Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Julie's California Blog - Day 32

Julie's California Blog - Day 32, Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I've really enjoyed getting to know the LA area.  When I first arrived, the interstate highways intimidated me, but I'm used to them now and the 12 lanes of traffic have become second nature.  Allowing myself an extra hour to get someplace because of traffic is a little more difficult to embrace.  

I'm glad I took the time to truly appreciate some of my surroundings, which, I've learned, happens only when we stop long enough to actually pay attention.  I will miss my walks on The Strand.  Even though most of the people I passed on my walks seemed to look right through me - totally self absorbed - I still managed to meet some interesting people along the way.  I'm no longer shocked at the strangeness of some of the folks I saw.  In fact, their weirdness has become my new normal.  We're all people.  I'm no different from anyone else.  I'm no better than anyone else.  Well, I may smell better than some of them, but deep down inside, we're all looking for the same thing, peace and happiness.  How we get there is what makes us different.  I'll miss the fabulous restaurants, incredible shopping, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the ever changing breathtaking sunsets and the energy of life on The Strand.

But alas, it's time to go home.  I've been in California for a month.  My objective was to check on Jeff and make sure he is adjusting favorably to college life.  That mission was accomplished.  Jeff seems to be doing very well.  He has a great group of friends.  He's decided that he likes USC.  He seems very happy.  I don't really know what more I could ask for.  This lessens my anxiety level somewhat.  Now I need to get a better feel for how Jacqueline is coping. 

This morning, after my last walk on The Strand, I 
loaded the car with all my gear and the two dogs and went to the airport.  Scruffy seemed happy to be leaving LA.  He found much solace in his comfortable seat on the airplane.  When he arrived home in his yard in Tampa, he gave me a look of relief and joy - GRASS.  He never did really warm up to the concrete on The Strand and was very glad to be home even if it was pouring rain when we arrived.  

Squeaker was equally happy to be home.  

As for me - wow!  I feel very unsettled right now.  I guess I'm glad to be home.  At first, I asked myself - home to what?  An empty house?  Then I admonished myself for even considering another pity party when I am so incredibly blessed with the most unbelievable friends and family, who stopped their lives long enough to read my silly blog page and never once told me how stupid and self centered it was.  These are people who really care about me because I'm ME.  I am so grateful to have you in my life.  Thank you!  So besides a Great Dane who just had knee surgery and now lives in my kitchen, two air conditioners that don't work - of course, they are the ones in my bedroom and bathroom - the internet is down, which is ok because my keyboard and touch pad don't work either, the batteries are dead in all of my tv remotes, the phone system back up battery is beeping, and my car is out of gas, but I'm still happy to be HOME and can't wait to see you all! 

My California Adventure was great fun. I'm so glad you stuck it out with me through these blog entries. I hope you found them entertaining and felt like you were experiencing a bit of the trip with me through these words and photos. I wish each of you could have been with me and I hope my new California friends are presently sitting on The Strand enjoying another beautiful sunset while sipping a glass of $3.00 wine.

Before I end this blog, I wanted to share a couple of photos that deserve a little recognition because they are just so bizarre.
While walking to dinner in Beverly Hills with Jeff, Kenny and Sheryl, we passed a house with 30 bronze statues filling the yard surrounded by an iron fence. These people have their own personal zoo with life sized bronze animals everywhere. Bizarre.

Remember the trouble I had with my bed and the sheets that didn't fit very well. I tried to describe the situation, but one picture is worth a thousand words.

Here's a photo of our waiter at Yamashiro's restaurant in Hollywood. His claim to fame - He played the part of The Blue Power Ranger in the Power Ranger Movie. Recognize him? He's sporting his famous Blue Power Ranger pose. He's blue now because he's working as a waiter instead of the film industry!

Here's a photo of three really cool French Bulldogs riding down The Strand on a skate board. The owner of the dogs jumped on the skate board, pushed a button and his electric skateboard took off with the three dogs just along for the ride. Or perhaps it was the other way around - the dude was along for the ride with the French Bulldogs. Regardless, it was cool. P.S. I was back in Hermosa Beach in October and met this guy and his dogs at a Halloween Party. The dogs are amazing.

