Sunday, November 30, 2014

My California Trip!

I'd better write about my trip before too much time passes. I've already been home for nearly 2 weeks!

After not seeing most of my family for a year due to a sick doggie and other obligations, I finally went back and spent a week in Southern California. I have a 96 year old grandma, a cute niece and nephew, cousins, friends, and my mom, of course-- all of whom needed me to go down there.

It was a good, smooth, jam-packed week. There was something going on every single day. I rented a car for the first time and zipped from here to there seeing who I wanted to see and doing what needed to be done.

Every morning I would rise early and walk 5 miles through San Marino and the lovely Lacy Park. By Day 3 I had carved out the perfect 10,000 step route by walking to the park (about 3200 steps,) doing 2 laps on the park's outside track (getting to around 6800 steps,) then walking back to my mom's house. The smell of roses as I entered and then the smell of the surrounding eucalyptus trees were very invigorating each morning.

Once back at my mom's I would have my shake, just like Eric and I do each morning here at home, then shower and start my busy day.

Click on the photos to see them full-sized.

This was waiting for me on my bedroom door.

On my first morning I walked down to my brother's house just as they were leaving to walk to the pre school where my niece attends. I was invited to join them.

Those cute kids ride fast! My brother, Jonathan, said, "Are you ready to run?"
Later that afternoon my mom and I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. A print of this beautiful painting hangs in my living room. But this is a picture of the original.

This amazing painting is one I had never noticed before in all of my many visits. Just look at the details around this war beaten soldier. He is surrounded by the carnage of battle as dead comrades lay all around him. His face shows an expression of defeat and exhaustion.

The Norton Simon also houses favorites by the known masters like Cezanne, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Rivera.

Clockwise from top left: Renoir, Monet, Degas, van Gogh..all stunning, and the real thing.

You cannot visit Southern CA and miss out on a meal from In n Out Burger. Sorry Five Guys!  In n Out is still the best. (Except maybe the Lions Club Pioneer burgers at the 4th of July celebration.)

I always make an effort to visit Tito and Tita's grave, located in the cemetery adjoining my niece's pre school. They both passed in 2008 and sometimes I still cannot believe they're gone. The stones were designed by me.

Thursday, while my nephew was at his martial arts class, my mom rested and my niece and I took a walk around the neighborhood. Fire hydrants are for climbing. It's the rule!

My mom's newest doggie, Branson. A sweet, slightly unruly Golden, rescued from a family who paid no attention to him. He is healthier and happier now. (Much happier than he looks in this photo.)

Do you see it? The next morning on my walk I passed a tree in San Marino and the light hit it just right so that this strange little tree person emerged. 

The Rose Garden at Lacy Park has some incredibly gorgeous blooms.

On Friday afternoon I spent a few hours with my cute grandma, Elinor. We had sandwiches, topped off with apple pie and ice cream. We felt like big bloated balloons, but it sure was yummy!

On Saturday I had lunch with my mom (in blue) and some of the lovely ladies from church: Helen, Afton, and Penny. They were headed off to a play, but I was headed to Downtown Disney to get Eric a jacket and meet up with my cousins.

The Downtown Disney plans changed because dinner reservations were impossible to get at a decent time. So I still went, found Eric a Disneyland jacket, then drove to meet my cousins at my aunt and uncle's house. We went to North Woods Inn for dinner instead. The best part was that I finally got to see my cousin, Robby's, two little girls in person for the very first time.  He and his wife are amazing parents. Look at the sweet look of contentment on K's face above as she nestles into her daddy's shoulder,

We had to wait 90 minutes for a table, but we had so much fun! It was great to see them!

Monday morning, back on my walk, I had to take some last pictures of Lacy Park. Those walks were my respite every day. And they helped me burn off the calories from those daily meals out!

Monday lunch with my friend, Heather. We've been friends since we were freshmen in high school.

