Sunday, February 22, 2009

How did it get to be Sunday ... already?!

Wow, this week absolutely flew by! I'm sitting here looking at the calendar wondering how it can possibly be Sunday. Some of that may have to do with the fact that, because of the President's Day holiday, last week was a short week. But I'm guessing that it has more to do with the fact that we had so many plans.

The Pasadena Convention Center hosts an event called Distinguished Speaker Series. I've always wanted to attend, but you have to buy tickets to at least four in the series and tickets are prohibitively (at least for our budget) expensive. However, as luck would have it, I was able to find a FREE source for tickets!! My friend, Terry, is the office manager at the high school and they are given free tickets for students and chaperones. Terry mentioned that Kevin and I were welcome to tickets to any speaker we were interested in seeing. How cool is that! This past Tuesday night we saw Anderson Cooper. What a treat! He is an amazingly intelligent man (with a wicked sense of humor, I might add) who is humbled by the stories he's covered in his life. He believes his job is not that of a reporter, but to bear witness to the struggles and stories of others. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, I highly recommend you do so.

Friday night was girls night out. My friend Holly hosted one of our now famous WOFA events. What, you may be asking yourselves, is a WOFA? Why it's Women of First Avenue, of course! A few years ago our tightly knit (and some may argue, tightly wound) group of women at school started a summer group we called WOFA. The basis of the group is that we have so much fun together, when summer comes around, we're all kinda bummed that we won't see each other every day. Hence, WOFA was born. Okay, so it's not summer yet - but we all felt the need for a WOFA event, so why not? The men had their 'Man Party' (watching football, of course), so we figured we'd counter with a WOFA. Anyone can suggest an activity. We've done anything from mani/pedi's to movie night to afternoon tea to yoga classes to wine tastings. Holly decided on something completely different: Bingo, baby! That's right, my friends, bingo is not just for the older, blue-haired set. It's for anyone who has a hankering to shout loudly at small gatherings and have a great time. We kind of used it as an excuse to talk, laugh, eat and drink, but in all fairness we played bingo, too. And had a great time! To add a little more fun to the mix, each guest was to bring a wrapped $20.00 gift. Before the bingo action commenced, we drew numbers and chose a gift in the order drawn. We were to open the gifts to see what everyone had then, if you won a round of bingo, you could steal the gift you wanted. Some people ended up with several gifts, some with nothing at all. However, no one went away disappointed because we all had so much fun! I came home with the gift my friend Amy brought. It was a particularly 'good pick' because it was something her husband - my friend Michael, with whom I discuss all things wine - put together. It contained a wonderful bottle of chardonnay, smoked gouda, a very piquant cheddar with herbs, olive tapenade and whole grain crackers. Something tells me I see a Sunday afternoon picnic in our very near future!

Saturday we continued to help the LaLa's with their move. Last week, packing. This week, the actual move. What a job! I daresay Kevin and I probably preferred the packing over the moving, but hey ... it all has to be done, so we jumped in with gusto. I probably don't need to say this because you've already guessed it but, we were all completely exhausted. Though not something we'd consider particularly 'fun', their move did remind Kevin and I of something very important for our own search for a home: avoid stairs at all costs! There is still much to be done, but the final outcome is that Deb, Bill and the boys have a wonderful new home that they can, and will, enjoy for many years to come. We love you guys and are so happy for you! And, oh yeah, please plan on being in town when we move so that you can return the favor!!

Though both Kevin and I were dog tired when we got home late Saturday afternoon, I'd promised to attend a housewarming party for the daughter of a friend of mine. She was so excited about the party, I couldn't disappoint her by not attending. However, I told Kevin he could beg off if he wished. At first he said he'd take me up on the offer and stay home to nap. But after he thought about it, he decided that we should both attend. As he put it, 'we there support each other - even if we're tired'. Awwww - isn't he just the sweetest! I promised we'd make it a short visit. Tired or not, we did end up having a good time. Mike and Deanna were very proud to show off their new home. They loved the gift we brought and we had fun visiting with everyone. We stayed for about an hour and then headed home for some well deserved rest!