And I'd be totally remiss if I didn't show you this bike. Lots of people out here decorate their bikes so they take on the personality of the owner. This guy must be a yeti.

I guess that's enough of the bizarre and honorable mention photos. Thanks for checking in with me for the past month.

This is Julie's California Blog signing out.

Julie's California Blog - Day 31

Julie's California Blog - Day 31, Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Today is my last full day in California and it appears we have an early arrival of "May Gray", as the locals refer to the marine layer that hides the sunshine.  The first night in the new condo was not exactly tranquil.  The refrigerator had issues that caused a beeping alarm to sound ALL NIGHT LONG.  In fact, it's still beeping as I write.  It must be similar to sound torture used at Guantanamo Bay, where interrogators play non-stop blaring music to detainees for hours.  That nagging little beeping sound magnifies in intensity the longer it beeps.  I would tell them ANYTHING to get it to stop.  In addition to the beeping refrigerator, my neighbor, who works at a bar, came stumbling by my window at 2:30 a.m., kicking over a trash can full of beer cans.  He grumbled and cursed to himself while picking up each beer can and slamming them one by one back into the metal trash can.  Then he went into his house and turned on the tv until around 4:00.  Since most of these places have no air conditioning, the windows stay open, and the units are so close together, it was like having the tv on in my room.  So it was beep, curse, crash, and a Mash Marathon for hours last night.  

Apparently Squeaker doesn't approve of the new noisy condo, either.  Normally, when I am in the kitchen and food is involved, I have Squeaker's undivided attention.  While I was cooking my eggs this morning, I noticed she was not standing by.  I searched the condo, but no Squeaker.  Damn!  So I set off to find her.  I searched downstairs, through the garage, down the alley, back to The Strand, anxiously calling her name.  I finally found her on the porch of a beautiful Mediterranean home a block away.  

She'd just made herself at home.  I must say, the dog has good taste.   It's actually a rental property that I've considered inquiring about, so I peaked in the windows as I collected Squeaker.   It's quite nice.  Which would you choose?  Mediterranean Mansion (left) or noisy condo (right)?  Ok.  I'll call on it today.  With my renegade dog tucked under my arm, I went back to the noisy condo for my cold egg breakfast.  I also tightened up the baby gate to prevent further escapes.  

I spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon getting organized for the trip home and preparing for a dinner party tonight. 

This evening was a truly fascinating event with a group of 4 other couples, who have children in USC's School of Cinematic Arts Programs, all gathered for an intimate dinner at USC President, Max Nikias's beautiful estate.  Dean Elizabeth Daly was there as well.  We had a very diverse group from around the world.  I loved the family from Beverly Hills.  The dad is from Pakistan married to an American woman from Beverly Hills, who spent the evening texting on her cell phone.  They spend the winter holidays in Aspen and I've invited them to check out Aspen in the summertime.  Unfortunately, they usually "summer" in the south of France, but since Aspen is only a two hour flight, Fallah wants to come out and play golf with me.  Another interesting couple flew in from Japan yesterday and will return to Tokyo tomorrow.  He is President of Sony in Tokyo.  Their son is a freshman in Jeff's class.  Another couple was from India.  He is in the tech business, heavily involved with Google.  I kind of had to scratch my head and ask myself, why was I invited to mingle with these Billionaires (with a capital B) at the President's home tonight.  But I really enjoyed the evening and meeting Niki and Max Nikias.  They entertain some 4000 people per year in their home, but they made me feel like I was the single most important one.  "Fight ON!"

When I returned to noisy condo, I took the pups for a quick walk on the beach.  The refrigerator was not  repaired today, so it's still beeping.  To cut down on the noise, I closed the bedroom door and window and turned on a portable fan.  The white noise of the fan drowned out the beeping refrigerator and I didn't even hear my neighbor when he walked by.  I look forward an undisturbed sleep tonight.  Nite nite all.

