Random Stuff from My Life

Friday, November 24, 2006

Supporting the Economy

I don't know about "busiest shopping day of the year," but it's certainly the earliest shopping day of the year. I don't remember the last time I voluntarily went to bed before 11 and got up at 5 a.m.

I dropped Stan off at Long's Drugs about a quarter 'til six (he was number five in line) and headed to Target (where I was about number 250 in line). I don't know what the hot item was today, but it apparently was NOT coffee makers. It looked like I was the first person to get there. The thumb drives were about half gone, but there was no crowd there. So I was in, out and on my way back to Stan by 6:11.

We got the MP3 player I wanted at Long's (which I'm listening to as I type), then stopped at Starbuck's for breakfast. (I know, "friends don't let friends drink Starbuck's," but I have two words for you: gingerbread latte. Plus, we buy more-than-fair-trade from church for our home consumption.) Then we headed over to the mall, where I spent 41 cents at Borders. (Had a gift card and my Borders Rewards holiday points.) We stopped at Staples (only place I didn't buy anything--our Staples sucks) and the grocery store and were home by 8:00.

The Christmas cards are in the mail, this week's bills have been paid, and the laundry is started. And it's still an hour 'til lunch!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The tree is up

Well, it's Thanksgiving Day and we have more Christmas decorations up now than we've had in several years. Partly we were shamed into decorating by our friends, who have an amazing Radko ornament tree that went up November 1. But also, the lack of travel has refocused my energy into nesting. And there's something about this place that just seems more permanent than any place we've lived since we moved to California.

Went to the home of some folks from church for dinner. They live out in the boondocks, so it was the longest car trip Stan has taken since the surgery. Stopped off at the casino on the way home. I am thankful that we left with the same amount of money we walked in with!

Friday, November 17, 2006


You know (right?) that I love books of autobiographical essays written by "humorists." People like Dave Barry and Bill Bryson (whose new book about growing up in Des Moines in the '50's I just finished). I mean, I'm secretly hoping this blog will get "discovered" by some publisher who will offer me a quarter million bucks a year to vent in a widely-syndicated weekly column. (Though really, aside from mediocre trip reviews, how many salient observations have I actually posted? Writing, it seems, is HARD--and time-consuming, my excuse of the day for not posting more frequently.)

But I digress... Right now I'm reading Exile in Guyville by Dave White. He moved from Dallas to WeHo about a year before we made the big move from Kansas to the Bay Area. Even though I'm only through the first couple months of his life in L.A., I'm really enjoying it. He's got a great style.

In other news, Stan is continuing to recover from his neck surgery. He developed a little cold this week, so he's been snoring like a jackhammer, but I can definitely see him making recovery progress.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What the ####?

They lose to Baylor and then beat up on the number 4 team in the country? "Faithful to our colors, we will ever be... fighting, ever fighting for a Wildcat victory... GO STATE!!"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Night

I am so tired right now. That's 'cause I was up until about 2:00 this morning. No, not just watching the returns... actually participating as a small cog in the great wheel of democracy. You see, the County Elections folks needed somebody to ferry election supplies from a central drop-off point at one of the police stations to the main Elections office. So, after getting up early to cast my vote and then working the ol' 8-to-5, I pulled an 8:15 p.m.-12:45 a.m. shift assisting with this little task. It was actually fun and, in an "it's a small world" moment, the "rover" who was collecting supplies at the police station is married to a woman who works with a guy I know; we had met each other before--helping the mutual acquaintance move!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Geez, nothing like a conference followed by a vacation to put one WAY behind. Now that I've caught up a little, I guess it's time to blog about the trip.

First of all, my dear husband forgot to bring the map and two guidebooks we had purchased for the trip. He also forgot to bring the cell phone number for his brother, whom he was supposed to meet in San Francisco before we left on the trip. They never did connect.

The trip from SFO through L.A. to Lihu'e was fairly uneventful, though LOOONG. I had forgotten how long flights to Hawai'i take. The airport on Kaua'i is pretty--and oceanfront. We loaded up on free tourist brochures while waiting on our luggage, then spent an excruciatingly long time in the rental car line. I kept saying to myself, "Island Time. Calm Down." But Stan was in no mood for island time, and by the time we got checked in to the hotel and headed to dinner, we were in the middle of a fight. Luckily, we got it over with quickly and decided on a plan for the next day.

