Sunday, September 28, 2008


I love football!! I have always been a fan of going to football games - not necessarily because I love the sport but I love the sense of community that you experience at a football game. The Chiefs are not only not an exception - they are the epitome! My friend, Kim, called me on Saturday and just as she was about to ask me something, she said "oh you wouldn't be able to do that." I said, "WHAT?" She informed me that she has tickets to the noon game on Sunday and I said "I can work that out!" I'll teach my Sunday School class, go to the game and be back in time for youth group. :) I haven't been to a Chiefs game in years - mainly because it was expensive and hard to get tickets. They used to be good. I couldn't pass this up! Sunday morning I taught my class and then quickly put on my Chiefs t-shirt and met Kim for the game. It was FABULOUS! We had 7th row seats on the 50 yard line. OH MY GOSH!! Despite the fact that we were sitting in the direct sunlight - it was AWESOME! We even WON!! It was a miracle! The best part (besides hanging with my buddy) is everyone around you becomes like family. As soon as the Chiefs do something good, everyone high-fives everyone around. People are laughing and talking to one another as if we're the best of friends. I thought to myself, why can't the church behave like the fans at a Chiefs game? :) Thanks, Kim!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Photographer & Biker

It was an early morning getting up at 5:30 to be at the field by 6:30 to set up the camera equipment and tent. Occasionally I get the opportunity to play photographer for my friend, Vicki, who owns TSS Photography. We take pictures of sports leagues - team and individuals. Today was league football photos. They are so adorable!! I don't really know the ages but it seems like they start as young as 6 or 7 through pre-teen. We also had a few cheerleading squads to photo. Such cute kids!!
We were done about noon so I came home and grabbed some lunch and loaded my bike onto my car because my friend and I were going to meet at the old airport to do a little biking. Unfortunately, he cancelled but I decided to go anyway. I have been told the road around the old airport is 3.5 miles and I went around 3 times so I felt pretty good about that. It was a gorgeous day for biking and I absolutely LOVE my new bike!

I decided since I was already gross, I might as well mow the lawn. Yuck! I managed to get the front mowed but I couldn't get it started when I got to the back - so I gave up. I grilled myself a steak for dinner and was feeling sorry for myself being home alone on a Saturday night when my good buddy, Keith, called. We had a good visit and since we usually play phone tag, I was glad I was home to receive his call. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My friend, Mark!

I love my friend, Mark! He is a volunteer youth leader at my church - teaches Sunday School and goes on mission trips - but most importantly, he supports the youth in their activities outside of church. Today Mark invited me to join him for a volleyball game at Staley High School to watch two of our youth - Jessica & Hannah - wipe the floor with their opponents.

I could barely get any work done with anticipation of the evenings activities. Mark is one of those people that always has a positive outlook on life - despite the grief that he has faced in the last year. He always has a smile on his face and he makes people around him smile, too.
After the volleyball game, we grabbed some grub at the local Minsky's. I was a little disappointed that they didn't have the trivia that the other Minsky's had but Mark promised to be conversational - and he was. I really enjoy talking to Mark and he certainly got more than his fair share of my ramblings. We started out by drawing a map of my sabbatical journey on the paper tablecloth - it was lovely an I almost wanted to keep it! I was amazed at how fast the time went by and was reminded again of how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I overslept and was very grateful to Sally for waking me up. I still had to get all my stuff in my suitcases!! I took the car over to mom & dad's neighbor, Sue, and stayed for a visit and a cup of coffee. She's going to keep it in her garage until they come home. It was good to see her! I hurried back to the house and finished packing. I had a brief visit with Ralph & Sally before Sally took me to the airport. One of my bags was 2 pounds overweight so I had to do some swapping in order to not have to pay extra. I finally made it on the plane and had an uneventful trip home. My friend was going to pick me up but ended up having a funeral she needed to attend so I wasn't sure how I wa getting to my car. I posted a status update on my facebook and my dear friend, Cheryl, sent me a message asking if I needed her to pick me up. What a sweetie!! Not only did she pick me up but she was waiting for me when I got off the plane. I can only remember one other time when a friend did that and it makes for such a nice homecoming - especially after being gone for so long!
Cheryl took me to the church to pick up my keys (& my new bike which had arrived while I was gone) and then to Elaine's to pick up my car. I was very excited to try out my new bike but it rained for the next four days! It is so good to be home! My house looked great and the dogs were overjoyed (in my imagination) to have me home!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fair to Middlin' (or Midland)

