Monday, August 02, 2010

I've moved....

Yup, I made the daring leap to wordpress... don't worry, I am easy to find... Just point your browser to:

www.KathleensPlace.com

See you on the other side...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Almost Carjacked...AGAIN!

Spent a little bit of time up north this weekend and I always seem to get in trouble when I start driving the streets of LA! This weekend, I was up at the Pantages Theater seeing Topol in Fiddler on the Roof.

Leaving the theater we got caught in traffic with everyone leaving Staples Center after the Jonas Brothers concert..ugh! But we got to Staci's house and then I left from there. Only had about an hour drive, but it was late and I was very tired! (Gimme a break - it was after midnight - I am waaay to old for those late night hours!)

So I hit the freeway and then got stuck in more Jonas Brothers' traffic...ugh! I got off the freeway and started on side streets. I hate sitting in traffic not moving... patience isn't a virtue I have.... But...you'd think after the 2006-Almost-Carjacked Incident I would know better??!??

Nope... you give me WAY too much credit :)

So... there I was, stopped at a light... hear a tap on my driver's window... look to my left at a guy holding a gun. Without even hesitating, I hit the gas and flew through the intersection (to all of those who mocked me for focusing on a car that goes 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds - HAH!). and got to the freeway as fast as possible. NO, I did NOT stop for any red lights!)

Who carjacks a corvette? You can't sell the parts, it doesn't breakdown well because of the fiberglass and a yellow 'vette isn't easy to hide...unless it wasn't the car that he wanted... shudder...

What is it about LA and me? It isn't like all the streets of LA are mean, just the ones I find myself on! There are some very pleasant streets in LA. But geesh ONE more attempted car-jacking and I am going to start taking it personally!

Although, in defense of the mean-streets-of-LA... I made very stupid decisions and have no one to blame but myself (well, and the would-be-carjackers). The Luck-of-Kathleen in full force :)

For those of you not familiar with the 2006-Almost-Carjacked Incident in the Black Corvette (which was later hit by a drunk driver when I was coming back from seeing Jay Leno in LA in 2007) ...here is a recap:

October 4, 2006

I am a huge Barry Manilow fan! There I said it. I love Barry! And my friend Staci, is the best because when she was invited to a Friends and Family Dress Rehearsal for Barry Manilow's "Music and Passion" tour, she invited me to go with her! Duh - Of course, I am going to say yes! Did I mention I like Barry :)

So....I left work a bit early and met Staci at the LA Forum Arena for two hours of Barry singing Barry's greatest hits! The concert was the highlight of my week but the adventure was far from over once I left the Forum. I had been warned the Forum wasn't in the best part of LA - I can confirm that now... The Forum is in a baaaad part of LA.

I left the Forum and figured I'd take the 110 freeway home instead of the 405 - for those of you outside of Southern California, either freeway would have gotten me in the vicinity of my house.

Taking the 110 was the first bad choice I made that night. It was dark and the neighborhood in South Central LA I found myself in wasn't the nicest. It wasn't just that it was a run down part of town, but that it was 10PM and there were big groups of people on every street corner... I am pretty sure they weren't having prayer meetings...

I was only a few blocks from the freeway so I decided to just push on through. Naturally, I seemed to get stuck at every red light, giving the bystanders on all the various corners plenty of time to yell and mock me. To call it a "rough" neighborhood would be an understatement. The light turns green and I headed out of the intersection when suddenly an SUV and a car come flying out of a side street.

The SUV pulls in front of me and slams on his brakes, forces me to do the same, and the other car pulls up right behind me. Yeah...I wasn't thinking it was good either.

As it is happening, I am taking in the large crowd in front of the Laundromat on my left who are all laughing and hollering and I am not going to lie, I was scared. Then, I see the front door of the SUV in front of me start to open. By this time, I have already started to reverse and turn the wheel of my car to try to take advantage of what little space I have between me and the SUV & me and the car behind me. (Silver lining - I do have survival instincts... and they were kickin' in!)

I knew that, at whatever cost, I had to stay in the car because I was far safer IN the car than I ever would be out of it. I have a Corvette, I figured if I could just get my car moving, even if I had to take off the front hood to get out of the space, I could outrun them, right? 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds was one of its selling points :)

At just that moment, I hear police sirens and almost cry from relief (I didn't actually cry until later. I was a big girl :) In my rearview mirror, I saw two police cars racing up behind me - the mob scatters and the two cars I am trapped in between take off.

Now in hindsight, I can laugh about it. But it certainly wasn't funny last night. One of the police cars pulls up beside me and he yells at me, if you'll excuse my language, he asked if I had "shit for brains." To which I respectfully replied, "Yes, yes sir I do. Can you please get me out of here."

Apparently there are nice people who call the police when stupid people like me venture into neighborhoods where they aren't wanted (Who wouldn't want me?) Thankfully there was someone who took the time to make that call that night because the bad guys definitely had someone call them to let them know I was there, too. So in defense of the Policeman's "bad" language, his adrenaline was pumping and I think he was almost as scared as I was. When they got the call that I was in trouble I am not sure they were optimistic that they would find me okay (Notice that TWO police cars were dispatched, not one...)

So Police Car #1 pulled ahead of me, I pulled in behind him, Police Car #2 pulled in behind me and we left South Central LA. They pulled me into a parking lot off the freeway and explained to me (loudly) the stupidity of my ways.

There are rules in the neighborhood (yup, gangs have rules!) and those rules dictated that, on principle, the gang-in-charge couldn't let me just drive my "nice" car through their neighborhood without their permission and since I hadn't asked nicely, I needed to be taught a lesson. (I promise, that my rudeness was purely unintentional).