I discovered that there are basically two ways to see Kaua'i: 1) Backpacker, or 2) Luxury tourist. We were shooting for something in between. Because of Stan's impending surgery, we have neither the physical stamina nor the financial resources to tackle either end of that spectrum. We wanted to do a tour of the island, so we debated whether to take a helicopter or a boat (or both). We ended up with the boat, largely because it was cheaper.

Hmm. The fact that they were running a special "that we never run in the mornings" the next morning should have been a clue. So should the picture in the ad. This was not a big boat; it was something just a couple steps up from an inflatable raft--to which two gigantic motors had been attached. The thing could MOVE. And in the six-foot swells off the Na Pali Coast (the captain said 13-foot swells were predicted further up, which is why we turned around when we did), it moved largely up and down. It was like (I'm guessing here) riding a bucking bronco through a rain storm.

They gave us waterproof bags for our stuff. I had sense enough to know that I would NOT want to open that bag once we got out on the ocean, so I dug out the sunscreen and handed it to Stan. He strapped it in next to him. Unfortunately, the excitement of the boat ride got to him and he squeezed the tube--all over the seat. He spent the rest of the boat ride sliding backwards. I had the bright idea to hold the tube of sunscreen over the side of the boat and wash it off. Needless to say, there is now a tube of SPF 45 washing up on some deserted beach where a hiker will find it and think of what kind of monstrous people pollute the ocean environment like that.

Not that the boat ride wasn't fun. It was--in the exact same way that a roller coaster is fun. We just didn't realize we had signed up for the roller coaster; we were expecting something more along the lines of a merry-go-round. I did accomplish two of my major goals for the trip, though: we got to see the island of Ni'ihau (in the distance) and I got to go snorkeling. Plus, we saw the coolest spinner dolphins.

After the boat ride, we stopped and got Hawaiian "plate lunches" at a market and drove up along Waimea Canyon to the Kalalau lookout. The "look" was into pure whiteness. Fog thicker than anything I've seen in California. It was at that point that we decided a helicopter trip would be fruitless.

Oh, I also got to experience (once per day, actually) Hawaiian shave ice. The ice part itself is not THAT different from a sno-cone, but whoever had the idea to put it over macadamia nut ice cream was a genius! On Saturday night I had blueberry over mac nut in Kapa'a. On Sunday afternoon it was pina colada over mac nut at the place in Waimea voted "best shave ice on Kauai" and on Monday it was rainbow over mac nut in Hanalei. (That was the worst of the three, but that place had sugar-free syrup so Stan got to experience shave ice as well.)

Anyway, the plate lunches were so big that they ended up being both lunch and dinner. (For $6.95 a piece, they were much more impressive than the $60/person we spent the next night at Roy's.)

On Monday, we started out with pancakes at the "best breakfast in Kauai" place in Lihu'e. Homemade coconut syrup...mmmm. We went to Wailua Falls, then followed Kuamo'o Road to its end at the Keahua Arboretum, stopping along the way to see 'Opaeka'a Falls and a couple of ancient Hawaiian sacred sites. Then we headed for the North Shore, stopping first in Kilauea to see the bird sanctuary.

Hanalei really is incredibly beautiful. There's a reason so many movies have been set on Kaua'i. We ended up going to the end of the highway at Ke'e Beach and then up the Kalalau Trail a little ways. There's a big sign at the beginning of the trail: "Wear appropriate footwear." I was in flip-flops. We got up to a certain point, and then the trail turned vertical. Stan decided he wasn't going any further, but a couple coming down said, "There are really cool views about 10 minutes ahead." Okay, I told him, wait here and I'll be back in 20 minutes. I was just about to turn around myself when another guy coming down says, "About another 500 feet up, there's an amazing view down the coast. But I don't know if you'll make it in flip-flops; it gets really wet near the top." Well, I made it. It was actually coming down that was far worse. I slipped a couple times, but never actually fell on my 'okole.

After making it back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we went to Po'ipu for a sunset dinner. That was our latest night out. We pretty much stayed on California time our whole trip. You'd NEVER get me up at 6 a.m. voluntarily on the Mainland, but given the time difference (and the fact that there didn't seem to be much to do after the sun went DOWN), we were early to bed and early to rise.

We brought home a bunch of souvenirs, including a bunch of stuff we are going to use to put on a lu'au for folks from church. It was not exactly a relaxing trip (we were on the road a lot), but it was definitely worth the experience. I want to go back when we can do more rugged outdoorsy stuff. (We never did get to see the top of Wai'ale'ale; believe it or not, the rainiest place on earth was covered in clouds the whole time!)