I said farewell to Bill & Wayne and headed off across West Texas to my parent's home in Midland. It was a beautiful drive - the mountains were spectacular and the clouds were fluffy and fabulous! I lost an hour as I finally returned to central time but I managed to arrive around 2p.m. I unloaded mom & dad's stuff at their house - with some help from their friend, Ellen, who is currently living in the house and then rolled down the block to Ralph & Sally's to unload and reorganize all of my belongings. I spread out over their entire patio as I tried to figure out how to get a carload of stuff into two suitcases to check on the plane. Once the car was empty, I took it to the local full-service car wash for an overhaul but they were closed. The nice man in the oil & lube next door was kind enough to vacuum it for me for no charge. I love Texans! I told him I had been invaded by ants and really needed a good vacuum. He was very kind and asked me to come visit him again sometime. How cute is that?

I had a wonderful evening with my dear friends, Ray & Jane. They took me to a delicious steak house for some low-sodium grub! They are both in their 90's and they are amazing! They gave me a tour of the golf course where Ray golfs twice a week and a tour of Manor Park where they currently reside and where my grandparents lived for the last several years of their lives. They have done so much construction that I ended up circling the place three times before I figured out how to get into the secured facility! It's a beautiful place! They even have a workout room where Ray & Jane work out regularly. I hope and pray if I live to be 90, that I am as active and fit as they are!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Basking in the sun

I spent the majority of the day sunning myself on the side of the pool. The view was incredible and even though the water was a little on the chilly side, it felt fantastic after the west Texas sun has been beating down on you for a couple of hours. I'm lucky I didn't fry myself because I couldn't bring myself to leave this glorious location!

After the guys came home, I managed to drag myself away from the pool, cleaned up and we went to a delicious Mexican restaurant in El Paso. We had a good laugh when I asked what they would recommend and Bill said they had some good vegetarian dishes. I told him I wasn't a vegetarian and he about fell on the floor. He swears my mom told him that which is why we had no meat at dinner the night before. How funny!! I had the yummy steak fajitas which were more than I could eat so I saved them for lunch on the road the next day. I had a wonderful time in El Paso and really enjoyed getting to know Bill & Wayne a little better!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

On to the West Texas town of El Paso...

I had to get on the road fairly early so I had a quick bite to eat with my aunt & uncle. My Uncle Jim seems to look vaguely like my father with his bald head and gray beard. My aunt shared with me her latest brain-twister that she creates for Dell Puzzle magazine and it is all about our family. Finally - I'm going to make it into a magazine! :)

I arrived at Bill & Wayne's home in El Paso with plenty of time to unpack and change before the company arrived. They invited a few friends over for a delicious dinner with lots of laughter. I really enjoyed meeting their friends and getting to know Bill & Wayne. Bill is somehow related to my dad (along with almost everyone in southwest Missouri) and they grew up together so we have been family friends forever!

