Entries from June 2009 ↓

Summer in the City

I thought I would try to offer a quick recap of our wonderful family gathering we just had in San Francisco. I am the youngest of six  and as the years pass we have found more and more importance on trying to gather the clan at least once a year.  The six siblings have also been blessed with 14 children and we try to round up as many of the cousins as possible for these events as they surely are our greatest achievement and a joy to behold. One of our other points of pride is that this next generation genuinely seem to enjoy not only their cousins but their Aunts and Uncles as well. So for this year’s event the count was 14 and California had been chosen. My sister Kathy and I took the lead and looked for a convenient, affordable location for us all to gather. Kathy’s friend Diana mentioned a Hostel in San Francisco that she had stayed at that might suite our needs and boy was she right. The Hostel is run by Hostelling International and is called Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel but is actually a part of Fort Mason, http://www.sfhostels.com/fishermans-wharf/ and you would be hard pressed to find a more picturesque location. The hostel sits on a hill overlooking the bay, with beautiful views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. There is also an incredible community garden that is open to the public directly in front of the hostel. Within walking distance to the south is the Marina, the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium, and to the south, Aquatic Park and Fisherman’s Wharf. So here is the great part. The cost of the hostel is 30.00 per person per night! That includes parking and a lovely continental breakfast in their cafe overlooking the bay. They also have a great dinning room with two kitchens available including utensils and pots and pans. On our first afternoon we strolled to Aquatic Park, enjoyed a beer and appetizer at Teirnan’s Irish Pub, visited Musee de Mechanique, (a must see and free admision) http://www.museemecaniquesf.com/ and then bought a bunch of mussels, clams, rockfish and calamari and took over the hostel’s kitchen for a family feast. For any other food needs there is a Safeway right across the park from the hostel. Now a couple of items to note, the staff at the hostel is amazingly courteous and efficient and seemed quite amused by our group. I’m not sure if that amusement applied to the other travelers who were warming their meager meals of Cup-o-soup or can of beans while we put on a meal fit for a king. (thanks in large part to my son Aubrey’s cooking skills) There was even one poor women who was trying to toast an english muffin and when unable to get the toaster working grabbed a small frying pan and sauteed her muffin….it was so sad I just had to offer her a bowl of our georgous seafood stew. The look on her face and her smile will be cherished. She spoke no english but for the next two days managed to thank me again and again.

Our other outings were renting bikes at Fisherman’s Wharf and riding to Sausalito, an incredible ride but not for the faint of heart….that is one scary ass bridge…and a Giants game at “Whatever(PacBell)” Park….

I can’t even start to make this brief description convey all of the indelible moments we enjoyed. What we do is have everyone offer moments to a “50 Favorite Things” list. This list will never suffice but provides a great platform to relive 3 glorious days of family, food and fun.

Here are a few images to attempt to illustrate…

The Big Date

A photo of a couple of my friends that live in my shop. I like the background color and composition.

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Potato Gun Fun

I just came across one of my favorite toys out in the garage, still in the box even. They started selling these cool retro toys quite a few years back. I bought one more for the packaging than anything else but was really stoked when I tried the thing and it really worked. I was working at SCO at the time and took it back to work, with potato in hand and proceeded to entertain my co-workers by hitting them with great accuracy with these little potato pellets. They all seemed as smitten as I was and many indicated they wanted one of their own. I quickly called the store where I bought it and asked how many of these they had in stock. I think they had about 10 left and I asked if I could buy them all. They said they would hold them and I said I would be down on my lunch break tomorrow to pick them up. When I arrived the next day I was quite upset when the person at the counter told me all the Potato Guns had been sold. “What? But I called yesterday and they said they would save them for me…” “Oh, sorry” she said, “I didn’t realize you’re the one who called, yes I saved them for you.” Whew, what a relief. I gathered up the arsenal and bought a sack of potatoes and returned to work where I dispensed the weapons and ammo to my cubicle dwelling co-workers and I can only say that the productivity that afternoon suffered a severe dip but moral was extremely high. I think the only person who really objected was the cleaning crew when they came in the next morning and couldn’t figure out what all these little pellets all over the office were from.

I think you can still find them at some toy stores and if you do find one just remember, as it states on the back of the package, “Keep your potato gun clean and it will give you years of service”

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Backyard birds

One of the my many daily blessings is the variety of birds I get to enjoy in my own backyard. Our backyard was set up as a sort of sanctuary by the previous owner and evidently the birds in the area greatly appreciate it. I would say I appreciate it it more. From my kitchen table, reading my morning paper I am constantly entertained by the symphony of sights and sounds from the avain world. Our regulars include Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Stellar Jays, Towhees, Hummingbirds, Mockingbirds, (and depending on the time of year) Warblers, Starlings, Tanagers and a variety of Sparrows and Titmouse. I previously wrote about the Woodpeckers who nested in the telephone pole at the bottom of my driveway and I was so excited when I got to watch a Mockingbird couple build a nest in a small vine covered arbor in my backyard. I watched as the Mockingbirds built the nest and waited to see or hear the results. Tragically the family was not to be as we found two of the babies on the ground and the third tangled in the potato vine that covers the arbor. There were no signs that they had been attacked by a predator so I don’t know what actually occurred but I was so sad to have lost someone from my family. At about the same time I noticed a couple of small birds I wasn’t familiar with furtively diving in and out under the eve of my shop. My curiosity paid off as I watched this couple start to build a nest using a small electrical box as a base. It looked like mud and sticks. It took them about a week and then I waited and watched. From my desk in my shop I would watch these small birds flit on the railroad ties outside my window. I could watch them no more than a few feet away as they nervously went about their business. I finally noticed them starting to forage for worms and insects instead of twigs for the nest and noticed  new voices in the crowd. Sure enough, we had a squeaking, squawking nest full of fuzz headed baby birds. I still wasn’t sure of what type of birds thanks to my friend Randy we think they are Black Phoebe’s, http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/169/overview/Black_Phoebe.aspx not Rough-winged swallows as I originally thought. http://10000birds.com/rough-winged-swallows-california.htm

Anyway, they are cheeky little birds who have now tried to claim my yard as their domain and don’t want to share the yard. Myself, my dog Lucca, (who is quite confused by the personal attacks)  and any other bird who ventures by are subject to a quick fly by and quite a scolding….

I got a couple of shots of the little screechers and thought I would share.