Julie's California Blog - Day 30

Julie's California Blog - Day 30, Monday, April 29, 2013

Today is Monday moving day - AGAIN.  Referring back to earlier blog entries, you may remember the horrible condo I lived in when I first arrived in California.  The rental agency was kind enough to move me to a much better place, but there was a caveat that the unit was booked beginning the 30th of April, so I would have to move to a different location.  So this morning it is time to pack up and move.  I considered just packing up and heading back to Tampa a few days early, but I've been invited to dinner at the home of the President of USC, Max and Niki Nikias, on Tuesday evening, so I've decided to stay.  Another good reason to stay will be the opportunity to try out another option for a rental property next year. 

I moved in to the new condo this afternoon.  It's quite nicely updated and is much larger than my last place.  It will be much easier to accommodate Jeff and his fraternity friends here.  So this could be my "go to" place next time I come to CA.  Might be fun to stay here next fall for Parent's weekend and perhaps again next April.    

After I moved in, I got a call from one of my new friends (from the hula hoop party) inviting me to play golf.  I've already shipped my clubs back to Tampa as well as my golf shoes and clothes, but I found a pair of shorts, tennis shoes and a dozen golf balls.  What more does one need?  Oh yes, clubs.  Mark had extra clubs, so away we went.  We played at a little 9 hole par 3 course.  The course was in surprisingly good shape and I shot 2 over, which was kind of fun, considering I was playing with a set of unfamiliar clubs.

After golf, we met Mark's wife, Tammy and Kelly at Mediterraneo on the Pier.  It's a really nice place that serves Tapas and has a great happy hour, buy one, get one free on the Tapas and $3.00 wine.  We laughed all evening.  Mark should be one of the comedians at the Comedy Club here in Hermosa Beach.  He kept us entertained all evening.

On the walk back to the condo, Kelly took me by to meet her brother and to see his home, which was a rental option for next year.  He's a nice guy, the home is over the top fabulous, but it's expensive and NOT on The Strand.  The view of the ocean from the 3rd floor is really beautiful, but I really enjoy the energy of The Strand.  So I'm passing.  

What a treat to meet and make new friends.  I hope to see them all again when I return to California.  

Tomorrow is my last day in California.  :-(

Julie's California Blog - Day 29

Julie's California Blog - Day 29, Sunday, April 28, 2013

The marine layer blew away early today making for a beautiful Sunday morning. The beach is packed.

I spent a quiet, lazy day at the condo until it was time to pick up Jeff for dinner with Kenny and Sheryl. We had a great time tonight at a place called Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills. 

After dinner, I dropped Jeff at school and headed back to the beach so thankful for the time I had with Jeff while here in California. Tonight was my last visit with Jeff until he gets home for the summer. 

Julie's California Blog - Day 28

Julie's California Blog - Day 28, Saturday April 27, 2013

The kids had a great time last night.  More Beer Pong was involved as well as a card game and lots of laughing and giggling.  The games finally came to an end around 4:30 a.m.   

When I got up to take the dogs out at 8:00, there were bodies everywhere again.  These kids are very resourceful when finding a place to sleep.  Couch cushions and ottomans become beds and beach towels work nicely for blankets.  Oh, to be young.

I made a quick run to McDonald's for a bag of Sausage, Egg and Cheese biscuits and when I returned to pass them out, it looked like a momma bird returning to the nest to feed the young, a gaggle of hands reaching up to receive the chow.  It just made me laugh.

We spent the morning on the beach until around 1:00 when it was time for another feeding, so we went to Waterman's at the Pier for lunch with the remaining 8 kids.  I haven't been to Waterman's and I'm glad my first trip included these 8 kids.  The place was a buzz of activity.  It was packed with a very interesting and eclectic  group of people.  A group of girls came in dressed in gold lame body suits with chartreuse tutu's.  Most of the men wore wife beater shirts with bulging muscles loaded with tattoos.  One guy walked by wearing pink fur ugg boots with matching pink shorts. You can imagine the looks he got from the muscle bound tough guys. Music, which was awesome, was blaring  so loudly the waitress had to pass the order form around for us to write our food orders.   It was a crazy, loud, exhilarating, fun place to spend time with these kids.  The food was not great, but I would recommend Waterman's for the stimulating entertainment. 

After lunch, the group was ready to head back to school.  I took the pups for a quick walk while Jeff and friends were gathering their gear.  I walked back into the condo expecting to see things gathered up and everybody ready to leave, rather the kids were out like a light, snoozing and snoring away.  Made me laugh out loud!  