They have a beautiful home on the top of a mountain which overlooks the city lights of El Paso. I know where you will be able to find me tomorrow!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fun with Family

I enjoyed a lazy morning visiting with my Aunt Jan while I caught up on some of my blog. It was a beautiful (and hot!) day in Phoenix so my cousin's son, Jacob, and I spent the majority of the day in the pool. Jan had a fabulous spray on sunscreen that really works! I was in and out of the pool for about five hours and didn't get burned. Yea!! We called it a day about 5pm and got cleaned up for the evening.
Cousins, Steve and Nancy, took me out for a night on the town. We had dinner at a fabulous place called Fez where my cousins ran into many people that they knew. They made a mean pomegranate margarita and the food was delicious. It has been many years since I spent quality time with my cousins and I had a great time. I am looking forward to Christmas when we will all be together in Las Vegas.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Off to Phoenix

Sadly, I do not have any pictures for today but the only thing worth remembering is the evening. I woke up at 4am with the worst Meneire's attack of my life - or at least that I can remember! I was afraid my toes were soon going to come out my mouth but they didn't. I threw up violently until about 6:30. Poor Diana was kind enough to take good care of me. She'd had a little experience with it when we went to San Antonio but she definitely got first hand experience this time. I have a handful of friends who have been there for me at my worst and let me tell you, you know you have a quality friend when they stand by you through something like that. I managed to fall asleep until about 9:30. I felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck but I knew I really needed to get on the road. I slowly pulled myself together and managed to hit the road about 10:30am. Gradually, I began to feel better and I only stopped once for gas in Blythe, CA which is about half way between LA & Phoenix. I was amazed when I stepped out of the car to the hottest temperature I had experienced in my three months of travel. OMG!! It is HOT here! I stopped long enough to make a PB&J and get a soda in the gas station before jumping in my car and appreciating the air conditioner! This is definitely the desert! I arrived in Phoenix about 6pm and had a wonderful evening with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Jan fixed a delicious dinner of fried chicken (with no salt) and other delicious low-sodium foods. It was fabulous! I'm sad that I forgot to take any pictures but you'll have to wait and see them tomorrow. For now, I am very glad to be in Phoenix and enjoying some family time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Extra day in Santa Barbara

I stayed up until 2:30 working on the computer trying to get it done before I left but I finally realized that I was not going to finish - nor would it be safe for me to try to spend the day driving after very little sleep so I chose to put off my jaunt to Phoenix another day so I could finish the computer work and get a good nights sleep. I was surrounded by computers - transferring pictures and music, setting up her ipod, connecting her phone to computer, etc. It was quite fun and definitely challenging but amazingly satisfying when all was complete. I was glad I chose to stay an extra day.

I finished up about 2 and we decided to enjoy more of the Summerland beach. It was a gorgeous day so it seemed silly not to. We had a couple of hours of good sun time left and we took full advantage of them. We went home and showered and then headed over to State Street in Santa Barbara for some happenin' night life! Madisons steaks were recommended to us so we decided to give them a try. From 7-9 they offer them buy one get one free. A steak at a bargain - what could be better???

Steak at a bargain - AND pear cider on tap!! Now we're talkin'!! I wasn't sure it could get any better than that - until I noticed the Royals game on the TV behind Diana's head. Wow - this could not be more perfect. It was a great evening and a wonderful way to end our time together. We were sad when we realized that we have no plans on the horizon to get together so we decided we'd better come up with something. Usually when we say goodbye, we know when we'll see eachother again. I'm sure it won't be long before another adventure comes our way.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fun in the Sun!!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we decided to spend the day at the beach (duh!). We loaded up our towels, reading material, cooler, beach chairs, umbrella, etc. and headed to Summerland. Of the beaches I have seen near Diana's home, that is my favorite! We lounged in the sand and read for a good while and then decided to take a long walk. That's one of the best things about Summerland beach - it's long so you can walk forever! At the end of our walk, I took a little dip in the ocean. It wasn't even that cold!
However, when I was turned around for my picture, a wave snuck up from behind and wiped me out! They say you should never turn your back on the ocean and now I know why. Of course, it took my favorite pair of sunglasses which I desperately tried to find - to no avail. The water was clear enough but just as I could see the bottom, another wave would come and stir it up again. AGH! I finally had to give up and accept that both the Atlantic and the Pacific have kicked my butt!
We stopped for a very late lunch at the Habit which is my favorite burger place in the world. We had a fun experience with a homeless man who decided to join us - but the manager came over and made him leave. I felt bad moving my purse when he sat down but I decided I would feel worse if he ran off with it. Of course, Diana would have gone after him and she would have won. He didn't seem to be in very good shape.
Diana must have been hungry because she scarfed down her burger in less than a minute! Isn't she cute? :) I think she was afraid the homeless man was going to come back and eat it for her! We went back to the house and removed the massive amounts of sand we had accumulated. We enjoyed a bottle of Riesling that I brought from Chateau Ste Michelle while I worked on the computer. It was supposed to be my last night so I desperately tried to finish the projects she needed done but about 2:30am I decided I needed another day. It's good that my family and friends are very flexible with my arrival and departure.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I love my "old" roomies!

