Monday, September 29, 2008


After watching "Across the Universe" on Friday I realized I had some unused credits at the I-tunes store (this never happens, btw -it was a freak thing) and decided to purchase the soundtrak. I give it two gi-gantor thumbs up and have been listening to it, nonstop.

I have also been listening to alot of Bob Marley, probably because I am totally jones-ing for a visit to my yoga place and haven't quite made it there yet, probably Friday.

The ever so talented, lovely and inspiring Kate sent me a mixed CD to inspire me while I run. Unfortunately, the CD has taken up residence in my car because I cannot stop listening to it and have cranked up every tune over and over again. The mix is as eclectic and diverse as my personal tastes, I think her taste in music is AWESOME. Fave song on the whole CD is Outkast singing "The Way You Move".

What is your all time favorite song?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This weekend....

Downtown San Diego, House of Blues and red trolley

It was a full weekend with a ton of pictures to prove it.

I started Friday morning by waking up at the crack ass of dawn and drove to Indio (for work), located approximately an hour and a half away. Indio is past Palm Springs and right to the center of the surface of the sun, it was 90 degrees when I arrived. I left the house at 6:30 AM, got to work at 7:00 and printed out map quest directions, grabbed my calculator and hit Starbucks. Shortly after 7:45 I finally made it to the free highway and was exiting Monroe street in Indio at 8:45. Met with a retiree at 9:00 AM, chatted with our AIG rep and waited very patiently for 45 minutes while we had absolutely no attendees for a meeting. Nice. Back into the office around noon-ish and worked till 5:00.

I came home to spend time with D, we decided to start watching Across the Universe, one of the best movies EVER. Does anyone else cry like a baby when the little boy is singing "Let it Be" and the choir joins in..... Tears in my eyes as I type this. I finally got off the couch and headed over to our friend Panda's house, yes- I have a friend name Panda. We were having a girl's weekend that was to start at her house and then move to San Diego on Saturday night. Friday night was full of eating, drinking and laughing.

Saturday found Regina and I headed to San Diego to meet Panda and other college friends for continued eating, drinking and laughing. Without airing all our dirty laundry - we all have healthy amounts of shit occurring in our lives and it was a much welcomed escape from the reality of our lives.

Regina and I arrived at the hotel in downtown San Diego and waited for Panda and company to finish shopping in the bar. To my complete and total surprise Regina had never had the taste of Bailey's on the rocks so we each had one while we waited for Panda who had the hotel key.

Fleur de Lis decorative grade on window of hotel

Our view from the bar, at the hotel

Check out the cool clock, I LOVE big cities

Yes, we are silly and this was before we left the room for the evening.

A brief history of our friendship - I met Regina and Panda in September of 1990 at Riverside Community College. We were all members of the S.E.A. club - Sea and Environmental awareness club and happened to be close friends of the my very first serious boyfriend. As the saying goes, boys will come and go but those sister friends we find - follow us through life. He broke my heart and I got his two closest friends, I would do it all over again - in a heartbeat. I cannot begin to describe how lucky I am to have such rich friendships filled with love and laughter. These two have been amazing friends.

Panda and friends at a fun sushi restaurant

The evening was long, Regina and I called it a night at 11:30 PM while the other stayed out much later. Due to Regina's mom being in hospice, we hit the road early and drove by one of our old standbys. Years ago, we came across this resturaunt located on the corner of 2nd and Island streets in downtown San Diego. It is called Cafe 222 and the menu has yummy items on it along with witty phrases like No smoking, no choking and no crybabies. I love this place

Can you see the blue Vespa, outside Cafe 222?

It belonged to a really cute preppy couple in their 50's

Regina was reminiscing about times where she took both her mom and dad to Cafe 222 and what they ordered. We talked about details no one hopes to with a friend - funeral arrangements of a parent, what she might wear and writing a thank you to the many people who have helped her mom, in countless ways, to make her life just that much more comfortable and better in her final months, weeks and days.

And after breakfast, we left San Diego to deal with life - please keep Regina and her family in your thoughts this week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The pink elephant in my office

I can't recall if I've ever spoke about my co-worker (works on the same floor, same department and about 6 cubicle rows over from me) that found out she was pregnant the same time I did. She went on to have her baby and now we awkwardly interface at work as we travel the different paths through life right now. Her cubicle is plastered with his cherub like face and rightfully so. Why does it feel like a million little dagger through my heart when I see his photo. Just too much reality -I constantly compare him to "our little one". Too much reality.s

Part of my job is to assist people at our front counter and answer any retirement questions they may have. Today, as I was assisting a retiree - I needed to make a copy of a retirement application and of course the closest copy machine is right next to her desk. She was reveling in one of the many wonderful things her beautiful child is now doing with a group of ladies and as I walked by they grew completely silent. Do they not realize that I could hear there conversation from a mile away and totally know they stopped the conversation on my behalf? That was rhetorical folks, no need to answer. Honestly, I would have been equally sad and pissed if they would have kept on talking like it was no big deal. They are in a tough place - the place called "You can't win with Kara". It's a new game in my life that many people are playing, my father included.

Questions I ponder -

Why hasn't our agency phoned us? I realize I could pick up the phone and call them but they have been so good about contacting us in the past? What the hell?

Is there a time I won't feel bitter about people who went on to have kids as I did not? I feel less bitter around people like my IRL BFF, sister in law and other close friends because they have reminded me that I am an important person in their children's lives.

Will we be ok and live a happy life if we choose to live child- free.

Do I want to switch medical plans and try a different doctor (Christ - I can't even believe I am saying that, BTW)

And then there is this....they say it happens in three's.

My good friend Regina, who should be nominated for best daughter ever, has recently called hospice for her mom. Regina is amazing, even more incredible are her daughter and and niece who are there by their Mema's bedside 24/7. My heart is literally breaking for them, as I type this. They are fortunate enough to have one of the coolest hospice nurses EVER who encouraged us to talk loudly to Irene (Mema) and reminded us about the power of the human touch. My mom gave her a kiss, I wept and Regina is still strong as a rock and one of my heroes.

My mom's cousin Carole and her husband Ken are trying to make their doggie Gracie as comfortable as possible as she is in the final stages of cancer. They are working to keep her in as little pain as possible.

Sad, totally sad about Paul Newman. He is my Gram's fave actor and I think he has been wicked hot the majority of his life. Sparkling blue eyes, charming personality and an activist.

I'll be back to my upbeat, normal self soon...


Due to horrific economic conditions combined with living in a less than stellar area of our fine city... someone stole our recycling from the side of our house. We had housed our recycling in our garage up until yesterday afternoon when D moved it to the side of our house (thinking it would be safe in our backyard - crazy, huh?). More than likely, they did this while we were asleep last night. CREEPY.

