Wednesday, October 28, 2009

California Dreaming: Saturday

Saturday, October 17 It was a foggy and lovely morning in San Diego. Some of the naughty ducks at the Catamaran decided to take a dip in the swimming pool. It was amusing to watch them sneak over and play and swim until the groundskeeper found them and shooed them back to their respective places. We packed up and sadly said good-bye to The Catamaran, Mission Beach, and San Diego. (*Sniff*) Our friend took us to the airport (bless his heart) and we made it in plenty of time. The San Diego airport is not that large, though, and is very crowded. Despite some turbulence and an annoying seatmate next to me (I called him Beefcake in Blue--he took his half out of the middle), it was a shorter flight home. Steve sat behind me in the last row. After a smooth landing, we landed in Chicago. It was cold and rainy. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Giordano's in Chicago. The pasta was amazing. Eventually we made it home late Saturday night. Two grey kitties were very very happy to see us, and we were happy to see them. They welcomed us home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

California Dreaming: Friday

Friday, October 16 After surfing, Steve and I went to lunch and walked along the boardwalk and on the pier. The view was spectacular! We also shopped at this darling baby store near the surf shop called Little Baby Bird Rock. I purchased a couple of surfer bibs for an upcoming shower and and a baby present for a friend. The person I spoke to was very friendly. Steve enjoyed the Happy Hour specials while I went to the Catamaran Spa. There's an outdoor jacuzzi, a eucalyptus steam room, a sauna (which was not warm, but that's okay), and a relaxation room. I loved the relaxation room and almost fell asleep. A very kind person came in and escorted me into the salon. She was a lot of fun and she curled my hair. (I had hairapy for the last night out on the town). After a wonderful visit and with good hair, Steve and I returned upstairs to get ready for the next part of the adventure. I ordered room service and dressed for a complimentary ride on the Bahia Belle Sternwheeler. It's a large boat (three stories) with a bar and dance area on the second floor and seating areas to look out on the bay in the moonlight on the top floor. We opted for both. It was a nice ride and the Bahia Belle travels from hotel to hotel every twenty minutes. We went too early, because there were still kids running around like crazy. But it was fun and romantic and glad we went. The best part of the evening, though, was seeing our friends (canine, feline, and human) at Casa de Willy. That was such a fun time! Eventually, Steve and I headed back to the hotel (sigh). A perfect end to a wonderful time in San Diego.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

California Dreaming: Friday

Friday, October 16
Surfing at last! I was excited and nervous and excited... Did I say I was excited? :)
The weather proved much friendlier than Thursday's squalls. Thursday was beautiful--but treacherous. We enjoyed a large breakfast and went to relax by the poolside before going to surf at noon. As suggested, Steve and I reported to the Pacific Beach Surf Shop at 11:30 a.m. They have a great surf school there. And Stanley, the owner, booked Craig for me again! (I requested Craig, as he was so nice!) My surfing instructor buddy!
Since this was my second lesson and my third time out on the ocean, we skipped the history lesson of how surfing came to be. Craig did show me the currents and how to be safe if you are out too far in the ocean. Then managed to hoist myself in the wetsuit and ugly yellow rubber smock to tell the surfing community that I was a neophyte surfer!
It was amazing catching waves. On the first try with Craig's help, I stood up and caught waves. And then I started catching waves on my own. And then we paddled out beyond the big waves and just watched them. When I caught my first waves without his help, I yelled to everyone on Mission Beach that "I CAUGHT WAVES WITHOUT HELP!" The whole beach heard me. And for the first time in many moons, I DID NOT CARE what people thought. Mission Beach is so freeing in that way.
After surfing for an hour and a half with a couple of breaks in-between, it was time to stop. It was such a wonderful adventure. After I peeled off the wetsuit and said goodbye to Stanley and Craig, Steve and I went on our way. What a wonderful lesson. I love to surf.
Lee, you created a surfing monster (*Smile*). -Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

California Dreaming: Thursday

Thursday, October 15
I hoped to surf today, but the intensity of the waves were too dangerous for new surfers to tackle. Stanley, the owner of the Pacific Beach Surf Shop, dissuaded me from taking a surf lesson today. I have a lot of respect for him for that-- he could have taken my money and not cared. Also, Craig my surfing instructor, was working on Friday not Thursday. So it was really not meant to be a surfing day. And that's fine. Steve and I still had a blast!
We still visited the beach. The weather was cool and windy and overcast--unusual for San Diego. I played in the waves while Steve relaxed on the sand.
I even wrote a haiku:
End of season storm swells
did not discourage me--
I body surfed instead.
LCS/ 2009
And then I wrote one more:
Ocean swells cause
five pelicans to ride waves--
in order to fish.
LCS/2009
After hanging out on the beach, Steve and I rented bikes and biked all over the boardwalk from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach. And we caught a sunset. Barely.

