Monday, December 05, 2011

Sing it, Merle....

Lap top computer: broken
Zoom lens to camera: broken
Front door to house: broken
TV remote control: broken
TV: broken
Bank account: broken
Blow Dryer: broken
Iron: Broken
Feet: Broken
Washer and Dryer: never installed


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Day at the London Eye

Ok, so it's been months since I wrote about my 2010 trip to Europe. My computer broke and I've just gotten it back. So let us now continue with my saga of "My year of living erroneously". (keep an eye on the black cloud that was hanging over my head...in case you don't remember...in the few posts previous to this one regarding 2010...I had lost my job and then totaled my car.)


When you are vacationing in Europe you don’t let a little bit of arctic freezing cold rain get in the way of a good time. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who felt like I lived in my long johns and wet tennis shoes. My scarf had pretty much adhered itself to my body. We would bundle up as we were leaving our apartment building because to do so even one minute earlier would result in passing out from the heat. Once we got outside it was a whole different story. Noses would run. Eyes would water. Hair would frizz. Cheeks would turn bright pink. We were a stunning bunch! Our plan for this day was to walk over to the London Eye. Katie and I had wanted to go on it since the minute we got off the plane but couldn’t convince Tori and Rebek to go on it with us. So on this very rainy day Katie and I decided to go on it without them. Neither Katie nor I wanted to admit that we were terrified of heights so we put on our brave faces, got our cameras and our monkeys and stood outside in the rain and waited in line. The London Eye never stops rotating even when it is loading and unloading passengers but he rotation speed is so slow that you can’t even feel it moving. I was very happy to see that there was an air conditioner in each unit, (and thus we wouldn't run out of oxygen) and the glass capsule was large enough to walk around in if you so chose.(two very big deals for the claustrophobic!) It only took a couple of minutes for me to realize that there was nothing to be afraid of. The ride was smooth. There was plenty of oxygen. The view was amazing. I’m hooked!

After our ride on the London Eye Tori and Rebek were supposed to meet me and Katie at the rides exit. Some people don’t know how to follow directions and thus Katie and I were forced to walk around and try to find them. I found this guy instead:This is Bruno from "Dancing With The Stars". He is much shorter than I imagined. Sorry this picture is so bad but I got in trouble for taking his picture while he was giving an interview, so this picture was taken with my zoom from about a mile away.

It took us almost an hour to meet up with Tori and Rebekah, to this day I don't know where they were when they were supposed to meet us right next to the London Eye. (bone heads.) Katie and I told them what a fantastic time and we just about begged them to give it a try but what I think convinced Tori to go for it was when we told her about the amazing photo ops up there. We managed to convince both of them to go on it and Katie and I were more than happy to go on it again.

This is what the pods looked like:

This was inside the pod:


This was the view from the pod when were even with Big Ben: This was the carnival at the base of the ride. You can see the bridge over the river Thames. ("Tems") This bridge was in one of the Harry Potter movies...but I don't know which one.:(

Cousin Katie:


After all was said and done Tori and Bek admitted that the London Eye was awesome and were sorry they hadn't gone on it sooner.




In the winter months there is an ice rink just below the London Eye. Rebek was the only one brave enough to strap on some skates and give it a whirl:
We had a wonderful adventure at the London Eye and it was a day I will never forget, but it wasn't because of all the fun we had this day. When we got back to our flat Tori and I found out that our beloved cousin Gary had passed away. She and I adored this man and it was a loss that neither one of us were really prepared for. Gary had been ill off and on for the last few years but, like my father, he would get sick...go to the hospital and get better and come home. Sadly this time he didn't come home. He and my dad were partners in crime so I'm sure there was a terrific reunion when Gary reached the pearly gates. There is no doubt that my dad met him there with a Coors for each of them. Rest in peace you two. (yeah, right!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Tate Modern

On one of the few days that we got up before sundown we took off on a walk down the banks of the Thames. We weren’t really on the banks because that is where the bums hang out, we were actually up on the street that runs along side of the river, (much safer.) We saw this phone booth and I begged the girls to pose and they were more than happy to oblige…that is until they all got in there and discovered that those quaint red phone booths make for a dandy toilet for homeless people. The urine index in there was enough to gag a maggot but the girls were troopers and I got the shot!

