Sundays in My City - San Francisco Edition

I'm actually a week behind in blogging. I'm a month behind in reading blogs. Ridiculous how life is taking me away from my computer so much!!
We'll consider this blog officially on Summer Hours. Don't leave me though, cause once the dreary winter returns, I'll need every one of you to boost my bloggy-spirit and bring me joy.

Most of you heard that I went to a training in California the day after Andrew's wonderful graduation party. I was EXHAUSTED - it was a long three-week build-up to the graduation weekend. My sister and niece flew out of town just after me also, so I didn't really have any down-time to recover. So you would think that once I was away and in a comfy hotel for five days that I would take advantage and just chill, right?
Wrong. Because the first day I was in California, the news had a report about "the average american life span" - which is now 78. And I was thinking...and then I was worried...cause that's the AVERAGE life. I'm not always average. What if this is one area where I'm below average?? Which led me to think that I needed to Carpe Diem as much as possible and seize every day that I have left on this earth, whether it's 41 years worth of days, or just 1 year.

So Carpe Diem I did....I carpe diem'ed all over San Francisco.

I made it a point to leave my hotel every night for the majority of the night.

Night one, I explored the city I was in: Pleasanton. I drove around and went for a short walk in the bluffs.
I love these cactus plants, we saw them all over San Diego. They appear to have big fan-like arms that are smooth, with little prickly points only on the tops on the smaller fans. I unfortunately found out that they are not smooth. Not in any way. I leaned way in to get a picture and just barely touched one of the arms on this monstrous plant and was shocked to find my entire arm covered with nasty, sharp, nearly-invisible little cactus-knives.
Innocent looking demon plant
I wandered around some, avoiding all stupid cacti, and followed a wild turkey and some wee turkey babies wandering down the road. I followed them to get closer but didn't really get a good picture. After the cactus attack, I wasn't really up for a turkey attack, so I kept a bit of distance from them.

I had a GPS in my car, who I referred to as SFB all weekend (Stupid F*cking B*tch). She randomly gave me directions, but 97% of the time she just gave me a message that she was "acquiring gps"...I hated her. Especially so because I was lost multiple times because of her....however, while driving around lost that first night, I came across a lake I had considered going to anyway, so it worked out (this time).
The sunset at the lake was awesome. It was a full moon too-just gorgeous.
My geese friends who kept me company while the sun set.

This tree jutted out into the lake a bit, but it's roots reached back towards the mainland. I love nature.
The next night, I went down to old town Pleasanton and wandered the street and had a yummy Italian dinner. I went to bed at a good time, but didn't sleep very well. Which was unfortunate, since the next night (Thursday), I drove into the big ctiy - San Francisco!

I was fore-warned about the ridiculous traffic and the amount of time it would take to drive the 40 miles, but I left immediately after training at 4pm and made it into the city just after 5pm, which isn't bad at all!
Saw this car on the road when I first started out - love the wheels!

I only hit traffic just before the toll bridge, which seemed okay, but deargod-it was a LONG time of just sitting, not moving.

I can see why people from Pleasanton are leery to make the drive into the city on a weekday! And I dont' want to generalize, but California drivers are not friendly!! I did my normal "give a wave" when you merge, and expected it when letting someone else merge. But most of the time, people didn't let you merge. And they wouldn't make eye contact with you, so if you looked over at someone and tried to smile at them to indicate that you would just LOVE it if they would come over, you couldn't catch their eye for NOTHIN! Just mean drivers!!

I did the typical tourist things, like Pier 39 and Lombard Street, but I've done all that before (Andrew's dad is from San Fran and we visited the city many times).
Lombard Street
Baby seals at the Pier!!
I do love visiting Fisherman's Wharf - there is no better place for people watching I think.

Some woman was carving the meat off this tiger shark right on the pier. A cop came along and didn't seem to care at all, just asked that she keep the area clean (which she did by feeding her "scraps" to the seagulls nearby. Disgusting, but intriguing.
But I was really excited to go to Treasure Island and watch the sunset from there.

I've never been there and I had read online that it's the best place to get a picture of the city at night.
Sun setting over Alcatraz
But I was sooooo tired, that I left within 15 min of the sun going down and the Bay Bridge (below) was lit up but the famous San Francisco bridge was still dark....

San Francisco at Night
The next day was my last training day and we got out a little early, which was great because I was headed for the coast! It was a gorgeous drive out to the ocean, I crossed this ridiculously long bridge, and then drove on a windy highway surrounded by trees. Just phenomenal views. So peaceful!!