Around 6:30, the kids finally headed out.  I'm not gonna lie, I was REALLY sad to see them go.  I took the dogs and walked down the beach to watch the sunset, feeling really sad and lonely when I ran across a group of people trying to hula hoop.

Their pitiful attempt with the hula hoop shook me out of my self induced pity party and I felt I had to stop and share the Betty Hoops method of hula hoop technology with them.  Next thing ya know, I found myself with a glass of wine, a hula hoop and a really fun group of people enjoying the sunset.  

It's a small world at Hermosa Beach.  The agency I've been working with to find a larger condo for next year, told me about a 4 bedroom house just off the beach.  They sent me the website for the house, which is only 2 blocks away from my current location.  The owner is not in town, but his sister is a local who would be happy to show me the place, Kelly Flynn.  I met his sister at the hula hoop party.  She's a really nice girl who owns a catering company in town.  What a small world.  I'm not really interested in the house because it's not on The Strand, but I really enjoyed making a new friend in Hermosa Beach.

I've asked my self several times why I'm in California for a month.  My reasoning was to check on Jeff to see how he's getting along.  He really struggled the first semester at college and I've been quite worried about him.  I'm happy to report that he's doing very well with his brotherhood at the Fraternity.  He has opened up to them about loosing his dad and they have rallied to his side offering friendship and strength.  

As for me, I think subconsciously, there may be another reason for my trip.  To reconnect with Julie Jones Wooley.   After being with Jeff for 30 years, and loosing him, I'm not really sure who I am.  I'm still trying to figure that out, but in the meantime, the lesson I keep learning over and over again is, when one door closes, another one opens.  It really amazes me how this continues to happen.  I'm constantly reminded of what my dad said to me when I asked him about my loss.  He said many very wise things, but the one that continues to resonate with me is, "Julie, the best is yet to come."  How does one set out to find what is yet to come?  THAT is the question.  Any suggestions?

Julie's California Blog - Day 27

Julie's California Blog - Day 27, Friday, April 26, 2013

This is the kind of day that could make me want to stay in California. It's sunny and warm and I know I heard the beach calling my name. (Yikes, I'm starting to sound like Green Flash Pat.) But first, it's time for Squeaker and Scruffy to have a day of pampering. I so enjoyed my day yesterday, that I'm taking them to the groomer to be bathed. They are not-so-fresh smelling. Unfortunately, they are not as excited as I was but considering their impending doom, they walked happily down The Strand to the groomer. Remember, Scruffy does NOT like water. When we arrived at Bow Wow Grooming, Scruffy grabbed every bar on the cage to keep from going inside. Oh the look he gave me when he was finally safely inside the cage awaiting his bath. Ouch! Well, sorry, kids. 
After I delivered the dogs to the groomer I set off to Manhattan Beach for breakfast at Uncle Bills. The place was packed. Doesn't ANYBODY in this state work? I'll answer that. NO! They are all at Uncle Bills or on the 405. Most of them are collecting their pensions - 80% of their pay from government jobs. No wonder this state is going broke. Ok, I'll step off the soap box and tell you that I enjoyed my breakfast and walked back to the condo to collect my beach chair, umbrella and a good book. I spent rest of the day relaxing on the beach reading a book. I can't remember the last time I sat down with a good book. It was wonderful. 

Later in the afternoon, I picked up the dogs at Bow Wow and stopped at Ralph's to stock up on junk food for Jeff and his friends who are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. As the sun began to set, the neighbors and I gathered to enjoy the view. 

I turned in early to watch a movie and get some sleep, when suddenly, my front door opened and the party began with Jeff and several of his friends. Life is good!!

Julie's California Blog - Day 26

Julie's California Blog - Day 26, Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm getting pretty good at navigating the highways in LA. Of course, it helps having my iPhone talking me through every exit and turn along the way. Jeff used to affectionally refer to Siri as "The Bitch in the Box." I think a great aftermarket invention would be a navigation add on ... a voice like Antonio Banderas, in his sexy broken English voice saying "Hello my love. Let's turn at the next intersection and see what happens." I'm telling you, they'd sell like hotcakes!

