Donna Crawford
Redondo Beach, California


I was born in North Carolina and lived there until I was about 2 or so.  My father was in the military, so we moved every year or two.  We lived up and down the east coast, in Arkansas, Germany and Kansas, before he retired in 1980.  I attended Manhattan High School (in Kansas) and college and law school at the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!!).

I've lived in Alabama, Georgia, Texas and California since leaving my parents' home.  I currently live in California with my husband Kirk (even while we were on our RTW, we considered California as home). My family and friends are scattered all over the place, as you can imagine.

My husband and I are highly involved with our church, locally. I have lots of hobbies, including cooking, HAM radio, reading, travelling, bzflag, and sports/outdoor activities. Although I love to watch Jayhawk Basketball, I generally prefer to participate. Some of my favorites are beach volleyball, scuba diving, cycling, rowing, swimming, snow skiing, tramping, surfing, off-roading, etc.

My travels over the last few years have taken me to Costa Rica, Hawaii, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and most recently, on a 15-country, 1-year round-the-world trip.

Feel free to drop me an email to let me know how you're doing, or any other suggestions you have for these pages! And be sure to sign my new Guestbook!

Recent Articles

Saturday, November 18


Greg Simkin's Solo Art Show

'Here Stands Matt Riddle' painting by Greg Simkins Our friend, Greg Simkins, recently held his first solo art show at Gallery 1988. You can see photos of his art on the Gallery 1988 website. There is a nice series of photos from the preparation for the show up through the show itself on this blog.


Sunday, Nov. 19th: 7-10pm
The art of Linkin Park / Fort Minor's Mike Shinoda and collaborative works with Greg Simkins, Gary Baseman, Dalek, Seen, and Mr. Hahn
Gallery 1988, 7020 Melrose Ave., (at La Brea), Los Angeles, CA 90038

Thursday, Dec. 7th: 7-10pm
Group art exhibition curated by Luke Chueh
Gallery 1988, 7020 Melrose Ave., (at La Brea), Los Angeles, CA 90038,

Saturday, Dec. 9th: 8-11:30pm
Group art exhibition - Premeire Book Release
Copro/Nason Gallery, 2525 Michigan Avenue T5, Santa Monica, CA 90404,

Saturday, Dec. 9th: 7pm-12am
Group art exhibition
Project, 8545 Washington Blvd. (near Helms Bakery), Culver City, CA 90232,

Greg will have his next SOLO SHOW at FIFTY24SF Gallery in San Francisco on Feb. 1st!

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Thursday, October 5


Airhead Grounded!

Ok, I know I joke alot about being blonde. I am, after all, blonde. But normally, not in the stereotypical sense of the word. I have common sense, I'm relatively intelligent, I can usually figure things out if I try hard enough (or at least I ask a lot of the right questions). This time, however, my blonde hair showed itself in full force and at a particularly bad time.

For the over 4 and 1/2 years that I've been married, Kirk and I have made plans to go and visit my mom a couple of different times. In over 4 and 1/2 years, we've never managed to make it happen. This year, we decided it would be - it HAD to be - a priority for us. So, we took a hard look at Kirk's work schedule, and we booked it. The trip, only three days, was crammed in the one weekend in October when he was both in town, and had an RDO (Friday off) day. It was sandwiched between a trip to Maui (with 4 days buffer before we left for Kansas) and a trip to Berkeley (leaving the morning after we fly home from Kansas).

Circumstances made this trip even tighter. The Maui trip got pushed and pushed and he finally left October 1 - the day he was to be coming home. As I type this, he is on a plane flying home from Maui. We are scheduled to leave at 6AM tomorrow for Kansas, returning around midnight on Sunday. Monday morning, early, we leave for Berkeley, returning on Friday. Sunday evening, he leaves for Australia.

In short, there is no room for error - especially not the error I made. Somehow, I managed to book our airline tickets (but not the car or hotel) to return at midnight on the 15th, not the 8th. Kirk would be arriving home late that night, missing both the Berkeley trip AND his flight to Australia. In short, it is not possible. I spent a long time on the phone with American while they searched for the cheapest available return flight - ultimately finding it would be $600+ PER ticket to change our tickets. That, too, is not practical (or affordable). Kirk is coming home three days early... for nothing.

My mom, who has been anticipating our visit for longer than I can imagine, is going to be severely let down. All because I lived up to the stereotype this once. All I can say is, I'm looking for the "good" in all of this, and I don't see it anywhere.

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Thursday, September 21


Birthday Fun, the Answer Age

Well, birthdays are supposed to be fun, right? I mean, I realize many people get to a certain age and simply just dread turning another year. But birthdays should be a celebration! Well, this year, mine was.

First of all, my wonderful husband was home. For the first time in five years, my birthday managed to fall on a day when he wasn't traveling or otherwise unescapably commited. Last year, he flew to Australia. The two years before were the men's retreat. The first year we were married, he was a groomsman in our best man's wedding and the bachelor party was that night. This year? This year, he was scheduled to fly to Maui the day before my birthday. When told of the impending schedule, he told them that if he wasn't home on my birthday this year, he'd have no home to return to. (He was, of course, kidding; however, the gesture and his determination to be here was greatly appreciated!)