After taking the phone booth picture we walked through a park and took a full series of pics of Bek gleefully throwing leaves up in the air. Tori and I both got some great shots but I’m sorry to say that at this late date we can only find two of the pictures from the whole series. Look at how nice they turned out:.

Now imagine the last picture in the series where Bek got murky water in her mouth and she was coughing and sputtering! I know this sounds so mean but the murky water situation made me laugh so hard that I had tears running down my face.

There are two Tate Modern Museums in London and we visited both of them. I am the type of museum patron who walks very slowly and try’s to absorb everything I see through every pore of my body. I love museums but even I could have run though both these places at full speed. I really can’t distinguish what we saw at either museum so I might be interchanging what we saw at either particular location, but you’ll never know the difference because if you are smart you won’t waste your time by going to the Modern Museums.
Bek and I were sooo excited to get to see the Andy Warhol exhibit. I had made a special effort to pack an old coveted tee shirt, that was once the uniform of my youth, that bore a silk screen of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe so that I could give it to Bek while in the presence of all things Warhol. It was from way back when I was skinny so it was a small enough size that I could roll it up and put it in my camera bag. Once we got to the museum I all but herded our group to the Warhol salon. Boy was I disappointed to find that there was not one of his famous celebrity silk screens, nor even mention of his Campbell’s Soup can. No, instead we found ourselves in a room that was covered in Pepto Bismal pink and yellow cow print and aWarholian-esque picture of a pistol. WTH? I still managed to give Bek the tee shirt and I think she was touched by my gesture. I’ve seen pictures of her wearing the shirt so apparently she likes it.



Negative pictures on tin. Ok.






Amongst the works of art that were proudly displayed in the Tate were a pencil written script of “Top Gun”:

We also saw an entire room with nothing more than what appeared to be several years worth of dryer lint. I am not kidding. We also got to watch a short film of a naked women who was standing on a big rock next to a river. She was covered in blood and someone was throwing feathers on her. Yeah. Artistic. We got to see what we presumed was the original “ugly stick” and the best part of the day was when Tori dared to put her finger on an authentic WWII chrome fighter plane. We almost got kicked out over that faux paux. (how do you spell that? Spellcheck didn't have any suggestions.)








The only true piece of art we saw was the sculpture called “The Kiss", by Rodan. I loved it and even to this day I still enjoy looking at the pictures.
The museums in London have full bars and so of course we thought if we had a couple of cocktails then maybe we would have a greater appreciation of the works of art. Between the 4 of us it cost over 50.00 BPS. Bek ordered a smoothie. Word to the wise…in London a “smoothie” is a cup of room temperature watered down yogurt with a little bit of honey mixed in. Upon her first sip of this concoction you could just see it in her face…she didn’t want to swallow what was in her mouth and she was not going to take another sip. Tori told her that for what they paid for that smoothie Rebek had better know that she was going to drink every last bit of it. Bek told Tori if Tori took a sip of it and still thought it was consumable then she would try to drink it. Tori took one sip and lo and behold…the drink was trashed.
This was Bek innocently trying to take a portrait of herself. We thought it would be better with accompaniment. Seriously, what picture isn't improved by bunny ears?

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Dolphin House

Our apartment at the Dolphin House consisted of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice size living room and a kitchen that was so small that only two people could fit in there at a time. (No exaggeration.) An odd contrast to the kitchen we had last year which was big enough to hold a square dance.




These pics were taken within the first 24 hours of our arrival. I know this because after the first day you pretty much needed a shovel to make your way through the living room. We are not a tidy bunch.


