Ferry trip to San Francisco

Taking advantage of the absolutely gorgeous weather we've been having, we decided just yesterday to take the ferry into San Francisco again.

The first two pictures are of Mare Island which is right across the ferry terminal in Vallejo. Most of Mare Island consists of an abandoned naval shipyard and the housing etc. that went with it. The island is supposed to undergo a revival. There's a beautiful golf course, new housing developments, a college and various other things in addition to all the old buildings left from its heyday. Some of the old houses are being renovated and are really quite beautiful and rather pricey.

Next is the Bay Bridge, one of the two bridges into San Francisco (the other is the Golden Gate). Traffic there is always bad and today was no exception. There was an accident leading into the city (we could see the flashing lights) that had traffic backed up for many, many miles.

Next is the tower of the Ferry Building, followed by pictures of the inside - gourmet food stores, high end specialty stores and various restaurants.

Outside, there's a farmers' market on Tuesdays and Saturdays (didn't get any good pictures) and on the weekends there are arts and crafts booths (I always find something). This time, there also was entertainment in the center divide provided by a drum corps.

One of the old trams, I think the cable cars can be found at Pier 39 (another touristy destination) and go into the center from there.

This is the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge which ends at San Quentin.

It obviously was a good day to be out on the water because we saw hundreds of sailboats.
We managed to fill up the big shopping bag I'd brought along (reusable, of course) and will have to use an even bigger one next time. It's probably that humongously big bread from Della Fattoria.


And success

Not only did the next two breads work out better (Okay, so they sort of rose too much and ended up a lot "fluffier" than I like my bread but that's better than little homebaked bricks.) but I also managed to finish quite a few new bags this morning.

Not bad for a day that started at 5 am with a tension headache, huh? Not all the bags were finished today (I haven't had a chance or the inclination to post earlier this week) and none of them were made from start to finish. All had zippers already installed but not much else. The sewing machine gave me problems. So, I took the bottom plate out and cleaned it and it's running nicely again.

I've tried different sizes of box bags, made a bunch of very simple pouches and finished up two pyramid bags that had been lying around unfinished for months. There are still a lot of those scrappy raw-edge applique bags waiting to be finished but the zippers for them didn't arrive until a few minutes ago. Hopefully, I'll be done with them soon, too. I really want to made big bags and/or purses again.



A few months ago I started baking bread again. Don't be too impressed, I use a breadmaker. The first few loaves turned out beautifully and tasted so good.

Two weeks ago, I baked a loaf of rye bread for a friend and it didn't rise properly. Still tasted good, but didn't look good. Since then, everything I've baked has had the same problem: tastes just fine, looks bad. For some reason, nothing has risen properly, the top looks all wrinkly.

Today, I made a Shepherd's Bread, with a starter that had to sit for 4 hours before I added the rest of the ingredients. I timed everything carefully, measured just right, watched the dough to make sure it wasn't too wet or too dry and, wouldn't you know, same problem: the top looks crummy. It smelled delicious while it was baking and it tastes good (I just couldn't resist it).

So, I checked the troubleshooting section in my baking book and I get conflicting advice, it could be either too much liquid or too much flour (for two different problems).

The only thing I've changed over time is the brand of flour. I guess that means I get to experiment lots more.


And the winners are ............

Drum roll, please :-)

Katie B and Grace.
Since neither one of you expressed a preference, would you let me know, please, if you have one or not? And would you email me your addresses, please, too?
Thank you for playing.


Happy Birthday, Henry!

So, today is Henry's 20th birthday - or, rather, today would have been Henry's 20th birthday if he hadn't died 20 months and 9 days ago.
There are still days when I forget he's gone and too many days when I remember in too much detail that horrible day in May 2007.

And plenty of days when I can't believe he would have been 20 already.
What happened to that cute little boy with the big smile and the sunny disposition?
The tiny boy who actively participated in his baptism? What happened to the tiny boy who used to snuggle into my side when I read "Babies" by Gyo Fujikawa to him (in German)? We read that book (inherited from Kate) so often that it fell apart and we had to get a second copy.

The not quite 3-year-old who broke a tiny bone in his foot when he jumped off the sofa and landed in a little Fisher Price toy and had to wear a walking cast for a while. He learned to use it as a weapon real fast :-)

Where is the little boy who gave his sister a black eye with his rattle, the 7-year-old who hung out in a hot tub with Sally - "she's 40 and she's nice."

The kid who got so excited about testing for his junior black belt in karate. The teenager who tried his hardest not to be seen with his parents but who took me out for dinner (in public) the last Mother's Day he was alive (Mother's Day nowadays will always be associated with his funeral in my mind).

The sophomore who came home from a school retreat totally disgusted with the drug and alcohol use he'd witnessed. What happened between then and the end of senior year? Was he curious, rebelling, responding to a dare? I've heard rumors, not nice ones, but I don't know anything definite.

And most of all, what happened to the 4th grader who would tell me regularly on our walks home from school that he would never leave me. In a way, he hasn't. His body is gone, but his spirit will live in our hearts forever.


They should be ashamed of themselves

This came in the mail this week for Henry and it made me angry. Not only because I'm getting tired of getting mail for him more than 20 months after his death but more so because this is from R.J. Reynolds trying to talk teenagers into using tobacco in one form or another.

