Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So in all the birthday and vacation excitement, I seem to have glossed over the details of the meeting of our parents (dun dun dun). The anticipation of this meeting worried Chris right up until everyone in question parted ways. I think he must have been imagining some disastrous scenario straight out of the movies like Meet the Fockers or Father of the Bride--or worse. Turns out everyone got along splendidly. We met in downtown Carmel and ate at this very cute restaurant, followed by a bit of shopping. Here are a few of the sillier highlights:
-Chris was quiet for most of the breakfast, presumably because he was holding his breath until the whole thing was over.
Overall, Chris and I were just relieved that everyone got along and--dare I say it--enjoyed one another. It's nice to know we won't be that couple that dreads the co-mingling holidays!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This is how his birthday really went...
So I don't know what Chris is talking about in the post below but nothing even remotely close to any of that happened on his birthday. Perhaps, he was screaming "Why God, Why!?!" internally, but neither his parents nor I knew it. Instead the four of us spent Saturday shopping in the Marina district, seeing a show, and having a late dinner at a fabulous restaurant.
The show, Beach Blanket Babylon, is a San Francisco staple and pokes fun at pop culture and current politics in such a flamboyant manner it could only be from this city. By this I mean they somehow perform jokes about the upcoming election and celebrity gossip all while balancing the Transamerica Pyramid, Golden Gate Bridge and Palace of Fine Arts atop their head. It was good fun. Plus, there was the added bonus of subjecting the parents to some real, crazy (tranny?) San Franciscans sitting a few rows up, one who later was referred to in conversation as the Cruella de Vil looking lady.
After, we walked down through North Beach and over to the Financial District for dinner. Bix Restaurant is a throw back to the supper clubs of the 1930s and is situated in this very cool alley. The inside is even better. As you walk in you have a long mirrored bar with four or five tuxedo-clad bartenders mixing martinis and highball cocktails. A sweeping staircase leads up to the second level where guests dine in old school booths overlooking the whole restaurant with a dance floor and jazz trio down below. Art deco fixtures and painting of musicians really make you feel like you're in New York City circa 1932 or at least on the set of Mad Men. The food was great--tender steak, scallops, salmon--but the atmosphere was perfect. The whole place was alive and I hope Chris liked it.
On Sunday (his actual birthday), we drove back down the peninsula and had one last lunch before saying goodbye to Jim & Carol. We had a really great time all week and thanks to their generosity felt like we had our own little mini vacation right along with them.
Drinks with the Grandstaffs at Chris' favorite bar in San Jose completed the big 3-0 night. Now it's back to life as usual...only now I'm dating someone "in their 30s". I think he's taking it pretty well though. No sports car or other lavish purchases yet and he already has the 20-something girlfriend ;)
Yep, I think the thirties might just be a good time.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
What More Can I Say?
It was a week of excellent distraction. Other posts detail the good times had by all, but now the folks are gone and the fact remains: I am 30. How did I ring in the occasion?
Closer, but c'mon. All that changes is you can't wear jerseys. Right, Scott?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Now & Then
As I snapped this picture Chris and his mom on the beach in Carmel, I couldn't help but remember the one of the two of them on another beach off Lake Michigan. We'll be celebrating his 30Th Birthday this weekend and it seems only fitting to reflect on the past while anticipating the future.
Friday, July 25, 2008
So it has become a bit of a joke that Chris and I take schmoopy photos of our feet on the beach or in various other notable locations. We're pretty secure in our schmoopiness so we encourage the teasing--if we weren't I don't think we would have a blog about all things lovey dovey--and the photos have been parodied a little in recent months, the most recent being Carol & Jim's feet together on Carmel beach. I take it as a good sign that a lot of people we know are lucky enough to have someone to make happy feet with and that makes me even schmoopier.
Jim & Carol at Carmel Beach
Scott & Jeni in Aspen
The one that started it all (Chris and I in in Big Sur)
I say bring 'em on! If you have someone you love so much you want to take pictures of their feet (yeesh!), snap away.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
On Monday, Carol and Jim (Chris' parents) arrived in San Jose for their visit with us and ever since we've been living the good life in vacation mode: Eating in great restaurants, shopping, sleeping in wonderful hotel beds, seeing shows, and having an all out good time.
We followed their trusty GPS navigation as she--she being the British sounding voice they named Victoria--guided us (or misguided us) down the coast to Monterey where we shopped and ate without a care in the world.
