March 5, 2011

Travel-velocity slow to stop

Travel is tough when the view looks like this. For me actually it isn't the rain that keeps me home but the city view. I love my San Francisco view plain and simple. It makes it difficult for me to leave. Crazy? Maybe.

I certainly have friends who can't wait to get away to somewhere warm and dry by the time February and March arrive. They either live in the snow and are tired of shoveling the white stuff and driving through it, or they live in the northern wet and muddy regions. However for me, I can't complain because for the most part our weather in San Francisco is mild compared to places like Seattle or Boston.

So, I think I will sit here and enjoy this passing storm, not complain when I have to put on a rain slicker to take the dog out for a walk, and contemplate my return to Japan. I am due for an Asia adventure and it has been quite a few years since a flight took me in that direction. So far three good reasons: Japanese friends are having babies, I'm interested in experiencing Vietnam, and I would like to go back to Bali again.

February 23, 2011

Do these Creative People travel?

These detailed sculptures made from household items are hilarious. The way they were photographed helps too.  Now my question is: does travel spark creativity like this or are they already creative and naturally came up with these great images?

January 29, 2011

Lions and Tigers Oh My!

Falling back in love with San Francisco, I have been exploring my city by foot and by neighborhood.  Recently I went to the re-opened and completely renovated California Academy of Sciences.

This science hall could be an entire day if you want or a healthy four hours.  They have exhibits like this one, with incredible life-like lions and tigers.  If you stay longer, I suggest adding a visit to the Planetarium to rest your feet while you enjoy the view.

January 22, 2011

Oxbow Public Market in Napa helps fill the void

Day trips from San Francisco. Why leave this great city and head north? On a sunny day it would be a tough call but unless you left really early and plan to stay in Tahoe to ski, my favorite incentive to head north across the Golden Gate Bridge would have to be to check out Napa.  Downtown Napa around the waterfront has been getting a much needed face-lift since COPIA closed.

COPIA was wonderful and I will miss Julia's Kitchen as well as the good intentions of this wine, food and arts center.  However what is a great surprise and treat is my discovery of the Oxbow Public Market across the parking lot.

Fresh Oysters at Hog Island

This marketplace reminded me a little of the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace.  The vendors are all local and focused closely on good quality products. They compliment each other and include: Ritual Coffee Roaster, Fatted Calf, C Casa Taqueria, Three Twins Ice Cream, Five Dot Ranch, Hog Island Oyster Co. to name just some of the great food choices.

Best Oysters Rockefeller!
Besides the fresh oysters, we also had a homemade hot dog that was amazing at Five Dot Ranch.  They asked our feedback and I was happy to describe how the flavor was perfection and we'd be back for sure.  What was delicious but I could have eaten more was the duck taco from C Casa Taqueria.  I think next time I will get a whole or half duck to take home too. They looks divine on the rotisserie!

We definitely plan to return for more and maybe get in a little kayak down the Napa River when the temperatures warm up.

December 28, 2010

Uniquely Japanese New Year

Photo courtesy of Mainichi Daily

These are "shimekazari" -- traditional New Year's decorations made with sacred Shinto rope of rice straw and other ornaments -- in the shape of samurai topknots.

When we lived in Japan you could find versions of these mounted on the sides of buildings and on someone's front door. I will never forget seeing the side of the Meiji-ya Grocery Store building in Hiroo.  Hiroo is a neighborhood filled with embassies and western families.  The Meiji-ya had both western Christmas decorations mixed in with the Japanese. 

I love how uniquely Japanese these New Year's decorations are in their symbols.  Each section is specific in how it relates to the new year, prosperity, good health et al.

What is a little sad is that the skill and knowledge on how to make something like this, is fading within the country.

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu
Otoshi o yoroshiku onegaishimasu



December 14, 2010

Giving Fearlessly: Cleo and the Song of the Sea

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Giving Fearlessly: Cleo and the Song of the Sea

We love taking our dog to the beach. On the edge of town, where the hang gliders soar off of wind swept cliffs, is a wonderful stretch of beach that allows off-leash play for dogs. Our big German Shepherd-Siberian Husky girl loves chasing shore birds and having loads of space to stretch her legs while running across the cool wet sand.

One afternoon, during a rare heat wave, the three of us were enjoying the quiet empty beach. The temperature was mild, which is rare because the cold Pacific Ocean temperatures ensure the need for even a light windbreaker on the sunniest of days. We walked for an hour in almost humid conditions. The warm mist and low tide encouraged my imagination to create a stranded pirate ship just past the breakers.

We didn't see anyone, only a few sand dollars and few birds but I did capture some unusual photos.  This photograph above highlights the special solitude of our beach walk that day and it is a beautiful reminder of the unique relationship between man and dog.

I've read that dogs make us human, and this photo of quiet companionship seems to support that theory. My husband didn't realize that I had captured this wonderful moment. He was enjoying the walk with our dog too much to pay that much attention to what images I was snapping my lens at. When we got home and I saw this amazing moment captured, I knew it would have to become a gift.

A few months later, after I turned this photo into a canvas, it was wrapped and under our Christmas tree.  To my husband's surprise and delight, it became one of the best gifts I've ever given him.  He has it hanging today near his desk as a reminder of how fortunate we are to live where we do and to have found such a wonderful rescue dog at the SPCA.

Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.

More info about Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C)

SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info

December 11, 2010

Another side to San Francisco

Recycling that is often condemned but rarely seen in daylight
Here is one side of the green movement in San Francisco that you don't see very often, at least not in daylight.  Residential neighborhoods regularly get men and women walking the streets and plucking cans and bottles from public and private trash cans.  They carry their bags this way or if part of a larger crew, they will covertly meet up with a truck parked or idling further down the street.

December 8, 2010

Traveling with Dogs - Wordless Wednesday

Canine Cargo or Puppy Passenger?
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