Sunday, November 28, 2010

December, bring it on

This wintry weather is a solid reminder that December is breathing down our necks. The nights have been close to freezing, and we've been having more rain this year than I can remember in a whole season.  Now, the month of December, for me, conjures up all sorts of anxiety and panic. Don't you just hate these people who have all their Christmas shopping done in August? If I were the murderous type, that would certainly be grounds to commit! So, 'tis the season to run around like a complete crazy person, hoping that you might be able to find that perfect gift (what the heck could it be!?) for everyone that you know. My heart is beginning to jump out of my chest just thinking about it! And it's only November 28th. Ugh! But what are my options?
So, bring it on, December. I'll come out kicking, scrapping, and shopping and get it all most of it done! One way or another! By the way, if you don't get your Christmas card this year, I'm sure it got lost in the mail. (Darn Post Office!)

 Merry Christmas!
Happy to have you drop in!
We extend a warm holiday welcome to The Christmas Countdown!Christmas 2010 is coming in just
26 days, 14 hours,
44 Minutes and 57 Seconds

The Christmas Spirit    The Night Before Christmas   Santa's Prayer on Christmas Eve
Follow the links for a Merry Christmas Sing-A-Long! 

PS, How obnoxious is this thing?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving thanks

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, my family and I were excited to begin our vacation in Baja California. Well, that was until the boys read every surf report available. With all of the high tech storm tracking devices, it clearly shows that there won't be a wave anywhere near our destination. We were planning on staying a few days in the lovely little town of Todos Santos, which is about an hours drive north from Cabo San Lucas. Warm weather, pounding surf, and salty margaritas beckoned from the south, but it's just not meant to be.

Cerritos Beach, Todos Santos, Mexico

The lagoon
Photo by: Alberto Sole Caliente
The trip is now canceled. My guys keep trying to explain to me that you can't go on a surf trip without surf, but as a non-surfer, that's hard for me to grasp. Some things I guess I'll never understand. Really, what's wrong with lounging around, eating tacos and soaking up some sun? That's what I've done on every surf trip I've ever been on! Go figure.

Now that plan B is firmly in place, I've spent the day shopping for turkeys and all the trimmings, and creating some kind of thrown together menu. Ultimately, the most important thing is that I'm giving thanks for my crazy wonderful family, my awesome friends, and that we are all pretty healthy. But equally important, I'm really thankful that I don't have to have that intrusive TSA screening and pat down at the airport!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's new?

I just thought I'd let you know what I've been up to lately. I am very excited about launching my new blog, Chirp! Laguna!

Chirp! Laguna
This blog will focus on finding and sharing deals that I find in and around town. So cool, right? Who doesn't love to save money? So, check it out, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Team Laguna

My kids are on their high school surf team. Yup, you heard me right. How many high schools do you know that have a surf team? I know my landlocked high school sure as heck didn't have one!

Today's competition was at Salt Creek Beach
Every Tuesday and Thursday, they get up at around 5:45 to get to surf practice on time. And here's the thing, they don't complain one bit! I think they even appreciate this cool, unique opportunity. The fall is their "season" for competition, so they have to get up early, get to the beach where the competition will be held, and get out there in the cold water, and charge the waves. We compete against some really competitive schools, too. Newport Beach, Dana Hills, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, these schools have consistent surf breaks in their own back yards that their kids can practice at on a regular basis. Our local breaks here in Laguna, Brooks Street, Thalia Street, Oak Street, are really inconsistent, and are known for waves that break right on the shore. It makes it really tough for our kids to be as good as the kids from the other schools, as you can imagine! But every week that they compete, I am so proud of how they handle this challenge. And our team has been doing really great! Laguna's own Taylor Pitz on shortboard, and Kris Williams on longboard both came in first place in their heats. I haven't heard all of the results yet, but it's so great to know that a couple of our kids did well!

We are extremely lucky to have Scott Finn, and Alissa Cairns as coaches, and the kids seem to be thriving with these two surfing power houses behind the reins. We also have some amazing moms who take really good care of our kids. Our team mom prepares breakfast burritos on the sand at every competition.  Don't you think that's way over and above the call of mom duty? She's making the rest of us look bad! But really, it's great to know that the kids get a healthy, organic breakfast after surfing their hearts out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


One really cool thing about living in Laguna is all of the local art. With the holidays right around the corner, now is the time to score great deals on lots of local talent. This week 2 friends are supporting local artists by hosting parties in their homes. It's such a nice way to connect with friends, enjoy some libations, and even do a little shopping. Here is just a smattering of what will be for sale:

Amy Eidt Jackson 

Christine Kunkel's mosaic mermaid
Kathe Madigril 
Stacey G.
Isn't it great? Sorry family, I'm not promising that I'll buy presents for anyone but myself! Really though, can you blame me?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A good deal

Have you guys seen this? If you are in Laguna, you should take advantage of this sale at Tuvalu! It's only on until Monday, so hurry!

