Thursday, January 31, 2013

It Never Rains in California...

Last Thursday we flew from Denver to Los Angeles to see our daughter. Our flight was a little late getting in, and it was raining when Katie picked us up at the airport. Since she lives in a studio apartment, we arranged for a place to stay through It is an interesting website where you can find anything from a tee pee to a full house to rent. We located a one bedroom apartment behind a home in an area very close to where Katie lives. It was nice to have a kitchen where we could make a meal if we chose, and to have hot tea every morning. Plus we didn't have to listen to anyone above, below or next door to us. The one weird thing is that the bathroom was off the bedroom and in lieu of a door it had beads. Jim immediately dubbed it the beaded throne.

beaded throne
On Friday we went to the Getty Center, where it rained most of the day. It never rains in California? Girl, don't they warn pours, man it pours. The architecture at the Getty is really cool, and I imagine the gardens are amazing as well when not viewed from the shelter of an umbrella. Fortunately there are many museums to go into, so we didn't get too wet.

view from Getty Center

Getty Center

Saturday was shaping up to be a nice weather day, so we decided to drive to San Pedro to see the Point Fermin Lighthouse. It was built in 1874 and is a beautiful structure. We signed up for the 2:00 tour, and wandered around taking photos to pass the time. And watched the fog roll in. By the time we climbed to the top of the lighthouse you couldn't see squat. "I have never seen it like this!", exclaimed our tour guide. "Normally you can see all the way to Catalina Island, and there are usually a few whales down below." Bummer. We ate a late lunch at a biker bar in town, and that made for interesting people watching. When we arrived back in LA the weather was still beautiful there.

Point Fermin Lighthouse

Walker's Cafe

Sunday was also a nice day in LA. We set off to Griffith Park to see the observatory and take pictures of the infamous Hollywood sign. From there we drove to Angeles National Forest to see the San Gabriel Mountains. It was like driving in Colorado, with a two lane winding road and sheer drop offs. We stopped at the only restaurant in the park for another late lunch, and when we came out it had begun to sleet. "I've never seen it like this!", exclaimed a native. Of course you haven't, I thought to myself. We decided to go back to LA and the weather conditions worsened. The sleet turned to snow, which began to build up on the road. Great - slippery, snow covered two lane winding road with sheer drop offs. We slowly inched our way back to LA which was - you guessed it - sunny and dry.


Hollywood sign

San Gabriel Mountains

sunset in Los Angeles

Monday Katie came over for a last breakfast with us, and we waited for our taxi to take us to the airport. Katie did not have enough time to take us there and get to work on time. The driver called and said he was going to be late. "I have never seen the traffic like this!", he exclaimed. Of course you haven't, we all thought to ourselves. Nevertheless we made it to the airport in plenty of time, and arrived home safe and sound. To temperatures in the 60's. "I've never seen it like this!", I exclaimed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Funeral for a (Young) Friend

A week ago Saturday my brother's 20 year old son died suddenly. This is the same brother who lost his wife to cancer 11 years ago, leaving him with 3 small children to raise. My brother happily remarried two years ago, but due to scheduling conflicts we had not yet met his new wife. What a tragic reason for bringing all of us together! Jim and I flew out to Colorado on Tuesday as the funeral was going to be held on Wednesday morning. All of my other siblings arrived that day as well, and we stayed at the same hotel. We have not been together since my son's wedding 4 1/2 years ago, which is the last time that most of us had seen my nephew.

The funeral was very sad, but the priests did a really nice job of making it personal for the family and trying to make sense out of a senseless situation. After the Mass there was a reception (odd word choice for something following a funeral) downstairs at the church. My nephew's artwork was prominently displayed, and boy did he ever have some talent! They also were playing a slide show timed to music, which was both hard to watch and yet somewhat soul soothing.

Later in the day we all met up at my brother's house as people had been bringing lots of food by. It was nice to be able to spend time with my family as well as with the family of my sister-in-law. I am so happy that my brother has another wonderful woman in his life, and it is clear that the girls love and respect her.

On Thursday Jim and I flew to Los Angeles to see Katie. That part of the trip had been previously planned, and after some discussion we decided to go ahead with our visit. I really needed to hug my 21 year old.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

DNA Test for Genealogy - Who Am I?

There has been a lot pf press for several years about using DNA testing to help with researching your family tree. A couple of the earlier ones required that you test a male member of the family - preferably your father or brother. As I don't have any male relatives living near me, I kind of dismissed the idea of doing testing. Now, a very popular genealogy website, has come out with a test that can be taken by either males or females. It is an autosomal test, meaning it tests all 23 chromosomes. When they offered 50% off to try the test as a subscriber to their website, I decided to look into it.

Ancestry DNA kit
All the tests have pros and cons associated with them, but this test gets fairly good reviews from those who have taken it. So I bit the bullet and ordered the test, which arrived last week.Here is what is in the box.
Testing kit and return envelope

The first thing you need to do is register your kit with Ancestry so that they can track the specimen that you provide. By assigning a number, the privacy of the donor is protected. As much as anything can be protected in this day and age. You are not allowed to eat, drink or chew gum for 30 minutes prior to taking the test. At this point I was still under the assumption that you swab the inside of your cheek for the specimen. Isn't that what they always show on CSI? Wrong.This test requires you to spit in the provided plastic tube. At first when I saw the "Fill to" line, I thought I had to fill up half the tube! Then I looked closer and realized that there is a small container within the tube that captures the spit. Still, it was pretty gross. I would have rather done a swab test.

my specimen bag
ready for the mail
After you fill to the required line you snap the lid closed, which releases a solution in with the spit. Then you remove the solution cap and replace it with a screw on lid. The container is then placed into a sealed bag, eerily labeled "Biohazard". Ewww... The bag is then inserted into the provided mailer, and returned to the lab. Mine went out in Saturday's mail, and with the holiday on Monday I guess it will be mid-week before they receive it. When my results are ready (normally in 6-8 weeks) I will receive an email. The nice thing about being a subscriber to Ancestry is that if they find any matches with other people also on Ancestry we can connect. It will be interesting to see what happens with all this.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Cold Start to the New Year

Missouri Botanical Garden
Yesterday we took Katie to the airport for her flight back home, and then began the process of taking all of the ornaments and lights off the Christmas tree. Trash pickup is today, and I wanted to get the tree out of the house. We didn't bother to wrap all the ornaments, so that is my job for today. Once it is no longer 48 degrees on the main floor of the house.

I mentioned to Jim last night that it seemed cold in the house, but I thought it was because we had been opening the front door to take out the tree and bring in the exterior decorations. But when I looked at the thermostat, it was only 61 degrees. Huh... Jim checked everything he knew how to do with no luck in getting the furnace running again. Not for the first time, I am extremely grateful that we have zoned heating and cooling in the house. At least the upstairs is still nice and warm, so we slept okay last night. Other than getting my hot tea this morning, I am avoiding the downstairs.

So now I wait for the furnace repair guy to show up, and I am thinking this is going to be an expensive start to 2013. Fiscal cliff, here we come.