Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Season 2010

Well, Christmas is over! I'm just back from my day-after shopping and am actually considering putting away my gift wrap and writing some thank you notes.

It's been a lovely December of celebrating and I still have a few more celebrations this week, but, I thought I'd take the time to send my good wishes for happy celebrations with family and friends and good cheer as we approach the end of 2010.

This year's Holiday Season started in early December with the first night of Chanukah on December 1. Here's my menorah, brightly lit on the last (8th) night of the Festival of Lights, as Chanukah is called. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, Chanukah occurs at a different time on our Julian (or Gregorian) calendar each year. In 2011, it starts on December 20 (mark your calendars!).

Union Square in San Francisco is always beautiful in December.

Here's the skating rink and the Christmas tree and Chanukah menorah.

Neiman Marcus's enormous Christmas tree rises up under its historic dome. The glass dome, depicting a sailing ship, was saved and restored from the City of Paris store that occupied this site until 1981.

The day I was shopping at Neiman Marcus, I treated myself to their famous Pecan Tuna Salad, in a sandwich, at their informal café, the Fresh Market Café.

And, the Garden Court restaurant at the Palace Hotel was particularly festive, with two enormous Nutcrackers guarding the entrance.

Macy's on Union Square always dedicates several of its windows to SPCA pet adoptions during the Holiday season. There will be pets for adoption from Macy's windows through January 2; it's not too late to give a pet a home.

Because we celebrate all holidays that involve food and gifts, we were up early Christmas morning (it was still dark outside) opening gifts while we ate breakfast in the living room.

Louie was on high alert for food both dropped or snatched. He managed to steal part of my cinnamon roll and dunk an ear in my oatmeal!

My most fun gift from Jim was this switch plate which was quickly installed in our kitchen by the door that leads out to my garden. I've been studying Horticulture at our local community college and Jim googled "horticulture gifts" and came up with this very amusing (and practical) gift.

In the afternoon, friends Barbara, Mary Ann, and Michael joined us for Christmas dinner.

Louie's friend Elle, the daschund was here too.

This year, my menu was a Rack of Pork,

Green Beans with Shallots and a Mustard Cream Sauce and a mixture of Roasted Turnips, Cauliflower, and Potatoes (white veggies for a white Christmas).

Barbara and Michael kept us in wine: Prosecco with hors d'ouevres and both red and white with dinner.

Mary Ann brought a beautiful and delicious Bûche de Noël.

Of course, the wonderful meal would not have been such a success without the assistance of my "sous-chefs."

We had table gifts for everyone too. Louie gave everyone a tiny snow globe with a black poodle in it. Jim's table gift, presented with dessert, was socks for left and right feet (one each) because, as the package says, "We don't have two left feet." Notice that Mary Ann decided to "steal" the gift that Louie gave to Elle, a dog toy sock puppet, and wear it in her scarf. She did give it up before Elle went home.

Thank you all for visiting my blog through the many years that I've been writing it. I enjoy hearing from you and wish you all the best in 2011!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friends remember Ted

Yesterday, December 3, was the two-year anniversary of Ted's murder. Finally, this fall, the murderer was sentenced to spending pretty much the rest of his life in jail. We, his friends, are relieved that this man will never be walking the streets for over 30 years.

All very tragic, but, Ted's death has nurtured the friendship between Ray, Mary Ann, Liz, Jim, and me. We all have connections to Ted and we celebrate this.

Last night, we had our second remembrance dinner together at our house.

Since it was the third night of Chanukah, we recruited Jim to light the candles and tell the story of Chanukah.

Ray and Mary Ann recorded Jim's presentation on their iPhones!!!

While I did serve an entire meal...starting with Sushi and Duck Mousse, going on to Zinfandel Spaghetti with Broccolini and a seasonal salad, I neglected to take pictures until dessert. So here is a picture of one of our desserts: A super-large Chocolate Cupcake with Peppermint Bark on the came from Trader Joe's and can serve 12...very decadent and very very delicious. We also enjoyed Raspberry Herbal Tea with a special cheese, made with the same Raspberry tea, from a dairy farm in New York State.

And, despite eating and drinking quite a bit, Liz and Ray could not resist doing a cookie sampling of Louie's vegetarian dog cookies!!

We will never forget you Ted and how you enriched our lives. And, you would have enjoyed this evening.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It's been raining all day today...not all the grapes have yet been harvested in the Napa Valley so this is not a good thing for grapes but it is nice for those of us who have done some fall planting.

But, today, from Noon until 6 p.m., it is Dog Fest at Sports Basement in Walnut Creek.