California Dreaming: Lounging Wednesday

You're probably going to roll your eyes at this entry, but relaxing posed a challenge for me, even in lovely southern California! Wednesday Steve and I declared this a relaxing day. Nothing major planned. We strolled on the beach, lounged at the poolside, jumped in the hot tub, read, and called a few friends and fam from the pool. Later we dined at a local restaurant with our friend. It was a perfect, relaxing day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

California Dreaming: On the Ground and At the Catamaran

Tuesday, October 13
(Photos: Night View from the Room- SJS/2009, and Catamaran Resort- LCS/2009)
We arrived at the airport around 1p.m. California time. Woo Hoo! We gained three hours! We gathered our suitcase and headed to The Catamaran. Our journey started out a bit like a National Lampoon's California Vacation. Our first hotel room was crappy; small and directly facing the parking lot. We dropped our luggage in the crappy hotel room and went to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the restaurant just closed. Hmm... We managed to eat at the bar but the view was not as good. After we had lunch, we went back to the room. All I wanted to do was take a shower and a quick nap before we ventured out. Well, I go to take my shower and at the bottom of the drain was hair. Hair that did not belong to us. GAH!
Okay, that was it. I dressed, called the manager, asserted myself, gave them the details of what happened, and insisted on an upgrade. We got it. The kindly bellhop took our belongings and gave us a much better room on the 11th floor overlooking the ocean and the city. Much better.
We thanked the bellhop and gave him a tip. After we settled in, I attempted to take a shower.
Again, I saw hair in the shower drain that was not ours! This is like what a hair episode of the Twilight Zone would be. I asked Steve to call because my patience had just ended. He called and housekeeping came up and cleaned the tub and scrubbed the bathroom. The housekeeping manager apologized. (I eventually took the damn shower). And took a long nap. In the evening, we texted our friend L., and he took us to a charming surfer bar within walking distance. It was cool. After chatting for a few hours, Steve and I walked back to the room and crashed for the night.

California Dreaming: In the Air

Tuesday, October 13
This flight from Chicago to San Diego is four hours and 15 minutes. We are so grateful it is a direct flight. Despite the fact that the plane is full and I feel like I was in a proverbial sardine can with wings, we are fairly comfortable. I have a nice window seat and Steve is next to me, so I am happy with the world. :) I snapped some of the most beautiful photos of the clouds. There was even a small rainbow below. I tried to capture it on my camera, but it vanished. I'm sure Mom sent it to me from Heaven. I had a calm feeling when I spotted the rainbow below me. It's a 13 today (9 months since Mom passed over) and I was thinking about her when I spotted it. Some months I miss the 13, other months I am melancholy or edgy. Hopefully in time sadness will dissipate more quickly. Like the clouds, the love and memories will surface. I sense they already have.

California Dreaming: Tuesday Morning at the O'Hare Airport

Tuesday, October 13 Here I am pictured at the Hobbit Hotel in Chicago with my fun drum shirt!

We got up, cleaned up, grabbed a couple of snacks, climbed on the shuttle to O'Hare airport. Surreal... Comfortably Numb played on the loudspeaker. We made it to the airport and through security. It was a pleasant experience... one of the security guys saw my new black Zildjian t-shirt and struck up a conversation. The gentleman didn't play a drumset, but he had a drumtrap and played other various instruments such as congas, bongos, marimbas, etc. He said(emphasized) that he was a percussionist, not a drummer. I understood, although I like to have my Animal (from Muppets) moments, too. I am both a drummer and percussionist. Proud of it, too.

When I stepped through security, the kindly older security officer winked at me. I tell you, this drummer shirt makes people smile. ;) I also noticed three or four people in the airport with guitar cases. Thought it was interesting and cool. ;)

I managed to trek to the restroom --okay, twice--plane nerves--and then visited a shop to find a new journal for my trip. I spoke with the cashier and although he lives in Chicago, he's from L.A. and said that the state of California is divided into three sections--north (San Fransisco), L.A. (middle to south), and San Diego (South). There's a friendly rivalry, I guess. This information proved interesting.