My hair is in desperate need of attention, so today, I went to Frederic Fekkai on Melrose Place for a hair appointment. My day of pampering began with a manicure with Valentina and then hair highlights with Begonia, followed by a haircut with Maurice. With a name like Begonia, I was expecting a tattooed, pierced, multicolored spiked hair type with rings on every finger. I was pleasantly surprised. She is an adorable, petite, very kind girl from Spain. And Maurice, the Latin lover from France was awesome, too. He gave me an amazing cut. Now these folks out here at Frederic Fekkai are really proud of their services. I could have bought a nice used car for the price of my day of pampering. Well, maybe a clunker of a used car, but never-the-less, I think you get the point. The sad part is, I was all cut and highlighted and nobody to show it to. Squeaker and Scruffy showed delight when I came in the door. I'm sure they were impressed - or just happy that I was finally home after a long day away.

On the way home from the hairdresser, I finally got to experience the full force of California rush hour traffic. The 405 was like a parking lot. From the time I got on the interstate, until the time I exited the interstate, I don't think I touched the gas more than once or twice, rather just let my foot off the brake to advance a few feet at a time. I honestly could have walked faster. At one point, I thought I was going to have to knock on the door of the RV in the lane next to me to use their facilities, but I finally arrived at my exit and things were moving normally from that point forward.

I got home in time for sunset and glass of wine, which has become a ritual with the neighbors. The sunset was beautiful, but no green flash. Well, Pat (to my right) said he saw a green flash. But as I described Pat in an earlier blog, he may have drug induced brain fry or he's just a typical California beach bum with the "Yeah, man, totally rad" dialog. Heck of a nice guy, but a little out there. He probably sees a green flash at EVERY sunset.

Julie's California Blog - Day 25

Julie's California Blog - Day 25, Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's a cloudy day in Southern California.  I felt a few sprinkles this morning when walking the dogs.  Scruffy doesn't like rain. He thinks water is cryptonite and he's Super-dog.  He avoids it at all costs.  So he did NOT enjoy the walk this morning.

I had lunch at USC today with the Assistant Dean of the School of Cinematic Arts.  Just as we were finishing, Jeff joined us.  What a treat!  He got out of class late and couldn't find us at Morton Fig, an upscale restaurant on campus frequented mostly by faculty and staff.  Jeff's USC "dining dollars" don't work at Morton Fig, so that's probably why he wasn't familiar with it.  The Assistant Dean had to leave, but I stayed and had a nice time with Jeff as he scarfed down a steak sandwich.  

Later in the evening, I went to Santa Monica to meet my cousin, Diego and his fiancĂ©, Katie, for dinner at Ivy at the Shore.  I arrived early, and since the cloudy, rainy weather had moved out,  I decided to walk down to The Pier at Santa Monica to kill some time.  The Pier is a very active place with crowds of tourists and  hawkers selling everything from tee shirts to iPhone covers, as well as artists sculpting people's faces from clay and artists sketching caricatures.  It's a carnival atmosphere complete with a ferris wheel and various other rides.  From the pier, I could see south all the way to my California home, which was easy to find.  I just looked for the smoke stacks at the Nuclear Power Plant located just a few doors away from my condo.  The visit to The Pier was a great diversion and something that I wanted to do while visiting California.  Done. 

I met Katie and Diego at 7:00.  Katie is delightful.  She's a social worker in Santa 
Monica, and Diego is doing his residency working toward his ultimate goal of orthopedic surgery.  We had a great time catching up and talking about their upcoming wedding.  I was planning to go to the wedding in Chicago until I found out it is scheduled for Father's Day weekend.  So unless I can round up Jac and Jeff in Chicago, I'll be somewhere else with them.

This is my last week in California.   I still have a few things on my "to do" list.  I'm also hoping Jeff and friends will come back to the beach this weekend.

Julie's California Blog - Day 24

Julie's California Blog - Day 24, Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Today was a quiet, lazy day in Hermosa Beach aside from the screaming 18 month baby downstairs and the howling dog two doors down. The marine layer is waiting to burn off to become a beautiful day. 

I started an art project this morning and it's moving along nicely. More on that later.

