Monday, March 31, 2014

Marching On

Saying goodbye to the 3rd month of quickly it flew by! Here are a few snapshots of my March...
Gandhi Statue at the Ferry Building.

Taxi and bike turning onto Market Street.

My brother-in-law works here.

Sunset on March 15th. Too cold for me to dip my toes in. Jimmy's braver than me.

Same day as above, only about an hour before. The fog lifted just in time for sunset.

A different day, the setting sun glowing on Alcatraz.

That apartment building fire was the opposite side of the ballpark from us but we could see the black smoke from our living room window. We drove by the devastation one Saturday afternoon.

Today, the last day of the month. Cold, windy, stormy. Raining sideways, umbrellas barely made a difference.

Paula Cole was in Berkeley on the 27th and we saw her at an awesome venue called Freight and Salvage. We had front row seats. No photos allowed during the performance, but I got one of her afterwards signing cd's.

Practicing barre chords. They are hard but I love them for some reason. I think because they are challenging. Although every part of learning the guitar is challenging. And rewarding. And that half gold dinosaur makes me laugh. Who would buy that??

Yes guitar is taking up most of my creative energy right now. But I still managed to do a decent bit of paper crafting too.

Our drive to the hideaway was gorgeous last weekend. A beautiful sunny spring day where our normally golden brown hills were fresh green.

California poppies.

A new friend...shy at first...

but as curious about us as we were about her.

Then just a day and a half later, we had just a little bit of snow on the ground.

"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."
- Author Unknown

Sunday, March 30, 2014


This morning we woke up to the 1st snowfall we've seen in over a year. Not much, only about an inch if that. Our elevation is about 4500 feet, but the higher peaks could have gotten a foot of fresh snow. Much needed for our very dry California.

Friday, March 21, 2014


So obviously I didn't keep up with posting more frequently in March. You may or may not know this (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before though) I tend to get very focused on something and everything else falls to the wayside. This time it's the guitar that's been occupying my every waking thought. Which is great, I love doing anything creative. But It's so hard. I think I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself though. I'm wondering why everything still sounds so cruddy, it's frustrating sometimes...but then I have to remember I've only taken 8 lessons. Oh, and watched hours and hours of youtube video lessons.

But I've definitely had time for other miscellaneous fun things. In fact today I went to my favorite art exhibit of the year...Bouquets to Art. I went with one of my crafting friends who hadn't gone before. I'm not sure what she expected, but I think she really enjoyed it. How could anyone not? It is super crowded though, which is always a challenge, but thankfully I carry quite a decent bit of patience in my back pocket. It's challenging waiting till no one is in your image.

Friday, March 07, 2014

"A Short Trip"

In Mid-January I received this email from a friend:

"I have a crazy question for you. What are you doing the week of February 10th? Kids are going to overnight science camp that week and husband is going to be a chaperone. So I want to do something fun! Are you around to go on a short trip?"

In my head, I assumed a spa day in Sonoma or at the farthest, a 3 day roadtrip to San Diego.

But little did I know, within 3 weeks after our initial conversation, I would find myself on a 5-day Caribbean Cruise.

We left San Francisco on a rainy Friday afternoon and arrived just before midnight in very humid Fort Lauderdale.

The next morning at the hotel during breakfast, we sat next to a couple who were about to go on their 56th cruise. 56! As we met people on our trip, most of them had over 15 or 20 cruises under their belts. KC (my girlfriend and travel partner) had done 6 or 7. Even though I thought I had a lot of cruising experience with 4, I was still very much a novice with this crowd.

We left Fort Lauderdale around 4pm.

There were a lot of celebrations on the pool deck as we set sail. We enjoyed the festivities despite the wind...

Lots of wind. :)

The skies looked a little bit ominous, but we had smooth seas the whole time.

And the amazing clouds gave us this beautiful view of the sun starting to set behind Miami.

We had 2 days at sea. For the most part, we spent the days lounging by the indoor pool. Neither of us are sun worshipers, so we were very happy that the ship had a smaller pool that was shaded and somewhat air-conditioned. It had a huge sunroof so it was sunny over the pool, but all the lounge chairs were in the shade.

But when we weren't lounging or in the pool, we were eating. Yes, everything you've heard about cruising and food is correct.

This was the Grand Buffet on our last day at sea.

Complete with ice sculptures and every kind of food or sweet you can imagine.

And of course we had to have a proper English High Tea.

With finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, more sweets and as much English Grey you could drink.

We met the captain, who was from Greece and had the best sense of humor!

The Grand Lobby. But since we spent most of our time poolside, or eating (!), we didn't spend much time here, though it was very pretty.

We did watch the nightly theater performance, all of which were extremely entertaining, including a comedian, a cirque-de-soliel style contortionist, a magician, a juggling act, and top rate musical and dance performances.

Our last night at sea, we watched an incredible lightning storm. It rained a lot, but surprisingly, the ship didn't sway much at all. Although I'm fortunate that I don't usually get motion sick. It wasn't until I got home on solid ground that I felt a bit of vertigo. Unfortunately, a month later, I'm still feeling woozy and dizzy. I've heard it's not uncommon and can last for months after disembarkment.

So that was our life on the ship. We went to Key West and Cozumel, so I'll share photos from those excursions soon.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Throwback Thursday - My 1st Cruise

Last month I went on my 4th cruise. I'm planning on sharing photos of that trip soon. But in the meantime, I thought I'd jump on the "Throwback Thursday" theme and share some pics of the first cruise I went on.

It was the summer of 1983, between my freshman and sophomore years. My mom and I went with my best friend and her mom. We were inseparable from 3rd grade till graduation. After high school our paths went in different directions, but we still keep in touch by texting each other ever few months just to say hello. Her mom and my mom had become close friends as well, so it was a good mother-daughter and friends trip.

It was a 3 day trip, leaving from Los Angeles, stopping in San Diego, Ensenada then back to Los Angeles. I think it was a pretty good starter cruise vacation, especially for a 15 year old from the desert.

Our cabin had a small little porthole. The room was tiny and I'll admit that I would never travel in such a small room nowadays. I didn't know any better and was thrilled that our room had a little window that looked outside. At least we didn't have an inside berth with no windows at all.

I turned 15 on this cruise. Bridget got me that Berlin album. That was my favorite album for a long time. I still listen to it today.

Cruising nowadays has gotten a lot more luxurious. Of course, in the early 80s, this was pretty nice, even though this cruise line was considered as an 'economy' vacation. But all 4 of us were pretty impressed with everything. After all, there were cloth napkins on the tables. And we came from the desert and lived on a dirt road, so we were easy to impress.

The paper tiara's really classed things up. You can tell how impressed I was.

All kidding aside, it was one of my most memorable vacations of my youth.

For my own reference, I did a bit of googling about the SS Azure Seas. The ship was built in 1955 and renamed several times. From 1980-1990, she was named SS Azure Seas and was placed on three and four night cruises from Los Angeles, Ensenada and Catalina (4th day, which we didn't do). In 1991, the ship was sold and transferred to Fort Lauderdale and the Bahamas. In 2003, she retired and was turned into scrap metal. During the 80s, the official passenger capacity was less than 825. What a difference compared to the mega ships that hold over 2000 people now.