Monday, July 30, 2007

Contra Costa and Sonoma, some of my favorite counties!

This morning I got up a little early, as we planned to go to the Sonoma County Fair. It is Mom's real birthday today, and she LOVES the fair. I called the Passport office as it is my twice daily habit these days, and was dealt yet another blow. TODAY they decided to open my passport application, (despite what they told me last week, those lying liars), and TODAY they decided to put it "on hold". Faithful and thorough readers of this blog, will remember the post of 5/17 "Passports, check", when I applied for my passport, I did not have my "original" birth certificate with a seal, just an original 1967 mimeograph. Turns out that crossing fingers is just not enough. So despite that copy of my BC being the one that has gotten me in and out of Canada and Mexico AND my new Social Security Card, it is just not good enough for the Passport People. So after some quick phone calling, plans have changed slightly. Mom will take the kids up to the Fair, and dad and I will go to Martinez to the county offices where I was born, and I will meet them later. So Dad and I plugged the address in to the Prius GPS lady, and were on our way. We weren't on board with her plan to take the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, and we went through Vallejo instead.
Here we are going across the Carquinez Bridge, into Martinez, this is the new one, the old one is on the left. The GPS lady got us right there, here it is!!
And here is the Seal!!! (I was really excited to get there.)

It took about 20 minutes of waiting, and I now have a "certified" copy of my BC. Apparently I have been operating for 40 years with a lame ol' copy, as the original is on file with the State of California. WHATEVER.
Here we are on the way to Santa Rosa, seeing the sights of the East Bay. Here is the refinery where my dad worked when my parents and sister first moved to Walnut Creek.
We made it to the Fair, met mom and the kids, and had a great rest of the day! We had lunch, watched the horse races, went on the Ferris Wheel, looked at the gardens and crafts (giant cross-stitch!), saw a magic show, and took a hay ride. A great day, in the end.
On the Ferris Wheel.....

The Fair's garden theme was, what else, Snoopy!! Look it's the Great Pumpkin....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Birthday Celebration

Today was a laundry day, Miles worked on his website, Caroline did plaster of Paris on the deck, and I went out to do some shopping. It looks possible that my one day in Seattle between this and my France trip will be spent in the Passport office. So I went down to Vintage Oaks to do some shopping, and got Miles some pants, and some comfy walking shoes......When I got back we went down to Indian Valley and had a nice walk. The bay trees smell SO good, and we avoided all poison oak. Miles caught a lizard and it ran all over his shirt, and mom and I both did not have our cameras!! We came home and had a great dinner to celebrate Mom's birthday (tomorrow) and Caroline's birthday (the 18th). We had Champagne to start, which Miles and Caroline both declared disgusting, and then Dad grilled a steak, and opened a bottle of 1985 Diamond Creek Cab. Mmmmmmm, it was delicious. Caroline refused to try it, but Miles did, smelled it, swished it around his mouth and swallowed it. We all said, Well........ And he said "Now THAT I could get used to!" Mom and Caroline opened their gifts, we had dessert and it was time for bed!!

Here they are opening their gifts:
Here is the still life we did with the delicious wine. It was REALLY GOODThe daliahs are from Cathy and Paul's yard. Beautiful!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dinner Party

Dad and I went shopping this "morning", well we meant to, but we left closer to 12:30. We went to Joe's to return the icky spinach, pick up some stuff, then United Market to get more stuff, and then to BevMo! for beverages. When we got home, we made some of my famous lasagne, one veggie and one meat-ish. Mom and the kids already had the table set, and the table cloth ironed, and they were down at the Steinbach's house swimming. Weather is still not super hot, but their pool is always pleasant. We got it all finished, made a salad, set out the mixed nuts and were ready. Mr. and Mrs Steinbach came up, and then Cathy and Paul. I meant to take pictures during dinner, but forgot until they were walking out the door. So here they are walking out the door.

Well, at least I remembered then. Oh yeah, and we had a peach pie for dessert that Dad and I bought at United. We wanted something delicious and easy. Well, it was. With vanilla ice cream.

Eating out and Visiting Old Friends Day..

....well, Old as in Long Time, No See. We are all quite youthful and spry!

For lunch we got picked up by Dennis Gray, and went down to the Moylan's BrewPub, near Vintage Oaks. Dennis is great, he attends a trivia night at this pub on Tuesdays, which I meant to get to the bottom of and stump him with some trivia, I forgot....We caught up on things, he's subbing and has been working some at ol' SM, he filled me in on some of the happenings there. Apparently they are taking out the library.... We had a yummy lunch, I had a humongous portabella mushroom sandwich that Miles finished for me after he polished off his cheeseburger. Hungry guy. Here are the kids with Dennis out front. They really want to take his dog to the dog park sometime.
For dinner we went to Petaluma to meet Eric Soderstrom and his family. I was a little hyper about the potential Fridday northbound commute traffic, and left an hour and 40 minutes early. It only took us 30 minutes to get there, and so we killed an hour buying Grandma some birthday cards, and Caroline some sandals. I do not think I have ever been an hour early to anything in my life. AND I got stopped by a DUI checkpoint, and opted not to tell the cop about the beer I had with lunch, which Miles pointed out was a LIE and that I LIED to a cop. Such a great mother I am, setting an example.

