Tuesday, June 30, 2009

These Days

I've been keeping pretty busy.

I try to do a little writing everyday, and reading. Right now I'm reading this:

...which usually leads to this:
On Thursdays, Grace Cathedral has Evensong. It is a short service of songs and bible reading and prayers. We like to hear the hymns by the boys choir echoing through the cathedral. 

This is Baker Beach. Turns out Lando is scared of almost everything except the ocean. He likes to play in the waves. Chase prefers to watch.
A few weeks ago we went to the San Rafael Street Painting Festival. Thousands of people wander through the town where artists use chalk pastels to make amazing colorful murals on the black asphalt:

We are half-way through our time here in the Bay Area. I would say we have definitely kept busy! We are starting to miss certain things about Utah that we never really thought about before. I think we will be happy to go home when August comes. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


We decided to spend last weekend at Yosemite. And we chose the right weekend, because when we reached the gates to pay to get in, we were told that President Obama had set aside this weekend to be "get-into-national-parks-for-free" weekend. Thanks to Obama, we saved 20 bucks!

We stayed in Jamestown, a small town full of saloon-like facades and old west board walks, about 2.5 hours away from our house.  It was a cute little town, and very authentic in its old west-ness. Our first evening there, we walked around the endless antique shops that sell all manner of old jars and Marilyn Monroe clocks, and made our way to the gas station where Roo bought candy and Pepto Bismol from a bearded, tatooed guy named Curly.

Our hotel, The Railtown Motel, was one of the cheaper options in town. From the looks of the furniture and bedspread, my guess is that it was the first thing built after the town was settled in 1848. And the original proprietor (who looked like an old prospector) still runs the place. 
There was this massive jacuzzi in the room, but the proprietor made us promise not to use it because it was just too expensive to pay for all that water. Instead we had to play with a stuffed Little Foot dinosaur that we found waiting for us in our room--you know, for the kids to play with. It's matted fur suggested it also dated from the late 1840's...I thought it was a hilarious touch to the room.

The dogs liked sleeping on the cool tile--and I couldn't blame them for choosing that. At midnight, I was ready to join them there since I couldn't help imaging all the people who had slept in these old, old sheets. (Chase is wearing a cone around his head due to injuries sustained in a tiny dog fight with Lando...he'll be ok, though.)
I had never been to Yosemite, and I'd heard great things about it. So, naturally, I was skeptical about how great it actually was. But we rounded a corner and saw this view, and I was immediately converted. It was absolutely breathtaking!
Yosemite Falls
Half Dome and me.
The whole park was overrun with people, but we managed to score a great table in this lodge restaurant where our waiter was Romanian! (Roo served his mission in Romania. The waiter used to live in one of the cities where Roo served.)

Inspiration Point
Glacier Point
Taft Point - It's a 1 mile hike to the very edge of the world. The ledge juts out above what felt like 3000 feet of stone cliff. My heart was pounding here at the ledge.
This is where I am standing in the picture above. The tiny speck is me. I am terrified of heights, but the thrill was fantastic. It was one of the most amazing places I've ever been.
These thin fissures are cracks in the rocks that reveal the ground thousands of feet straight below.
We only spent one day there, but I exclaimed, "Oh my gosh!! This is unbelievable!" more times than I ever have in one day. The valley was a massive cathedral of smooth stone carpeted by green meadows, tall trees, and amazed onlookers. It demanded reverence.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Awkward Encounters - Part 2

I was still thinking about what I should have said to Safeway Guy when, later that day, I took the dogs to the dog park. We were on our way to the secluded corner of the park and I passed an older looking woman. I thought I'd be polite and smile at her--but my smile was ignored. She continued past me looking somewhat preoccupied, or distracted.

About five minutes went by and Lando, Chase, and I were in a far corner of the park playing fetch. I had the ball and, raising my arm to throw it, I happened to glance behind me. What caught my attention first was that there was the distracted lady about 20 yards away behind a tree. Wait--what is she doing? Why is she crouching behind that tree? Whoa--her pants are down around her ankles! I had to turn away quickly. My brain was being bombarded--it's got to work extra hard to process such a wholly...unexpected...sight. I glanced around at the other park patrons, who could have easily shared my shock had they just turned around, but they were all oblivious. So I hazard another glance at the lady, thinking I hadn't seen what I thought I'd seen, but--no--upon looking again, there she was, still crouching behind the tree, her dog sitting calmly by. And for the first time in my life, I actually thought the phrase, "Boy, I hope she is just peeing."

