Monday, September 30, 2019

The Zoo Crew

Last year I found the perfect Christmas gift for my son and his family. I bought them a family pass for the Oakland Zoo. The pass has been well used and everyone benefits... even myself, as I get to join the family as a "guest"!

The other Grandmother and I have taken the kids to the zoo a few times this summer. There is so much to like about the zoo.

The kids love the gondola ride. It's great because we can push the stroller on and off, and we all have time to clamber aboard. From the gondola we get a birds-eye view of the bison and the camels, and see the amazing landscape.

From the gondola there is a wide, paved trail that winds through and above lovely large habitats for wolves, bald eagles, condors, jaguars, mountain lions and bears. We stop to see the animals. We've seen the wolves each time. They are elusive, hiding in the scrub below the raised walkway. We've seen the eagle eye-to-eye. It gives you a good feel for his awesome size.

The bears are always active. The zoo hides their food around the habitat, so we get to see them searching for breakfast. The path winds around the grizzly habitat, and has a window on a pond. One time when we were there the bears were having a wonderful time lounging in the water.

After the black bear habitat we come to the kids' favorite part of the zoo, the California Wilds Playground. The developers created several kid-friendly play areas in the zoo, and this playground has a number of "habitats" for kids to explore. There is a small stream to wade in, a desert area with burrows, a "mountain" kids can climb and slide down and other play areas.

Another area of the zoo has a kids discovery place with huge insects and arachnids to climb on.

We all loved watching the otters swim in their habitat. They were very entertaining.

And then... there was another river. Kellan discovered the river before we could redirect or interfere. He waded down the kid-friendly stream, and sat down in the water. Uh oh. We didn't think of bringing a change in clothes! Kellan spent the rest of the morning barefoot, and in his diaper. He didn't care!
Notice the wet legs of his pants
Adventure Landing is found as you exit the zoo. Last year we could distract the kids, and walk on by. That no longer works! The kids have learned the wonder of the merry-go-round and a few other rides.

Our little Amelia Earhart!

We will return, again and again!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Angel Island

A few weeks ago I blogged about barges... and what I could see from my window. From my window I can also see Angel Island. In fact, if it weren't for Angel Island, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge! 

Angel Island is the backdrop as sailboats jockey for position for the start of the weekly race. 
Angel Island is a State Park. It is accessible by ferry from Tiburon or from San Francisco. The Mister and I took our bikes, boarded the ferry in Tiburon, and explored Angel Island.

On the ferry, getting ready to leave Tiburon

Looking down into Ayala Cove. This is where the ferries come in.
Individuals may also rent moorings, bikes or take a tram tour. 
Angel Island has a storied past, with lots of history. Early on the Island was visited by Indians and sailors, and in 1850 it became a federal military reserve. Quarrying began, and rock was crushed to make roads on the island.

Remains of the stone crushers are found near the road, next to a quarry.

To safeguard against attack in the Civil War three artillery batteries were constructed and Camp Reynolds was built. There are still a number of buildings from this era, as well as additional buildings that were added to meet the needs of the military in later years.

The garrison building and other buildings at Camp Reynolds.
picture from Angel Island site.

This is the Camp Reynolds hospital, which was built in the early 1900's
The Island was used to support other military endeavors, and then in 1891 it became a quarantine station for ships entering San Francisco Bay. The island also housed soldiers with infectious diseases. In 1901 the detention facilities were used as a discharge camp for soldiers returning from the Philippines. Construction on Ft. McDowell and the immigration center began around 1910. Over 600,000 soldiers were processed through Ft. McDowell during the first World War.

Riding through Ft. McDowell - an amazing ghost town.

A Military Museum in the guard house and jail on Ft. McDowell

Only a few of the buildings at the fort's east garrison are still habitable. A few of the officer's quarters are used for resident staff of the park.

We could not ride our bikes down to the immigration station, which is often referred to as the Ellis Island of the west. We both wanted to see it... next trip! Over 225,000 immigrants were detained at the station between 1910 and 1940. Most of the immigrants were Chinese or Japanese. Those wishing to come to our country at that time had to be educated and practicing needed professions. The country did not want laborers to come in from other countries taking jobs from Americans.