I can't say I really understand the Gang Rule Book, but I am trying not to judge because I have NO idea what life in their world is like or what they need to do to survive. Although, I didn't think it was really appropriate to point out the Escalade SUV that had served to stop me in the middle of the street was most likely worth far more than what I was driving, but I digress...

The nice, wonderful, heroic policemen also told me that if I ever found myself in a bad neighborhood again he hoped I was smart enough to NOT stop at red lights because obeying traffic laws wasn't going to win me any points if I was dead. (I made a mental note of that - He did have a good point...)

After my lecture was over, they escorted me right to the freeway and I headed home. I made some stupid, naive decisions that got me in a lot of trouble. It was only by the grace of God that it wasn't more serious trouble.

So lessons learned:

1 - Just because your car has a fancy, smancy navigation system that talks to you doesn't mean you can't get lost.

2 - Trust your instincts. Sometimes when you sense danger, you should turn around and not push forward, especially when you are a single, white female driving a new corvette (without tinted windows) in South Central LA singing "Copacabana" (loudly & off-key) after dark.

3 - Not everyone is well intentioned, so at 10PM in South Central LA, don't be so ready to give people the benefit of the doubt.

4 - Risk getting a traffic ticket for running a red light versus making yourself a conspicuous and easy target for groups of dubious characters on street corners by stopping at every red light.

5 - Just because you don't turn your head and make eye contact with mean, scary gang-members doesn't mean that they can't see you...

6 - And yes, there are probably bad police officers on the LA police force, but four LA policemen are my heroes and there is nothing I will ever be able to say to them to adequately express my gratitude.

Good Guys - 1
Bad Guys - 0

I said my prayers last night & thanked God for the blessing of one more day.


One of these days I'll learn...

Love,
Kathleen

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pretty is as Pretty Does...

I can't tell you how many times I heard this from my mother while I was growing up - Pretty is as Pretty Does. While I think she was trying to make me feel better for being a bit frumpy (those of you that actually knew me "way back when" can refrain from confirming this for those of you who didn't...:) my wise momma was also trying to teach me that if you act ugly, you are ugly. And God doesn't like ugly.

I see adults who don’t even look at their waitress when placing an order. I see parents who let their children talk rudely to store clerks. I see people who don't even bother to get off their cell phones as they check out at the grocery store. AND I saw this all before lunch today!

I’m not suggesting we engage in a deep, philosophical conversations with the ladies at the dry cleaners or the man who works the drive-thru, but I would suggest we start looking them in the eye when we speak to them.

And for the minute it takes to check out, order a meal, go through the drive-thru, or pick up your drycleaning... hang up your cell phone.

Growing up on different military bases, I remember seeing the same bulletin board shouting "Courtesy is Contagious." Don't you think we would all do good to catch a little of that?

Pretty is as pretty does. Act pretty :) Thanks, Momma.

Love,
Kathleen

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stopping to smell the flowers!


I LOVE yellow flowers. Nothing makes me happier - not sure what it is, but there is just something about sunny, yellow flowers even if they are "just" daisies. So I stopped on the way to work to take this picture - so pretty!

Love,
Kathleen

Sunday, August 02, 2009

MY Cash for YOUR clunker...

Grrrrr!

I really don't want to make this another blog that rants about the questionable programs coming out of Washington right now....I just got angrier and angrier this morning as I was listening to radio news shows.

We are paying people to trade-in perfectly acceptable cars, scrap these perfectly acceptable cars, dilute the trade-in market, subsidize government-owned auto makers and create unfair competition for those automakers running solvent and successful businesses who didn't need to take government money? All the while increasing my tax burden? Oh and it gets better... some of these eligible cars are made in Korea... so we are actually subsidizing the Korean economy? Oops... I started ranting....

BUT for the moment, let’s just pretend to ignore the fact that the Obama brain trust developed a program that was designed to run for three months but ran out of money in four days... more importantly, what does this suggest about their (in)ability to forecast anything about the economy or their (in)ability to administer your healthcare?

Cash for Clunkers just makes me more and more despondent about the prospect that Congress may soon be making my health care decisions for me. I am not saying healthcare doesn't need fixing, I am just saying I am tired of having to be the one to pay for everything.

Also... in my recent, informal Kathleen poll.. there are two problems that the majority of Americans are concerned about - the growing debt and the lack of jobs.

YET... the two issues Congress is quagmired in are .... energy and health. What am I missing? How are they supposed to reduce debt and create jobs?

Someone somewhere thinks putting a bigger burden on small businesses will make the economy all better? COBRA subsidies, minimum wage pay increase, supplemental tax hikes ... brilliant. For many, it's not about the money. It's about the sheer hassle of compliance with the tax laws and the complete loss of control you feel when dealing with the government.

I know I got a B in economics, so obviously I don't know much about the economy - supply, demand, stimulus, recession are all very complex. However, I do recall the best way to stimulate the economy is to stop taking money from taxpayers to begin with!

Sigh...

I wanted a renewed sense of optimism. Yup, I voted for the other guy, but I wanted change, too. I think we were a nation that was a little bit broken. But, I wonder if, as a nation, when we went to the polls we voted based on charisma versus experience? Now we have a bunch of newbies with advanced degrees trying and ...not succeeding.

I have advanced degrees... a BS, an MBA, a few professional certifications AND a Red Cross babysitting certificate.... I think that makes me qualified to run... the Department of Treasury.

Love,
Kathleen

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Doctor Says...



Misty is still doing well! She went in for another check-up with Veterinary Oncologist and...

1. Xrays show her lungs to be clear
2. Blood work looks good
3. No more lump/bump/mass on her tongue
4. She the best dog ever!

Okay, #4 was an editorial comment....


So we'll go back in two more months and hope for the same!