I received a couple of birthday greetings a day or two early. On the night before my birthday, I was playing bzflag with some friends of mine. One is in Germany (Bernie) and one in Utah (Sol). Well, it was certainly my birthdate in Germany - and Bernie was sure to let me know! He not only wished me happy birthday repeatedly, he wouldn't let me sign off until it was my birthday HERE so he could "officially" wish me a happy birthday! Finally, a while after midnight, I said goodnight to Sol & Bernie and got some sleep.

In the morning, Kirk surprised me by setting up a special playlist on iTunes - all containing songs with "birthday", "happy" and "I love you" themes, like "Birthday" (The Beatles), "A Happy Ending" (The Princess Bride Soundtrack), "Donna" (Los Lobos), "The Girl I Love" (Tony Bennett) and "So Happy Together" (The Turtles). It was incredibly sweet and fun! We chatted for a while and finally he had to head off to work. I listened to that playlist all day.

On irc, we have our own channel - it's a small little place (##essy) that a number of bzflaggers and a few other friends visit. Well, Kirk had changed the topic on the channel to let everyone know it was my birthday. Consequently, people were cheerful and fun and we had a sort of virtual party there during the day. One of my GU teammates, romfis, had spammed most of the irc channels along with each team I'm on with a link to the GU Forums, where NTH had posted a birthday topic for me. Kierra did the same on the ducati forums. I was surprised to see a greeting from one of my teammates who, just a few months ago, complained about the posting of "birthday topics". So many people went out of their way to wish me a good day - it was almost a bit overwhelming (but completely and totally appreciated)! I even discovered a voicemail (gah, I picked the wrong day to forget to turn on the ringer for my phone!) from the "Baron clan", in which they, along with my friend Val, sang me a rather muddled, off-key and completely wonderful rendition of "Happy Birthday".

In late morning, Kirk pinged me to say that my birthday present had been delivered. It was shipped to my work address, so he suggested I go pick it up. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. Last week, when we were in Berkeley, tokimi had pinged me to say that Apple had just announced an 80 gb ipod. Now, I've been complaining for months that 40 gb simply isn't big enough. I was hoping for a 150 gb the size of a nano. Yes, yes, I know - it's a bit of a pipe dream, but 80 gb is almost enough to fit about 70% of our current music library (yes, I've been collecting CDs since I was in college - Kirk was happy to marry into so much music). So, when I heard an 80 gb was available, I immediately sent the link to Kirk and said "wow! check this out!" He said "cool! I guess it's a good thing I hadn't bought your birthday present yet, huhn?" So...I was pretty sure I knew what I'd be getting. And I did!

Of course, I immediately took it home, opened it up and started loading music on it. It takes a while to load 80 gb! With the OS and software loaded on the ipod, I had 74.37 gb of usable space. I'm using every little bit and byte. Funnily, it's actually slightly smaller in size than my 40 gb, and the screen is bigger. AND in colour! Now I need a new case, as my old one doesn't fit it properly. Since my old ipod is going to Kirk (his old one died), he will inherit my case too, once I get a new case.

The DUB servers wish SportChick a happy birthdayWhile waiting for my 74.37 gb to transfer over, I played some bzflag. Pimpinella had put up a banner on the dub servers wishing me a happy birthday. (It's interesting how I was turning everything from 16 to 90-something, depending upon who was wishing me a good day! In fact, the answer to my age IS the answer.)

In the early afternoon, my doorbell rang. Now, for the last two and a half weeks (it seems longer!), we have had our lives and apartments turned upside down while they repipe the whole building. They are replacing all of our copper piping. There isn't a single room in our small apartment this isn't affected. We've been waiting for several days for them to finish our apartment (they're done with the repipe, but havne't closed up all the walls), so I presumed that the door was just one of the wallboarding guys coming back to finish up. I was shocked to see a man standing at my door with a huge bouquet of beautiful red roses! I happily accepted the delivery and discovered my wonderful husband had sent them to me!

Kirk and Donna celebrateI knew that Kirk was planning something for that evening - presumably including dinner, so I didn't have to cook. He actually arrived home a full hour earlier than I expected, but then said he had to go run an errand and left. He was home about 40 minutes later. He had a cake and a beautiful card for me! But of course, we were going to have dinner first.

Just as I was almost ready to walk out the door, the doorbell rang (again). What now? It was a delivery for me. I opened the huge box to find ANOTHER flower arrangement...I looked at Kirk quizzically and he shook his head. There was a note - my friends Dianne & Jeff had send the flowers! Cool! Kirk put the flowers in water and we headed out.