Time to say goodbye to the kiddos! I visited my niece and nephew Monday afternoon when they got home from school. That evening I stayed in a hotel near the airport. I had an early flight. I was in bed with lights out by 8pm! It was a very full week!

Back home with my cute hubby!  He liked his Disneyland jacket! I'm glad, since I didn't actually go into Disneyland this trip.
The weary traveler. Home again!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Welcome Maggie May...

We have a new kitty in the house! And just like Ramius before her, little Maggie May came into our lives unexpectedly.

After a busy week with Eric on day shift and me attending to different obligations, we enjoyed a day together yesterday of sushi and grocery shopping. Everything was going as planned until we were heading out of Fred Meyer around 3:30pm. A woman and her son were standing off to the side with a box that said "Free Kittens." This little girl kitty is the last one, they said.  9 weeks old, litter box trained, de-wormed, but no shots yet.

I picked up the little gray kitten with her white chin and feet, looking at Eric. "We could take in another cat," he said. "Get her if you want."  I told the lady we would take her, despite the fact that I'm leaving for California tomorrow to visit family for a week.

Our relaxing evening turned into setting up newly named Maggie May in the big soft carrier with a kitten sized litter box, food and water bowls, a blankie and a couple of catnip mice.  It seemed like every task I started once we brought her home only got halfway done and we were all so tired by bedtime. She meowed a lot all night and sleep was pretty elusive, especially once she got her energy after what was probably a chaotic and confusing day.

This morning I woke up tired after 4-5 hours of sleep, still managed to get my 10,000 steps in before breakfast (Eric too,) and then we spent the morning making decisions about where to put the kitten and what to put her in while Eric is on his 12-hour shifts and I'm away. Acclimating her to upstairs and to the other 2 cats will have to wait.

She now has a big crate, complete with an in-progress obstacle course that Eric is making for her. A few test runs show that it will be a great success when it is all finished. Darcy, the 18 year old kitty has resigned himself to the new addition. Ramius, the 5 year old, always full of drama, has been pouting for hours. Five years ago HE was the tiny new, unexpected, addition!

With Darcy being 18, we probably won't be a 3 kitty household for very long. And, although Ramius would've done just fine being a "one cat cat," he has a little adopted sister he'll have to eventually adjust to.

Maggie May is as cute as can be, loves sleeping in the crook of Eric's arm, and has already shown a lot of trust in her new surroundings. We take GOOD care of kitties in this house. She's very lucky! So are we.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Another Busy Halloween! (5 Years of Tallies)

As you may know, we live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of trick-or-treaters.  A LOT.

Last night we celebrated our 5th Halloween in this house...more than I had in my CA house (because I was down with the H1N1 in 2009 and just hid and suffered that night.)

Final tally last night? 651 kids. Which is amazing, considering that the trick-or-treating seemed to start extra late (except for the 2 early birds at 4:30.)

We followed the tradition of going to our neighbors' house across the street, where they serve yummy soups and appetizers. At the clocked ticked on, it was time to run back home and pass out those 1125 pieces of candy.  It's tough to ration when we start as slow as we did last night, though.  After an hour we only had 150 kids and a ton of candy.  Not to worry.  It really picked up.

I did some digging and found the tallies for our other years in this house:

2010:  526
2011:  680(!!)
2012:  565
2013:  649
2014:  651

Of course this is not an exact science and sometimes I get a little off on my counting when I am distracted by the costumes and the throngs of kids, but it's pretty close.

And next year? Eric is scheduled to work graveyard (no Halloween pun intended.) So I'll either hang out longer at our neighbors' house or hide downstairs in the family room and watch a movie.  Trust me, this amount of trick-or-treaters is not something you want to take on alone if you can help it. Plus we'll save about $100 on candy for one year.

Next up...Thanksgiving.  Halloween decor is down, Thanksgiving decor is up. And Christmas music was playing at Macy's today, which I'm not quite ready for yet!