Until 4 p.m. there are adoptions, vendors, dog photographs, a best Halloween costume contest, an agility course, and even a substantial discount on purchases. At 4 p.m., they will be screening Sniff, the Dog Movie, with a discussion with the producer afterwards.

By the way, Sports Basement is our favorite place for gear for all sports as well as for casual clothing. A Bay Area local chain of just 4 stores, Sports Basement offers discounted prices on first quality items...everything from running shoes to yoga gear, to bicycles, to snowboarding equipment, to energy bars and supplements, and on and on. And, they are good neighbors to their community, helping out at local sporting events, hosting in store parties for just about any local group, offering free classes in everything from CPR to yoga to running.

So, we packed Louie up, with his Halloween Jester Collar on, for a photo and some fun.

Fun he fact, a bit too much fun as he was the first to pee on the floor, although others followed suit, so I guess that just does with the territory. The Sports Basement staff was very gracious throughout.

Local vet techs, who also moonlight by pet sitting, took photos of the dogs. The first 50 dogs got free photos...very nice.

Here are a few more pictures of dogs in costume, enjoying the party.

This ladybug was very well behaved and very popular.

Fairy Princess held court wherever she could.

And, this guy really does go out backpacking with his owner and this is his real gear.

This young lady was a vision in pink while her mom shopped.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Jimmy Buffett came through town this past weekend for his annual show in the Bay Area. This year's tour is called "Under The Big Top"

As always Jimmy was in great form, even though it was drizzling through part of the show (not on Jimmy though, but certainly on us) and it was cold enough out that Jimmy was wearing jeans rather than his usual shorts...the man is no fool at 62, almost 63!

And, the Giants won on Saturday night, too...right before the concert started. In fact, Jimmy came out on stage in a Giants Jacket to tell us the good news.

So for three glorious hours, we enjoyed an ever-entertaining show, with little time in our seats...After all, you have to be up dancing with everyone else.

This year, Ruth and I had new additions to our usual getups of hula skirts, Margaritaville tee shirts, and a variety of jewelry: We had new Parrothead hats!

Chris and Rob, who went with us this year, dressed a bit more conservatively, but did not seem too embarrassed to be with us.

While there were other Parrot and Shark heads in the crowd, we only saw two others with hats like ours...oh, and it kept our heads warm too!

Here's a closer look at the amazing Parrot Head!

Looking forward to next time, Jimmy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Swim A Mile 2010: I did it for the 13th Time!

Last Saturday, I swam a mile at Mills College in Oakland for the Women's Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) in Oakland California's annual Swim A Mile for Women with Cancer.

This was my 13th time to do the swim and it marked 13 years since my own Cancer diagnosis.

So far, I've raised nearly $2900 for the WCRC, thanks to the very generous donations to sponsor me by friends and family.

WCRC provides resources and support to women in the Bay Area, and to their friends and families. A diagnosis of Cancer leads to a confusing maze of doctors, health insurance, employment issues, and general chaos to even the most savvy of people. WCRC helps women through this maze and charges NOTHING for its services. The Swim A Mile is its major fund raiser: Two days of swimming at the beautiful MIlls College Pool.

Here are some of my photos from my Saturday swim which I did with Harriet.

This year I swam in Honor of nearly 40 people and in Memory of nearly 20. There is a wall at the pool on which to post the names for whom we swim. These are my names and Harriet's. I've posted closer pictures of those I swam for at the end of this blog post.

This is another wall posting by a more artistic swimmer, with possibly more people for whom she was swimming.

Here's Harriet before her swim, standing by the wall.

My good friend and swim buddy, Pat, had already finished her swim when I was just getting in; this is her 10th swim.

Judy came along to cheer Pat on and to be her official photographer.

This was Harriet's 5th Swim and, as expected, she had a glorious finish.

Each swimmer has her own lane counter. This lovely lady counted for both Harriet and me because we swam in the same lane.

Signs are posted around the pool that tell the stories of people whom WCRC has helped and supported.

As always, there is a continuous assortment of wonderful food to keep all swimmers, their fans, and the many WCRC volunteers and staff well nourished.

One of the many booths at the Swim A Mile was a hand craft booth where people were fabricating Happy Cells...a fun way to wage war on Cancer cells.

For as long as I can remember, Ali has been the one to organize the entire Swim A Mile. This year was no exception. She was here, there, and everywhere for both days of the event.

An Honor Roll of repeat Swim A Mile swimmer lists the names and the number of years they've swum.

These are the people in whose memory I swam:

These are the people in whose honor I swam: