Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been a while since I've blogged!  I think this is a perfect time to catch up on the past 12 months! 

Over the past 10 months I have lost 70 lbs and I am looking sexy!


How did I do that? A modified Atkins diet and lots of walking. You know me, I love walking my little lake! 

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is hopeless when it comes to sticking to my eating regime.  After today I will refocus!  I have also started an aerobics class which I go to on Thursdays and walk the lake the rest of the week.  My new goal is to lose 30 more lbs, and then I think I will be good! The challenge will then be to maintain. 

I have been to Hawaii twice this year...

...first in March for Jalen's 1st birthday and again in August.  I have to take advantage of it while I can as Ryan will be stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri after October 2012. 

Ironically I have family in Missouri that I have never met, and I've never even been there! So I am looking forward to a new vacation location. 

Dating has not been very successful, online or otherwise.  The one constant has been Rick...


...but he spends so much time in the bay area that I don't get to see him nearly as much as I would like.  So we have settled into a comfortable friendship. 

I had my 60th birthday this year.  My kids threw me a surprise birthday party. I was truly surprised and had no idea!  A big thanks to my kids Jon and Cheryl...

 ...and Megan and Ryan for putting it all together. 
To my brother John, his wife Mary...

...and niece Emily for making the trip up to participate in the festivities.


To Rick for keeping the secret and being my escort.

 And all of my friends who attended. 

The best part of all?  I did a bunch of cooking for my own party and didn't even know it! The jalapeno popper mac n cheese was a hit!

I think I'm going to retire this year. The countdown clock is running!

I've tentatively set May 1st as my retirement date. That will give me 18 years in PERS, it is my birthday quarter, and I will have made just enough money so it won't impact my social security.  I have places that I want to go and people I want to meet. I have many friends, some that I have never met, who have invited me to their home. Kentucky (Linda), Ohio (Jarmila), Wisconsin (Ruthie), Louisiana (Jamie) and Italy (Amanda) are all on my "must visit" list!  I would also love to visit Scotland (Mcleod of Lewis is my clan!), Wales and Australia someday!

My parents came for a visit the beginning of December.  We had our picture taken with Santa - 4 generations!  It was good to have them visit; they had not been here in a long time.  (I will post the picture as soon as I can!)  Eric is here for the holidays, as well! It has been good to have him home. Hopefully he will find a job here and move back up to Sacramento!

Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone and it is now New Year's Eve.  As I sit here thinking about this last year I realize just how blessed I have been to have so many wonderful people in my life, the love of my children and grandchildren, and lucky to still have my parents with me.  I am looking forward to 2012 with great anticipation. And I have not forgotten about my passport! It is still on my "to do" list!

As I close I want you to know that I wish you nothing but love, joy and happiness in the upcoming year. May you all be as blessed as I have been. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Memories of an Earthquake

Forty years ago on February 9, 1971 at 6:01 a.m., a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck. It happened in Sylmar, California, just a few miles from my home in Northridge. I was 19 years old.

Ironically one of my favorite movies ever was San Francisco starring Clark Gable and Jeannette MacDonald. It was set at the turn of the century when another famous earthquake hit. I watched and quivered with sheer terror as giant cracks opened up in the road and swallowed people; walls tumbled down crushing anything and everything in its way; and cried as the masses of people searched for their loved ones (mostly Gable and MacDonald) and watched helplessly as their homes burned.

The morning of the Sylmar Quake, my mother tells me she and her husband Duke were having coffee; she got up to make a fresh cup and he went to the back door to look outside. As he stood there holding the door open he said, "You know, it's very strange. It's completely silent outside. Not even the birds are chirping." Then they heard the rumble and the shaking started. He stood there holding onto the door; mom set the tea kettle on the floor and started for our bedrooms. 

All I remember is suddenly my bed was violently shaking and I had no idea what was going on. I started screaming for my mom, jumped out of bed on the far side of my room in front of my large picture window, and had to run around the bed to get out of my room. Just as I got to my door, the bookcase crashed down just barely missing me.  I saw mom walking down the hall; she was holding onto the wall trying to not fall. As I was going towards her a big jolt hit, throwing me into her; we slammed into the wall but managed to stay upright. My brother, John, came sauntering out of his bedroom like nothing was happening! Mom pulled both of us into her bedroom, and we sat huddled on her bed until the shaking stopped. I was sure the roof was going to collapse on us any second and we would all die! I could not stop crying.