We threw our luggage in to our respective rooms, turned on all of the radiators, you can see the radiators behind the sheer curtains in the pic above, and took off on a walk-about. It would be nice to come back to a toasty warm apartment. We bundled up in our new rain coats that we all got just for the London weather, and headed out in to the early evening rain. After walking about 3 blocks from the apartment I discovered that my cool new coat was not water proof and I was rain soaked to the skin. (Yay! I get to spend my entire autumn vacation in rainy London with a coat that absorbs water!)


(I am SO pretty.)


We raced back to the apartment and were all shocked to not be greeted with the delightful hug of warmth from the radiators. All four of us thought we were smarter than the other and we all tried our hand at making the radiators work. Tori got bored with this and decided to turn on the television. Imagine if you will…the tv didn’t work, either. We called the front desk and reported our broken radiators and television. It took a couple of hours but they sent up the first security guard they could spare...because clearly a security guard is the most capable person to send to fix electronics and plumbing. Oddly enough after frittering around with the radiator and the television the security guard told us that the tv and the radiators were … are you ready?…. “broken”. Obviously he was an expert in his field. (I don’t quite remember exactly but it was a couple of days before both items were actually repaired.)


There is an 8 hour time difference between London and California and it’s really hard to adjust to the change. We were all a little jet lagged but thought that we were handling things pretty well. One morning I decided to get up when I heard the others stirring, as opposed to sleeping in as I had done every day thus missing out on a lot of daylight, so even though I was still really tired I dragged myself out of bed. Katie was up and cooking Top Ramen. (Breakfast of champions!!) I convinced her to share it with me and we enjoyed our ever so nutritious breakfast while Tori and Bek slowly made their way to start the new day with us. Tori did as Tori does and turned on the television which thankfully was in working order. There was even less of a choice of what to watch than usual and it was at that point we found out that it was 2:00 AM!! We were all amused at our early start to our day and since there was nothing to watch on TV we watched “Harry Potter” on Katie’s laptop. Since Rebek missed out on eating Top Ramen she decided to cook some Uncle Ben's rice. The directions said, “Boil a large amount of water”, and to that Bek said, “SHOULD I FILL THE BATH TUB???” I don’t know if it was because we were all up and out of bed at such an ungodly hour or what but we all thought that that was just about the funniest thing we’d ever heard.

I'm sad to report that we all fell asleep while watching "Harry Potter" and once again wasted half of the day by sleeping through it.


Stay tuned for the next posting where we actually make it out of the house during daylight hours!





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Friday, September 30, 2011

Airplane ride..

So what do ya do when you are stuck on a plane, in a tiny little seat for 12 hours? Of course! You take pictures of your monkey in compromising positions…


First the little simian drinks all of the vodka...

Then the cheeky little dude swipes my headphones! You just can NOT trust a monkey on an overseas flight!


For the better part of 3 hours we played word games. We ate. We drank. We watched movies. We watched TV shows. We made fun of our neighbors. We took pictures.
(I like to take that zit on my chin with me on all of my trips.)




Then we tried to sleep. We all put on our movie star sleep masks and closed our eyes while sitting straight up. I dozed off for a while and when I woke up I discovered that we were draped all over each other like a basket full of sleeping kittens. I wanted to move but I feared that if I were to even try to get up I would decimate this delicate human Jenga game. So I sat there letting my legs go numb trying to be nice and accommodate the rest of the gang. Then Bek woke up and flung everyone off of her and the rest of us all but flew out of our seats.

After sitting for over 12 hours we were very happy to get off of that plane. I couldn’t wait for Katie to see the London style taxi cabs so we all but ran through Heathrow Airport. Just before we got to the door we saw an ice cream machine. Bek stopped to see if the machine had Nobbily Bobbily ice creams and Tori noticed that when Bek got close to the machine animated head gear appeared on the front of the machine and sync-ed up to our heads. I am embarrassed to admit that we spent the next hour playing in front of the ice cream machine.

