Thursday, February 28, 2008


What a non-blog week. No travel. Perfectly beautiful weather. Just downright normal! Hurrah!

So, I ventured out into the lovely evening to see what's going on in the garden. I was happy to discover our spring flowers starting to burst from their slumber.

Time to freshen my supply of allergy medicine :)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A close shave...

We were finally able to get a tree pruner to come by and remove the damaged portion of our front street-side tree. (You might recall that a major limb was damaged in a strong winter storm almost two months ago.) We also had much of the high growth trimmed to avoid bringing down the overhead electrical lines.

Our urgency was further upped by the approach of another strong storm set to arrive today. Fortunately, the rain and wind held off until after morning, and the folks from Perfect Tree were able to do their surgery.

Just in the nick of time, too. Not 20 minutes after they left, the rain began. This morning, we awoke to powerful winds...gusts of 50mph at I'm relieved that we got that done.

Now we just need the spring leaves to come in and make this tree look normal again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Talk about a niche market...

Jeff receives a lot of trial specialty publications in the mail, because he subscribes to a number of architecture and design magazines. But this one takes the far, at least.

I would have guessed a circulation of about 14 people...but apparently this goes out to an estimated circulation of 28,000.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've just seen a face...

Jeff and I were clearing away some old vines in our garden. These vines pre-dated our ownership, and had grown unruly...flower-tipped tentacles that had begun to invade and tug overhanging tree limbs. Beneath the clutter, we discovered a serene face...happy once again to feel the warmth of the sun. I wonder what her story is.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Could be worse...

My flight home from Dulles to SFO is already delayed an hour due to rain in San Francisco...but at least I'm not on the nearby flight to Boston: "We've lost our pilot. He is somewhere in the terminal. But we will find him, and then we can begin boarding. Sorry for the delay."

They need one of those leashes parents use for wandering children :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What you've all been waiting for...

I assume folks have been waiting with baited breath for a new photo in my Hotel Window series. This time, live from the Crowne Plaza in McLean, first visit to this hotel.

Being a "Crowne" with an "e" on the end, they provided a lavendar pillow mist to help me fall asleep. (Oddly, it was a lavendar pillow mist with absolutely no scent.)

Oooooooo! There were snow flurries today...I love snow flurries...they made me smile.

And then they stopped...and it just got frickin' cold :(

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mother Nature has gas...

This was today's weather forecast as posted in the hotel elevator this morning. Oh, c' wouldn't chuckle at this? :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Don’t cry over spilt coffee...

I wasn’t all-to-thrilled to fly east today, interrupting a beautiful weekend in San Francisco and a visit by our friend Paolo. But duty called, and Jeff dropped me off at the airport bright and early.

A non-fat Peet’s latte in hand, I boarded my on-time flight, thrilled to receive my requested upgrade to business class. I even got a light chuckle at the dozen-or-so foreign tourists with blue Seating Area 4 boarding passes try and board with first class...perhaps that was where my kharma went sour.

I was all smiles, until I inadvertently set my latte on an uneven surface in the overhead bins to free up my hands. For all of five excruciating seconds, after unexpectedly tipping over sideways, my latte rained down on the helpless gentleman who was to be my seat-mate for the next five hours.

He was calm…I will give him that. And fortunately, the latte dripped mainly on the water-resistant overcoat in his lap. But still…what a mess.

I darted into the bathroom quickly to get him tons of paper towels…and he quietly dabbed up the warm liquid. I apologized 100 times over, and tried to be as attentive as possible…but really, what can you do at that point.

It was a stupid accident, and for the next five hours, I sat apologetically quiet beside this silent man…who FYI acted an awful lot like Frasier Crane’s obsessive-compulsive brother. So, my little mess was probably a doozy for him :(

Oh uncomfortable silence.

For most of the trip, we were overtop dense, ominous snow clouds. But for the first hour-or-so, we were over some beautiful western landscapes. Certainly beat the crap movies, whose titles I have already forgotten.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jeff gives us the bird...

Late yesterday afternoon, while I was in Seattle, Jeff spotted a surprise feathered visitor in the pine tree behind our house. He snapped this quick series of shots before the bird--a red tailed hawk, perhaps?--moved on to other adventrues.

Jeff believes he was searching for dinner, but Buster was a bit skinny :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Redemtion or purgatory...

Following my last visit to Seattle (new hotel photo above), I wrote a scathing to Avis about their unsafe rental selection. Well, I am happy to report that Avis responded...surprisingly...and refunded me for two rental days based on my complaint. BRAVO to Avis for listening!

Of course, today, when I arrived in Seattle, I was "upgraded" to a bohemouth of a Chevy SUV. Where was this tank when I was slip-sliding in the snow on my last trip?

Somehow, my "upgrades" never quite match the the cloth-topped convertible they upgraded me to a couple of years ago in a Christmas snowstorm!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This week, I flew to Dallas to watch a movie...

This is one of those stories that’s a bit hard to explain…but that’s also what makes it fun.

On Tuesday, I cashed in some miles and hopped a flight to Dallas. I joined up with dear old friends Kim and Jeff for a trip that was “classic Jeff”...spontaneous fun with close friends. (FYI #1: For clarification, let's specify "Seattle Jeff", lest we get totally confused as to why I would fly to Dallas to meet up with MY Jeff...although he would have enjoyed the movie as well...but probably would have deemed the flight a tad bit excessive...and the destination a tad bit RED STATE. FYI #2: Both Kim and Jeff would smack me to call them OLD.)