The really bad part which is the thing that makes me angry, sad and outraged - is that we have been saving our recycling for my cousin's daughter who will travel to China next April with her High School Drill team. Meg will spend her 16th birthday in China and we can fund a portion of trip and expenses by turning in recycling.

D is home right now, locking down our house - like a mad person.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The new job is keeping me quite busy and seems to have lit the fire under my ass that has been missing. I am actually quite excited as I will have several writing/marketing pieces or projects to be responsible for. Nothing too exciting - amending our CalPERS defined retirement benefit contracts (woo-hoo), communication pieces sent to employees with their paychecks (Does anyone seriously read these) and most interesting is putting together a educational program for our younger employees to inform them of our amazing retirement plan.

October 6th - I move into a bigger cubicle, I hate - really hate cube life. It bites. I also find out if I pass the CSET or not that day.

The promotion has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, I will admit that I *repeatedly* told D I was going to quit if I wasn't given the promotion because I was simply over it. Long story short - I was over-looked for this same position a year ago, once I obtained my degree and I was not going to sit by and watch them replay the scene. No.Thank.You.

So I went through the process and jumped through the hoops...

Hoop 1. Interview with Direct Manager - Aced it.

Hoop 2. Interview with Department Manager - It was bizarre, he is bizarre - anyway, I did OK and got bumped up to the final round

Hoop 3. Interview with Deputy Director of HR. - We have a good relationship, we spoke and the conversation ended with "Congratulations".

I came back to the department to let my direct manager know and then she announced it today, so the last 24 hours have been filled with me wanting to jump out of my own skin and scream.

Imagine how happy I was to see the formal announcement today. I think hoops one through three took about two weeks though the position has been open and I have been doing the work since July. Um, ok?

Things that make me sad -

Realizing that we stopped our Infertility treatments one year ago this month (Thank you Kaiser for sending me that handy little invoice for $15.00 yet they felt it pertinent to show how much we have spent since August, 2006 on Infertility -fuckers)

Seeing the book - "Biscuit" in the grocery store yesterday, totally reminded me Big Girl which led to consequent thoughts of how she is doing in school.

My dad, he managed to make me really, really sad today -it's a really long story.

Things that make me happy -

My promotion was announced today and it's official!

I will be back in San Diego this weekend to party with girlfriends - YAY.

The surface of the sun is cooling down and it is bearable to live here.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Got it!

I got the promotion - YAY!!!

I'll give more detail later.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's fall!

Or rather - It's Fall? Hmmmm. Somehow, fall or our version of it here in Southern California is here. Since we don't have the weather to cue us in, we rely on indicators such as Halloween candy appearing in the grocery store, a gentle breeze that upgrades itself into the Santa Ana's and then there is the sun disappearing quicker than I would like, in the evening.

Last week, I noticed a chill in the air as I left for work at 7:00 AM and knew that Fall was eminent but this evening it hit me smack in the face. We returned home from San Diego, after taking a quick nap on the couch I ran to the market and I didn't give the setting sun much thought until I came out of the store to find it completely dark - like middle of the night dark, What the hell? I guess we fall back on November 4th and while I love an extra hour in my day (Ok - really, I'll take two) having less sunlight makes me a little sad.

I think I have a wee bit of the Sunday night blues.

So, we had a really nice weekend. I would love to show you all beautiful pictures, however, I left my camera charger (instead of my heart) in San Francisco and will be waiting for a fed-ex to appear - ANY.DAY.NOW with my charger in it. Yes, I discovered the missing charger on Friday morning as we were unpacking the remaining items from our luggage we took to SF and packing in items we would need for SD.

We left the house last Friday -sometime around noon-ish and headed to Carlsbad where we ate at The Coyote Grill where we had Rattlesnake eggs - Jalapenos stuffed with cheese and shrimp then wrapped in bacon - YUM. I am pretty sure dirt would taste half way decent if it was wrapped in bacon. How I love the pig..... mmmmm bacon (using Homer Simpson's voice). D and I also shared an order of steak nachos and though I totally wanted a margarita I knew I wanted to run even more so I opted for a mineral water. I know - so exciting, the life I lead. At some point in our conversation, we started talking about blogging and D had me convinced that I give way too much of our personal info over the Internets and that we should expect to arrive home on Sunday to find all of our personal belongings stolen due to my blogging about every detail of our life. Fortunately, his fatalistic - doomsday-ness had left once we pulled up to Paradise Point. Can I get a shout out for those who want to bop their DH's on the head when they start ragging on the whole blogging thing. Hello - Ever heard of Dooce? She is my hero, btw.

We ran into family 5 minutes after our arrival and D was happy to chill with them while I went for a run. Mission Bay is a very sports and family friendly area of SD - it is also where Sea world is located and where the Thunder boat racing - the water equivalent to Nascar - took place this weekend in the raw sewage filled bay. I know, I know you are all jealous. The highlight and focus on this weekend though was Grandma's 80th and yes, we partied like it was 1999. It was a blast - alot of fun, great food and yummy wine. So, back to my run. I found this little park situated right next to the resort property and thought it would be safe - in my peripheral vision I could see what looked like a group of AT& T wireless people - highly swagged out, I mean the tent, the polo shirts, the volleyball - they were probably spelling out AT&T with hot dogs - who knows. Anyway, I felt safe - until on the third loop and approximately 12 minutes into running ( this is my current record, BTW) I noticed a man exiting the public restroom. OK, not a big deal but each time after I looped around ( I was walking at this point) I noticed another man would appear - from the restroom I would presume. So, I decided after the third walking loop and 6th total loop I would switch to an area where I could see other people in the distance, I believed to be overflow from the Thunder boat racing. Not so much and here in lies my problem with running or really just doing any kind of exercising in public. People and dogs both - scare the living shit out of me and I just can't figure out if the young kid walking toward me is going to try to mug me or say hi to me. AAAACK - it's really too much for my brain sometimes. I am such a worry wart.

Ok - back to the great weekend. Friday night, D and I went to Little Italy and picked up super yummy pizza's from Fillipi's. If you love pizza as much as I do and will be in San Diego in the near future - this place is a must.

The other highlights of the weekend were playing tennis the following morning with my cousin Cassidy and her friend Rachel wherein she attempted to catch the very first tennis ball I hit, with her eye socket. This was after a 10 minute warm up that included running around the court, jumping jacks and a lecture on communicating between team members because "TRIPS TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM WERE SIMPLY NOT ON THE AGENDA". Yeah, so they weren't really listening, well Cassidy was - Rachel, not so much. She is doing well, no medical attention required, I even offered ice immediately and then asked her to sit down for a few minutes. Five minutes later, she was ready jump back into the game.