NICE PINK FRO, KATIE!!!!!

The weather outside was a slightly rainy, a bit chilly...a perfect autumn afternoon in London. We had to wait for a taxi that was big enough to fit all four of us and all of our luggage. In mere moments the charm of the chilly afternoon had worn off and it felt very good to get into a warm cab. Sadly we wound up riding in a van because the regulation taxis were not big enough to accommodate 4 of us and all of our luggage.


As usual the ride to downtown London was just like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland. I will never get used to riding on the wrong side of the road. Every twist and turn in the road is exactly the opposite of what we are accustomed to so I would bob and weave one way and the car would go the other way. How I didn't crack my head on the side window is beyond me.


This year we were staying at The Dolphin House which was right on the Thames.(I'm sad to report that there was nothing "dolphin-y" about the place.) The woman who checked us in was a typical polite Londoner but I couldn't help but feel like we were the first party she'd ever assisted. It took us over an hour to get checked in! I was anxious to get our luggage up to our room and then set out to show Katie the sites of London.


Stay tuned for the next chapter... :)


P.S. I have no idea why Tori isn't in any of these pictures.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Europe Trip 2010

This trip across the pond was going to be different from any of my previous trips because this time my niece Katie was going with us. Katie is actually Tori’s husband’s brother’s daughter, but I have always referred to her as my niece. (Hi Katie!)

Before our trip was even set in stone Katie was perusing travel websites, (SOO unlike her Aunties!), trying to make sure that she was as prepared as possible for such a big trip. Most of the sites suggest the usual things such as electrical plug converters, the best places to exchange your money, special sightseeing attractions and the like but there was one site that had an odd suggestion that turned in to a very funny competition between the 4 of us. They suggested that travelers bring along condoms and use them as coin purses! (They were completely serious. Can you imagine buying a souvenir and whipping out a condom full of change!) They went on to say that condoms had a million and one practical uses for travelers but they didn’t go in to detail…so we made up our own lists. In the weeks before we left on our trip we must have texted each other 50 times apiece. And I could tell that this was something that was heavy on all of our minds because some of the texts would arrive at 3:00 in the morning. So…other than the obvious use for a condom…some of the uses that we came up with were: wind sock, emergency shoe lace, scrunchie, windshield wiper cozy, toothbrush holder, shoe liners to keep your feet dry in the event of wet weather~(Katie actually tested that one out!), balloon animals, stuffed animal shower caps, room décor, water balloon, pencil holder, soap carrier, luggage tag, finger gloves, ear rings, and on and on... (sorry if I offended any of my readers...I thought long and hard about including this part of the story and I just decided to go for it because at the time we thought it was so funny.(

To make this trip extra fun Katie and I decided that it would be fun if we all got each other gift bags to be opened when we got on the plane. The night before the trip we were all at Tori’s house packing and repacking and doing whatever we could to make our luggage lighter. (Our last trip to London resulted in a $70.00 charge because Bek’s suitcase was too heavy. Oddly, the charge was only given on the way to London…and not on the way back. Go figure.) We wound up exchanging our gift bags in the middle of the suitcase mess. Katie got everyone a decorated canvas bag and inside was lots of candy, a stuffed monkey, (I named my monkey Skeeter!), glitter pens, and condoms of various sizes and colors! Tori also got us canvas bags and inside was an airplane neck pillow, satin sleep mask and a cotton gauze scarf and a fleece blanket. She got me a custom made journal that had a picture of the 3 of us on it and it said, “Two Pendell’s and A Wyatt”. Bek got everyone cute pajama bottoms. This gift exchange was awesome and we will do it again the next time we travel.

On the way to the airport we all got our “dork packs” prepared. (For those of you who haven’t been reading my blog since our first trip to Europe..a “dork pack” is a document holder that hangs on a string around your neck. This handy dandy item looks sooooo dorky but it saves you from having to look for your passport, drivers license, plane ticket, etc.)They seriously make the trek through the airport much easier and I highly recommend them. It wasn’t until we got inside the airport that I realized that a cat had peed on my dork pack. (Welcome to my life.) So I threw my beloved pink dork pack away and bought a new one that cost me about 3 times what the pink one cost. There is no such thing as bargain shopping at LAX.

