Monday, December 15, 2008

It must be winter!

Every December for more years than we can remember, we spend a weekend in San Francisco. To see the sights - do shopping - and jsut get away from it all. The past two years we have enjoyed the company of old and dear friends. This year it was just hubby and me again. And it was beautiful - even tho the rain and cold came in on Sunday - we didnt care, cause we were leaving that day!

We had a lovely dinner at the Top of the Mark on Saturday night. I dont know why they call them Sunset dinners since the seating is at 7:30 and sunset is before 5 PM! But it is a prixe fixe menu and each course accompanied by wine. I am so spoiled by living in a wine region that I do not know many wines outside of this region. I am also not a big fan of red wines - but we had a lovely pinot noir that I wish I knew what it was - but when I went back to look - they had already changed the menu! Anyway - the view was lovely - we had not been up to the Top for at least 30 years, so this was quite a treat for us! Full moon and all!

Friday night we went to the ACT to see A Christmas Carol. I had never seen this done on stage. This was a treat. First of all - the theater is so gorgeous - it is breathtaking. And the play was done quite well - instead of being the scary ghost story, it had humor. Funny, way back when I attended USF, they used volunteer ushers. You got to see the play for free as soon as everyone was seated. That is when I saw Jesus Christ Super Star. But in my memory, we had to wear these one size fits nobody and gosh knows the last time they were cleaned, red blazers.See

See those 2 blocks up there? Becuase it was only two blocks from the Inn we were staying in - hubby decided we could walk. Not too bad an idea - UNLESS you are wearing the shoes in the first photo. Shoes I have worn 3 times before, but this time the heel decided to be too wide and my feet kept coming out of them - plus trying to walk up steep hills with it. I got sympathy from the women passing me.....BUT I MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And yes, we took a cab home even tho it was only 2 blocks cause there was NO WAY IN H^&$%^# I was going to try to walk down hill in those shoes - especially after 3 glasses of wine!!!!

The old Emporium on Market Street was turned into a shopping mall. But they kept the beautiful details including the dome....this does not do justice to the beautiful wreaths and hanging star streamers....

Even if the calendar says we have another week to go! Oh dear, all my photos loaded backwards...oh well. Above is a phot I took at the beginning of the month. We went to several wineries that day for Holiday in the Vineyards - wine tasting, crafts, and all. I could take lots of photos of the trees that change here for those of you who do not think that CA has seasons....but I thought this was a lovely way to show the colors - and the winter sky!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Before I forget I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
We may be facing harder times, so now is the time to remember the blessings that we have.

And as soon as my last pie is out of the oven, I get to go buy a new washing machine! And the blessing here is - that I can.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A lovely weekend off + catching up

We went down to Monterey to take care of hubby's family graves because we will not get another chance to get down there before Christmas.

Started off at our favorite donut place! And then we did some garage sales. Not too good a day - altho hubby is quite happy with his $3 wheelbarrow! And I am quite happy with my Longaberger bonanza! Went out to Pebble Beach for that one. Lovely house for sale on the golf course....they were moving because they didnt realize "how cold it is out here". Hello....northern California, on the coast! Fog and damp!! What did you think!! But when we saw what all they were getting rid of, and some very good prices on things, I think they were just trying to save face. After all, 4 complete Longaberger baskets for $50???? I think they were desperate to make some money!

Also found a lovely street fair in Carmel and did some shopping there too. Altho I did have to pass up the $10,000 dangling earring with cabachon emeralds and diamonds that I fell totally in love with at a vintage jewelry shop...even tho they do layaway!

Isnt this a beautiful sunset? So wierd that it is happening before 5 PM these days!!!!

After going to school in Monterey and eating lunch outside on the quad every day that wasnt raining....these are not my favorite dining partners. And so they are also the reason we choose NOT to eat outside when we are on the coast! Dont mind the attitude - just mind the fact they are not in the least little bit potty trained!

Arent these caps pretty? Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sign of the times?

Yesterday I had an experience, that I still have not decided whether it was on the up & up, or a scam. Either way, I dont care becuase no matter what, the person needed help. And the help I gave was not much.

I had just finished putting my groceries into the truck, and was shutting the door when a young man spoke behind me. He apoligized for startling me (which he really hadnt done) and for bothering me. He was cleanly dressed in jeans, a t shirt with a flannel shirt jacket. He was well spoken with appropriate behavior. It was day time with a lot of people around so I wasnt afraid.