Grandma did great, she was happy to see us pick her up at noon on Saturday and then we got the party started with lots of food and fun where 8 of her 10 kids were able to make it. Very cool. Nothing out of the ordinary to report, constant movement and I am quite tired of wearing my flip flops. I bought her a little tiara that she seemed happily annoyed with and we decorated our little area with Sponge bob party accessories and Happy Birthday signs.

Today, we woke up and celebrated my newphew's 5th birthday. Last night, before he went to bed we had a cute moment where I told him a the story of the night he was born and where his Auntie Kara and Uncle Duane were at a concert and we got a call on our cell phone that there was a little boy who wanted to meet us and his name was Cole! So, we jumped in our cars and we ran into the hospital and we got to kiss this sweet little baby. Oh - you know, I think he kinda got what we were saying and he wanted to know who we were watching in concert. My brother was quick to chime in (very sarcastically, I might add), it was Duran Duran - Ryan got a little over-exposed throughout his youth. My Uncle Joe spoke up and said - and I remember the night Auntie Kara was born. Ok, Seriously - it took everything in me to not tear up. It was really sweet how he and my Aunt remember details of that night. It was really, really cool and comforting. My Dad, Mom, Aunt Paula and Uncle Joe were a pretty tight group so hearing him reminisce about my mom was really comforting. She was such a huge part of this family for so long so when people ask me how she is doing or what she is up to, it really makes me happy. Though my parents have been divorced for over 7 years and we love my Dad's fiancee, this was one of the few get-togethers that we had where my mom's presence was severely missed. Divorce's suck.

We took Grandma home around noon today, then ran back to Little Italy where we did a little wine tasting at a cute store and then had lunch at Zia's. Half way through lunch we heard someone praying the rosary over a microphone and then noticed a procession of people following the priest saying the Hail Mary. If I was a good Catholic, I would be able to tell you what the significance of today is but I am not - so I can't and won't even begin to guess. It was cool though and totally made me think of my Grandma along with my friend Regina's Mom who is in failing health. It was one of those things you would expect to see in a little Italian village, a very European experience - very cool.

Ok, that is my weekend in a nutshell. Here is wishing everyone a kick-ass week and let's hope it fly's right by so we can get to next weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma!

I was the first grandchild on my dad's side, for 7 years, until my stinky brother came along. For seven years, I had the attention of a woman who LIVES for children. She came to California from Duluth, Minnesota where her parents who were french Canadian relocated from for warmer weather. I can't imagine how Minnesota was warmer than Canada - but this is how I know the story. San Diego was the last resort for her brother's failing health and her father was a carpenter by trade - a skill passed down to my dad, the man who can build ANYTHING.

Grandma, Kara and a beautiful red-haired doll on a cake

Walking in my Grandma's house brings back such comforting memories of childhood. The smell of bacon cooking, fresh strawberries and memories of her running out to our car as we were pulling away from the curb with a bag of snacks because - God forbid we get hungry on the 1-1/2 hour ride home, all memories that fill my heart and soul. She makes these amazing peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate that will make you weak in the knees. Knowing my love for cooking and collecting cookbooks, she organized and collected recipes from all family members and then added her very own special recipes. It was a beautiful way to document our family recipes.

Grandma and Kara - March 10, 2001

Grandma has had a myriad of health problems and we all amazed and thankful that she is still with us. Though our conversations are not as frequent as they once were, her voice cracks with emotion when I say hello and when we see each other I realize that there could be no better person to have 10 children by birth, raise a grandchild, have 3 great-grandchildren and commit yourself to raising your youngest daughter's children.

I can remember, years ago, long before I met D I was dating a dude in San Diego and I would often have time to spend - one on one with my Grandma. We would go to a movie or out to dinner - just the two of us. It was really cool. She would reminisce about stories involving my dad and the other 3 oldest boys, my dad is #2 of 10 and she would be laughing so hard we would both have tears streaming down our faces.

Yes, she gave birth to ten children - all healthy and her grand-daughter is an infertile - hmph. It is not a subject we discuss, I would love to say it is too painful for her to discuss - I just don't know what the truth of the matter is.

I will try to capture some video of our weekend in San Diego where we will celebrate her 80th birthday!


Ovarian transplant was on the table at the Today show, which is good. There are people who are stricken with life threatening disease such as cancer and if/when it occurs at a young age they have to have their ovaries removed. Modern science has now made it possible for people to have them transplanted back and voila - conceive. Just like that, you know. One of the ladies who went through this conceived, went in and out of Menopause ( I had no idea you could go in and out of it) and is now pregnant again.

While these are interesting stories, I don't feel like they have captured the essence of the Infertiles. The people show cased were all out into an "infertile" situation consequence of a life-threatening disease - apples and oranges. My God - they survived a horrible disease, they should be able to have kids and as many as their heart desire. Perhaps they should have hired an Infertile to consult on this particular segment.

I just don't feel like The Today show has a pulse or rather a clue on Unexplained Infertility and so far have featured people who have successfully conceived. Which makes sense, people in emotional pain, wanting to become a parent and not being able to - probably not going to get them much viewership. I am happy for the people who were helped by the information today yet quite sad for all of us out there childless.

OK - I'm pretty sure I won't be watching tomorrow morning as I will be packing for SD - because tonight I am way too busy bloggin.

Bright side

On the bright side of things:

D and I leave for San Diego tomorrow, Mission Bay to be precise, for my Grandma's 80th birthday. We were really looking forward to it until we learned today there has been a RAW SEWAGE SPILL in Mission Bay and so it might be just a little stinky and cuts us off from hanging out in the water. Fortunately, they have other things to do at this resort like play tennis, hang by the pool and reek havoc on the rest of the property. Yes, this is the side of the family that nearly was thrown out of the Executive Inn in Oakland. One last summer get-away, it will be great to get together with family again - 4th time in 3 months and it doesn't get any better than this. My dad has 9 other siblings so getting everyone together is a challenge, to say the least.

I hope I am not looking too much into this statement however I was asked what my calender looks like, by my supervisor - in case I need to meet with the head of HR. She indicated, previously in the week, the chosen candidate will need to interview with the powers that be.

So... on that note a quick shout out to the universe, God or whoever is in charge - here is my request.

OK - Look, I don't ask for much, OK - maybe a little, but really, could you just throw me a freaking bone. Realizing that I want to be a teacher and though this does not fall into my career change goals - it would be fantastic if I could get this promotion pretty, pretty please with cherries, whipped cream, nuts and caramel syrup.