Finally the hysteria eased and I was able to grasp just what had happened - an earthquake.  The house was not damaged, but as I looked around I could see the side door still opened; the tea kettle was now tipped over and boiling hot water had melted the wax on the kitchen floor; anything sitting on shelves had been knocked over or off; and my bedroom was completely trashed. I was really upset about the bookcase falling over because my fishbowl was sitting on top of it. All that was left were glass shards in a puddle of water and no fish to be found. In fact, it was 3 weeks before I found the fish. Dead. Dehydrated. Behind the leg of my dresser stuck under the baseboard.

Eventually we settled in the living room and turned on the news. I sat and watched in shock seeing pictures of the Veteran's Hospital in San Fernando...

...and Olive View Hospital (which was only one year old) in Sylmar...

...both of which had collapsed.

Sections of the freeway had collapsed as well...

...crushing one man to death as he drove to work.

Many homes were damaged.

A portion of the Van Norman Dam had collapsed directly north of our home. I just knew that there would be a flood and we would all drown, even though we survived the earthquake!

Mom called my Uncle Pat, who lived in Sylmar (the epicenter of the earthquake) and he shared that a fissure had opened up in his backyard, but family and farm animals were safe.  Thankfully all of my family was safe.

Sadly, 65 people lost their lives and there was over $500 million in damage.

Being a Valley Girl born and raised, I had experienced earthquakes all my life but they were just little tremors. This one changed my life forever. Ironically I am no longer terrified of them like I once was. In fact, a week after the earthquake while standing in my driveway working on my VW bug I heard the familiar rumble, said "Here comes another aftershock," and went back to working on my car.

In 1994 the Northridge Earthquake struck.  Sixty people were killed, more than 7,000 injured, and 20,000 were left homeless. Although I was living in Sacramento I went back to help my friend, Lisa, dig out of her apartment and rebuild her life. She had a family friend, Clarence Wayne Dean, a motorcycle officer with the LAPD, who, upon experiencing the earthquake on his way home, turned his motorcycle around to go back and help. Unfortunately Officer Dean was killed when his motorcycle drove off of a section of freeway which had just collapsed due to the earthquake. It was dark and he could not see it. They have since rebult that portion and have named it after him.

Most of us never really get to see an earthquake fault line.  My brother and mother now live in Palm Springs and the San Andreas Fault is visible from their houses.  Intrigued, I wanted to visit it.  So New Years 2010 that is exactly what I did.  It is a beautiful, peaceful, palm tree lined oasis in the middle of the desert.  The ground is cracked open and water bubbles up to the surface, making the area green and lush. It is hard to imagine that a thing of beauty can cause such destruction.

Earthquakes, like any natural disaster, happen coast to coast, from San Francisco CA to Savannah GA, Alaska and Hawaii. So when one happens to you, stay inside and stand in a doorway. It is the safest place to be.

Do you remember what you were doing at 6:01 a.m. on February 19, 1971? I will never forget...

(These clocks were all removed from Olive View Hospital - frozen at the time of the earthquake.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Listen Like a Boy

Jack extended an invitation to attend his daughter Marcy’s birthday party. Oh, how I love a good party, and I accepted the invite, thank you very much!

While at dinner with my friend Janice, I called Jack and asked what could I get Marcy for a present. “You don’t have to get her anything!” Silly answer, because yes, I do! What does she like to do? Is she allergic to perfume? Does she like to read? I could get her a Barnes & Noble gift card. “Oh, that would be perfect! I got her an e-reader like a Kindle from BN.” I heard, “I got her a Kindle from BN.”

So after dinner us girls went shopping at BN.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in the store and there was a Nook display! Janice said, “Oh, how I’d love to have a little Nookie!” I looked at her and said, “Janice, did you really just say what I heard you say?”  Embarrassment and hysterical laughter ensued! “I didn’t even think about what I was saying! I was just thinking that they are little, and cute, and a Nook, and well…” Stop while you’re ahead, Janice!