He apologized again and told me that he was asking for money. He said that he had recently lost his job with a landscaping company and in turn had recently lost his apartment since he was not able to pay his rent. He apologized yet another time and stated he was asking for money in hopes to get a room for the night for himself, his wife, and their one year old daughter (and he mentioned names for all three) as the night was supposed to be rather chilly (and it was!).

At first I was going to blow him off like I do so many pan handlers. But something made me stop. Maybe because he did not look like the panhandlers I am use to? He was clean and nicely dressed - soft spoken and well spoken....

So I told him I did not have much money on me since I had just finished shopping. And he told me that was ok, and started to turn away. I told him I could give him a couple of dollars if that would help, and he turned back.

So I got the $2 left in my wallet out to give to him. He thanked me....apologized again for bothering me. At that point I replied "this must be hard on you" and his eyes welled up and he got choked up. If this was a scam, he was a very good actor and deserved more than $2!
He asked me to keep him, his wife, and his daughter in my prayers. And he turned and walked away.

I did not give him enough money to subsidize any addiction, although if this was a scam, he was good and undoubtedly would get more. But something in him made me believe him - and trust me, I am no pollyanna. My husband is the one who gets caught up in the emotions and get scammed more than I do!

But $2 - ok, that means 2 yogurt parfaits I do not buy at McDonalds this week. My husband asked how I thought $2 would help them get a room - and I said, if nothing else, it will get the one year old some food.

I forsee that this is just the start of it. Here in town we have a small group of panhandlers who are always visible - and usually the same 3 or 4 people. In the next town over, there is one old woman you see living on the streets. To see larger groups you have to go into the larger cities. But I am sure that there is going to be more and more asking for help when the helping agencies are becoming fewer.

The organization here in the area who supplies meals to the needy is on the brink of closure becuase the need has grown and donations have decreased in the past few months. Typically they have recieved money from realtors and banks, both types of businesses that have been hard hit. There are a lot of mid sized to larger sized businesses in this tri valley area that could chip in and help tho. Instead, I have written out a check to them which will go into the mail today. As well as some grocery store gift cards which is going to the local food pantry.

I truly believe in paying forward as well as paying back. There have been times in my life that we were barely one step away from needing these services and altho we did not need them, thank God they were there just in case.

So please, even if it is only $10 (and those grocery store gift cards I donated were all in $10 amounts) please remember the shelters, the pantries, and the kitchens this holiday season while you are out shopping for your own meals and gifts!

Every little bit helps, and you never know when you or someone you know, will need the services of these places - and where will people go if these services are no longer available?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Army of Women

I just learned about this great website that I urge each and every one to go to and to sign up: It is a combined effot of volunteers, researchers, fundraisers, etc against breast cancer. Please check it out.

I am reading a great book - The Know It All by A.J. Jacobs. It is all about this journalists decision to read the encyclopedia and how it affects his life and vice versa. Funny, erudite. I am enjoying it thoroughly. And I have decided I need to rename my blog after a book of essays by Anglo-Irish chemist Robert Boyle because I love the title: Occassional Reflections on Several Subjects.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Go Phillies!

What a weekend for Philadelphia - the Eagles won and so did the Phillies!

Am glad I am not sitting there watching the game tonight tho - with the chill in the air and the rain - nope - not for me! But hopefully they are more use to the weather than Tampa Bay!

I am all in favor of small business. If possible, I will buy from a mom/pop store before a big chain one, even knowing I might have to pay a few dollars more for the item. Last week I went to my LYS and saw some pretty cashmerino yarn - kept trying to remember what the pattern was that I was thinking about it. Of course, I remembered when I got home - a baby cap! Only needed one ball of it!

So today I went back and decided on what color. I was a little disappointed in the limited color choices, so I went online to look at what colors are in the line. And I felt a bit betrayed when I found out that I pretty much paid $3 more for this one skein than other places charged for! And I am talking about other LYS as well as online stores. In fact, price wise with one online store I paid $4 more! And if you factor in gas + time compared to shipping - there is not necessarily that much difference.

I like this LYS so I will keep shopping there. But I will also - the next time I fall for some yarn - do some comparison shopping first!