I watched the latest installment from The Today show "Reconsidering Infertility" last night and it was quite interesting. They focused on male factor infertility issues and while I would love to re-cap details of the first individual in focus I am unable to do so because D woke up and out of nowhere wanted to recap the details of our first meeting with the RE and testing at Kaiser. Oh, how I love to walk down that memory lane - NOT.

The second person in focus was an interesting case. Example #2 actually worked on the Today show as a camera man and wife works as a teleprompter person there as well. #2, at a young age, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and treated successfully. He was young and his mom told him that he had to bank his sperm ( Way to go Mom - she was on it!) as they would not survive the effects of chemo. With a new procedure that is currently in place they were able to "revitalize" the sperm and make non viable sperm turn into viable sperm. They did 4 IVF cycles and spent 40K. I hated how Matt Lauer spoke like this couple were the only ones on the planet who have ever done this. They now have their miracle baby.

Somehow, hearing about how he survived cancer and for years thought his sperm would not be viable but now they are - it actually made me a little depressed. We don't have cancer (Thank God), we don't have this unusual story - we just want a kid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fertile Soil

After having dinner with D's parents last night, D and I crashed and he was sound asleep as I was laying there determining if I wanted to read or go through the DVR. I remembered that I recorded the Today show so I could watch their special piece about "Reconsidering Infertility". Let's face it, the Today show is like the TV version of People magazine complete with Matt Lauer eye candy, I kept my expections low - and with good reason.

The feature yesterday focused on the combination of Western and Eastern medicine coming together to combat such things as stress, negativity and loss that goes in conjunction with infertility. Not necessarily groundbreaking. The subject of the piece was Dr. Radine Lewis who they should have been focusing on during the piece instead of the woman who had secondary infertility which granted, is horrible and terrible and bad - however it is not the same as "Experiencing Infertility."

I had completely dismissed Dr. Lewis as the camera crew focused on her program participants doing yoga, getting massages, etc. It looked like a day spa, whatever. Then I read her story on her web site this morning and it hit a nerve. I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS, endo nor are we experiencing low sperm count, I have what is called Unexplained Infertility and it's a bitch of a diagnosis. It is the same thing Dr. Lewis was diagnosed with and she had been on chlomid. Suddenly, she was back in my good graces though there is still one foot on dock - at this point. I plan to do further research to find out if this is a valid treatment or just snake oil.

While I completely believe that yoga, acupuncture and positive self - visualization are all positive attributes to clean, healthy, hippie living. I am not convinced these items combined will find me pregnant.

Dr. Lewis' program is called fertile soul, should you want to check it out. Meredith Viera called it fertile soil - twice, what a ditz.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's the economy, stupid.

It's been so completely relaxing here at work, in the retirement department, where on a "normal" day we have mobs of people inquiring about 2009 retiree benefit rates that are going to our board for approval and expecting, at minimum, to double if not triple and have not been announced. Essentially, the mobs are teetering on whether or not to retire, it involves fun stuff like GASB45, rate subsidy's and pensions. This keeps us quite busy -or did until yesterday when the stock market plummeted to the lowest since 9/11 and oh - P.S. one of our vendors for our 457(a) and 401 (a) accounts happens to be AIG.... Adding fuel to the fire - upper management has not issued a formal statement and the phones are ready to blow up.

What absolutely sucks - besides Sarah Palin, global warming and China putting lead in toys and melamine in infant food that is being shipped to the US - is that our economy has gone to shit and historically takes a dive right before every Presidential election.

On the upside of things, I hear that oil has dropped $4.00 a barrel - like we are going to see a price break at the gas pumps.

Sometimes, I really hate money.

EDIT**** - Gas did not drop $4.00 a galllon, as I originally stated - more like a barrel.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Paths cross

So, we met a couple in our Foster -parent training workshop a while back and they were placed with this sweet little guy we will call "S". The Foster mom and I send emails back and forth and late last night I was checking email and one appeared from her. In my mind, I had told her about the girls being reunified; however, I can't remember for sure. She asked how everything was going and I gave her the skinny - except, I didn't mention Ruby - which I normally do and have been doing quite a bit lately.

Ruby has really been on my mind, lately. Not so much questioning myself of saying did we do the right thing but just wondering if she had been placed with another family and away from the evil foster mom.

We are chatting back and forth on email and she mentions that they have been placed with a little girl - guess what her name is. It's RUBY, she gave her age and brief history - it was her! Seriously, how weird is this. It's not really all that strange but I thought it to be quite cool that the one couple we keep in touch with from our agency that actually is with a different agency location ( we are in Riverside and they are in Orange County/Anaheim Hills) are Ruby's new Mommy and Daddy.

I have to say, since I met Ruby I have been sending good positive vibes out there for her and have pretty much begged the big guy upstairs to please just please give this little girl who has had such turmoil and strife in her few young years of life, a loving home with some awesome parents. I' am so excited for Ruby, this is beyond cool.

YEAH - what a good way to start the day/week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nailed it.

This is great - I Love it.

Today show

The today show has a series this week called "Reconsidering Infertility". I am sorry, I must be completely out of the loop - when was it ever considered? Have there been recent discoveries, advancements that I have not been made aware of? I'll be recording/watching it and hope to post later this week.

This should be interesting.

Vacation post is up

It is below the CSET post because I started the final stages of posting that night.

Just a warning - it's a novella.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


First - I swear, the vacation post is almost done - I'm still loading pictures and trying to load a video.

Second, the CSET was this morning. I registered and took the test today for one of the three subsets, Subtest III- Human Development, Art and Physical Education. There were 39 questions; 36 multi-choice and three essay. I was totally day-dreaming around question 10 - then decided to wake up and plugged through the remainder of the test.

Somewhere around question 25 I decided to see how many questions were left and went into a near panic/anxiety attack when I noticed there were a total of 39 questions. Who the hell puts 39 questions on a standardized test, I swear I do not remember this from the first time however the nice test proctor lady assured me this was Ok. I will be placing a phone call on Monday to the Testing registrar- just to double check.

Standardized tests suck, the reality is that it is a necessary evil. Honestly, I feel like I have been studying for Jeopardy. The content is completely random and alot of it will be useless to me as a teacher though one never knows when you will need to know exactly how many players are on a team for Volleyball. I did, however, KICK ASS on the essay portion so.....who knows. I walked away feeling completely comfortable - reminiscent of the very first CBEST exam of which I failed miserably.

Really, who knows?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vacation - Part Two

OK, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, we arrived in Oakland around 12:30 PM.

