Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the winner is . . .

Late Saturday night Steve and I went back to the Writers Guild of America Theater to view the Oscar nominated documentary film, Undefeated, which was featured at DocuDay.  It's an excellent film about three Manassas High School football players and the changes that a volunteer coach brought to their football team and to their lives personally.   We knew that it would be fun to watch a documentary based in Memphis since both of us had grown up in Memphis (though I had moved to Martin, Tn in 7th grade)

Early in the film, Steve and I nudged each other when the coach mentioned Westview, the high school I graduated from in Martin.  Little did we know that the last 15 minutes or so of this movie was a playoff game against Westview which was played in my hometown, Martin!  It was so exciting!  (I actually thought I saw my dad sitting in the stands with his headset on!)  I must confess that I was cheering for the Westview Chargers to beat Manassas.  I won't tell you the outcome of that game- you need to see this film for yourselves, not so much to see who wins but because it is rich with the message of how one person can make powerful changes in others' lives.

We just saw that Undefeated won the Oscar- no surprise here!  I never thought my alma matter would ever be a part of an Academy winning documentary feature film or that I would be living in L.A. to view it!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


DocuDay 2012
IDA's all-day, back-to-back screenings of this year's
Oscar® nominated documentary films. 

See the films! Meet the filmmakers!
DocuDay Los Angeles
Saturday, February 25
Writers Guild of America Theater
135 S. Doheny Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 

Out of all of our Saturday excursions, this has been my favorite.  We just returned from viewing three of the short films nominated for an Oscar (the other two nominated films in this category will be shown this evening). We would've loved to have stayed all day, but couldn't since Walter had surgery earlier this week.)  

These are the films we saw and what DocuDay had posted about each film:

 Incident in New Baghdad
James Spione 

.  Incident in New Baghdad

This provocative documentary examines one of the most notorious incidents of the Iraq War-the July 2007 slayings of two Reuters journalists and a number of unarmed civilians by U.S. attack helicopters. It is recounted in the testimony of an American infantryman whose life was profoundly changed by his experiences on the scene. "

God is the Bigger Elvis
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson

God is the Bigger Elvis
"This documentary examines the life of actress Dolores Hart, best known for her roles opposite Elvis Presley and the teen romance Where the Boys Are, who decided to leave Hollywood and become a Benedictine nun in 1963"

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
"Survivors in the area hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. This film is a visual poem about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing process of Japan’s most beloved flower."

After completion of the three films, there was a question and answer session with the filmmakers and with Ethan McCord, the former Army Specialist. All three films had powerful messages-  I'm glad I don't have to vote for which one was the best.  

We're returning at 10:30 p.m. to watch Undefeated- nominated for Documentary Feature Film.  It's about three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and with both Steve and I having roots in Memphis, we really wanted to see it.   
Next year we plan to get  a ticket for Walter to attend Doggie Day Care and we will get a day's pass to attend DocuDay for the entire day! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Walter is recovering just fine from his little surgery, but don't let the picture fool you. 


He arrived home Tuesday night- very happy to see us and you would never know he even had surgery (other than his neon green stitches!).  How I'm going to get him to follow the doc's instructions is beyond me-  no jumping, no running, no licking the wound- all for the next two weeks!  I've been giving him the prescribed pain pills not because he appears to be in pain, but hopefully to calm him down a little.
You can see the challenge that is before me.

He hates the cone so much that as long as I can monitor him, he doesn't wear it.  Before his bedtime last night I applied the cone.  He was not very happy.

This morning I discovered first hand why Walter's puppy name was "Houdini" (when he lived with his mom). 

I found him in his crate with the cone off, but still in the cone shape (and I had been worried that he wouldn't have enough room in his crate to stretch out or turn around!  He proved me wrong!)  He even got to chew on it a little.    

And by the way, the reason Walter was named "Houdini" as a puppy was because he chewed a hole through the screen of a  2nd floor porch enabling him and his sister to escape (I'm not sure about the other puppies).  His sister broke her leg, but "Houdini" was uninjured.   Maybe we should've kept that name!  

Ellen Tickets . . . PLEASE!

My pursuit of tickets to see Ellen

As soon as my daughter, Allison, heard that we were moving to L.A. she began to research how to obtain tickets to the Ellen show.  You see, we really enjoy the laughter that Ellen brings into our lives.  It's one of the indulgent things I do for myself daily, that is, if Walter allows.  Ellen's style of humor reminds me of episodes from the I Love Lucy show.  I love it!  And so, I became obsessed with checking Ellen's website for available tickets.

