Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween...

Thanks to everyone that sent along birthday greetings today...or phone calls or blog mentions or scary photos from birthdays past...or foamy grande lattes :) And Jeff and Chris are taking me out for RIBS tonight...my comfort food of choice!!

But my favorite gift of the day HAD to be the sight of dear Michele try to light a wooden match in my office for the candle on the yummy cupcakes she brought. Like MacGyver gone senile, Michele tried EVERY surface in the office including the bottom of her shoe, until she spotted an etched glass globe bookend.

We lit the match on Asia, I believe. And, of course, I blew out the candle two second later so as not to set off the sprinklers. Classic. We haven't laughed that hard in ages.

[Update: My biggest smile of the day came with the phone call I received from Jeff's family for a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. A special thanks to Dominick and Natalie, who sang their special new song for me: "Matthew is big, Joshua is little. Dominick, Natalie and Keegan are smack in the middle. Big and little." THANK YOU!!]

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I realize that I do not travel to Virginia NEARLY as much as Curt does, nor would I want to compete for that distinction. But I have been in the air and in hotels much more than normal lately, and my blog has suffered for it...not to mention my sanity :)

But that said, I am working with the BEST proposal team I have ever worked with, and having fun in between late nights and coffee infusions.

Anyhow, one casualty of my travel are photos from Jeff and my weekend in NYC. So, in an effort to catch up a bit, here are a few of the more curious photos from NYC, including a fascinating tribute to Christopher Columbus in cheese.

For the record, I believe that Jeff took the second of the rooftop photos, from high above the city at Rockefeller Center. This one showed our lofty perch quite nicely.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Instruments of destruction...

I was perusing a junk removal website this afternoon to find a convenient way to get rid of a few odd items left over from the previous owners of the house. These oddities are tucked away, but the time has really come. Take a look at the photos below, and you'll see what I mean.

Anyhow, this junk website (1-800-GOT-JUNK) had a list of items that are prohibited for them to dispose of in our area. Please read along with me (this is the full list in their order):
  • Any items containing gas or oil

  • Any items that have oil in them

  • Any medical, biological waste, or feces

  • Any type of battery - including AAA-D

  • Flourescent lights

  • Paint cans or containers full of paint

  • Pianos

  • Propane tanks that contain any fuel.

Uh, pianos? I would like an explanation.

Curb appeal...

Jeff and I spent today--another warm, sunny fall day--working around the house. One of my jobs was to plant a row of new succulents [Sanseveria laurentii, aka "Variegated Snake Plant"] in one of the protected beds at the front of the house. Yesterday, Jeff extracted a sad camillia plant that I aparrently killed with overzealous fertilizing. (I plead the fifth...those gardening gloves just DON'T FIT :) Anyhow, the new plants look much cooler anyway.

I also thinned out some old growth from two grassy plants we have on our front balcony. This inspired me to find some grotesque, half-price pumpkins to give the house a touch of the season. Jeff added the bale of straw, which does make it all work, in my opinion.

Beautiful Saturday...

Today was a normal Saturday, but an indication of just how wonderful normal can be. A classic Indian Summer day in San Francisco, with cool temperatures to begin and end the day, and warm sun in between.

I tend to start my days before Jeff on the weekends. I enjoy a quiet weekend ritual of rising early, driving up to the store to pick up stuff to make breakfast, and stalking a few photographs in between. This morning, I was stalking the sunrise...which is conveniently late this time of year.

One of the new delights at breakfast is crafting an espresso drink from our new espresso station. This little device is a wonder to watch, but the perfect cappuccino is an art that I'm still perfecting.

In the midst of our errands, Jeff and I happened upon a hidden gem of a cafe in SF's Laurel Heights neighborhood. We ate at Rigolo, which emulates a cozy French boulangerie. I had a truly amazing B.F.T--bacon, frisee, and tomato--with a tangy tomato aioli spread. Served warm...yum. Jeff had a hearty, open-faced pulled pork sandwich with parmesan fries. We will go back to this one, I can assure you.

As the late afternoon wore on, we spent some time gardening. The low autumn sun sets off the colors in our succulent garden quite nicely.