During World War II the garrison was again used for a point of embarkation for soldiers as well as to detain prisoners of war. In 1945 the island was used, once again, to process returning soldiers.

In the 1950's an area of the island became a Nike missile base, with 12 underground missiles designed for anti-aircraft defense. The missiles were removed in the early 60's and the island was turned over to the State.

The Perimeter Road around the island is about 5 miles in length. Bikers, hikers, Segway tours and a tram tour circle the island. The road was almost always our own as we peddled up and down the hills and enjoyed the spectacular views!

Looking towards are house
The Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland
The Golden Gate Bridge
A container ship is heading out to sea.
It looks as big as Alcatraz, which is on the right.,
and seemingly dwarfs San Francisco.

Folks with bikes boarded the return ferry first.
Here is the line of folks following us onto the boat. 
Our return to Tiburon, after a glorious day on Angel Island,
and an amazing trip through time!

Sunday, September 22, 2019


Ferry service between Richmond and San Francisco began in January this year, after being promised for years. We see the ferries as they go in and out of the channel in front of the house, as well as ferries from other locations out on the bay. The dock is about three miles from our home.

Recently I took the time to take the ferry to San Francisco.

Ferry at the dock in Point Richmond with San Francisco visible through the fog behind the boat

The "Mr." watching as I board the ferry. 

A view from the stern of the ferry as we left the dock.

The view of my neighborhood from the ferry.
My house is one of those "little boxes" on the hillside.

Ferry Point near Miller Knox Regional Park.
Before bridges and tunnels, trains would ferry across the bay to San Francisco from this point
I walk by this building every morning, but have never seen the view from the sea

The Richmond bridge across San Francisco Bay 

Getting closer to San Francisco
Here's a great view of the city and the  Bay Bridge extending to Oakland 
I had such an enjoyable time. If I were working in San Francisco, I would love taking the ferry back and forth. What an amazing, relaxing way to travel to the city.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Let my fingers do the shopping

Do you still remember the jingle for the Yellow Pages ad from the 60's? (Let your fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages. Read the ads. Learn the facts. Find it fast.) Well, of course you don't. You were far too young!! But, as soon as I thought about writing this post the jingle came to mind - and doesn't seem to want to leave!

Last evening I was at my son's house and he was talking about doing his weekly grocery shopping... online. He, and many like him have changed the way business is conducted. He has used an online grocery delivery service for years and only visits a brick and mortar store when he needs a special item at the last minute, or runs out of a staple. Sunday morning the family sits down to talk about the coming week and their grocery needs. He submits the order and a few hours later his food is on the doorstep. It made me think...

I don't particularly care to go grocery shopping. In California the traffic is horrendous. In Florida the grocery stores are limited in what they carry or are further away than I care to drive...  and ditto the traffic. So, thought I, why not give online shopping a try?!

The first service I found that delivers in my area was Instacart. Instacart employs shoppers who go to one or more stores in the area to shop for online clients. In CA I can select from about 4 grocery stores, SAM's, Costco and even Petco, to name a few. (This post is strictly an overview of my experiences. It is not necessarily an endorsement and I have received nothing from any entity to post this information.) The service has both a web-based interface and an app for a smartphone or iPad. I began playing around online, then downloaded the app. I haven't figured out how to make them sync, so my order didn't show on my phone. Maybe now that I have signed up for both interfaces they'll play well together on my next order.

I think I might like online shopping! I found ordering to be really easy. I could search for items, pick which I wanted and add them to my cart in whatever quantity I desired. There were a few items that didn't come up in my search. For example, I wanted a bag of Candy Corn. I knew the store had Halloween candy. I could even "see" the aisle in my mind where it was located. But, searching brought up no seasonal candy. However, at the bottom of the page there is a link for "Add a special request". I typed in Brach's Candy Corn, and was given the option to add a picture. Clicking on that , brought up dozens of images from the Internet. I could pick the brand I wanted, and the picture was added to my request. On every item I ordered I also had the opportunity to leave notes for the shopper. So, for "Corn on the cob" I indicated I only wanted the corn if it was really fresh, and if the stem wasn't dried out at all.