Now I was confused. I thought Jack said Kindle, but BN only has the Nook. Another phone call?  Still trying to recover from the aforementioned hilarity I did call him again.  “Jack, they don’t have Kindle, only Nook!” “No, I said it was LIKE the Kindle, only the BN brand. And I did not get her the color.” I heard, “I got her the Color.”
Well, I decided to not get her a gift card but rather a Nook cover. The sales person pointed me to the covers for the Nook Color. So many choices, but I picked a beautiful pistachio green cover with a quote embossed on it. Perfect!

Present wrapped and we are good to go!

Saturday arrives and Jack comes to pick me up. We are loading lasagna and cheesecake into Petey. I grab the present and as I’m getting into the car I say, “I got her a gorgeous Nook cover. I’m glad you told me it is Color because there are two different kinds!” “No, I said it was NOT the Color.”  Well, she will get the pleasure of opening the present, and then she can exchange it for whatever she wants.

Time to open presents! She loved the Nook. Her daddy had a great time showing her how it works. She loved the cover, too! Of course the entire story had to be shared, and we all got a good laugh out of it. Jack looked at me and said, “You listen like a boy!”  I’m sorry, it’s all my fault; please forgive me!  ~giggle~ Lots of teasing and joking ensued. I did exchange the Nook Color cover for a regular Nook cover in pink. Marcy was thrilled.

This leads us to Facebook postings yesterday. Jack posted that, yes, he did break down and buy himself a Nook. Couldn’t let Marcy have all the fun!  He shared a link with me for the libraries where you can download free e-book! After checking out the link I said, You're awesome! You've convinced me! :) His comment?   "I repeat... A Nook! Not a Kindle. Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook, Nook! Ha Ha!"

Lesson learned. I no longer listen like a boy!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Pen Pals...

Allow me to introduce you to Amanda.  How did we meet, you may ask? It is a story that started many years ago.

When I was a young teenager at church we used to get a weekly magazine/pamphlet called The Junior Guide. In it was a list of other teenagers from all over the world who were wanting penpals.  At one time I had several from the Philippines, Libya, Iceland, and various ones across America.

Sadly, I am afraid that the art of writing letters is a dying art, although I do make an effort. Not as much as I should, but I do try!

About two and a half years ago, as I was once again struggling to lose weight, I logged onto the Dr. Atkins website and signed up. Free of charge, of course! But it gave me access to recipes, the ability to track and follow my progress, blog, and meet other members.

Thus I met Amanda.

We have chatted quite alot online, I shared recipes, and we shared bits and pieces of our lives.  Then we discovered we were both on Facebook, so we switched over so we could get to know each other better.

Lately we have been chatting about talking on a real phone, but for that I would need a landline, which I don't have. And then the lightbulb came on! She could call me at work!  Today! Because everyone was going to be out of the office for a birthday luncheon.

Well, as luck would have it, the birthday luncheon was cancelled, but most everyone was out of the office when Amanda called. We talked for an hour and it was delightful!  We discovered we shared a lot of similar stories about our childhood and our mothers (could they be sisters?). 

We also both struggle with our weight, so we encourage each other when we hit those rough patches in life. 

She is from London but now lives in Bordighera, Italy...

...about 30 minutes from Monte Carlo. 

She has 3 brothers and two sisters, and a bunch of nieces and nephews who adore her!  Her "children" are Tara and Tess, two beautiful black labs. 

By the way, she has her apartment for rent, if anyone is interested!

Finally the hour was up and we had to end our conversation; but what a great time we had!

We meet so many people throughout our lives. Sometimes they are only here for a short time; sometimes they are here forever. There is a reason for it!

As for all those penpal communiques over the years, well, writing letters is fun, and you have this wonderful piece of tangible history to hang onto forever. Nowadays online communication provides immediate gratification and information is instantaneous.  They each have their place. Cherish them. And communicate more. Never be afraid to say what is on your mind or in your heart. It helps bring you closer to each other. And listen. You never know what you can learn from them.

So Amanda, welcome to my world and to my family.  I am honored you have come along for the ride! Thank you for agreeing to be my electronic penpal and an important part of my life!

Hugs and kisses...

