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May 2009

April 2009

Road Trip: Photo Of The Day 4/19

We headed out on our Southwest road trip today, waking up early and hitting the 10 by 6:45am. We took a few of the Route 66 side trips and found some great signage (I'll post others in longer posts). 

Our fast/easy blog recaps will be in our "Photo of the Day" posts each day on the trip. Hard to choose just one, so we each chose one from our first day.

First up from Route 66:  Best Stew In Kingman


Then from today's destination: Julia's First Time

More tomorrow...

One Year Ago Today

Jen died.

I was just getting to her house around this time, the warm sun easing toward sunset. Linda was the first person I saw as I arrived in the driveway, she gave me big big hugs. Then Grace and Matthew came out the door and the three of us hugged and cried. Awful.

Then I went inside and the house was filled with friends and love and sorrow. Everyone crying, everyone hugging, flowers everywhere already, no one quite sure what to do next. It hadn't even been 12 hours since she died. 

My memories are so clear of that day, but the pain doesn't stab quite so hard.

One year already.

Me and Jen on my 40th birthday in 2007.

Serious Weight Loss Time

I'm not a small woman. I'm tall-ish (5' 7") and have boobs and hips galore! I love that I'm curvy. I don't love that I huff and puff when walking up stairs and that the clothes I own seem to be shrinking. Time to make some changes.

I'm pretty amazed that I only gained about 6 or 8 pounds over the last 18 months. I am a comfort eater and boy howdy did I need a lot of comforting during that time. Clearly I did find a lot of comfort in other people and in healthier ways than eating. I am actually proud of myself for that. 

But now it's time to get ten pounds off. I have one pair of decent jeans that are comfortable and presentable. The 2 other pairs of jeans and the cords I own are just a teensy bit too snug. I can wear them, but they are not so comfy. And I WILL NOT buy new clothes. I have good clothes and I need to fit into them. So I'm starting only with ten. Ideally I need to lose 40, but that goal is a marathon and I'm only looking for a good long jog for now. My goal is to lose 10 pounds (or more) by June 13. Why June 13? That is the day of the Hot Dog Death March and I want to have a few dogs that day! 

My biggest challenge is portion control. I eat decent food, I just eat too much of it at each meal. And working in an office for the next 9 weeks will be helpful as there are no snacks to easily get at. My exercise routine is okay, but needs some stepping up, so that will be on the agenda as well.

Once I get those ten off, then I'll work on the next step. 

Let's get to the numbers!

Today I weighed 193
Currently I wear a size 14

By June 13 I will weigh 183 (or less).

I am working on this in conjunction with fellow blogger Annika. We are going to twitter and post photos on flickr of our progress. We rock!

Fun Busy!

Waterlily This weekend we depart on our southwest road trip and we are really looking forward to it. I haven't been on a proper road trip for ages. I hope this is the start of many to come. I feel like when we have kids we might be total throwback parents -- packing up the car and kid/s and hitting the road, seeing the biggest ball of string and giant frying pan, etc. Can't wait. For now I'll be glad to see the natural wonders of the southwest. Look for blog posts to come on our trip.

Waterlily As some of you LAers know, there is a series on LA Metblogs I run called Classic Eats. Event #5 is scheduled for May 2 and the voting has begun for where we will go. I am really pleased with the turn out and enthusiasm for these events. We've always had at least 12 people at each event, and hopefully that will keep expanding. The last event we did at Pie N Burger in Pasadena and after we ate, we went to another place and sat around talking for two more hours! Great discussions about Los Angeles, Music, movies, etc. I love these events.

Waterlily One of the options to vote on within Classic Eats has been the Hot Dog Death March. One of the other Metblog authors suggested we create a stand alone event and so The Hot Dog Event Of The Year was born. Check out the website for Hot Dog Death March. Please mark June 13 on your calendars and start stocking up on antacids. This is going to be so much fun. We'll have t-shirts and contests and I'm sure much wacky conversation while waiting in line to eat hot dogs!

Waterlily I made time last weekend to do the spring planting: Basil, tomatoes, broccoli, rosemary, and sunflowers. I have other flower seeds to plant, but probably won't get to them until May at this point. I restrained myself from planting too many tomatoes and opted not to have zucchini again this year. I liked having them last year, but they take up so much space. We'll see what happens with the broccoli. It felt good to get my hands dirty, and it always feels good to be that grounded. I look forward to more planting in the next few weeks. 