I love surprises. It's really hard for Kirk to surprise me - I'm very curious and he's a horrible liar (which is a very good thing, but not conducive to being surprised often). But in this case, I had studiously attempted not to ask him anything about what we were doing, and he had done his part by not bringing it up. I knew it couldn't be too far - we could get there within 15 minutes according to him. We drove down to Hermosa Beach, toward my old house. In fact, a block and a half from my old house! There's a beautiful, well-known little Italian restaurant (called The Bottle Inn) down there that, despite having lived right by it for 18 months and still very close for another another 4 years, I had never been. The menu was divine! It was extremely hard to make a decision, but I finally selected the Risotto Al Filetto and Kirk selected the Conchilioni. We had an appetizer of Calamari - possibly the best I've ever had. It was served in a giant martini glass. The atmosphere was both romantic and conducive to good conversation. We were at a table that was suitably secluded and in a quiet enough location to have conversation without straining our voices or our ears.

I thought we would manage to sneak out the door without any "birthday" hoopla, but (when asked if we wanted to order dessert) Kirk mentioned we were heading home to get some birthday cake and of course, they were back moments later with a small dish of chocolate mousse and loud voices.

After dinner, we took a nice walk along the strand in Hermosa Beach. It has been so long since we've done that, and despite my completely unsuitable (and clacky) shoes, we had a very nice time! All-in-all, it was a fantastic day - certainly the best birthday I can remember ever having! Thanks to everyone who made it so special!

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Monday, September 11


5 Years after 9/11

Five years is a long time - longer than I've been married. One thousand, eight hundred and twenty six days. 43,824 hours. 2,629,440 minutes. I don't think I've met anyone over 10 years of age who doesn't remember exactly where they were and how they felt on the morning of September 11th. Never in history had such a heinous plan been executed with such success and such callousness - certainly not on American soil.

The First plane hits the World Trade CenterI woke up that morning to the horrific news. A plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. It was...shocking. It was barely possible to even comprehend such a horrible accident. I can't say for sure how long it was - I was mesmerized by the images on tv, the images the looked like they had come from the worst disaster movie Hollywood had ever issued - but before I realized what was happening, the second plane hit. This was no mere accident. Suddenly, our lives had completely changed. We no longer lived in a country that was isolated, safe from attacks from outside forces. Before this, the Oklahoma City disaster had been the worst on record - but it came from a source within our borders. A crazy person, basically, had perpetrated that horror. And of course, there was the Branch Davidian tragedy; again, a crazy person. But this. This was different somehow.

Two planes crashing into the World Trade Center. Another hitting the Pentagon. A building where my grandfather diligently worked for many years. The men and women in that building - they could have been my grandfather. They were just like him. Not only were the lives on the planes lost, but those buildings were full of people! The work day had already started. I was in shock, speechless, numb. It would be days before I could even begin to process, to comprehend what had happened.

Kirk, who I was dating at the time, was at work, and called me. They were under a high security alert and he was waiting to see what would happen. Eventually, they were sent home. He came to my apartment, where we sat, unable to leave the television. The images were poignant, both real and disturbing, and yet, somehow surreal. The questions were universal, "Why?!" "How?" "Who" and throughout New York City and beyond, "Where?" "Have you seen...?" "Have you heard from...?"

Something no one could have predicted or imagined happened. The towers, one at a time, collapsed. Mountains of steel, rubble, papers, office supplies, and people came rushing toward the ground, collapsing in an unrecognizable, jumbled heap. Very little was salvagable. Somehow the superheated fire dissentegrated much of what was once there - the structure that made the tower what it was. It wasn't until much later that experts began to reconstruct what happened and why. (I saw an interview with the buildings' architect - he was so completely traumatized by what had happened, by the way his buildings had collapsed under the strain of two planes full of fuel impacting them - it was clear he'd never recover). There was very little warning before the first tower collapsed. The second fell not long after.

Countless stories have been told of the people in the towers. People who, in fear of being burned, jumped to their deaths. People who were rushed down the stairs from upper floors, only to find themselves trapped above where the planes hit. People making last minute, desperate calls to their loved ones - many reaching only operators, or getting busy signals because the phone systems were so tied up. People who rushed down the stairs of the emergency exits, down countless, endless stairs, and emerging from the building just in time. Or not in time. Of firefighters and police men who rushed INTO the buildings, attempting to help whomever they could. Attempting to save thousands, innumerable, nameless faces. Many of those heroic men and women never made it back out of the buildings. The local fire and police departments were a mere shadow of what they once were - completely bereft from the loss of those dear to them.

Stories have been told of those on the planes. The first two had no idea, most likely. But the fourth plane - United Flight 93. We all know the name and number of that flight. We know, generally, what happened on board - how the passengers and crew staged a revolt, a coup, after realizing what had happened with the other planes that had been hijacked. We know how the plane, bound for a more significant target crashed in Pennsylvania. We know the stories of the heros on board. We know "Let's roll!"

We have heard endless accounts from survivors, although they are often harder to recall. We remember the tragedy. The dead. We remember the search, the endless search for survivors. The search that ended with so little result. We all remember the steaming, smoking mountain of debris that had to be carefully picked through and removed. It took firefighters and volunteers from around the country months to remove it all. A man in our church, George, was one of the first responders from Los Angeles. They almost weren't allowed to go, as all flights had been grounded immediately after the attacks. His story and the story of others who responded when called - they are etched in the memories of those who have heard them. Thousands and thousands of people who lived near what became known as Ground Zero were forced to temporarily (and some permanently) relocate to areas further away. Businesses had to do the same as well.