I was invited by the dean of the School of Cinematic Arts at USC to attend an advanced screening of Pain and Gain, Mark Walberg and The Rock's new movie which opens Friday. Based on the previews I've seen on tv, I thought it was a comedy. Rather, it's a drama based on a true story about three body builders in south Florida who turn to a life of crime. My recommendation, have a root canal instead. It would be more entertaining and less painful. Just sayin'.

Julie's California Blog - Day 23

Julie's California Blog - Day 23, Monday, April 22, 2013

Special shout out to Scruffy on his 9th birthday today. Eight years ago today, our family rescued Scruffy from death row. Jeff used to tell people Scruffy went from Skid Row to Death Row to winning the doggie lottery. He has brought so much joy to our family. Scruff's favorite activity is going for a walk. So, to celebrate Scruffy's birthday, the two of us walked to Manhattan Beach for lunch. Scruffy enjoyed a kiddie burger, only a few bites, but enough to know it was something special. While I was passing bites to Scruffy, my downstairs neighbors from the condo walked by and took this photo for us.

This evening, I took Jeff and two of his friends, Teddy and Zach, to dinner. USC's meal plan doesn't offer steak, so the guys were craving a good steak. Where does one go for good steak in LA? Well Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, Cut, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, of course. It was a great recommendation from Carolyn McRae. Thanks Carolyn. It was a perfect spot for a perfect steak. I must admit, I was a little astounded at the selection of different types of filet. They had grass fed beef from Nebraska, corn fed beef from Illinois, American Wagyu beef from Idaho, U.S.D.A beef, Kobe beef, Prime Dry Aged beef, filet with bone in and with bone out, and Wagyu beef from Japan. So many choices. So many prices ranging from a low of the Nebraska grass fed filet at $49.00 to the $159.00 Wagyu filet from Japan. I'm not a filet connoisseur, so the only difference I could see in the cuts was $110.00. I'm not sure I could eat a piece of meat that expensive. I'd want to have it bronzed and displayed in my kitchen on a crystal pedestal with a glass dome top. Thank goodness the boys did not order the Japanese Wagyu beef. Pictured here are Jeff and I with Jeff's Fraternity Brother, Teddy (blue shirt) and his roommate, Zach. It was a perfect evening. Thanks guys.

Julie's California Blog - Day 22

Julie's California Blog - Day 22, Sunday, April 21, 2013

GOOD MORNING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!!  What a beautiful day.  There are 12 kids asleep EVERYWHERE in the condo.  The kitchen counter looks a Frat house.  Good news ... the place is so small, it makes clean up very easy.  One swipe and the kitchen counter is cleaned off.  Everything is disposable.  So we're good to go again in a matter of moments.  

Everyone is up and running or rather walking up The Strand to Good Stuff for breakfast.  We all stacked our cell phones on the table so we could have meaningful conversation with each other instead of playing with phones.  (This was suggested by the kids.)

There is a huge volleyball tournament on the beach this morning.  The USC Girl's Volleyball team is playing. There is so much energy here today.  It's really fun hanging out with young people.  

After breakfast, the group split up.  Seven kids went back to school and five  stayed on the beach for a while.  There was talk of renting surf boards or sail boats.  In the end, they settled for swimming and a nap on the beach.  Jeff and his friends left around 3:00 to go back to campus.  I miss them terribly, but enjoyed every minute with them.  I'm so grateful for our time together and hope they come back next weekend.                                                                                                          

A marine layer moved in around 6:30, so the sunset fizzled out tonight.  The pups and I spent a quiet evening at home.

Julie's California Blog - Day 21

Julie's California Blog - Day 21, Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sadly, I took Sharon to LAX today for her trip back to Tampa.  Miss you, Sharon.  Thanks for coming to California.  I hope you had as much fun as I.

After I dropped Sharon at the airport, I received a text from Jeff that he needed a ride to the beach.  So I happily headed to USC to pick up Jeff and 5 of his Fraternity Brothers.  They had just completed Hell Week at AEPi and are now officially members of the Fraternity.  I brought the boys to the condo, gave them sunscreen, towels and a couple of volley balls and sent them to the beach.  

