Friday, November 14, 2008

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Here we go again.....Santa Barbara is on fire. Again. And yes, it does seem like California has been on fire for most of 2008. Perhaps we're burning in hell because of our wicked liberal ways (yes, I read "those" blogs - I know what people think of us) or perhaps it's because we had about 2 days of rain this year, it's 91 degrees right now in mid-November, and the Santa Ana winds topped out at 72 mph last night. (That's almost a category 1 hurricane, right? See, I haven't forgotten my Florida roots.)

Although this fire is nowhere near our home, it's much worse because houses and people have been hurt in this one (the Gap fire didn't reach any structures). This one is on the Santa Barbara Riviera and in Montecito, where the fancy people live - like I said, nowhere near our home. Christopher Lloyd's house burned down, but so far there's no word on Oprah, Rob Lowe, John Cleese, Michael Douglas, or Eric Schmidt. I've offered Rob Lowe a place to stay in case he needs to evacuate, but he hasn't called back. Yet. By the way, Oprah's dogs have been evacuated to the Four Seasons. Like I said, fancy people.

Current stats
Name: Tea Fire (has nothing to do with a beverage)
Sexy firemen in town: 800+
Multi-million dollar mansions destroyed: 100-200
Households evacuated: 5500
Acres burned: 1500
Deaths: 1
Burn injuries: 3
Smoke injuries: 10
Containment: 0%
Air quality: Disgusting - break out the SarsGuard masks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Writer's Strike

Apparently this writer's block has turned into a full-on strike. I can't seem to string together two thoughts to make a sentence, much less a topic sentence with four supporting sentences to form a well-developed paragraph. It's especially sad since I have so much to comment on:

Football Season!!! The Gators' beatdown of LSU and Georgia was quite possibly the most beautiful thing EV-ER. It almost makes up for the Ole Miss embarrassment of mid-September, but not quite. However, revenge is best served cold in the way of a 40-pt butt-kicking. Yup, stew on that for the next year, Mississippians.

AFSP's Out of the Darkness 5K: Very fun, very emotional, very nice people. I need to post pictures. And yes, there were some star-sightings. Thank you all so much for your donations and kind words.

Nautica Triathlon: For a second year, I was a "Body Marker to the Stars". It's a rough job because I have to caress, I mean write on, the biceps and calves of the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Alec Baldwin, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jon Cryer, etc. Poor me, huh? I promise to post pictures and more details, but you can click here to read about last year's event.

Sun and Fun in Florida: Sun - not so much since it rains every day (that's the part they don't tell you in the travel brochures). Fun - most definitely. I stayed with my BFFs King-a-ling and her son, Spawn o' King. SOK turned 7 this year and I surprised him at his birthday party. The first thing he said was "My sweet angel - I didn't know you were coming". (Insert melting heart.) He is quite possibly the most wonderful child EVER.

The High Holy Days of Halloween: West Hollywood. 'Nuf said. I will post pictures. Promise. Meanwhile, you can click here and here to see pictures of West Hollywood Halloweens past. WARNING: Some are highly inappropriate, so don't show the kiddies. Mom and Dad - you can't look either.

Indecision 2008: Thank God it's over!!! I know, I know - it's our privilege to vote, blahblahblah, but do we have to be subjected to the 2-year-long campaign process? By the way, only 69 days until Dubya is gone. (Insert cheering.) Not that I'm counting...

Move 2009: I never like to let a year go by without packing up everything I own, throwing out 1/2 of the crap I accumulate, bitching that "I hate moving", and then schlepping all my stuff to a new residence. Apparently I have residence-ADHD as this will be residence #28 in 28 years. The Husband is transferring to his LA office and we're moving closer to the beach and back to a real city! We live on the beach now, but we have to walk ALL THE WAY to the end of our block for the beach access (approximately 500 steps). Now I'll just have to walk 115 steps from my front door to the beach. Seriously, I count these things.

Stay tuned, if you aren't already bored to tears (I am, so you won't be hurting my feelings), and maybe I'll get off my sitting-on-the-couch-bon-bon-eating ass and post some pictures.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writer's Block

I have about 10 half-written blogs and 100+ un-downloaded pictures clogging up my to-do list right now. Oh yeah, and I have a job. Oh yeah, and I have a really busy schedule of star-stalking to attend to. (I met Matthew McConaughey.....I promise more details and pictures are forthcoming.) Needless to say, my grandiose writing plans have gone awry.