Whew! No wonder the week felt like it flew by - it did! It's funny - the other day I was having a lively conversation with my friend Ray. He said that a good friend of his had been going through a rough time recently having suffered a job loss and foreclosure on his home. His simple advise to Ray was to 'enjoy every day'. Excellent advise I'd say. Advise certainly well worth taking. I hope you find enjoyment in each of your days as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do You Fondue?

Valentine's Day.

If you're living right, Valentine's day is no different than any other day of the year. That is to say, we should live every day as if it were Valentine's day. Show your loved ones you love them daily by doing little things: whispering sweet nothings in their ear; sharing a well-timed wink; indulging in sweet kisses; a warm nuzzle on the neck; relaying a silly joke or story. By this definition, Kevin and I celebrate Valentine's day every single day we're together.

That said, for Valentine's day this year, we planned to stay in and create our own fondue dinner, ala The Melting Pot restaurant. Which we did! ... just not on Valentine's day. We had helped the LaLa's with their pending move by spending Saturday packing boxes and delivering them from their current house to their new house. Though we left around 2:00 p.m., by the time we got home, we were completely exhausted and decided that we were too tired to enjoy our planned fondue dinner. No matter, we thought - we have a nice long weekend ahead of us so why not create our celebration a bit later? Doing so would allow us to really enjoy the whole process such as working side by side in the kitchen to prepare the ingredients, setting the table - the whole experience.

I'm happy to report that we did, in fact, enjoy our special Valentine's day fondue dinner. And it was perfectly delightful! If you've not tried something like this with your honey, I highly recommend it. It's both fun and romantic -- even if you're not dressed to the nines (Kevin: "May I admire the lovely sweatshirt you're wearing?" Randa: "Right back atcha, handsome!")


Kevin had his first gig last night with a new band: The LOCALS. They were sensational! The crowd thought so, too. They danced and cheered and clapped with wild abandon. When the guys announced 'this will be our last song', the crowd heartily cheered 'One more! One more! One more!' Talk about an ego rush - they delighted in every uproarious moment.

I was particularly fond of the cute drummer. I couldn't help myself - I flirted with him all night long... See how cute he is?! You would have flirted with him, too!

Friday, February 13, 2009

"We Gather Together"

I have a friend who is dying. She's been battling cancer for the past three years; the cancer is winning.

The word has gotten around to her family and friends that her time is short and now is the time to gather around her with love and prayers. Kevin and I went up to visit with she and her husband the other night. We weren't quite sure what to expect - how is she feeling? Is she up to visitors? How is Jon handling all of this? What stage of grief is he dealing with at the moment?

We brought with us decadence in a bag. All of those goodies that you believe you shouldn't indulge in when you think you have your whole life ahead of you and you need to 'be good'. Milk and florentines (milk and cookies). Brie with apricot preserves and crackers and delicious red wine (adult milk and cookies). Fleur de sel caramels; roasted almonds and cashews; dried apricots dipped in rich dark chocolate. And orange asiatic lillies. We figured that, even if she couldn't eat all of those things, it's symbolic: Live it up! Enjoy yourself! Life is short, indulge!

Upon our arrival, Jon was visibly tense. As you might imagine, he's not dealing well with the impending loss of his wife of more than 30 years. Jann was, while happy to see us, incredibly weak and looked exhausted. Susan and Donna were there, too. The four of us worked together years ago and this was the first time we'd all been together since that time. I've seen Jann off and on, and Donna more in recent years because I work with her husband, but none of us have seen Susan, so it was it was an interesting reunion.

