Masks and Thieves

So yesterday we decided to do something we rarely do these days – go out to lunch. One of our favorite places is Sonrisa Grill, the Mexican restaurant at Lake Las Vegas. It’s a fun drive and walk with great food and views.

We noticed that a few people we passed were not wearing masks, which is a bit disconcerting, especially since we’re used to going to Downtown Disney, where the mask requirement is enforced.

And the truth is, while I do wear a mask when I am out, I choose not to do a lot of things because I’m just not comfortable wearing a mask for more than an hour. So, truth be told, I really won’t be flying to Florida during this time – I can’t imagine wearing a mask for 4-6 hours. I’m also not sure I could really do Disneyland, although we’ll get a chance to test how long I can wear a mask at Knott’s Berry Farm next month, although for most of that time we’ll be sitting and eating/drinking so it shouldn’t be too bad. And there’s a relaxation station where masks are not required.

So on the thievery front, we were informed that our “Hitchhiking Ghosts” Christmas ornament was delivered by FEDEX yesterday, but we never got it. When we called Disney, they said they are out-of-stock now and will refund our money. Grrrr! We’d purposely ordered early to make sure we got them and now either the FEDEX driver kept it (not the first time this has happened in Vegas), or it was delivered to the wrong house and they kept our package.

Some photos from yesterday’s lunch:

Blue Sonrisa Margarita

Spicy Margarita

Salmon Tacos

Shrimp Tacos

I Love Masks, Fireworks, the Making of Frozen II, Disney World, and Church

This morning we stopped at Albertson’s for our weekly grocery shopping and for the first time since “The Bob,” I was actually in a grocery store. It was early on a Sunday morning so it wasn’t busy at all, especially the morning after the 4th of July firework shows lasting until well past midnight. Really cool displays all around us, so that was fun, but eventually, I really wanted to get to sleep. 🙂

Anyway, I realized wearing my mask this morning that I was starting to like it, if not love it, because it gives me my own personal space from other people. I didn’t have a panic attack. My ears didn’t hurt. I didn’t get a headache, although it wasn’t for that long of a time. Honestly, we both hope that some of these “social distancing” measures stay in place well beyond this Pandemic. We don’t need to sit or stand up close to strangers. We don’t need to dine so close, you can hear others’ conversations and vice versa. Dining alfesco can be pretty awesome.

We’ve been watching the making of Frozen II on Disney Plus. Totally LOVE it!!! I or rather we both prefer this over the making of the Mandalorian, although that’s cool, too, but much more technical. The making of Frozen II has story and music and animation and reminds us both of our Silicon Valley days. Stressful, yes, hard work – oh yeah, but a heckuva lot of fun!

Since I’m now retired from the tech world but spending my days writing and producing music, I miss that interaction. Writing and music are both so solitary. I mean, I love my alone time, but I also like some communal teamwork time, too. Anyway, it’s inspired me to act as if I have a team – lol! I’ve got plans to decorate my studio accordingly.

Adam the Woo flew to Orlando yesterday so I’m looking forward to seeing his videos (and others) of the opening of the parks in WDW. Still haven’t heard exactly if/how Downtown Disney is going to open on Thursday so we can make more concrete plans. Really frustrated with Disneyland or rather California and thinking of seeing if we can do WDW later this year.

Just when we were able to get back to church, we got word that our priest was exposed to “the Bob” and so he will be quarantining for the next couple weeks and there will be no church services.

 

Birthday Trip: The “Plan C” Compromise

One reason I was up at first light is that I was thinking about Plan B (staying at Caesar’s), instead of driving to SoCal (Plan A) after Governor Newsom “dimmed” the lights on outside dining, bars, etc. At bedtime, we were both excited about Plan B. But somewhere during the night, I came up with Plan C, which is a bit of Plan A (SoCal) and Plan B (Vegas).

I still wanted to go to SoCal – it’s been too long since we’ve been during this house building project, and I need to see, smell, and hear the ocean. I need a road trip. It’s my birthday. So we will do the big dining celebration here in Vegas (Border Grill, one of my favorites), and then drive to SoCal for my birthday for a couple of days. It looks like Downtown Disney will open as planned with outside dining restrictions. You can read about it on AllEars. And we can drive down PCH to enjoy the ocean, and maybe even find a beach.

The other mood enhancers for today have been watching some DIS videos – here and here. I totally wouldn’t mind owning a Disney vacation home. 🙂

And I’m missing cruising. If you’re missing cruising, too, enjoy a virtual cruise here.

