickets for the Washington Monument as well. The only day available was the first day of our trip so we have to go there straight from the airport. It's a great way to dive right in to vacation!

I will have to put tea at the National Cathedral off for another trip as they only do that on certain days and it was that or the Washington Monument.

I'm excited to see the show at the 9:30 Club after hearing so many broadcasts from there on NPR.

I made a list of other places to see. I have way more than I can fit into our long weekend. Some things will have to stay on the list along with tea at the Cathedral. At least, it will be an excuse to go back!