qMonth Post

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s been a warm Fall and very botanically-oriented. SMS has developed a keen interest in native Southern California gardens. The beauty of them is…subtle. While many might just see piles of sticks, true visionaries see beauty, sustainability, (tiny) flowers, and hummingbird attractors. We went to a few native gardens in the local area, to include one in Point Loma and the one in Morley Field. The later was a demonstration garden that gets watered frequently so has a much shorter dormant (read: stick-like) period. We talked to the gardener there for a bit. He was slightly eccentric and knew a lot about the plants.

After our garden tour, we went to Mission Hills to walk through the neighborhood. We had coffee and quiche at Kettle and Stone, a cute coffeeshop with an awesome succulent/moss wall frame.

I also tried to rehabilitate my raphis palm that did not take well to not being watered for two weeks. Oops. It will come back, I know it!

Little native garden seedlings at my feet- San Diego Sunflower and mint!

SMS and I went to North County to pick up some Native plants and pick up some pizza from Blue Ribbon Pizzeria. It was a fun field trip and both of us decided we could definitely handle living in North County!

We also went to a few outdoor wine tastings. I really liked the vibe at Grant James. It’s definitely unpretentious and their wines are really good! Who wouldn’t love a wine tasting with beer pong vibes?

Wine tasting at Wiens Family winery

We also had a family outdoor lunch followed by a tasting at Wiens winery. With a name like that, I think your professional destiny is pre-ordained.

Halloween decorations, 2020 style!

I did micro-Halloween decorating. I have a cute figurine from Linda, but SMS is against too many seasonal decorating items. And since we are a little squished in the apartment, I agree for now!

C-bird’s new favorite toy.
Colorful native garden plants. These I can get behind!
Flaming dessert to celebrate my MIL’s birthday!
SMS, hitting the trail!

Summer 2020 Catch-Up

If 2020 was a drink, what would it be? Vodka in a water bottle when you were expecting it to be water. Now, this is from a funny person on the internet, but I laughed so hard since this has happened to me, it is a horrible surprise, and it aptly describes 2020.

A quick round-up of a few highlights on the Summer.

SpaceX rocket launch 5/30. It was successful. It was also preceded the doubling of Tesla stock which, alas, we missed out on. But $2000?!?! I never would have dreamed. Need to dream bigger, I guess.

On May 30, SMS and I watched the SpaceX launch of two astronauts to the International Space Station. It was a success! Our little stuffed owl put on his cosmonaut helmet but, given the size of his wings, stayed firmly grounded.

Left: Luminous Starter and Right: Proofing loaves

I continued a few quarantine hobbies. I received the gift of a sourdough starter from Stacy and Michael and made some pretty decent sourdough loaves. It took me a few tries to get the leaven concept, but then it was pretty awesome. I haven’t made any loaves recently but we had some deliciously fluffy pancakes this morning!

Cucumber blossoms, a baby cucumber, and tomatoes!

My garden ended up being a little bit of a bust. I need to do some more research on optimal sun and water for specific plants, but it is also true that the soil is only so-so. Especially when inconsistently watered.

SMS and I in Bird Rock, CA.

SMS and I were apart for part of June, together in July, and then up in Menlo Park for his birthday. We celebrated his birthday there and then I drove back down to SD alone, which was unplanned. He had been put in charge of a short timeline, high stakes project at work so he stayed back in case he had to go in. So, for August, I was back in SD alone and it was a tough month to be apart with heat, wildfires, real estate misadventures, and work stressors. Even though we are still incredibly fortunate and we can still find silver linings, August was definitely the month that 2020 became very 2020 for us.

Brady-bird also had a rough month. I rescued her from behind the wine fridge though. She was ungrateful.
Cynthia’s super-cute dog at the Oceanfront house!
“No workie.” Fortunately, there was a back-up that did, in fact, “workie.”

I went to NMCP for the last week in August, which was a great trip professionally but still stressful since the surgeries were high-stakes and required a lot of concentration. Everything went really well and it was super rewarding. I also had an awesome visit from Mom and Dad, who came down from DC to visit Thursday evening through Saturday. The highlights were our amazing dinners at Luce and York 411, with excellent food and great conversation. I wish I saw them more!

From L-R: Sutro Height Lion and me, view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sutro Baths

I went back up to the Bay Area and SMS and I had a fun trip to San Francisco. We actually had an impromptu stay overnight after deciding to treat ourselves to a hotel room for the a/c. We used points and definitely like they were points well-spent!

From L-R: A marriage proposal, Saint Frank coffeeshop, Andytown Coffee Roasters
9/9/20: A really weird day, super orange-y with the wildfire smoke blowing through. This photo is unaltered/unfiltered.
Suuuuuuuuuuper lazy gardening hack, Palo Alto-style.
Robot vacuum, hard at work.

SMS’ work had their big reveal on 9/9 and it went really well. He made the decision to give up his apartment in Menlo Park and move down to San Diego. Working remote will still be “a thing” for several months and it just seemed time to be together. This was/is very exciting news!

And finally…

September 11th

Hi. It’s been awhile and while there is a Summer of catch-up (spoiler alert: not much happened, #COVID) today is 9/11 and not a day to reflect on frivolity. Instead, I’m more interested in a quick flashback and some thoughts which, while not monumental, are mine and I’d like to write them down.

On 9/11/01, I was a senior at Williams College, a prestigious liberal arts school that I was doing well at, although certainly not a shining star. Looking back, I realize that I missed out on the potential that it offered in terms of a potential consulting or Wall Street career, or even an early Silicon Valley entry. But no matter- I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was 10 years old and I’m so happy with my career. It’s just amazing to me to see me how many other options could have been explored.