A few seconds later, I made the mistake of turning around a third time. She had stood up by now, but my eyes went first to the small, bulging doggy poop bag in her hand and then, as if in slow motion, up to her face where, for a quarter of a second, our eyes met. And in that quarter of a second, I knew that she knew that I knew; the only witness to her--I don't even know what to call it--malfeasance? Indiscretion? Public pooping escapade? Of course, I instantly diverted my eyes and pretended to watch the parking lot for awhile while she cleared out, trying to keep my incredulous laughter quiet. I try to keep my judgments to a minimum, but I guess she just really had to go...or something.

Needless to say, she vigilantly avoided me for the rest of our time in the park.

And I avoided the other side of that tree.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Awkward Encounters of the Worst Kind...Part 1

A while ago, I officially had the most awkward day of the year. I would like to thank the following participants, without whom I would have just had an average, comfortable, unremarkable day:

1. Safeway Guy

I first met Safeway Guy at Safeway. I believe I was examining canned soup when he walked quickly past me and smiled hard--as if he had a lot invested in that smile--and gave me a very cheery and somewhat jarring, "Hello." My initial reaction was suspicion, since his smile seemed too large and his greeting too genuine for the grocery store setting. But I decided he was probably harmless so I replied with a very sympathetic, "Hi!" and I felt good about what a friendly girl I was.

About ten minutes later I was about to choose some bananas when he was suddenly standing and talking to me:

Safeway Guy: "Hi. So, I know that this is weird because we're at, like, Safeway and stuff..."
Annie: [Uh Oh]
Safeway Guy: "...but, would you like to go..."
Annie: [Big Uh Oh]
Safeway Guy: "...get coffee with me sometime?"

I quickly scan my brain for what to do in this situation. What do they do in the movies? (This is where I derive all of my dating know-how, since in my actual life the only people who ever asked me out had to buy me a corsage and bring me home by midnight, or else they ended up marrying me.) Shoot--I have to say something!

Annie [with genuine sympathy]: I'm actually married.
Safeway Guy: Oh--
[He starts backing away quickly, the way you would imagine someone to back away from a King Cobra, but I keep talking]
Annie: Yeah--
Safeway Guy: Yeah, I--
Annie: But--
Safeway Guy: ...should've--
Annie: That's--
Safeway Guy: ...noticed...
[Awkward laughter all around]
Annie: Ok
Safeway Guy: Ok
Annie: So...I
Safeway Guy: Yeah

I puntuate our brief, monosyllabic conversation by holding up my ring finger, and I get the distinct impression that he probably feels like I'm hanging him the bird. But by now he has backed up at least ten feet as if that would remove him from the veil of awkwardness that now envelopes the produce section at Safeway.

He turns to leave and calls over his shoulder, "Have a good day." And because I feel I've done him some kind of diservice, I think about calling to him 'thank you, anyway,' but by now he's disappeared around a pillar.

Though unmatched in his ability to make me feel awkward, I still feel sorry for Safeway Guy. So, Safeway Guy, if you are out there reading this somewhere, I'd just like to say, thank you anyway.

But the awkward day did not end there...stay tuned for Part 2. It involves poop.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Turn to be the Tour Guides

We were very excited a few weeks ago to have some visitors! Besides the maintenance guy who came to fix the screen door, my parents and brother and sister-in-law came to visit and see the sights. We loved being able to show them around and have some company! Here we are eating lunch at Pier 39. (Roo appears to have had too much to drink...)

We took the ferry to Alcatraz, which turned out to be one of the most interesting places ever. I'll never watch "The Rock" again and not think of our time there. (But let's be honest, I probably won't ever watch "The Rock" again anyway...)

Here I am doing my best to look perky next to this decrepit prison cell where some lonely soul was confined for days on end with only his guilty conscience for company.

Dad and Roo in the recreation yard.

We also went to the Legion of Honor art museum. The building was as impressive as the art it contained.

Sculpture by Rodin

This picture reminded me of home for some reason...
This is what the art sees:
This is Alamo Square and one of my new favorite places. The view of the city is really fantastic.
Plus there were really cute families like this one having picnics there:
It made me glad I had my family with me. Thanks, family, for coming and letting us be your tour guides!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Golden Gate Park

Today I made my first expedition into Golden Gate Park--a massive expanse of wandering forest trails and quiet, green lawns in the middle of the city. This is the conservatory of the flowers. It was closed today, so I admired the elegant structure then continued into the park.

I came upon a grove of carefully maintained trails, trees, and flowers. Throughout were stones like this one set as pretty memorials to remind casual observers like me of someone who had died of AIDS.

I made my way through all the silent stone and rustling trees back to the flower conservatory. I had just sat down when I was surprised by the deep, rich sound of a saxophone filling up the silence. I looked behind me--the musician paced back and forth in the dark and the tunnel sang its slow, resonant song to me.