Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Final Stretch

Just two more full days in California and then we are on our way! Yesterday we made our way to my grandmother's house in Vista by way of the USDA Veterinary Services office in LA to get an endorsement on Pumpkin's Vet Certificate.

Today we are in San Diego taking care of some last minute details like picking up our plane tickets and my government passport and visa. Maybe its just me not being used to government travel, but I was a bit nervous that I didn't have these things in hand until today - three days before we are supposed to leave!

Now that our errands for the day are done we are sitting in one of our favorite San Diego coffee houses, Twiggs. Not only do they make good coffee and great pastries, they are right around the corner from where we used to live.

We spent the last week in SLO and really enjoyed our time there. I love that place. Hopefully, one day, I'll live there again. It is so beautiful, espcially in the fall. The air is crisp in the mornings and evenings, and the days are full of the warmth of indian summer.

In the last week we've been busy making last minute preparations to leave for Sicily, exploring SLO county and spending time with my family.

On Friday we met up with my cousin for Sushi and had a really good time.

Adam and Les enjoying Sake Bombs

Post Sake Bomb Happy Faces

Saturday evening started with a trip up to Paso Robles for an open house at a custom home that my Dad worked on. It was one of the most amazing homes I have ever seen!

The Sitting Room

Sculptures "Scaling" the Wall

Looking through the Living Room to the Terrace and the Amazing View

The View from the Terrace

After the open house we drove through the hills to the coast and went up to Hearst Castle. We took a 6:10P evening tour, which was a new side of the castle that I hadn't seen. It had been many years since I was up there and I'm glad I got the opprotunity to go again.

Sunset on the Castle

Outdoor Pool

Mr. Hearst's Study

Indoor Pool

Leaving SLO was hard, a lot harder than I expected. Saying goodbye, or rather, "see you later", to my brother, grandparents and the rest of my family was really hard to do. I'm not looking forward to the goodbyes coming on Saturday morning. I am, however, looking forward to family and friends visiting us in Sicily. You promised you would!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Traversing California

In the time since we left San Diego we have driven somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 miles. We left San Diego on October 4 and drove to my parents' home in San Luis Obispo. On Friday, October 6 we took a "lovely" day trip to LA to drop off my car (now "our" car since we are down to one vehicle) for shipment to Sicily. Over the weekend we just relaxed and spent time with my family. One of our sidetrips was out to See Canyon, a great place near SLO to buy apples in the fall.

Les & I at See Canyon

We left SLO on October 10 and made our way up to the Napa Valley to visit Les' family and have a mini-vacation. We stayed at the Mt. View hotel for three nights and then spent one night at the Hotel D'Amici, both in Calistoga. By my standard of a nice hotel (i.e. nice 100% cotton sheets and fluffy big towels) both hotels were LOVELY. We even got to take advantage of a couple of spa treatments while we were there.

Fall in the Napa Valley

Old Faithful Geyser, Calistoga

Bale Grist Mill, Napa Valley

We left the Napa Valley on October 15 and headed to Roseville to see a couple of our best friends. We had a great time, even though it was too short. While in Roseville we were also able to sneak in a few hours with my cousins that took the time to drive down from Placerville. It was so good to see them again and reconnect!

Cousins - Marla, Me, Malinda

I feel blessed to have this time with my friends and family. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I was reminded of a friend's Happiness Journal while I was sitting in the waiting room of the Long Beach VPC (the place that we drop our car for shipment to Sicily) yesterday reading an old copy of body + soul magazine (one of the Martha Stewart publications). There was an article by Victoria Moran entitled "Joy" that I really enjoyed.

Since I can't find a link to the article online I will retype it here:

Get more in your life...then spread it around

The summer after second grade, I went to Baptist Bible Camp with my friend, Georgia Lee. As a pre-Vatican II (and therefore, hymn deprived) Catholic, I loved when we would sing "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart." Even at the age of 7, though, it crossed my mind that this little word - joy - seemed reserved for religious contexts only, such as Bible camp and Christmas cards. You didn't really hear it used elsewhere.

That hasn't changed much since, but it ought to. We need the word because we crave what it means: the sense that all is right with the world, even when circumstances vigorously deny it. People who have joy as their foundation naturally use their energies to create more where it appears to be lacking. They can't stop themselves; it's the way joy rewires a person.

Like a regular and decaf, joy comes in two forms: surge and simmer. The first is a glorious wavelike gush ("I graduated!"..."It's a girl!"). When the wave retreats, as all waves do, a sheen of that joy remains. Simmer joy, on the other hand, comes from how you live your life. Knowing that you're here for a purpose - and setting aside the whiny wants of your ego to fulfill it - keeps the joy pot bubbling, nice and steady.

While outside events can prompt joyful feelings, keeping your personal joy level up is an inside job. Do it by staying on your path, taking pride in daily accomplishments, and noticing small delights, like the courageous dandelion making its way through the concrete. When you feel that unshakable well-being, as if your cells and soul are smiling, remind yourself, "This is joy." Then it becomes a part of your vocabulary and an ever-present aspect of your life.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Last Weekend In San Diego

On my last weekend in San Diego I thought it would be nice to take a walk by the harbor. Right now there are all sorts of really cool sculptures. Here are a few of them that I liked....