It took a few minutes to get the ball rolling, but soon, we were all sharing stories and rememberences of times past and filling each other in on current happenings in our lives. We ate and drank and laughed until we almost had tears streaming down our faces (let's just say that carrying on a conversation while enjoying a fleur de sel caramel is not for the faint of heart! However, if you want a good laugh, give it a try). Jon loosened up and Jann relaxed and took comfort in the conviviality of our gathering. After about 90 minutes Jann was too tired to continue, so we hugged her and kissed her before Jon whisked her off to put her into bed. Donna, Susan, Kevin and I busied ourselves by cleaning up the kitchen and dining room, chatting comfortably as we went along. Jon came out and thanked everyone for being there. He said this is truly the most comfortable he's seen Jann since August. He said that, though she was tired, she was very happy - and relaxed. And they were both so happy that we could all be together that night. After a while we bid each other good night and all went our separate ways.

I don't know if we'll see Jann again. I hope so. My plan is to go up there this weekend, even if it's just to stop and say hello. But who knows what will happen between now and then. I do know, however, that our gathering earlier this week will be something I remember for a long, long time. I'm thankful that we could all be there for Jann -- and for Jon. It was a such a small thing - yet at the same time a huge reminder of what really matters in this life. Family. Friends. Love. Sharing. Caring. With these things, life is rich and full - no matter how long or short it may be. Who could ask for more?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Amaryllis in Bloom

A friend of mine gave me an amaryllis bulb for Christmas. Funny things, bulbs. It always makes me curious how something so ugly can produce something so beautiful. Personally, I think flower bulbs are proof that God and Mother Nature really do have a sense of humor.

I think Nancy was almost embarrassed when she gave me the bulb as a gift. In an almost apologetic tone she said 'If you plant it now, it should hopefully be in bloom by Valentine's day.'

Well guess what, Nancy? You were absolutely right! I planted it just as we left for winter break in December. I placed it in a cute little white vintage McCoy pot and put it in the garden room where it would get lots of light. Almost immediately the leaves began to grow. We've watched the blooms grow recently and knew they were about ready to open. Yesterday morning when we walked through the garden room, we noticed a little bit of red bloom peaking out. Today, one of the blooms is beginning to open up. Red amaryllis blooms ... just in time for Valentine's day!

Thrifted Sweaters

Two more fun finds from today's thrifting adventure: two perfect silky sweaters. One of them is the yummiest shade of raspberry, the other a delicious summery shade of pink. The pink one has the sweetest trio of delicate fabric flowers sewn on one of the shoulders. The inside of the flowers even have translucent pink beads! I can just picture the pink one tossed over a floaty chiffon summer dress. Total for both sweaters: $8.00.


This never happens to me. I'm never able to find boots, or shoes for that matter, at a thrift store. Well I have news: good things come to those who wait! Today while I was checking out a Goodwill store I'd never been to, I found THE most perfect pair of black (!!) Bandolino stacked heel stretch boots. And they were brand new! I didn't want to get too excited at first. I mean, maybe they'd fit, maybe not. Maybe they'd be comfortable, maybe not. So I tried them. I nearly fell over (literally, actually, since there was no place to sit) -- they fit perfectly! And they were comfortable!!! ...and I bought them. How much, you ask, for these perfect gem boots that I will wear again and again and practically live in? A cool $14.00, thank you very much!!

On the move

No, Kevin and I aren't moving. But our offices at FA are. Or did - last night. I suppose I should be grateful. After all, I didn't really have to do any of the moving. I did, however, have to do a great deal of packing and, honestly, I think I would rather someone else have packed and I would gladly have moved the furniture!

For the better part of two weeks, Jeff, Rod, Linda and myself packed up the main office, Jeff's and Rod's offices, supply closet/student store, mail room, copy room and faculty lounge. Kevin and Nancy packed up their offices (how did they get off so cheaply?!), and last night the movers came in and did the actual moving. I'm afraid to wait until Tuesday morning when school resumes (Monday is a holiday) to see the results, so Kevin and I are going to sneak in and take a peak either tomorrow or Monday.

Here are some snaps of how things looked 'during':

Tuesday, they begin demolition of the old office area, lounge, a classroom, the restrooms and supply area. If all goes according to plan, they'll be finished in about 6 months...just in time to move in and start the new school year!