Love, Kathleen

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spoiler Alert



Really? Do we really need spoilers? Why would anyone want to do this to their car? Is it a guy thing? I don't understand it. This confuses me.

Not that you care Mr. Spoiler, but as I drove by, I made fun of you from inside the solitude of my car (sans spoiler). I even questioned the size of your... brain.

I mean who uses their car to draw attention to themselves? THAT is just plain ridiculous! :-)

Love,
Kathleen

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oprah, are you there? It's me, Kathleen...

The Oprah Winfrey Show - it is like "Sesame Street" for adults.

I haven't watched Oprah in years, but apparently she says you teach people how to treat you - If someone does something and you don't say anything...you have given them permission to do it again.

During dinner tonight, while discussing our boy problems (we moved on to the failing economy next), I got in trouble with an angry mob of girlfriends for being too permissive, too accommodating, too slow to anger and... too nice. Dang it - I hate it when I am too nice. Wait... I do?

Hold on - I thought being nice was a 'good thing'. Treat others how you want to be treated? To live in harmony don't we need to show consideration for others and be able to put the needs of others ahead of our own?

That got me to thinking... what is "too nice"?

Here is what I have decided and Oprah may or may not agree with me. If we live our lives in such a way that allows others to discount our needs, ignore our wants, and we don't receive the respect we deserve, we are being "too nice". If you’re nicer to a guy than you are to yourself OR if you’re nicer to him than he is to you, that’s "too nice".

Until we find our perfect partner, we’re going to walk down a lot of one-way streets; make a few lousy picks; and we’re going to kiss a lot of frogs. It isn't in vain. Each time we end up our proverbial rears, we stand up stronger.

SO, don't underestimate nice girls. We may look like pushovers, but we aren't. We hide a fierce inner strength and nice doesn't mean weak.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, I do think sometimes us nice girls ARE too permissive, too accommodating and too slow to anger... :) Not always, but with this particular boy, I definitely was. I get that NOW - with the clarity of hindsight :)

Oprah and the angry mob of girlfriends had a point - People choose how to treat me - I just need to be more aware of what I allow. Ah-ha!

I think the biggest (scariest) risk involved in teaching people how to treat you better is the risk that some of them might go away. Sometimes you just have to let them.


Love,
Kathleen

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Raise your Glasses!

Alright already! Stop nagging me - here is my MOH speech. Although, I hope your expectations are very low - not my best moment. I got a bit emotional at the end. But she is my baby sister :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

Helen Reddy is singing to me while I am getting ready for a date. Don't laugh. Don't judge. It is a great song!

But as I listen to this "Girl Power" song, it has made me wonder... what happened to MY roar?

Craaaaaap... I need to work on reclaiming my roar.

I better listen to the song, again... Wait, this might call for more drastic measures... I might need to listen to a little P!nk... I AM a rockstar and I got my rock moves :-)

Love,
Kathleen

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Stalker

He knows where I live. He knows what car I drive. He has followed me when I take Misty out for a walk. He is usually there waiting for me to get back from a run. He seems to always be sitting at the curb at the corner of my street....

He is 8 years-old :)

Tommy lives around the corner from me. Cute, little boy. Always waves when I drive by; says "hi" when I run by. After a time, he worked up the courage to stop me with "Excuse me, Miss. Cool car." So I stopped to chat, seemed rude not to.

A little while later, when we were talking after one of my runs, he worked up the courage to ask if he could look inside my car? I said of course! If his mom wanted to bring him down to my house, then I'd even let him sit in the car :) Five minutes later, he was dragging his poor mom up the walkway to my front door.

A few days later, his mom said he wouldn't stop talking about the car... would I mind driving him around the block? Of course! I put down the top and we drove around our little neighborhood - he was laughing the whole way. You know that laugh - that great, little kid laugh...such pure joy that makes your heart smile and your soul shine.

He brought his friends to my driveway to 'look' at my car, but he warned them not to touch because only certain people could touch... and then he proceeded to touch it in a display of his importance :)

When he sees me go out for a run, he waits for me to finish and then runs the last block with me - he thinks it is fun to beat me to my own driveway..show-off! :) (In my defense...he didn't just run 10 miles ...)

Today, Tommy told me he wants to marry me when he grows up. I asked him why? He said because I am "cool." From the mouths of babes... :)

Love,
Kathleen

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hugs not Drugs

My friends often tease me that I am always thinking and that I do the often-committed offense and "over-think" everything.

Guilty as charged...

As a result, I haven't been sleeping well recently. I know.... I just need to realize there are going to be some questions I'll never get answers to.

But no matter what I tried, I'd wake up and start "thinking"... and then I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep! And, with the exception of Gilligan Island re-runs, there is absolutely NOTHING to do at 2AM! Grrrrrr!

I went for LONG, hard runs trying to wear myself out. I tried watching movies, reading books, journaling, blogging, not even Misty wanted to go for a walk at that hour of the morning (...or is that night?) The fail-safe Tylenol PM wasn't even doing the trick. Nope... heartache won and I just couldn't sleep more than a few hours each night.

But ... I had lunch with my best friend. I haven't seen her in awhile and it was just the two of us in this tiny restaurant in San Clemente. She listened, she made me laugh, she let me cry, but most importantly ... she hugged me.

I slept that night for 8 hours...straight.


Love,
Kathleen

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All Good Things Must Come To An End?

Do they? Do all good things have to come to an end? Or do things come to an end because they weren't good? Nah... sometimes things just weren't meant to be :)

He wanted to see other people. I made him choose. He just didn't choose me.

I am still confused. Maybe a bit dazed. I mean, really, how could any man NOT want me? That just defies ALL logic. (At least that is what my sister says and I've always thought her to be quite smart :)

I am not bashing, not hating, not mad, not bitter, not name calling. I am not angry, vengeful or remorseful. I am hurt. I am sad. I'll miss him. I still think he is special... he just didn't think I was special... enough :)

I do have some great memories and it was good while it lasted - at least until the end with the tears and the sleepless nights :) That part kinda' sucked....

BUT what I decided earlier today... today is the day I get my head out of my arse and stop feeling sorry for myself :)


Love,
Kathleen

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pretty Witch

Not everyone likes me. What!??! A lot of people do like me but there are some that don't. I think if I had to tally it up - more people like me than don't like me. I am pretty sure the "likes" outweigh the "dislikes," so all in all, I can be okay with that.

Recently, my sister has been teasing me about running into people I don't WANT to run into...everywhere! People I would really prefer not to see/talk to have been at a breakfast cafe, at the hair salon, at the gym and now... at the Chevron station around the corner from my house.

I pulled in to the gas station to put in $5000 worth of gas this morning. Okay, it was more like $50.... but I am prone to exaggeration :)

Anyway, I was fighting tears and I really HATE for people to see me cry. It had just been a long night, I was tired, my "heart" hurt, I couldn't get my hair to stay up, my run hadn't gone well, I felt fat, I was tired, kids are starving in Africa AND the song on the radio was Garth's "The Dance" - the world was trying to make me cry! Seriously!

So this "person" at the Chevron station said hello to me AND as he walked away he muttered under his breath AND I CLEARLY heard him say... "So the Pretty Witch does have a heart..."

Seriously? Wow. Really? Kick me while I am obviously down? NOW I feel perfectly justified for sidestepping his advances a few years ago...

But there is always a silver-lining...he called me "pretty" :)

Love,
Kathleen

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here Comes the Bride...

Nope, not me :) My little sister married Joseph on June 13th. Over a year of planning and the big day finally arrived. Now, in hindsight, it is hard to believe that the big day has already come and gone!

But I think all things considered, it was a great celebration of the love two people have for each other. The slideshow below is a gathering of pictures from a whole bunch of different people - my sister is the star of most of them, but I managed to sneak into one or two :)

Rumor has it that there is video out there of me making my MOH speech. IF, after screening rumored video, I deem it appropriate (meaning not embarassing to me in any way) then I'll post a link to that as well. :)



Love,
Kathleen

Monday, May 25, 2009

So long as I get somewhere...

That was the quote that my sister used in her Graduation speech at UT Law. Hard to believe three years later she was walking across the stage to receive her JD - it isn't that she was graduating that was hard to believe, it was that it had been three years since I helped her get settled in Austin!

But graduate she did and in typical Lorraine style, she did it with class and accolades. She was elected as Permanent Class President and that gave her the opportunity to address her class on graduation day. She gave a great speech (even in my non-baised opinion :))





The trip to Austin was a whirlwind - I flew in at 10pm Thursday night and then out on Sunday at 6am. We managed to drive to San Antonio to visit my grandmother and Uncle, a wedding dress fiting for Lorraine, a visit with an old high school friend, graduation, and dinner with family and friends :)



Next big thing - THE wedding in Dallas on June 13th :)

Love, Kathleen

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good NEWS! The wicked,old tumor is gone!

So today was a great day! (Forget the fact that I left the house at 6am and didn't get back until 10pm... LONG day.)

More importantly, Misty had a 30-day check up and the tumor on her tongue is all GONE!!! The last 30 days were nervewracking - at her last check-up, the tumor was still there. Granted, something about a biopsy determining the cells were not dividing was supposed to make me feel better... but NOW I feel better!

At this point, we'll go in for another check up in 30 days. Then every two months after that will be xrays and blood work. And for my beautiful, 13-year-old puppy, I am going to keep her happy and healthy as long as I can. She is curled up at my feet as I type this making cute, doggie snores.

Misty's good news has been the really only noteworthy thing to report. I noticed I haven't posted anything since February and that is because life hasn't been that exciting :). I did make a trip to Dallas for my sister's shower in early April. I just got back from teaching two days in Denver (trust me, I can't believe people WANT to hear what I have to say, much less PAY to hear what I have to say!)

Next, I take off for Austin (sister's Law School graduation), followed by a trip to Dallas (sister's wedding) and then there are a few other tentative trips planned (for ME!). I also need to get a trip into NYC though.. can't break the tradition! I am still signed up for the Marine Corp Marathon and so far that is going according to plan - fingers crossed!

Life is never dull, at least for me. There are some days though that I'd give anything for a little "dull" :)

Love,
Kathleen

Friday, February 06, 2009

Misty's DONE!

Today was the 6th and final dose of radiation for Misty's tongue and lymph nodes!!

She has been uncomfortable this past week and the next two weeks will get slightly worse. I am managing her pain with pain pills and I'll step up the dose starting today just to make sure she hurts as little as possible. I've switched her to moist food so she is still eating well and always wants to go on walks. I think that as long as both those things continue, we are doing just fine! We'll go in for a recheck next week and then every 3 months.

Life is slowly getting back to normal after the trip to Dubai. Sleeping is still irregular, at best! Can't keep my eyes open after work and am then up at 2am. I am hoping that I can beat the clock this weekend and actually sleep a full, 8-hours when normal people are sleeping :).

Adventures didn't stop with my return to SoCal. My first day back at work, I blew a front tire on the 'vette. Not just a little hole, but a great, big, gigantic hole. Thank goodness for AAA. Although, it was late, car rental place was closed so... I took a cab into work the next day. Finding a cab to take me and Misty to work (she had her 5th radiation treatment that day) was a little challenging, but I perservered! Thanks to the generosity of co-workers, I borrowed cars and made it everywhere I was supposed to that day! And of course, I now have two new tires because you can't just replace one... And you don't even want to know what those tires cost!

Hope all is well in your world(s)!
TGIF!
Love, Kathleen

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dubai... the adventure draws to a close....



Day Six

Today was a fun day again. We slept in a bit – we are on vacation and sleep has been a bit challenging so we take it when we can get it! But down to breakfast for our final breakfast buffet.

After breakfast we dressed for our day at Ski Dubai (http://www.skidubai.com/ ). A quick cab ride through the city and we were at the Mall of the Emerites, home of Ski Dubai, the world’s largest indoor ski slope!

Neither of us were “expert” enough to ski the slopes, but we did rent ski pants, jackets and boots to go inside the snowpark. It lived up to my expectations – quite amazing the amount of snow that they have and that the can make it feel like the actual ski slopes I have been to!

We did buy lift tickets and we rode the chairs to the cafĂ©, stopped for a hot chocolate, got back on the chairs for a ride all the way to the top… and then back down again. And then we repeated it one more time :). It was a ton of fun to watch all the skiers and snowboarders. We did sled down the hills and had a blast laughing like kids! Playing in the snow in the middle of the desert! Who would have thought it possible!!??!

After we were done playing in the snow, we met Eliza for lunch Eliza and her family live in Dubai so it was fun to pick her brain and ask her a ton of questions! Lunch was enjoyable but then Jenny and I were game to squeeze in a bit more touring.

Another quick cab ride and we were in the middle of downtown Dubai. We briefly peeked in the Dubai Museum and we weren’t impressed so we walked around and wandered through the Textile Souq and an area that appeared to be Little India. But the BEST find find of the day was the Abra (boat) loading and unloading stations. The Abras are used as mass transit and the only way I can think to describe the chaos that goes into docking and loading/unloading is to say…bumper boats! The boats plowed into each other, honking horns and slamming into the docks. It was the craziest thing! Jenny and I just stood there and I am sure our mouths were hanging open!

After that little adventure, it was back to the hotel to get ready for our early flights in the morning. We took a break and went for a drink at the hotel bar to relax a bit. We met two nice gentlemen from Dubai and they were quite fun to quiz about their country. That makes only three people that we have met this entire trip who are actually from Dubai. My guide book says that only 10% of the population is actually from here… so guess we were lucky to meet the three locals that we did!

So this will be my last post :). My flight leaves in 6 hours and so I am wrapping things up. I enjoyed the trip, but all good things must come to an end. I really miss the pets so I am very much ready to go home. However, I am not looking forward to the 29 hours that it is going to take me to get there! I’ll land at LAX Saturday night at 10pm…

Thank you very much for keeping up with me – I hope you enjoyed reading my travel log and looking through the pictures!

Love, Kathleen

Dubai...still an adventure!



Day Five

Another day in Dubai, but it was very foggy when we first got up. Neither of us slept really well again, I think that we are still fighting a bit of jet lag. A 12-hour time difference is quite a change for my body clock! Jenny read somewhere that it takes a day for every hour of time change…so 12 days later… I’ll be back home.

So we got out of bed and head down to yet another breakfast buffet. Then back up to the room for a little catnap before we met our car for our trip to the Jumeirah Mosque, which was one of the highlights of our trip so far!

The Jumeirah Mosque is the only Mosque in the city which is open to non-Muslims. We made it for the 10am tour and the next 1.5 hours were really enlightening. I had been to a Mosque in Malaysia, but it wasn’t a formal tour or educational experience. This tour was incredible.

We started by observing the pre-prayer cleansing ritual, as well as the religious meaning behind it. Then we were shown into the Mosque (we had to remove our shoes and as women, we had to be all covered except our feet.) We were given “lectures” on Islam – history, tradition and beliefs. We tried to learn as much as we could in the 1.5 hours, but still has many more questions. We were also shown the prayer ritual and the meaning behind the steps. Our teacher was a Kuwaiti gentleman, who lived in the US for 20 years, and a British woman, who had lived in Dubai for over 15 years. I wish I could explain what we learned but it was just so much! And I wonder if so many of the world’s problems could be solved just by learning more about each other and discovering that we aren’t as different as we think!

Then after our Mosque tour, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed lunch – Chinese food :). We enjoyed a relaxing meal. Then, for me, it was off to do my helicopter tour. One of the pricier ones that I have been on, but it was enjoyable. The best part was that the pilot was a friend of mine from college so it was fun to reminisce and catch-up. We then took off to meet another friend of mine who was also in town, and Jenny met up with friends of hers. So all-in-all, it was a night of great fun!

Love,
Kathleen

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dubai...The adventure continues!



Day Three

Jenny and I both had trouble sleeping in – we were both out of bed by 6:30! On vacation! We finally gave up and got up, but not without a few complaints!
The rest of the morning was rough… we ate breakfast and lounged by the pool! Then it was off to the spa for massages :). Life was good!

Then for me, it was back to the arduous task of laying by the pool while Jenny went horseback riding on an Arabian horse! She went riding on the beach while the sunset and had an amazing time.

Dinner was similar to the night before – Arabian meal with Arabian entertainment, but a bit more upscale. We took a buggy to a restaurant on the property and enjoyed pictures with Camels, Falcons and Arabian horses. We also shopped a little at the booths, sponsored by locals. Dinner was excellent, but all these all-you-can-eat buffets are going to be the death of me! After dinner, there was a show with some local entertainment and dancing, plus a camel and horse show (hard to explain what it was…but there were camels and there were horses…:))

Because we were still wide awake, we went to the rooftop bar and enjoyed the view and the guitarist, who tried to entertain us with American songs :)


Day Four

Today we left Bab Al Shams and headed to the city. The drive was about an hour and we were able to see a little more of the desert before we hit the big city. The amount of construction here is amazing. Jenny and I made a game out of who could get the picture with the most cranes in it – Jenny won with 6! Although, we did notice that a lot of the cranes weren’t moving – a sign of the economic crisis.

