Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Hit it here!" lives on

On our trip, it became quite the gesture for our friends to say “hit it here!” in reference to Dave’s ad on the stadium in Shreveport. Friends never let you live some things down.

Here’s Kiesha’s try at the Ribs place.

Here’s Nunes brother, Chris, gesturing in the limo.And finally, here are Nunes parents with an Erie-style ‘hit it here!’I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon.

Seeing Stars

No visit to LA is complete without a few star sightings.

On the first day of our visit, we watched “Brian Fantana” or Paul Rudd and new star Paul Segal prepare to film a scene under the Santa Monica pier for a movie called “I Love You, Man.”

We went to a taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. There, we saw Shreveport’s favorite son, Terry Bradshaw, a turkey baster musician from Bryan, Texas, and musician Colbie Callee . It was a neat experience, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

Probably our most exciting star sighting came driving down the road in the Burbank Studio City area. As we turned through an intersection, Dave spotted another member of the Anchorman team, Steve Carrell in a hybrid SUV with his wife and kids. We wheeled around and followed him for a few blocks to make sure it was him. It was.

And finally, we saw actor Chris O’Donnell playing beach volleyball with some friends. He looks like he does on TV...when he's on it.

California friends

The best part of LA was visiting our friends. We got to catch up with some non-Orange too.
We had delicious Mexican food and an even better visit with Ky, who also worked with Dave in Bemidji. She now edits Hell’s Kitchen, Big Brother, and other shows she can work on. After experiencing life here, I don’t think she’s planning to go back to Minnesota….except to be a bridesmaid in a wedding where she has to wear camouflage. I will work on pictures of that one.

KTAL alum Rich DeMuro and wife Lyndsey are getting back into a California rhythm after living and working in New York City. We had Mai Tais on the beach with them. Rich is the Tech guy at KCAL, and we got to watch one of his live shots. We’re proud, and happy for them both.

Congrats to Nunes and Silvia!

Much of our time in LA was devoted to the wedding preparation and later celebration of a Syracuse alum, Mike Nunes and his bride, Silvia Urbina. They took two years to carefully and thoughtfully plan out a great wedding weekend. The bridal party had a tasty rehearsal dinner at Palermo Ristorante Italiano.

Our buddy’s special touch was definitely the cake, which read “Another one bites the dust.” He also chose that to walk into at the reception.... so you can say the festivities definitely reflected the groom's interests, too!

The next day, Nunes had all his groomsmen, plus one other classmate (me--thanks for letting the girl tag along!), see the first showing of the new Indiana Jones movie. We literally waited for the bars to rise at the theater.
That night, SU alums and their others gathered at Ribs USA for a late, late night dinner. Nunes’ wanted something to compare to Dinosaur BBQ… it didn’t, but it was good and a special treat from the Nunes family. A quick rundown: Hawaiians Jana and Frank who now live in Phoenix where Jana is an anchor at the news radio station, Kiesha is still in Atlanta at CNN, Jay is a photog in Syracuse (and getting married in November), and Nunes is at NBC entertainment in Burbank.
The bilingual mass was pretty special, as the priest was a former comedian and bartender. Dave escorted Silvia’s cousin from Australia. The reception started up before 5 and lasted until midnight. Dave filled in for a very ill Jay with a toast. If you can measure how much fun a reception is by how much your feet hurt the next day, we had an awesome time.

Joining us there, another Syracuse and Bemidji alum, Ross and his fiance’ Tracy. Ross is using his finance background at CNN in NYC. And loving it. But, the party didn’t stop there. The next day, Silvia’s parents hosted a brunch at their house in Arletta—complete with fried plantains, leftover wedding cake, and special eggs. Everyone else brought their Excedrin.

Rainy, Chilly LA

Dave and I spent a few days in LA celebrating a good friend’s nuptials. Expecting sun, heat, and classic California weather, we packed shorts, swimsuits, and tank tops. On the first day, a rainstorm prompted breaking news. A tornado touched down—a first in LA in years. (click for cool picture of twin tornadoes) We shook our heads more than once and wondered why so many people would tell us, ‘it’s raining,’ as they would stop and stare at the rain slowly soaking the pavement. The shower caused traffic to back up. This was odd California weather, and we heard enough weather comments to think we were back in Minnesota… but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits. More to come!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The great Caribou tale

My brother Luke has been stationed in Alaska for quite some time, and being the outdoorsman he is, has loved it. He did have a multi-month "vacation" in the desert sandwiched between his Alaskan adventures, and how he is deservedly taking every advantage of the wilderness as he finishes up his Army career. He's had experiences with bear, wolves, fish, deer, and I don't know what else. This time, he was after a caribou:He shot it with a bow and arrow from 55 yards away in a snowstorm on the tundra. It took one shot. He says he wore white outer garments for concealment and used the cover of the snowstorm to sneak up on the herd.

Hunting on the tundra is quite different from hunting in the forest. From what I've been told, you have to be 5-miles off the highway to shoot anything. So after walking for 5-miles (no vehicles allowed--they'll bog down in the permafrost), you shoot whatever, then have to CARRY it out 5 miles. That means in pieces. From his stories, it's tough to even walk on permafrost--it's like walking 5 miles on a giant sponge, and then you have to carry or drag a few hundred pounds back...sometimes making more than one trip. That's hard-core stuff. And, sounds just like my brother.

Congrats Luke! Can't wait to try caribou in June!

