Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time!

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2019 Christmas Card of the Year!

Christmas festivities throughout December…

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I blogged about it “December 7” thanks to back-dating, but SMS and I went to December Lights and recreated our meeting 7 years ago!  We went during the day because we went to his sister and husband’s Christmas party that evening.

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The next week, I travelled back to Virginia to do three cochlear implants.  It was supposed to be four but my last patient had uncontrolled hypertension with a headache. So, elective surgery was deemed too risky.  In addition to resident lectures and operating, I had a very full social calendar!  On the Wednesday, I got my haircut by MonaLisa.  If you are ever in Norfolk, she has my highest recommendation!  She also cuts the most stylish couple in Norfolk’s hair so if my hair looks like a rat’s nest, it’s my fault, not MonaLisa!  That evening, I went to Codex for a solo dinner.  The next night, I went to Codex with my two friends from the Norfolk bookclub I started and is still going strong.  On Friday, I went to SantaLand Diaries at the Well theater with my friend and several of her neighborhood women friends.  It was a great group, the play was awesome, and we went out to St. Germaine’s for drinks afterwards.

On Saturday, I got up at 4:15 (ugh!) to catch a flight back to the West Coast for SMS’ company party, a huge bash with 700+ guests in a transformed space at the company’s headquarters.  It was a really well done, festive affair!

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Looking sparkly for the party, per invite dress code!

 

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Photos weren’t allowed inside so we took advantage of the photo station!

The next week, back in San Diego, I went to a very cute and mercifully short school holiday concert that Rip and Linda’s neighbor’s children participated in.  It definitely put us in the Christmas spirit!

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Festive attire!  Would have fit in at Lucid!

Christmas cards started trickling in and I was delighted to receive a card from my friend’s nom de plume persona, who is a successful writer of motorcycle club romance novels.  Did you know that romance novels have lots of sub-genres?  Since I don’t really read them (except some of my friend’s books), it was news to me.

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This would fall on Santa’s naughty list!

SMS and I went to the Crack Shack when he arrived for the Christmas holiday week.  It was very delicious.  I got the matzo ball pozole and can definitely recommend.  Not so sure about the bathrobe sweater look on anyone under 6 feet tall but, hey, I’m trying to stay up with the trends!  Tag did not specify height requirement!

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Festive chicken!
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Delightfully fuzzy Sherpa sweater/pajama top from Mom and Dad. Also trendy!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in Newport Beach.  We had family quality time with SMS’ Mom and Dad, and his two grandfathers at two different family dinners.

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Christmas morning rainbow!

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Norfolk friends we saw in Costa Mesa.  Jordan and I feel this picture is truest to life!  Handsome men with laayyyy-ddiiiess!!!

 

 

Highlights: October 2019

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Wrapping up October with a quick fly-by!  I have to be done by the New Year- new resolution, more frequent blogging.  This has only been made and broken many times!

So, first things first.  The above picture is from a dresser I have from my parents.  It dates back to childhood and I just recently noticed by sister’s long-ago vandalism.  When I texted her on WhatsApp (would we ever have thought?!) she said, “That’s me!!”

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I finally got my own office and moved out of my temporary digs.  As a present, I left a few Milk Duds in the toilet bowl (see an earlier post entitled, Office Prankster).  I think it’s funny and I’m fairly certain was never seen by anyone other than me and the janitor.

I found Sidecar Doughnuts in Del Mar Heights.  This was a delicious, although unnecessary, discovery.

SMS and I took a hike at Huddart Park after the Wunderlich parking lot was full.  It ended up being a stroke of good luck because now we know of two cool parks to hike in, both with second-growth redwoods.  From the sign, it would be safer to have a child with us that we can hold in front of us should a mountain lion stalk us.

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We also went to the Blue Angels show during Fleet Week, San Francisco.  I tried very hard to picture myself as a sailor.  Hmmmm….  The Blue Angels were pretty spectacular and we had a great spot on a gorgeous day!

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I got tickets to the SLAC Community Open House and surprised SMS with a fun date night.  I feel this date night disappointed my sister-in-law, whom I had told we had a cool date night and the next day, when I told her where it was, I could feel the palpable “You guys are such dorks” waves come through the phone lines.

We managed to get some limited tickets to see the actual linear accelerator.  It was very cool so I took a few photos.  I think I need a klystron, with accompanying warning sign, in my own workspace.

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I found a cool outdoor/indoor coffee bar in Little Italy, Lofty!

Jenny invited me to Lizzo!  It was an excellent concert!

SMS and I had San Diego’s best!breakfast! at Hob Nob Hill restaurant.

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New wall art!

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Pretty flower shop in at the North Park/South Park junction!

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Hanging out in San Diego, not sure where?  Wait!  We are at Cabrillo National Monument.  Looking cute, might delete later!

And finally, Halloween.  The department secretary organized everyone (read: six fools) to buy Waldo costumes, which was a lot of fun.  I made a layered chocolate cake from Martha Stewart, which was delicious.  I did have a Martha fail while making it (see rightmost photo), where I learned that you can over whip Whipped Cream!

Highlights: September 2019

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The biggest highlight of all was my beautiful sister, lovely husband, and cutest baby had their wedding/celebration of love in Minneapolis.  They held it at Summit Manor but the whole weekend was a whirlwind of festivities and family time.  The wedding itself was 1 Sept so here we are with the main event in the proper month highlights (some sort of system is needed for this mega-summary approach to the second half of 2019!).

The wedding was awesome!  Brady and Ricardo have awesome family and friends.  SMS and I had the best time aaannnnnddd…I got to give a MOH speech!  Brady was such an amazing MOH that I wanted to be one to and, at a minimum, I didn’t embarrass myself!  I also did some important MOH duties like booking a group nail appointment (which I missed due to flight delays) and day of make-up and hair for the bride!

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The day after the wedding, we went down to a brewery that SMS had found.  We wanted to ride scooters but thought, no way would four show up all together and…manifesting to the universe worked!  There were four scooters in a row and away we went, me bringing up the rear as a scooter chicken!  SMS and Ed were the bravest, going off-roading down a grassy hill with zero casualties.  Good job!

I got the beer sampler and, as luck would have it, got the confused newbie who gave me medium sized cups instead of the sampler cups.  My sister-in-law was very jealous to which I say…

Here are a few shots of SMS.  On the left is in Minnesota and on the right is somewhere in the Bay Area the next weekend.

Below is a New Yorker cartoon I find very funny.  I think I’m going to order a print of it.

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CREDIT: The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank

Above are a few photos from Coronado.  Left to right, a pretty sunset; my balcony garden; SMS being the consummate law-abiding pedestrian waiting for the walk sign without his renegade wife; the queen-sized Ikea bed I put together myself!

I saw three author talks in San Diego: Colson Whitehead (Underground Railroad, The Nickel Boys), Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers), and Bruce Holsinger (The Gifted School).  All three were excellent.  I liked Bruce Holsinger’s talk the most because it focused a lot on the academic practice of writing since both he and the interviewer are Literature professors.

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St. Frank Coffee, Menlo Park.  Take-away or outdoor table only.  A nice find by SMS!
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Applewood Inn, Guerneville

We went up to Sonoma with Rip and Linda for two Harvest Parties: Medlock Ames and Lancaster with a stop at the Hawkes tasting room.  It was an awesome weekend.  I love Medlock Ames wines and they threw a great party!

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SMS at Medlock Ames
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Medlock Ames, SMS and parents

On Sunday, we went to Armstrong Redwoods State National Preserve to walk among the Redwoods, which I think is the thing to do since there aren’t too many old-growth redwood stands around! Logging was so widespread in the 1800s that most redwood forests now are second-growth and while impressive, do not even approach the size of the 1000+ year old trees!

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Chair inspiration

 

Highlights: August 2019 (Part 2: Birthday in Lake Tahoe)

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Someone had a milestone birthday this year!  Although it was a packed first half of August, I had planned for a trip to Lake Tahoe to celebrate SMS’ birthday.  We rented a cabin and invited a few of our friends.  It was an amazing weekend and I absolutely love Lake Tahoe.  It is so beautiful.

So, to back up, we arrived in San Diego on the 7th and had a family dinner to celebrate SMS’ birthday.  The next day, we flew up North and got ready for our Tahoe weekend.  We did celebrate by going to Taverna for a delicious Greek meal.  I ordered the grilled octopus which I don’t get too often since SMS doesn’t care for it but it was amazing.  Yum!

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SMS gets a great present from John!
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We had a superhero visit for the party!

The next day, we drove up to Lake Tahoe.  We stopped at our normal lunch spot in Sacramento, the Magpie Cafe.  We got to the house mid-afternoon.  John was already there and we hung out while waiting for our other friends to arrive.  The house was absolutely gorgeous and from the start, we knew we had picked out a great place for an awesome weekend.

The next day, we had big plans for an awesome mountain biking ride.  Four of us went- SMS and his friend Michelle are good bikers, Akshay and I not so much.  But we were in shape and we could hang.  Akshay hadn’t even been on a bike in years!

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We went on the Flume trail which started with 4 miles uphill, 4 miles traversing the flat ridgeline overlooking Lake Tahoe (amazing!), and 4 miles downhill back to the bike shop.  It was a lot of fun and really beautiful.  We rented our bikes from Flume Trail bikes, which has the highest recommendation from me!  We took the shuttle van up to the trailhead and then began our bike ride.

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Marlette Lake

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Such a weird picture- don’t worry, I didn’t actually break my bike into two!

The uphill eventually smoked Akshay and I.  There was an older guy who was with his son and son’s friend who kept riding back and forth, encouraging us and his not-so-in-shape companions along.  It was simultaneously nice, impressive, and annoying.

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Lake Tahoe

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I stopped at one particularly beautiful vista along the way.  Even though the ridgeline was flat, it was pretty narrow and required a lot of my concentration.  So, for a bit, I stopped to look at the view which was extraordinary.

That night, we had a taco feast with veg and non-veg options.  SMS chose a Japanese-style  roll sponge cake from Satura.  It was a really great time with a wonderful group of people.

The next day, we decided to go to Mt. Rose for a hike.  It was a hike near Incline Village and had good reviews on AllTrails but other than that, I didn’t know a lot about it.  The first two miles led to a waterfall that was very pretty.

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Starting out on the Mt Rose trail

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The highlight of the hike for me was beyond that, when we were walking up the mountain.  We happened to be hiking during butterfly migration season (I think) and for the last mile of the hike, there were butterflies everywhere.  The little clip below shows what I called “Butterfly Alley.”  All those moving dot?  Butterflies!!

SMS and I were the only ones who decided to go to the summit.  The views of Lake Tahoe were magnificent!

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On the way back, the trail cut its way through beautiful chaparral.

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I had SMS and John walk back and forth twice to get this picture…two Eagle Scouts in one picture!  We went back to the house where the hot tub was being put to good use by the A family.

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Lower altitude view from the Mt Rose trail.

The next morning, it was just SMS and I in the house.  I had a cup of coffee, enjoyed the view, and pretended the house was mine.

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View from the lower deck of the house.

Highlights: July 2019 (Part 2)

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Aaaand…we’re back!  Second half of July!  On Saturday, I decided to treat ourselves by booking tickets to Hamilton!  I have wanted to see the show for a really long time.  I was excited to take SMS to a show since it isn’t something we have really done together before.  Actually, we had seen Wicked and that was pretty awesome but that was six years ago!