After venturing in and around Monterey, we made the short drive over to the neighboring beach town, Carmel, and walked down to the beach. The trip down the street to the beach descends along a quaint street of shops and amazing homes and once you get there you have Pebble Beach golf course to your right, the Big Sur coastline to your left, and the blue-green surf dead ahead. It's fantastic! I've lived in this area my whole life but sights like these never get old.
We drove back via Highway One, which winds along the coast up to Santa Cruz before cutting back through the mountains to San Jose. They replaced the GPS system with my local knowledge and I gave directions from the back seat, prompting Carol to (lovingly and with good intention) give me the new nickname of "peanut navigator." If you haven't noticed, I'm tiny ;)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Just opened an e-mail to find that these good lookin' kids are on the refrigerator at Chris' parent's house (better known in these circles as 307). Also, in the mix is Chris' birthday present from the fam (Scott, Jeni, Jim, and Carol), a photo of the miracle shot that kept KU alive in the NCAA championship, sending them into overtime where they would win.
I love the photo for what it reminds me of: Chris' face turning from hopeless despair to all out joy knowing his team was still in it to win it. Just not quite sure where it will, er, "fit" in apartment with the limited wall space. After all, we don't have a room designated for sports gear and color coordinated for the Cubs just yet :)
Coming full circle on the fridge thread, our refrigerator is similarly decorated with the usual suspects. It may be shocking for those that have painted me as a shutterbug that this is the only place in our apartment with photos of us. That being said we'll be sure to make more memories this weekend with Jim and Carol coming to visit and the big parental meet-up (gulp) about to commence. Stay tuned.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
"Yes, yes, I see you tennis champion."
Last night we went to see Serena Williams in a tennis tournament at Stanford. Chris had us believing it probably wouldn't last long and when we saw her opponent was some 15-year-old girl named Michelle Larcher De Brito (who?) we figured it would be a pretty quick match.
Not so though. The little girl gave Serena a run for her money--or at least her appearance fee--and treated us to a nice night of competition. Plus, it came with the added bonus of a bit of celebrity spying (I kept wondering if the girl sitting next to Daddy Williams was indeed Venus but she was too far away to identify).
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Cube 2.0
Anyone who reads this with regularity may notice the absence of our previous header, which has been replaced with our new and improved one. The old banner, a picture of Chris and I in Chicago, somewhat bothered Chris every time he called up the blog and I always thought it looked kind of out of place. Really, it was a place holder until we could come up with a better solution.
And now we have it! After seeing her illustrations on some other design blogs and Etsy (a sort of Ebay of handmade goods and art), we enlisted artist Rebecca Horwood to come up with the new piece. We are delighted with the results. Her drawings are so full of whimsy and I love how she managed to balance our personal effects--the Cubs poster, books, baseball, mid-century modern furniture--with her signature style--a jar full of goodies, a sweet songbird, and bubbly script. Even more impressive, she did it all via e-mail descriptions because she lives in Oxford, UK, a fact that Chris (being the anglophile he is) loves.
I hope everyone enjoys the new artwork and I definitely recommend her work. If you're looking for a personalized illustration, check out her shop and blog for more info.
The original sketch is being sent in the mail and will most likely be framed and proudly displayed on one of our walls. I like to think that years from now when blogs are a thing of the past, it will be a nice reminder of ours.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Diary of Yosemite: Day 4
Our fourth day at Yosemite begins at 5am. After a less than ideal night's sleep (the zipper on the tent had broken, and amid cries of "black bear!" a few hundred feet away and as a formation of six rangers marched through the grounds, we'd had to hurriedly fashion a half-assed door from the rain guard), we groggily fill our packs with granola bars, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, a couple apples and about six liters of water and head out for the foot of the trail to Half Dome.
It starts innocently enough. The trail begins going uphill immediately, but not so much that you wonder what you've gotten into. A couple miles in is Vernal Fall, and soon after comes a choice: continue along the John Muir Trail or take the so-called Mist Trail. On our first night, at the campsite outside the park, we'd been advised to take the longer, flatter Muir on the way up, then opt for the shorter, indeed mistier (when it runs along Vernal Fall) Mist on the way back for a bit of refreshment. Always two for listening to strangers, that's what we do.
We settle quickly into a routine: navigating the switchbacks, pausing for water (and for short-legged Kelley to catch up) and marveling at the ever-shrinking sights below. After about four miles we came upon Nevada Fall. We could hear the waterfall before arriving, but not until standing on the bridge just a few feet behind the crest do we fully grasp its force. Kelley and I step down to a lookout point for a different view, and others around us are lying on the rocks for a picnic or a nap. It's a gorgeous spot.
And it's there that the beauty seems to stay. The next few miles are more like a desert, schlepping through sand, and then a dilapidated forest. It's all very brown, and a small rattlesnake slithers across our path. We exchange small talk with fellow hikers and continue to take our water, and Kelley makes repeated trips behind a rock to pee. The last couple miles curve and climb until -- almost suddenly -- near-360-degree panorama of the Sierras unfold before our eyes. The only thing blocking the view is the back of mighty Half Dome.
It's almost noon, and we sit for lunch and to think about what is ahead of us. The ascent of Half Dome, we knew, is a two-parter: the first bit you climb unassisted, but the final 500 feet are too steep for that and require the use of cables as handholds. We chat with a woman in her 60s who says she made it as far as the cables before turning back. Kelley scurries off to pee for a fourth time; I've gone in my pants.
Before setting off, we reckoned there was a 40 percent chance we'd be courageous enough to do the cables. How little prepared we were for how harrowing the first bit was. The face of the rock is set at about a 45-degree angle, and a staircase etched into it has eroded some under all those hiking boots. After each switchback you can step off and lean back on the rock to rest -- and try to avoid the vertiginous views. Kelley is careful going up and I am absurdly deliberate, at times nearly crawling. There are people going up and down around us, and we are constantly shaking our heads at the speed with which they do so; kids all of 10 are doing it like they're playing hop-scotch. Unbelievable.
We continue to inch along, and then I hear someone say, "Here's where the stairs stop." Kelley and I look up and see that just to make it to the cables we would have to deal with a flat face of granite. In hind sight, it's not that terrifying; the surface was not slick. But at the time, it is final straw. We are a bit afraid of heights, and so remind ourselves we'd done well to get this far -- again, "close enough" -- and head back down the rock as carefully as we'd gone up.
The return leg of the trail is easier -- until the start of the Mist Trail. It may well be a mile or so shorter than the Muir, but it is much more vertical. First along Nevada Fall, then later Vernal, we have to descend almost straight down a pile of rocks. Early on a ranger came barreling past us, saying he had to get to someone who had broken their leg. Later, a couple told us they'd seen a man almost fall down the side of the waterfall. The scenery is beautiful, but the rocks are slippery from the misting and we are so focused on not falling that we can't fully appreciate it. (I am often nagging Kelley to go slow.) Not until the Mist rejoins the Muir, and we know there's just a mile or so to go, do we begin to reflect on what we've done and smile. True, we did not get to the top, but that doesn't much matter: the getting there was pleasure and achievement enough.
After 10 hours of hiking, we were filthy. We dumped our six empty water bottles, got back in the car and drove to Curry Village, where we paid $5 apiece for, it was decided afterward, the greatest shower of our lives. The day ended with dinner and beers and the two of us grinning ear to ear.
Monday, July 14, 2008
French Toast and Omlettes
I love breakfast and ever since Chris and I started dating we've been searching for a place downtown where we can read the Sunday paper and order some eggs and bacon. Well, one of the many downfalls of downtown San Jose is that a place like that doesn't exist.
But today Chris surprised me with what might become our new breakfast place, Bill's Cafe. It's a short bike ride away from our apartment to it's Willow Glen neighborhood location and fits just about all our criteria: has a large breakfast menu, looks like a diner, and has a laid back enough atmosphere to promote our morning laziness. Plus, afterwards Chris can browse the selection at the cute, independent book shop down the street.
Ah, simple pleasures.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Last night, Chris and I, along with friends Sara and Brent, thought it might be a good idea given the 100 degree weather, to partake in the outdoor movie screening in downtown. The movie being American Graffiti, it seemed fitting to watch outdoors even without the drive-in or car.
So with the combination of a perfect summer night, a couple of milkshakes, and a flashback movie, what could go wrong? Apparently, everything. The screening was terrible. Between poor lighting, not being able to see what was going on, and everyone talking over the flick, we could barely wait until it was over. Such a shame really because it sounds like such a fun idea. They say the kinks will be worked out next week but based on our experience, we may find it hard to coax our friends out for another attempt.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Diary of Yosemite: Days 2-3
So after no sleep the night before, we "wake" up at 5 a.m. and head to Yosemite Valley with the hopes of snagging a site at Camp 4, the only walk-in site in Yosemite and one known for being a favorite spot of bohemian rock climbers. We end up 10th in line and when assigned the new site at 8:30 a.m. are so relieved/excited to have become a resident of Tent City and not have to return nightly to a site that is 90-minutes away.
After retrieving our gear, we spend the afternoon at the Mariposa Grove, a collection of some of the tallest and largest trees in Yosemite (and the world). The schmoopy side of us particularly like the two trees growing together named "The Faithful Couple" but there are some so impressive in size I appear to be invisible when photographed next to them.
A few miles of solid hiking and we head back to camp to set up--again. This time we have a better idea of where we misstepped with the tent but that only makes it more frustrating when we can't bend all the poles into place (Note: we are weak). After giving up when the last pin refuses to pop in to place, we decide the trip so far can be summed up in two words: Close enough.
I can say however that I built a pretty good campfire that night and very quickly I might add. As we're sitting around it a couple of 19 or 20 year old rock climbers staying in our camp decide to join us. I ask one named Mason (how convenient that he is a climber named after a rock) how high they climb and his answer is "Anywhere from 15 to 3,000 feet." This leaves us wondering how do you decide between 15 and 3,000? That is a pretty significant gap. It's also the first moment I realize I'm not one of the kids anymore when they surely identify me as a working, er, an old stiff and not a a college student. Chris adds to our reputation as squares by saying "We went bouldering one time at an indoor gym around the corner from our apartment." I'm sure Mason is very impressed by this.
That night a bear is spotted in our camp and in the morning two cars on either side of our rental have been smashed into. I was happy to have been zipped up in our fairly large tent. Mason slept outside in a sleeping bag reading a copy of American Psycho.
The next day we decide to treat ourselves to breakfast at The Ahwahnee Hotel. It was built in 1926 and seems to keep up the upscale lodge facade one might associate with how 1950s Liz Taylor may have done Yosemite. So maybe I shouldn't have been so shocked when the waiter came to take our order and asked Chris "What will the lady be having, sir?" I was and I had the eggs. The dining room was pretty impressive though and we had a nice window view. Afterwards we wandered around rooms with reading areas and fireplaces the size of the wall but Chris commented that it looked like they were trying to inject Indian cultural decor "The way a white person would."
Later, we visited waterfalls and improvised our own path, getting intentionally lost along the Merced River in order to leave the crowds behind for a while. We get back to camp early enough to leisurely prepare dinner, our first attempt to cook on the propane powered stove my mom and Ken lent us. This is where we stumble. Propane is gas and gas--at least in the movies--explodes. So I'm not so confident when I have to hook it up, light a match, and hope the thing will heat the grill.
Here's where you have to picture the situation again: I'm on my cell phone (yes, in the woods) being talked through the process by my mom and Ken. As they calmly tell me it's a very controlled substance and I'm going to be fine, I'm thinking I don't want to blow my hand off and asking questions like "Is the flame supposed to be blue?" At the same time Chris is throwing matches into the grill to try and light it but he's doing so from such a distance so that they either don't make it to the stove or blow out when they get there. Against the advice of our cell phone coaches, we decide to go eat pizza.
Close enough indeed.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The Days of Summer
The last few days have been those I live for--baseball, pool parties, BBQ--really anything summer related and I'm there. I suppose it's a product of growing up in California but hanging out with my best friends poolside or beachside or anywhere in between on a Tuesday at one in the afternoon just makes you feel like you're 17 and without a care in the world.
On Monday night we paired up with good friends Will and Lisa and headed to the annual Cubs v. Giants duel. Admittedly, I've become quite attached to Chris' beloved Cubbies (especially the current crop) and find it pretty hard to seriously root against them. But what kind of San Francisco fan would I be if I just up and abandoned my Giants in their time of need?
Having that said it was pretty easy to be entertained when (at least in my case) both the teams you root for are out on the field. The Cubs crushed 9-2, with those last two Giants runs scored in the final inning. Plus, Chris made sure I had an excellent view of Derrek Lee's bottom, which is very niiice.
If that wasn't enough fun, yesterday we spent the day lazing around the pool with some of my oldest and dearest friends. And on Friday we're prepared to celebrate our nation's independence with BBQ and brew. (Sigh) It's rough out here.
I used to sit in the cube behind you. Then I didn't. And then we fell in love.
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