Over the Holiday

We were in Seattle for Christmas, there for about eight days. We spent time with Kurt's family and also visited with other friends who live in that gorgeous city. 

We spent one night up in Port Townsend which was fabulous. When we were there in July 2009 it was 103! Oy. Much better when it's cold and snowy! We stayed in a different place this time, a spot right on the water. But once we got in the room the view over the bay was eclipsed by the furniture. You read that right-the furniture. Let me show you. (If you can stand it, click each picture for a bigger version.)




There was a jacuzzi tub in the room and that was sweet on a cold winter's day!


And yes, there was an amazing view out the window. I appreciated the unobstructed sight of a storm rolling in.


But oh that furniture!

2009: A Look Back In Two Parts (Part 2)

Continuing from Part I of 2009: A Look Back.

We arrived in the Pacific Northwest for a record breaking heat wave. We stayed overnight one night in Port Townsend and enjoyed the pretty view and great company of friend's parents in town.


I had a mini-Seabury Class of 85 reunion with Steve and Courtney. The visit was way too short!


Another blogger field trip resulted in a new tattoo. Fun day


I got to celebrate the baptism of a good friend's son. Sweet ceremony. Sadly, this dear boy's grandpa died a few months later and we celebrated that amazing life with a funeral in December.


Later in August:



In September I got to meet internets superstar, Ben Huh. I also learned a lot of great stuff from him.


A gang of us got together in September to celebrate our 20+ year long friendships -- one that started at LMU in the late 80's. So much fun to get together and eat El Tarasco's!


Then I left LA to go to work in Northern Ireland on a tv pilot. More importantly, I met Elvis at the Belfast International Airport. 


Kurt came to visit for about 10 days and we toured the North coast, Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Great weekend adventures...


...and plenty of Guinness!


Of course I was working. Here's another shot of me on set.


In November, Safety Graphic Fun celebrated it's first anniversary. Here's hoping we can get to the 2nd!


I got home from the shoot in Northern Ireland just before Thanksgiving and we flew to North Carolina to cook turkey and celebrate with great friends.


Just after Thanksgiving I was on another work trip to Montana and Oregon. I made a snow angel on Ted Turner's ranch...


...and generally spent time looking like this as the scenery was so lovely.


Finally. Finally. Finally. I got to come home. Three weeks before Christmas I could unpack and put my suitcases away. Heaven. Kurt and I both worked pretty full on until about December 24th. Bunny kept the Christmas tree monitored. 


Now we are sliding gently into 2010 with many creative irons in the fire and resolutions/goals/plans/intentions to have much to review and relive in one year's time.

Thanks to all my family, friends and new friends/fans who read this blog and send love and support. You all really held me up when I was feeling down in 2009 and I'm grateful to you. Thank you for making 2009 a year full of friendship and joy.

All the best to you all in 2010!

Christmas Full Of Books!

I am very grateful for all the gifts I was given this Christmas. I would have been happy with big hugs and shared company of good friends and family alone. Bonus! I got gifts too.

What makes me very happy is that I got many many books! Good old fashioned books with pages and bindings and that new book smell. I always bury my nose into a new book at least three or four times when I start reading it.

My book gift list:

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Love me some Nick Hornby!)

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann (I read about it, put it on my wish list then forgot about it!)

Cleaving by Julie Powell (of Julie and Julia fame)

Misquoting Jesus -- The Story Behind Who Changed The Bible and Why by Bart Ehrman

The First Five Pages -- A Writer's Guide to Staying Out Of The Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman (Thanks for supporting my writing Mom!)

Spirit Animals -- Unlocking The Secrets of Our Animal Companions by Stefanie Iris Weiss. (This after an evening last summer when we saw a large possum in our backyard one night while eating there with friends. Unusual to see one out that early so we looked up the spirit animal significance. This same friend gave me this book.) 

Secret Ingredients - the New Yorker Book Of Food And Drink. (This is a great gift but alas, I already own it and have read it. So I'll be passing this on to Dor who I think will enjoy it a great deal!)

I started reading Juliet, Naked last night and all I want to do today is run away to a coffee shop and just read quietly for hours. Alas, I have to work a little bit (just on the phone and via email) and we still have family here.

I'm grateful for all the great gifts I received!