So, imagine my surprise when I flipped to The Martha Stewart Show and they were doing a show on blogging! Does Martha exist solely to make me feel incompetent? I mean, I can't cook or bake, I never finish my crafts, and now I can't even blog up to Martha standards. Damn that woman!

However, I attended the UCLA Writers Faire a couple of weeks ago and one of the authors was saying how it's okay to write out of order. If you get stuck in a boring rut, just skip ahead to another part of the story and then come back later. What?! And - get this - the first draft doesn't have to be perfect. Huh?! Now that's just crazy talk!

Moral to the story: My upcoming entries might be out of order, so you might be reading about August events in January and last week's events this week. (You might even have to scroll down a few to get caught up.) However, at least you'll be reading something. Oh, and did I mention Matthew McConaughey?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Honeymooners

The Husband and I are FINALLY taking our honeymoon, only 13 months late. We're both masters of procrastination, so of course we just never got around to it last year. However, this time we're roadtripping to Colorado and spending 10 whole days together. Just us. No laptops. Really - I can do it.

I've learned from past experience that even the most fabulous of roadtrips don't always translate well to written entertainment, so I'll spare you the gory details of singalongs to "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights", profound exclamations of "OMG, this is so awesome", and fun road signs like "Prison Nearby - Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers". Okay, maybe just a few, but that's it - promise.

Day 1
Left Santa Barbara, CA, around 7pm-ish
Starbucks pit stops: 3
Full moon: 1
Shooting stars: 5
Critters: 1 coyote
License plate game: Alberta, AZ, British Colombia, CA, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, Manitoba, NC, NE, NV, OK, Ontario, OR, TN, TX, UT, WY
Arrived in St. George, UT, around 2am-ish

Day 2
Left St. George, UT, around 11am-ish
Critters: 2 chipmunks, 1 prairie dog, 1 deer
License plate game: AR, DE, FL, GA, Government, ID, KY, LA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NJ, NM, NY, RI, WA
National Parks: Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon
Arrived in Avon, CO, around 2am-ish

Cedar Breaks National Monument: Ever wonder why it's called Cedar Breaks when there are no cedar trees around? Okay, maybe not. But you know I'm going to tell you anyway. Early settlers mistook the Utah junipers for Cedar trees (and they obviously didn't have Google back then). When the area was named by the early pioneers it was common to call badlands "breaks" and thus, the name Cedar Breaks was given. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift, and erosion are carving out this giant amphitheater that spans some three miles, and is more than 2000 feet deep. The highest point within Cedar Breaks National Monument is 10,662 feet above sea level. (Click images to enlarge.)

Bryce Canyon National Park: Erosion has shaped colorful limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into pinnacles called "hoodoos". A legend of the Paiute Indians (who used to live here before we stole their land) claims the colorful hoodoos are ancient "Legend People" who were turned to stone as punishment for bad deeds. Supposedly these hoodoos cast their spell on all who visit. (Click images to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Hate to Do This, But.....

I'm using this forum for solicitation. Of money, that is.
One month from today, on September 13th in Los Angeles, I'll be participating in AFSP's 2008 Out of the Darkness Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. As most of you know, this is a cause very near and dear to my heart. My sister died by suicide 14 years ago and our family has never recovered. If AFSP can help one family from having to go through the same nightmare, I will gladly help them any way I can. Since I usually walog (walk/jog) for free, I decided to walog for money this time, which is why I'm doing this 5K and asking for contributions for the cause. I figured if everyone I knew gave $10 each, plus passed along this message to a friend who might know a friend who might know a friend who might know a friend (kinda like the "telephone" game), I'd be able to raise tons of money. I also figured this is payback for all the wrapping paper, greeting cards, candles, popcorn, cookies, etc, I've bought from my friends' kids and students over the years. :)
I really, really hope you will consider supporting my participation in this event or passing this along to someone who may be interested. Any contribution will help the work of AFSP, and - bonus - all donations are 100% tax deductible. You can donate online; it's safe and fairly easy. Click here to go to my fundraising page.
Of course I'll post pictures after the event, so stay tuned. Also, I found out that Daniel Goddard (Cane Ashby on The Young and the Restless) will be there, so of course he'll remember me from the Daytime Emmys back in June.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Straight From the Lizard's Mouth