Driving to Half Moon Bay
I got to the coast and checked into my motel (not a place I would recommend) and did a little googling and found that the tide was going out in just 30 minutes-AND there was a state park very close by to see the tidepools at...but they were super boring and had nothing colorful to take pics of. Still beautiful, but not what I was expecting.
The park I was at for the tidepools has a large family of sea lions that live there, and I was able to see them lounging about. They seem different than the ones at the Pier, probably because they didn't have 100 tourists marveling over them. These guys were just chilling on the beach.

The next morning, I took a leisurely drive up the coast and went a bit north of the city to Muir Woods to see the Redwoods. Nothing is as amazing as these bazillion year old trees that go on forever and ever when you look up.

I arrived just in time to join in on a guided tour called: The Albino Redwood: Ghost Trees.The ranger was REALLY enthusiastic about the albinos, which made the other seven of us excited to see them also. And we trekked through the forest and enjoyed the wealth of knowledge he shared about everything Redwood Trees. If you ever have the chance to do a guided tour- I highly recommend it. I would have otherwise just wandered through the forest and walked away happy that I was there, but after walking through with my own personal ranger - I learned a TON about the forest that I would never have known.

The albino redwoods don't grow very large, and actually look like a bush/shrub. It was a bit anti-climactic after how excited the ranger was for the first 40 minutes of our walk to reach the first albino and have it appear so different than we all expected. It is really fascinating though that this is considered a redwood at all:

A fragile little shell of what the typical Redwood appears to be.

Most of the longer trails were actually closed from trees falling recently, but I had to move on anyway, as I was making a trip to a museum back in San Francisco still, before flying out later that night.
Next stop: Legion of Honor Museum - some amazing stuff here. I discovered that I REALLY love Rodin, who did sculptures. He was amazing!

Thinking away...
My last stop before heading to the airport was to swing by Robin Williams house near Sea Cliff (though I hear rumor that he may have moved) and to stop by a great beach spot to see the bridge.
And then my STB GPS got me horribly lost and then I got stuck in traffic and then I swore a lot and stopped smiling at other drivers and did the eye-avoidance thing...and then I made it to the airport and life was swell.

Unknown Mami

Easy Home Makeover, or How To Do A Makeover 48 Hrs Before Company Arrives

I have this wall - it's in my main living area, connects to the entry way, and is part of the dining's an integral wall. And since we moved in, I've had one under-sized framed photo on it. I've never been happy with it, but when we moved in, the wall already had a nice, sturdy screw halfway across the wall. And I had one large photo in a frame. Perfect match....if only the wall were not so big and visible.

I found this cool way of arranging frames on Pinterest (if you're not part of it, you should be!) and I got it in my head that I MUST do this on my big, empty wall.
That decision was made on Monday late afternoon.

Tuesday morning, I decided that it seemed silly to think that hanging photos in a new way was going to totally transform my world. What I really needed - was to paint!

I've wanted to paint some of the rooms since the day I moved in. All the walls are soft toned, pastel easter egg-style hues and I'm more of a bold color type of girl. I don't like a lot of pastel- and I'm surrounded by it here. I LoooooooooooVE my house - but I don't love the wall colors.
Tuesday at lunch, I went to The Home Depot and picked out about 15 different colors that I was considering. After work, I picked up 10 new matching frames for the wall design.

Wednesday after work, I went to the paint store and picked up a gallon of paint. With company expected to arrive in 40 hours. Plenty of time to do a small home improvement project, right??

I painted Thursday night, started hanging photos Friday morning. Luckily, my wonderful niece was able to help me hang the frames Friday night and it looks EXACTLY like I wanted it to!!!

Check it out:

Before - sandstone-peachy type color ALL over this space (it's a large open area that faces the dining table and the main living room where I hang out when friends come over):
One lonely framed photo...
After: Bold and brilliant terra cotta-orangy type color:
I painted the small wall headed down the hallway the same color. I think it comes across as much more orange in this photo...but regardless - LOVE it!!

I am really amazed at how different the room looks every time I walk in. My only regret is that I didn't do it two years ago. I just LOVE it and can't wait to paint something else!

Andrew is Amazing, Part 2

In our city, we have a yearly festival that is unlike any other. It's like a 2-week, multi-event, massive production of festivallness beyond you would imagine as being sane.
And the a Capella group that Andrew is part of: Vocal Effect-sang in the parade.
They also sang at the Queen's coronation in the morning. Three different songs! The boys had to all be downtown (30 min away) at 5:00am.
On the morning of graduation.
And after singing at the coronation, then walking in the parade, some of the seniors had to go to sound check for graduation-the special school choir he made it into last year sang two songs.
And after sound check, was the graduation rehearsal.
After graduation rehearsal was a 30 min break to take pictures with family.
And then it was graduation....
And immediately after graduation, they all got on a bus and went to the school-sponsored all-night graduation party....until 5am.

