Friday, July 18, 2008 – Eureka, California

After getting up bright and early and snagging some breakfast at the hotel, we headed up to Eureka.  On the way, we took the Avenue of the Giants, a road through magnificent coastal redwoods.  We stopped to walk into the forest a little and take some pictures.  John looks very tiny!

Tiny Zayde

Later, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center where there was a tree that had fallen down.  The rings were marked with various historical dates.  The tree had been born in 1187 so it had been alive through a lot of history. 

Tree rings

 Inside the visitor center, there was an exhibit about a man, Charles Kellogg, who had been instrumental in saving the redwoods.  He even built a truck out of a redwood and drove around promoting his cause.  The odd thing, though, is that this man could vocalize bird songs and is the only known man to extinguish a flame with his voice.  Until, that is, our Jon extinguished a flame on MythBusters last year!  Wow, what a coincidence.

Voice flame extinguisher

We arrived in Eureka around 4 PM also stopping in Scotia, a Pacific Lumber Company owned town.  And Ferndale which is a totally Victorian town, really cute and well preserved.  We are staying in a condo here and it’s right on the harbor.  Here’s the view out our window. 

Eureka view  

 

 

 

Thursday, July 17, 2008 – Healdsburg, California

We started our trip with a stop at Imagery Winery to pick up a wine club shipment.  We like Imagery a lot, it has many interesting varietals.  Since it was lunchtime, we sat on their patio and had lunch.  Since it was our anniversary, we had a bottle of wine.

Picnicking at Imagery Winery 

Then we headed on up to Chateau St. Jean and tasted some wine on their back patio. 

On the porch at Chateau St. Jean

Later, we had a fabulous dinner at Cyrus in Healdsburg.  We’ve been there several times before and have never been disappointed.  John had Thai marinated lobster with avocado, melon and hearts of palm, sea bass with sweet corn and spring onions, mussel and saffron sauce, pompano with cannelini beans, trotters and crayfish glaze, and rabbit ballotine with agnolotti and chanterelles with an olive oil froth.  I had the lobster as well and also the sea bass but I also had a terrine of foie gras with lychee and tamarind and toasted crumpets and a crispy poussin with potato puree, haricots verts and morels.  We started with champagne and then had the sommelier pair wine with the rest of it.  It was great!  We also had amuse bouche, a cucumber gelee, some sort of popsicle palate cleanser and bunch of tidbit desserts (which we didn’t order.)  Even though the portions are not large at all, we were really, really full by the end.

It was a pretty perfect day.  Happy Anniversary John! Toasting our 36th

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

TODAY’S CELEBRATION

Yay, it’s our anniversary!  After being married 34 years people sometimes ask us, How can you stay married that long?  John, being the sweetie that he is, answers, how could we not? 

In celebration of our big day we are going up to wine country, visiting a winery  and having dinner at Cyrus in Healdsburg.  We’ve eaten at Cyrus once before and it is wonderful.  Apparently it has been discovered because even for a Monday night it was difficult to get reservations.  Then we’ll stay over in Healdsburg and head back home tomorrow.

In other recent happenings, Jon, Ryan and Nathan came for a visit on Saturday.  It was very exciting.  Jon and John played some tennis and Ryan and I took Nathan for a swim.  Well, not quite a swim, more like dipping toes in water.  Nathan wasn’t too sure about the pool and was startled by the noisy water.  He is so sweet.  It is great to watch him learn about the world around him concentrating so hard on things as miniscule as the edge of his blanket.  He, of course, shows brilliance in doing these things along with a winning personality.  (Oh, excuse me, I must be his grandmother.)

So life is pretty happy right now.  We are heading off to Utah on Thursday to see if the house is still in good shape and not inundated with ashes from all the recent fires.

EASTER WEEKEND

THIS WEEK’S ACTIVITIES

This last week has been pretty busy for us.  We’ve eaten out a number of times and I’ll be giving you the inside scoop on some of the restaurants we’ve been to next week.  Also our good friends Eileen and Jim came up from Arizona for a week or so. 

We had a family lunch on Thursday with the kids, grandNathan and our friends.  Every time we do something like this, it makes me so glad that we decided to rent an apartment near them.  How great it is to get everyone together fairly easily!  We all took turns holding Nathan who looked totally adorable in a blue outfit with a matching jacket and shoes.  The food turned out well and the company better.

This weekend we are in Healdsburg.  Eileen and Jim’s daughter Alison had an art show at the Flying Goat just off the town square.  So many people came!  She is  a graphic artist and scientific illustrator. (www.lefthandlight.com)  She worked for a while at Scientific American.  During that time, we, along with her parents and friends, turned the magazine sideways and read the credits next to the staples first.  She had some fine works and we were disappointed when the one we wanted had already been sold. 

Tomorrow it’s back to the Bay Area.  We need to do our shopping for our Passover seder which we are having on Tuesday.  Yeah, I know, we should have done it last week.  But just like when celebrating birthdays, Christmas or even Thanksgving, the most important thing is for the family to be together.  To me that’s what a celebration is all about.

For everyone celebrating Easter today, Happy Easter!

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

CELEBRATION – JARDINIERE, SAN FRANCISCO

 Because we are bad parents, we were not around when it was Sarah’s birthday at the end of last month.  In an effort to atone, we took her out to dinner last night at Jardiniere in San Francisco. 

Jardiniere, San Francisco

The Jardiniere is an upscale restaurant located near Davies Symphony Hall.  Downstairs is some seating and a circular bar.  The balcony seating overlooks the bar area.  It is nicely furnished and has an intimate feel.

Here are the selections we chose last night:

Sarah had duck confit on top of a salad of marinated le puy lentils and heirloom oranges as a first course. This was followed by a loin of cervena venison with black trumpet mushrooms and a sauce au poivre with glazed baby spring vegetables, smoked bacon and creamed nettles.  I can only tell you that Sarah was way too stuffed for dessert.  She made me promise not to review her meal since she is doing a review at Braisin’ Hussy (entry date 4/10/06.)

John started with the braised Colorado lamb and shelling bean soup with Swiss chard and basil.  He said it was very good with the lamb not dried out at all.  He followed this dish with red wine braised beef shortribs with horseradish potato purée and herb salad.  I had this main course as well.  The shortribs were cooked perfectly.  They were moist and  meltingly delicious.  I thought the portion was way, way too big but John managed to finish his and mine too.  Our biggest complaint was that the potato puree melted into the sauce.  The potatoes were just too thin to stand up to the red wine sauce.  They acted more as a sauce thickener.  I was really looking forward to the horseradish mashed potato portion of this dish and I think the whole thing could have been improved by having rustic mashed potatoes instead of puree, more of the potatoes and lessof the shortribs.

My first course was Maine diver scallops with sautéed mushrooms,smoked bacon, Italian parsley and toasted almonds.  You know if you’ve read any of my reviews that getting the scallops right is a big thing we me.  No overcooking!  These were cooked perfectly.  Yum!  But the rest of the dish was really salty.  I like things well seasoned so I would imagine that this amount of salt would be way over the top for most people.

Rating - 

Sarah – B+

Mary –  B+  

John – A-

 

MOTHERHOOD

WEDNESDAY’S CELEBRATION CONTINUED

Early Wednesday morning, Ryan gave birth to Nathan. It was a long and difficult labor that ended with a C-section. Both she and the baby are doing fine. You can tell how much she and Jon love their new baby. John and I have had a chance to hold and rock him and marvel over the perfect little person he is.

It’s made me think a lot about when I had our kids. Last night we got out the old pictures and oohed and aahed over how cute they were. But what a lot of work it is bringing them into the world! I’ve talked to many of my friends about their experiences having their first child and, wow, it is amazing that the world is populated. And that people have more than one child. It’s a good thing there is no compendium of first labor and delivery experiences as required reading for people contemplating the leap into parenthood. Most women will only go so far as telling an expectant mom that it is really hard work having your first baby. The classes you take warn you against “discomfort.” But until you do it, even if everyone told you the unvarnished truth, you wouldn’t believe it.