This tragedy was an American tragedy - it happened in a US city, on US soil. But was it really an American tragedy only? The entire world was affected by such an aggressive act. And the world responded. American embassies worldwide were besieged with flowers, notes, candles, visitors, all wanting to demonstrate their sympathy, shock and denouncement of the terrorists. It was a full 18 months later when Kirk and I were traveling in Vietnam that this became a personal experience. We were in South Vietnam, which had been US-occupied during what we call the Vietnam war. The proprietor of a restaurant thanked us personally for the USA's support during the war. He went on to say that he was horrified by the events of September 11th and had wanted to come to the USA to help. He didn't know what he could have done, but he earnestly desired to help the country that he had seen help when he was merely a young boy.

For US citizens, September 11th is extremely personal, disturbing. And yet, five years later, though we remember every detail of what we saw, heard and felt on that day, still it seems that in some ways perhaps we have forgotten. For months afterwards (and still today), airtravel was suddenly completely different. I had dear friends who got married in September 2001, in Kansas. They had been living in Europe for several years. He was from Spain. She was from the USA. But with little exception, almost all of their friends and family would need to fly into Kansas for the wedding - some from international ports. The wedding they had so joyfully looked forward to was suddenly marred by a group of men they had never met, seen nor heard of before September 11th. If I remember correctly, only about 1/3 of their original guest list actually came to the beautiful ceremony and subsequent celebration.

To this day, five years later, airports have a completely different look and feel. Procedures are modified with each new threat. If you even JOKE about a bomb or terrorism in an airport, you may find that you have traded your airline seat for a jail cell. Thanks to the "shoe bomber", we now must all remove our shoes when going through security. Thanks to the foiled plot coming out of the UK, even today, you may not carry on water, soda, hair gel, lotion or any other liquid or semi-liquid substance onto the plane with you. It must all be in your checked luggage.

We had a new president at the time - President George W. Bush. He had been in office merely 9 months when September 11th happened. The nation was in shock and looked to his leadership. He was quiet, calm, resolute. For good or bad, as a direct result of September 11, the USA is involved in two major conflicts - one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Hundreds of US military, Afghan and Iraqi militants, military and civilians have died. Many have called George Bush a war-monger. Many have forgotten what led us down this path in the first place. Right or wrong, the world we live in today is substantially different than the world we lived in 5 years ago. Terrorism is no longer something that happens only in the Middle East or Africa. It happens in remote locations like Bali. It happens in major metropolitan areas like New York City. It happens on airplanes, in train tunnels, on subways. It happens or could happen anywhere. Terrorism is part of our every day lives now. We have a hit television series that focusses on issues of terrorism (the show "24").

But how do we move forward? Do we live in constant fear? Do we change our lives so much that we are stifled? So paranoid that we avoid public places, public transportation, bridges, anything that could possibly be a target? Of course not. Fear is what they try to engender with terrorism. The target of terrorism is to produce and instill "terror" in the victims and the survivors. If we stop our way of life, if we live in fear or in terror, they have won.

Americans, if nothing else, are survivors. We may do a lot of things the "wrong" way. But we do still manage to DO things. Our nation has spawned such amazing organizations as The Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse, Habitat for Humanity, among thousands of other worthwhile charities. Can anyone say that these organizations have not changed lives? How do we move forward? We learn from the past. We look to the future with hope and optimism. We continue to focus on what is good, and right, and pure. We denounce terrorism. We embrace humanitarianism. The world constantly is changing, and we with it. But it is our responsibility to change the world and ourselves for the better.

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Tuesday, September 13


Early birthday?

Well, as I look back at my latest milestone, I look cautiously at the calendar. Kirk left on a two-week work trip that night. Consequently, we celebrated a bit early. Plus, I received my present even earlier (I'm tres excited, as it's a new bike).

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Thursday, July 7


Do You Know the Way to Monterey

Today, 6 of us rode up to Monterey to the Moto GP Races at Laguna Seca. Ambre & I drove the Jeep up as a support vehicle for the 2 Ducatis, 1 MV, and 1 Kawasaki that the guys rode up. Along the way, she and I made a few scenic stops, including one to hike out and see this waterfall at Julia Pfifer Burns Park. More to come!

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Saturday, March 5


A Small Matter

On Thursday, February 24th, I was having an "emotional day". What can I say? I'm a girl! I have emotions (and sometimes I show them). But even for me, this seeed a bit extreme and out of the ordinary. Oh, well, whatever.

The day before, I had gone into get my annual exam (read: girl stuff). While in there, they asked me some questions and decided (for safety sake, before getting an xray) they should confirm I'm not pregnant. So, they did a blood test (it's way too early to do a urine test). I called on Thursday to get the results, but the nurse was with another patient, so I left a message. We've been trying for over a year, so while I was hopeful, I didn't really expect to be.

After my emotional outbursts on Thursday morning, I finally heard back from the nurse. She informed me that the test was "positive". My response was "What does THAT mean?" She said, "You're pregnant." WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Now, remember, I'm sitting in the middle of my office surrounded by people (I didn't really shout, but I was shouting non-stop inside!). We scheduled our first pre-natal visit (March 23) and I hung up, took a deep breath, grabbed my cell phone, and with a quick comment ("I'm going downstairs for a minute"), I went outside.