So, I sent it back to them with my usual sticker telling them that my son died last year and to please remove him from their mailing list. I started printing those and sending them back to everybody from credit card companies to the Marines. It seems to be working.

This time, though, I also included a handwritten note telling them what I thought of them sending this to a teenager. Sheesh!


Marin County Coroner releases numbers for 2008

According to the Marin County Coroner, at least 34 people jumped to their death off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2008.

That number is, as always, low because the San Francisco Medical Examiner doesn't count suicides on that bridge separately from other falls from tall buildings, some people simply disappear and no body is ever found. I know 2 sets of parents that happened to. Those two are included because they are shown in surveillance videos. But there are always plenty of others who are suspected to have jumped, but nobody saw them, no body was ever found and they are simply missing.

Yes, a barrier has been approved but now the money has to be found and in this economy that won't be easy.


A neat craft room

I regularly check a few craft sites for inspiration, patterns and tutorials and came across this just now:

whip up » Blog Archive » yvestown: the first room

Coincidentally, I'm taking a break from cleaning out my studio - I've spent over an hour sorting through piles of fabric. Very little stays, the rest will go away somewhere. I've been taking old, broken storage containers out to the trash and I've been up and down the stairs so many times that a) I don't feel guilty about not exercising this morning and b) little Jerry finally gave up on trying to follow me everywhere and just parked himself on the second step from the top.

I haven't a snowball's chance in hell of having my studio look like this but I'll be happy if I can clear out enough space to store the new fabrics I'm buying and if I can walk from one side of the room to the other without risking my life. Yes, it really is that bad.


The regular readers' reward

I keep meaning to (and promptly forgetting to) do this - picking out something for the regular readers' reward and since I plan on having the drawing on the one-year anniversary of this blog - January 17, this upcoming Saturday - it's about time I picked something to give away.

I'm a little disorganized right now - or is that my normal state? I was hoping to actually make something, sew something, and that may still happen in which case it'll be a surprise. But, for now, this set of lampwork beads and the green and dichro pendant will have to do. I had both of them in my stash for many, many years, got them on ebay and always planned on doing something with them and never did. It's time they went to new homes. As always, they look much nicer and brighter in real life and the pendant has a tunnel running under the top dichro strip for a chain or beadwork to pass through.

So, like the last time - leave me a comment on this blog entry. I will write the names on little slips of paper and my husband will draw two names on Saturday. You can tell me which one you'd prefer if you win but there's no guarantee :-) Sorry!
The reason I'm calling it "regular readers' reward" is because it is meant to be just that - something for the people who read my blog on a regular basis and leave comments. The last time, I called it a giveaway and was inundated with comments from people who had googled "giveaway" - not quite what I had intended. Let's see if this works the way I meant it to work.
Good luck everybody!



Just like almost everybody else's New Years resolution, one of mine is to lose weight (and clean out the house). The only difference is that I made that resolution back in early November. So, today I walked from Trader Joe's to Target across the parking lot (and didn't get run over) and back again instead of driving and circling while looking for a parking space (which means I also left a slightly smaller carbon footprint). On the way back, I came across a dead rat near Trader Joe's - flat. Does is still count as roadkill if the dead animal is in an urban parking lot and not by the side of a country road?
Just as well I didn't have my camera with me - I think I would have lost my faithful readers - both of them :-) - if I had posted a picture. Really, I know better!
BTW, I'm working on another giveaway for Jan. 17, the one-year anniversary of this blog. I won't call it giveaway because I found out when I had the other one that you can type "giveaway" or "blog giveaway" into your search engine and enter your name everywhere. Not quite what I had in mind.


Beady birthday presents

I'm a member of an online group called "All About Beads" and it mostly is. I've been a part of this group for over 12 years (in one incarnation or another) - goodness, I didn't realize it's been this long - and, even though I don't bead much these days, I enjoy the company.

Towards the end of last year, I signed up for the "beads for birthdays" program. It's exactly what it sounds like: you fill out a short questionnaire, the coordinator selects partners, you get the name and information of one person to send beads etc. to and somebody gets you. I think mine's the first birthday of the year which didn't give my birthday buddy a whole lot of time to shop and select but (s)he did a wonderful job. The package arrived in plenty of time and I waited patiently until yesterday to unpack everything. Lots of fun!

My birthday buddy obviously had either too much time on her hands and/or a lot of fun wrapping and packing because each kind of bead and just about each strand was packed in its own baggie and each baggie was individually wrapped. The first picture shows everything wrapped and I thought it was almost too pretty to unwrap. Picture 2 shows that each little box held yet more individually wrapped packages.

The next two pictures show the strands and the different kinds of beads I received. Lots of variety, lots of beautiful beads, lots of pearls (one of my favorites), a beautiful big ceramic star button, small scissors (I always need multiples because I have this really bad habit of misplacing things), semi-precious and lots and lots of nailheads (I'm only showing a small portion of them).

And the very last picture is the birthday card my daughter's cat sent me. (I should explain that in our family the animals send cards to family members. My dogs lean towards the tasteless, don't know where they get that from. )

On the inside of the card, she advises me to live life on the edge. Not sure I should follow that advice .................