 

 

First Light in the Desert

One of my joys when we were living in New Smyrna Beach, Florida was the first light shining on the pond from our Lanai. I knew I would miss that. But, on the other hand, I absolutely adore first light in the desert, too. Sunsets and sunrises are simply gorgeous. And from our bedroom window on the second floor, we can even see the lights from the Strip.

Here’s the view from our living room window – the photo is from my iPhone and doesn’t do it justice:

The view of our “Tree of Life,” as we like to call it. Reminds us of Animal Kingdom.

I like to get up at first light, say the Divine Office along with the audio, write in my journal, and sip my coffee. It’s quiet and contemplative.

I think it’s important to focus on what we have during this difficult time for everybody. And this is my blessing.

Breaking News: California Shutdowns (including Orange County)

When I lived in California, I must confess I sometimes flipped people off. Okay, I was much younger then, but how can you not do that as part of the California lifestyle? Thankfully, since I left, I don’t think I’ve flipped anybody off – lol!

But I’m now ready to flip off California itself after that ridiculous Governor declared shut downs for 19 counties, including Orange County. I can’t really celebrate my birthday in my beloved childhood county (indoor restaurants closed and beach parking closed), my annual tradition whenever I’m not living in Florida.

We cancelled the trip. I think. How could we not? What are we supposed to do, order delivery from our hotel room? Peek at the ocean as we drive down PCH? I can’t imagine that Downtown Disney will open at all until later because these shut downs aren’t just for the 4th of July weekend, but for the next 3 weeks. Not much of a celebration. Will keep abreast, though.

 Screen shot of the video so it’s a bit screwy

San Diego is not on that list nor Napa, Sonoma, or San Mateo. So there are other counties to visit, but the birthday trip is a short trip and we cannot really go beyond Orange County. If things change in Orange County for our August trip, we might go then. But I’m sad and mad, having looked forward to this trip for so long.

In the meantime, Plan B is a staycation at Caesar’s Palace. Drinks out by the pool and a nice dinner out.

I really like how the Florida governor is handling this. Check out what he said in this post.

I did a little research on Governor Newsom and he is a typical Bay Area liberal – I lived there for 23 years and I recognize the sort. I also learned he’s another one of those Democratic Catholics I disagree with. So, having discovered he’s a fellow Catholic, I may have to forgive him. Okay, so maybe I won’t flip him off. 🙂

But reading this pisses me off all over again.

 

 

Independence Day – the Irony of It

Happy July!

Reading the OC Register this morning, I see that the California governor is going to tighten restrictions today. Who knows what that means but I’m hearing “bars and beaches.” Laguna Beach is talking about closing before the 4th of July. In fact, all of this is happening now to prevent a huge spike over Independence Day.

Oh the irony of that name. You may as well cancel the 4th, because, frankly, we don’t seem to have any independence these days.

But what does independence in this context mean anyway? The ability to not wear a mask? Not to stay socially distant? But if you don’t wear a mask, or stay socially distant, things close. Not much independence in being forced to stay home because nothing is open.

I’m especially concerned because for all intents and purposes, we’ve been locked down in Vegas since the end of September. Returning from our trip to California, we decided to go ahead and build a home here. During that time we were so focused and financially strapped and uneasy about leaving the cats with a new pet sitter in that strange rental, that we stayed in Las Vegas.

Ten months in Las Vegas straight is a record for us. Geographically and culturally, we’re basically a suburb of SoCal. And it’s normal for us to visit every six weeks or so during the warmer months of the year. Mostly Disneyland and the beach. And my old neighborhoods, of course. 🙂

No Napa Rose for my birthday celebration. And now maybe no beach. We’d give California the finger and cancel the trip if it we weren’t in such need right now to see the beach – the beach that belongs to not only California residents, but the entire country. Closing the beach is not the way to celebrate “Independence Day.”

I get it, but I don’t like it. Some people can’t be trusted and they’re deciding what I get to do and what I can’t do right now. Not feeling very independent at all.

Oh the irony. We escaped lockdown well before the 4th, so now we may be back under lockdown orders by the 4th!

Las Vegas Showgirls Wearing Masks

When I saw this photo, I’m pretty sure I must have flashed a huge smile. Showgirls in masks. Gotta love Las Vegas!

The governor of Nevada is starting to win me over, especially when he said how “Nevadans are independent people.” Oh yeah! But he also asked that we show our independent spirit by each donning a mask. lol!