Upon entering the hotel, we ran into my Uncle John who mentioned he had a headache and then casually mentioned the near-eviction of the McGee Clan the night before. Oh, that is my wonderful, fun, Irish family.

We dropped our luggage in the room and then went to Jack London square to have lunch at Scotts, with my Dad. Oh, the seafood in the bay area is beyond words amazing - actually all of the food is amazing in the bay area. Freshest veggies, cheese, bread and seafood, I could totally live in San Francisco or its environs. Speaking of food, I had read over at SFgirlbybay about Slow Food Nation happening and so wanted to attend, it just wasn't in the cards.
So, after lunch we headed back to the hotel, got all dolled up for the wedding and did this crazy four car convoy/caravan. Somehow I ended up in the back of the line and had a chance to bust out some nice Indy 500 race car like moves through the freeway from Oakland to Berkley where the wedding was held. I don't remember the number of the freeway though I can guarantee that it ended in an 80, all of the freeways end in 80, 580, 680, 480 - Oh, they like the number 80 up there. Now, being the birthplace and the home of many still hippies I would have totally thought there would be a 420 freeway.

Dad, Duane and a really cool statue in Jack London Square

I cannot begin to describe the beauty of the wedding, the backdrop was this scene straight out of Lake Tahoe with big, beautiful trees tucked neatly into a pristine hillside that offered the most amazing view of the city. There was so much love in the room at Brenna and Sam's wedding. My cousin Brenna looked like a princess, her sister and woman of honor, my cousin Erin looked beautiful as well. Their parents, my Aunt and Uncle - always calm, cool and collected kept their hipness quotient. The food was great, it was fun to hang out with family and my Aunt Patty and I persuaded my Aunt Bridget to sing "Me and Bobby McGee", replacing Bobby with Brenna. this has recently become a family tradition which started at my Aunt Patty's birthday last month.
The women in this McGee family go crazy over our last name. I love D - however one of my only regrets in life is that I didn't keep my last name. I LOVE my last name and have a husband that is quite the modern man - except when it came to me taking his name. He was adamant about me becoming a Brickel and within weeks from our wedding I conceded, it was painful. Kara McGee, oh - the sound brings a tear to my eye. Some of my friends and an Aunt on my mom's side have decided to combine the two and frequently call me Kara McBrickel. I might have to use it when I teach. Mrs. McBrickel? Hmmm.

Father of the Bride aka Uncle Joe and my dad

We made it back to the hotel and started with the next phase of partying. Everyone brought some snacks and beverages, gathering in a conference room - I brought my I-pod and portable player. The hotel management was tired of us running around the hotel and "recommended" we rent a conference room. Yes, our family is that big - we need a conference room for the McGee's to gather. We were excited to see Sam's family join us and had a great time getting to know everyone and reacquainted with other's we had not seen in years.

Brenna and Sam - one of the prettiest and love filled weddings ever.

Red carpet Ready and looking like they are on their way to the Oscar's and then the Vanity Fair party - Uncle Joe and Aunt Paula- Parents of the Bride

We woke the next morning, chilled with family members and then hit the road to Napa. Oh, Napa - what an amazing place. I love the scenery, the vineyards and of course the wine but my favorite thing is the fact that it is situated so close to San Francisco. I love that you can be in two extreme settings within an hour's time. Our first stop was Yountville, when we return we will be staying/eating/drinking in this cute little village that is a combination of a European village with cute little shops, coiffed topiary's and loads of great restaurants.

The bakery case at Bouchon Bakery

The outside of Bouchon Bakery

We ate lunch at Napa Style where I lunched on a caprese sandwhich on artisan bread, I don't recall what my dad and D ordered - I was in my own little food world. We walked around the town coming across one of my favorite chef's Thomas Keller's restaurant's French Laundry and Bouchon

The side view of the front of French Laundry

Maybe if I had these little garden plaques, I would be more motivated in my little garden?

The herb and vegetable garden for French laundry is located directly across from the restaurant and surprisingly is left unguarded.

Hours into our journey to Napa, I have decided that it is very much the adult version of Disneyland. Our next stop - OPUS.

OPUS grapes

The very modern Opus winery/tasting room

Next stop - the Opus winery where we had an appointment? Seriously, an appointment on vacation Dad HUH? We entered the long driveway at the Opus winery, walked in and had a conversation with the front desk that went a little something like this?

Older, snobby, hippie chick - (head tilted forward, looking over the top of her glasses) Yes, may I help you?

Dad- Hello, the McGee/Brickel party is here to check in, we have a 1:30 appointment.

Older, snobby, hippie chick - Hmmm, one moment. (Suddenly, we are all sweating - my dad looks over at me and I can read his mind - he is telepathically asking me if he really made the reservation or maybe he just thought he did). Ahh, yes - we have you. If you would like to retire to our seating area and rest we would be most happy.
I would not have been surprised if they had offered complimentary Swedish massages next. It was just that decadent. Oh, how I love decadence.

At this point, I'm thinking wow, this is like the Nordstrom of wineries - unbelievable. The seating area was filled with art and rare pieces decorated around the room. Beautiful, really beautiful. I will post photos of the pieces in the room over at Pots on Stove - sometime soon. Others file into the room and then our tour guide appears. We are given the historical count and timeline of Robert Mondavi's wine career and how he and the Baron de Rotheschild came about this joint venture.

The tour guide, whose name escapes me - oh hell, let's call him Bill. Is in his 40's and fellow oenophile starts the tour by explaining the dramatic architecture that represents both countries involved - the limestone, representing France and California Oak are set against a backdrop of clean, modern lines. I mentioned to the tour guide the resemblance to the Getty center and the tour guide mentions both buildings were designed by the same architect. The tour was educational, fun and memorable. It's like they coddle every grape before it goes to press? It is no wonder that one bottle costs $180 bucks.

Onward we travel to the Mondavi winery, where my dad is a wine club member and we get to go to a wine club members only room filled with all the free wine and cheese we can consume. Next stop, Dean and Deluca which was a complete and total religious experience. If I won lotto tomorrow I would open a version of Dean and Deluca in my little city - among doing other things that have more social value. Anyway, it was unreal. Food, food and more food - really good looking food. Ahhhhhh - food.

Next, we drove through an area where trees lined both sides of the street and passed the CIA - Culinary Institute of America. We speed through St. Helena and arrive in the quaint town of Calistoga (you know, where they produce Calistoga mineral water). We check in to our B & B, where our hosts Nick and Gillian greet us, change into different clothes and head to dinner. We had caught our second wind and walked through the town - twice. It's very small, filled with restaurants tucked in between historic homes and stores luring tourists with their items for sale. A constant buzzing in the background haunts the air, our hosts later inform us that we have been listening to the sprint cars racing at the local track.


