Lunch in San Diego with Keri...

I spent my lunchtime in San Diego visiting my friend, Keri, at her new incredible job, ResMed... We are a global leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of innovative medical products for the treatment and management of respiratory disorders, with a focus on sleep-disordered breathing.

Keri was my mentor with the Temecula Sister City Association and when she decided to return to the workforce, she really researched companies.  This one seems like a dream job and the environment was certainly impressive.  It was a great afternoon to catch up.

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Disneyland for the day!

What better way to send me off, to Italy, than a day at Disneyland... one of my favorite places of all time.  My friend, Philippe, treated Kegan, me, Lori and Judi to an unforgettable day in the Magic Kingdom.  We did everything we wanted:  our favorite rides, meeting characters, people watching and just having a blast.  It could not have been a more delightful day.

"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."
-Walt Disney

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California Adventure and the World of Color...indescribable!

We spent the second half of our day in California Adventure.  We rode our favorite rides and dined in style at Ariel's Grotto where we "Descended the spiral staircase to enter Ariel's Grotto, and attended a royal banquet.  From the themed décor to the view of Paradise Bay through the windows, you're surrounded by imagery from under the sea."  It was a first time for Kegan and me... the service was exceptional and the food sumptous.

We then experience Disney's new show, The World of Color, a nighttime water spectacular weaves water, color, fire and light into a kaleidoscope of fantasy and imagination. More than 1,000 jets of water form incredible shapes in time to the music as Disney characters come to life on a shimmering veil of mist.  We were immersed in this dazzling new dimension of magic at Disney's California Adventure Park.  Truly worth seeing and we were all thoroughly impressed!

What a fabulous day Philippe arranged for us as my send off to Italy.  I'm grateful for his generosity and friendship!  What a day!

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." -Walt Disney

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Laguna Beach for Festival of Arts-Pageant of the Masters...

As birthday gifts for the folks and Steve's brother and his wife, we bought tickets to this year's Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.  We brought delicious picnic foods and dined amongst the art while listen to a fantastic jazz band and then delighted in this year's, "Eat, Drink & Be Merry" production.  The night could not have been more idyllic!

Ninety minutes of "living pictures" - incredibly faithful art re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition for the Pageant as the best presentation of its kind.
Some of the most glorious art ever created has eloquently expressed the singular joys of being alive. The 2010 Pageant of the Masters will devote its uniquely theatrical celebration of the art of "living pictures" to a jubilant exploration of our collective capacity for seizing the moment, letting our hair down and raising a heartfelt toast to the good life. From Bacchus to Bourbon Street, from the elegant fetes of 17th century Europe to the flappers of the Jazz Age, Eat, Drink and Be Merry will savor the timeless masterpieces that have captured and enhanced the exhilaration of good times and, even more remarkably, buoyed spirits when times were hard. With its surefire recipe for theatrical fun and unforgettable "living art," the 2010 Pageant promises a memorable feast for the senses.

The last photo is On Viking Expedition by Carl Larsson which was my favorite work.  Thought I'd share it with you!

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Oceanside for the weekend...

Our honeyadventuring friends, Brady and Fred, graciously offered us their beach apartment so we escaped the Temecula heat for a weekend in Oceanside.  Long walks on the beach.  Great conversations.  Delicious food.  Movies in pajamas.  Just what we needed after the craziness that has been our life as of late.

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Boys' night out- Speedway...

While I stayed home watching "Chick Flicks", the boys had a night out at Costa Mesa Speedway... If you've never been to a speedway motorcycle race you may be missing out on one of motor sports most exciting, unpredictable, and action packed events. Motorcycle and racing enthusiast in southern California have been flocking to this summer time event since 1969 and it may very well be Orange County's best kept secret.

They had a great time... a summer night of bikes revving, stars shining, crowds cheering and the smell of "speed" permeating the sunset.  What more could a guy want?

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The car has shipped... There's no turning back!

Mom's taxi leaves for Italy in a few days.  It was bittersweet dropping it off, knowing it will most likely not be coming back to America again.  I have received so many notes on my distinctive car... from friends and from strangers.  Also, I can't tell you how many times I've been texted with "Hey, I just passed you going south!" or "Blowing you kisses right now on Rancho California Rd."  My car has been more fun than I ever thought possible.

Following the trip to Gardena, we stopped for dinner at Annie and Bob's.  Walking in Downtown Fullerton is always a nice way to end the day.   Life is happening.  Wild.   