You should've heard my excitement when I was checking (once again) for available tickets and found "Tickets Available" on one of the dates that Allison will be visiting (sorry Brian that you won't be here on that date!).   I submitted my request and now the waiting begins.  Today I checked my junk mail and found an email dated Feb 1st asking me to  confirm my submission.  I confirmed it, but three weeks late!   Ugh!   I even emailed Ellen today making a plea for tickets hoping that will increase my chances!

I also have submitted a request for tickets when Natalie & Dan visit in two months because yesterday I saw the exciting "Tickets Available" announcement just for the second time!

I'm hoping to add "Seeing Ellen" as a post hopefully one day soon as I'm sure that being a guest in her audience would be quite an adventure!

In the meantime, I will check her website while watching her show!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


    So thankful for today; it was rich with gifts- stirring conversations with friends, time at the beach, sunny skies, an incredible view, the roar of the ocean, sweet time with God, and finding beautiful treasures . . . both on the sand and within.  I am so blessed in countless way.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Early Birthday!

  We celebrated Steve's birthday today since Steve had the day off and Walter was at the vet (having a necessary surgery for a 6 month old male dog). Visiting a museum is not how I would want to celebrate my birthday, but Steve loves museums!  ( I learned that the hard way almost 31 years ago when Steve spent hours at the St. Augustine Fort on our honeymoon.)  I originally planned to surprise him with a visit to a military museum (he loves military history), but after doing a lot of research I realized that I needed his help in deciding which one to visit.  It turned out that his first choice was closed today so Steve chose a non-military local museum to visit instead.   After dropping Walter off at the vet for his overnight stay and enjoying a delicious breakfast (at Steve's new favorite breakfast place) we arrived at the museum.

 This museum really does have quite a dinosaur exhibit with real bones and fossils.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I'm sure Steve will enjoy visiting it again when Silas comes to stay with us - and who knows, I may just tag along too.  (I guess I'll be visiting a military museum on Father's Day.)

For all you dog lovers, we received a call from Walter's vet stating his surgery went very well and that she wanted to take our sweet dog home!  Walter had already eaten his supper and we can pick him up tomorrow afternoon.  In honor of my mom, at 8:30 last night I gave Walter a bath so he would be all clean before going to the doctor.  I still can remember being very sick as a young child and my mother making me take a bath before I could go to the doctor.  This time both Walter and I both got a bath!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

PCH & Will Rogers State Park

After being here for a month and hearing tennis players morning, noon, and night (our balcony is about 15 feet from the tennis courts)- we decided it was time to hit the court.   Since we're not very good players, we bent the rules a bit (a choice of 3 tries instead of 2 when serving or take 2 bounces when returning a ball).   Steve won 6-3 (I think it's because he used the oversized racket!).  I'm looking forward to playing again and you may see a running score here in the posts to come.

Next, we headed up to Santa Monica for a delicious lunch at a little cafe before heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway (or as the locals call it- PCH).

On our drive up to Malibu, I made the comment that Walter was such a good traveler.  On our return drive we stopped at the Will Rogers State Park for a hike and that's when we discovered why Walter had been so good.  This is the second harness that he's chewed through and this one was only a few weeks old.   I think he's trying to tell us something.

Not having a harness didn't stop us from hiking.  The picture below was taken at "inspiration point" at the top of the mountain.  The city in the background is Santa Monica.  I'm sure we only saw a small portion of what used to be Will Rogers' private ranch.

It was so good being outside enjoying the beautiful weather and getting some exercise.  

And it's nice to have a worn out dog . . . I think we all will sleep well tonight.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Angeles Crest Scenic Byway & Vasquez Rocks Park

We decided to take a road trip on Saturday since the weather forecast called for cooler temperatures and a chance of rain.  I found a great site discover Los Angeles that gave some suggestions for scenic drives around L.A.  Steve & I chose to go inland to the Angeles Crest Scenic Byway.  We drove through downtown L.A. to get to our starting destination which took about an hour and a half from Marina del Rey due to the traffic.

