Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thieving jay birds

I was sitting on my couch looking out the window enjoying the view of my garden and other plants, when I saw some birds land on the tomato cages.  I've seen the birds do this multiple times now, and it is a great place for them to roost and a perfect place for me to do some birdwatching as they sit there a while.  I glanced from the bright red headed song bird over to the jay on the adjacent cage.  I was shocked to see the jay was using his perch as a way to easily pluck blueberries off the bush next to him.  I quickly jumped up from the couch and shooed the bird away.  I then spent the next few minutes rearranging the potted plants on the patio so that none of the caged tomatoes were anywhere near the blueberries.  Time to be proactive and find some netting to protect my blueberries.  Silly birds.  Lovely to look at but bad for the blueberry harvest.

Garden Updates

I smile everytime I look out the back window, or walk out the back door.  The garden is growing and I hope to have produce to share this summer.

Huntington Beach Adventures

So it seems I'm about a week off reporting fun adventures but I figure better late than never.  Last weekend Laura, Nadia, Marie and I took a roadtrip.  We started out at the wee hours of the morning Friday to drive down to San Diego.  We listened to music, talked, shared stories, took naps, snacked, and managed to miss the worst traffic through LA.  We found ourselves in San Diego on our way for a temple session in the early afternoon.  What none of us expected was how difficult it might be to find somewhere to change out of our travel clothes into church dress.  The all too trusty Garmin sent us on a wild goose chase to a Wendy's that ended up being somewere on the campus of UC San Diego.  We eventually found our way to somewhere with a restroom to change in and off to the temple we went. 

The endowment session was nice, and the celestial room absolutely beautiful.  We got to enjoy the peace and quiet that comes from being inside the temple.  Our looks of awe must have tipped the temple worker off that we were visiting, so we got a tour of some of the sealing rooms, and the atrium too.  After enjoying some time there we decided it was time to move on to our next activity.....getting some real food.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to visit the San Diego temple, it was a great opportunity to get a great start to our weekend. 

We made a quick stop at the store to grab a few things, then headed to Hodad's for what I was soon to find out has the best bacon cheeseburger and fries/rings of all time.  The place was packed, we waited in line a while, people watching while we waited.  It is interesting to see how different yet similar people act in different places of this vast state.  We saw several people set up shop with their musical instruments, and donations accepted buckets for some sidewalk entertainment, we saw families headed toward the beach, people enjoying going in and out of the various shops.  We finally got seated and placed our orders.  We ended up at the counter which faces the sidewalk, and as people came toward Hodad's they all looked in to see how busy things were.  It kinda felt like we were on display sitting there for all to see, but it was fun.  I'm really glad that Nadia and I split the burger because it was a large portion and I would never have finished otherwise.  There is a great photo of all of us at the counter......to be posted at a later date. 

After we filled our tummies, we headed toward the pier to see what was happening there.  I admit that as we reached the top of the stairs there was a group that seemed a bit unfriendly, but we kept walking and things were ok.  We saw lots and lots of people fishing off the pier, many hadn't caught anything but we did witness a lobster, a fish, and at the end of the walk there was a group that had caught a leopard shark.  We all took pictures with it all the while hoping that it wouldn't try to bit us.  We also saw a lone surfer out in the water, and asked him if he wasn't freezing.....the temperature was chilly up on the pier, I can't imagine what it was in the water, but he answered the water was great and we cheered him on as he caught a good sized wave and headed back to the shore. 

We eventually made our way back to the car after we walked down the shoreline and determined there wasn't much more to see.   We drove back toward Huntington Beach where we were going to stay.

Nadia and I went for a walk Saturday morning around the park nearby which was pretty nice.  The park was full of people walking, jogging, and running for such an early hour.  It felt good to be out walking after being in the car so long the day before.  Nadia and I chatted and played some animal bingo as we spotted ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and dogs.  We made our way back to the house, where the group of us got ready for the days fun.  We made it to the stake center and registered picking up our dinner hour specific wristbands, and quickly had PBJ sandwhiches for breakfast before attending the presentations for the morning. 