Anyhow...we selected Dallas, because it was a direct flight from SF, Seattle, and Richmond...and it wasn’t a place we had frequented. Dallas turned out to be the perfect spot for dinner and a movie. We stayed at the charming, historic Adolphus hotel in the reinvigorated West End.

First the movie. The Bucket List is an obvious catalyst for this type of trip. Its a heart-tugging movie about friendship and spontaneity...with a great deal of humor and fantastic adventure thrown in to tease the senses. Yes, the movie has gotten mixed reviews, but I will just say that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I highly recommend this movie if you go in with the right attitude...this is not an Oscar film...this is a feel-good, make-you-tear-up-a-bit film. It was no more or no less that what it was supposed to be...and it initiated some fantastic conversations about life, family, and happiness.

So, what were some of the notable highlights from this all-to-short trip? Here are a few nuggets:

1. Food. Hearty, Texas-sized portions of meat and potatoes. But this was a “special trip”, so I let my impulses guide me. At “Tex-Asian” Fuse, I indulged in a mouth-watering beef tenderloin, which I finished with a dessert called Tahitian Vanilla Bean French Toast (or as my bartender called it…“sex on a plate”). Dinner at the inventive Tex-Mex Iron Cactus, I was instantly drawn to the Chicken Fried Strip Steak, topped with a creamy jalapeno gravy with a pleasant kick! And for our pre-departure lunch at Razoo’s, I gave my taste buds one last treat with a spicy Cajun-spiced fried chicken the absolute best bread budding I have ever tasted. Needless to say...I’ve been trying to eat a bit less since I returned.

2. Innuendo. At the Iron Cactus, Jeff ordered a “double boned” pork chop, and that set off childish snickers that would punctuate the entire 24-hour trip. A few notable phrases taken completely out of context: “We're going to ride it all night.”, “You're all expecting big action.”, “You want your chock full of nuts stuffed there?”, “We have two pairs of underwear between the three of us.”, “I was functioning with a goofy ball just fine.”, “Not all history has to be touched.” We also spotted three signs that begged to be recorded: “No In and Out Privileges”, “Condoms To Go”, and “Bone Daddy’s”.

3. A dose of history. As we were driving out of downtown Dallas, we stopped at the site of JFK’s assassination. We skipped the outrageously priced museum (in the old Book Depository), and wandered around Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was shot, including the “grassy knoll”, where a conspiracy theorist approached us and offered to give us the “real story”. Oddly, nearly every tourist darted into the middle of the street to be photographed on one of two painted X’s, marking the locations where Kennedy was hit. An odd historical landmark to be sure.

4. DART farts. We rode Dallas’ DART light rail several stops to and from the movie theatre. In each direction, we distinctly picked up the aroma of farts (or some other nasty smell) from a few of the derelict riders. NASTY.

So, a big ol' THANK YOU to Jeff for concocting this delightful diversion, and for pushing me to overcome my natural inertia to make it happen.

But I would be remiss if I didn't leave you with a sarchastic photo that Jeff snapped at dinner. In honor of his (friendly) mocking of my habit of photographing food for my blog, I've entitled this shot "SMARTASS". :)

The votes are in...

Oh sure, the Presidential primaries on last week's Super Tuesday captured the majority of the headlines last week (ok...ALL of the headlines last week), but the real news was that San Francisco voters wisely rejected the absurd Proposition C, which would have asked the City government to explore aquiring Alcatraz from the Federal government to turn the island into a Global Peace Center.

Of course, the fascinating part of this story is that only 72 percent of voters voted NO...meaning that 28 percent voted YES. (What a bummer for the #2 Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, who could only muster 22 wonder he dropped out!)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ply me with liquor...

In spite of declining service perks and increasing travel hassles, United made me happy today. A cheerful flight attendant ventured out of first class and tracked me down in the back of the plane to offer me free wine.

Yes...I can be bought :)

Empty nest...

For the past week, Jeff and I have been hosting my folks…and we have certainly filled our days and nights with interesting excursions...and quiet evenings in front of the fire. Yesterday, we waved sadly as Mom and Dad passed through the security checkpoint at SFO, knowing that our home would be quiet that evening.

Mother Nature certainly did not cooperate with their visit, but we adapted quite well. We had planned on a weekend driving trip north or south along the coast…or even east to the mountains…but steady rain storms kept us close to home. No problem there…we adapted well...and created a fantastic list of local activities.

On Saturday, we started off with a Saturday tradition…the Ferry Building Farmers Market, including fresh bread from Acme, cheese from the folks at Cowgirl Creamery, and an unexpected citrus tasting event.

We drove from the historic Ferry Building to San Francisco’s oldest building...the Mission Delores. We toured the sparse Mission, its attached Basilica, and the drizzle-enhanced graveyard.

Next, we took our folks to the always-impressive observation tower at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. No visit to the de Young would be complete without a scrumptious burger at the museum café.

The historic Conservatory of Flowers was a repeat favorite for all of us, but with new exhibits.

On Sunday, we took advantage of an early break in the rain to view the City from Twin Peaks. Returning showers ushered us back into our car and sent us north into Sonoma.

We toured two close-by wineries (Viansa and Jacuzzi), bordered by rain-soaked fields. Wine tasting and hearty Italian foods helped us forget the morning rains.

In the afternoon, we drove home for a fantastic make-shift Super Bowl party. My dad made his wonderful fried chicken, and we drank wine. My personal favorite Super Bowl commercials? The two from e-trade with the baby web-cam...I’ve watched them multiple times since, and they still crack me up...something about a sarcastic, talking baby :)

FYI, Buster misses my parents too...he is still not sure where the extra warm laps have disappeared to.