Saturday, December 31, 2011

upcoming trips that I desire

Last night, I drank a little bit of wine ( a wee bit) to toast a friend that died.  Still sad by the news and wish that I would be able to attend the service.  Unfortunately, it's tomorrow and I am working.  So, I made my own way of saying goodbye.
I was on line and found myself taking a travel quiz.  I have been many places but did not test well.  Of the 100 places, I have been to twenty-eight.  Fail.  Sort of surprised me but inspired me to begin thinking of potential trips in 2012.  Just now I looked into flights to Denver in early February.  Cheap.  Really cheap and I think I might try to do it.  I could move things around and head home for a brief stint.  Or, I could return to California to check out Temecula or Napa.  Napa always invites me back.  I have a friend that is a winemaker and I would love to check out his wine.  I met him the first time I visited Napa and we have remained friends and in touch (sporadically) since 2006. 
I want my dad to visit before it gets unpleasant here.  I envision a few spring training games and we could always watch basketball--one of our favorite pasttimes.  College basketball to be clear.  I do enjoy the NBA playoffs but that is about it when it comes to the NBA.  College basketball is a season for me.  Plus, I believe my dad would enjoy the hiking trails and Sedona.  He spent some time there a few years back with his wife.  Like I noted yesterday, Sedona is super close to me and I should make more of an effort to explore the region. 
I did talk to my dad about visiting me in the spring.  He seems interested and we will discuss it more after he returns from his vacation in Oregon.  He spent the holidays with my sisters and niece and nephews.  According to Michaela it has been a lovely trip.  My dad is relaxed and enjoying himself.
Outside of my dad's visit, Jean and I are heading to Mexico in a few weeks after i complete my first half marathon of 2012.  When I signed up, I swear, I had five weeks to train.  Now, I look and it's in two weeks.  I need to learn to continue to train so that the 13.1 miles doesn't hurt me. 
There are half marathons to sign up for, wine ventures, classes and yoga.  I must return to yoga.  There must be a studio, nearby, where I will become a frequent visitor.  When I was in San Diego the other day, I walked right by a core power studio.  Unbelievable that Tom lived three blocks from a studio that I recognized.  I considered looking at their schedule of classes and dropping into a class.  Maybe next time, I will. 
I love this time of year as I can hope for what the new year will bring.  Joy, possibility and of course travel/wine/food.  Happy New Years~
Celebrate and taste life, always...

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 continued

Ahhhh, Mexico.  I have always had a soft spot for it.  I lived in Guadalajara for a few months to learn spanish, eat fish tacos and figure out how to say cafe con leche para llevar (coffee with cream to go).  My friend owns a bar in Rocky Point and he was kind enough to let me crash at his house for an indefinite amount of time.  I show up with no itinerary outside of that I want to rejuvenate/reflect.  Jonny, as always, enables me to explore and be.  He showed me around town and foisted me on his roommate, Derek.  Derek, at first, was hesitant to have me descend on their livelihood.  Eventually, he came around and also became a tour guide. He was more aware of the local food factor while Jon showed me to the tourist places and drinking.  Well, and golf.  That was awesome.  Derek knew of taco stands and listened when I said, I want a homemade tortilla.  Between the two, I always had someone to hang out with.
My sisters, Michaela and Jade, also welcomed a few visits from me this year.  One time was business.  I dogsat for Michaela and brought Jan along.  I though it was time for her to meet her "twin" Jean in Washington. That trip was fantastic.  We flew out in July, went to the Oregon coast, took care of Michaela's whippet, Pete, and explored the Willamette Valley and spent some time with Jean in Washington.  Absolutely delightful.  We found bacon flavored vodka and drank ample amounts of wine.  Jean always is prepared for visitors.  We made steak and scallops.  Afterwards, Jan responds, well, no offense, but we could have just went directly to her house and spent a week there.  I know she enjoyed seeing my sisters but I think she had talked herself out of wanting to go to Jean's lake house since she didn't know Jean.
Outside of that trip, I did spend time with Michaela and Jade on a few different occasions.  I have decided that 2012, they can visit me.  It's been awhile since either girl has come to my hospitality and i maxed out my trips this year.  Three times.  This is probably the most time I have spent with Michaela and Jade in years.  I must say that it was such a treat to see Jade's kids.  Baseball games, bbqing, and taking Emery to find the moona.  He is so sweet.
Food wise--the year started with a trip to Belize.  Shari and I thoroughly enjoyed Habanero's in Ambergris Caye.  I loved that we wanted a chocolate dessert (demanded it as it was on the menu) and so our second visit the chef brought us a cut up snicker's bar with chocolate syrup.  That is love.
After Belize, I had a few home cooked meals in an RV.  Aron was an accomodating host and made sure that I had my dose of daily coffee.  Phoenix offered mexican food and daily wine specials.  That is all I am saying.  I could live off of salsa, guacamole and chips.  Can you say los dos and bravo?  I swear, that place has the best tortillas.  In fact, I met Jan and Tom today for lunch to seek out the best bean burrito in Phoenix. 
I did find time to return to Denver on several occasions. I made an effort to visit my favorite calamari spot, Rapture bar and of course, the Falling Rock.  I adore Denver and it will always be home to me.  I ran a few half marathons in Colorado, too.  I wanted to try to be productive.  I saw Sara Jo, the Goddess, Jenn K, Steve and Pocketsize and others.  It reminded me of how great my life was there and how it will always welcome me.  I must plan a trip and soon.
For my anniversary weekend (end of August), I went to Sedona.  One of my other favorite spots.  I found a suitable spot and shared a meal with one of my favorite friends.  Lovely times, indeed.  Next year, I will return to Sedona as I am that close.  It is a mystical mecca and foodie hang out too.  I would love to explore more.
I forgot to mention my brief stint in Santa Fe.  Melody and her partner, Clayton, were amazing.  I couch surfed while passing through between Denver and Phoenix.  They took me to see a few spectacular sunsets and introduced me to a new spot in Santa Fe. I hope to treat Melody and Clayton to a meal in Phoenix or Santa Fe soon. 
I did cook a lot and find that I am quite capable in the kitchen.  I love making enchiladas and anything with avocado is always welcome in my kitchen.  I almost destroyed my laptop making margaritas for Jan and Tom one night.  Damn the avocado factor.
Like I previously mentioned, 2011 was different for me.  It humbled, challenged and forced me to be compassionate and sympathetic, even.  I know that I needed it and learned a lot while finding my path again.  I feel that I have come full circle.  I feel healthy and cannot wait for what 2012 brings.  I know that I am ready.
Tomorrow, I work and toast the new year.  Also, plan on going for a run.  I lost sight of some of the things I hold hear.  Running is definitely one of them.  I must go manana.
2011 showed me that I can do anything.  What did it show you?  Or, better yet, what did you learn, improve, share?  Congrats and enjoy the end of 2011....

year in review, take one....

Happy last Friday of 2011.  What a year this has been, for me.  From leaving my life in Denver, to uncertainty in Phoenix and currently, thriving in the moment.  I can honestly say, I am precisely where I am supposed to be.  Blissful, compassionate and continuing to learn from experience.
I had no idea that my life would turn upside down early this year.  I rolled with in by packing my things and heading to the southwest.  Thankfully, I have extremely supportive friends that encouraged me to find myself while traveling the southwest.  Initially, I believed that Phoenix would be a brief stopover.  I had lived here before and as much as I loved the sun factor, I wanted to be in Seattle, San Francisco or somewhere in Oregon near my sisters.  I tried Oregon and the weather depressed me.  From being in Denver, I do know, I am a sun kid.  I love having it 300+ days a year and the idea of rain lessoned my inclination to move to the northwest.  Sorry, sisters, I need sun.
This year, I reconnected with friends in Mexico, Slab City/Yuma and Phoenix.  It was nice to be able to see them in their setting and provide support and encouragement.  My friend in Mexico has had a challenging year with the economy, media and passport issues.  His bar continues to thrive but there is always that hope of more.  I visited about 6 weeks in the spring and saw an increase of people Memorial Day weekend but outside of that, the beach was, for me, a welcoming tranquility.  Most times when I would venture down it would be me and a handful of others.  I have felt safe in each border crossing and hope to return soon.
Yes, life is Mexico is different and I enjoyed that period for reflection.  I had considered relocating there but after a few weeks, knew, that it would be unsatisfying.  I prefer city life.  Spending time with my friend in the RV, also, was interesting.  He has opted to live an unconventional life in such a way that seems foreign to most people.  Selling your house, traveling with some belongings and being free to explore the world.  He has great stories and photos to illustrate the last year of his life.  I had the opportunity to see him in Las Vegas and it was refreshing to find him so relaxed, free and happy. 
When I first relocated to Phoenix, I lived with some friends of mine in the west valley.  Graciously, they allowed me to move in until I found myself in a position to move out.  I increased my culinary skills during this time as they do not dine at home often.  It is easier, for them, to frequent a handful of restaurants.  Less trips to the grocery store, prep/clean up, etc.  Plus, cooking for two isn't that awesome either.  Of course, I prefer cooking for someone else than just myself in most cases.  Anyways, I enjoyed that time period, too.  I was in a safe place and near excellent hiking.  Plus, their Akitas are now considered my dogs, too.  I adore Dozer and Jax.
I found a job in a wine cellar through a recommendation of my friend, Kat.  She is living in Denver.  We sort of switched places is how I like to think about it.  From the cellar job, I patiently waited to find the ideal restaurant job for me.  I wasn't interested in a corporate place.  I wanted to find a restaurant with class, great food and of course, wine.  Ironically, due to my previous stint in Phoenix, the job found me.  I am extremely happy with where I am currently at.  I guess I needed to find balance in my life to arrive at this place.  I am happy.
I did receive sad news yesterday.  Sort of illustrates the end of an era for me.  One of my friends/regulars of my old job in Denver died.  They found him in his house which is sad.  Very lonely way to go.  I toast Mr. Kline this evening after I get off of work.  If I wasn't working the weekend, I would be interested in flying back to attend the services.  This man was a gracious soul.
I did manage to run four half marathons--three with Lindsay, one with Shari--and deem 2011 as the social year of running.  My training decreased but thank god for muscle memory.  For example, I only ran twenty minutes before the last 13.1 and was able to sustain it.  A touch sore, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The best part about Vegas is dining.  We ate at Bouchon, Olives and Todd English's P.U.B--also a great find.  Shari met some of my friends from high school and put faces with names.  Shari has heard a bunch of my stories from our traveling and so I think she appreciated meeting the RV guy and Jenn O. 
Then, there was San Diego and how it inspired me to concoct a return visit and soon.  It surprised me how much I took to it.  Great vibe, food and the wine factor remains unexplored.  That, alone, begs a return visit.  I see it happening.
I haven't even touched, that much, on Mexico or the food factor, or my visits to Oregon.  I know that I will review that, too.  Until later, enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

how the venture concluded...

Final day in San Deigo.  I woke up, early, as I do, and headed out to the nearest Starbuck's.  I mentioned it to Tom since I would purchase him a coffee if he was interested.  He wasn't.  He seemed content on the couch with his dog.
I walked down Garnett and felt liberated.  Beautiful day, sunshine blazing and inspiring.  I knew that I had a drive ahead of me but wasn't quite ready to leave.  Instead, I loitered in Pacific Beach for a bit, before, returning to Tom's apartment and making him get up.  I wanted to check out either another fish taco or find chowder.  I was in San Diego, right?
I forgot to mention that we did check out a fish taco on Monday.  Mediocre, at best and Tom knew it.  I think he had eaten at the establishment, before, but never eaten a fish taco.  I am certain that there are ample taco stands that would have sated my desires. 
Anyways, he got up and we found a place in Pacific Beach so that I could eat a fish taco and try some chowder.  Perfection.  I ate most of it but knew that we were having lunch with his aunt in a couple of hours.  I couldn't resist attending this luncheon as I have heard numerous stories of this aunt.  And, Jean called Tom and said--yes, take Harmony, that way she's know what I have been talking about for years.
So, I picked up my bag and followed Tom to Point Loma.  Lunch with his aunt was interesting.  When we walked up, she was curious as to who I was, and when Tom introduced me, he said, this is mom's friend, Harmony.
Linda goes--your mom or my mom's friend?
What?  Really.  I look like I was a friend of your 80+ year old mother.  Kinda odd comment to make or so I thought.  We dined in a place that reminded me of Fifi's--my first true restaurant job.  Had a similar vibe and I remarked about it Tom.   His mom would meet me there, sometimes, for calamari, but I think Tom was too young to fully appreciate the place. 
Regardless, he had a veal sandwich and I opted for a wicked caesar salad.  Wicked in that it was supposedly spicy.  Just extra garlic.  Not too bad, but not that inspired.  We talked with his aunt and I kept thinking--I really do need to get on the road.  I have 5+ hours to look forward too. 
The drive back to Arizona was really not that bad.  I stopped in Alpine for coffee and began my return venture.  I would like to return to California to check out Temecula, see the zoo, botannic gardens and find the ultimate fish taco.  Really, I think that is important.  I feel slighted about not finding a baja style taco.  In reflection, the drive is not that far and I see a return in the near future.  I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to check out San Diego.  The appeal of Temecula begs for a quick return trip to check it out.

day two of cali adventure

The next morning, after making a few necessary stops--food and coffee--we headed to Point Loma to walk around some of the trails.  We began the day in Ocean Beach and munched on breakfast burritos.  I think I had mentioned how wonderful that would be in the a.m. if Tom knew of a place to recommend.  He took me to a spot and we people watched in Ocean Beach.  If I lived in San Diego, that is where I would want to live--I think.  Funky vibe, great shops and inviting.  Next time, I think I will suggest checking out the spot on the pier that offers breakfast burritos.  I want to dine on the water and people watch.

 Beautiful day.  I loved being near the ocean.  Our hike was minimal and easy going to say the least.  We saw several surfers, couples and dog walkers.  I was surprised at the amount of tourists in the area.  We almost saw a dog fight between a doberman and a labrador.  The doberman's owners were unwilling to alter their course which surprised me.  Obviously, their dog was not enjoying the attention of the labrador and it could have led to a big skirmish. 

After the hike, we drove to some tourist areas since I wanted some post cards and the necessary magnet.  In 2005, I started this habit of buying garish magnets to represent the places that I have visited.  Originally, Tom took me to an area near downtown.  We pulled into a parking lot and immediately recognized that that had been a mistake.  We were inundated with people and it was claustrophobic.  Thankfully, he offered to detour to old town.  I found a magnet in the mission district and from here, we checked out more hiking spots.  San Diego, for me, is about the ocean and enjoying the weather and of course, the food factor.  I see a return trip in the near future to check out more fish tacos, Temecula and other foodie friendly places.  I have little desire to shop which I think surprised Tom.  No, I am more about the outdoor factor and food.  Two days was not enough by any means.  The drive was not too bad either.  I believe I will return and soon.  I understand the appeal of that city. 
Day two continued with Tom heading to work and me wandering around Pacific Beach.  Tom's roommate offered to take me a bbq but I felt inspired to walk around his area of town.  I stumbled into a Trader Joe's hoping to find something to eat on the way back to Phoenix.  This woman stops me and says--omg, how are you?  I saw your jacket and recognized the logo, look up, and realize I know you.  How are you, Harmony?  It's Brenna....not going to lie, it took me a minute to place her.  It had been awhile.  She explained that she had been living in Pacific Beach, returned to Denver (briefly) before coming back to San Diego to work for Trader Joe's.  She said she loved it there and we chatted for a few additional minutes.  I told her that I was now in Phoenix and visiting a friend for christmas.  Small world, indeed.
Eventually, I found a spot that seemed appealing.  I had a glass of wine and reflected on my trip.  I always do this and I make lists of what I want to do in the near future.  I like crossing things off my lists.
Anyways, Tom called me and we had mexican take-out for dinner.  I swear, i could live on mexican food.  We shared burritos and pastor tacos.  I was disappointed in the taco but the burrito was excellent.
Day two concluded with watching Seinfeld and me considering when I should take off for Phoenix.  I wasn't too excited about that drive....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

San Diego Christmas

Welcome to San Diego.  Absolutely lovely way to spend Christmas.  This year, I struggled to decide what would be the best way to celebrate the holiday.  I considered heading to Mexico to visit Jonny, Aron in Havasu since he is in the area and Havasu isn't too far away or San Diego.  My friend, Jean, from Seattle, mentioned that her son would be there for the holidays and probably able to show me around the city.  After contemplation, I headed west to the pacific ocean.  This is a view from Mount Soledad where my adventure began.
 Here is a photo op of my host, Tom, overlooking the view from Mount Soledad.  A little background information on Tom.  The last time I saw him, we were one of his classmates houses in Kansas.  It's been awhile since I have seen him.
 I love the sunset factor and only regret not making more time to spend at the beach.  In hindsight, I should have opted to meditate for a bit.  The ocean is always inviting and soothing.  Since my xmas eve spent in Margaret River, Australia, I always hope to return to the beach for this specific holiday.  Last year, I went scuba diving in Key West.  Yes, I do love the beach.
Another photo of Tom, his friend, Marco, and me before our dinner.  It was a delightful evening with ample wine, catching up and food.  Somewhere along the way, one of us broke a wine glass...nice.  I think I am sending wine glasses as an apology.
I chose scallops for dinner.  I considered black cod, but the scallops caught my attention immediately.  Also, I had brussel sprouts with bacon--love that.  The service at the restaurant was lackluster.  However, being christmas I can forgive that and some of the other girls with us were waivering on whether or not to stay where we were seated.  Concerned about the cost while I kept thinking--seriously, aren't you all in the service industry?  And, didn't you look at the menu before you chose this place?  We are committed to the dining area and cheers to the holiday.
Yes, I had a wonderful time in San Diego and will update more later.  Must run errands for the time being.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday offers