Kirk had to be the first to hear the news and there was noooooooooooooo way I could wait until we were both off work! I called him and we chitchatted for a minute or two, and then I asked if he was sitting down (what a cliche, but it's all I could come up with). Then I told him. "Really?!" "Yes" "Wow!" My amazing husband: the man of understatement (which is a good balance for my tendency to overstate things). We tried to decide right there and then whether to tell people right away - we've never done this and really hadn't discussed what to do.

So, now you know our news.

Now, I'm experiencing all sorts of things, some old, some new, but they have a new name: "pregnancy". There's a cool little pregnancy calculator thing that I found - it helps you estimate your due date. I tried it on mine, but I'm not telling until I get it all confirmed by the doc. Other than being tired a lot, one of the most interesting things I've noticed is that my head will occasionally get dizzy or feel numb. Very strange. But comical since I know why.

Yes, yes, of course, I did some reading once we found out. I've lots more to do, but it gave some nice little basics, which I needed and appreciated. I found everything from a week-by-week pregnancy calender to some basic pregnancy info, and sites and forums galore for pregnant women and even for pregnant women over 35!

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Sunday, December 19


A month of Sundays - Part 3

Happy birthday, Kirk!!!!! Today, my wonderful husband is 40!

After a quick breakfast and goodbyes, we piled everything into the car and headed back to Los Angeles. Luckily, we would be heading across into another time zone and would gain an hour, which would really help our time schedule. We had plans to go to Kelley's house (Kirk's sister) for dinner to celebrate his birthday with family... or so he thought.

We had a nice, uneventful drive home and managed to buy all our gas only at Costco. We were about an hour or so from home and Kirk's phone rang. I braced myself. It was Kelley. She was calling to say that the little boys, Bradley (5) and Jeffrey (4), had come down with the flu and it would be better if we could reschedule for Tuesday. Kirk was on the phone for a little while, dealing with picking a new time/date to schedule his birthday dinner. He took it all in stride.

I sat there debating whether to call home and check our messages. I decided to wait until we got home. We'd be home by 5 at the latest - there was plenty of time. When we arrived, I said "Oh, we have a message!" I played it and Kirk and I heard Steve (the best man in our wedding) inviting us over for dinner that evening with him and his wife. Dina (his wife) is a fabulous cook, so it's very rare that we would turn it down. It WAS Kirk's birthday, and we DIDN'T have anything planned since Kelley had cancelled. He immediately said "YES!" and he called them back to make the arrangements. They told us to be there at 7:30. When he hung up, I asked if he had told them that today was his birthday, and he said "no". So, I called Steve back and advised him that it was Kirk's birthday. I could hear Steve on the other end of the line trying not to laugh too loud.

Then Kirk demands that we go buy him a cake. I asked Steve if we needed to bring dessert and he said it was covered. So I had to talk Kirk out of the cake he so badly wanted on his birthday.

At 7:25, I ushered Kirk out the door and we headed over to Steve's. We arrived on Steve's street and I looked around anxiously. I saw no cars that I recognized and the street hardly had anyone parked on it. I was relieved...and I wasn't. Often when we come to Steve & Dina's the front door is wide open, welcoming whoever happens to walk up. Tonight it was closed. I was talking as loudly as I could, all the while, trying to listen intently for any noises I could hear. I heard nothing.

We managed to surprise Kirk with a party to celebrate his 40th BirthdayWe knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. Nothing happened. Kirk knocked again after a few seconds, and we heard Dina in the guestroom "Just a minute!" A few seconds later, the door opened! RELIEF! There were about 30 people there and they yelled "Surprise!" and sang Happy Birthday. Kirk turned bright red and looked thoroughly shocked.

Guess who wasn't sick?Despite the fact that Kirk's birthday is at a very busy time during the holidays AND that there was another surprise party that same night (Matt was graduating from Law School - congrats, Matt!), we had quite a good turn out. And, of course, Kelley and her family were there to help celebrate! Even Pastors Dan and Chris came. Chris, Rod & KirkChris honored Kirk by dressing like him!

We managed to surprise Kirk with a party to celebrate his 40th BirthdayAnd he even got some cake...his favorite, German Chocolate!

Anita, Garret, Doug, the Berthelets & KathyIt was nice to have such a crowd there! After the food had settled, we went into the front room and Doug played guitar and we sung Christmas carols and some worship songs. All in all, it was a great evening!

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Wednesday, December 15


To the Grand Canyon and beyond...

Donna meets a horseMonday morning, we tagged our luggage and had our breakfast. We didn't even have to carry the luggage downstairs. Once we notified them we were "checking out", they knew to gather our luggage and put it aboard the train. It was pretty frigid since we were at altitude (1382 feet) and Kirk was glad I made him bring some cold-weather gear.