Here is the main section with all the baby plants snuggling into their new beds.


Spring is springing along!

John Denver Trifecta

Today I'm doing bloggy maintenance chores, downloading photos sent to me by friends of Safety Grahpic Fun, adding new posts so I'm covered for a few weeks, setting up the Google Analytics on that site (and this one), etc etc. Actually, it's not a chore at all, it is fun. While I'm sitting here, I like to listen to music but couldn't decide what I wanted. I need something that I know well enough that I wouldn't be trying to hear/understand the words, I can already sing along. Often I listen to classical so I can be entertained but not too distracted. 

Today I had a hankerin' for John Denver. I only have his Christmas album on my iTunes, so I used up the rest of my gift cert from my birthday to buy the three most important albums to me: 

Back Home Again



I make no apologies for my love of these albums (and others of his). They represent some of my best early childhood memories spending time with the Rivas side of the family in the summers, Dor playing the guitar and all of us singing like mad around a campfire or picnic table or living room. But mom had the records too and we listened to them plenty on Oahu and Maui. We even went to see him in concert at the HIC. That was an awesome experience with Mom and Jen and Sloane and Jackie. 

These albums make GREAT road trip music because I know all the words and the time just flies by. They are happy songs, toe tapping songs, philosophical songs, sad songs. And silly songs. They are all good to me. Okay, there is one song I don't love. "Sunshine On My Shoulders". There, I said it.

Did you know he wrote one of the all time great sad songs about life on the road, "Leaving On A Jet Plane"? It was Peter Paul and Mary's only #1 hit.

Love is everywhere I see it
You are all that you are can be, go on and be it
LIfe is perfect, I believe it,
Come and play the game with me.

The Internet Is A Super Cool Place

Within the last few weeks many fun things have happened to me or people I know, owing completely to the the series of tubes, the internest, the interspaces, the information superhighway, the interwebs, well, you get the idea, and it just made me so pleased that I spend time online and what a warm, friendly place it can be.

Someone I met recently described the internet as a cold place. She was complaining that her experiences online had not been very good and so she was skipping the internet and really just wanting to meet people in real life. Boy is she short sighted. Here are a few example of how the internet has personally been so fun and exciting for me and people I know. 

One of my German pen pals who I started writing to in 8th grade found me on Facebook and we have reconnected. We had written to each other for about 20 years, though mostly at christmas toward the latter part of that time. Somehow she moved or I moved or both and we lost touch. I thought of her often and sent letters to the old address but no luck. Then one day about two weeks ago, I get a nice note, asking if I were the Julia who came to visit her in Germany. It's been so nice to reconnect and find out about her family and her life. I met her twice, once in 1989 and again in 1992. I hope to get back to Germany within a few years and see her again. 

I started a series on LA Metblogs last fall called Classic Eats. Once a month I post a poll and the readers vote on where we will go next. #1 was Clifton's Cafeteria and the rotating bar at the top of the Bonaventure. CE #2 was Union Station and Phillipes, #3 was Tiki Ti and Taix and #4 was Pie 'N Burger. Each event has had at least 15 people, sometimes more. There are people I'd met before, like other Metblog writers, but also authors I'd never met. There are people who read and comment and it was nice to meet them in person. Then there are people who just come and want to be social. The first event we had a woman (who's name escapes me! Sorry!) who came on her own, she'd read about it and joined in. #4, last Saturday also had a newcomer, Diana, who had never commented, but often read and joined in. I just love that I've made new friends because they read the blog and wanted to join in the fun. 

Sarah, who writes many blogs, but is most famous for Mar Vista Mom, got a call last week from the Oprah Show. Yes, THAT Oprah. They are doing a show about re-decorating in these recessionary times and how to do it without spending anything or only very little, by swapping stuff out with your neighbors and sprucing up what you do have. They contacted her because they were looking for neighborhoods like hers where it would be a fun group activity on one block. They contacted her because she writes a blog about her neighborhood. At the moment (key phrase there, "at the moment") she some decent traffic, but she put herself out there and guess who came knocking at her door? Dude.