We went on the greatest hike this weekend at Lizard's Mouth in the Santa Ynez Mountains. Not exactly sure why it's called Lizard's Mouth, but we did see lots of lizards, which is always a better sighting than snakes or mountain lions. Our adventure started out as a hike, but there aren't really any trails - just tons of rocks and caves - so it ended up as a rock-climbing experience. There's also a shooting range nearby, so we had to be careful to go in the opposite direction of the gunshots. As some of you know, my idea of fun involves being dirty at the end of the day - yardwork, beach, running, hiking - so of course this fit since we were actually crawling around on the rocks. Check out these pictures. (Click images to enlarge.)
This was our "path"...
View from a cave
Skeleton head rock
Fire damage
A burned Manzanita tree, aka "Mountain Driftwood". These trees burn at really high temperatures so they survive fires.
One of many "Thank You, Firefighters" signs at the end of someone's driveway. Look how close the fire got to the driveway - right across the street.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

For those who have never heard the wedding story, it's really a story of a failed elopement. We were going to run off to Vegas and not tell anyone, but the secret was killing me so I had to spill. I told a handful of my BFFs and next thing you know, we had flowers, matching outfits, and a wedding party. So even though it wasn't a "real" elopement, it still had the shock effect we were going for. First of all, we wanted to get married on 7-7-07. Well, duh - aren't we original? Apparently everyone else had the same idea years ago and booked ahead. Instead we decided that since we'd met the year before at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival, we should get married on the same day a year later, 7-21-07. So we did and it was definitely a very California-ish affair - t-shirts/shorts/flipflops and overlooking the harbor. Afterward the city of SB was kind enough to host their annual wine festival in our honor, so we celebrated at a reception with thousands of our closest friends. And now, here we are one year later, happy as can be. Hard to believe with my short attention span, but it's true. True love, that is. Awww...(Insert gag-ilicious mushiness here.)
Wedding Day, 2007
Anniversary Day, 2008
A little older, a little fatter, but still living it up!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chi O, Chi O, It's Off to Convention We Go...

Those of you who spent time in the Greek system during college may remember different lyrics, but I really can't remember.... :)

I went to St. Louis with BFF Carrie-ITC and Mom o' Carrie to attend the Chi Omega National Convention. I was in heaven, of course, because it was like being dropped into a Rush party. The minute I walked off the plane I noticed the airport was filled with khaki, color coordinated cute shoes, pearls, and Coach bags, and I knew I was among my people. All I needed was an add-a-bead necklace and a Pappagallo purse and it would've been 1980 all over again.

My mother likes to claim that I majored in Sorority in college. She's not entirely wrong. I like to think I had a double major - Sorority and Fraternity. My dad used to tell me that some of his best times were had in the fraternity house. I didn't want to break it to him that some of my best times were had in his fraternity house also. (His original Kappa Sig house was still at UF when I was there.) Ya know, when I think about it, this really is the only "degree" I'm currently using since I'm a Chi Omega Advisor at UCLA, but not using my real English degree at all. Go figure. I guess parents really do know best!

So anyway, Convention weekend was filled with lots of remember-when's, back-when-we-were-in-college's, and I-can't-believe-you-do-it-this-way-now's. Since there was a combination of 1200 alums plus actives, we regaled the young'uns with "back in the day" stories, most of which would be considered hazing today. In this PC world of ours, everything is considered hazing now. For example, pledges wearing different colored t-shirts than sisters. I know, I know - ri.dic.u.lous. Of course all of this hazing drama is because a few ruined it for all, as always. Even the terms have changed. Rush=Recruitment, Rushees=Potential New Members (or PNMs), Pledges=New Members, Pledge Trainer=New Member Educator. But I digress...

Most of our weekend consisted of dressing up according to the day's specific dress code, briefly attending a meeting or two, sipping margaritas by our pool at the Chase all afternoon, and re-dressing for happy hour/dinner/evening events. Just like college!

Below is a picture from the weekend and then a picture from "back in the day" - almost 30 years ago. (Why yes, I did go to college when I was 5 - thank you for asking!) Notice the excellent '80s fashions in the last picture. (Click to enlarge - it's totally worth it.)