I do wear a mask when I’m out in public, but I also don’t choose to go out in public very often. It was okay during church, but I really struggle when shopping. Like today, we went to a couple of furniture stores shopping around for a living room chair. Looking down at the tags, my glasses slip off my nose (that’s what your nose is for if you’re a glass-wearer – not masks), and when I shove them back on, they fog up. Really an unpleasant experience. So I get it the resistance not to wear them. But if it’s true wearing a mask is the difference between spreading “the Bob” and not spreading it, I’m pretty sure we must wear them.

On a side note, I was watching the Tracker Live show today where they were talking about theme park news, and then, of course, a little peek at Jackson, who is so cute! But must Jenn talk about his bodily functions all the time? And breast feeding?

It reminds me of when we’d drive to the Central Valley from Orange County to visit my step dad’s family. Inevitably, the men would go out to the front porch and talk while eventually, a few people would jump in the car to get some rock salt (I was usually in that car) to make some home made ice cream. The men would take turns with the crank, and the women would sit in the living room and talk about babies, ad nauseum.

I, of course, would be sitting with the men on the porch. Their conversations were much more interesting, even if only because they weren’t talking about babies. Ah, how I miss those days. Never thought I’d say that – lol – but the problem with everything being online today, especially today, is that you can’t just leave the conversation when the women (and now men, it seems) start chatting about their kids bodily functions, breast milk going sour, etc, etc.

You know, I did all of that as a kid, although back then babies were mostly bottle-fed. I helped raise my half-brother and half-sister. I heated the milk, fed them a bottle, Gerber’s baby food, burped them, changed diapers, emptied the “diaper pail.” (Now here I am talking about those same things I dislike hearing about – Ooops!)

Anyway, all I wanted to do was to grow up and be an adult. Progress. Move on. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the lifestyle working in Silicon Valley. Maybe that’s also why I enjoyed trips to Las Vegas from San Francisco. And maybe that’s why I, for the most part, love living in Las Vegas.

I miss having easy access to Disney and the beach (or at least, what used to be easy), but Vegas is where you can hang out without kids. Because even cruise ships are all about families it seems today. Cruising also used to be more about adults. You can’t even go to work and enjoy that same kid-free zone when they have “take your kid to work day.” lol!

(Okay, I absolutely adore kids at Disney, so don’t go all crazy on me. Time and place. Time and place.)

YUM!

Knott’s Berry Farm, California Missions, and Friendly Masks

What I’m Watching:

Knott’s Berry Farm is one of my favorite childhood hangouts. We went there often as a family. The first time I knew what my parents were spelling out was when they said we were going to K-n-o-t-t-s B-e-r-r-y F-a-rm.

We were in the car and I recognized what my mother was spelling and shouted, “Knott’s Berry Farm!” lol! That’s when my mother knew spelling in front of the kids would no longer work. Ironically, Knott’s was also the celebratory place we went after I won the 6th grade spelling bee.

Impromptu visit to Knott’s after school with my cousins (me in the dress)

My favorite parts about Knott’s is the old Knott’s, the mining town, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, the Reflection Chapel, and the Missions of California.

I loved studying and visiting the missions in school. I would come home and talk nonstop about “Father (now Saint) Junipero Serra,” which was pretty funny since my grandmother was busy trying to impart her Jehovah’s Witness religion on us.

In those days, my mother put on pretenses whenever her mother was around and my grandmother influenced me greatly when I stayed with her. But I like to say I met Jesus in those Missions through Saint Serra.

So, instead of being all caught up with the things we can’t do, I’m trying to focus on the things we can do. And so we’re planning on having lunch at Mrs. Knott’s during my birthday trip. The Marketplace is now open and it will be fun to see it again.

  • Disney Springs with Tim Tracker

Also, I’ve noticed that seeing people wearing masks doesn’t freak me out quite as much when I see friendly people I recognize wearing them. And speaking of masks, Tim Tracker has been trying out several different ones and his latest one in his Disney Springs video looks promising.

I’d tried the neck thingie he wore in his Moss Park video, but it’s tight around my neck and I still can’t breathe wearing it, but the Disney Springs mask might be worth a try, especially with the strap thingie he wears so his ears aren’t being pulled – that’s another issue I’ve found.

We still haven’t heard what/if restaurants at Downtown Disney will be open when it opens July 9, so we’ve made reservations at a beach restaurant for my birthday (impressed by their social protocols they have in place). But we’re hoping to pop in to DD, if it looks like it will work for us. Disneyland and the hotels won’t be open before my birthday so they will have to wait until the August trip.

It’s hard to make any plans during this time because we just don’t know what things are available and what they will look like. So we will have to remain flexible. I’m looking forward to the trip, though, and getting back to frequent trips to Disneyland and the beach from our new home in Las Vegas.