Happy Tuesday!  Beautiful day for a run, wine tasting and dinner with friends.  I am excited about all of these activities today and must not get too focused on the wine aspect.  It is easy to do especially as I will be sampling wines that I love.  Remember my Rapture fixation?  I will tasting some wines from that profolio and yes, I am excited. 
I am meeting Jan and Tom for dinner, too.  We will meet at a local spot that they enjoy and as much as I like the spot, the only drawback, is that we always eat the same things.  I have learned, from experience, that they are creatures of habit.  They like to eat what they know they enjoy.  I understand that but am more adventurous in my dining.  Tonight, we will have a spinach salad and pepperoni pizza with olive oil for the crust.  Delicious but wish it were a little more inspired.
I am over half way done with the christmas cards and feel that I will finish that task today.  I keep putting it off and then realize that xmas is now five days away.  Must complete the cards. 
I did manage to sign up for the Phoenix 1/2 marathon in January.  Originally, I was on the fence.  My training is definitely not where it was a year ago.  2011 has been social running for me and I have truly enjoyed that experience and hope to kick it up a notch in 2012.  I asked the Goddess if she wanted to join me for the race but her sister is due with her first child early in January.  I do understand Lindsay's hesitation to travel down here.  I think this race will be a solo effort.  I decided to sign up for it after being offered a discount from the rock and roll series.  As previously noted, the Las Vegas event was a cluster/nightmare for many runners.  I didn't hate it but I would definitely reconsider signing up for that race in 2012.  The lack of water at aid stations, porta potties, spectator support and the hostility of running with both walkers and full marathon participants left a bitter taste in my mouth.  That race was not well executed by any means.  I did e-mail the organizers my displeasure and they responded.  I appreciated that, too.  I don't know if they will take my thoughts seriously, but, I felt, they needed to hear some constructive criticism and make adjustments to their event for 2012. 
I feel better after signing up for the Phoenix Race, too.  It is in my neighborhood and a fantastic way to start the year.  I believe I will convince my friends to run a wine race and in addition, there will be a few more half marathons to add to the mix.  I hope to do another full, too.  I have no idea which one it will be, though.  I have time to decide and think it will be a fall race.  I tend to like to put the full's off until later in the year.
I am off to run or I will procrastinate that activity til tomorrow.  Wine follows and eventually, there will be pizza in my future.  A few of my friends are celebrating birthdays today and I will toast them in spirit.  Celebrate today!

Monday, December 19, 2011

weekend recap

Well, after I mentioned the toilet issues, I went to work and prayed that my landlord would call me after checking out the bathroom.  I feared her reaction if I needed to call a plumber over the weekend.  In many ways, she is like the slumlord.  She prefers fixing things herself instead of contacting a contractor.  Quicker than the Slumlord and approachable but cheap, nonetheless.  I knew that if I called a plumber during the weekend, she would not be pleased.
She didn't call, e-mail or text. 
I returned home, hoping, that the issue would be resolved.  I am surprised to note that it was.  I did use a drain clearing agent which apparently worked.  Still, surprised, that my landlord hasn't contacted me.
Regardless, I worked, all weekend, and saw my friend from high school that told me I was well-preserved.  We met at a dive bar in Phoenix and sampled the famous wings that makes this establishment.  Yes, they were delightful and typically, I never eat wings.  It sort of freaks me out how they are prepped in most restaurants.  Baked, left out to be touched by flies and then fried.  Yep, not for me.  However, this dive restaurant had an open grill and so I watched the guy fry, then grill, our hot wings. 
Saturday night, I was out of sorts.  I didn't feel like being social and I think it was apparent.  We each had a beer, ate some food and then parted ways.  I didn't feel like dishing about high school people.  I wanted to be alone and in bed.  I wanted down time.
Sunday was all about work, too.  We had a holiday party scheduled and so I was supposed to arrive at 2 pm and close the bar.  Very long shift to say the least.  It went by quickly with a caffeine assist at 7 pm.  I convinced one of the other managers to do a coffee run for me.  Lovely.
Great night and mellowed out about eleven.  I left at 12:40.  Rarity and it felt fabulous.  I cannot lie.  I did enjoy being home before 3:30. 
I am disappointed that I delayed a run, postponed finishing my christmas cards and felt so antisocial on Saturday.  I will catch up on sleep and return to the routine of running and yoga.  I keep meaning to ask one of my co-workers if they practice yoga and what studio they would recommend.  When I first moved to Arizona, I found a studio in Mesa but the instructor is now focusing on a yin class that doesn't really do it for me.  I prefer the flow series with many chatarangas.  Sitting in a pose for five minutes is not how I prefer to practice.
I am deciding how to spend christmas, too.  I am leaning towards San Diego.  I did check the weather in Sedona since Tiffany and Dan are driving down from Denver. It would be excellent to see them and I do love Sedona.  However, there is something soothing about a beach christmas.  It equalizes me--I think.
I must start my day and so I will conclude this for now.  The cellar bechons....

Friday, December 16, 2011

missed my run.....

Delayed run.  Not because I wanted to, but, because something else took my focus.  As many of you know, I have been cursed with back-up issues.  Sorta funny and always in my life.  I suppose I was waiting to see when this issue would arise.  Plus, at the current rental, the toilet is hot.  Not kidding.  I don't understand why the toilet is temperature-wise hot, yet it is.  Today, I went to use the facility and noted a potential overflow issue.  Hence, no afternoon run.
Instead, I picked up a plunger and thought to myself, how did I not purchase one of these when I moved in?  Seriously, overflow issues follow me around.  There was the rental in Denver, with Sara, that needed a new septic pump.  We discovered this after the sewage backed up in the basement shower while running a load of laundry.  Disgusting to say the least.
Or the next rental where Marc and Megan dealt with root issues, once every four months.  The Slumlord refused to get that situation addressed.  Instead, he let us clean up the crap every few months and say, it must be you....hmmmm, of course, it wouldn't be the old pipes or the roots, right?  He was such a gem of a landlord.
I had another story of a rental issue while living with Brian.  It motivated me to consider alternate apartments instead of renewing the lease.  I loved that apartment.  There was so much space and two balconies.  Yet, when the management refused to look into the back up issues, I knew, we needed to relocate.
I e-mailed my landlord and will wait.  I know that she is assertive and wanting to handle issues herself.  However, since it is Friday, she needs to take action before the weekend rates apply.  We'll see.  I know a week ago my contact case fell into the toilet and I didn't fish it out.  That could be part of the problem.  Outside of that, I have no idea what is going on except that it brings comedy back to my life....

thoughts of Friday

Happy Friday.  I woke up at 3:30 and was unable to go back to sleep until 7.  I watched a few shows on since my mind was racing and I knew that I would only toss and turn.  As a result, I am still lounging this morning.  I think I forced myself to greet the day around tenish.  Made coffee.  Typical way for me to start my day.  Mental note, must stop and purchase coffee for tomorrow.
I have tried in the past to cut caffeine out of my diet.  It is painful for three days and eventually the headache subsides.  However, the headache is terrible and I love my a.m. infusion of coffee.  It is part of my day.  I recognize that I am unwilling to give coffee up.  While traveling, I drank instant coffee (yuck) just to get my fix. 
Slow start to day and with newfound internet availability, at home, I am unmotivated to get out of bed.  I have many errands--cards, gifts, and enjoying being outside.  Think I am waiting for a bit longer to get up.  Tomorrow, I work at 8:30.  That turnaround is difficult.  Although, I am not closing tonight which will with that.  When we first opened, I was scheduled a closing shift Friday followed by the opening on shift on Saturday.  I thought I could handle it and both Saturdays, I arrived, late.  I hope to arrive on time tomorrow and any other upcoming early morning shift.  I do enjoy working day shifts. 
Plus, I am meeting my friend that called me well-preserved during our last lunch date.  Looking forward to seeing Josh and what he has to say.  We met in fourth grade and continued to be friends through college.  Our paths, each, led us out of the midwest.  He plans on heading west in four months, I believe.  His ideal location is Seattle.  I love Seattle if only the weather included more sunny days.  There is something about the sun that inspires and I feel truly alive.  Yesterday in spite of my annoyance with inconsiderate hikers, I felt inspired when I made it to the summit.  And, for the first time in a long time, there were two other hikers at the top only.  Typically, it is a popular spot to chit chat while overlooking the Valley.  Yesterday, I think I could have meditated for an hour without incident. 
I am going to go for a mid-afternoon run.  Feel that it will keep me grounded and healthy.  Maybe inspire me to figure out my xmas plans.  I am drawn to the beach and return to that idea frequently.  A drive to San Diego wouldn't be too taxing or perhaps, Rocky Point.  I have limited days off due to colleague's holiday plans.  I can always celebrate at a later date. 
Slow start, sure, but happy.  I hope you enjoy your Friday, too~

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day off.  Loved it.  Had no expectations of how to spend it.  Found myself dining at a local homemade tortilla spot, followed by a solo hike, wine for happy hour, frequented a job and made dinner.  Lunch was excellent. Met Jan for quick bite to eat. 
Afterwards, headed to Squaw Peak and hiked.  Beautiful day.  Way up was peppered with other hikers ascedning/descending.  I stopped, numerous times, for the people descending.  I let them pass, said, excuse me and continued with my day.  Funny, how, when I was descending, I encountered a bunch of idiots that were apparently foreign to etiquette.  Plus, on the way down, I found myself surrounded by people that were uncomfortable hiking.  Heavy feet.  I stopped several times to let this one couple pass.  We played tag a few times and eventually, I gave up and took off.  I tired of (quickly) of how this chick treaded. 
I called Jan and inquired about meeting for happy hour.  Unfortunately, she was on the the other side of the valley. I opted to check out a place that I like to frequent.  I drove up and the valet goes--oh, it's been what, two weeks since I have last seen you?
I noted that I missed him last week, tossed him my keys and walked inside.  He told me he would bring my keys inside in a few minutes.  I sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of wine.  The initial bartender was fine.  Attentive, friendly and efficient.  I watched him while writing my idea of a christmas card.  At four, they change servers.  Staff meeting (briefly) and then the transition from day to night.  I knew one of the night bartenders and felt confident in his ability to make me feel at ease.
I finished my glass of wine and grabbed my purse.  I did leave some writing material to indicate that I would be returning.  I waited in line for the bathroom.  I returned with the intention that I would pay my tab, finish some water and leave.
I didn't factor in that the bartender would push my stuff down to accomodate new guests.  Not a huge deal had he asked or had it only been a glass of water.  Not to mention before I left for the restrooms, I had mentioned that I needed to pay.  The female bartender did nothing to accomodate me paying the bill.
So, I was annoyed when I returned and had been shifted.  The male bartender offered me another glass of wine and I declined, offering to pay.
But, of course....wink.  wink.
I wait.  I wait.  I wait.
Throw some cash on the bar and head out.  I was tired of waiting, annoyed from the moving over maneuver and the valet's comment about me frequenting the establishment.  I walk to my car and find it unlocked.
Cherry on the annoyance factor especially after tipping the valet for his jackass comment about me going there.  I call Jan and tell her that if I mention that place to punch me in the neck.  Seriously.  Obviously, they don't need the business. 
I head into my other job and see my boss.  Immediately, she is apologetic about how things looks when I walked into work on Monday.  As I was boozy, I say, yes, I was annoyed to find it like that........too much honesty is never a problem for me.
Regardless, safe, at home, with wine and a clean bed to sleep in.  Cannot wait.  Hope you enjoy your night, too~

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am back.....

