Once again reminiscing back to January, Maritza, Ramon and I made it to Alcatraz on a chilly, sleepy Wednesday in San Francisco. The gray clouds hung overhead spewing light rang as we celebrated that there was no fog blocking our view of the city. We pulled up to the dock and saw the towering, concrete castle in front of us. Welcoming, isn’t it?
There were watch towers throughout the island — an ominous sign.
There were plenty of opportunities to snap pictures in the pathways between the buildings. Knowing that Ramon was leaving the next day made us want to stop and capture every moment.
This was one of my favorite audio tours mainly because of the vibrant, colorful interviews. As you walk through the prison, you hear the voices of actual guards and prisoners who describe what it was like to be so close to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco but never get to take part.
But even in prison, people like to decorate. We saw paintings, pottery, checkers, book collections and several different instruments.
The cell blocks really are intimidating. As you walk down the main row snuggled in your coat and scarf, the tape details the nerves of walking into the prison for the first time.
When we were not nerding out on history, we took in the beautiful views of the city. One of the most haunting images was on New Years Eve the prisoners would lie awake to hear the voices of people as they floated on yachts in the Bay.
And we posed for a couple of pictures, winter coats and all.
Aside from the views, my other favorite part was the many beautiful gardens. Up until the mid-1960s, prisoners tended the gardens, and then the plants went wild for years before volunteers started grooming them back into shape.
We also were able to see the outside of the guard homes that are falling apart.
Maritza, Ramon and I had a little photo shoot at the end.
And finally, a trip to Alcatraz is not complete without a tourist picture in front of a green screen.
So it has been a little while. And by a while, I mean 6 months! How does this happen? Life has been busy, yet still plenty of moments to pause and enjoy things like my little garden up above. In the last couple of months, I went on a three-day trip to San Francisco with Adam, one of my best friends from college, and his lovely girlfriend, Suzy, celebrated a birthday week for the lovely Lauren complete with a wonderfully colorful, nostalgic and silly skating party, went on a trip to Half Moon Bay for a much needed beach daycation, spent a wonderful Sacramento Beer Week with two of my favorite drinking buddies, enjoyed a reunion in Sacramento with the always wonderful Joelle, hit the road for a trip to South Lake Tahoe complete with beach, casino and mountain time, stayed awake 28 hours for an exhilarating, exhausting and mainly caffeine-infused Relay for Life and ate many delicious and fresh dinners with people I adore.
That’s kind of a lot of life, and I’ve been feeling sad that I don’t have collections of my photos on my blog to remember all of these moments. So here’s to catching up, starting with a bittersweet trip to San Francisco.
In January, my friend Ramon came back from Christmas vacation and realized he left his heart in Guam. He decided to move back home, and we only had a week to plan festivities. So I took off work on a Thursday, and Ramon, Maritza and I piled into the car to fulfill a goal we had talked about for a year — visit the infamous Alcatraz.
I took a ton of pictures, so I’m going to have to split them up into a couple of posts. It was pretty chilly, but luckily, there was no fog on the day that we went. We headed out on the tour boat with warm coats and gloves, and were eager to cross the choppy, chilly waters to reach the island. We took some touristy shots, even of the solar panels that power the boat. OK, so maybe I was the only one excited about the solar panels.
Pretty San Francisco was in the background as we pulled away from shore.
The sun would occasionally peek through the clouds as the Alcatraz Clipper sped through the water. The island loomed in the distance and gradually got bigger as we approached.
We did some some self portraits during the 15 minute boat ride. See, I told you we were bundled.
I can only imagine what it was like to arrive at Alcatraz for the first time.
I loved looking through the windows on the lower deck.
Gonna see what we can find today.
The lovely Miss Lauren and I went on a stroll recently through the neighborhoods of Lodi. We’ve tried to make neighborhood walks a regular thing in the afternoon as a little creative escape through our iPhone lenses.