Our first choice was to attend the talk presented by Matthew Boggs.  He spoke on three important keys to finding your eternal companion.  Matthew and his friend went on a journey to interview marriage masters (people married 40+ years) called Project Everlasting and he was sharing with us some of the things he learned from his experience.  He talked about three things, the law of Polarity, the Law of Elasticity, and What is Love.  The law of polarity talked about what we can do to help develop attraction, knowing what we are looking for, and helping to provide joyful receptivity when we find someone who we'd like to get to know better.  The law of elasticity focused on what makes men and women tick, and the differences in how we are.....men being goal oriented, risk takers, triggered by action, and generally focusing on one thing at a time where women are mutlitaskers....triggers being communication, connection, etc.  He talked a lot about the science behind the difference between the drivers between mena nd woemn, men run off dopamine, women off oxytocin and that sometimes we have to understand how each gender works and be elastic (like a rubberband can stretch and then return to size) in order to have a good relationship.  The third clue he gave us was that Love is a four letter word spelled GIVE.  He shared a wonderful story about a couple he interviewed who throughout their marriage took the opportunity to write notes to one another and leaving them in places the other person would find at some point in the future, like a note in the toolbox that said I'm thinking of you, or a note found in the pocket of a sweater saying you are beautiful, and that this allowed them to know how much the other cared on a regular basis.  As the couple grew older, the husband got very sick and passed, and several weeks later his wife found the last note her husband must have written during his illness, that simply said I Love You.  It was a good reminder that we can love and serve one another and that can help strengthen relationships.

The next talk we went to was a presentation by the people from the group SHE singular humanitarian experience.  It was fun to hear about how the group got started and the many great adventures had while being able to provide needed service in under developed countries.  I really liked the stories they shared of how the service helped to change their hearts more than they expected and the beautiful experiences.  I think it would be a blast to go on a trip with the group.  This years trips are full.....but next year I'll be waiting to see where they are headed.

The devotional speaker we heard before the afternoon activities was pretty entertaining.  She spoke on life and that it rarely turns out quite like we expected, and that we will all expereince times in our lives where we are at a point where we didn't expect to be.  She talked about 5 keys to be able to get through those times of the unexpected.  1) don't play the role of the victim because if it is never your fault then there is nothing to fix.....playing the victim halts our progression  2)Focus on the given good in your life......this way we can count our blessings and find joy in what we have rather than being grumpy about not being/having what we expected.  3)Have fun in the journey.  She talked about the need to be flexible and to be able to roll with it.  Enjoy yourself.  4) The importance of having the Holy Ghost as our companion during our journey.  She talked about how the Holy Ghost can give us the ability to see things that we may not normally be able to see.  (I thought of it like glimpses into the bigger picture.....knowing Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us).  5)Look for the peace that Heavely Father can bring. 

We then grabbed box lunches to head to the beach.  They had announced the need for volunteers to ride the cruisers down to the beach for the bike activities later so Nadia and I joined the group for the ride.  It took a while for us to get organized and going, but it was fun to visit with the other midsingles on the ride.  I met people from San Bernardino, Arizona, Huntington Beach, and many other places.  Nadia and I met up with Marie and Laura on the beach, ate our lunch, then I headed to volleybal and the girls to boogie boarding.  I'm not a fan of cold water so my feet were all that eventually made it in the ocean.  After a nice time out in the sun and sand, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner.  We made it back to Ruby's a bit later than we expected and visited with others while we waited in line to be seated.  We met some great people.  Leigh joined our group for dinner, she had come to the conference by herself (braver than I) and it was fun to hear about her experiences so far.  After dinner it was back to the stake center.

We walked in and there was a plea that they needed ladies for the speed dating event that was going on.  In midsingles land a lack of ladies is almost unheard of.  I went into the activity to see what new people I could meet, and left Nadia and Marie deciding which of them would join the fun.  I'm not sure how speed dating really works but three mintues is a very short time to get to know the person across from you.  An additional obstacle was the fact that the room was very crowded and it was terribly difficult to hear with everyone talking at the same time.  I met individuals from many different areas of the US, with lots of different jobs and hobbies.  It was also very interesting to hear which questions people asked in an effort to get to know you in the alloted 3 mintues.  Where are you from, what do you do for work, what are your hobbies, favorite food, and only one person asked if I was married before or if I had kids.  After speed dating it was in to see what kinds of performances where happening during open mic night.  There were people singing, playing musical instruments, and one gentleman who did bird calls.  All and all, pretty fun so far.

Open mic night ended and we got some live band entertainment from Wigs and Ties.  They started off in dress shirts, slacks, ties, and playing songs from the 60's and 70's.  They weren't bad.  After 20 min they took a break and when they came back were in crazy wild wigs, animal print pants, and no shirts......not quite what I expected at an event at a stake center.....they then performed songs from the 70's and 80's.  It didn't take long for a bishopric member to ask them to please put their shirts back on.  Live music was pretty entertaining, but I am definitely not up for the "club" atmosphere.....people pushing to get closer to the music, barely enough room to move, and getting bumpbed into a lot.  At the end of the evening we drove home talking about our favorite points of the day.

Sunday I was ready to sleep in.  Funny thing about weekends and attempts to sleep though......when you are used to waking up early, you can only sleep in so late.  I went downstairs for breakfast and got to chat with Natalie for a while. It was fun to learn about her family, and her experiences.  Nadia, Marie and Laura eventually made the migration downstairs for breakfast.  It was determined that we'd go to the Newport Beach temple to walk the grounds since we weren't sure when we'd be down this way again.  The Newport Beach temple has a spanish mission type feel to it.  It is beautiful.  We took pictures, enjoyed the flowers, and headed back toward the stake center for church.

Parking was a bit hard to find, and we ended up a block or so away.  Luckily, April Natalie, and Holly saved us some seats.  We got in just in time for the opening hymn.  The speakers were great all talking a bit about the conference, their own expereinces, how the gospel has helped them.  Afterwards it was time for lunch.  I am impressed, I don't know that I'd want to be in charge of getting lunch ready for 1200+ people.  I decided I wasn't yet done meeting new people and found someone to talk to during lunch.  It turns out that Juan's brother was the bishop of a ward in the Bronx that I served in during my mission to NY.  We chatted a long time, sharing stories of New York, stories, of CA and Miami.  What a small world. 

Juan, Marie, Nadia, Laura and I found soft seats in the choir chairs on the stand for the fireside.  We heard from a man who had left the mafia and joined the church.  He shared lots of experiences from his childhood, how he came to be part of the mafia, how he "escaped" and his conversion story.  It was really inspirational.  After the fireside we went back to the house, packed up what we could and visited with the occupants who just returned from a trip.  They were so sweet.  They helped us get bottles to put milk in for breakfast on our trip home, they washed and cored strawberries and left them in the fridge to find when we left very early.

Our drive home started early in hopes to avoid traffic again.  We made pretty good time.  We stopped at the Fresno temple to visit the grounds there.  It is a nice temple with grounds for picnicing and they have a ball field.  It reminded me of the sacramento temple.  We walked around taking fun photos, and it just so happened that someone saw us and came out to offer to get a shot of all of us together.  It was nice of him to do so.  We hit the road again, deciding that snacky food just wasn't going to cut it and so we stopped for some fast food before making the last couple hours drive.  It was a fantastic weekend, but it is always nice to come home. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sailing Photos


So on the 14th of May a group of the midsingles from Sacramento made the short journey to the port of Richmond for a sailing adventure.  I happened to be one of the lucky individuals in the group.  We met up with Captain Brown and his wife Fern for a sailing trip to the San Francisco Bay.  After arriving, we all boarded the Aldebaran (Capt Brown built the boat from idea to final product), and away we went.  The day was a bit overcast but not overly cold. 

Captain Brown's usual crew was unavailable for our sailing adventure so that meant that we all got to help crew the ship.  I was pretty excited to help in anyway that I could.   I'd had the chance to sail with Captain Brown before but only as passanger. 

Once we got out of the marina and into the bay we got our chance to try our skills (or at least willingness to learn new ones) in raising the sails.  The mainsail was seemingly easy to raise.....then the next sail, main staysail was harder to raise.  By the time we were ready to add the jibsail my arms were getting tired and the wind was getting stronger and it required two of us to get the sail up. 