In the spirit of a decadent night out, we went to Rich Table in San Francisco for an early dinner. Jyotsna raved about the place and she was right- it was exceptional!  The menu changes often but there are a few regulars.  We ordered two: the dried porcini doughnuts, raclette and the sardine potato chip with horseradish.  The former was sublime and the latter was interesting but not worth ordering again.  As I type this, I’m getting a case of serious deja vu…wait!  I wrote about this in June!  But we went in July!  Oh, the perils and trials of writing too late.  But this was definitely Rich Table.  June was State Bird Provisions, now that I think about it.  I am writing this correction here because who knows if I’ll get to it in the actual post.  I can’t even blog on time!  Anyway, between the two restaurants, I would go to Rich Table any day but both are gustatory treats!

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Hamilton was awesome.  Wow, such an original opinion and so cutting-edge!  I had listened to the soundtrack prior to the show, but the experience was elevated by the incredible staging.  My favorite aspect was the rotating stage that was particularly effective during a slightly dream-like, time-and-perspective shifting scene during the song “Satisfied.”  I also liked seeing King George III on the sides of different scenes with his snarky expressions and body language even when his songs weren’t featured.

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Guess who Ishann loves the best?  Ok, ok, it’s probably his parents but it’s hard to tell when SMS is around!

The next day, we met up with Jyotsna and Akshay for our long-planned Pt. Reyes picnic and outing.  We went to Tomales Bay Oyster Co for several dozen oysters.  Unfortunately, they no longer have picnic facilities there so we went to Pt. Reyes Station and ate in the small garden/picnic area of Cowgirl Creamery.  There, we supplemented our picnic with cheese, bread, and a few other delicious things like…wine!

After our picnic, we decided to go to Heidrun Meadery, a favorite of A&J.  We had gotten a late-ish start so we didn’t have it in us to head out to the lighthouse, although it is a great place.  It just adds a fair bit of car time to take the backroads to the farthest parts of Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Sitting on the kid’s chair outside the “secret door” to the picnic area underneath the tree canopy.  Pro tip: don’t cut to the right because there is a branch that will try to impale itself into your head.  Trust me.  It doesn’t tickle.
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Ishaan takes half the tree home to plant as a sapling.  Don’t worry- this sapling harvest was supervised and approved by a meadery worker!

After an awesome house-hunting leave (and I did find an apartment on Craigslist for Coronado!), I went back to work.  I really worked until the very end, seeing clinic and even operating on my very last day (31 July) because a patient really wanted me to do her tracheostomy.  She said I “didn’t bullshit her” when talking about medical care so chalk that up to good bedside manner (I think!).

Before that last day, however, I spent the last weekend of July in Belmar, NJ where I got together with my college friends whom I’ve kept in touch with for the last 18 years and known for the last 21!  Ooo, I just noticed those years are very college-age lengths of time.  I drove from Norfolk to NJ via Philadelphia to pick up Gisele and her sons.  My brain was a little fried from PA traffic and the stress of being late, but once we arrived in NJ, things were pret-ty perfect!  The six of us hung out all weekend long and were fairly mellow.  I had the best time and feel so lucky to know these wonderful women.  We were missing one of our “group,” who’s on the West Coast and recently-ish had a baby but six out of seven isn’t bad.  Keeping in touch doesn’t seem to be anyone’s strong suit in the group but we write and get together just enough that I feel we are still in each other’s lives.  Four of the seven live in the NYC area so they’re in more frequent contact (lucky!) but there’s still room for the three of us who aren’t local!

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Argh, I hate being on the end for photos!  But I’m glad we got an adult group shot!

Finally, after a month of highlight upon highlight, it was time to leave Norfolk.  SMS flew in on the 31st in preparation for leaving 1 Aug.  Our trip will be featured in next month’s highlights but a teaser photo is below.

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Time to keep the birds alive in the Summer heat of the Southern Interstate cross-country route!  The little birds did not do their fair share of driving, spoiler alert!