The internet rocks. Seriously, you should try it. Oh wait, here you are!  Enjoy.


La Vita E Bella

86160-250 In the midst of grieving, there is somehow still so much joy. It's almost shocking. 

Next Friday (the 17th) will be one year since Jen died. We've done all the birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries and it was hard. They will be bittersweet forever. And we are still here, we are still living and moving forward into life. 

I cry all the time about Jen. I'm crying while I write this. I miss her all the time. I was really upset about something last week and I really had to struggle to decide who to call instead. I didn't want to bother anyone, interrupt anyone at work, make anyone feel like they had to stop what they were doing for me. With Jen all that was automatic. It was so rare that either of us couldn't stop to help or just listen to the other when upsetting things came up. That is a big hole in my heart.

And yet, in the last few months, there has been so much joy, so much fun, so much to spark my imagination and excitement about the future. Little things, big things, things I didn't expect to feel so good about. I smile (almost) all the time, I am feeling buoyant and free. There are fun events to plan and attend. We are getting a huge tax refund (NICE), our road trip starts on the 18th, the job I'm working on is really good, nice people to work with and the hours are awesome. (10-5:30) I've been blogging and writing a ton and have so much more to write and share.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've always been sunny and optimistic. Even in the darkest of days of the past year, I knew I would come out of it, I knew there would be sunshine and blue skies again. I've had so much love and support over the year and I have also really paid attention to what I need and have taken very good care of myself. (Though now it's time to get that comfort eating weight off.) 

Being strong gets you through a lot and oh, I can be mighty. But I'm amazed at the structure I have in my life, whether I'm working a job or not, that has allowed me to move forward in the grief. There were and are times when I have to close my office door and cry if I've read an email or blog post that triggers the grief. (Grateful to have an office with a door.) But I guess it comes down to the fact that I'm a doer. I carry on. I move, keep going, proceed. I'm going to be sad no matter what I do, so why not move forward. And in that forward motion, there is joy.

Life is beautiful.

Shopping For Beautiful Paper

I went shopping online for gorgeous stationery and paper. When I really want to treat myself by buying something, I buy paper. Clothes are nice, but I don't love clothes shopping, all that trial and error. Shoes are okay but I they don't turn me on like paper does. 

(Some of you have probably received a note from me on this.)

Today I spent $164 on paper, some of these shown will be arriving by fed ex within a week or so. And within six months to a year, they will be all gone. 


There is wrapping paper coming too and I love wrapping presents in beautiful bright papers. Makes the gift giving that much more fun.


When Kurt and I were on our honeymoon in Italy, I warned him that I wouldn't be spending any money on Italian leather or fashion. It would be about the paper. I took him to my favorite paper store in Rome. You know the one -- if you are standing in front the the Pantheon and walk toward it, keeping toward the right, about one block down on the right side of the street. See?

Can't wait to go back there, it's been way too long. Hmmmm, what are we doing after Christmas this coming year?

Really Lame Marketing

I got this email today:

Dear Julia,

[Company redacted] thinks your Mexico City blog rocks! You provide great tips on city and we'd like to help by providing our travel videos for your site. We're big believers in providing independent voice for travel and would love to be of assistance.

[Redacted] is the leading online travel video website, and we've got thousands of informative and entertaining videos made by real travelers and professionals.  Our new, free embeddable travel video widget gives your site visitors instant access to videos about Mexico City. The widget is customizable to match the color and theme of your site.

We can also help integrate Google In-Video Adsense to help you make money with these videos.

Please visit our [redacted] Widget page at [website redacted] to check out the video player and get the embed codes.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


[Name Redacted]

I don't want to give this lame site any linkage or name recognition which is why I'm leaving their name out, as well as the name of the person who emailed me from the company. After reading it, I immediately wrote them back and said: "Have you actually read my blog? If you had, you would know it has very little to do with Mexico City." Can't wait to see if I get a response. 

Too bad this site doesn't actually take the extra five minutes to, you know, find a sight that is travel related. I could see where in two seconds you might think this sight is about Mexico City. That's why I put the "Where I'm At" box right below my picture (see? right there on the right?). I wanted to clarify so there wouldn't be confusion. I do write about places I travel to, but that's just part of my life, not the main focus of my blog. 

Good luck with your marketing campaign, [Redacted Company]!