We met Eric at Pazzo, a cute little restaurant near downtown, (nothing like our Pazzo). I can't quite remember the last time we saw each other, but it must have been some time around 1988 or 89. It was great to catch up, his is still the same sweet, fast-talking, kind, and funny person he ever was. Here we all are in the restaurant:
We all had a yummy meal, Caroline had pasta so all was right in the world. Eric even showed up with photos from the Prom, his car that Carolyn and I decorated, and some other pics of Carolyn now with her baby, little cutie. Eric's family, Rachel and Jake are also adorable, and it was fun to hang out with them. Miles and Caroline had brought a Calvin and Hobbes book that they were reading to Jake. It cracks me up how many times they read it, they still think it is hysterical......Caroline got pretty wiped out towards the end of the meal, and threatened to fall asleep on me. Miles ate about 3 baskets of bread.....he loves the sourdough. Hungry guy. On the way home I told Miles and Caroline about how in HS, Eric, my friend Carolyn and I used to cruise around in his Chevy, and if it was night, we would drive past these cool lights at the Fireman's Fund building. If you go fast you get a poor-man's strobe effect. Just for old times I drove past the lights for them. It was more fun in Da Chevy, I have to admit.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Exploratorium," Awesome!!"***

***Direct quote from Miles.

Today we went to San Francisco with Dad to the Exploratorium. It is still super fun, just like it was when I went there on class field trips in elementary school. We went around the whole thing, it is like our own Science Center times a million, and still did not see everything!! My favorite exhibit was "Watching Ice Freeze" through polarized lenses, seriously! It was way cool. Miles, of course, loved everything to do with spinning, centrifugal force, optical illusions, etc. Caroline had a great time in the Alice-in-Wonderland-styled-weird-perspective house. We ate lunch in the little cafe, pressed on through the exhibits, and exited when we were all sensory-overloaded and over-stimmed. Miles was not ready to leave, but we talked him into it. Here are some pictures of our day:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Point Reyes, SiCKO

Mom and Dad went to their 2.5 hour workweek "job" at the Library Book Store this morning. I spent the morning it seemed on the phone, with the passport office, and then the doctor's office. Then I packed up a picnic, and when they got home, we headed out to Point Reyes. The plan was to hang out on the beach, and then walk out to the Lighthouse. We went to Drakes' Beach first, it is always nice there, and protected a bit by the cliffs. We had a great time, eating, playing frisbee and building sand castles. Please observe photodocumentation here:


From here we went up the road to the Lighthouse. We walked up the the road, arrived at the gate at 4:29:30pm (according to Miles's watch), only to find a sign that says that the stairs close at 4:30. Oh rats! So we stood around on the Pacific Coast's Windiest Point, and read the signage, marveled at the flowers growing there, and observed a seal in the water down below. It was super windy, and heavily fogging, we were wearing all the clothes we could fit on. Funny to think it was about 80 and sunny back at the house.

We got home and I gave Kelly a call. We had plans to do something this evening. We ended up getting together and going out for some Really Yummy Pizza, and to see the movie Sicko. It is a really good movie and if you haven't seen it yet, you should. And if you do go see it, remember to bring some Kleenex, because no one told me to, and you will cry and if you don't AT LEAST tear up, then you have ice for veins, in which case you might need a doctor, which you will for sure need health insurance for, in which case you should go see this movie. Say what you will about Michael Moore, at least he is out there saying this stuff!!

Miwok Park

On Tuesday, I did not post a blog entry because I think that we did not take any pictures!! How could it be possible? We did spend the morning at home relaxing, reading, and playing games. In the afternoon we went down to Ben Franklin Crafts, mom got a cross stitch to work on, I am so inspirational. (har har) Then we went to Miwok Park, and checked out the Native American Museum there. We got there 15 minutes before they closed, but it was no biggie, because it is about the size of my living room. They had a neat exhibit about petroglyphs and a very enthusiastic docent.

Then we played some frisbee and the kids played on the play structure. I sat out from under the trees so as not to get any tick bites. I am so paranoid now, it is so unlike me!

Monday, July 23, 2007

We left our Hearts...

Today we took the Larkspur Ferry into The City to do some sightseeing. We were able to sit outside on the ferry, not too cold, although very windy back in the stern here.
Here's a nice view of the city...
We got off the ferry and walked over to the fountain on the Embarcadero that I remember playing on when I was a kid...
There's Caroline peeking out... From there, we caught a Cable Car up California Street, to the top of the hill
At the top of the hill, we played in a little park, and then went over to Grace Cathedral and got in practice at looking at churches for when we are in France.
After this, we took the Cable Car back down the hill, and had lunch at the Hyatt. It was very delicious, and we rode the glass elevators up and down a few times when we were done.
From there we HIKED across town, to Telegraph Hill, and took the steps up to Coit Tower. There are a LOT of steps, and yes, we did see and hear the wild parrots.