I have a recert class and test on Wed that I am not looking forward to - keep your fingeres crossed for me people!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tying it all up

The last day Tom thought he was going to go back to the Kauai Products Fair after golf, and buy me a necklace that I liked. What he didnt know was that I already had gone back and bought it for myself. So we did some driving around. Drove along Annini Beach - rumor has it that it was originally Wannini Beach until someone shot off the W becuase they thought it was mis spelled. Beautiful beach - some gorgeous house there....and this. Pieces of a car - doors and trunk - arrange around some rocks. ??????

View looking down the cliffs from the walk up to the lighthouse.

A church built from lava rock.

A Kauia sunrise

Hibiscus flowers from the gardens at the Lihue airport....yes, we had some time to kill....

Another view fromt he walk up to the lighthouse

Taro fields outside of Hanalei

Kauia sunrise the morning we were leaving....

Tree tunnel on the road to Koloa

So we got home on time....none of the planes were late. And had to figure out when to go to bed - we were tired from the flights but our bodies were still on Hawaii time! So didnt got to bed until after midnight our time.

The next day had to pick up a very tired and subdued dog from the kennel. Plus I think he lost a little weight while we were gone. Am sure he didnt eat or sleep much!

That night we went to see Chazz Palmientieri do his one man show A Bronx Tale in SF. Very interesting - funny - touching. Had a lovely Italian meal before hand. And got home around 11:00 PM. Two late nights in a row....

Monday Tom went back to work. I ran errands (no groceries in the house!) and attended my 2 hour mandatory class before I can be a clerk at a polling place in November. I learned a lot of things I never knew - and found out this is the first time in history (I am not sure if they meant in the state or the county alone) that they have a waiting list of people who want to work the polls! Becuase of such a large number of people working they said we would have enough people at each polling place to assure that we get our breaks and meals....that is good cause the day starts at 0600 and doesnt end until 9 - 9:30 PM!!!!!!! And let me tell you, the money is not enough to make this a high demand job!

I will be back to work tomorrow....sigh.....

More vacation

Our snorkeling gear! No photos of us in the water, so this is the only proof that we went snorkeling....except for the embarassingly bad sunburns we got! Apparently we spent much more time in the water than we thought - and we paid the price. Reminder to self - need to get some sort of swim shirt if I want to snorkel more....

Our spot in the shade - which didnt help mych - at Lydgate Beach

Proof that we actually did get to enjoy the top down in our convertible!

Found a mess of these under a tree at Lydgate Beach. No one seems to know what they are - I thought they looked like candy corn so I took a photo of one since we were there in October!

One of the caves near Kee Beach. This one is posted no swimming or exploring.

Yeah they are everywhere...and I am STILL hungry for fried chicken! Our guide on the movie tour said they are not worth eating cause they are so stringy and no fat....hmmm, and how would he know??????????

Just a Hawaii photo op from the Lydgate Beach looking into the mountains

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tom's Movie tour - Many photos!

So the last time we were here, Tom really really wanted to do the movie tour - where you see the sites where movies have been filmed on the island. Didnt get to then - had trouble deciding which tour to take this time. - but he finally decided on the 4x4 tour. And let me tell you - we spent a lot of time getting our gizzards rocked - or a full body massage as I called it!

Just before we left to drive to the tour company, we recieved a phone call from our son saying he had been awakened by the Reno Nevada Coroner asking him if he was related husband's brother. Our son is young enough he can barely remember ever meeting the man. Apparently he died Sat midnight and they were trying to track down family. We last saw hubby's brother about 25 years ago. Heard from him twice since then - once when we agreed to 'loan' him money and once when we didnt. But still, this is a difficult wake up call for anyone. His brother led a sad life. And he died alone, without family at his own choosing, at the age of 61.

These photos are not in order. You can see that we progressed from sun to pouring rain thru the day.

This is one of two pickups that are full of hunting dogs. Apparently that is how they hunt boar in Kauia. After all, the boars are smart enough to take off and hide when they hear cars and trucks so they have to send dogs after them. These hunters did not have a productive day - as you can see, there is nothing on top of the board over the dogs!