So to recap - on graduation day, Andrew was awake from 4am-5:30am the next morning!!!

But he sang well...he sang a solo song that started off the festival's coronation of the queen, though that started at 8:30am and there weren't a million people there, however, the song below was on the local news, and I'm sure millions watch that. 

Andrew is the handsome one (far right).

I'm still in the bay  area for work, I have carpe diem'ed more than I thought I would. It's a bit exhausting but I am loving travelling about. I am ready to get home - my baby birds are getting ready to take flight and I want to be there for them!!

Andrew is a Graduate!!!

My baby is all grown up!

I just can't believe this handsome young adult is my little baby boy!! I'm so proud of him - he's just so amazing in so many ways. If I had more time, I would list each and every one of them out for you, but I don't have time, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. He IS amazing.

We had a really fun party on Sunday for him.2

We had the most delicious thai food catered for the party from our favorite restaurant. She gave me a spectacular deal, which is good since I over-estimated how many people were coming. I left for a training in California on Monday night though, so now Andrew has leftovers for a few days and I don't have to worry about what he'll be eating.

He won't be eating these lovelies though...
They were devoured within 6 hours of the party. Delicious!!

Yay for my Andrew, the new graduate, the soon-to-be-student at USC, and a potential candidate for Ruler of the Earth. He's the best and I couldn't be more proud of him and all he has accomplished in his 18 years of life.

The Babies Are Here!!!

We have been enjoying our robin friends who have built a nest on our security light just outside the back door - which is great because we can see their next anytime we're in the kitchen, living room or back yard. I am a little nervous about the nest sliding off there....and I've already informed Andrew that he is absolutely in charge of any kind of tragic birdy accident that may happen, as it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. So far, the nest looks really stable, but there is a lot of activity lately.

Because we have BABIES!!!!

There appear to only be two babies (and we lost one of the eggs to a nasty crow incident last week), but those two babies are eating a LOT. I saw the parents flying back and forth with food for at least two hours... just nonstop feeding. I've caught a few shots today, though they are a bit camera shy and I had to stand very still for much longer than is natural for any human being...

I think this is Daddy Robin. He always lands on the fence on the edge of the yard and waits for AGES, hopping to the right and left, scanning the yard.

MID-JUMP!! Nice shot, Kaylen!!  He then flies to the gutter and looks some more, before hopping up into the nest.
Feeding time:

Love the baby head popping up!
Kinda gross...parents have to do a lot of gross things though.
I am so excited to have them right outside my window - I'm looking forward to seeing them as they get bigger each day.

Busy Week Here at Home - Carpe Diem In Effect!

Wow, what a week!
I have been so busy, I love it. Carpe diem and all that..

Earlier this week, this little guy was spotted at the elementary school 5 blocks from my house:

He was tranquilized and released at the coast. (I did not take this photo-but I could have!!)

Andrew made dinner the other night (including his special homemade teriyaki marinade) for us and his friend Jeff.  He's really great in the kitchen. That's a point for me as a mom! This is what he came up with:
Chicken wings, corn on the cob, yam fries and an overpriced steak kabob I bought at the store (he grilled it).

I was devastated to find this in my backyard:
I think a crow got into my pet robin's nest. Sad.
It is the final choir concert at the high school. So sad. I wish Andrew would have found his singing passion earlier in life so that I could have enjoyed more of these, but I'm thankful for every time I hear him sing on stage. I don't know why, but our spring choir concert is two days in a row. I went last night to work at the concession stand and watched part of the show, but tonight's concert is a special tribute to seniors so I'll be taking my real camera and enjoying the full show.. Here's a pic I took with my cell phone where I caught Andrew doing one of those dramatic look-down-before-I-start-a-solo poses:

Love it!! He is so great on stage!
I walked to the school (it's 4,050 steps from our house) and it was fine going there, but it was dark on the way home. And I had just listened to the choir sing Thriller, so the entire walk home (4,050 steps), I was in my own Michael Jackson video and was ready for zombies who might attack.

I have a really busy weekend coming up!!! A barbecue tonight before choir, the last concert, a walk with the Biggest Loser guys in the am, Andrew's a Capella group sings in the afternoon, an evening parade with friends on Saturday, a volunteer event on Sunday-Carpe Diem, indeed!!!


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