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Sanders' Beach Day Bash

When my dear friend, Lynne, became sick, a few years ago, her immune system was severely compromised.  To make life more fun for her, and myself, we started an once-a-month, in-home movie day.  Joining us for lunch was Lynne's husband, Scott, and his friend, Bill.

Lovingly named, The Quirky Group 4, we met consistently, each month, for "themed" lunches, fabulous conversation, silly laughter,  and spirit raising (for whoever needed it that month).

When Lynne was cured, with a bone marrow transplant, we had all become addicted to the camaraderie and it has continued ever since.  Today marked the end of an era with our last QG4 for at least the next 13 months with my departure to Italy.

Our monthly meetings have been highly anticipated and extremely valued... and certainly they will be missed.  Judi has graciously stepped up to take my place.  I envy the memories she will make with the group.  The time together I will miss.  Throughout my life, I have had the fortune of gaining  sisters and Lynne certainly is one of those to me.

When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder,
who stands a chance against us? 
~Pam Brown

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Visas are in our hands...

Well, we are now the proud owners of Elective Residence Visas for Italia.  Our departure is set and we are now scrambling to pack.  We will ship the "taxi" next week and it will serve as a large, yellow suitcase for a great deal of our possessions.

After our Los Angeles visit, we stopped at Knott's Berry Farm for Chicken Pot Pie comfort food.  We are truly excited about next month's huge adventure.  Meraviglioso!

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Italy here we come...

Woo hoo.  Our Visa applications have been approved and we are set for our "Year in Umbria".  Grazie to everyone for their words of encouragement!  This has been a long time in the planning and we are so excited for it to finally be only 48 days away.


Ciao for now...

"For us to go to Italy and to penetrate into Italy
is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery... back, back down the old ways of time.
Strange and wonderful chords awake in us, and vibrate again
after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness."

--D.H. Lawrence

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San Diego to visit our amica...

We spent a delightful afternoon at Marina's home.  She was our fantastic Italian teacher and is our fabulous friend.  We thoroughly enjoyed sitting and chatting.  It made us even more eager to be in Italy.

È raccogliendosi a tavola
che gli amici apprezzano la gioia di stare insieme.

Italian to English Translation: It is around the table that friends understand best the warmth of being together.

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New restaurant in town...YUM

Today we ate a delicious breakfast, with Mark and Carol, at Simply Sharon's.  According to Sharon, "With a strong LOVE for cooking and a desire to share my cooking with friends and bring good home-style cooking to the community, I started cooking for my church and then began catering within the church.  As my passion grew and the word spread, I began venturing out..."
The bisquits and gravy were the best I've had.  The coffee exceptional.  The service surprisingly wonderful.  I hope this place stays around... at least until I can try the hush puppies and Tofu Philly Sandwich.

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Brady & Fred Marry

My dear friend, Brady, got married yesterday, in an unforgettable celebration.  The location, The Beach House, could not have been more perfect.

I have never seen Fred and Brady so happy and everyone there, witnessing the event, loved every moment of the day.  Actually, at the end no one was ready to leave.

Every detail was attended to.  Everything was beautiful.  A day to remember.

My toast:  "While I am not part of either family, I am a firm believer that "Friends are the Family we make along the way" and I have always thought of you, Brady, as the little sister I never had but always wanted. I am so happy you chose Fred to be my little brother-in-law.

My favorite quote about marriage is, "Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."  I know your sights are on an amazing horizon and we wish you the happily-ever-after we know you both deserve!"

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The evening ends at The Shanty Cocktail Lounge with friends...

No one wanted this amazing day to end, so we all continued the festivities to a lounge, located next to Fred and Brady's hotel.

Annie and Bob came down from Fullerton and we all celebrated "happily-ever-after".  August 7, 2010 was an incredible day, shared with fabulous people. 
"True love stories never have endings."  ~Richard Bach

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The Bridal Party Parties...

The six ladies of the wedding party, Brady, sisters Marla and Raya, me, Jessica, and Megamu spent a very entertaining, and productive night at Cardiff by the Sea LodgeNot only was the hotel amazing, but all of us had just so much fun attending to the last minute wedding details.

Yesterday morning, Brady brought in hairdressers and makeup artists.  For several hours, we were treated like movie stars.  This was the first time that I've had this done and it was indescribably luxurious!  What a fantastic treat.

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Fred and Brady's Rehearsal Dinner in La Jolla

Friday afternoon, Steve dropped me off at Marla's house and we met with both sides of Fred and Brady's families, along with friends, at a delicious restaurant, Su Casa.  It was a great way for all of us to meet before the big event.

Family stories we told.  Baby photos were shared.  Laughs filled the room.  What a wonderful prelude to the wedding day!

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