We took some time to walk around the gift shop a little to scout out what we might spend our gift certificates on. I saw a really nice fleece jacket we could get if we pooled our resources. We grabbed a Starbucks coffee (yes there is a little Starbucks right there in the depot) and headed over to watch the shoot-out. I met a couple from Thailand along the way and chatted with them. It sometimes amazes me how much I miss the variety of accents and cultures from our RTW. The show was pretty corny, but cute.

Kirk boards the Grand Canyon Railroad TrainWe boarded our train and headed out. The conductor (who also turned out to be our server - he served us sodas and such during the trip) was quite funny. We were entertained by a fiddlin' cowboyAbout 30 minutes after we departed, a cowboy with a fiddle came to our car and entertained us for the rest of the trip. He was quite a good fiddler and interacted well with the audience.

The depot at the Grand CanyonOnce we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we were picked up by a bus and driven over to the Maswik Lodge, where we had lunch in their cafeteria. Most of the folks on the trip were only in the Grand Canyon for a day - they were taking the afternoon train back. I had booked us to spend the night. Of course, when I booked the trip, I didn't expect I would have broken my ankle a couple of months before - I expected we'd do some hiking.

Kirk enjoys his birthday surpriseIt was really cold outside and it was nice to get indoors and have some hot food and drink. Afterwards, we piled back onto our bus and they drove us to some of the major viewing points on the Canyon. It was pretty cool to hear some of the history in addition to getting all the wonderful views.

Photo op at the canyonAfter our tour, we checked into our hotel and found our bags had been delivered straight to our room! We relaxed for a bit and then headed over to the El Tovar Hotel for dinner. The El Tovar is an historic landmark and quite beautiful, capturing the spirit of the by-gone days of the European-style hunting lodge. Made of stone, it's perched on the edge of the canyon and has spectacular views from the South Rim. It was built in 1905 by the Santa Fe Railroad and has been called, "the architectural crown jewel of the Grand Canyon." It is also also renowned for its world-class dining room, The El Tovar Dining Room (where we ate). Peppermint Cheesecake"A memorable dining experience in the Arizona wilderness while enjoying breathtaking views of the Canyon." They have an extensive and expensive menu. The food was quite good, indeed, however, a bit over-priced, we thought. We did splurge and have dessert - it was pretty cute!

We made it an early night; Kirk wanted to be up quite early on Tuesday to catch sunrise over the canyon. I tried to wake up when he did, but was a bit late. I was out the door only about 5 minutes after him, but JUST missed the shuttle. Since we didn't have our car with us, we had to rely on the shuttle to get around. I caught the next one, and arrived at the canyon as fast as I could. At the point where I had to change shuttles, I had to walk (hobble/run?) a pretty good distance to catch the next bus; I was afraid I'd miss it, but I just got there in time.

The sun begins to rise over the canyonKirk had been taking photos for a while when I arrived, although the sun still had not cleared the edge of the rim. When it did clear, the view was spectacular! The canyon is beautiful at all times, but it has different hues at different times of the day (sort of like Uluru, which we visited in December of 2002 on our RTW). The canyon lights up with colorThe colors are brilliant

After Kirk's fingers were too frozen to take any more photos, we grabbed the shuttle back and ate breakfast at the Maswik Lodge and checked out of our room (again, we didn't have to worry about our bags). Then we caught another shuttle to the visitor's center. We toured around that a bit, and then headed to the trail that runs along the canyon rim. We walked a good bit of that trail, stopping at a variety of places to take photos. (Do you remember I broke my ankle less than 2 months ago?). Eventually, I was limping so badly I couldn't really walk anymore. We managed to get me to a shuttle stop and we got back on. We went over to Bright Angel Lodge and had some lunch and relaxed a bit. Then we stole one more quick look at the canyon before boarding the train back to Williams.

On the way back to Williams, the train was "robbed". I was actually on my cell phone (my mom had called from Kansas) and said, "Oh, I've got to go...we're being robbed!" Luckily, she didn't think I was serious!

Back in Williams, we spend another night at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel. We also had another dinner at Max & Thelma's. The food was MUCH better this time! It turns out, they dumb down the food during the Polar Express because of all the children who are there.

On Wednesday, we had breakfast, bought the great fleece jacket we had spotted earlier (using our gift certificates) and headed back toward civilization.

To be continued...

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Sunday, December 12


A month of Sundays - Part 2

December can be a truly exciting month, with all the Christmas decorations, parties, etc., or a truly stressful one. It's all in your attitude. But when your BIRTHDAY is in December on top of everything else, well, that's just fun!

No, my birthday is not in December, but my husband's is -- 6 days before Christmas. And this year, he had a MSD change (as he likes to put it). You know! MSD...most significant digit? Like changing from 20 to 30 or 30 to 40 or 40 to 50! So, last summer, I started plotting. I wanted to surprise him with something that would help him remember this MSD.

The plans started coming together and I had to figure a way to pay for everything without him figuring things out. With joint bank accounts and a husband who (thankfully) tracks every penny, that wouldn't be easy. So, I told him I wanted to surprise him with something - I wouldn't say where or when and was letting him know that I needed to spend the money. Whew. That worked. But THEN, I found out that if I put the charge on the credit card, the exact thing I had planned would show up on the statement - that's no good! So a friend from work let me put it on his credit card and I turned around and wrote HIM a check. Yay!

