Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The best part of the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas is that it gives us a reason to get together. Otherwise, we might just go on doing the daily routine and thinking that we'll all see each other soon..and then not actually do it.  So, these are belated pictures of Thanksgiving and what's so nice for me, anyway, is that we actually get to do this again for Christmas week!
Drew, Giovanna, Dave and I went on a mid-morning hike for about 4 miles.  
Drew found a cute little mountain lion along the way!


I thought it was real.  So like Drew to do that to me.  
He actually kept walking toward it while I was begging him to get away.  You would think after 30 years with him that I would learn. He gets me every time.  Honestly - he was like that when he was a year old.
After I came down from the mountain lion scare, we went on a really fun cider tasting! To be exact, it was actually apple brandy - there were some kids there tasting for them.  The orchard is beautiful and the tasting room and distillery are very new and one of a kind.  It's a family business in the hills above Sonora - the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We thought it would be a ho-hum thing to do but we were very pleasantly surprised! 

Unbelievably, someone was water skiing.  The air wasn't very cold but I imagine the water was.
Oh - here's the apple brandy from Indigeny.  Nice bottle design!
And a picture of the soon to be wed couple at the orchard.  
Christmas is in a week and I get to see everyone again.! These are the kids that used to make me pull my hair out, trying to get them to bed and to do their homework, chores etc. I used to fall into bed exhausted every night , thinking I couldn't do another day.  Now - I feel so much joy each time I see them.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Taking A Bite Of The Big Apple

That's what Dave said when we dropped Lauren off at the airport for a trip to New York. Oddly enough, the two of us grew up just outside of  New York and we only ever referred to it as 'The City".  My Dad was born there, lived there and worked there nearly his entire life.  My grandparents sailed into this country right by the Statue of Liberty and were processed at Ellis Island.  My Grandmother Mary must have looked at Lady Liberty on the deck of a ship at the age of 16 all by herself - and how courageous a venture that must have been.  I think the 'courage gene' skiipped a generation or two but I think it may be surfacing in our daughter. I wonder what Mary would think to see Lauren at a business event just a block away from where she, herself, landed in 1900 with not much to her name.   Dave and I never thought of the City in endearing terms like 'the big apple". It was just a place to work and to do the best shopping.  We took for granted all those school trips to the United Nations, the Museum of Natural History, The Met, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and our High School Prom at The Plaza Hotel and the aftershow at The Americana.  Seriously - we were in high school! When I was in 6th grade, I was allowed to go tinto the City with my best friend, Linda, and we thought nothing of it because it was how we were raised... you took the bus to Jamiaica and then the subway - the F Train to ...whatever stop that let us off down the block from Macys and Gimbels.   We didn't have a "Mall" until 8th grade when the Roosevelt Mall was built - and even then, we went into the City for the best shopping. We did it all - the Thanksgiving Parade that the entire country watches on TV every year... the Macy's Parade...skating at Rockefeller Center...the Tree Lighting...Tavern On The Green...Broadway Plays on Times Square.  One of the first dates Dave and I went on was to see Fiddler On The Roof on Broadway - at 17 years of age - taking the subway into the city and coming home at 1 a.m. after the play.   But... I was...let us say, texting Lauren a lot on this trip to make sure she was safe.  This was unchartered territory.  I'm OK now about the whole thing...Beginning to know she's the one in charge and I'm the old lady.  I can sort of relax.  It's actually on my list to go back and see the 9/11 Memorial.  We were back there in 2002 before reconstruction began and I would love to see it now.  Here are some pictures Lauren took of the Memorial.  Awesome.

Lauren was just 14 days into her new school in 5th grade on the morning of the 9/11 Attack. 
We woke up to the TV news on the West Coast just as I was waking her and Kevin up around 6 a.m.  It is a day we will never forget. 

And... the best part of the trip for Lauren was not the buildings or the business but the opportunity to see her family.  She took the train from Penn Staion to New Jersey where Uncle Doug picked her up and after a night there with Doug and Gail, he drove her to her cousin Kristen's home in Pennsylvania where she got to see Jillian and new baby Lincoln! Then Angela came to get her and drove her to the 'East Coast Bayly' home of Greg and Angela and their 3 little girls.  -Confusing unless you know the family - but... that's what it was - family.  And that was the best part.

And let's not forget the NY Pizza .  I'm so jealous. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Hankster

There's a new little bundle of joy who has made his way into the family (no-not that kind!) and Dave and I are calling him our new Grandpuppy.  He is Kevin's and Lauren's new french bulldog puppy and he has stolen our hearts.  Dave and I had a full 2 weeks with Hank while Kevin and Lauren were switching from living in San Francisco (no dogs allowed in their building) to a new dog-friendly place and the three of them bunked with us for a while.  Every morning they would leave for work and Dave and I had the Hankster all to ourselves! He is just the cutest little guy ever and we had so much fun with him.  He followed us everywhere and literally became a part of our daily life.
Hank with his new parents on the night they picked him up.
The new little guy with his momma. He is something of a momma's boy, by the way. 
He loved the shower...
...and entertained himself while we got dressed.
Then lunch out with Dave and me. We met so many people whenever we took him out!  Dave concluded that young, single guys all need to get a french bulldog...
A little bit of wine tasting.  Doesn't every dog do that?
An afternoon nap after all that wine ;)
Helping with the dishes...
...and dusting the floors.
Another nap after all that hard work.  Actually, his momma took this "french laundry" picture on another day - but he did plenty of napping anyway so this was a typical pose.
On the lookout for mom and dad coming home from work.
Papa's home! 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Say Yes To The Dress

Well, I don't know whether Giovanna said yes to the dress because there were two beautiful ones at the end of the day to choose from and they were very different from one another.  But we had a fun day, giggling and oooooing and ahhhhing with a few happy tears here and there.  Lauren and I were honored that Giovanna asked us to come along for wedding dress shopping along with her mom, sister and sister-in-law (Josephine, Maria and Michelle).
 While the bride-to-be was lunching and modeling dresses for us on the runway, the prospective groom took the day to ride his new bike in the hills.  We have all kinds of 'Open Space" around here that stretches for miles and miles with amazing views.  So Drew took advantage of a freee day to roam and get some exercise.
The Happy Couple on a previous outing

Saturday, October 12, 2013

We Have A Date !!!

September 13, 2014

Giovanna and Drew have set a date and it's officially September 13th, 2014!  This is a preview of the location too!  In the vineyards of the Livermore wine country.  We are so happy for them and looking forward to all the planning ahead. 

The sweetest thing about the date they chose, is that it was my Dad's birthday.  He would have loved it!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


USA Keeps The America's Cup! 

Team USA crossing the finish line!  
I have no idea how I got so caught up in this in less than a week but when it hit me, it was amazingly exciting! 
The US gets to keep the Cup and someone else paid for it!  So our billionaire might be a good guy after all. Well, maybe. 

I haven't heard from the kids so I'm suspecting that there's some office celebrating going on since 3 of them work in San Francisco.  Lauren is very close to where the finish line is. She's just a block or so off the Bay Bridge that you see in the background of most of these photos.  Kevin and DDL Lauren both work in the Financial District which I'm guessing is about 3 miles away and Drew works a couple of miles from the Coast on the other side of the Bay, which appears in one of these pictures too.  
The Bay Bridge in the background - the one Lauren crosses every morning at around 6:00 a.m and 
does a return trip around 7:00 p.m.
Excuse my TV cabinet in the top of these pictures - I should have cropped them all.  San Francisco is on the left side of this photo.
The finish.  Right by the Bay Bridge.  

The Skipper, Jimmy Spithill, married to an American - well, that makes it a bit more meaningful. 
The celebratory victory lap with San Francisco as the backdrop.

Congratulations Team USA.  And Larry, our favorite billionaire.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rooting For Our Billionaire

The America's Cup 
Everyone Loves An Underdog
The America's Cup has been in the planning stages in San Francisco for years and since it's basically owned, lock stock and barrel, by Oracle's founder and local billionaire, Larry Ellison, the entire Bay Area was pretty lukewarm about the whole thing.  I mean, it just seemed like one very rich guy's personal quest instead of a team representing the USA. Ho-hum.  Yawn.  But then Team USA (as we now refer to it) started losing in a drastically humiliating way - at one point 1-8.  
Then... we stood up and paid attention.

And, as we always do, we started rooting for the underdog - even if he was our local billionaire.  
And then things got very exciting!! 

Lauren took Dan up to the City on Saturday to watch the comeback.  They really enjoyed it and after Team USA's win that day to bring the results to 5-8, the spirit was contagious. So Dave and I decided to take off yesterday to watch Race 16 on a gloriously beautiful day in San Francisco.  They won, bringing the overall score to 6-8!  

We were glued to the TV today because the wind was ideal for both scheduled races to take place and, whadya know - they did it again in two races today to bring it to a TIE! Unbelievable! 

Team USA on the left with the dark sail and the New Zealand Kiwis on the right on Monday's race, which USA won,  raising the score to 6-8.
Team USA at the finish.
The Fall is always a great time to be in San Francisco
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this street flag.  "Change The World From Here" - the motto for the University of San Francisco which is actually a private 4 year college that's fairly difficult to get into.  Nice motto.  Great day.  