My Orange County (CA) Life: Nostalgia, Disneyland, and Denny Pezzin

This morning Adam of The Daily Woo is eating his meal (Denny’s) at his favorite location outside the Anaheim Convention Center, talking about whether he will be interested in securing entrance to the opening of Disneyland. Well, of course, we would all love to since it’s happening on Disneyland’s 65th anniversary.

It’s really hard for me to be cut off from Disneyland. It’s one reason we moved back West each time we moved to Florida. The easy access to Disney World and the beach in Florida couldn’t compare to the much longer 4-hour drive to Disneyland and the beach from Las Vegas. Disneyland is special to many people, but especially to those who grew up there and maybe even more so to those who grew up there but no longer live there. Disneyland is family.

The years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, working in Silicon Valley, were filled with trips to Disneyland just to touch that childhood nostalgia. My mother tells the story of us watching it being built when I was quite small and my step dad was in Korea. As soon as his stint was over, we went to Disneyland for the first time with my mother, step dad, his daughter (Sherry), and me. You might have seen this photo before:


Disneyland: then and now (me on the lower right, afraid of the “old Lady” in the rocking chair)

This was taken several years ago, perhaps around 2010. We updated the (now) version in the same spot just last summer when we were there on Rich’s birthday.

August 2019

As so many of us, I was also aware of being in Disneyland when Walt was walking around Main Street. My mother, ever so discreet, would say quietly, “There’s Walt.”

Back to my Silicon Valley days with trips to Disneyland in the 1990s. I would often stay at my favorite Embassy Suites where Denny Pezzin would perform his “One Man Show.”

Since then, he’d moved to Florida when we were there the second time around. His father was living there after his mother died and Denny was there to help him during his time of grief. Denny and his wife have since moved back to SoCal in the desert area where he performs at various venues with some trips to the OC (at least before the “Bob” affected our lives).

I subscribe to his YouTube channel and he uploads a performance daily (or close to it). So check out today’s Denny Pezzin performance, an Elvis Medley, “The Wonder of You” and “One Night With You.”

I’m really feeling the pull of my childhood and younger days and can’t wait to get back to my Orange County and Disneyland, especially Galaxy’s Edge, DJ Rex, and Oga’s Cantina.

Rich enjoying a Jet Juice at Oga’s Cantina

Grooving to DJ Rex

Why Did We Leave Las Vegas?”

The question we’ve asked ourselves more than once during this long, arduous time has been, “Why did we leave Las Vegas?” If we hadn’t, we could have avoided much of the emotional and financial stress, although nobody has any idea what they would have to deal with had they taken a different road.

It would have been comforting to have been in familiar surroundings during all of this, like the second time around when we moved back into our home. But we sold the Vegas home before we moved to Florida last time, and that enabled us to buy the Florida home. That had been a difficult decision to make and we almost didn’t. Still, there were reasons to go. But if we’d known we would leave Las Vegas only to return to Las Vegas, I doubt we would have left. I guess that’s why you can’t see into the future.

When I started thumbing through our photos and vids, I remembered all the fun and excitement of our 18 months in Florida the last time around, including building a beautiful home in a golf course community near the beach. A dream come true! So I put together a video to be able to remember and reflect on that special time in our lives, even with all its difficulties.

This video takes you from the “Welcome to Florida” sign to landing in a local apartment, to house hunting, touring model homes, picking out options from the model home, beaches, tiki bars, Walt Disney World, and the last few gorgeous sunsets from our Florida home.

I now have the answer to the question, “Why did we leave Las Vegas?” We would have missed out on all of this:

Hope you enjoy. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you.

Pool Shopping and First Restaurant Dining In Experience (#Covid19 #LasVegasOpen)

With restaurants dining in service opening up throughout the Las Vegas Valley, we first thought we’d drive out to the winery and heat lunch there. But with the temps heading for the 90s, we decided we’d rather go pool shopping. With a dirt backyard, we need to figure out what it is we’d like to do back there. So we donned our masks and headed for one of the fiberglass pool people out in Henderson, to check out their showroom and to get the details on pricing, etc.

The pools looked soooo appealing, especially on a hot day, but we were a bit put off by the pricing. We thought they’d be less expensive than a gunite, but, still, it seemed a bit out of our reach if we hoped to continue traveling when we can travel. That’s the thing, with the world shutting down, did we really want to depend on it for travel and recreation or depend on ourselves, although limited to our backyard and places nearby going forward?