For more info, go to:

The new Tommy Bahama has finally opened in the historic Heisler building where the old Jolly Roger used to be. After months of preparation, they have revealed their 3,000 square foot restaurant, and their 2500 square foot retail space. I haven't been in yet, but it's always great to check out what's new in town!

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson helps cut the ribbon

The bar 
The store
Tommy Bahama's is located at 400 So. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ending on a good note

Last Saturday day was thankfully pretty uneventful. I know, here it is, Friday and I'm still going on about last weekend! Well, it was such a ride, up and down, I feel like I have to share it with you!

Saturday night came around, and we had tickets to see the Smithereens at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Do you remember the Smithereens? They were a pretty prominent band in the eighties. I had to go to youtube to jog my memory too, so don't feel bad.

Anyways, they were so damn good! Pat DeNizio, the lead singer, has such a rich tone to his voice, with his incredible vibrato, and his obvious love for the music and the fans made for an incredible show! His voice reminds me a little of Elvis Costello, they both have that beautiful thick timbre to their voices. Ok, so that's enough of a treat, right? But their showmanship, and the performance they gave were really great, and they were super tight musically, too! If you see them on the bill of your local venue, be sure to check them out. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The ride continues...

Mr. R plays poker once a month, and it just so happened that Friday was his poker night. Still feeling pretty euphoric from the afternoon, I decided to meet a friend for a bit of a night out. There were several low key charity events happening around town, so we picked one, and met there.

It was a nice group of people, a lot of them I knew. I even met some folks that I'm hoping to see again sometime. The event was a fundraiser for Kondanani Children's Village in Malawi. This orphanage was started by a Dutch woman named Annie Chikhwaza. Annie takes care of about 150 children right now, and the costs to run her orphanage and school run about $2500 every day. Books, and classrooms are costly enough, but many of these kids have AIDS, and high medical costs, too. (Yes, it's the same orphanage that Madonna adopted her little girl Mercy, although not a word was mentioned about her.) As I write this, it seems to be a depressing story. Not so, Annie is a ray of light with a fascinating back story.

Annie holds a baby at her Kondanani Children's Village
Photo: Lori Basheda/Cathleen Falsani
Annie was living in South Africa, a divorced mother trying to keep her head above water when she met her future husband, the love of her life. After they married, they moved to Malawi, which had been his home growing up. He was a black man, and at that time, and probably still, there were intense racial struggles for them with family and neighbors. Annie endured beatings and emotional turmoil, but came through with her hopeful heart intact. She started her orphanage, and has been taking care of children ever since. Her beloved husband has since passed away, but she continues her work with open arms for all of her kids.
Happy kids

Ok, so getting back to the evening. Being a fundraiser, they had some art pieces for sale, and once there were plenty of people, the live auction began. The items being auctioned were hand carved wood sculptures, figures of men and women, and this beautiful globe.

The auction was going great. People were bidding on these art pieces, some going for quite a bit of money. It was exciting to be a part of this enthusiastic crowd! A friend of mine bid on and won the globe. Wow, it was so cool, as soon as the auction was over, I approached her and asked if I could see the globe. She looked at me with sort of a funny look on her face, but handed it over just the same. She had just spent hundreds on this item! It was wonderful to touch, smooth in some places, rough in others, and it opened up into two separate bowls. So, I opened it thinking it was a screw top, but it wasn't. The top went flying off and broke into 2 pieces right there on the brick floor.

Everything stopped. My mouth just hung opened in shock, as did hers. 

There it lay on the ground, broken. She had just purchased it not minutes before, for hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS of dollars!

It's funny how things can be seemingly going so well, and suddenly a wrench comes out of nowhere and  hits you over the head. I felt so awful! Awful doesn't even come close, I was completely and utterly devastated! One minute I was holding this beautiful piece of art, hand made in Malawi, the next minute it's broken in pieces because of me. Ugghh!

After about a thousand apologies, I left in tears, sobbing the whole way home. Sobbing still as I pulled the covers over my head and hoped sleep would come soon.