So, on 9/11, I was on my way to my senior biology seminar, “Circadian Rhythms and Biological Clocks” (or something to that effect). Even that subject has grown in leaps and bounds since I studied it in 2001. It really is amazing, even though I’ve only kept up with the field peripherally. The seminar was 9-11 a.m. and I was cutting through the student union around 8:45. A news report was on showing smoke coming from one of the Twin Towers. My first thought was confusion- I didn’t think it was the anniversary of the bombing in the ’90s because that had been a Winter day with flurries. What I saw on the screen was a gorgeous cloudless day just like the one that I saw outside in Williamstown, MA. Within a minute, I realized that it was real-time. Even still, the exact situation was unknown and what was known was that I had to get to class. An absence was non-excusable, apart from very limited circumstances.

The professor, whom I don’t remember although I can look it up, called the class to order, specifically saying to focus on matters at hand rather than developing news story. The next week, he briefly but deeply apologized, saying that he had no idea what had actually been happening. In the course of a 90 minutes seminar, the South Tower was hit and both towers collapsed. The world incontrovertibly changed while we were ensconced in a small academic bubble studying the current science in a field that has progressed in leaps and bounds during the following 19 years.

Since then, I’ve finished my career at Williams, followed by a medical career in the U.S. Navy since June, 2002. So much has changed within our country, our culture, our military, and our health care system. While there are deep, and even deepening, political divisions, I draw solace from the fact that overall, I feel we are learning from our circumstances and trying to effect change. I hope we are successful.

Free Wine

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After the Medlock Ames virtual wine tasting, I was on the lookout for similar events.  My father-in-law had mentioned Venge several times when discussing Napa/Sonoma trips so I decided to explore if there were any virtual tasting available.  While Medlock Ames had sampled full bottles that I already had as a wine club member, I was looking for wine tastings where little kits are mailed out with 3 oz pours.  This would be more in line with a normal wine tasting and I had seen a few wineries advertise it.

So, in mid-May, I searched for Venge virtual wine tastings and found an event on 3 June!  Success!  Best daughter-in-law ever!  There was a pretty basic page asking for my name and address, which I filled out.  It was under the domain name Lessonly, which sounded about right.  Wine lessons, Lessonly, online learning- it all fit!  No other information was required so I figured it was a request/mailing list/something?  I wasn’t sure it would work but since no significantly personal information was asked for- no credit card, birthday, etc- I felt ok.

So, out of sight, out of mind until the next week when I got an email from Lessonly saying they were looking forward to the event, but would I mind providing the company I worked for?  I ignored that email, thinking it was a bit weird when, the next day, I received a shipping notification from FedEx that I would have a package the next week.  Specifically, a 22-lb package from Venge.  Uh oh, that’s a lot more than 3 oz wine samplers.  And again, I had not provided any form of payment!

So, I wrote to the woman asking for the company name saying that there may be a mistake in that I thought I was signing up for a routine wine tasting and this seemed to be an industry/corporate event.  Well, to summarize a few emails, it turns out that the wine tasting was a customer appreciation event by Lessonly for its corporate customers.  I think the wine was already paid for and I was told to enjoy the wine, but I wasn’t invited to the actual virtual event (this was said very nicely).  It still seems super-weird to me that a tech company wouldn’t be able to keep out unwanted people from subpages on their website but, *shoulder shrug*, I got wine! Retail value $300+, omg.

I liked the Croix wines the best.  I brought over the Venge to my in-laws’ house where we enjoyed the three.  SMS and I liked the Merlot the best while my father-in-law liked the Cabernet the most.  I wasn’t as big a fan of Venge as some other wines.  I thought they were super-jammy and almost too rich.  But it was still delicious- I just mention my rank order in a way that I would rank a day of wine tastings.  Some places I like better than others but they’re all really good.

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Day 1: Bird Update

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“I’m not stressed, you’re stressed.  Thanks for the playground, BTW.”

I am concerned that the birds fragile nervous systems may lead to their untimely death.  SMS and I have increased their freaked-outedness recently.  They really do get stressed out.  First, SMS scared them due to killing house flies, which have increased a lot in the last week.  Since the process involved sudden movements, loud “thwacks,” and killing of flying things, we’re pretty sure the birds thought they were next.  Although their eyes are small, they seem to weirdly widen and roll around when they’re really freaked out.  They also refuse to go into their cage.  SMS has since developed a more subtle way of killing flies that the birds seem not to notice so they’ve recovered.

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It was time for the poopy mirror to go!

But then I decided to do a deep clean of their cage.  After the great mite outbreak of 2019 after the extended stay in the bird hotel (although to be fair, the fig tree may have been to blame), I have worried when they seem to preen/scratch themselves a lot.  I decided it was time to clean their cages and throw away all their toys.  Boo!  This was an unpopular move in bird land. I sealed the deal by spraying them with mite spray, which they haaate.

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A knitting needle for a perch…a pathetic temporizing measure.

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Amazon, it’s for the birds!

I went guilt-shopping though and bought new toys.  So, now they have a new perch, sitting circle (currently ignored), and a new playground that they love.  Joe-bird has also decided to fly towards the balcony door and hang out.  I fear he may go the way of Edward-bird someday.

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Joe-bird plots an escape…

You know, I used to think birdwatchers were weird and boring.  And now, here we are.

 

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Surrounded by toys and treats…birdie paradise?  Why would Joe-Bird want to go?

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Can’t cage us!