My dad is totally Clark Griswald of the Vacation movies, no really - he is. He will drive 500 miles to go see the biggest freaking ball of twine and make sure we are all super excited about it. This is how I can equate our experience of visiting Calistoga. There was really not much there and yet my Dad's enthusiasm was hilarious enough to be entertaining. I really just need to be thankful he didn't drag us to one of his favorite clothing optional hippie escapes in the area.

Before we headed South - we had to visit the Calistoga bottling company where they have this cool metal fixture.

We wake up the next morning, eat a yummy breakfast and blast through making two quick stops - Oakville Grocery store and once again Yountville. We arrive in Napa, drop my dad off at Enterprise rent-a-car in Napa. He stayed through Tuesday to meet with business clients

A smaller, toned down version of Dean and Deluca

This picture gives me goosebumps. Oh bread, how I love thee.

I have to say at this point, it was nice to be heading South. After driving North for so long, feeling millions, instead of hundreds, of miles away from home - I was starting to miss my pups, bed and regular Internet access.
We still had one more stop planned before we would arrive in SF, to meet our friends Dave and Cari in Novato. We had a really nice time having lunch while being entertained by their three precious boys and trying to catch up on both of our worlds. The inevitable happened, they asked about the girls and while it was difficult to recount the details there is a sense of kindness and genuine caring expressed between these two people that remind me just how lucky we are to have such great friends. Inquisitive but extremely supportive of our goal to become parents and adding encouragement. D and I are lucky to both have really great friendships we have maintained from high school and Dave and Cari fall into this category. We will see their family again in November when we gather to support Dave and his family for a 5k run/walk in San Diego, as they continue to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research, in honor of his sister - Linda.

Dave and Cari have some doggie drama and are need of getting their pooch - Barley to Dave's mom's house in Riverside. Barley was a super sweet Shepard mix, medium sized dog who was having some personality issues. Dave felt Barley might do better as a companion to his mom and we were unsure of how his mother was going to react to seeing Barley. We meet Barley and make arrangements for Dave to drop off Barley the following morning at our hotel - right before we leave.

After lunch we hop in the car and minutes later we are driving on this...

Yes, amazing - people walking, roller blading, running, riding bikes and cars driving all on this huge, red bridge. It's quite breathtaking. D got pretty cranky driving around looking for our hotel and I was not helping at all - snappping pix, oohing and aahhhing over all the tall buildings. Once we got to the hotel, we decided to park the car and take the cable car/bus thingy to the wharf for dinner and experience a city that has perfected public transportation.
We walked across the street, first, to the hotel's sister property and had a drink. Both properties were owned by Best Western and reminded me of The Standard, it was quite nice. We headed to the wharf and had dinner at Scoma's, then listened to Little Wolf and the Hellcats - a very cool local blues band at the Blue's at Lou's.

The Federal building in San Francisco

The Americana hotel located in the SOMA district

Lobby of Americana Hotel

I love my new camera....

I tried to download this as my new Blogger ID and it didnt work so well, made me look a little strange.

We came back to the hotel, exhausted - collapsed into bed and were ready to head back. Initially, D and I took the entire week off and spend 2 nights in San Francisco and then another night in Paso however our work and my school schedules were not accomadating. It all worked out though, if we had followed that time schedule we would not have had the honor and priveledfe of meeting Mr. Barley. We are such suckers for dogs, that 1/2 hour into the trip we decided that if Dave's mom was not doing cartwheels and hosting a marching band for this dog's arrival, we would keep him. Why yes, the word sucker is tattoed on our foreheads. Barley was the worlds best dog and loved our frequent stops along the 101. We enjoyed stoppingas it brought back good memories of when we would travel with our pooch, before his sister came along.

Love this picture, buildings - tall beautiful buildings and a bit of the cable line that helps control the cars and buses used for public transportation.

Tuesday morning we hopped on the 101 South to begin our journey home.

We had lunch in Paso Robles, any chance to see our old city again, at the Odyssey cafe where they have a nice outdoor seating area that is puppy friendly. We made good time and were crusing along pleasently until we hit Santa Clarita around 4:00 PM (close to Magic Mountain) and I decided to have a mini-meltdown crying fit because D was on my very last freaking nerve. I don't want to re-hash the details of the fight but let's chalk it up to too many hours together in the car. 5 minutes later, D aplogized and everything was back to normal. Two hours later we were dropping off Barley (Dave's mom was excited and thrilled to see Mr. Barley).

It was nice to be home, however - there is something magical about San Francisco and all big cities really. D's favorite football team is the 49'ers so we are looking at getting tickets to a game in October to see if we can spend a long weekend up there. As much as he loathes being in a big city I think I can convert him with good food and public transportation.

While I don't know if D and I will ever parent, I do know that one day I will live in a big city. I think one of the reasons I have not completely lost every last of my ever loving marbles through this infertility journey to hell and back is that it really has put alot of different aspects of life into perspective and help me define who I truly am and what I want or rather will accomplish out of the game called life. It's really all about the things I can control. Infertility has controlled my option to become a birth parent - I refuse to give it the power over the things in my life I can control. Is this acceptance? Ummm, not quite sure if I am there yet.

I will teach. Gotta first jump through the hoops - I'am working on it.

I will eat really, really good food. So long South Beach. I have a post in the works about this, BTW.

I will always write. I will continue to blog, journal and hone the skills.

I will travel. San Diego next weekend for my Grandma's 80th birthday, possibly New Mexico in November and a trip to Brianhead, UT planned for January and then there is theVEGAS trip to plan still.

I will run -as long as the bad knee continues to let me.

I will have friendships that are meaningful.

It's on the wharf, it's a bit touristy but really captures the essence of San Francisco.

Ahhh, home sweet home.


Work is really interfering with my blogging, long gone are my days of checking Google reader throughout the day and typing posts - when the thought hit my brain.

I have a great job and actually with the current economic climate I am grateful to not only have a job but a job where my skills are utilized and my team-mates are considered friends instead of co-workers. My immediate manager, is AMAZING - I am lucky that way, I've won the lotto of bosses throughout my life and have really never had any nightmare, ulcer-creating kinds to immediately report to. I have worked with my fair share of crazy people, they were usually higher up on the food chain in the company and I had moderate interaction, rarely having to directly report to the crazy pants kind.