On this particularly day, we decided to venture one block farther than our usual route. We were rewarded with a perfectly pink foreclosure home that made both Lauren and I swoon with envy. We dreamed about how we would make the house our own if we just had enough money to buy it.
I dreamed of the high-pointed ceilings and the perfect curtains I would sew for the living room. (Granted, this would involve me buying a sewing machine and learning to make curtains, but like I said, I was dreaming). I thought about all the different shadows from the tree limbs and how they would shift from morning to afternoon.
I imagined hauling out a ladder to pluck the oranges from the trees in January and displaying them in pretty vintage bowls throughout the house.
I’ve been taking a photo a day as part of a challenge on Instagram (my user name is maggie_creamer if you want to follow along). Today my task was to take a picture of childhood. My mind immediately jumped to the picture still on my dresser of Beena Shekar. Beena and I met in the second grade but didn’t really become besties until the 4th grade. After that, it was about eight years of walking in the sunshine, rain or snow to either middle or high school.
We played board games for hours after school. We would walk the full mile to the Kirkwood pool all the time with our towels, magazines and sunblock. And as soon as we could drive, it was off to Tropical Moose for snocones during the summertime. Even more fun was hanging out with her three lovely sisters and wonderful parents. I still remember Beena’s mom making us chocolate milkshakes at 3 a.m. in the morning during a sleepover and just thinking her family was the coolest ever!
I have learned so much from this wonderful friend and was so happy to be able to be there on her wedding day right after moving to California. Beena turned 26 years old today, and it is so weird to think of how many years we’ve been in each others lives.
So happy birthday Miss Beena! You are one of the smartest, most compassionate, loving and amazing people I know, and I hope you had a beyond lovely day!
I’m having a wonderful lazy Sunday in Lodi, and I decided it was time to write up my 27 Before 27 list. I turned 26 on December 27, but with the holidays, I wanted to wait to create my list, so I could put some thought into it.
I’m hoping to be a little more focused this year. I made my first list last year (26 Before 26), and was not so good at checking off all of the items. I’ve kept some of the items from last year’s list, either cause I did not complete them or because I really enjoyed them, and added at least a dozen new items. I can’t wait to get started!
27 Before 27
1. Blog at least weekly and find news ways to display photos on Word Press.
2. Take a trip to the Redwoods.
3. Go on a classic American road trip and make a video of it.
4. Find a volunteer activity and do it regularly.
5. Make 30 gifts throughout the year and send them to friends and family.
6. Work with and support the 11 other Whimsy for Wendys ladies.
7. Walk the Golden Gate bridge.
8. Buy a new camera and start click, click, clicking.
9. Watch 10 classic movies.
10. Go to the snow and go sledding.
11. Host at least one dinner party.
12. Go to a new destination every month that is historically, socially or artistically significant.
13. Make a website.
14. Go to a climbing gym and scale a wall.
15. Read at least a book a month and write a short review of each one.
16. Go vegetarian for a month.
17. Go to a play.
18. Send 10 letters to 10 people who have influenced my life.
19. Visit a new city alone.
20. Create a stricter budget and actually get money into an emergency savings account.
21. Learn about wine by visiting at least five wineries and five tasting rooms in Lodi.
22. Try one new craft every month.
23. Ride a mechanical bull.
24. Write a letter to myself to read at 40.
25. Learn to prepare five foods I’ve never cooked before.
26. Call at least one friend a week.
27. Be more mindful and grateful of all the wonderful things in my life by making weekly lists and saying “Thank you, more please.”
And this song of mine, in three quarter time, wishes you and yours the same thing too.
It’s officially the holidays, and I have listened to “The Christmas Waltz” by She & Him ad nauseam for the last three weeks. It is probably my favorite Christmas song regardless of who sings it, and their rendition is so lovely.
So a quick catch up on Thanksgiving. I worked in the morning and then headed over to Patrick and Paul’s house for a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Every year, P&P invite over anyone who cannot go home to enjoy a wonderful meal.
This year, Patrick made his batch of stuffing ever ,and there were two turkeys to chow down on. Oh, and homemade from scratch lemon meringue pie. Everyone was stuffed to say the least.