Home And Feeling Upside Down

I know it will just take a bit of time to get back into the swing of not packing/unpacking, not getting on airplanes every few days, not being away from home, of not resetting my watch. The weekend was great, very relaxing, though on Saturday I did get a few errands done, most importantly getting my haircut and colored. 




The lighting in the pictures isn't great, but you get the idea -- tidied up the cut and brightened the color.

That was fun. Then I went to Trader Joe's to buy a few items and I'm amazed that I actually didn't buy a cartload of food from TJ's just for sentimental reasons. I'll probably do that this week. I got the car washed and then came home and watched a few hours of tv that was left on the DVR. Mostly catching up on "Lie To Me". 

Sunday was sleep in day, then up to read and watch a bit more telly. Then at 2pm I went downtown to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" at the Million Dollar Theater via the LA Conservancy. Cried like a little girl as I always do in that movie. Even from the first scene where all the prayers are being sent up to heaven. (Kurt had to work so it was just me and the huge crowd.) Last night we started to get caught up on Glee and ate pizza. 

All weekend I felt fuzzy, like I was half asleep, moving through a fog. I know part of that feeling is just about recovering from being away, traveling a lot, etc. I also know that part of it is about feeling unclear on what is next for me. One road is quite clear -- working on VFX in post of this project I'm on. That's the clear road. But I need to find the road less traveled by and get going on it. I've been sitting on a bench by the side of that road for too long and need to get my ass in gear. Twice in the last few years I've had conversations about writing and have had the other person use the word "hobby" -- as in "you have your career and the writing is a hobby." 

That stings. 

It stings because it is true and it stings because I don't want it to be true, yet I haven't done much to change it. (Safety Graphic Fun counts only in a tiny way as I do count it as a writing gig, and while I have gotten paid a little bit for it, I can't exactly live off that income yet.)

So, how to get myself going in such a way as to turn things around? Make VFX a hobby (a well paid one) and make writing my career (also a well paid one). This is what I'm working on now. 

In the mean time, there is Christmas to deal with, gifts to make and buy and send. Christmas cards to consider making and sending and then the decorations, which are my favorite part. Since we are going to be in LA this year, we will get a tree and Kurt will put up lights outside. That will also help pull me back to the ground after all the flying.

I'm back and working on righting myself. Got to get that compass heading to my true north.

The Seattle Trip -- Part II

It was hot in Seattle. Africa hot. Did I mention?

After a cool night sleep in our air conditioned hotel room Tuesday night, we woke up late and took our time getting ready for the day. We packed our bags and checked out of the hotel, heading to downtown Seattle to have lunch with Ron who is currently working for Amazon.

Ron met us in the lobby of the tallest building in Downtown Seattle and took us first to the observation deck on the 73rd floor. WOW! What a spectacular view! This is looking northwest:


Though why I chose this framing is beyond me. Where is the water?

The haze didn't help, but it was still an almost 360 degree view around the city. Here is looking south to the two new stadiums for the Mariners and the Seahawks. The train station is just below and left of the stadiums.


Close up on the train station:


Looking east toward Bellevue across lake Washington.


You can barely see the Cascades back there.

Looking southwest toward West Seattle. At-Ats in FG.


There was so much to see, it was hard to tear ourselves away, but we finally decided to have lunch as planned, so we headed down. As in most huge/tall buildings, we had to take two separate elevators and on the transition floor (40, I believe) there is a lobby area and guess what? A Starbucks. A full on, full blown Starbucks. We stepped in just to say we were in the highest Starbucks in the world.

We then went down to the food court in the basement levels to have lunch as it was way too hot to walk around downtown. Great lunch conversation ensued, then we went to check out Ron's office. Last of all he showed us the spot where the free books are. Amazon gets (as you might imagine) tons of books sent for review purposes. There are shelves and shelves of books in various stages. Some are finished but in review form (paperback with "please review this awesome book!" verbiage all over it). Some are unfinished (editing not complete) with plain red covers with just the title and author name. Fascinating. We ended up taking a couple books, one of which I just finished reading "The Physick Book Of Deliverance Dane."  We said our good-byes to Ron and headed down to the car and began our trek to Port Townsend.

We opted to drive instead of taking the ferry. Cheaper and we could guarantee we would have air conditioning the whole way. This was the day of the record breaking heat. Did I mention? It was a lovely drive south through Tacoma over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge northwest past Bremerton and Poulsbo and across the Hood Canal Bridge and then up into Port Townsend. We did stop outside of Tacoma for a caramel frap to cool off.