So...Wednesday will bring the ultimate race.  It will be Race 19 and the one that will decide the winner of the 34th America's Cup which has been in existence since 1851.  The Cup has only been taken from us five times in the history of the race. Larry Ellison's Oracle Team won it back for us in the last America's Cup race in 2010 after we lost it 4 times in a row.  

I'll be on the edge of my seat tomorrow, rooting for the underdog's comback - and our favorite billioniare. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tanker 81

   When Dave and I were newlyweds and he was assigned as an NFO (navigational flight officer) in the Navy, there was no other pilot he would rather fly with than Craig.  We all had babies and social lives intertwined with one another.  Well, oddly enough, Craig is now flying tanker 81 for the state of California and fighting wild fires that threaten the territory near our house at the lake.  In the off-season he teaches BioChemistry at one of the University of California universities. 
So... the Professor flies dangerous fire missions in his off time. Who would ever know!  

Ironically, he was working the famous Rim Fire, only an hour from our house, laying retardant on the flames.

                                                                        Tanker 81.  Craig's plane. There he is!

Craig flies over our house regularly and tells us whether our cars are there or not. 

Ever since the "Rim Fire" was broadcast on TV for the past few weeks, we've heard from friends from all over the country, asking how we are and whether the house at the lake is in danger and we really appreciate everyone's concern.  Thankfully, all is well with us but we have seen firsthand the power and ferocity of these wildland fires and it is scary.  Within the first week after the Rim Fire broke out, we were at the lake with Drew and Giovanna and her parents.  Luckily, the smoke only came in one morning for a couple of hours and then the breezes blew it out.  So we thought we were home free from then on.  
Well... over Labor Day we were expecting to be at the lake with Kevin and his wife Lauren so Dave and I headed up first and this is what we found when drove through the gate:

It was definitely not the place to be.  The fire by this time had spread into Yosemite National Park which is about an hour drive from our place. 
We turned around and went home.

Craig works for "Cal Fire" - the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection- which is responsible for protecting over 31 MILLION acres of wildlands. Wow. Fortunately for us, we have a major Cal Fire Base at the end of our road.  We sometimes hear them doing drills and, frankly, it is reassuring.

The devastating Rim Fire started on August 17th and it has been the third largest wildfire in California's history, burning about 400 square miles.  It's the biggest wildfire on record in the Sierra Nevada. As of September 12th it was only 80% contained.  They estimate it will be fully contained by September 20 - a week from now! The fire was caused by a hunter's illegal fire that went out of control and is named for its proximity to the Rim of the World vista point in the Stanislaus National Forest.  The Rim Fire now has it's own Wikipedia page!  



It does not end there.
On our way home from the fiasco of the weekend at the lake, we turned onto the road outside our community when there was, "but to our wondering eyes" ..Ahhhhh - another FIRE!!  
Off in the distance but with flames that seemed a mile high, Mount Diablo was on fire!
Around these parts, Mount Diablo is iconic.  You can see it from just about anywhere.  Everything is named after it, from school districts to dry cleaners. To put it in perspective, we can see Mount Diablo from our upstairs window and it's park entrance is only a 10 minute drive from Drew"s place - which is a 45 minute drive for us.

Mount Diablo on fire.

Our beloved Mount Diablo.

Here's s to the rainy season!  Come quickly!!!  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Engagement Bridge!

The "Engagement Bridge" is what Giovanna's Mom called it!
Just at the time Drew proposed to Giovanna up in Lake Tahoe, our brand-new San Francisco Bay Bridge was opened. Josephine made the connection and, while it may not seem like a big deal to anyone outside of the Bay Area, the bridge opening was a HUGE deal around here!  Gino and Josephine crossed the bridge for the first time on their way over to the engagement celebration.  An historic occasion in every way.  We all met in Walnut Creek for dinner - both sides of the family- to congratulate the newly engaged couple.

The Engagement Bridge
(The older bridge span is on the left and will be removed.  The new bridge is just beautiful!)
Josephine took the picture on the way over to the celebration.

The Happy Couple
The Mamas and the Papas
Gino, Me, Josephine, Dave, Giovanna amd Drew
The Siblings:
Drew & Giovanna with Lauren, Lauren and Kevin
The Better Half:
Drew and Giovanna with...
L-R: Marcella, Michelle, Gino...Franco, Michael and Josphine
A look at the rock - Wow!
Aha!  The Happy Couple!
Congratulations and Best Wishes...
 for the best of everything life can bring you!