The best 48 hours in LA!

Excuse the blatant SEO attempt but I would love to get more blog followers in 2020.  Why this year and not, say, several years ago when blogs were actually in their heyday?  Eh, who knows?

So, since SMS was already in San Diego and we had the weekend to ourselves, we decided to take a road trip to LA.  We meant to leave around lunch, but tragedy struck…

Edward-bird, the most skittish and food-avoidant of the four paraquitos, bolted for the door as I was leaving for work Friday morning.  I saw him out of the corner of my eye when he had already made it outside.  Although we waited around all day and tried to lure him back, he was nowhere to be found after a brief 10 a.m. sighting by SMS.  I am sad, although his real parents (aka, my Mom and Dad) seem to be handling it well.  Maybe because they told me to let them fly out the door months ago.  But I will not!  At least not all of them.  So, now there are three…

After dusk, we locked up the apartment and headed up to LA.  We stopped for a charge at One Paseo and had dinner at North Italia.  It was delicious and an easy stop, one we hadn’t planned or researched but still ended up with a great dinner.  We arrived in LA, parked in the public parking lot (saving $30/night, yeah!), and walked to the hotel.  We stayed at the Kimpton Everly, where I had booked a last-minute reservation under the military rate.  I was expecting a room over the dumpster but instead, we got a room on the top floor, #16!  The view was spectacular, day and night!

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Amazing room and view on the 16th floor!

After a coffee, we headed out to SQRL, a very cool cafe in Virgil Village, LA.  We ordered coffee, the Big Tot, the ricotta toast rainbow-jam style, and the sexy Saturday biscuit, which, if you ate too many of them, would make your figure decidedly unsexy!  It was delicious and a great, if crowded, place to eat.

After the huge breakfast, we went to Runyon Canyon for a hike.  We were not swarmed by the paparazzi nor did we see a celebrity but we did see beautiful views of LA and the large houses/estates in the surrounding area.

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Ready for our close-up!  See the Hollywood Sign/Smudge between our heads?
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Panorama View!

After Runyon Canyon, we attempted to go to the Getty but the traffic back-up was insane. So, we made a quick change of plans and went to the Huntington Library.  We grabbed a quick lunch at the cafe before wandering around the gardens, which were spectacular. My favorite was definitely the cactus garden, although the entire place was beautifully done.

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Reach for the sky!
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Cactus or kale?
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It looked like a scene from Alice in Wonderland

We also walked through the Japanese garden, which was quite nice and had an interesting bonsai collection.  I don’t usually pay too much attention to bonsai exhibits but this was pretty cool.  I liked the bonsai that looked like little forest groves in miniature.

 

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Hanging out on the hill in the Japanese Garden

We went back to the hotel and went to Cleo for dinner.  A blogger/podcaster I follow recommended it.  It was fine, but I wouldn’t go back.  SMS put it best when he said it felt a little Gaslamp-like (downtown SD)- sort of tourist-trappy and overpriced.

While we were walking back to the hotel, we saw a ton of muscle cars and low-riders cruising and parking on Hollywood Blvd.  It was quite a scene with loud music from most of the cars and lots of spectators.  I feel lucky we walked by!

After a good night’s sleep and a room-service breakfast (such a treat!), we headed out to the Getty.

The Getty is such an architectural delight in addition to great museum.  We stood on several balconies and admired the views.  We also went to the visiting Manet exhibit focussing on his later work, which was excellent.  We also visited some of the permanent collection.

The left photo is of Manet’s “Still Life with Oysters and Champagne,” which matched our festive mood with oysters the night before and the New Year coming up!  I think icon paintings are super cool and “The Coronation of the Virgin” by Gentile da Fabriano was my favorite of the bunch.

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In the Manet exhibit, the side description had the most spirited quote from Manet regarding a gift of mandarin oranges: “Since M. Étienne Barroil is a gentleman he sent me a taste of his sunshine.  When I go out, I fill my pockets with them and given them to the local children…They’d probably prefer money, but I prefer to give them something I enjoy.  The pleasures of this world!  They’re made of things that mean little to some but a lot to others.”

 

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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Screen Shot 2019-12-22 at 8.51.56 AM

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.