It's official.  I have internet capabilities in my house.  I cannot believe it!  After trying to persuade my neighbor's to fix their router for the last month, a brief flirtation with century link, I broke down, called Cox, and yes, I have internet at home. 
Originally, I was annoyed by the price of the modem and thought century link would be the preferred route until I actually tried to establish service.  What a joke!  They sent a technician a week before I was to receive my modem.  After calling them three separate occasions to figure out where the modem was, I decided to cancel the service.  I foresaw the future of that relationship.  Me, being annoyed with waiting, waiting, waiting.
Regardless, I have no further reason to not be blogging.  Or catching up on Glee episodes.  Finally got the M J/Jackson 5 love.  What a great rendition of some of his best work.  Excellent.  Excited about the rest of the season.  Up til this point, I was a little disappointed probably since I catch the episodes a week late and I have been distracted.  I like the addition of characters (glee project contestants) and return of Sam.  I am inspired from the recent episode.
In other news, I am still semi-uncertain on how I will be celebrating christmas.  Last year, I had a lovely weekend in Key West and this year, sort of waited to see how things would play out. I considered spending time with friends in Phoenix but believe, I will either venture south to Mexico or north to Sedona. 
I miss the idea of Key West or Australia.  A beach is tranquil and soothing.  Gives me the opportunity to reflect on the last year and the upcoming one.  Why wouldn't I seek this out?
I am considering half marathons and a full for 2012.  Hoping to convince the Goddess, Sara Jo and Megan to meet up and run another wine race.  Santa Barbara would be delightful or perhaps, Oregon.  That way, I would be able to see my sisters, too.  Megan would like to sign up for the half in Virginia and I am not discounting that.  I am a little concerned about the humidity factor in June. 
It is so nice to be able to linger while blogging and not have to be concerned if I am taking up a table at Starbuck's.  Having wi-fi is heavenly.  Very happy.
I am waiting to hear back from the organizers of the las vegas half.  I e-mailed them after they provided a way to reach out about the experience of the 2011 event.  I mentioned my frustrations as a half marathon participant and noted, that I had run the 2010 full marathon course as well.  Although there were some issues with that route, it was preferable to what I watched this year.  I am hoping that they considered my perspective.  I believe they are overwhelmed with the amount of responses received.  There has been a lot of negative press on that particular event.  I do not envy them.  I think they learned a lot about managing a large event in that race.
I attempted to write christmas cards today, too.  Prior to having internet at home again.  Now, I am delayed due to the joy of blogging.  Hoping to resume xmas cards and have them out by 2012.  Too much to do and not enough time.  I wanted to include photos for some friends of this past year.  I spent a lot of time in Oregon, Colorado and Mexico.  I would like to share visiuals with some of those people.  Maybe next year.  Perhaps a resolution.
Have a lovely day.  I need to conclude this for now....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

self portrait before we started the race.  I am getting better ay my technique. 

The latest and greatest

Victory.  Completed another 1/2 Marathon, attempted to eat my way thru Las Vegas and drank a bunch of red wine.  I haven't been able to post about any of it since I am still without service.  I did manage to take steps to rectify it.  I am waititng to receive a modem and then I will be able to quit griping about my lack of service at my neighbor's house.  I don't know how they do it.  They still don't have service.  Only one of the three has uninterrupted service.  The other two are bueno.
I am tired of lamenting things that I can control.  I definitely can pay for my own service and am in the process of establishing that.  Til then, I am at a coffee shop hoping to update my blog.
Las Vegas was wonderful.  I had planned on driving to the Strip due to waiting too long to purchase tickets.  Can you say related to lack of internet service at home?
A friend of mine and her hubby opted to cash in miles and fly me to Las Vegas.  Delightful.  Well, had it been a direct flight.  I flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles, to Palm Springs and finally arrived in Las Vegas.  Long day Saturday.  This after a closing shift.  I needed sleep in a bad way.  I think I slept for awhile between two seats in the airport.  I have never been able to do that in the past.  I was that tired.  Plus, when I arrived at the airport in Phoenix, my flight departed from Terminal Two.  I walked in to security and my hands were swabbed.  I asked when they began doing that and I heard, two years.  Funny, they don't practice that in terminal three or four.  I had the full body scan (also a lot of fun) and headed to the seats. 
I arrived in Palm Springs and found that my flight was delayed.  Thankfully, it was a short delay and I did arrive in Las Vegas about ten minutes after the original flight arrived.  I took a cab to the Bellagio and checked in with two of my friends.  Shari had already walked around the Bellagio and Jennifer was in route to the hotel.  I had friends in town from Denver (who bought my ticket) and the RV guy decided to cross paths with me while I was in Las Vegas.  Interesting to say the least. 
I spent the weekend with Shari, Jenn and Aron.  Sort of a mini-reunion from high school days and then, of course, Shari, representing the current me.  It's funny how we know people from our past and realize what they know while talking to them.  Jennifer talked about my mom and siblings, Aron spoke of Denver and my interactions with him on his RV lifestyle and Shari, spoke of wine inspired weekends, spectating running events and Brian. 
All, in all, it was fantastic.  Dinner at Bouchon was inspired.  I absolutely adored the gnocchi and Paul, my favorite sommelier, was working.  He hooked us up with some food friendly wine.  The next morning was hard.  A touch hungover and still hoping to catch up on sleep.  Shari treated us to coffee and muffins before finding lunch.  The 1/2 marathon, at night, was challenging.  How to prepare for the 13 mile run?  I think I could have hydrated better and eaten more food.  When I started the race, I was hungry.  I ate a sports bean at the start of the race and continued to eat in hour segments.  If I ran another night race, I would take more time to fuel properly.
Jennifer wanted fettuccine alfredo and Shari and I were indifferent.  I can always eat a burrito or salsa.  We found a restaurant in the Bellagio that saitisfied all of our needs.  After lunch, we returned to the room and napped.  I knew that if I didn't sleep more, I would struggle with the 1/2.
A tram ride to the Mandalay Bay and we waited to start the night race.  I tend to get hot after the first mile and a half and so I wore a t-shirt, jacket and shorts.  I figured that would suffice. 
Last year, I ran the full marathon in Las Vegas.  I was conditioned and ready to tackle the full.  The first half was awesome, running up and down the Strip, surrounded by spectators and casinos.  I loved that aspect of the event.  The second half was challenging once we veered off the Strip. 
This year, they opted to start the full an hour and a half before the 1/2 marathon participants.  The course started them west of the Strip and then they met up with the half marathon participants to race the Strip.
Terrible idea.  From the start of our 1/2 experience, people were upset about the lack of space for the marathon runners.  There were cyclists trying to direct traffic which further annoyed me.  I always think I am going to run into a cyclist or something.  Then, there were some pissed off full marathon participants.  I think I heard--get the f*#k over....Initially, I wanted to say, calm down and then I considered their training, that race and how furious I would have been had that been my experience with the full marathon.  There were people everywhere.  Every type of experience of inexperience too.  As the race progressed, I, too, was annoyed with the course.  The constant negativity and people walking, not running, this event.  I think they should consider a walk lane for this course. 
Plus, there were not enough porta potties on the course.  Some of the aid stations were out of water and cytomax and there was a constant flow of people.  Not once was there a break of not having to weave in and out of people.  It was obnoxious.  I think this route was poorly planned and definitely missed any sort of successful execution.  The energy of the race was shot and negative.
Shari did extremely well inspite of that.  She walked, maybe, half a mile.  I ran with her and a few times found myself in la la land, confused, as to where she was.  Still, we managed to meet up and finish the race together.  I am so proud of her!
We met up with Jennifer since she was in a different corral than we were.  It was cold at the end of the race.  Windy and miserable.  The cab stands were gigantic and the wait for the tram was another representation of how many inconsiderate people there are out in the world.  I felt like I was part of a cattle prod. 
Unfortunately, Jennifer was sick after the race and unable to join us for dinner.  I had to celebrate at Olives.  We raced back to the Bellagio so I could shower off some of the salt and head to dinner. 
Since we were the last reservation, well, the experience was okay.  I was disappointed in the food factor and they were out of lavosh crackers which made Shari sad.  Yet, it was another lovely experience amongst friends.
Monday morning, Jennifer returned to Kansas City and Shari and I enjoyed massages.  Jennifer had a statistics class that mandated her return.  I wish she had been able to stay.  The massages were excellent.
Later, Monday, Shari, Aron and I met up with some of my other friends, Carrie and Cedric.  Another inspired conversation between different people in my life and travels.  I am blessed to have such great people in my life.
Tuesday, we rushed to the airport to stand in another line of security.  I feel the theme of this trip was waiting in line or dodging inconsiderate people.  I was frustrated to say the least with the experience.  After we found the right terminal, I rushed to the bathroom.  I had to go potty.  I jump up, bend down to grab my baggage and bang my head on the coat hook.  Ouch!!!  I swear, I thought I was going to die.  It hurt so bad.
I found some ice and then carried it around the airport.  Excellent.  Great way to conclude my trip.  It was an interesting trip with great people, food and wine, of course.  I believe I will reflect more on it later.  I am just grateful to have blogged some of it...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