Trekking back to the 4x4 after NOT seeing the crater that was featured in the movie Dragonfly becuase the rain would not stop and the clouds would not lift. We had to skip over rocks to get down a small muddy path that turned into a stream....waited for awhile until we gave up. The guides said they had not seen rain like this since February - go figure - after all, we have a history of taking rain with us on vacations PLUS we rented a convertible!!!!!
Hubby standing at what was once the gates to Jurassic Park. This is State property and everything they put up or down (including the paved road) had to be taken out and returned to nature when they the road was paved and torn up 3 times. And the gates are gone - and because they were made of balsa wood and styrofoam, they never would have survived the 1996 hurricane anyway! BTW, we were told that Jurassic Park #4 starts filming some time in the next month...
This poor guy is so screwed. First of all, he took a rental car off the paved roads which immediately negates the insurance and contracts you sign. And now he is liable for damages to it - if and when he can get it towed out of there! (When we passed himon the way up, he was stuck in a puddle of look at it!) Oh and another pearl of wisdom - if you go to buy a previous rental car -make sure it was not used in Hawaii. The natives will not buy the cars from the rental companies there (look at the photo again!) so the rental companies have to ship them to the mainland to sell them!
The historic Coco Palms. The site of many a celebrity - including Elvis and some of his movies. Devastated by the hurricane of 1996 and by the Japanese firm who owned it by then. They supposedly tried to cheat the insurance company - after they started losing business because of lack of upkeep - they say the chance to get the money to fix the place up again and factored in that money into their insurance claims. They lost. Big time. The insurance company refused to pay a cent. So they sold it for $13 million a few years ago. The owner is hoping to restore it. Right now it is a ghost town inhabited by many coconuts (the back acres are coconuts and no one is harvesting them) and one caretaker/guard. There has been looting - and jsut FYI if you come across a south seas clam shell billed as a bathroom sink from the Coco Palms, there is a reward offered....

Oh, one of the streams we forded on the way up to the Jurassic Park site.

Guess I thought you might want to see it twice?
Mushrooms apparently grow well int he rainforest!

This pier was used in one of hubby's (many) favorite movies - Donovan's Reef.
Look at the old fogies next to the waterfall. And look -we have sunglasses on, so this must have been earlier in the day!
This was the cottage Elvis always stayed in. And was used in one of his films. The owner at that time was not about to kick out one of her loyal customers, so they could not book more than one cottage. So in the film Blue Hawaii - this same cottage was used 4 different times with 4 different sets of furnishings!
The activity board still has announcements on it...
Nope, it is the world's largest fiberglass conch shell....

Waimea Canyon AKA the Grand Canyon of Kauia

Sunday we put the top down on the convertible and drove to the other side of the island to see what we didnt get a chance to see the last time we were here - the Waimea Canyon. We drove thru to the very end. Then headed back and had lunch at the Kokee Lodge.

Sorry, but this Nene got fed that day! Lunch at the lodge was awesome even tho I have never had sweet tasting chili before - and I ordered it with rice becuase that is how I like my chili - and it came with sticky rice! Tom had Portugese sausage soup and we split delicious cornbread (and later wished we had each ordered it!)

It is sick to say - but with all the chickens roaming free on the island - all I wanted to eat this week was chicken! So we used the barbecue grills at the place and grilled some chicken that night for dinner!

More photos of the inhabitants

See our morning alarm clock up there? Every morning, and thru out most of the day we could hear him ...except for our last morning there. Guess he knew we were leaving and no longer worthy of his attention!
Oh by the way, this is the view outside our bedroom. Would have been the pool. Instead it is this lovely fence. But I also must say - they did not start work at the crack of dawn as we feared! Usually no working noise until about 9 AM.
Arent they adorable? Most of the birds we saw were not original natives of Hawaii. But from other countries. These red headed cardinals are originally from South America.
And here are my namesakes....and the Hawaiian state bird. The Nene geese. They must be very monogamous and territorial.. If any other pairs came over into their territory, they would chase them off. Never really heard them honk - they would hiss, and groan, and moan, and purr. And were always very interested in my toes. I think if we had left the screen door open, they would have made themselves at home inside our place! Oh yes, they are descendants from Canadian geese....

I dont know exactly what this guy is. You cant truly appreciate his beautiful green and yellow coloring in this photo - but he moves so quickly this was the best shot I could get! We were told he wasnt poisonous, but you know what - every time he moved I jumped far away!!!!