Onward to the New Year

Last week was a very very full week.  With a last-minute work trip in which I crammed as many coffee dates in as possible.  Then landing late on Wednesday, Thursday before work was shopping and packing for the weekend.  Friday we loaded up and headed to the girls and then up to Big Bear for a snowy Christmas get away with the family.


There was no snow, not a flake.  Well there was some fake snow on the ski slopes, but none on the ground.  There was however lots of fire wood and Dale kept the fire going.  There was lots of food.  WAY too much food.  We had planned out a menu and everyone was making a meal or two.  But dang there was too much food.  Also lots of games, Quelf, Phase10, Skip bo and Pictionary.  Also a “newlywed” game that Vicki and Emily put together that was a ton of fun.  There were lots of Christmas Sweaters and a stroll through the Village.

The baby did pretty well for being away from home and her routine for the first time.  It’s hard to believe she is only 18 months old based on her height.  Here is last years picture compared to this years.





Although this last weekends vacation was mini it took quite a bit of preparation.

We started in July, narrowing down the vacation rental and reserving it for the weekend.  Our friends flew in from Seattle early on Thursday morning.

Wednesday happened to be a late night at work and I got about 4 hours of sleep before needing to be up and packing for the weekend and heading to LAX to pick them up.

I hadn’t packed previously because after putting the desk together on Sunday I spent most of the rest of the week cleaning and dusting the house.  One of those dustings that includes moving nearly every piece of furniture to vacuum under it.  My lingering cough/cold/possibly allergy nonsense was the driving factor in that.

Once I got to the airport after nearly two hour drive for the 22 miles because of the hour I picked them up and out to Palm Springs we headed.

Our first day included yummy lunch at LuLu’s, checking into our beautiful rental and heading out to the Thursday night Village Fest. We stopped for dinner at La Bonitas right there in the heart of the festival and had what would be the beginning of spicy margaritas for the weekend.

Friday morning I got up early and made banana bread, watched and sketched the sunrise, took a quick morning swim and waited for Lori to drive out.  Once the initial visiting was out of the way we headed into downtown for lunch and hanging out.  Tonya and I got pedicures and we met up after and headed back to the house for some afternoon swimming and lounging about.

Saturday was a bit more active.  Tonya, Lori and I all headed out to power yoga in the park before it got to hot.  We then drove up to Joshua Tree and spent a few hours going through and taking pictures.  Briana enjoyed relaxing at the house and reading two books!  That night we were heading out dancing.  We got there too early however and just as people were starting to dance and the place fill up we were headed out.  It had been a super long day.

Sunday my sister and the girls all drove out since its only 30 miles past their house and we all went swimming.  This was the baby’s 2nd time in the pool and she was much more relaxed.  Another Mexican meal that included yet another spicy margarita.

Monday we had to check out and leave our little desert oasis.  Lori left for work about 10:00 once we all got back from breakfast and the rest of us were on the road by 11:00.  We did have all day so we drove to the beach, because is there any better way to end a desert vacation than with a trip to the beach?






Back to work

Today I am back to work.  I did have an 80 minute massage before work today which left me very relaxed and mellow as I went into work.  He also worked out the hamstring tie-in on my right side that was tweaked from the long flights.  It was the perfect ending to my vacation.

The last couple of days were a nice slow return to life after vacation.  We still had company for a couple of days.  Although I didn’t sleep much on the plane and fell right to sleep when we got home I was still awake super early.  We made it a full day, visiting with Vivian, going out to breakfast and then went out to get groceries and wash that were covered in pitch from being parked under the tree for two weeks.

Friday I was still waking up around 4:00 am.  We went to Seal beach on Friday and had breakfast before walking on along the beach and enjoying the ocean sounds.  Capped off the day with dinner with Kathi.

Saturday was another early morning as we were up at 4:00 to take our company to the airport.  After that we stopped for breakfast, picked up cat food, picked up e-waste from a friend about 8 in the morning and then went to a recycle event.  All seemed perfectly normal, we had been running errands for 5 hours and it was only 9:00 a.m.

