Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday/Wednesday (SFO to London)...

We began our New Year's trip to London where all good trips the international Red Carpet lounge. Little nibbles and sparkling wine soothed pre-flight stress. Chris handed out Airborne.

Jeff and I snagged seats 12 H/J. A poor movie choice sucked us in...Fred Claus...a weak moment of post-Christmas blues. But wine, dinner, dessert, and Bailey's sent us right through the no-laugh movie and into dreamland.

Awoke as we entered UK airspace. Bright sun glistening off Northern Ireland's lakes mixed with low, misty clouds. Landed at London Heathrow...Terminal 1. On through passport control.

Met Sherie in the terminal, fresh from her flight from LA. An easy 25min hop on the Heathrow Express train to London's Paddington Station. Then a quick cab ride through central London to the hip May Fair Mayfair.

While Chris and Sherie napped, Jeff and I took a brisk walk through nearby Green Park to see Buckingham Palace at night. A shimmering Christmas tree front and center. We also spotted the towering London Eye, glowing with purples and blues. Back across Green Park. Popped into the Ritz...the friendly bellman politely reminded us that the area past the lobby was dinner jacket only. Still the tree and lights in the lobby were beautiful.

Strolled through local Mayfair, including a walk down the famous Bond Street shopping area. A final glimpse of Christmas glitter.

Returned to the hotel to shower and dress for New Years Eve on the town.

Reservations at a hip little restaurant called Avenue. On the walk over, Jeff was accosted by a beggar who called him a 'wanker'...even the homeless are funny in England :). Festive and white ballons packed the ceiling. A jazz quartet and sultry singer entertained. Colorful cocktails. A yummy pre fixe menu full of creative dishes.

We rang in the New Year with big glasses of champagne, silver streamers, and bottle poppers. Finished up the dinner with scrumptuous toffee sundaes were the favorite. Oh and Chris tried to light Jeff on fire with a flaming streamer.

Walked back to the May Fair with throngs of revelers. Concluded our day with after dinner drinks as the happening May Fair Bar.

Happy New Year! :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Well, I'm kind of ending 2008 in the same fashion in which I spent it...taking pictures without posting them :) I had purposefully left a little time this afternoon to post some photos from Christmas: my wonderful family visit in St. Michaels, our relaxing Christmas morning in San Francisco, amazing Christmas meals, singing and dancing. General jolliness.

Ah but no...I left those photos at home today.

So, I pledge to be a better blogger in the 2009. To bring my A Game to every post. To let life's trivialities flavor my ramblings.

But for now, I wish everyone an early Happy New Year. The next few posts will (hopefully) zip across the Atlantic with a distinctive British we celebrate the new year in London with our dear friends Chris and Sherie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas...

I have a bunch of things to wrap up the season with...but those will have to wait :) Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Its 6:17...

The office is a ghost town.

I just walked past an employee standing over a trashcan in a vacant hallway peeling an apple with a pocket knife.

If this is my last transmission...look for evidence in a pie. Or a nice warm strudel.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Visiting with Dobie #1...

Virginia Dobie is pictured here sending a long distance shout out to Dobie #2 in California. Oh yes...hi to Ginger and James as well.

Oh and James...I won. :)

Plenty of time for a cow story...

So, for the past few days, I've been amusing myself (and my friend Chris) with the silly tale of a little girl and her pet cow. I've re-told the story a few times now...and I'm pretty sure its just funny to me...but I must document the moment.

(Side note: you can thank the good folks at United for having time to kill. Have you ever hesitantly checked the in-flight magazine to see what hit-or-miss movie you might have ahead of you, only to find a movie you have never heard of...but thought that at least it wasn't ANOTHER movie that you KNEW you wouldn't like? Well...I did. So, on comes the movie...after a miserable SNL skit...and sure enough its the crap-fest movie I didn't want to see. Sooooooo depressing 20min into a cross-country flight.)

So on with the cow tale.

I think the story is shorter than my movie rant. Sigh.

Anyhow, this weekend, Jeff, Chris, and I were flipping channels and happened upon a reality show on TLC about children and beauty pageants. Trust me...this entire show is a train wreck about these poor kids in horrid outfits with Tammy Faye makeup. Just sad.

Anyhow, the most memorable of this tragic bunch was a little girl from some southern town that I can't recall. When asked why she wanted to win the $1000 prize, this sweet child charming southern drawl...that she wanted to buy a cow.
What good fortune for us viewers. The little girl won. And sure enough, the first words to her mother were to ask if she really could buy the cow.

On a happy note...I am sure that someday, this girl will be able to sue her mom for her therapy bills when she learns that her cute idiosyncrasies filmed for the world to blog about.

Hey...I grew up with chickens...but I didn't talk about it on camera while smeared with candy-red lipstick. Now THAT would require therapy :)

(Oh. The movie is still running. And it still sucks!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I spent a quick, festive evening in Seattle this week. Following a yummy team dinner at cozy Brasa in Belltown, some of my Seattle-based team set out on a party bus--complete with oversized, blue-neon speakers--in search of holiday decorations. The singing and dancing was notable, but one particular song stood out in my mind...the bouncy Texas Chainsaw Christmas tune...from the zany minds that brought us Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. It was a bit surreal to be driving through a quiet neighborhood festooned with lights, while we learned about Chucky's first chainsaw.

Oh ya go, hotel window fans :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hey 'big dog'...

A friendly shout-out to the oblivious ass two rows up who reviewed his 'big day' in great detail on his bluetooth headset for the entire plane to hear...I don't know who your buddy 'big dog' is, but I'm sure he doesn't care how you are wintering your boats any more than I do!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A THIS economy...

