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!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It Is Our Great Pleasure To Announce The Engagement Of...

Drew and Giovanna!!

He proposed... and she said Yes!

It happened over the weekend in beautiful Lake Tahoe.  We are all very excited and looking forward to whenever the big event might take place.  And we're looking forward to getting together with them in the next day or so to celebrate!