I had the best time as we sailed out and around the San Francisco Bay, under the baybridge and back, down by Sausilito, and then out under the Golden Gate into open ocean.  WOW it was fun.  One of the high points of the adventure was when we sailed straight toward a restaurant on a pier in Sausilito......the three sides of the building are full paine windows so the people eating can see the water.  We sailed right toward it and turned in time to see some pretty shocked looks on the faces of the people eating.  As they realized there would be no collision they all stood to get a better look at the boat and to wave back to the group of us waving to them.  We continued sailing and the wind got calm enough for my chance to climb the rigging.   Not as easy as it looks.  The rigging moves with the wind.....the rungs are strands of line that go slack as you step on them.  But I did it, and it was fun to see the sights from so many feet in the air. 

After we turned around we decided it might be fun to put on a little performance as we would be passing the restaraunt again.  So Bob went below to grab the swords and daggers, and then we put on some pirate sword fights for the dining guests.  Our show was well received.  Everyone again got up from their seats to be able to see out the windows.....I was busy "fighting" so I didn't see it but I heard that we even got some applause the three pairs of us that were dueling by sword. 

My next favorite part of the trip was the open water outside the Gate.  Watching as the boat conquered the bigger waves, the wind picking up and taking us out beyond the gate.  We saw a lighthouse, a neat cave that I would love to explore sometime, and tons and tons of comorants flying out of the bay. 

On our way back into the Bay we saw the Island Princess leaving port.  It was a large cruise ship leaving to take it's passengers on some grand adventure.  We also got to see lots of other sail boats on the water.  There were a few races taking place on the Bay and the sails were a myriad of colors.  People on boats are pretty friendly as they waved to us and we waved to them in passing. 

It was the best Saturday adventure in a long time for me.  I enjoyed the journey, the company, and the sun that decided to come out for the last hour or so of the trip.  We dropped the sails as we approached the Richomond Port and our journey came to a close.  Nearly six hours out on the water and it was so much fun.  I can't wait for the next time we get to go.  Fern and Captain Brown were the best hosts, and had great stories to share.  Can't wait to see the Aldebaran in action during the Pirate Festival in Vallejo in June. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring fever

I sit here looking out the window wondering why it is that i had to get a cold now.  The weather has turned so nice.....I have lots of jobs and projects to work on in the backyard.  I even had a get together planned.  All these great things are planned no more for this weekend.  I hate colds....and I'm not sure if that is what it is.  I guess the point is, that being sick stinks.  Now I'll be resting under blankets to keep warm instead of being outside in the sun.....I'll be eating soup and drinking lots of fluids.  I suppose the upside is that hopefully this means I'll be done with colds for a while.  I've got lots of fun and exciting activities planned this month and the bright side is maybe the colds will be out of my system.  I should really be counting my blessings and not thinking about the glass being half full.  Thankfully, my kitty is here to keep me company....I have soup to eat....and I'll get lots of rest and time to read. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Busy week so far

After work yesterday I went to my friends house to help them with their new garden box project.  I was so excited to help.  I got there in time to help put dirt in the first two boxes, which was all we could do before there wasn't any dirt left to shovel.  Then it was off to my house to grab the square foot gardening books and check out my garden boxes.  We stopped at the Rounds house and visited for a short while.  Then it was back to my friends house where we spent some time having dinner, then lots and lots of time planning out what they were going to plant in the 96 available square foot grid marks in the boxes.  I started to get a bit of garden box envy.....to be honest I wish I had more growing room....but with time.  It was kinda late by the time I headed home but it was a good planning session and I'm excited to see the progress as my friend's garden grows.

Tonight I got a chance to visit my good friends the Smith's.  I got a tour of their garden, fruit trees, new blackberry patch, and my nephews toy fish that squirts when filled with water.  It was such a nice afternoon to be outdoors.  After the tour finished we went in for dinner and some social time.  My nephews wanted me to come watch a video with them so badly and I was having so much fun chatting with Carie and James.  After the second visit from Elias inquiring if I'd finished my dinner I gave in and went to watch the shapes video.  Luckily before my brain turned off, James brought in the home movies and Carie and I smiled a lot as we watched her handsome boys in the video.  I love extended family time......so much fun.  The perfect end to the evening was getting great hugs goodbye from the boys and watching them wave goodbye as I drove down the driveway.  Good times to remember!