Next, I wanted to throw Kirk a surprise party. First, I had to locate a host. Well, generally, the only time we aren't together is when we are at work. That makes it hard to work up an invitation and start mailing them out. There is also the challenge of getting the names and addresses of friends of his - I wanted to invite his family, church friends, work friends AND friends he grew up with. Fortunately, I bumped into Rod (one of the guys he grew up with) a

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Monday, August 16


Busy Weekend

We had a busy, but fun weekend. After the Luau on Friday, I went over to hang out with my friend, Gia, who was getting married the next morning. She had several girls over to her hotel room. We prayed with her and laughed with her. It was a nice time. I didn't get home until quite late, of course.

Kirk & Donna at another weddingHer wedding was at noon. Luckily, I had prepared the potluck dish I was bringing the day before. The wedding was at our church building in Torrance. It turned out to be a really nice venue for a wedding (it was the first one I've been to over there). James & GiaHer Gia, of course, looked beautiful! The wedding and reception were both a lot of fun!

After the reception, we dashed home, where I made dinner for a couple of friends that were coming over. We had a nice time hanging out and chatting with them. We even taught them to play a quick game of palace.

On Sunday, we attended church on the beach for the first time all summer. In the afternoon, we headed over to a birthday celebration for our nephew, Scott. It is so nice to have family close by!

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Monday, July 5


Independence Day (Weekend)

We had a fabulous day on our little holiday! After spending the morning at church, and the middle of the day watching our newest series from Neflix, Alias, we held an impromptu barbeque at our house. We had planned to go to a friend's house, but they went out of town at the last minute.

Mike, Anita, James, Gia, Kevin, Diane, Kirk and DonnaWe had 3 couples come over to barbeque - a BYOM (bring your own meat) kind of affair. It was really nice to have folks over to our apartment.

Just as Kirk was getting our little barbeque going and the meat all laid out, the gas ran out! Uh-oh! He and Mike walked to the grocery store across the street to get more, but they didn't have any! (I got a call from Kirk when they were on their way back, "Fire up the broiler"). Notwithstanding that little glitch, the food all came out great and it didn't spoil anything (except, perhaps, Kirk getting to barbeque OUTSIDE).

Afterwards, we headed down to the beach to watch the fireworks. It was a beautiful display! And we had the added pleasure of being able to see another display just down the beach from us in another town! (Two for one!) All in all, we had a great day!

Last Friday, we also got to go see Spiderman 2! For the record, it was MUCH better than the first one, in my opinion!

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Saturday, June 26


A Chicago Wedding

Hilary putting on her makeupSaturday arrived! The day my little cuz was getting married. AND Chris, one of her two identicle twin brothers, had arrived late the night before! We all gathered for breakfast and then people started drifting off in various directions to get ready for the wedding, which started at 12:30 PM.

I had the privilege of helping her get dressed and taking some "getting ready" photos. It was much more relaxed than a month or so ago when another friend of mine was married. Hilary just didn't worry about anything. Once she and her maid of honor were ready, we headed downstairs to meet the rest of the family. Walking to churchThe plan was that we were ALL walking to the church from the hotel, about 1/2 a mile. Hilary had a GREAT time! She got lots of attention and looked beautiful! The weather was perfect!

Roman & HilaryThe big concern upon arriving at the church was that Roman not see Hilary before she walked down the aisle. But everything worked out fine! She was a beautiful bride (aren't they all, though?!). The church was beautiful, as well.

After a bunch of photos, we headed back toward the hotel. The reception was in a beautiful little house right next door, Va Pensiero's Club House. They had hired a photographer only to take photos at the wedding (i.e., at the church), so the rest of the family stepped into the gap and took a bunch more for them.

Donna & PaigeJeanne, Sue & Donna
James, Jeanne & KatieThe food at the reception was exceptional! In addition to salmon and a wonderful chicken dish, they had something called "Sweet Potato Ravioli". Now, you have to understand, I HATE sweet potatoes. So, for ME to say it was really good, you KNOW it had to have been positively amazing! It was an interesting flavor, but one to savor nonetheless. Donna & KirkNick, Hilary & Chris

Hilary and Roman had decided to save up some money for a while (and airline miles) and then head on a honeymoon sometime next winter. So, they were sticking around after the wedding. A whole group of folks went out after the wedding to just hang out. Even though there is a bit of a generation gap for me - both with my aunts/uncles AND with my cousins - we headed out with the younger folk to hang a bit. We made it an early night, though. We were all planning on another big day on Sunday.

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Friday, June 25


Chi-town - a Tower-fix

Kirk spent most of last week in Berkeley. On Thursday, he flew in from Berkeley, took a shuttle to his office, and about 30 minutes later, I met him there and we took a shuttle BACK to the airport.

Chicago SkylineWe were heading to Chicago, where my cousin, Hilary, was getting married. It would be the first time since our wedding we had seen many of our family and in much longer for others. In fact, Kirk met many of my family members for the first time (and I finally got to meet two cousins I had always seemed to miss)!