The prices from the store I was ordering from seemed to be almost the same as the prices I would pay were I in the store. I did look at a few items at a competitor's store, and the prices seemed rather high.  I noticed that the price for a Costco rotisserie chicken was $6.09 online, where it is $4.99 at the store. However, it is my understanding that you don't have to be a member of Costco to order from them through Instacart, so they must tack on a bit to make up that difference. Sale items were also included, and some of the prices I paid were actually less than the prices shown online.

I liked how this manner of shopping made me think about what I might prepare over the next few days. No more scrounging around in the fridge at 5:30 6:30, trying to cobble something together for dinner! Since the price for delivery changes is based on the total of your order, I also wanted to get over the $35 minimum for the $5.99 delivery fee - seriously... how hard was that?! (In reality, I didn't pay a delivery fee as I opted to try out Instacart Express for free for two weeks. The express program has an annual fee of about $150 which offers free delivery on orders over $35 for a year.) I am a bit picky about my vegetables and fruit, as well as meat. This time I didn't order any meat as we had stocked up on it last week. However, I do understand others' reluctance in having a total stranger pick out things I pick out by touch, sniff or by careful visual scrutiny. The corn was rejected by the shopper. She sent me this message: ".... your Instacart Shopper: Hello! The ends of the corn are very dry so I marked them as “couldn’t find”. Later, I realized I had forgotten to add eggs, so I texted her and she added them to the list for me.

I was given several options for delivery times. I opted for the first two-hour window and within that time frame my shopper arrived at my doorstep, scanned my ID since I ordered wine (yes! you can even get that if the store offers it!), delivered my groceries, and was on her way. I carried several bags into the house, put the groceries away and went on with my activities. It was a pleasant shopping experience in many respects! No traffic hassles, parking hassles or trudging up and down aisles. I didn't have to schlep bags from cart to truck and from truck to house. Once I had made my list and sent it on its way, I was free to tackle other pursuits... well, so vacuuming wasn't necessarily enjoyable, but I did get it out of the way!

Here is a summary of the expenses for my shopping "trip". All of the fees were computed by Instacart. It is my understanding that one can change and/or eliminate the service fee. The tip can also be changed. I gave my shopper a cash tip, in addition to this paltry sum computed by Instacart.

All in all, even if I paid an additional $5.99 for delivery, this seems well worth the savings in time and hassles. Oh, and I would hazard a guess, that were I shopping at the store I would slip additional items into the cart whose total would far surpass the fees I paid for being removed from that temptation!

If you are thinking of trying Instacart I can get you a $10 coupon (for a limited number of folks). Just saying!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Can't leave well enough alone...

Or maybe I should have titled this post:

image from
In April I blogged about the new, new house. I mentioned that there were a few things we didn't like about the new, new house. One of those was that in preparing the house for sale, the previous owner had all of the walls painted a "neutral" color. I actually like yellow, but enough is enough! I also thought that the powder room was really boring. It was boring in yellow, it would have been boring in beige (as it looks in the picture below) as well! So, I decided to do something about it. I'm not sure I picked the right path... but (see quote above!)

Although it looks beige... it is yellow. Trust me!
Nothing Done!
Mark placement with tape - Done!

Cut and install wood pieces - Done!

Paint upper wall and prime wood - Done!
Sand wood - Done!
Paint wood and space between - Done!
Sand wood - Done!
Repaint wood - Done!
Sand wood - Done!
Seriously... another coat on the wood?!

Install tile - Done!
Why, oh why, couldn't I have been satisfied with a simple coat of paint?!

Grout tile - Done!
Install towel holder - Done!
Order and install mirror - Done!
Replace light fixture - Done!

 Now I'm finished, right?

See title...

Get a new trash can - Done!
Get a toilet paper holder - Done!
Get a cutesy towel tray & paper hand towels for the back of the toilet - Done!

Now I'm finished, right?

See title....

Stop by a salvage shop and find a window shutter with character. Scrub it. Brush off flaking paint. Install it on the wall. 

Now... I am truly done*!



I think it is perfect!

* Forgive me, Sybil!
For years I worked with an amazing English teacher. She taught the 6th graders (and her colleagues) that potatoes are "done" and projects/papers/works of art/etc. are "finished". I do know the difference, but kept the improper usage in the spirit of the beginning quotation.

What is Four?

Have you ever thought of the meaning of "four"?  Four is the number of: seasons in a year. corners and sides to a square. virtues....