Pulling up to the Al Qasr (http://www.jumeirah.com/en/Hotels-and-Resorts/Destinations/Dubai/Madinat-Jumeirah/) was very impressive The hotel and the grounds are massive! There are the most majestic statues of Arabian horses as you pull up the driveway and the entryway is amazingly intricate. Words and pictures probably won’t due it justice so I won’t even try. Dubai is extravagant!

We checked in to our suite – we were upgraded so life was good. We had rooms to spread out in and a balcony with a great view of the skyline. We didn’t waste much time exploring the room because we were eager to get started exploring Dubai!
We headed to the concierge with our list of “must-do” and “wanna-do” things and started planning. Once we fit in everything that we wanted to do over the next few days, we hopped on the Gondolas and just rode around the property – it goes on forever with a lot of restaurants, gazebos, pools, rooms, beaches, cabanas and shops. In theory, you wouldn’t ever have to leave the property at all!

After the Gondola ride, we ran back to our rooms to get ready for tea at the Burj Al Arab, the world-renown, self-proclaimed 7-star hotel in the shape of the a Dhow Sail. We had a tea reservation for 4pm and we were bound and determined to make tea last until the sunset. Tea was at the skyview bar, on the 27th floor, facing the ocean, and the view was fantastic.

We were easily able to stall long enough to watch the sunset because “tea” was a five course meal of a glass of Moet Chandon, finger sandwiches, scones, petit fours, fruit, and…tea. We thoroughly enjoyed it and it was really amazing to watch the sun go down.

Then it was back to the room to change and then we hired a car to the Gold Souq, which is shop after shop of gold and diamond jewelry. We wandered for hours admiring everything. We had a blast bargaining and exercised amazing restraint when we couldn’t get the price that we wanted. Sometimes I was just bargaining just to practice! However, we both did buy…jewelry. But I think that we were both happy with our purchases and that we got good deals.

So after a few hours of being girls and admiring shiny things, we hopped back in the car and back to the hotel!

Love,Kathleen

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dubai...The adventure has begun!

Day Two



We slept in – or at least tried to. Housekeeping knocked on our door at 7am? Who does that? But we managed to fall back asleep for a few hours before we crawled out of our beds.

Since we arrived in the dark last night we explored the hotel and the grounds. The sun was out and the grounds are really beautiful – a lot of pools and a surprising amount of green for being out in the desert. We are staying at the Bab Al Shams Resort and Spa (http://www.jumeirahbabalshams.com )

Breakfast was a little bit of an adventure, plus it was an all-you-can-eat buffett which are evil :). Besides the traditional breakfast fare, we had camel milk, veal bacon, chicken sausage, A LOT of prunes (do they know something that I don’t) and a smoothie bar!

After breakfast and more strolling, we headed back to the room, changed into our conservative, one-piece bathing suits and lounged by the pool. Jenny got a massage poolside while I read a cheesy romance novel (hush - I am on vacation!!). We enjoyed attentive service by our own cabana boy who was bringing us $6 diet cokes (yikes!!)

After a few hours of fun in the sun, then it was time to get ready for our Arabian Adventure tour. We left that hotel around 4 and after a 30-minute drive with our Pakistani driver and 4 other tourists, we ended up at the Sand Dunes and the fun began.

First step of dunbe-bashing is to let air out of all four tires on the SUV (Chevy Tahoe) so that you can properly slide on the sand. We spent the next 30 minutes off-roading in an off-road vehicle, exploring sand dunes. There were 15 cars in our caravan and we followed the car in front of while our “professional” driver took us through various stunts, like sliding down hill sideways, nose diving off the top of a dune, kicking up sand higher than the vehicle, roaring up a hill – all in a Chevy Tahoe! Thank goodness for seat belts and roll bars!

After the dune-bashing, we stopped for pictures and to watch the sunset. It was quite beautiful to see the sun set below the tunes – we got some great pictures and took a few minutes to calm out stomachs!

Then it was back in the car for a short-ride to base camp where we spent the rest of the evening riding camels, eating dinner, watching a belly dancer and Jenny smoked honey-flavored shisha.

The camels were bigger than I expected. But we were up for the adventure and Jenny and I climbed on one for our short ride together. Riding the camel was understandably bumpy, but the most adventurous part of the ride was being on the camel while he/she/it stood up! I thought we were going to fall off! But we lived to tell the tale and will ride another day.

Next on the agenda was dinner, which was okay. Nothing gourmet, but yummy nonetheless. I *think* it was chicken…. The Belly Dancer was entertaining and worked the crowd a bit. Jenny also bought some local artwork and then we were back in the SUV for the ride to our hotel.

Kathleen, under the influence of Dramamine (in preparation for dune-bashing), crashed and went to sleep. Jenny, being the more adventurous of the two and not in a Dramamine-induced coma, went to the rooftop bar and listened to Arabic guitar player and enjoyed the local scenary.

So now we are ready for day three!
Love,
Kathleen

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dubai...28 hours later....

Day One

I spent the whole day traveling - 28 hours from when I left my house in Orange County, I landed in Dubai!

I flew out of LAX and landed in JFK a few hours later. After a short layover, then it was back on a plane to Heathrow. Another short layover, and back on another plane, this time to Dubai.

My seat partner from LAX to JFK didn’t do well in the air and required the use of a barf bag…not so much fun. Thankfully, I always bring a change of clothes for transatlantic flights – they were needed!! As was the shower in the Admiral’s club at JFK – I spend so much time traveling, that membership is worth every penny! “Always prepared” isn’t just for Boy Scouts – it should also include 28-hour flight itineraries!