Still in Shreveport

The Shreveport Sports baseball team played their home opener this week, and there was a familiar face still in the outfield. Despite a 10-month absence from the 6 and 10 news, Dave apparently still has a bit of influence.... and a three foot nose. The St. Paul Saints do travel to play the Shreveport Sports this year. I wonder if they'll recognize the big head on the wall, or wonder, gee, haven't I seen that glaring-too-white face before ?

Thanks to a friend and fellow blogger who let us know we are still remembered!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Racing for the Cure

Dave and I crawled out of bed at an almost ungodly hour to beat the traffic for what is supposedly the nation's 2nd largest Race for the Cure. Nearly 50,000 people were expected at the Mall of America, and we were part of the KARE-11 team. Here's a pre-race, pre-coffee photo:The Race for the Cure is one the best 5Ks, probably because so much hype surrounds it. There's always people cheering, always people there in memory of someone special, and always free food and stuff afterwards. This year, according to KARE's Chief, Belinda, was the coldest Race for the Cure on record. It was windy in the upper 30s and 40s. Dave was quite chilly in his shorts....I wasn't so thankful for the 4th layer of clothes by the time we finished the 2nd mile.
It was nice to see KARE out en masse... as emcees, celebs, runners, and coordinators. They take this seriously. Julie & Mike are on the cherry picker above the start line, while Belinda and Perk were on the bottom stage. We finished at a very satisfactory 28:30, ahead of KARE-celeb Diana Pierce and behind a few of the Vikings. It was a personal best for us in a road race.

We ran in a big block around the MOA, and during this visit to the number one tourist attraction in Minnesota, we remembered where we parked... the lot where the spaces are just bigger.

Mother's Day

On Mother's Day this year, I pay special tribute to my maternal grandmother, Margaret Dale Hathaway Elwell. She passed away in January of this year, so this marks the first Mother's Day without one of my mothers.

The first time Dave met Grandmother Dale he said he knew why I became a reporter. It was genetic. He says we ask questions alike, and we both seem to have a desire to learn about just about anything. I took that as a big compliment.

My Grandmother had an insatiable hunger for knowledge. She took classes throughout her life, and she is one of the few people I know who always kept a dictionary nearby to look up correct meanings and pronunciations on a daily basis. We would be talking on the phone, and she'd stop to look up a word so we could say it correctly. She stayed on top of politics, current events, and world happenings.

Understandably, she was a teacher and librarian by trade. She was one of the first women to graduate from the then-new Florida State University. (FSU started as a seminary in 1843, then changed to a college for women, and became FSU in 1947)

She had a husband, three children, and five grandchildren. She loved us devotedly and was so proud of our accomplishments... no matter how big or small. She loved to see us smile. Every grandkid can remember sliding down the banister at her house--but no one can ever remember getting in trouble for it. When she picked Luke and I up from school, we always got to stop and get a milkshake or a happy meal. She just loved to hear us laughing and having fun... and if we destroyed her house in the process, so be it. (but, something tells me our parents probably did hear about it!)

She was a true-Florida girl raised in the pre-Disney, Marjorie Rawlings kind-of-Florida. She grew up back when Florida meant a beach vacation in a pink motel and seeing a flamingo, alligator, or maybe a Weeki Wachee mermaid. I remember a trips to Wakulla Springs to see Big Joe, but I never heard her mention a visit to Disney. When I would drive in and cross the Florida line, I'd call and she'd say, "it just feels so good to have you back in Florida." And her home and yard in Tallahassee with the wisteria, azaleas, and Spanish moss is what I think of first when I think of the Sunshine State.

But, she was incredibly humble. When her former students and colleagues came to her funeral, I learned so much about the teacher and person she was. She wasn't big on having her picture taken--actually, she hated it and wasn't above cutting herself out of pictures--so I am thankful to be able to share these with you.

I will always remember her smile, her warm voice, her love for chocolate, and her devotion to family. She was a special gal, and I was lucky to be a special person in her life.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Escape from the Compound

There's a certain joke these days among my fellow interpreters. Several of us have started bringing our costumes to work and changing before we have public programs. In the past, several of us have arrived at work in costume and ready to go. Why the small, but time consuming change? Because we realize we look eerily like the people who were all over the news a few weeks ago, the polygamists from Texas. Anytime you are wearing prairie-garb while pumping gas, grabbing a gallon of milk, or even getting the mail, you are bound to get a few stares. With the polygamist women prancing around in prairie garb, we realize we are getting a few more stares too. Here's a great guy, "Amish Man Adam", holding a trophy hunk of butter at a recent in-depth training.... butter molding is tougher than it looks. I am above w/Adam helping to hang laundry.

But back to the polygamy...why do they wear 19th century dresses? After all, if it is truly a religious thing, why don't they wear robes, like Jesus? Or rustic wear, like John the Baptist? Or go buff, like Adam? Oh wait, they didn't think too well while going buff, now did they?
A CBS story says it evolved over time, but is loosely based on 19th century pioneering Mormon attire. Supposedly the women have no say on their dresses except for the color, which is still limited to pastel. ((I pity the poor woman who dared to pick red)) This cuts down on individuality and rivalry, or so they say. But, we dress that way to bring attention to Minnesota's role in the pioneering West. Here are more pictures from a recent workshop:
Here's Alyssa doing laundry.

And Paula is bored with butter.

Here's Bradley and Queen Pauline, literally cranking out some yummy mint ice cream

And, there's Buffy, Ellen Abdul, and out-of-costume Anna making desecated vegetables. (Which is like a soup boullion that pioneers would make to take West)

Special thanks to Molly O'Grady... for putting on a great workshop and teaching us to make everything from pioneer food to cheese to sourdough. I believe we all left with a newfound thankfulness for grocery stores, modern attire, and the fun we have at our own compound!