Here we are on some of the many steps. Caroline was quite charmed by the houses along the stairs, and decided she would like to live there when she grows up. When dad said, well you would have to pick one near the street, otherwise how would you get your piano in there? She didn't miss a beat and said, I'll just get a keyboard!
After this, we hiked back to the ferry terminal, mom and the kids got a cold drink and relaxed, and dad and I walked around this very adorable market that is in the terminal, now. We picked up fabulous bread, artisan cheese, heirloom tomatoes, an assortment of olives, and a delicious prosciutto. (I'm working on adjectives, here.) At home we added some ripe melon, spicy arugula, and a very delightful pinot. Mmmm, picnic dinner, my favorite kind. For dessert we had some chocolates that Caroline convinced mom to buy earlier in the day. Perfect!

Weather still fantastic, we did not even need sweaters in the city today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Joe Cool is in Santa Rosa *


Today we decided to spend the morning doing housework, and the afternoon going to Santa Rosa to see the Snoopy statues. Each year they choose a character, make some statues, have different artists decorate them, put them around town, then auction them off for some charity that we never figured out exactly what it was. Last year was Woodstock, and this year it is Snoopy in his alter ego as Joe Cool....We got some really cute photos, here are some of them...

* If you are not in the know, Charles Shultz lived in Santa Rosa, so the sculptures are to honor him each year.

Moritzburke Manor

Today Mom and Dad had choir rehearsal all day, so we were on our own activity-wise. We had to have a bit of a sleep-in due to last night's late night book buying. Then I let the children get some Saturday Morning cartoon watching done, so I could plow through a few chapters of Harry. I am less achy today, but still pretty slow. Then it was off to Corte Madera, to visit Kelly and Peter and Fisher and Molly, for dinner. The kids played, and we chatted and caught up, had an excellent dinner of grilled chicken and vegetables, and then time flew and all of the sudden it was 10:00! We came home, and Caroline fell asleep in the car. Here is a picture of the always adorable Moritzburkes. I wish we lived closer.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright, Urgent Care, and Harry Potter!!

Due to the fact that I could hardly move when I woke up this morning, I was forced to admit that I may be sick, and needed to see a doctor. So I figured out where I could go, and Mom dropped me off there, as they told me the wait was at least an hour, no appointments. She and the kids went down to the Marin Civic Center, played on the playground, walked around the lagoon and had a picnic.

I sat in Urgent Care at least an hour, probably more, which was fine since moving was too painful. I finished one book and and got about halfway through another, and caught up on 3 issues of People Magazine. Apparently Brad's mom told Jen that he still loves her, and Katie Holmes is super happy because she got a haircut. So after 3 vials of blood and a pee sample, I got the good news and the bad news. The good news is all my labs came back normal, yea! ( Everyone asked me 100 times if I had had a tick bite) The bad news is they do not know what is wrong with me, or why I was covered with hives and have sore joints. No news is good news? Hopefully this will never happen again...
We went home and loafed around, and then Dad and the kids and I went down to Corte Madera to Barnes and Noble to get in line for our Harry Potter wristband. We got there about 20 minutes early, and I was about the third person in line! Then we went and had super yummy Vietnamese food for dinner, took a turn around the mall to settle dinner, and then back to B and N. Here they are at the fountain out front.
We spent a good 3.5 hours at the bookstore, entering the contests, doing the very hard Scavenger Hunt, and reading. We didn't win anything, although we did find 48/50 questions.... At 11:30 we started queuing, and since I had an "A" wristband, I was in the first group, so I was about the 20th person in line. They have everything very streamlined, I got my book, we did a little jumping up and down and squealing, Miles had to carry it to the car, we stopped for this photo, and when we got in the car it was 12:05. Pretty slick!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

FYI

If you are reading this, and you are finding the pictures maddeningly small, give 'em a click, and they get bigger!! Good to know...

Sculpture and Stickers

This day we started in Sonoma, at Cornerstone Nursery Sculpture Garden. Last year we stopped by here, but didn't get to see all the gardens. Miles has been talking about the kinetic sculpture we did see here for a year. So we went back to see it. At first he was worried because it wasn't in the same place as it was last year, but we found them located around the grounds. Here's one:
Miles could look at it all day. We also saw Blue Tree:





giant yarnballs,











and lots of nice gardens.






We spent 2 and a half hours there, looking at everything. We had an extremely pleasant picnic lunch in the shade, and checked out the rest of the sculpture and indoor gallery.



















We took the long way home through Petaluma, and stopped at Mrs. Grossman's sticker factory. Because, you know, you can never have too many stickers....