JFK to Heathrow was much better. I used FF miles to upgrade and the plane wasn’t full so I got two BIG business class seats to myself – it was pure heaven! I had space to spread out and the leg room was amazing… I really am a spoiled brat!

There is a 12-hour time difference between Orange County and Dubai so I tried to make myself adjust to Dubai time and slept a few hours during their “night” on the JFK/Heathrow leg. But that was only about 3 hours and I am exhausted and really want to sleep… I hope when I find Jenny and we get to the hotel that I’ll still be exhausted and have no problem falling asleep!

So right now, I am safe and sound in Dubai. I’ve collected my bags and am waiting at the baggage claim for Jenny. Her flight just landed so I am off to look for her and then make the trek to our hotel!

For those of you not following me on Facebook, here are today’s travel tips, which I hope are as much fun for you as they are for me :)

Travel tip #1 – Choosing not to wear makeup on the plane was unwise… I am sitting behind The Office’s Jim… do you think he likes the natural look?
Travel tip #2 – Business Class. Leg Room. Food. Worth every penny. And the rude, snotty guy next to me – free of charge.
Travel tip #3 – Avoid the seat near the bathroom, it can be kinda’ stinky
Travel tip #4 – Always check for a barf bag… u may not need it but rude, snotty guy next to u might… Also, pack a change of clothes for just such occasions.
Travel tip #5 – Be nice to the gate staff, it isn’t their fault that airlines are inherently evil…
Travel tip #6 – Auntie Annie’s pretzels are a must – they make everything all okay 
Travel tip #7 – it is rude to sit in my BizClass seat and take pity on people passing by on their way to their small, cramped coach seats….pray for my black soul 
Travel tip #8 – Pay due homage to the travel gods when u get 2 BizClass seats to yourself for a JFK/London flight  Aaaahhh – Appreciate the good things in life.
Travel tip #9 – Pilots now carry guns, remember that when they ask you to turn off your electronic devices.
Travel tip #10 – When running the Heathrow Marathon (the 26.2 miles it takes to get from gate to gate) drink plenty of water.
Travel tip #11 – Be prepared to pay $5,000 for a bottle of water after currency exchange
Travel tip #12 (From Dubai!!!) – Whenever possible, take the time to make new friends!

Overall the trip was long, but uneventful. Now the adventure begins!
Love,
Kathleen
p.s. The internet engine is in Arabic – took me forever to figure out how to post this! :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

29 and holding....

I am a year older than when I last wrote... 36. Yup, 36 years OLD :) Thanks to everyone for the great birthday wishes. I was able to celebrate with a great group of friends while we were in Vegas for a mini-conference. A great day!

Also, thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts and prayers for my dog, Misty. She has done 2 radiation treatments and is doing well! Although I know it will get a little more painful for her as we finish up the treatments, I am cautiously optomistic she'll be fine after the recommended six treatments. The best news came Thursday night - her lymph nodes show no sign of cancer so THAT is great news and the best birthday present!

I just arrived home, but I leave for Dubai in the morning. I stopped in long enough to repack and play with Misty! I'll be driving up to LAX bright and early in the morning and then traveling for 25 hours! I fly from LAX to JFK to Heathrow to Dubai! Thankfully, I was able to use FF miles to upgrade to business class which will make the 25 hour travel-itinerary tolerable, but barely....

Assuming we have internet access, keep checking back for regular updates and pictures. Although, I feel 99% confident that if I had crackberry reception at the top of Machu Picchu, Dubai will be no problem!

I am sure Jenny and I will find a few fun adventures so more to follow!

Love, Kathleen

Monday, January 19, 2009

Misty was just diagnosed with cancer, but I feel blessed!

So the news is as good as it could be considering the circumstances. A routine dental cleaning leads to the discovery of a mass on Misty’s tongue. After a torturous FOUR days waiting for results, I got the bad news.

And so the journey begins, again... Could life really be this brutal? The odd thing is that Samantha was diagnosed in January 2007, she passed away January 2008 and now Misty was diagnosed January 2009… I think I am just going to skip January next year…

But what I found out today was as good as it could be under the circumstances. The mass was smaller than was originally thought and so we are going to skip surgery and instead radiate the heck out of it. Even though all her blood work looks good, we still want to avoid putting this 13-year old dog under anesthesia more than we have to! Misty’s lungs also looked good and we did an ultrasound to make sure the rest of her organs looked good. (By saying "we", I mean the vet did the ultrasound and I took out a second mortgage to pay for it... j/k. I would have paid twice as much - can you really put a price tag on your pet's life? Treatment is far more reasonable than most people think!) The vet also aspirated (?) her lymph nodes in the area to check to see if the cancer has spread. I’ll know more on that later and even if it has, we won’t alter the treatment plan. For now, she is other-wise healthy and the only worry I have is the %^@ malignant melanoma.

I am a big fan of finding the silver lining in every situation and I think that the (only?) silver lining in losing Samantha to cancer last year was that this time I knew what to do, who to talk to and what questions to ask to increase Misty’s chances. I immediately asked for Dr. Rosenberg, the world’s best Veterinary Oncologist (!!!). Although, it wasn’t anything personal, but I really didn’t want to have to find myself in her clinic ever again… but here I am. HOWEVER, there is NO other place I’d want to be in treating a pet with cancer. Her reputation is well earned and she really is the best of the best (cue Top Gun music). She is forthcoming, honest, caring and the best chance any pet has of beating this disease. http://www.vetcancergroup.com/.