We also saw Vicki and Emily for dinner and a little Farkle on Saturday night.  They made us yummy chicken tacos and Vicki easily won,  I couldn’t stay awake for another game so home we went and straight to bed.

Sunday although I woke early I forced myself back to sleep.  Trying to sleep in as much as possible but we were still up before 7:00.  It was a very very low key day.  We both worked on our sketchbooks.  I had a few sketches I added color to and we both glued some tickets and things in from the trip.  There is still more to add and I have some things I still want to draw in from photos that I just couldn’t draw on the spot.



Vacation Wrap Up

The last day in Bath it rained.  Not bad for a European vacation, one day of rain – the last day.  We got use out of the little rain/wind breakers we brought with us and gathered with some of the group at cafe for lunch and some of the group sketched.  

I did not, I did carry all of my gear down there but with the rain and lack of table space I just enjoyed the company, the conversation and the people watching.

We had a farewell dinner in the evening.  Half of our group had taken a bus to Stonehenge during the day and I guess they really got poured on.  When we met up for dinner they were all a bit damp.  As it turns out one woman was feeling ill and had to leave….  but there is more to that story so let me back up.

The day before when Lori and I were sketching, we were going to try and meet up with others for lunch or dinner but we couldn’t seem to find the group and with little to no signal didn’t even bother with texting.  We ended up on our own and splitting a sandwich in our room.  The best “fate” we could have had in hindsight.

Six of the group had met up and went to a pub called the Raven.  This was a spot that the tour guide said was one not to miss.  Well drinking and eating and sketching ensued and the next morning our dear friend Marissa was not feeling well and thought maybe she had been over-served.  She did say she didn’t think she had that much to drink but was both headachy and stomach was not agreeing with her.  

By the end of that day when we were meeting up for the farewell dinner it was Susan who was not able to even look at the food and though maybe she had gotten food poisoning that day at lunch.  But all the pieces came into place the next morning when we were all leaving, Susan had flown off early in the day still sick, Imodium on board.  We came up for breakfast before checking out and found that Dave and Char were both down! Seriously down and possibly extending the stay at the B&B because they did not think they could travel being that sick.

We departed not even getting to say goodbye to Char (she put on this trip), not knowing if the others who were at the Raven that night were also sick.  It was a full day of travel.  We took a taxi to the train, the train to the bus, the bus to the airport for the long plane ride and my brother picked us up in his car.  Twenty-One hours from door to door.  I tried not to sleep on the plane but did nod off a couple of times.  That did make it easier to fall asleep last night although we were both awake before 5:00 with major headaches from not enough water yesterday. 

I have a few days off before going back to work.  Company is still at the house for a couple days.  Today I am looking forward to unpacking, laundry, washing my car that has been under the tree for two weeks and lunch, errands and possibly lunch or dinner with my brother and our friend Viv who is still here. 

Sketching in Bath

The sketching exercise today was on tone values, dark, medium and light.

Today we walked down to Bath to gather and sketch.  We met at the Abby and most of us got in line for the Roman Baths.  After we walked through and took a ton of photos there was no meeting up to sketch.

Lori and I walked down to a little tea shop, had tea and both sketched the scene across from us.  My focus was the bookstore across the street, Lori focused on the tree.

1) where we sat.  2) tea.  3) across from us,  4) my sketch. 5) Lori’s sketch

Travel Day and walking tour

Let’s just start with my feet, legs and buttocks hurt.  

The group headed out from the hotel to Paddington station for the train to Bath at 10:30 this morning.  The train was leaving at 11:51 to Bath.   Because of someone trying to open the doors after they had closed at one of the stops we ended up delayed at every station after as we had to wait for openings as we lost our “spot” in the line up.  

Lori and I had consolidated as much of our bags into the one on my back so Lori wouldn’t have to put any extra weight on her  feet.  We got both the contents of her carry on and the bag itself along with my day pack inside my big pack.  We only had my camera case and her roller bag.  Since all of these stations have stairs and very few lifts I would just carry the roller bag and camera up or down and then give it back to Lori to pull.  With teamwork we made it on and off the train, into the taxi and to our hotel.