My Fort Mason Photography friends and I held our annual holiday photo show this weekend. (Say 'hi' to Charlotte, Susan, and Beverly above.) The 10 of us had a full room on Friday night for our opening, but some sloooooooow patches on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We had several sales...but many more lookers this year. That didn't stop us from setting up a fine looking show, and sipping some festive wine together :)

Photos from 18...

All good things must come to an end...ending here on the 3rd of June. On this cold, gray day in December, its nice to have some sunny images Italy. This LONG series of photos has been a real treat to stretch out over six months of editing. Thanks for coming along for the ride :)

A too-early wake up call got the ball rolling this morning. Shower. Breakfast. Time to fly home. The military and its marching band was reassembling on the closed road in front of the is a national holiday...La Festa della Repubblica. easy 30min drive to the airport...FCO...Leonardo da Vinci International.

Quick check in through Lufthansa. Confirmed our upgrade from Frankfurt to SFO...both of us.

Time to kill.

Left Rome in the light rain. A couple of hour later, descended through scattered puffy clouds into one measure a very predictable, efficient airport...marred by inexplicable irritants.

Boarded our on-time 747 bound for San Francisco. Champagne for Jeff and red wine for me. I do love business class.

Followed a familiar route over Iceland and Greenland and down over Canada. The US leg involved wonderful views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Shasta. The San Francisco Bay was beautifully lit...a welcome sight.

Photos from 17... the home stretch with Italy photos!! Here is our last full day in Rome, with some fun long walks past some famous (and overcrowded) sites. I'm going to miss these :) Enjoy.

Awoke to another sunny day in Rome...forecast to be the warmest of our visit. Another filling breakfast...yesterday's held us over till dinner...Italy has enough of our money. Filled our water bottle...Rome has countless, free-flowing water fountains all over the city for cool, fresh refills.

Headed a short distance to the three-building Musei Capitolini high atop Capitol Hill...the seat of ancient Roman temples and even pre-historic settlements back to the Iron Age. The museum has an amazing sculpture collection. We finished our visit in the open-air section of the museum that overlooks the Forum. This section is the Roman temple of Jupiter.

Another long afternoon walk, starting with a daytime stop at the, easy entrance into this impressive architectural wonder...originally a Roman a church. Next stop, the controversial modern building on the Tiber constructed to showcase (and protect) the ancient Altar of Peace...a huge, gleaming-white marble "box"...carved with intricate figures. We viewed the Altar from the outside for free :)

Across the street, the simple church of San Rome, even the small churches are gems. Hit a couple of tourist meccas on our walk back to the hotel: viewed the famed Spanish Steps from afar...across the heads of a gazillion people. Popped by the Trevi Fountain...a brilliant fountain, buried under the weight of popularity.

Took a long winding path back to the hotel...past the gleaming monument to Italian unification; past the Forum; past the Colloseum; past the Circus Maximus. Dinner one last time in the Travestere...pizzas and wine from a recommended spot. The Travestere was full of town for the three-day holiday weekend. Had one last wonderful gelato. Saw our angry mime again.

Fell asleep tired, but knowing we had wrung every last drop from the Eternal City.

Photos from 16...

Wow...this was one of the amazing days criss-crossing Rome. So many color people...literally in some cases. FUN! Just a couple more days to go, and then all done with Italy. :( (Here is the original journal entry...from the FIRST DAY OF JUNE!!) The late night shots of the Pantheon are REALLY great.

Jeff tells me that at 4am, a full military marching band passed by our hotel...I heard nothing. Had our first hearty breakfast of the trip...including fluffy scrambled eggs, bacon (the way I like it) and due cappuccini.

Started the day with the second half of our Palantino ticket with a visit to the always-impressive Colosseo. New sections were open on this visit, providing some up-close vantage points to peer into the ancient flooring and imagine what it was like in the bowels of such a structure.

Began a long afternoon walk in the direction of Castel Sant' Angelo. Ducked into two cool churches along the in decor, but more importantly, cool in temperature. Maria en Campitelli was a dark, quiet church with few visitors, while Agnese di Agone was bright and opulent and teeming with admirers. Outside, on the Piazza Navone, Jeff spotted a landmark from a book he is reading: Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. (Thanks to Matt for the recommendation...Jeff is pointing out "clues" all over Rome.)

Our primary destination for the afternoon--the Castel Sant' Angelo--is another book landmark. The Medeival Castel was construted on top of an ancient Roman mausoleum constructed by Emperor Hadrian. Later, the Castel housed Papal apartments, and a secret passage to the Vatican ('Il Paseo') for the Pope to escape invading armies. For modern visitors, the result is a 3-D inter-mixing of eras. From the parapets, got a colorful glimpse of the myriad of street vendors below: sandals, handbags, glasses, scarves, grass reeds twisted into origami grasshoppers...tripods?

A short walk to the Vatican, where visitors lined up for evening service in Piazza San Pietro. Watched the curious scene for an hour...expecting something to happen...I'm sure it did eventually...probably even included the Pope. Nevertheless, hunger overcame us and we walked along the Tiber back to the Travestere for dinner. A very popular spot...Carlos Menta...with good food at very reasonable prices. They are the one place that seemed to have embraced the American economic model that with high volume, you can have low prices.

Returned to the hotel for drinks (mojitos) and dessert (a creative, rich tiramisu) at the hotel rooftop bar, Circus.

Nestled into a very cozy bed.