wednesday thoughts

At neighbor's house trying to feel comfortable while using their service.  It just feels weird but I am tired of waiting for them to address the issue.  I want them to feel my frustration and so I forced myself to come over and use their ether cord. 
Yesterday was a wash.  I spent most of the day out with friends and lazy.  I think I needed it.  I needed a day to just be.  Of course, I did some work related tasks.  Met with Justin to discuss how things are going at the bar and research other restaurants.  Spent happy hour with Jan and skipped the necessary run.  I have a head cold, now, and so that was smart, I think.  Trying to run congested doesn't sound appealing.  It sounds like a struggle. 
I believe yoga and strength training is the way to go.  I suppose it is great that I scheduled a massage, too.  Today, an 80 minutes session with Brandon.  I cannot wait.  I hope to schedule a  massage in Las Vegas, too.  Last year the massage toasted the marathon effort.  This year, it will celebrate Shari's first half marathon.  I am so proud of her.  I admire her tenacity to set a goal and go after it.  She is truly an inspiration.  I cannot wait to run this race with her. 
My friend, Jennifer, also will be running her first half marathon.  She, too, is an inspiration.  Crazy like a fox with home renovations, motorcycle restoration, MBA aspirations and nonstop mobility.  I cannot wait to see her in Las Vegas, cheer her on and celebrate with a fantastic meal at Tao or Olives.  My typical celebratory place, Bouchon, closes at ten pm.  I think it will be a pre-race destination.  I must dine there.
Thanksgiving should be interesting this year.  Do I dine with friends, head north or try something completely different?  I know that it will be wine inspired wherever the destination is.  I am not concerned with where I drink wine, only, that I have a day to truly give thanks.  I have much to be grateful for.  It's been an eventful year with many positive changes.  It will be nice to slow down and enjoy the changes.
In other news, if my internet service does not improve, I am going to have to do something to change it.  I can no longer wait for my neighbors to take action.  Sitting in their house is unpleasant too...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

woes of parking and internet

Starbuck's.  Again to use the internet.  Christmas music, packed coffee house and me, trying to get current with my technological fixations.  Day off and too much to do. 
The other day, I went home to find a car parked in my parking spot.  I think this is probably my number one pet peeve.  Truly annoying to me when someone takes my spot.  Since it was Sunday, I sort of figured that it was one of my neighbor's friends.  I knock on their door to see if they know whose car it is.
No response.
I text two of the guys and ask if they know who owns a blue Prius.  Ten minutes later one of them texts back that he might know whose car it is and that he would have to check.
I block the car in, write a note and wait.  Twenty minutes later, I head out for work.  I run into the third neighbor (whom I had not texted) and innocently ask--do you know whose car this is?
Yes.  It's one of my friend's or his boyfriend's car.  Sometimes they need the spot...what?  They need the spot that is my designated spot.  I tell the kid that I left to go to Starbuck's to use the internet since mine wasn't working.  I continue with, this is my spot that I shouldn't have to fight for and implied if your friend needs a parking spot, well, then, give him one of yours.
The cherry on top of this story is that as I am driving to work, I run into the other two neighbors with their friend who is currently parked in my spot.  I made sure that they saw me and drove off. 
How can someone feel so entitled?  This is what I don't understand.  What happened to respecting other people's property and yourself?  I mean, obviously, the boys next door understand that I have one of the carport spots.  We have been neighbors since September.  I have been parking next to them for three months.
Parking in Tempe on Sundays is free.  Why is it necessary to park in my spot off street? 
I am hoping to have the internet situation resolved by Friday.  I am considering my options.  Should I wait for the boys to finally get service up and running for me?  Or, begin my own account with Cox?  I believe that I will wait until Friday and make a decision then.  I must have access to the internet.
My sister, Jasmin, had a healthy baby girl yesterday.  Emma Raine greeted the world.  She is gorgeous and they sent me a very sweet photo of Jasmin and Emma.  I look forward to meeting her.
Day off with many tasks to accomplish.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, I see myself stocking up on wine, cough drops and a nice outfit.  I think I feel it necessary to dress up for the holiday due to my upbringing.  I cannot tell you how many times I found myself wearing the exact same dress as my sisters for thanksgiving.  (No, I will not show any of the visual illustrations).  It's tradition.  I must wear something besides shorts. 
I am off to begin my day.  Hopeful for service at home (soon) and a clear throat....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

still no service....

I still do not have internet service and my neighbors remain indifferent.  I have been working, a lot, and so my hours of interaction with them are limited.  However, I did almost run one of them over last night since he cut in front of me on his bike.  When I arrived home, I told him that I thought it was him on the bike and he agreed.  I continued with--by the way....I still do not have internet service.  His response, yea, I have friends in town and they were unable to access the wi-fi, too.  I don't understand it.  I would like to say that it will be fixed soon, but I don't understand why it isn't working...
Then, he ran away.
I had the night off and so I went to a local restaurant to be a "civilian" again.  I was unimpressed with my meal and exhausted.  Otherwise, I would have pushed for a different establishment.  I just didn't have it in me to be persuasive.  Moreover, there was a big rivalry football game in Tempe which further limited options.  In hindsight, I should have insisted driving into Phoenix to have a nice glass of wine.  Post game, my sleep was interrupted by car alarms, fire trucks and the train.  Long night, indeed.  I considered standing outside to figure out whose alarm was going off every ten minutes for an hour.  Who does that?
Today, in an attempt to use service at home, I went to my neighbor's house to borrow their ether cord.  The other night, they offered to let me come over whenever I wanted to use this cord.  Keep in mind, these are three college students.  Their place reeks of cat and boy.  Not a great combination to relax in.  The one that answered the door seemed surprised to see me and then handed me the cord and shut his door.  Surprise.  Surprise.  No service with the cord either.
Instead of bothering him, I unplugged the cord and am now in a starbuck's.  Of course, I love coffee but this is not going to be my solution.  The christmas music is a bit much.  I can't freely write or relax.  No cat smell, thanfully, but still, not a solution to my issue.
I am going to have to break down and get my own service established.  Tomorrow or by the end of the week.  Must have service so that when I want to use the internet, I can.  Friday night I closed the restaurant and walked into my place at 3:40 am.  I showered and think, I fell asleep at 4:30.  My day shift started at 8.  Tough turnaround to say the least and really, all, I wanted to do when I got home was check some things on line. My neighbors cavalierly suggested me using their cord whenever I wanted...until I pointed out my current hour's situation.  Then, they didn't seem as interested in helping me.
Work has been fantastic.  I love it.  I must take time to care for myself though.   Laryngitis is an indication of how poor I have been treating myself.  Dehydrated, poor diet and lack of running created my current state.  Running the Las Vegas 1/2 should be fun in two weeks.  I am hoping that Jennifer and Shari will be kind to me with my finish time.  Bellagio Spa here I come.
I need to buy plane tickets.  Not planning on doing it at the Starbuck's though.  Yet, another reason, I need internet service at home.  I am annoyed with this situation.....
Beautiful Sunday and I am able to blog now.  Must stop complaining about things I am unwilling to change til later next week.  I remain hopeful that the boys will fix the internet situation.
Until later....