We got checked in right about 2:30 and had to be at the walking tour at 3:30.  Lori did not go on this, instead she stayed in our lovely new hotel and napped.  After the walk into town and the 90 minute tour I know several comments were made that Lori had the right idea.

The tour guide was great.  So much information and time periods and dates and stories to make it all interesting.  After walking around Bath for about 90 minutes the group split up.  I know Char and Dave went to meet up with the sister/brother in-laws and the rest of the group dispersed for drinks and dinner.  I wondered around alone for a bit before trekking my tired feet back up the hotel to hang with Lori, bringing noodles with me for dinner.

Tomorrow we all are meeting after breakfast to walk back into town for our sketching class.  Then I think we tour the Roman Baths.  There is so much to sketch and not nearly as big an overwhelming as London’s sights.  I do think everyone in the group wants to sketch these umbrellas. 

Kew and laundry

Adventures galore, the day started with me going to three nearby pharmacys until I found a cane for Lori.

Then the first adventure of the morning started with a tube ride to West Minster Abby with our entire group. The activity was to sketch the Abby and some people were going in to see it after sketching.

We gathered in the grass and most sketched.  I was having trouble with not only all of the detail, but all of the angles and basically being below the subject.  Lori and I were not going into the Abby and I gave up (frustration and lack of sleep left me with little patience for sketching) so as soon as she was at a good spot with her sketches we left for the Museum of Garden History.  

It was a short walk away, shorter than we actually thought.  We started off in the cafe having coffee and tea and Lori gave me a lesson on one and two point prospective for drawing.  We then walked around the whole museum (it was small) and took some pictures for her to draw on for the upcoming Landscape History class.

We then walked to the tube and took it to Kew Garden.  We had a lovely tour around the garden, going into the Palm house, the walkway in the trees and completely wore out her poor little feet.  We stayed there for several hours and chose not to go back for the evening sketching meet up.  I didn’t have anything to show and was simply having much more fun at Kew.

We finally walked back to the tube and got back to the room.  That was it for Lori’s poor feet.  Even though she had blister skin pads and mole skin she now has blisters UNDER her blisters.  


We packed light and expected to wear every shirt twice.  However we have sweated so much, everything we brought needed to be washed.  I packed up the laundry and walked to the laundry mat.  Everything I brought except what I had on and nearly everything Lori brought fit into one bag.

We had been stacking up our change and I took it all with me to do laundry.  However, the machines in the place would not take the new pound coins, it only took the old ones.  I had three old ones in my stack, each of my small loads would take five pounds to wash.  I asked the woman at the desk and she did not have any to trade me.

I then went next door to ask the shop keeper there and he was able to buy one of my two pound coins and one of the one pound coins.  Back to the laundry mat I went and started the jeans and dark clothes.  I put the rest of my pound coins and found (not by the unhelpful attendant) that the machine also took 20pence coins.  So I loaded up what I had in the light load and was 1.40 short for getting it started and this left zero for drying because those machines also took only old pounds or 20p coins.

So as every piece of our laundry, everything we had in London was in a running machine and one waiting for more coins I walked about a block to the grocery store and prayed I could find somewhere to get change.  The Customer Service desk was right inside the door and a dear woman, Sharon,  looked at me when I walked up and said “do you need change” ?  Must be a common request.

I explained my plight, she dumped out the 1pound coins and had none that were the old coins.  So I traded a 5pound note for 25- 20p coins.  I then scooted back to the laundry mat.  I loaded six of the coins into the lights and got those washing.  Soon my darks were done because they started so much earlier and I loaded them in the dryer.  20p gets you two minutes in the dryer and I had 3.60 left in 20p coins left for the two loads.  The majority went in with the jeans and when the lights were done the rest went in there.

Everything was clean and nearly dry when I brought it back to spread around the room to dry so we get to pack clean clothes in the morning before checking out and heading to bath.

Another 22K miles on my Fitbit today and my feet hurt, can’t really complain about them however after seeing Lori’s poor feet.