The next morning I was telling Mr. R about what happened. He took it upon himself to call my friend, the owner of the globe. I was actually kind of pissed, thinking I should take care of this myself, and that it may look really bad for him to be doing my dirty work. But he has such a nice way of talking to people, my anger went away. Mr. R knows how to fix problems. He's the go-to guy for problem solving. He made another quick call to a friend, Randy Bader, who is a master craftsman woodworker, and within minutes, I felt that somehow, things might just work out.

I dropped off the broken bits of the globe to Randy, truly an incredible artist who builds the most gorgeous custom furniture. He was so kind to take on this project. Instant relief swept over me, I knew the piece was in good hands. All I could do now was bide my time and wait.

A couple of days later I picked up the globe at Randy's workshop in Laguna Canyon. He's got all sorts of wood pieces in various degrees of completion around his shop. His finished work, beautiful rocking chairs, gorgeous dining tables, unique clocks and shelves are all upstairs sheltered from the sawdust.

He handed me the globe, I looked at it with such trepidation, hoping that in his talented hands this piece would somehow be mended. I searched for the break, but it was nearly invisible. The piece was back together! Randy had worked his magic, and the piece was close to perfect. Relief swept over me. Everything was going to be ok.

Master craftsman Randy Bader 

My friend wasn't there when I dropped off the globe with a nice bottle of wine and a little note attached. I just had to hope that she was as pleased with the restoration as I was. I did my best, there is nothing more  I could do.

Can you see the break?
Nice work, Randy!

Later, I received a phone call from my friend. She was really happy to get her globe back, and was surprised at how great it came out. Phew! But, she had one more thing to tell me.

"Well, it's funny, no, sad really. The other half of the globe was on my dining table, and the dog was going crazy running and jumping, and..." stuttering, she went on, "he knocked it off the table."

"NO!" I said

"Yes", she choked,  "the other half is broken now."

Wow, Can you imagine?! Poor thing, that globe was just not meant to be whole!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the way up

It's already Tuesday? Sheesh, I'm still trying to digest last weekend! It was a real rollercoaster of emotions. My life is usually pretty drama free, so processing is taking some time. I'll start with Friday morning, and go from there. Here goes:

Friday morning one of my friends called to see if I wanted to go surfing later. I immediately declined. Fear is a powerful enemy. As soon as she asked me, I could feel my heart racing. I think it was actually fear that responded to her, not my voice.

But as I hung up the phone, I began to realize that fear was stopping me from living a fun, spontaneous life. Even though I live with my boys who are avid surfers, and I have a bunch of friends who surf, I never really learned how. And the few times that I've attempted have brought me such panic, it's almost palpable. It doesn't make sense, really. I'm pretty comfortable in the ocean and love to swim and snorkel, but put a surf board into the equation, and my knees go weak, my heart beats like machine gun fire, and I get a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I called her right back, and told her that it was the fear talking, not me, and that yes, I did want to go. Hooray for me! Fear was not going to stop me, well, this time anyway.

Doheny State Beach has a pretty forgiving wave, so we drove down and hopped in the water there. Once I mustered up the courage to paddle out, it was amazing! The sun was out, pelicans flew past, and the water was pretty warm. It made me feel alive!
I looked exactly like this, right?
I paddled past the wave break to get acclimated, and sat out there for a long time trying to figure out what the heck to do next. I paddled for a couple of waves, but came up empty handed. After about an hour of really loving being out in the water, and trying to get a couple of waves, it was time to leave. I was in good position on the inside, closer to the shore. A wave was coming, and I could tell that I could maybe get this one! Heart pounding, paddling as hard as I could, I went for it! I could feel the wave pick me up! I was on! I rode it in on my stomach, because I haven't yet figured out how to get up  on my feet, but it was so much fun! Yea, I looked like a dork, but the cool thing was, I didn't even care.
A beautiful day at Doheny
My afternoon ended on a high, I had caught a wave! Ok, it wasn't pretty, but I did catch one! I was all smiles. There is such childlike playfulness to surfing, it is so exciting to be pushed by a wave. And I had somewhat tamed that awful fear. Things were going amazingly well.

I'm going to leave at that for now. I've got to run, but I'll finish telling you about the weekend rollercoaster ride later.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A dedication

'Til the day I die
It is shocking news in the surf community. Just days ago he was surfing the pro tour in Puerto Rico, but withdrew because of illness. Andy Irons, the fearless, hard charging, three time world champion is gone. It is nearly unimaginable that this world class athlete is no longer with us. He has touched so many of us with his style and his immense talent. He will be missed by all of us who admired his courage and ability. Mahalo, Andy. Aloha.