So we're waiting to board and people watch. We noticed a young man (late twenties/early thirties) with two little brown wiggly puppies! So cute! Sadly, staff told him to put the pups back in their doggie totes. Darn. That was a highlight to see happy wiggly puppies with their little tails wagging.

Vacation: Chicago.

Hi, we're back. There's a lot to write, so here goes. As soon as I recharge the batteries on the digital camera, we'll download photos. I will post pics to the blog and facebook! :) Monday, October 12. A busy, planning day. I managed to catch a couple hours of extra sleep. Steve, bless his heart, taught his face-to-face class. It was a good day to get my hair done. (Any day is a good day to get hairapy, though). Now, when we travel out of town, I make this a ritual to have hairapy with color and a hairstyle. It puts me in the right frame of mind. Steve notices when I wear my tresses in a certain way (straightened), I seem different--more adventurous. Anyhow, this is my online accolades to Salon Rouge. Love the people--the staff is the most awesome people and the venue is a wonderful place to visit. I receive the best customer service. And I've made friends with most of the staff. Well, I enjoyed a great session with D. She is darling and we have a blast! D. is also artistic and talented. I love what she is doing with my hair--and for significant events like our class reunion, LaSalle Dedication and RetroFest: Celebrating the 1940's, and our vacation to San Diego. After hairapy, I trekked home. Steve and I packed, ran a couple of errands, including donating a half-bottle of delicious Spumante to our neighbors. Good champagne cannot simply be wasted! After we packed up, loved up a surly Latte and sleeping Java, and started on our way to Chicago. We started out after 6:00 p.m., but that is fine, we do not have to be on an airplane until the next day. The beauty of travel by automobile--saves us an additional flight and we can arrive at a more leisurely time. Speaking of which, our friend M. called from Chi-town and offered for us to stay with her. What an awesome offer! Since we had to take the shuttle bus to the airport (O'Hare) early the next day, we asked if she could meet us at the Marriott O'Hare (hotel) for coffee. We named this hotel "The Hobbit Hotel" because it contained the smallest elevator ever. Our hotel door and bathroom were narrow as well. If the doors were rounded, it would have been perfect for a hobbit. M. met us for a light snack and drinks in the bar called Champion. The bar contained a lot of people, but we managed to grab a table near the door and people-watch. The waiter/manager was a twerp and responded rudely to M., but the server was very sweet even though she waited on multiple tables. After we finished our drinks, we chatted for a long time and I walked M. to the lobby. What a wonderful way to start our vacation by meeting up with a dear friend! It was a very late night/early morning, but figured I could sleep on the plane.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Going Offline Until Next Weekend

Steve took these bird photos while I surfed in March 2009.
We are going to go offline until we return back from vacation on Saturday night. So it may be Sunday before posting our adventures. I am excited that there will be a lot of new material to blog!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Gaming-Musical-Nature Weekend

Red Flower from Helen's Garden- LCS 2009It's six in the evening and we're preparing to leave tomorrow for Chi-town. Steve is grading and preparing for tomorrow's class. Latte just galloped through the living room with her little kitty waddle moving back and forth. (Have you ever watched the cartoon Cow and Chicken? And how Cow's udders would consistently go in the opposite direction when she ran? Well, that's what that reminded me of. Cute Latte with her skinny legs and her moooving waddle.)
Java, the sophisticated cat, is relaxing in one of her favorite spots: the basket, the couch, or outside in a kitty bed on the porch. I can almost see her rolling her feline eyes at Latte.
I am going to move all the dishes and stuff back into the Hoosier Cabinet and the Hutch. We asked a couple of friends to move the furniture for us. (I did bring ch0colate chip cookies and champagne as a thank-you). I'm finally dealing with the dishes and glasses from the house. We have some more furniture to downsize and rearrange. Then painting and new carpeting installed. That will happen sometime in November. Saturday morning I rode up with my friend B. to meet the other bandmates. M. and S. both sing and they have AMAZING voices. And B. asked me if I was interested in singing. I said yes. I sing and car-dance, and sing in the shower. And today, I was singing in the boulevard with my iPOD. (Kind of loudly... Steve told me it was cute. I didn't realize I was serenading the neighborhood. Oops). Well, I'll be doing percussion and back-up vocals. Very cool. And we picked up a black Zildjian T-shirt. I'm now an official bad-a$$ drummer (LOL). We had a great time at the Lake. It was quiet and cold and beautiful. There were no deer in sight because it's hunting season (shh...don't tell... but I'm secretly rooting for the deer. I would be a nightmare to take on a deer hunt. :D) Dad fixed this awesome beef and noodle soup and then an amazing omelet for breakfast. We went for walks and I snapped photographs. The trees are almost at their prime. Next weekend it should be perfect weather to view the trees on the Lake. After we said goodbye to Dad, Steve and I visited Mom at the cemetery. Then we drove home. And now I returned from another mini-walk and am now catching up on my blog, emails, etc. Soon it will be time to finish laundry and pack (!) and prepare for a fun week!