I have made it to round two ( ding, ding - let's get ready to rumble) of interviews for a position in our department involving a nice increase in pay - seeing that I am already doing the work, I think I would be an exceptional candidate except for the fact that - I am going to school to become a teacher and they know this. In my initial interview, I stated and truly believe that I will not jump at the first teaching oppourtunity unless it is a really good fit. There are days that find me wanting to call Ed-Join and ask them if I can just volunteer or re-calculate for the 800 gazallionth time to see just how many months of the mortgage I could pay if I cashed in the mere pittance of a retirement savings that we have scraped to save the last three years ( Thankyouverymuchinfertilitytreatments). Realistically, I could be looking for a teaching job for another year or however long it takes me to pass the CSET. The truth is that - my ego will be bruised, if they choose another person and it will suckity suck suck suck because I will have to train the chosen one. URGHHHHH. I should get the position for the following reasons, I am dependable, I am a good employee with excellent work habits (blogging aside) and I have been doing the job for the last three months since our co-worker left. The main reason why I will not be completely distraught if I don't get the job is because I know I will want to do an exceptional job and this could adversely affect my schoolwork as there is only so much room inside my brain and most of it is crammed with terms like neuropschology, stanine and the elements of an IEP.

What I am scared of is this - I love to negotiate and they are considering on lowering the position to a trainee level, which starts at a salary lower than mine. I, of course, will not accept this position unless I recieve the appropriate compensation. I fear upper management will do a number of different things:

A) Offer me the job with the trainee level and same or small increase
B) Offer me the job with a long list of expectations, greater than what is currently expected, and I will be so mesmerized by a huge increase that I will say yes and then immediately run into the bathroom crying hysterically wondering how I will manage to do a new job with increased expectations and a Master's program, job change, attempt parenthood, run a marathon by the time I'am 38 and still come to work with clean underwear.

I am definitely not scared about the interview process, I love interviews because I love to talk about myself and my accomplishments and really one cannot be that full of themselves anywhere but in an interview with a potential employer or on a late night talk show. Letterman, Leno and Conan aren't exactly pounding down the door so I will use this as my format of choice.

Shortly after Wednesday, September 17th at 3:30 PM I should have an answer.

Wish me luck


You might have to pull this off I-tunes, it's a nice mellow song. I guess I am burned out on Prince.

Breathe - Alexi Murdoch

Other faves on my I-pod right now

Louis XIV - Hey Teacher

Dimanche a Bamako - Senegal Fast Food

Take it to the Maxx - Hello Stranger

Car Song - Elastica

Feet on the ground, head out of the clouds

I need to let you all in on something.

I feel as though I've been in deep, dark tunnel of fog, eyes glazed and feeling numb - for the better part of August and most of September (hmm, mild depression?) Kate - can you get me some "stuff" from Dr. Pinata? Totally joking. Between the girls leaving, my birthday, a career change in progress, gearing up for the CSET (tomorrow, btw - AAAAAACK), gearing up for school, spending an exorbitant amount of money on books for school and just really life in general had left me feeling very blah. Anyway, I am back and my head is out of the clouds. I have some exciting stuff to blog about. OK, maybe not so much exciting but some stuff to share that doesn't involve me whining and won't bug the crap out of myself. Does anyone else do this or this a special Kara trait?

I'm not one to let life happen to them - I am a go-getter. I do things, I do alot of things and like to go, go, go. Clearly, my lack of posting has affected my writing - but you get the point. No more of letting life happen, I plan to take charge and change the things I have control over.

Writing, something I really enjoy had became too painful over the last few weeks. I think I just had too many emotions and too much reality slapping me in the face, back and forth. I felt pretty beat up emotionally. So I got whiny, felt whiny and lived a pretty whiny life for a bit and now I am at a point where I am sick and tired of hearing myself whine. I am over it, I am over myself.

Thanks to all of you for waiting, watching, commenting, lurking and just really being there for me with a kind word or thought.

Stay tuned.

PS - I didn't forget about Vacation part two. It's really good, I promise.

09/11/01 Remembered

On 09/11/01, I was given a sweet good bye kiss from Duane as he left for work at 3:30 AM for his 4:00 AM shift to start. It was "the crush" and he was making wine for a custom wine crushing facility, we lived in a small town on the Central coast at the time - hundreds of miles from any family. It was Duane's second crush season and I was quickly learning to really hate this aspect of his "new found career". I fell back asleep and woke again at 5:30 AM and as I headed out the door to work I quickly turned on the Today show (huge Matt Lauer fan, btw). I was running late and heard Katie Couric mention something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center - they were unsure of why it occurred and mentioned it possibly to be an accident. I turned off the TV and ran out of the house, I was late for work already.

During my car ride to work, I got to listen to the Today show on the radio and hear the story unfold. At one point, I picked up my cell to call my mom - "That's right, she is at LAX on her way to visit friends in San Antonio, TX" I thought aloud. My mom was sitting on the Tarmack in the plane, waiting to get the OK to taxi down the runway when they were evacuated. Later that morning I would hear her voice and cry like I have never cried before. Eventually, I heard from my mom, my dad, my brother - no Duane. I knew he was safe, I just needed to hear his voice.

I arrived at the small start up company I was working for at the time to find everyone gathered in the conference room - standing and watching TV. I don't think it really hit me until I watched it on TV and even then it felt completely surreal. Most of us stayed at work though we were released to leave, I had no family and few friends in our small town. I really had nowhere to go. Our company employed quite a few interns from Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo and I had a good repore with these youngsters. While most of the "grown-ups" filed out to pick up children from school or return home where their spouse was waiting, the kids (and I) of the group waited at work and became a family of our own.

I stayed there for hours until finally around 1:00 ish everyone left and I returned to find a very quiet home, Duane would not be home until around 4:30 or close to 5:00. I sat and watched TV, feeling very alone and hugging the phone. I must have called all of our So Cal friends to just "check in". Duane arrived home and when he watched the pictures on TV he mentioned that a few of the truck drivers dumping grapes had mentioned things like " Did you hear about the WTC"? Did you hear about Pennsylvania? The Pentagon? Have you heard anything? Picking up bits and pieces he knew something went down and had no idea until he came home and watched the evening news. He wept as he watched the images for the first time, as did many of us. He then felt immediate remorse and guilt for rushing people through, realizing they were trying to connect and everyone was experiencing emotional pain that day.

After 09/11, our very small town hit an all time economic low (as did many) and while Duane had been part of a mass layoff, my job at the start-up was not a complete guarantee. We made the decision to move back to So Cal, to be closer to friends and family and Duane would return back to his former profession in Human Resources, as would I. There was more oppourtunity for us here.