Friday, November 18, 2011

why I haven't been posting lately

Laryngitis, no internet at home and lack of sleep.  All things that sound fun, right? 
Work has been time consuming as of late.  Long hours and not truly taking care of myself caught up with me on Monday night.  Literally, I walked in my door and couldn't speak.  I drank some hot tea and prayed for a voice in the a.m. 
As Tuesday progressed my condition worsened.  Eventually, the owner looked at me and said--why do you sound like crap?  Well, not eating, sleeping or drinking enough water created the laryngitis for sure.  It's been fun to say the least.
Last night, I tried the hot toddy remedy.  Didn't really do it for me.  I switched to a glass of red wine.  Some habits are hard to break.  After a quick bite to eat, I returned home to try to use my lap top.  Since Tuesday, I have been unable to use the internet at home.  Apparently, there was a power outage on Tuesday night in southwest Tempe.  By morning, the problem had been addressed and it was business as usual for my neighbors.  I attempted to go on-line only to find that I was unable to.  I marched (literally) over to my neighbor's house since we share the internet at 8 am.  I figure they are college students--at least one of them should be awake.  I write this note--Hi.  Sorry so early.  Can't talk.  Have laryngitis.  Why no internet?
My neighbor was sweet about it.  Still not able to help me out.  The tech savvy roommate was asleep.  This kid slept all day.  Meanwhile, I went to work and tried to not sound as raspy or worse, not able to speak at all.  I returned home hoping that I would be able to use my laptop.  Still, no service.
I text two of my neighbors and inquire about the situation.  They mention that I could come over and use their computer if need be.  That, to me, isn't a solution.  I pay a portion of the internet service and do not want to hang out in their house.  It reeks of cat and boy house as it should.  The boy part that is.  There are three boys living in that house.  I don't feel comfortable lounging on their couch or in their space.  I want to lounge on my own bed, chair or the floor.  Why don't they understand that?
I am seriously considering setting up my own service.  Currently, I am sitting in a starbuck's getting my internet fix.  The problem with shared service is is that it is limiting.  I cannot purchase plane tickets or check a few other password necessary sites.  I need internet in the house.  Must get it figured out and asap.
I am happy to be productive and working again.  Only, I need to make my health a priority too.  Laryngitis is no picnic.  I never realized how much I talked until I was unable too.  Right now, it isn't terrible.  Last night I sounded like a robot according to a friend of mine.  I didn't appreciate that comparison.  I was trying to go for the smoky, hazy voice of Kathleen Turner.  Robot reminds me of Lost in Space or the Jetson's.  Sexy?  Not really.
So, I will hopefully have internet tonight.  Or, I will find another wi-fi area to update my livelihood via blog.
Happy Friday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the last few days

Busy week and I have neglected my creative outlet.  I suck. 
Running has subsided.  First of all, I wanted a few rest days from last Sunday's 1/2 marathon and then when I arranged a running date, my friend canceled and (honestly) I was extremely relieved to put it off.  Now, I look back and know how much I benefit from that activity.  This morning, I woke up, and forced myself to go outside and greet the day.  I walked to coffee, bank and market.  Running would have been preferred but I know that I have a full day of being on my feet.  Running will have to wait until tomorrow or Monday.
I am finding it difficult to get a good night's rest as a result.  Plus, my mind races each night.  Some anxiety, excitment and knowing that I have a lot on plate to accomplish before Tuesday--opening day of the new restaurant that I am working at.  I have odd dreams of previous restaurants and random occurrences in general.  I tried counting sheep or multiplication tables and neither remedy worked.  Finally, I watched an episode of veronica mars to settle my mind.  Still, I couldn't sleep.
My food intake has suffered as well.  The last few days, I have eaten whatever is put in front of me--french fries (multiple times), greasy gyros, etc.  However, it's food and I need it.  One day, I think I ate a banana before I left for work and then ate twelve hours later since that was the first opportunity I had to find something to eat.  I opted for a slice of pizza--yummy. 
My car was in the shop which lengthened my commute and reliance on public transport.  In the past I have relied on friends but it isn't their responsibility to get me to and from work.  Thankfully, I found a bus that could get me near my mechanics instead of hiring a taxi.  I don't even want to think of what that would have cost.  When the mechanic called to tell me what I owed him, I was surprised.  About $200 more than projected--ouch.  The idea of a cab for anywhere from $50-$70 was not an option at that point.  Bus, walk, light rail--what have you---needed to work.
Last night the minute I put my head on the pillow, I was out.  I slept until about 8 am and am so thankful that I finally got a decent night of sleep.  Maybe I am realizing that everything is going to work out.  That we are going to be successful and a positive addition to the neighborhood.  Of course I have always believed this and the doubts just make me try all the more. 
I will update more later.  I am late for work~

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My idea of Friday

Siesta seems necessary today.  Quick rundown of my Friday.  I used public transport for the majority of my day.  Didn't really have any other option since Veronica is back in the shop.  I took the lightrail to the airport and waited.  Lindsay's flight was delayed due to winds, here, and light departure from Denver.  I opted to meet her at the security gate since I knew that her phone was no longer functioning.  Long story and not really the point. 
I listened to my ipod and waited.  She arrived and we took a cab to Mill Avenue.  I wanted to go to a wine restaurant that has great ambiance.  I was hungry and felt like checking it out with Lindsay.  Unforuntately, they were no longer serving food and my least favorite bartender was working.  This person is really unattentive which surprises me.  She has a rockstar job and doesn't seem that interested in customer service from my last two visits. 
Regardless, we enjoyed a few glasses of wine and then walked back to my place.  I offered to get us a cab as it was raining, but, Lindsay seemed determined to walk.  In all honesty, it wasn't that bad.  Cold, sure, but I do live nearby.  We arrived, I gave Lindsay a tour of my place and then arranged a plate of tapas--guacamole, chips, salsa, vegetables and cheese.  Opened some wine and gabbed.  First time entertaining in the new rental.  I miss my platters that I left in Denver with friends.  I will buy some soon.  I love drinking wine and entertaining. 
I think, we finally, went to bed at 3:30.  I am so tired, but I woke up at 8ish.  Why do I do this?  Instead of fighting it, I opted to make coffee and let Lindsay sleep.   She needs it and I didn't want to toss and turn and wake her up, too.  Nap sounds awesome.
Tomorrow, we have a half marathon to attend.  Today, will be slow motion to ensure a good experience for the event. Otherwise, I would tour more of the Valley and engage in day drinking.  Optimal idea for a Saturday. 
Excited to explore more of Phoenix with Lindsay.  Will update later....

Update on Car while listening to Corinne Bailey Rae and thinking of a recent 1/2 Marathon

Sounds odd, I know.  Last year, I ran a 1/2 with the Goddess, Sara Jo and Sipper.  Thinking ahead, I brought cd's to listen to while driving around Napa.  Forward thinking until I left them in my bag in the trunk except for one.  For a few hours, we listened to Corinne.  I love her...I do.  Just, it was a little much at the time.  Now, I always think of that particular trip when I hear her cd.
This morning, the new shop called me at ten til 7 to apologize for not calling me back last night and following up with my service call.  I avoided it since I wasn't ready to drive over yet.  Hopeful that I could arrange a tow without involving roadside assistance or a cab back to Tempe after dropping Veronica off.  Plus, I needed to do laundry and get supplies for Lindsay's visit to AZ.  I drove and ran errands and eventually called the shop.  The man had called me, again, to see what my plans were.  I was impressed with his tenacity.  I called him to explain that I knew I needed service but had been unable to arrange a ride back to the East Valley.  He told me that they would drive me back once I dropped Veronica off.  Hello, talk about service!  Already an improvement from the last shop I found.
I drive about 6 miles and realize that I could go no further without damaging my engine.  I call roadside and arrange a tow.  Not run especially since my insurance only covered 9 miles of the drive.  Stupid in my opinion, but, I got over it and quickly. 
I met the owner of the shop and was on my way.  His employee drove me home and explained some of their history.  Local shop, lots of family and exemplary customer service is what I deduced from the conversation. 
About an hour later, they call me and say, yes, you need a new head gasket.  This is what we project it to cost and sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  Still, I believe I should be able to get my car back early next week. What a difference from the other shop I had been using here.  I miss Sweden Pride in Denver.  They are honest, fair and always, communicated, what needed to be done in a quick fashion.
I consider the pro's and con's of continuing to service the Volvo.  On the positive side, I have had this car since 2005.  She's been awesome until recently.  And, it's an older vehicle.  Things break.  Not that I want to sign on for more heartbreak, financially.  I just am unwilling to say goodbye.  There is still a lot of miles in this car and I know it.  And, no car payment which is what I prefer.  The idea of finding another used car is daunting.  I do have friends that could assist me in this, but I am not ready to let go. 
I took the bus to whole paycheck and picked up some wine for Lindsay's visit.  I had white but the red factor was light.  Had to fix that and quickly.
I figured out how to get to the airport via public transport to pick her up, too.  I love city life and how accessible resources are when you want them.  Her visit will be interesting without a car.  But, I will make it work.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Words I keep uttering. of 2011

My car is in the shop.
Seriously.  I have said those words, too many times, this year.  I just got Veronica back from the mechanic after I failed emissions.  Talk about costly fix for the emissions requirement.  The best part of that experience was when I returned to have the re-test, I handed the technician my proof that Ihad had the work completed and he looked at me and said (verbatim)--I don't need that.  I was furious.
Yesterday, I was driving to work and and I noticed my temperature gage had spiked.  I called a trusted friend and knowledgeable car guy and asked why your car would overheat.  His response, either you are out of anti-freeze or your fan is not functioning.  Do you want me to turn around and help you?  YES.   Please.  I tell him where I pull over and pray that my car is not seizing up.  He arrives and adds some anti-freeze and we wait.  He checks the fan out and suggests that I would be fine.  Quick fix.  Add anti-freeze and presto, problem solved.  He takes off and I head out to work.  But, the gage remains in the hot zone.  I call him and ask him what I should do.  He tells me to keep driving and watch the level.  Eventually, I pull over, again, and he rechecks the fluids, fan and then says--it's probably your water pump.  I would do it for you, but, I don't have time.  Take it to any shop, not just volvo specific, and they will be able to fix it. 
I call a mechanic that I have used in the past and arrange to drop Veronica today.  I knew that I could take public transport back home without too much walking.  So, today, everything goes according to plan.  I wake up, shower, and drive to Phoenix to drop my car off.  I mention what I think it could be and head to the light rail station.  Four hours later, I get the call.  It is not the water pump, but, potentially, the head gasket.  This mechanic feels uncomfortable working on foreign vehicles so he suggests finding a different shop and having it reassessed.  He feels this is the issue as to why my car is overheating. 
At this point, I consider my options.  Returning it to the shop that I have frequented, numerous times, this year.  The shop that has frurstrated me and made me crazy.  Everytime I drop Veronica off for a short visit, they keep her for 8 plus days. Not to mention, they do not communicate or make me feel confident with their services.
No.  This would not be an option.  I met a neighbor when I moved in who also has a Volvo.  I asked him which shop he used and he handed me a business card and explained his relationship with a shop in the east valley.  I figure--why not?
I call them today and immediately felt that this would be the shop.  Getting the Veronica there without overheating might be troublesome.  I called my roadside assistance through my insurance and they told me they would cover six miles and the remaining 17, I would be accountable for.  Seemed ridiculous that they would only cover six but the nearest volvo dealer was six miles away from the original mechanic shop.  The roadside would take me there if I wanted.  I don't.  I have no allegiance or feel for the nearest Volvo shop.  Moreover, I drove Veronica home and now have no idea the mileage coverage.  I can only hope that I make it there safely.
Tomorrow the Goddess is visiting.  I cannot wait to see her.  We will tour the Valley on public transport or I will beg for rides.  I think I know someone I can bribe with my local eatery.  Will update this later regarding the car situation....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday Memory (late)