This feeling of comfort and warmth lead right on to dinner. For the second time, I made a really fine pasta puttanesca--a hearty Italian dish, chock full of fresh flavors. Its also very easy to make. You should try this one--I got the recipe from Food Network. (FYI, I added in some grilled chicken breasts.)

We closed the day by doing something totally out of character. We went to a movie!!!! I know, I know. I swore against theatres :) But Jeff had been reading about a fascinating movie called 'The Queen', which examines the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair during the early days of his term and the days surrounding the death of Princess Diana. We both really enjoyed this film, and its respectful, yet humorous glimpse behind the scenes of royal tradition.

A truly beautiful day.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Seattle recap...

One of the reasons that I've had a hard time keeping up with my blog is that I've been traveling quite a bit. Not the romantic, rush-to-the-computer-and-tell-the-world-about-it travel, but simple, business travel. Not that there aren't fun photos and wonderful people.

Two weeks ago, I was in Seattle for three nights. Seattle is one of my favorite cities in the world. Something about how the air smells fresh when you exit the airport.

The week's meetings were more than successful, with some amazing people, a spectacular venue, and fantastic food. I topped it all off with a fun evening with my life-long friend Jeff and his family. Hard to beat.

So, here are a few photos from the trip. Starting with our hotel--the one-of-a-kind Edgewater Hotel, situated like a pier in the Puget Sound. Some of the more fanatical of you may recognize this hotel as the setting for a famous 1964 photo of The Beatles fishing from their window. I decided to snap my own non-historic photos instead.

Next are some obligatory shots of and from the Space Needle, the most recognizable Seattle icon. Our group spent some time at the top of the Needle...in the drizzle. We also spent some time in the science museum nearby, where we saw an exhibit with the Dead Sea Scrolls. These 2000-year-old scroll fragments were inspiring, but my favorite factoid from that visit was about the Dead Sea itself. The salty Dead Sea--the lowest point on the surface of the earth, fyi--evaporates rapidly in the intense sun, creating a salty haze above it. The haze blocks the sun's UV rays , so much so that you can walk along the Dead Sea's shores without sunscreen and not burn. Fascinating...TO ME.

I did grab one quick shot of the Experience Music Project at the base of the Space Needle. This notable building--which was closed during our visit--was designed by architect Frank Gehry.

Finally, a couple of sea-side shots from Ray's Boathouse, where we had a truly memorable group dinner on our second night. Ray's "Baklava Cheesecake" simply cannot be missed!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The effect of Strangers...

Oh, what's a week and a few days between friends?

Yes, I've been a bit lax with my blog. But in all fairness, I have been updating my joint Strangers blog, one two three four FIVE times since I last posted here. And some good material too, I might add...so go check that blog out HERE. (I mean, there is an elderly woman with a green bag of poo...THAT is worth a click!)

Nevertheless, I do have a few tidbits for Tribulations! First off, last weekend, Jeff and I paid a long overdue trip to ye ole Coinstar machine. We carted four containers of coins: one Harrah's Casino bucket from Vicksburg, MS (can you say deep fried pickles?), one Classico spaghetti sauce jar, one red plastic cup that looked straight out of a college keg party, and one tin container with flowers. Our grant total: 3329 coins worth $ 235.74. Not bad. 6 dollar coins. 1 half dollar. 555 quarters. 546 dimes. 342 nickels. 1879 pennies.

And what got kicked out? 1 Canadian dime, 1 Malaysian penny, 1 2-cent euro, 1 British penny and 1 Putt Putt Golf video game token.

Also last week, I got to watch one of San Francisco's oddest forms of civil disobedience. The monthly Critical Mass bike ride through the streets of the Financial District. Basically a few hundred (maybe more?) bikers take to the streets, ignoring all lanes and traffic signals. Their purpose is to disrupt traffic. I've only been caught in it once, and it is maddening. BUT, from my office 33 floors above the fray, it is a fascinating scene.

Hmmmm, then I flew to Seattle for a few days of meetings. I'll post those pictures separately.

One quick oddity from my flight today from SFO to Washington Dulles. I boarded a VERY full flight...eventually bound for Paris, but I had the pleasure of hopping off in DC :(

Anyhow, we took off late, because of a missing bit of plastic covering the light panel shown here. We nearly cancelled the flight, before the mechanic appeared with a replacement panel. I was curious why duct tape wouldn't work!!