There is also a fabulous article about her in the Orange County Register http://www.ocregister.com/articles/cancer-rosenberg-people-2045783-hailey-vcg. After you read it you’ll understand why, before Misty’s regular vet even finished saying “malignant melanoma,” I was interrupting him to tell him I was going to switch Misty’s care to Dr Rosenberg. VCG worked me in on Monday, less than 48 hours after Misty’s biopsy results came back. Time matters in these situations, another lesson learned from Samantha’s treatment. I am considering a second career in veterinary oncology, as a veteran, a self-appointed expert and with Google as my database, I know lots of big words now….

Anyway, so Misty will go in for her first radiation treatment tomorrow. She’ll need a total of 6. She is also getting a vaccine which is supposed to prevent/treat Melanoma (depending on what studies you read and what it is “approved” for) so she’ll be getting that every two weeks for a total of 4 shots. After that she’ll go in for six-month booster vaccines and two-month check-ups. Dr Rosenberg told me it was all good news and I have every reason to be relieved and cautiously optimistic! Plus, she hasn’t lied to me yet, even when the truth was hard to hear.

The radiation shouldn’t be too taxing on Misty. We are only doing six treatments and only hitting the tongue and lymph nodes so it is a small, concentrated area. However, that is not to say it will be pain free. I know February will be rough and Misty will feel some significant discomfort. Dr Rosenberg explained that the radiation burns will make it uncomfortable for her to eat for a few days/weeks and that we’ll manage the pain with pain pills. It’ll be hard to see her hurt, but I think discomfort for a few days will be worth the tradeoff of adding months (or possibly years!!) to her life. I hope I am making the right choices for her.

Beyond the radiation and the vaccines, I’ll just have to be vigilant. Like skin cancer in people, I think I understand that it can come back in the same place or other places. Unfortunately, it tends to be quite aggressive in dogs, but I think we found it early enough and so for that I am blessed!

So THANK YOU for all the kind thoughts, prayers and patience with my tears. For 13 years Misty has been my constant companion, friend, life force and given me unconditional love, of which I was rarely deserving! Go hugs your pets!

K

Friday, January 16, 2009

U.A.E A.S.AP!

Jenny and I started talking about this trip a few months back so it is hard to believe that it is almost here! I leave on Wednesday for a quick trip to Vegas and then on to the United Arab Emirates - Dubai!

Hotel 1: The Al Qasr on the beach (3 nights)
Hotel 2: Bab Al Shams in the desert. (2 nights)

So check back for pictures and time permitting, I'll be blogging about our adventures! I am quite sure we will find ways to make this a memorable trip!

Hope that this year has already been full of adventures for you and yours!
Love, Kathleen

Monday, December 29, 2008

Out with the OLD & in with the NEW

So... 2008 is drawing to a close and I am trying to figure out where the year went?! Is it just me or does anyone else think the years are passing by faster and faster? Possibly related to Global Warming? The El Nino Effect? Mad Cow disease? The fact I am now closer to 40 than to 30...?

Sigh.. the reality is that 2009 is just around the corner and as I look back and take stock of my life, or at least the last 360+ days... I know I am really blessed to have such a great family and amazing friends. If you are reading this, you most likely fall into one, or both, categories so thank you!

But ringing in the new year is more about looking forward and less about looking back. We should be celebrating and I've been thinking a lot about 2009 as it approaches but that also means I feel the weight of having to come up with resolutions for the New Year! You know, those grand promises we make ourselves with the best of intentions. For instance, in 2009, I will lose 10 pounds, eat healthy, save more/spend less, walk my dog every day, stop procrastinating... I'll work on my resolutions later...

But whatever 2009 brings us - I hope it is filled with much love, laughter and adventure for you and yours!


Happy New Year!
Love, Kathleen

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is celebrating the start of the Holiday Season with friends and family! Eat a lot of turkey and sweets!

Love, Kathleen

Monday, November 24, 2008

West Coast versus East Coast

I just spent the last week on the East Coast and had a great time... if it just had not been so cold! But I layered up, drank lots of hot chocolate and it was just fine. Spent the first half of the week in NYC celebrating T's birthday, shopping and seeing FOUR Broadway shows: Wicked, Grease, Chicago and Spamalot. Life is good :)

Then I rented a car and headed to Farmingdale, NY. Now... I am a big city girl and learned to drive in the big city, BUT NYC is off the charts! Straddling the lanes, stopping in the middle of the intersection and running red lights are apparently generally accepted driving practices! My nerves were a bit frazzled as I maneuvered through rush-hour traffic! But all was well in Farmingdale (work trip) and so then I headed to Easton, Pennsylvania.

I arrived in Easton and had a great time - work and pleasure. Thursday and Friday I was in the store and Saturday was spent flying around in a Bonanza. My adventurous pilot, TW, took us out to the quaint, little, seaside town of St. Michaels where we did a bit of shopping and stopped for lunch. Then back up in the air for the ride back to Easton. LOVED every minute of it! See below for the pictures of our fun!



Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this holiday season begins with many blessings for you and yours!

Love, Kathleen

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boston

Spent a nice long weekend touring the Boston area. I only had three days so it was a quick tour, but we sure crammed in quite a bit in those three days. Now I am getting ready for a trip to NYC and Pennsylvania. More pictures to follow!



Love, Kathleen

Sunday, November 02, 2008

November 2nd...really?

Can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it is November already... Only 53 more shopping days until Christmas? Say it isn't so...

Took a trip to Portland last weekend - a little bit of work and a little bit of fun. Posted pictures from a hike we took on Sunday. The weather was just about perfect and I was able to really enjoy the fall colors. Although a word of caution... if you're hiking with KD and he says you are going on a hike with a "gradual" climb. I'd clarify whether your definitions of "gradual" are in sync... :) He made me work for that view! But what a fun day!



Love,
Kathleen