Love this photo from Sonoma last year.  The Goddess, Sipper, Sara Jo and I (connector) winery hopped to celebrate the accomplishment of a half marathon the previous day.  I talked them into running with me and chose this particular race, the Healdsburg Half.  The next day, we checked out a few wineries between the valleys--Benziger, Imagery, Enkidu, VJB, St. Francis in Sonoma, and Failla in Napa.  I wish we had had more time to explore Napa, but, there will always be future visits to one of my favorite spots in the States.  Food entices, too.  Ahhhh, I miss Napa.
A lovely memory and a hope that we will choose another 1/2 2012.  I suggest either Santa Barbara or the traditional Napa-Sonoma route.   Of course, I am drawn to the Willamette race since I could see my sisters, too.  The possibilities are endless in terms of running a race with friends.  Fond memory, indeed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

productive Sunday

Yay!  Found a massage therapist, finally!  After struggling through several mediocre massages, I have a gifted therapist. 
Ironic, too.  As I waited in the office I chatted up the receptionist.  She's a student at ASU and friendly.  I wanted to know her insight into some of their therapists.  We discussed who she felt was great after I told her that I had been having difficulty finding the "one" for me.  I noted some of the previous visits and how I did not enjoy trigger release therapy.  I think I made some comment that I could be dead and still not feel anything.  Granted, later in the day, I do feel the effects of the trigger release.  While in the massage, it does nothing for me.  Having someone use one hand to apply pressure to one area for 2-3 minutes is not a massage in my opinion.
I digress.  I was frustrated that I had not found a therapist that I would be excited to return too.  I am a member of this studio and so I have one massage per month until I cancel the membership.  I was almost to that point, too.  Why pay for a massage that is mediocre?  I believe in body maintenance and the benefits of a monthly massage.  I want a therapist that I like.
Today, I found him.  His focus is on injury and sports massage.   Immediately, I sensed that I had found my massage therapist.  He reminded me of Sean, my old therapist in Denver.  Sean was a runner and so he understood some of my aches/pains.  Brandon is similar.  After the massage he diagnosed some of my problem areas.  I have tenderness in my right ankle that he felt. I go, yea, I sort of forgot to mention my recent sprained ankle. 
I am so thankful to have found Brandon.  I will return to the studio knowing that my massage will be stellar.  Afterwards, I tackled my car.  Not only did it need a visit to the car wash, but an interior cleaning as well.  I found some leather cleaner in my trunk that I believe Brian had purchased.  He loved my car and took care of her.  He would be so disappointed in the current state of Veronica.  Polished and vacummed.  What an improvement.  Must remember to do more than once every six years. 
Moreover, while attempting to clean up the appearance of my car, I remembered how my dad would wash and wax his vehicles on Sundays.  What a process.  I think it would take up most of the afternoon.  He would beam with pride after he finished washing his car. 
Lovely day to be productive.  I started the day, late, and thought I need to fix this.  My run got pushed to tomorrow and so I opted to be active in other ways.  My to-do list is dwindling.  I suppose I can find other tasks to accomplish and cross off.
Enjoy your night~

Thursday, October 27, 2011

significant day

10/27/2011--officially the end of birthday month.  Bummer!  Then, I consider, did I do enough celebrating?  No.  I spent a big chunk of change on Veronica which decreased my desire to travel or eat.  Actually, that isn't true.  I was out of town for four days, entertained Shari for four days and used public transport in the meantime. 
This birthday was stellar.  Of course, I always try to extend it.  Next year, I will manage to create more celebrating/less stressing over vehicle.  I attained a two year plate so I won't have to deal with dmv until 2013.  Even then, I think my car will be an antique.  No more testing--thankfully!  Must hold out til then.
October 27th also brings about memories of travel.  This was my departure date.  The night I spent in Los Angeles watching the Rockies get schlacked in the world series.  Ugly game.  I remember (vividly), wishing they would turn the tv off so I wouldn't watch the blood bath.  Talk about rolling over...
Regardless, I left what I felt was my normal life with a travel pack, day pack, rain coat and desire to see the world.  That trip inspired this blog, me, my past, present and future.  What a day to embark on a new adventure! 
A fond memory and beautiful experience.  I was funny.  I still believe that.  I had a lot to work with.  Meeting fellow travelers, locals, foods, porta potties, customs, traditions, you name it, I felt it.  Lovely day and memory.

Outside my hostel in Voli Voli, Fiji. A couple days into the trip, but, can you say beautiful?  Man, do I miss Fiji.  Stunning country inspite of the lousy indian meal I experienced on tour. 

necessary tasks

Today, I had the opportunity to help someone put together a resume.  Like me it had been years since dealing with this task.  I vaguely remember compiling one in high school.  It's been a great while. Most jobs that I have held were due to personal relationships or timing.  A resume was not necessary until this year.
This past summer it was fun to find a way to promote myself in a creative way.   In all honesty, I procrastinated, hoping to get out of it.  I really did not want to put it together.  I remember looking it over, spell checking, having my sister and another friend dissect it before selecting a nice paper to print it on.  Jan, my friend, has oodles of paper to choose from.  Love that she had so many choices.  Not fun in any way.  Still necessary and I am glad that I finally got around to doing it. 
I consulted my sister, Michaela, about a template for construction.  She e-mailed me a site that would have examples.  I considered having her look it over but based on the tone of her e-mail, I knew, that she didn't have time.  She has been extremely busy with work.  Too stressed to look over another resume.
I sat down with my friend and went over his work history.  Drinking wine aided in that process and this morning I noticed how terrible my notes were.  I couldn't discern some of the scribble.  Darn that wine!
Anyways, I typed it up, looked it over and found difficulty in the selected action words.  Operate could only be used once, maybe twice, but definitely not under the same company.  There is just not another good word to replace operate when it comes to machinery.  Eventually, I told him we should either combine tasks and figure out another responsibility he had while working at specific work sites.  We ended it with a reference to personal references.  Mine, I listed volunteer work and hobbies.  Possibly my favorite part of compiling my work history.  Showcasing travel, wine, food, due to being employed.
Regardless, I believe it was decent.  No errors in spelling, grammar and when you read it aloud, it flowed. The paper was fine and he got the job.  Mostly due to personal references but putting together the resume helped me respect others that I viewed today.  I stopped into work to check in and decided to look over some of the applicants.  It's shocking how little some people value themselves.  Spelling errors, font choice, paper....overall appearance does make a difference.  I did not enjoy taking the time to make my resume but I know it looks clean and makes sense.  I am just a stickler when it comes to grammar, etiquette and courtesy.  Have some pride is all I am saying.
Compiling my friend's was definitely easier since I had experienced this necessary thing a few months ago.  And, it deducted some of what I owe him for the road trip from Denver.  I don't know if I will ever be able to repay him...

weekend recap

Wine inspired (induced) weekend.  I must take a break from the lovely juice to give my liver a break.  Unfortunately, I need to sample wine to figure out the current list that we will be offering at the restaurant.  I am determined to spit, not inhale, as is, the normal way I drink wine.  Damn Jenn and Rob.  They spent the weekend in Tempe and entertained me.  Originally, the plan was for Rob to participate in the half ironman in Tempe, but, his training sort of went to the wayside.  It became a spectating event instead.
I must say, spectating, at the finish was pretty incredible.  Our friends met up during the run and chose to cross the finish line holding hands.  Too cute.  This married couple have done several events together.  He was ahead of her due to his start, but she caught up with him during the run.  Their finish was lovely.
Plus, it was nice to lend support at the finish line.  There is just something about hearing your name yelled when you accomplish an endurance event.  Or, I enjoy it.
Regardless, since it was a spectating weekend, I joined Jenn and Rob and showed them a mini tour of Tempe.  We enjoyed my favorite wine spot in Arcadia, they visited me at the cellar and made a brief stop at a brewery.  Jenn was a little hungover from Saturday and so our plan of mimosa brunch got kiboshed before it could begin.  Thankful for that.  Last night could have went south quickly had I started the day with mimosas. 
I wish we had had more time to tour the city.  I wanted to show them a few more spots before they had to return to Denver.  They are always gracious and curious about eateries.  I love that.  I love dining with people that enjoy food/wine as much as I do. 
I think the lunch spot worked best.  We shared a bottle of wine while eating an array of tapas--bruschetta, olives, cheese and a salad.  I think this is my preferred way to dine.  Sampling as many items as possible with friends.  We didn't eat at the brewery since they went to In and Out Burger.  Apparently, it is a wonderful burger that I have yet to try.  I made eggs instead, grabbed a coffee and met up with them to spectate the race.  We had some time to explore and so I asked them what they wanted to do.  Rob wanted to check out a local brewery and ironically, there was a wonderful one in the area.  Somber outing since Jenn was still feeling the wine of Saturday. 
We parted ways so that they could fly back to Denver.  I continued the Sunday tradition of stopping into the local wine bar.  Tried bruschetta this time around.  Yummy.
I need to conclude this.  I am uninspired as this is the fourth time I have attempted to post this particular event.  Either I have had interruptions with the internet or the blogger has been difficult.  It's been annoying.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Memory