The Story: This is the drive for those who want to get away from it all. Winding 55 miles along the San Gabriel Mountains, past misty valleys, forests and even desert, this drive gives you an entirely different picture of the LA area. The views are the draw of this secluded, often steep tour, where winding mountain passes give way to stunning vistas and visitors are treated to a spectrum of natural wonders. On this route, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the San Gabriels and Angeles National Forest. And the entrance to this byway is near the city, so you won't have to drive far to experience the wilderness.
Reasons to Pull Over: Spend some time fishing in nearby Jackson Lake; take to the trails for some horseback riding or hiking; pack a lunch and picnic overlooking the mountains; check out the view from the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

The views were beautiful and we felt as if we far away from the city.

We decided to take a road that led us north toward Palmdale; temperatures were dropping and we drove through some snow flurries.  We weren't sure what there was to do in Palmdale nor did we know how far it was since we didn't have internet service.  Turned out there wasn't much to see, but we enjoyed a late lunch at this California chain restaurant, In- N- Out , that we had heard so much about.  (Steve & I still say Cook Out beats it hands down.)

We decided to head back to Marina del Rey, but spotted these incredible rock formations right off the highway and decided to check out Valquez Rocks Park.

"This 932-acre park located in the high desert near Agua Dulce Springs and features spectacular rock formations, Tataviam Indian sites, and a seasonal stream. The rocks’ history began in prehistoric times when the sandstone rocks were uplifted at a picturesque angle, showing their jagged red features. In 1874 Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature. The park is a popular hiking, picnicking, and equestrian area.Vasquez has been a popular filming location used as the setting for scenes in many movies, television shows and commercials. Among the many films and television show to feature Vasquez Rocks are the “The Lone Ranger”, “Zorro”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Bonanza”, “Blazing Saddles”, “Star Trek”, “24”, “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “MacGyver”, “Austin Powers”, Star Trek 11, Numbers and “The Flintstones”."

We saw so many beautiful sights in half a day with the final being this incredible sunset.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Refrigerator Art

     I forgot to put these pictures on the last post about making our apartment feel like home.  How could it feel like home if we didn't have some refrigerator art?  Silas' artwork and a few of my favorite pictures of our children when they were little are some things that make me smile.  Awww, now it feels like home!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Making Our Apartment A Home

Prior to leaving Florida, I knew that making our furnished apartment feel like our home would be important to me since we would be living there for the next 15 months.  

We were pleasantly surprised by how nice our apartment was.  This is pretty much what it looked like when we first arrived- minus the picture over the sofa.  (The original picture was a bright orange/pink print and after three weeks of living here we asked if they had other available pictures- they kindly switched them out without any hesitation.)
I keep moving the faded fake ficus tree around- not much I can do about it.

Since we didn't drive our car (it's a 40 plus hour drive), I was limited in what I could bring.  What better way to make our place feel like a home than a few family photos?

I brought some other meaningful items- a candle, a vase, a painting, a couple of cookbooks, and our Christmas present from our children,  iPod speakers and an iPod full of music especially selected for us.

I've purchased a few items to help create more of a homey feeling- a throw to cuddle up with on the sofa and a few house plants (I hope to get a few more).  When we were in Florida last weekend, I grabbed an unused lamp base and packed it in a duffle bag hoping that it would arrive in one piece. It did- and I purchased a lampshade last night at Target.  We moved one of the tables from our bedroom and placed it on the other end of the sofa to help with the inadequate lighting.  I've also replaced most of the lightbulbs in the existing lamps to help with the dull lighting (I have this thing about good lighting!)  I hope to buy some pillow covers for the sofa pillows in a fun print (or maybe Allison can make some for me!).

To help with the lighting in the kitchen I found this cheery little lamp at Marshalls to go with my sweet painting.  I hope to add a small plant to this space.  The kitchen had most everything we needed; we brought the important items- a coffee grinder and a Brita water filter.  I also brought a couple of new hand towels I found on sale at Anthropologie.  Unfortunately, I can't keep them out because Walter thinks the pom-poms are a toy.


The apartment came with the white duvet cover and I brought the floral cover from Florida.  I found the pillow shams on clearance.  To replace my bedside table, I stacked a couple of shipping boxes and covered it with a sheet.  I have a few more of my favorite items beside our bed - the little angel and a special blessing box.


He was such a happy puppy playing with the box!

And I got to everything planted-not much color yet, but hopefully soon.

If I had to pick one thing that makes our apartment feel like home- it would be Walter, nothing like a sweet loving puppy!