As the day passed, several of their friends arrived.  We ended up with 12 kids.  It was awesome!  These kids had so much fun on the beach playing volley ball, boogie boarding, football, burying Jeff in the sand, and just relaxing together.

All of them were so incredibly polite to me.  Jeff insisted that I join in all of the activities, making me feel included and loved.  Each one of Jeff's friends are unique and have interesting stories.  I really enjoyed getting to know them.

I had some snacks at the condo, but it didn't take long for 12 hungry college kids to run through the bags of chips and dip like locust going through Oklahoma.  So I took 12 starving kids to dinner at American junkie.  I loved listening to the stories, most of which I promised NOT to repeat, thus I cannot write about them.  Just suffice to say these kids are having a great time at school.  They have already established an astonishing bond of brotherhood.

One of the brothers pulled me aside and wanted to personally offer his condolences.  He shared that he lost his brother a year and a half ago, so he knew something about grief.  Like I said, these are awesome kids!  I'm so glad Jeff has surrounded himself with a group of loyal, interesting, fun guys.

After dinner, we went back to the condo for a few games of Beer Pong.  Jeff and I were a team and we started strong!   
After just four turns, we were down to one cup and our opponents had nine still standing.  I had already written the headline for my blog ... "Old Woman and Son Dominate to Crush AEPi's Top Beer Pong Team."  But alas, they had an amazing comeback and beat us.  I've been secretly working on my game since.  Gotta have that headline.

I called it quits and turned in around midnight.  The troops crashed shortly afterwards.  My rental agreement says this condo sleeps six.  We certainly put that to the test tonight!  Twelve kids slept here.  There weren't enough blankets to go around, so someone decided to turn on the heat and set the thermostat to 85 degrees.  I woke up melting around 2:30 and went outside to turn off the heat and cover some of the kids with beach towels.  College kids can sleep anywhere and EVERYWHERE!  The living room and guest bedroom were wall to wall people!  

I look forward to hanging out with these kids again tomorrow.

Julie's California Blog - Day 20

Julie's California Blog - Day 20, Friday, April 19, 2013

Today is Sharon's last day of California fun. We started the day riding bikes on The Strand to Marina del Rae. It was a beautiful ride of sightseeing, laughing and crashing when doing too much laughing and sightseeing. Just a small crash. Nothing hurt but pride! The Strand runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean, so in addition to the beauty of the Pacific, we saw fabulous houses, interesting people, dogs of all shapes and sizes and volleyball players of all shapes, sizes and ages. We ran across a group of older ladies that I affectionally refer to "Old Babes With Balls." They were next to a group of older gray headed men that I dubbed "BOOFs with Balls." (Burned Out Old Farts). I was actually quite impressed with this group of old folks playing a sport that they clearly love. They probably have their names engraved as volleyball champions from years gone by on one of the bronze medallions at the pier.

While riding, we found our next extreme sport ... Hang Gliding. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the trainer was booked for the day, so I wasn't able to take flight. But I have many days left in sunny California. Perhaps I'll try another day. Anyway, the 18 mile bike ride was wonderful and allowed us to enjoy a good workout.

We had lunch down the coast in Palos Verdes at Nelson's located at an upscale resort called Terranea. Nelson's came highly recommended by a young couple that we met at Manhattan Beach Post. They seemed young and with it and spoke highly of the restaurant so we were expecting something really special. Nelson's was a bit of a disappointment, but the view was spectacular. So if you're taking notes of restaurants to visit while in Southern California, you can scratch this one from the list.

The most fun event of the day was our evening at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. I went there last Sunday night to see Jay Leno which was really fun. Jay performs every Sunday night to try out his Tonight Show material on a live audience.

Sharon had to leave before Sunday, so we went to the Friday night special at the Comedy Club, "Ten Comedians for Ten Bucks." We didn't really expect much. After all, Jay Leno would be a tough act to follow and let's get real ... 10 comics for $10 bucks??? A buck apiece? What kind of entertainer could we expect? We were pleasantly surprised. Sharon laughed so hard that she almost became part of the show with her laughter. Out of the 10 comics, 9 of them were hilarious! So the best entertainment value in Hermosa Beach seems to be the Friday night special of 10 Comedians for 10 Bucks. You can right that one down in your book for future reference.