Wednesday I took Jon, Cheryl, Erin and Evan out to dinner. We had Chinese at their favorite restaurant - Little City. I pulled into the parking lot; they were not there yet, so I just waited in the car. Less than 5 minutes later they arrived.

The car door flew open, Erin came running out yelling, "Nanny!" and ran into my arms, even before I had a chance to get out of the car. Hugs and kisses ensued, then we got out of the car.

Evan shuffled out of the car holding a kleenex and declared, "I'm sick, Nanny. I'm not going to kiss you."  Imagine that! A 4 year old that was worried about sharing germs! But he did hug my leg - sort of.

Yesterday on my way home from work I was going to go to Evan's baseball game. Got a call from mommy to say he still wasn't feeling good and was not going to play. So I made a detour and went to their house.

Again, Erin came running over with hugs and kisses.  Evan walked up behind and said, "I'm still sick." I said, "Can Nanny have kisses anyway?"  He got a big grin on this face, nodded yes, and gave me the biggest hug and kisses ever! Sweet!

Cheryl made stuffed bell peppers for dinner. They were delicious.  We visited for a while, sampled the macadamia nuts, and pretty soon it was bath time.  Tell Nanny good-bye and give her kisses! 

Nanny ended the night with boogers on her blouse. I am not complaining in the least!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Karma is a Bitch

Today I received an email that was intended for someone else - and it was about me.  It said:

"She had better not be saying I took her pens.. why would I do that?

And anyway they are district property she has ordered all kinds of crap from Sierra Office for her and Cynthia by the way.


 I don’t ever order anything without checking with Joe /Mark etc first even a small thing.

 She never does…

 And she has never said Happy Birthday even though people have said it in front of her to me.

 Oh well Karma is a bitch."

What precipitated this, you may ask?  All I did was ask, "Do you have my Dr. Grip pens?"

I am upset because this email is really not about the pens. It is about causing trouble. My comment was misconstrued and thrown out there to someone in the district; and I have no way to explain or defend my comments. 

Yes, Karma is a bitch. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because what goes around, comes around.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hawaii Day 1 1/2

On my way to the Land of Aloha!

My Hawaiian vacation started with my boarding the plane at 8:50 Sunday morning.  It was a cool, cloudy day. I was fortunate enough to get a window seat!

At 9:40 the plane lifted off over the rain soaked landscape of Sacramento; good-bye rain and gloom!  It was a smooth flight!

I love flying over the ocean. It's hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins; and of course the clouds are just beautiful!

After five hours there is finally land in sight! We have reached the Land of Aloha - and in the distance is the Island of Molokai.  Sweet! That means the Island of Oahu is not too far now!

Finally it is within view - the windward side of the island, Diamond Head and Waikiki. 

My seat mate, Sami, and I enjoyed the walk thru the terminal to get our luggage. (We decided to NOT take the wiki-shuttle to baggage claim.) She lives in Kailua Kona and was visiting her sister in Sacramento.  The airport is beautiful and open air with a beautiful Japanese Garden in the center.

Megan and I spied each other at the same time! Hugs, kisses and tears ensued.  "Look at you, sexy Nanny!" she said! :)  We gathered all the luggage and headed to the car, onto the freeway and pointed the car towards Hickam Beach for the birthday party.

Friends and family were waiting. Remiey, Rhiannon, Ryan, Johanna, G'ma Seaneen, Nanny, and of course Daddy Ryan and Mommy Megan were all there to celebrate Jalen's 1st birthday.  

Ryan barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, and of course there were chips and pasta salad. After we had stuffed ourselves we opened birthday presents, and then it was time for the piece de resistance - THE BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!

Jalen was a little bit apprehensive at first, but then dug in with both hands, raking his fingers through it before stuffing it into his mouth. He had his own Mickey Mouse cake!  Yum-o!!!

It was a perfect day to celebrate a 1st Birthday!

The next day was Jalen's 1 year check-up with the doctor.  He is normal, healthy and happy.  Got his 1-year shots, a TB test, and a finger prick to check for anemia.  So far, so good! It was a busy day; Grandma Seaneen wanted to stay at the cabins at Pokai Bay, a military beach along the Waianaie Coast. It's a beautiful drive on the western side of the Island and quite lovely there.

Today we are going to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It will be a good day.  Stay tuned!