My dad and stepmom picked us up at the airport and drove us to the Margarita European Inn in Evanston, where most everyone was staying. We checked into our room and met up with a couple of cousins. All in all, we made it a pretty early night, since Kirk had been getting up at 4AM all week, and I was pretty tired, too.

The Breakfast BunchThe Margarita Inn was a bed and breakfast sort of place, so every morning, we would all gather in the little sitting area and have breakfast and discuss what would happen the rest of the day. Friday, which was the first morning we did this, I met my cousin Paige for the first time ever and saw Solomon for the first time since he was about 6 months old! Apparently, Paige thought I looked a lot like my aunt Margie and her mouth dropped open when she saw me.

On Friday, we all decided to go different ways. James, Solomon, Kirk and I all decided to head into the city and do some sightseeing. My aunts and Paige figured they'd do some shopping and girly stuff. We took the Metra into the city - interestingly, we THOUGHT we were on the L, but realized a little late that we had taken the wrong system. No worries -- it just meant we had to walk a tad bit further.

View from Hancock Tower toward the NorthWe decided to make our way up to Hancock Tower. Although Hancock is not the tallest building in Chicago (the Sears Tower is), it has the best views. We paid our fee and up we went.

Now for those of you who followed our RTW, you may remember that Kirk has a bit of a tower fetish. He LOVES going up to the highest point he can. So, he definitely got his tower-fix in Chicago! The views were fabulous and we had a wonderfully clear day. Lake Michigan is so large that it even looks like an ocean from many spots. (Interestingly, when we watched Step into Liquid, we discovered that people actually SURF the waves on Lake Michigan - they are little ankle-slappers and wind-induced, granted, but we got a good chuckle out of it.)

Navy PierThe Navy Pier was quite beautiful from the top of Hancock Tower, as well. We never made it down to the Pier - we had many other things to do and there just wasn't enough time. Perhaps next time. After we had had our fill of Hancock Tower, James and Solomon split off from me and Kirk. They decided to eat nearby. Kirk and I went in search of a particularly well-known place that serves Chicago-style pizza - Ranalli's.

Trolley MapWe had had an interesting time finding our way there. There is a free trolley that runs through much of downtown Chicago. The trick is finding the right one and getting there at the right time. The one we needed, it turns out, ran only once per hour. And we had just missed it by about 15 minutes. We decided to go find ourselves a bus instead. There are free maps all over that you can pick up at the metro stations, etc. that list all the methods of transport (including bus routes). It was really VERY easy to get around! Ranalli's Chicago Style Pizza It was pretty late when we sat down at Ranalli's and we were both starving by that point. The food was, indeed, fabulous.

Afterwards, we headed back to Evanston. I was looking forward to having dinner with the whole family together! It turned out that people were going in many different directions, instead of eating all together. Kirk and I went to the Davis Street Fish Market with my dad and Betty. The food was incredible. Betty got the crab cakes, and after tasting hers, I truly wished I had, too (I'm fiendishly picky about my crab cakes, so I am often reluctant to order them). We all hung around chatting that night. My cousin Katie flew in from D.C. sometime during the afternoon and was staying in the room right next door.

While on the way to and in Chicago, I did a bit of reading. Right before leaving, I had read First Meetings: In the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card - which I then gave to Kirk to read. I turned my attention to Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life". What a great read! Then I started (and finished about 15 minutes before we landed back in LA) "Lost on Everest: the Search for Mallory and Irvine" by P.L. Firstbrook. In the evenings, Kirk and I would hang out in our room, relaxing and reading a bit. It reminded me of our RTW.

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Thursday, June 17



Today, we headed down to Seal Beach for the day. Our 12-year-old nephew, Patrick, was in town from Mississippi and two other nephews were graduating from high school. (Incidentally, we also had two OTHER nephews graduating in their respective location - David in Virginia, and John in South Lake Tahoe. We hung out with Patrick during the afternoon. He and Kirk even went out to the field in back of Kelley's house and flew a kite for a while. Corey & ScottWhen Kelley returned from her golf tournament, the adults, Patrick and our littlest nephews, Bradley and Jeffrey, went over to the high school to check out the decorations for Grad Night - an all-night, lock-in party for the graduating seniors. The school gym is completely decorated by the parents. It was pretty fancy and way cool.

Then it was time for graduation. We headed over to the stadium where the ceremonies were held. Some of the speeches were quite good (and funny). We were able to spot Corey and Scott as they came into the stadium. After the ceremonies were officially over, the field was mayhem! At one point, we lost Patrick and then several of us spent the next 15 minutes looking for him.

Bradley has a while to wait for his graduation!Back in the car, both Bradley and Jeffrey insisted on trying on the graduation hat that one of the boys had left us with. We drove over to Scott's mom's house for a barbeque. The food was wonderful. Unfortunately, Scott wasn't able to stay for long since he had to be back at the gym before 8PM or he would get locked out and miss Grad Night.

Patrick came home with us. Tomorrow will be really busy since we are taking him to Universal. All in all, it was a wonderful day!

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Donna in Austria
Click for larger image Austria, August 2003