Tacoma Narrows.

We arrived in Port Townsend around five o'clock and needed a place to stay for the night. The old downtown is a Victorian extravaganza with hotels and bars and stores and theaters. It's very cool and gets tons of tourists. We drove around, got a lay of the land then parked the car near the first hotel and went to see about rooms. We met a nice man who said he had rooms, told us the numbers, the doors were open, we could go up and look. He also kept telling us all the different prices he could offer us, with decent discounts. But with the caveat: no air conditioning. 

We climbed two major sets of wide stairways into the center of a beautiful old Victorian building. But it was hot and the rooms were just okay, kinda quaint but kinda funky. If it hadn't been 100 degrees, it might have been more fun. We left, saying thanks and went to the next one. Basically the same thing: the person at the front desk either handed us keys or waved us up, saying which number rooms were open and to just take a look. More tall stairs, more amazing 2nd floors of the Victorian buildings. Hotel2ndfloor

The buildings are amazing and I'm a huge lover of old buildings. But holy cow it was stifling.

This routine happened at four different hotels and who could blame the front desk people? It was hot, why schlep up and down stairs in this heat? The routine was broken at one hotel when we asked about rooms and the woman said, "I'm kind of dizzy." Seriously. We looked at her, wondering if we should help or what. She then said, "number seven and number 8." We went up then came back down. Luckily she was still upright when we waved and left. 

We went to another, newer hotel toward the end of the street and looked at a room there with the manager. It seemed okay, but not historic or very interesting. I asked if they had wifi and the guy told us a five minute work history at the hotel to explain why he didn't know if they did or not. A simple "I don't know" would have sufficed. 

We left and got in the car and went half way up the hill to another Victorian house B&B. This one was really well kept. The beds were new -- you could tell because the mattress were thicker than four inches and didn't sag in the middle. The decorations were modern but matched the house beautifully. As with the other hotels though, the woman handed us a rate card and listed the numbers of the rooms that were available. Up we went, looking at the sweet rooms, end up on the third floor in a large room. I stood fanning myself with the rate card as we discussed if we wanted this room -- third floor, no air con, imagining ourselves hauling luggage up and down. I noticed then on the rate card (between fan strokes) that they had bungalows. No stairs! They were more expensive, but hey, why not look. 

The kind woman showed us where to go -- out the back, through the garden to the green door. We walked as instructed and came across this sweet statue:


Wait a minute! That's no statue, that's a sweet little baby deer! We froze, it froze, then it walked away into the garden. Whew! That was sweet. Then we got to the bungalow, which was a modern little place and we were sold and we splurged. Turned out though, that we got a discount because when the woman said, "We serve a full breakfast in the morning in the dining room" (which would have been great!)


We said we had plans with friends who lived in Port Hadlock for the next morning. She said, "oh, so you know some locals? Great, I'll give you the local discount!" Sweet! So I think we got $30 off the room. Super nice. So we drove the car to the front door of our little bungalow and unpacked. No stairs!


And look at the view from inside. Heaven!


We were stoked. Still no air conditioning, but the place was in shade and there were fans and we could just rest and be still and look at the view. Ahhhh.

But soon it was time to eat and we headed back to the downtown area and went to Siren's. The nice woman at the B&B had suggested it for the balcony over the water where we could best watch the sailboat race at 6pm -- SOLD! We hustled down there and were so happy to perch on the balcony, order up some cool mojitos and watch the sailboat "race".


First of all there was barely a breath of wind so "speed" was not a factor. It was hilarious and just the perfect end to a very hot day. Oooh, and they had Oly Beer for a buck a can. Had to order up one of those for old time sake. Hilarious and I have to say, very refreshing!

OlySing it with me Betsy! "It's the water! And a lot more....Oly Oly Oh!" 

We ate dinner there -- couldn't be bothered to move as it was finally, finally cooling down slightly. After dinner we walked next door to the 50's soda fountain and had some ice cream, then meandered back to our room and took cool showers and just sat on the couch and looked at the water. Ahhhhh.

Finally the long hot day had come to an end and in a gorgeous, comfy place. Couldn't wait for tomorrow!

More soon...

Coast Starlight -- Twitter Replay Day 2

Coast starlight logo

Continuing our trip via Twitter up the West Coast on Amtrak's Coast Starlight.

Day Two, Sunday July 26, starting at about 5:30am.

Sun is coming thru a crack in the curtains, I can smell coffee brewing. Shasta is close. (click)

After Emeryville the Big Dipper hung just outside my window last night, sang me a lullaby. Truly was CoastStarlight.

Kurt's still asleep. Hard not to wake him so we can spoon and watch the trees go by. Bunkbeds! 

Nice view out the window, getting near Shasta. Breakfast time! (click)

My mother in law just said to Kurt and I, "I hope your offspring has your nose." pointing to me

Jaime the car attendent advised: "walk like a duck." It helps!

View at breakfast (click

The view after breakfast (click) NICE!

A breath of fresh air in Klamath Falls. (click)

Upper Klamath Lake. Gorgeous lake country in Oregon (click

beautiful day in the moutains! (click)

View at lunch. Willamette river I believe. Lovely. (click)

Arriving in Eugene in a minute, sucking up all the 3g I can get!

Hot and fresh air in Eugene. Nice break to be outside! (click) did I mention Hot?

Eugene is where my dear friend Jai died in a house fire with her two kids 5 years ago. Bittersweet memories of this town.

OMG we got MOONED outside of Eugene!!! That is fantastic! (click)

OH @ breakfast "I didn't become a language teacher because I'm good at languages." O RLY?

Hay! lol (click)

Quick stop in Salem. Hot cloudless pretty day. (click) Kurt is trying the shower downstairs.

Oregon City? Big industrial complex at the falls. (click) [Oops! can't find this picture...]

Aproaching Portland. Kurt celebrates with a hot dog. Only 5 more hours till Seattle. (click)

Big bridge into Portland. (click)

On that bridge into Portland. (click)

A HOT quick and not so fresh air stop @ Union Station Portland (click) nice station, classic!

Coast Starlight -- Twitter Replay Day 1

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (@Kulia), I live-tweeted our trip up on the Coast Starlight from Union Station (also called LAX) to Seattle. 

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's like micro-blogging. You can only use up to 140 characters per post. You can upload photos to add to each tweet that links to where your images live. I took a photo for almost every tweet so please click the little link where indicated to see the visual. 

Here is Day One, Saturday July 25, starting at 9:00 am:

We've arrived at the station! (click for picture) 

LOTS of people in line for the Surfliner to San Diego. We don't have a track assignment for the Coast Starlight yet. Coffee.

Union Station (LAX) is lovely as ever. (click for picture)

My 91 year old mom in law just commented on how people use to dress up to travel. I'm in shorts. Hmmm

On board! (click for picture

We're off!! Adios LA!

First stop! The back side of Van Nuys is not as pretty as you want. (click for picture

Waiting for the coffee to be ready (click for picture)

Tunnels through Simi Valley, but lively rocks when we are out of the tunnel

*lovely* rocks

And now champagne!! (click)

Stop #3 Oxnard. Our lunch rez is in 1/2 hour. (click)

There's a place to eat in Oxnard near the train station called A Burger. Not THE burger. Just A.

Dining car! (click)

Santa barbara station - smoking stop (click)

Stopped south of SLO waiting for a freight train to pass. (click)

In the parlor car. (click)

Near pismo... (click)


Stop #5 San Luis Obispo (click)

At SLO we could step outside for a few minutes. Gorgeous day! (click)

Did I mention they have a movie theater on the train? Dude! (click)

Up and over the hill to Paso Robles. (click)

I also love seeing the original parts of cities and towns, the old Main or Front streets near the train stations.

Stop# 6 Paso Robles. Best picture I could get at this sweet small station. (click)

Also, watching Kurt tidy up a script-entertaining as he mouths words and gestures through the dialog.

Dining car just as we are arriving at Salinas (click)

Train is going through Watsonville which is right near where my sister lived. Suddenly feeling quite sad.

Didn't have my camera out but there was a multi screen drive in theater with lots of cars pulled up and getting ready to watch at San Jose

Post dinner diversion (click)

Sun going down as we pull into San Jose. (click)

Beds are made, teeth are brushed, just need jammies! (click)

That ended Day One of our trip. Next post -- Day Two!