Friday, October 09, 2009

va-CA-tion

(Surfing in San Diego, CA SJS-2009)
I'm on va-CA-tion, I'm on va-CA-tion! Yes, I'm doing the happy dance...again! We're so excited for our trip to California on Tuesday. We're having a great weekend so far. This morning I had art at 7 a.m.. I even put paint on my jeans and now have art jeans. They look pretty cool.
I went back to bed. Latte joined me for a mid-morning snooze. It was wonderful. Then I ran errands and helped Steve get the house ready for Freeport (his adventure game). I confirmed a time where a bandmate will pick me up tomorrow at 9 a.m. and we will be going to Cassopolis to meet and rehearse with other people. I'm looking forward to it. A drummer friend gave me a cool website to check out: http://www.drummerworld.com. It seems that music is coming to me at all directions. The law of attraction in a most wonderful way.
Later, Steve and I will trek to Gravel Lake to see Dad and see the beauty of autumn in Michigan. It's beautiful up there. It should be more peaceful. Mom always loved autumn at the lake.
On Sunday we will leave Michigan and return home to pack and prepare to leave for Chicago (!) on Monday. Then Tuesday, we leave for California. I hear the waves are flat right now and may not be right for surfing, but I don't mind. Just being completely disconnected from my hectic life with the ocean, sand, and sunshine will be all that I need. And flat ocean water would be a good reason to have a quicker return trip.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sleepy Cat, Library Dedication, and Dinner

Java Taking a Bath--LCS 2009
I had to correct the name on the last blog posting. It was Latte who was yawning, not Java. We get their names confused all the time. We attended the dedication for the remodeled Tutt Branch Library. Theresa and I accidentally wore almost the same dress! Black, buttoned up with a belt. She looked great and did a great job as master of ceremonies! After the Dedication, Steve and I took his parents to Papa Vino's for dinner. Mmm. Love their pasta. And champagne. We went back to their place and I snapped photographs of their flowers. They cultivate a beautiful garden. Today is the one-year observance of Jack's death. He died early in the morning last year. Tonight I went for a long walk and am preparing for a busy week.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Another Literary Musical Weekend

Latte Yawning on Couch--SJS 2009
Java Sleeping in Bean Bag--SJS 2009
Lazy, lazy day. Lazy, lazy kitties. Lazy, lazy Saturday. Today is a sleepy weather day. Cold, rainy, blanket weather. We still did a lot today.
Friday night, I stopped at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe and watched Chris (drummer) play with his band. It's a blues band. I love watching live blues even more than jazz. And I love jazz. So cool. I re-learned the term "ghost beat". It's like playing a little off a regular beat. A little slower (like in reggae). And then friends I knew arrived so that was fun and a nice surprise. And I'm buying a black Zildjian T-shirt. Chris was wearing one and it looked so rocking cool! He is a really good drummer and he also played a strong reggae beat to one of their songs. I cannot recall the band's name, but they were very good. Seasoned musicians who can jam. Today (Saturday), I slept in late. After two late nights (awake after 2:00 a.m.), it caught up with me. After sleeping in, I hung out with Steve and met up with a girlfriend for hairapy at my favorite salon. (Salon Rouge!) Later, we went to Border's and Meijer to shop. I reconnected with a friend at Border's. Her son is playing drums! (He's about 12 years old).
Tonight I will be tuning in to Saturday Night Live to watch the musical performer Lady Gaga.
She's like a very young Madonna. Her music is great to car dance or to walk to on the iPod.
I will definitely sleep in and then attend Dedication at the Tutt Branch tomorrow. Afterwards, Steve and I will be taking our parents (in-laws) to dinner for their anniversary/Dad'sbirthday. It's a full and enjoyable weekend.

Labor Day Weekend: Library, Gaming, Rock Band, and Kayaking

Isn't it interesting how a simple, one-line post on social media can inspire a person to write more about it on a blog? Yes, that is w...