Four years ago almost to the day, I was standing in this hotel room in L.A. showing off how I would get around other countries.  Looks ridiculous, I know, but how else could I travel for five months with a few belongings?  At that point, I still had guidebooks in the bottom of my backpack.  Thankfully, I left those with my friends.  Talk about uncomfortable.  There were several times when I considered chucking all of my clothes since I was tired of carting them around.  Limited belongings still weigh something. be traveling.  Wonderful memories for sure.  I am on a new venture and it feels fantastic.  Must figure out ttransportation this afternoon and so I need to conclude this for now.  I leave you with this--Smile.  Breathe and enjoy your Monday.  I am smiling (really) just thinking about that wonderful trip and reason for the blog.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the last few days

Brief vacay and no internet access.  Sacrilege (sometimes) and this past week, I enjoyed not being able to connect easily.  It forced me to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Denver is always a welcoming city.  I love it there and believe that it will always be my home.  I had the opportunity to fly home, visit friends and collect my belongings.  I wanted to display my conch shell and thankfully, I did pack it amongst the random boxes of stuff that I wanted to keep but not bring in my car.  Decisions, decisions.  When I began my find myself trip, I had to make decisions about what should go with me and what needed to be left behind.  The conch shell was one of those things that was packed away to be rediscovered at a later date.  I was thrilled when I unwrapped it yesterday.
Anyways, I had a whirlwind trip to Denver and managed to see some friends.  Not enough time, though, to do everything that I had intended to do.  I feel awful that I was unable to see my aunt and it was completely my fault.  I ran out of time and began enjoying chimays.  My day sort of got away from me.  The intent was to meet her for dinner but the day went askew when my friend, Chipper, was delayed on the road.  Initially, the plan was to meet up at noon for lunch and then assess how to arrange my things.  Due to an accident on 1-80 he did not arrive until almost five pm.  In an attempt to see people and amuse myself with stories/updates, I met my friend, Melissa, for lunch at cap grille.  Lovely to see her and inspired with wine and decandent food.  Plus, I knew the bartender and manager which is always a nice perk of being in the service industry.  Lunch extended and before I knew it, my window to meet for dinner had closed.  It just all got away from me.
And, as much as I wanted to see everyone, I couldn't make Chipper sit through a parade of important people in my life.  It isn't for him.  And, I knew that.  Sure, I wanted to see everyone and get updated on how life was treating them, but I had to think of him, too.  He offered to pick up my things and I needed to keep him somewhat happy, too.  There will be other trips and of course, I will see my aunt and others for sure.
I started out sprinting with the friends and it continued until we left the city.  I managed to dine at watercourse, elway's, solera and pick up a breakfast burrito at santiago's.  Not to mention spend time with the goddess, sara jo, jenn, Steve, GQ and a few other friends that I had not seen in a great while.  Running into Dave was a lovely surprise, too.  I ran into him at a coffee shop near his house.  I think it surprised both of us and then we were both regretful that it concluded so quickly.  Again, I see myself enjoying wine with him in the future.  He is building a wine cellar in his basement that definitely interests me.  Yep, I see Denver in my future.
I need to update more but I have a lot of things to figure out this morning.  Veronica is still at the shop since my mechanics suck.  There is no polite way to say it.  I dropped my car off ten days ago and due to lack of communication, on their part (per usual), I must find a new mechanic.  I understand ordering parts and having them delivered but once they received them (yesterday), they should have begun work on my car immediately.  Instead, they said, well, maybe Monday or Tuesday.  WTF?  Get my car fixed.  I need it to function in this city.  As such, I am off to pick up my rental so that I can attend to my priorities. 
Enjoy today.  I have friends, in town, here, so I am sure I will have more stories to blog about.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Memory--Fiji

Overcast day in Fiji.  Delightful.  I love the image of the clouds.  Hope you enjoy, too!  I am off to run errands, pack and confirm flights...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

fond memory

I think this is my favorite photo of my dad and Dori.  Pure bliss and happiness.  I have no idea where it occurred, the time frame or anything outside of how happy they both look.
I spoke to my dad earlier today about her tribute video and what it meant to me.  It took me awhile to view it.  My dad and I do not see eye to eye on faith.  I had a feeling that it would be a little much for me to watch due to the music.  Finally, I overlooked my fears of catholicism and watched the video.  Lovely tribute to my stepmom.  Several photos from her childhood, early adult and then her life with my dad.  They traveled, every year, to destination unknown.  Sometimes to see the grandkids and other siblings and other times, for them.  I am thankful that my dad has numerous photos from their adventures.
I saw a few photos of me, included--one from their wedding day ( I wore a red shirt, who does that?), a nice one from the race for the cure, 2009, with  my dad and Dori.  I wish they would have included the one with my aunt Bryn, too, since she walked the race with Dori, while, I chatted up my dad.  I continued watching the flick and thought, I wonder, if they included a picture of Brian.
And, there it was...a picture of me standing between Dori and Brian from Denver, 2003.  It broke me.  I lost it.  Sad for sure.  It reminded me of a beautiful day spent in Denver.  The newness of our relationship, the blending of families and great coffee.  I believe we found a delightful shop so that I could satisfy my need for caffeine. 
I think he listened but wasn't hearing my thoughts.  It seemed like it's hitting him...the loss.  Routines help, of course, but there is solitude where your mind wanders to sadness, melancholy and loss.  Moments where you feel like a wave smacked you and you react in the best way you know how.  For me, that meant crying or looking at photos of my life with Brian. 
Tonight, I celebrate my dad's life with this incredible woman.  She made him extremely happy.  Cheers~

How I spend my Sunday

Walk around area  day number two...found the preferred street to frequent.  Quiet, beautiful and a nice thoroughfare.  Untouched, as of yet, of grafitti or street walkers.  Clean.  It has a bike lane and mostly filled with cyclists.  Sunday is the ideal day for a ride.  Several people were out enjoying the beautiful day.
I walked up to a marketplace and made use of a birthday gift.  This has definitely been my year of bra is all I am saying.  Hail to the secret.  Managed to pick up perfume mister in addition to a few other necessary items.  I am finding my ideal scent.  In all honesty, heavenly, has always been a favorite.  Branching out some, 2011.  Gotta say--I love gift cards!
Afterwards, hungry, I considered my options.  Return to rental and make a salad. Only that did not sound that appeasing.  I wanted a sandwich and a glass of wine.  That sounded divine.  Attempting to talk myself out of it--the wine factor--I thought of what else could work.  Biking up to Whole Foods and having a custom sandwich which could work or there were a few other eateries that did not have wine.  Really, as you can see, I was trying to be "good".  I envisioned hummus or pitas and knew of a spot but that required more walking.  At this point, I wanted convenience...oh, and wine.
I walked into the eatery that I knew had half price wine during the day.  Yep, that sold me.  Wine wins another Sunday.  Ironically, knew the bartender, too.  I sat there and he goes, you know, I remember you.  I visited Denver in 2005 to attend a football game, being a colts fan, and you waited on me....what?  All I could think was... was it a good experience?  I didn't ask that since I know that it was.  I mean, come on, if he mentioned it, obviously, I made a good impression.
We chatted about Denver, somewhat, and other associations we shared. He knows my friend, Kat, and lives near where I work.  I ordered a turkey, brie and fig sandwich--delightful and enjoyed a few glasses of wine.  Perfect way to spend a Sunday.
I made a to do list and thought about my life.  Eventually, another person sat at the bar.  However he was on his phone.  Annoying and unpleasant.  (Pet peeve #3, behind,  clipping toe nails in public or licking fingers while eating hot wings or any other type of greasy food..yuck)!  I overheard him say sous chef and another local spot that I knew the owner.  So, being me, and nosy, I ask him if he worked there and he goes--no, I work at Kona.  Funny.  I know a few people that work there, too.
This guy is moving to Spain to seek a new life.  Good for him!  I think it is awesome.  He made some left field comment about always being able to rely on working in a kitchen like it was a maintenance job.  I interjected--I love chefs.  I love food.  You are fortunate to be skilled in that department. 
Sure, I am confident in the kitchen but getting a position in a kitchen is definitely out of my wheel house.  I was little offended that he played it off like it meant nothing.  Come on, you work with food!  Exciting~
I wished him luck with his future endeavors.  Spain is fantastic from what i hear and I was off.  Off to siesta and eventually do another walkabout.  Salad for dinner.  I love it!