Me, Mom o' Carrie, Carrie-ITC, 2008
Me, Carrie-ITC, Chi Omegas on Bid-Day 1981

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

...and the Northern and Southern fronts supposedly. The West is still a problem, but not as much because evacuation orders have been downgraded to warnings. And we finally went one full day without a power outage. So, 10,000 acres and $10 million later, the Gap Fire is more than 50% contained. That's a good thing. That means I no longer walk outside and see this:
I do, however, walk outside and see layers of ash and dust everywhere. When you walk along the sidewalk, a puff of dirt surrounds you with each footstep. Kinda like Pigpen of Peanuts fame. The air quality is only slightly better than Beijing. Therefore, I've adopted this new fire fashion:
It's really catching on - all the cool kids are doing it! And, yes, that is a picture of Peter Sarsgaard on the mask, which is only funny if you're familiar with the SNL Sars Guards masks. Click here to get familiar. And then go ahead and roll your eyes at me.
Despite my ability to turn an emergency into something as inane as a fashion statement, I really am quite grateful that I can upack my evacuation suitcase today. Hopefully it's going back in the closet for good.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Earth, Wind, and Fire

Nope, not the legendary '70's band, but my latest source of climate angst. Once again, California's earth is on fire, helped along by the winds. However, this time it's a little close to home. As in "evacuation standby" close. As in "we have our valuables packed" close. So here's the deal:

Tuesday: The Gap Fire (it has a name, so that makes it official) started up in the mountains around 6pm and was blowing toward Goleta (my 'hood). So I immediately turned on the TV to listen to 20 different reporters all reporting the same "it's coming your way" news. Very similar to Hurricane Watch news in Florida. They evacuated a couple of nearby neighborhoods, but not us. Everyone kept referring to the Painted Cave Fire of 1990 (otherwise known as "The Day Santa Barbara Burned to the Ground") when the fire started up on the mountain and 20 minutes later had made it all the way down the mountain, across the highway, and to the ocean. Just a little bit scary.

Wednesday: All was well during the day, except for the air quality advisory, but then the power went off around 7pm. I walked outside and it was pitch black from smoke and showering ash flakes. The "sundowners" (the winds at sundown) were causing the fire to spread and it knocked out our major power line that comes from the Hoover Dam. The fire had "jumped the canyon" (more fire jargon I've been learning) which meant it was bigger and closer. Getting more scary.

Thursday: The power came back on in the middle of the night and we turned on the TV to learn that 650 acres had burned, but there were no new evacuations. Whew! By 9am 2,400 acres had burned! In only 8ish hours! County officials have declared a local state of emergency and The Govenator has asked Dubya to declare a federal emergency in the state. So that's the latest and I guess I'll just have to wait and see which way the wind blows tonight...literally.

Although some of this is reminiscent of the hurricane days in Florida (over-anxious reporters, no power, valuables packed, freeways jammed with evacuees), there's one significant difference: you can't "ride out" a fire like you can a hurricane. With a hurricane you wake up the next day and your roof might be gone and some trees are down, but if you try to "ride out" a fire, you're toast...literally.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer's Here.....Finally

Since we actually have seasons here in California (unlike Florida, where I spent most of my life), Summer Solstice is a big deal for me, the weather-obsessed-one. The Solstice parade is a biggie in Santa Barbara. I know, I know - we have a parade every other weekend, but this one is definitely the Mac-Daddy of them all. Actually SB's Summer Solstice Celebration is a mini-Mardi Gras. I'll just leave it at that and let the pictures fill in the blanks. (Click images to enlarge.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And the Emmy Goes To.....

Time for my favorite event of the year: The Daytime Emmy Awards. However, ya know how just a few people ruin it for everyone else? I think Jilly G and I may have done that a couple of years ago. (Click here to read about those adventures.)