It is hard not to wonder what things would be like if we stayed in Paso Robles and just "found other jobs". What would it be like to experience infertility in Paso with few family and friends - would it be easier or more difficult? I think about the giggle I get when I run into my mom and dad - here where I live, something I greatly missed living so far away from them. I have friends here, close, good friends. This is my birthplace, where I went to school. It would have been difficult to complete my degree as there were no programs for working adults though we were close to a large Cal State school. I know it was the right move back for us and then I think about my niece and nephew and cannot imagine not seeing them on a weekly basis and my immediate- day to day world - without them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Where were you on 09/11/01?

This day brings, so many of us, memories ranging from fear of the unknown to the joy of hearing a loved one's voice.

Please post your story of where you were the morning of 09/11/01, if you would like to share.

I'll share mine at the end of today.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lazy blog

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth (or the surface of the sun), just plain lazy. It's been so nice to be back home after being up on the road and then there is the whole getting back into the school routine. One of my favorite times to blog is in the late hours of the evening and treated like a well deserved decadent desert from the sustaining meal of studying/reading/learning.

I plan to get back into the swing of things -promise. I'll be catching up on the commenting side of this friendship as well and have Vacation -part deux in the works.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Painful moment

I was still on my vacation high driving to school cranking up Prince - We listened to the entire soundtrak of Purple Rain - multiple times. There are so many great high school related memories associated with Prince.

My class this evening was interesting, the teacher has the whole Sara Palin hair thing going and wears glasses. I should have taken that as a sign that things would turn south this evening.

We were given an assignment to partner up (urghhh - on the first night? crap) and complete an assignment where we were given the task of speaking about a student and where everything in the question applied to Big Girl (I won't bore you with the details). With the force of a blunt object struck to the head - a numbing, dull pain occured and all I could think of was that she is starting school and then my mind opened wide and questions were popping up -lightening fast.

The one I really want to know the answer to is - Will the pain of thier departure ever subside?

I think I realized why I liked our vacation so much. It was a much needed get-away from the reality of my life and reminded me of a time when we were blissfully happy. A time where the word infertility was not included in our vernacular.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vacation - Part One

It is difficult to summarize the events from the last four days. Every moment was filled with so much life it is difficult to even focus on the "dull" moments. There really weren't any, I can honestly say I was never bored. We were up each morning around 6:00 or 7:00 AM and were hitting pavement shortly thereafter. We wouldn't end our day until it was dark or a few hours after, usually collapsing into our hotel bed around 10:00 or 11:00.PM.

I took a ton of pictures and while I would love to post them all (got to learn how to post pics on flickr) I had to choose my favorites. We started our journey last Friday morning, around 9:00 AM and hit the highway; we flowed right through L.A. and arrived in Santa Barbara quickly. We decided to eat at one of our favorite places for lunch close to the Paseo Nuevo shopping center - the name of the restaurant escapes me. The ambiance is amazing however - lunch is not their strong suit as they were pushing the buffet and we had our first meal on the road turning out to be just so-so. Our stop in SB was pleasant and gave us the reprieve from the road, greatly needed.

Cobblestone pathways lead to the restaurant in Santa Barbara - this one is lined with flags.

Traveling by car affords one the experience of seeing things in a completely different perspective. Once we hit the road from SB, we can see the Pacific Ocean's wide expanse. It's beautiful, huge, blue and magical. We talk about the time we went camping at Refugio State park and a floodgate of memories accompany us on our drive from that moment forward. We drive through the tunnel that goes through a huge rock or mountain so we can get to the Central coast and the road is windy all the way to Los Olivos. We pass Buellton, goosebumps are on my arms. Is is too much forced air conditioning or the memory of the rain pouring down sounding like it was coming down fluid as if being poured from a bucket instead of tiny raindrops. I was on my way to Southern CA for one of our many visits to prepare for our wedding and wondered if I would make the drive. Scared out of my mind I drove through and probably should have pulled over, that drive took years off of my life.

Big blue peace sign at the Peace store in Santa Barbara. There is a price to pay for peace and here on State street where the rent is expensive you could not find one shirt under $50 bucks.

Now the memories of comfort join us on our journey. We pass through Santa Maria, when we lived in Paso Robles, this was our closest Costco and Del Taco. For those living outside of Southern CA, Del Taco is inexpensive, Mexican fast food that has a distinct and addicting flavor. It was one of the few drive-thru's my parents would take my brother and I through. For many years, Ryan and I would beg my mom to take us through McDonald's. My mom was wise, she would always tell us it was closed and the reason why there were so many cars is because it was the cleaning crew.

We pass Santa Maria, continuing North and a huge cloud of fog covers everything as far as the eye can see, we are in Arroyo Grande. The temperature gage decreases from 89 degrees to 70 and the sun is nowhere in sight. These dramatic temperatures are good for the grapes grown in this region. The fuel gage buzzes and we exit Higura street in San Luis Obispo. Too many memories to mention. The farmer's market we would visit each Thursday evening, Mo's BBQ - pulled pork sandwich, Muzio's Italian deli and the stationary store where we spent a rainy afternoon deciding on which wedding invitation to select. We fill the tank, curse Dub-Ya, hit the road and pass over the Cuesta grade, Atascadero and Templeton before exiting onto the 46 East where some of our favorite wineries are placed on the Central Coast.

The vineyard at Eberle Winery

Our first stop a few miles down the 46 East is Eberle then onto Tobin James, we drink wine, relax and call our friends to meet for dinner. They live on our old street so we get to drive by our old house. The current renters are not as tidy, the house is dirty yet the yard is empty. Our little city in the vineyards has a different pulse, it has exploded. The A & W root beer where they would walk your food to your car and place it on the handy little tray that attaches to your car window has been torn down along with numerous other mom and pop places now replaced by struggling realty companies, the roads are filled with super sized vehicles towing water toys to Lake Naciemiento.

A micro-bin soon to be filled with one half ton of grapes.

We visit with our friends and are amazed at how their beautiful little girls have grown so quickly. The food is good, the wine is great however visiting with our Paso friends is what is making the evening memorable.

We hit the road early Saturday morning because the wedding starts at 3:00 and we want to get to the hotel by noon. D and I both sigh heavily as we enter the 101 North lane. I wait patiently for the coffee to hit my veins and D drives onward. Quickly, we pass through San Miguel and then we enter Steinbeck country. Driving through King City, Gonzales and Salinas we watch the hard working migrant farm workers - so many don't want in our country to pick our fruits and vegetables. Funny, I don't see people bidding for these jobs. It is not difficult to see why this area inspired Steinbeck, so much of the human condition to observe. I'm reminded that I want to re-read East of Eden.

We pass a beautiful row of trees and are no longer in the central part of our state. We pass Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose and make really good time. We approach Oakland around 12:30, meet up with family and look forward to the wedding.

Enough for tonight.

I'll post part two soon.