Tammy & Melissa took me to Yosemite Family Restaurant for a yummy breakfast! Our waitress was funny - even though she was a little slow bringing Tammy some cream. Can't blame her, though, since Melissa threw her off by demanding water! :) I picked up a set of bear paw coasters for my living room - slowly working on becoming more like my log cabin dream home - at least from the inside. We went to Office Max to pick up some blank DVD's and then headed back to their fabulous home.

We spent the next couple of hours playing on our three computers. They just got new laptops for a really great price at Best Buy and mine felt so antiquated after playing on theirs - especially the screen. That will probably be a purchase after the new year since I have to keep finding things to delete just to save my pictures! However, it has been a great laptop for many years - thanks to my wonderful brother-in-law! I had to get on the road about 2pm and it was sad to say goodbye but I'm so glad I was able to spend time with them. They are fabulous women and I'm very glad that renting a room has opened up doors to so many new friendships - and new places to visit! :)
I had an uneventful drive across California and made it to Santa Barbara in time for dinner. I like to schedule my travels around places to eat! Diana was on the phone when I arrived - big surprise! :) We decided to take a walk on the beach before dinner so we headed over to one of the many beaches in her vicinity and walked as far as we could without wading through too much water. It was a beautiful evening!! We had dinner right there on the beach at the Beachside Cafe. I had almond-crusted Mahi Mahi that was delicious! I will miss the yummy seafood that you can get on the coasts. It's just not the same in the midwest. Diana had several computer projects for us to work on so we went back to her room and started on those. It was quite fun!!

Monday, September 01, 2008

San Jose to Fresno

We had a leisurely morning with our Stockton friends. Amy made yummy muffins! We had a great laugh remembering our PSCE talent show where six girls dressed up as the Brady Bunch kids and lip-synced the song they performed when they were trying to pay for the engraving on their parents wedding anniversary platter. Amy and I were two of the boys so we had cool black curly wigs and lovely outfits that Mary and I put together from things we found at the Good Will. Oh what funny memories!

I took mom to the airport around noon and then headed to Pleasanton to meet my friend, Stefen. Stefen is one of my oldest friends - we became friends in the 4th grade and he is one of those friends that regardless how long we go between visits, it's like a day hasn't passed. He is like family to me and I love seeing him! He always makes me feel special - saying things like "A day without Carla is like a day without sunshine." It's no wonder he is good at sales!

I had the very special pleasure this visit of meeting his girlfriend, Laura. They have known one another for 20 years and I was glad to meet this person that is so important in Stefen's life - and I get a new friend!
After a wonderful afternoon with Stefen and Laura, it was time to head out. I stopped in Livermore to see my dad's Aunt Roberta. She is going to be 92 years old and is sharp as a tack. We had a wonderful visit and I enjoyed all the stories she shared with me about my family. Next time I come, I plan to allow more time to hang out with my Aunt Roberta! She's a hoot!

I was very late getting to Fresno where I was staying with my former roommates, Tammy & Melissa. They lived with me for about six weeks last summer and I absolutely love them! I don't think I've ever been more warmly welcomed and it is so good to see them again. We took a walk around the neighborhood, enjoyed some cider and watched a fabulous movie (The Holiday) late into the evening (or morning, actually). It was a fabulous day!