"I'd like to thank the academy."
See, the DTE Awards used to be in New York, but it came to Hollywood for the first time in 2006. That year we were allowed to take in cameras, run around the lobby mingling with the stars, and go in and out of the Kodak as much as we wanted. Now they've gone all Hollywood-security on us and had the main part of the red-carpet blocked off, we weren't allowed to take in cameras (even though we snuck them in), the bar closed the minute the show opened so you couldn't even get water, and we weren't allowed to re-enter if we left the Kodak. Secret's out - soap opera fans are a wild and crazy security risk.
BFF Carrie-ITC flew out for this event (we've been watching All My Children together since college) and we all stayed at BFF Jilly G's apartment near Hollywood. Carrie-ITC and I went to the red carpet fesitivites for some early stalking and then Jilly G met us inside the Kodak after work. We had great seats and, surprisingly, the show wasn't as boring as usual so we stayed until almost the end. Of course we had to leave a little bit early to get prime stalking spots as the stars left. Some red carpet sightings (left to right): Rachael Ray, Susan Lucci (Erica Kane, AMC), Tyra Banks, Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer, GH), Brian Kerwin (Charlie Banks, OLTL) and Tuc Watkins (David Vickers, OLTL, and Bob Hunter, Desperate Housewives), Sherri Shepherd (The View). (Click images to enlarge.)
Some of my favorites (left to right): My boyfriend, Michael Easton!!! (John McBain, OLTL), Kristen Alderson (Starr Manning, OLTL), Roger Howarth (ex-Todd Manning, OLTL, Paul Ryan, GL), Tracey Bergman (Lauren Fenmore, Y&R), Daniel Goddard (Cane Ashby, Y&R), Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery, AMC, host of DTE 2008, Dancing with the Stars 2007), Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor, Y&R, Corbin Bernsen's mom in real life).
Other noteworthy sightings:
  • Aiden Turner (Aidan Devane, AMC) Got a picture with him; he seemed very shy.
  • Alicia Minshew (Kendell Hart, AMC)
  • Ellen Wheeler (Exec Producer, GL, ex-Cindy Chandler, AMC)
  • Thorsten Kaye (Zach Slater, AMC) He's kinda an ass, but I did get a picture with him.
  • Heather Tom (Katherine Logan, B&B, ex-Kelly Cramer, OLTL) Got a picture with her.
  • Bryan Dattilo (Lucas Roberts, DOOL)
  • Darin Brooks (Max Brady, DOOL) Jilly G got a picture with him.
  • Jason Cook (ex-Shawn Brady, DOOL)
  • Judi Evans (Bonnie Lockhart, DOOL) Got a good close-up picture of her.
  • Rachel Melvin (Chelsea Benson, DOOL) Very nice; got a picture with her.
  • Thaao Penghlis (Tony Dimera, DOOL) Jilly G got a picture with him.
  • Greg Vaughan (Lucky Spencer, GH)
  • Kirsten Storms (Maxie Jones, GH)
  • Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth Webber, GH) Got a picture with her.
  • Rick Hearst (Ric Lansing, GH)
  • Ron Hale (Mike Corbin, GH) Got a picture with him.
  • Brandon Buddy (Cole Thornhart, OLTL) Got a picture with him.
  • Bree Williamson (Jessica/Tess, OLTL)
  • Robert Woods (Bo Buchanan, OLTL)
  • Adrienne Frantz (Amber Moore, Y&R) Got a great picture with her at the end of the night.
  • Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman, Y&R, ex-Mia Saunders, AMC) Got a picture with her.
  • Bryton McClure (Devon Hamilton, Y&R) Got a picture with him.
  • Christel Khalil (Lily Winters, Y&R) Got a picture with her.
  • Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin, Y&R) Got a great close-up picture of him on the red carpet.
  • Don Diamont (Brad Carlton, Y&R)
  • Doug Davidson (Paul Williams, Y&R) Jilly G got a picture with him.
  • Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe Mitchell, Y&R, ex-Frankie/Maggie Stone, AMC)
  • Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher, Y&R)
  • Kate Linder (Esther Valentine, Y&R)
  • Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters, Y&R) Carrie-ITC babysat his cute little daughter while he was taking pictures with us.
  • Michael Graziadei (Daniel Romalotti, Y&R) Got a great picture with him at the end of the night.
  • Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott, Y&R, ex-Cliff Warner, AMC)
  • Thad Luckinbill (JT Hellstrom, Y&R) Got a picture with him.
  • Vail Bloom (Heather Stevens, Y&R) Got a great picture with her at the end of the night.
  • Barbara Walters Talked to her while standing at the hostess stand in a restaurant; she's not overly friendly like most daytime stars.

Cheers to another successful stalking outing (and not getting arrested)! (Click here to see ALL pictures.)