But I saw it in Ryan’s eyes yesterday as she held Nathan and I remember it well myself, the boundless love you feel for this little baby who has just emerged from you. Is all the pain and mess worth it? Look around. Look at all the people out here in the world. It definitely is.

BABY!

TODAY’S CELEBRATION

With much happiness we welcome Nathan Clark into our family. Mom and Dad are really tired from a long labor but they are doing well. John and I have seen, held and rocked our new grandson. He is awesome. I’ll write some more tomorrow since it is late.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

TODAY’S CELEBRATION!

A new year. A new chance. A new chance in this new year to be and act and create what you want to be. If ever there were a time to wipe the slate clean this is it. To wipe the slate clean and break the old one into little pieces. To take those little pieces and make something new out of them. This is the day for doing it.

Although it was not the thought at the time, John and I jumped into the pool tonight (well, maybe sidled into the pool because it was really cold) for a dip; maybe an unconscious act of washing away the old year, the old ideas, the old prejudices, the old us.

As I look back and review what I’ve written over this past year I see lots of personal happiness but also lots of difficulty with the way the world seems to be going. I am hoping that in 2006 there will continue to be personal happiness but also a more positive path for America and the rest of the world. I encountered a lot of hostility from people who were so angry and so outraged over what they saw as injustice. I wish them peace in this new year.

A new generation of our family starts this year. Little Bruno (project name) should make his appearance in late February. We look forward to his coming with open arms. It is hard to imagine a new little being who could win our hearts like Jon and Sarah have but I’m told that a grandchild is beyond special. On the other hand, John and I are becoming the dinosaurs of our family. I don’t think we ever thought that we would eclipse the role that our own grandparents played. Kind of scary.

So love and hugs to all. Here’s to another happy, loving, thoughtful, purposeful year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY BLOGVERSARY!

CELEBRATIONS

I love the holidays! I like the decorating. And the food. So far we have had only two cooking disasters. Both involved frying food for Hanukkah. Yes, Hanukkah. We are equal opportunity celebrators in our house. Why celebrate only one holiday when you can have two, or three if you count New Year’s?

On to the disasters. I got John a deep fryer as a Hanukkah gift (yes, I know it doesn’t start until Christmas night but I didn’t want it to get upstaged and we’ve always been a little lax about the proper day to celebrate things.) We planned on making fried calamari which is totally not kosher having no fins and scales but pretty yummy and carciofi alla Judea. Well, the artichokes came out oily on the inside and too crispy on the outside. I ended up marinating the rest that we had bought. The calamari was cooked perfectly but tasted terrible. Forget the calamari. If we need a calamari fix we can always go up to Mustard’s. So , yay, Mary, great gift (being sarcastic.) When Jonathan comes over tonight along with Ryan her mom, dad and sister, he will make latkes. Hopefully, this will turn out better.

Tonight is the big Christmas Eve do here. And by big I mean eight people, a record family gathering for us. We have an all hors d’oeuvres dinner. This is an old tradition in my house. Since my parents were all about cocktail hour and nibbles, we always did this for Christmas Eve. My sister, Phyllis, does it too. Except she’s having 50 people. In addition to the latkes, we’ll be having shrimp, croque monsieurs, pigs in blankets, crudites and dip, Sarah’s spicy bean dip with tortilla chips and potstickers, a real international smorgasbord. Also mulled apple cider, wine, beer and soft drinks. The tree will be decorated and we will sing holiday songs. A good time should be had by all.

Tomorrow is my blogversary. One year since Ryan gave me my blog for Christmas. During this past year I have really enjoyed writing my thoughts and I’ve really enjoyed hearing what other peoples’ thoughts are. I know I’ve pissed some people off and amused others. I’ve connected with old friends and hopefully made some new ones. Thank you for coming here and reading this stuff. It’s been a really good mental health exercise for me. A special thank you to Ryan who gave me this page and takes care of it for me.

At the expense of annoying some more people, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!