It is tradition between Tori and I to have a drink before we get on the plane. It calms us down yet makes us giddy and we love it when we are giddy. The problem with our plan to find a drink was that Bek wasn't 21 so she couldn't go in to a bar with us. Katie and Bek just went and sat by our departure gate and Tori and I ran around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to find a bar with an open seat. We wound up at a bar inside of the Chili's restaurant. We ordered 2 dirty martinis...and it was a good thing we had alcohol in our system when we were handed our bill...$30.00!!!! Whatcha gonna do? (We learned a lesson for sure!)

This was our first trip to Europe sitting in Coach. Let me tell you…there’s nothing like riding in coach to remind you just how spectacular it is to be in Business class. We were in the very back of the plane but we got to get on first because I was still hobbling around from car accident related boo boos. We were lucky enough to get 4 seats in one row. We didn’t purchase our tickets at the same time and we were afraid that we would be sitting in different sections of the plane. The plane wasn’t even fully loaded when Rebekah says very loudly….”WHO DO I HAVE TO GIVE A LAP DANCE SO I CAN GET A SEAT IN BUSINESS?”

Thankfully there were no takers to the offer and before we knew it we were up in the air...

(Stay tuned for the next installment with pictures!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The last of the Mitsubishi accident story

Immediately after they towed my car away Tori took me straight to a 7-11 and bought me a diet Coke. I don’t know if it was because I had just watched my life pass before my eyes or what but this simple act of sisterly kindness just about moved me to tears. Everyone who knows me well knows that a Diet Coke can fix just about anything. I didn’t really want to spend the night alone so she took me to her house where I had a very fitful night of sleep. Every time I closed my eyes I relived the accident over and over. I would just finally get to sleep and I would gasp myself awake. When the morning came and I finally got out of bed I was astonished as to how sore I was. I knew I was going to be sore but I never dreamed that it would be as bad as it was. Even my corneas hurt. I hobbled out of the bedroom and made my way into the dining room. I took about 2 steps into the dining room and the next thing I knew I was doing the Fred Flintstone shuffle in midair. One of the kids had spilled water on the linoleum floor and just left it there and I slipped in it. Just as the car accident had seemed..this slip happened in slow motion. I saw myself being perpendicular to the ground and I knew it was really going to hurt when I landed. As I was on my way to the ground I reached out and tried to grab anything to break my fall and I connected with a baker’s rack that was fully loaded with dishes and large bottles of alcohol. Sadly the bakers rack didn’t break my fall but it did cause me to all but pull my arm out of the socket. Tori raced in and tried to help me up. She reached down to me and instead of her pulling me up I managed to pull her down on top of me. So there we both were..laying on the floor in a puddle of water. I took a quick assessment of my injuries and was pretty sure none of my bones were broken and then we sat there and laughed.
A few days after the accident the tow yard called me to let me know that I was racking up storage charges so I wound up signing my car over to them so that I wouldn’t continue to accrue charges. I was planning to give my car away once I got a new one but I can assure you I had no intentions of giving it away when I was still using it nor was I going to give it to a total stranger.
I continued to relive the accident 100’s of times a day. I can only imagine that this is the way the brain works through the details that I didn’t notice when the accident actually happened. During one of these episodes I finally had an epiphany. I couldn’t stop wondering what caused me to hit the other car…and then it dawned on me~~I was expecting her to move…and why was I expecting her to move??? Because the light was green. I have no idea why she was just sitting there or why it took me so long to realize that she wasn’t moving but I’m certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the light was green. Sadly this realization came to me after the police report was written up and the accident was deemed 100% my fault. Mazeltov.

Onward and upward…I had a trip to Europe to plan…..