But I have to tell you, if I could do it again, I wouldn’t wear a mask when we’re just interacting with one business owner and a cat. He wasn’t wearing a mask, and I almost fainted wearing mine. I just can’t breathe in these things. And it was awkward wearing when when the owner wasn’t. While Rich was wrapping things up, I went out to the car so I could take this thing off.

Then, being close to Lake Las Vegas, we wondered if our favorite Mexican restaurant was open so we called them. “Yes, come on down,” they said.

We parked in the garage like normal and it was busy. We took the elevator to avoid people on the stairs, and Rich cleaned his finger after pushing the buttons. Families were all over, although I think we all kept our space from each other. We then hiked down a long set of stairs to the restaurant area and I avoided using the handrail.

There was a sign indicating social distancing. We were seated in our favorite row of tables, but the middle table was taken out in our row to offer up that space. Yay! This is the way dining should have always been. I’m liking this social distancing.

Our waitress was wearing a mask, we got out our hand sanitizer (as we’ve been doing for decades), to use after we put our menus down and gave our order. I tell you, first thing up: a Margarita to recover from that whole mask experiences. Chips and salsa were delivered by another waiter wearing a mask.

Lunch was soon on the tables and I totally enjoyed my tacos and Rich loved his enchiladas. It felt soooo good to eat out again, one of our favorite ways to celebrate life.

Later, we stopped by Target to buy some rugs for the new house – there’s always something new to buy with a new house. The supply was quite low and, wearing that stupid mask, I just couldn’t think straight. We ended up not getting what I wanted for the master, but, instead, used it to decorate the kitty’s room – lol!

Summary: it was awesome to be dining out again, but I may try to avoid places that require a mask. Themed masks are kinda cute but still claustrophobic.

I’m loving social distancing – it’s the way it should have been anyway. I’ve never been a fan of close-in dining, overcrowded theme parks or cruise ships that keep getting bigger and bigger. But I am so waiting to see if Napa Rose opens by my birthday in July, It’s become my annual tradition. So sad if it doesn’t. I’ve had enough of the world being shut down. It’s way too depressing. Even if I’m not going places, I like to think other people are.

Btw, we found the rugs we were looking for online, but, as keeps happening, they wouldn’t accept our address. Our neighborhood is too new and they rejected it as not being legit. Believe me, we’ve been through this too many times to mention.

The Las Vegas Strip: Before and After #Covid19

We’d posted a video we’d taken before the Covid-19 shutdown, which you can see here. (Btw, the music playing is my original Screamie Birds music.)

But we also wanted to capture what the Strip looks like after shut down but before it opens up again so we drove down the Strip started from the North end near Encore and Wynn, making our way South to Mandalay Bay. You can find that video here.

I have to say, seeing the Strip this way was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. You might remember the story of the first time I saw Las Vegas. We’d driven in from our home in Southern California because my step dad was trying to quit smoking and he thought playing craps would keep his hands busy – lol!

There we were parked on Fremont Street back when you could, and my brother and I were sitting in the car while our mother either sat with us or watched us from the slot machines just inside the doorway of a casino. Remember those days when people left their kids in the car and it was considered perfectly okay? Whoa! Right?

Anyway, I remember doing my homework when Vegas Vic caught my eye and I was completely mesmerized by the neon and thought “bright lights, big city–that’s for me!”

My life in Las Vegas has also inspired two novels set in Las Vegas:

LUCKY’S LAST CHANCE (previously published as THE TOM JONES CLUB)

“I can tell what kind of man he is by the wine he drinks.” – Lucky

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But when Lady Luck spins the wheel of love, Lucky cashes in on a red hot sizzling romance. But when her past catches up with her, she is forced to answer these questions, “Can her heart keep the promises her body has been making?” and “Is this her last chance to finally get lucky in love?”

Breaking News: I finally got publishing rights reversal from my publisher and this book will be released with a new cover and title – Lucky’s Last Chance – publishing date TBA.

DEJA VU AT THE BLUE DIAMOND SALOON/FRENCH MARTINI

Nikki Durrance escaped the worst nightmare of her life when she fled Las Vegas for San Francisco, leaving her husband behind at the Blue Diamond Saloon to build a new life. So when the perfect Dr. Mike Fischer proposes, she accepts. But when her new Mr. Right begins to transform into a guy just like her ex-husband, she begins to question everything, including her sanity.

Nikki longs to trust Mike, but with an overwhelming feeling of déjà vu, Nikki’s fear propels her into discoveries of betrayals and underworld connections that will send her running for her life again.

(Released as Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon and French Martini)

BUY NOW on Amazon.com in Kindle and Paperback.