I spent the entire weekend hanging out with these two lovely gentleman, who I refer to as my California family, and their herd of dogs. We watched movies, visited some of their friends, gathered around their fire outside and decorated their tree. It’s been years since I’ve actually got to decorate a tree, and it was fun hearing all the stories about every ornament as I carefully placed them on a branch.
Patrick and Paul have some special ornaments that are pretty awesome. The first is the Merman, a dreamy cowboy with an even dreamier mustache.
They also have a Cher ornament, which makes me really think that no household Christmas tree is really ever complete without a Cher ornament.
While there, I was admiring Patrick’s large Santa collection. He told me that I need to get back into the decorating spirit because I don’t want to end up as an old lady with no memories of decorating for Christmas. He advised that every year I need to start shopping the after Christmas sales and buy one new item. He got my collection started with one of his prized Santas that has his own shelf in our bookshelf. It really was a touching gift! That week I came home and bought some dollar store ornaments to hang in our window, and they look pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.
So thanks Patrick and Paul for a wonderful weekend. I adore you both.
Whimsy comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes from a craft project that you sweated over for hours. It comes from a 22-second squealing penguin video. It comes from lying to strangers on a plane. It comes from saying bite me to Tinkerbell.
Maybe some of you are wondering over the past month why I have filled your Twitter and Facebook with references to the two W’s: Wendy and whimsy. They all relate to the new eBook I wrote with my 11 other lovely ladies that will teach adults (who hate the term adults) how to still find magic in the day-to-day grind of work, chores, errands, drama and all the other stuff that gets in the way from you finding happiness. It gives real life examples, and goals for you to reach to lead a more silly, fun, relaxed and hopefully healthier life.
So why Wendy? Let me let the lovely Annie Passanisi explain:
J.M. Barrie’s famous heroine, the paramour of Peter Pan, is painted as the very pink of youthful zeal and girlish charm until the last chapter of the book and then WHAM – she booked a one way ticket on the Crone Express. She realizes she must leave Neverland to grow up (good girl, Wendy), forgets how to fly (bad bad BAD girl, Wendy) and ships her children and grandchildren off to have fun in her place (oh, come on! Seriously?).
Wendy’s story, as beautiful as it began, has one very simple moral: when you grow up, your life (and all its joys)… just… stops.
But that doesn’t have to be the case! Here’s what two lovely ladies told me after reading the book:
“This book made me so grateful there are other women out there who want to grow up without being boring. A little whimsy is exactly what I needed.” — Shannon Jewitt
“A reminder that it’s okay to be happy and silly, to expect more from every day, and that it doesn’t matter if I’m sometimes unsure of the big picture. This is something that uplifts me every time I read the stories of women who find whimsy their own way, whether dredging their own course with tools like a white board and marker, trying out a fake identity on a stranger, or finding true happiness with a penguin on a YouTube video.” — Lauren Nelson (Read more here).
So basically you need this book. You can read it on the computer, any e-readers and some phones. (Cue used care salesman’s voice): So now that you’ve heard what this book can do for you let me tell you about our low introductory rate. From this moment through midnight on Friday, you can name your own price on this little gem. Anywhere from $10 on up. What a steal. <Cue enthusiastic audience gaps>
But seriously take advantage of our pay what you wish sale and get this book for not only yourself but for all the other Wendys on your Christmas list! Oh, and have a lovely day.
During the past couple of weeks, several of the bloggers I follow have talked about their holiday traditions. One of the things I wanted to start this year is a list of things I am thankful for, especially around the holidays it is easy to focus on all the stressful parts. I debated how many things I wanted to write, and decided to attach it with my age.
So here we go:
25 Things I Am Thankful For:
1. Red, waxy fall leaves.
2. The coziness of my new huge kitchen.
3. My ability to fall asleep within 10 minutes of lying down.
4. Google+ dance parties.
5. Becoming a part of the wonderful Whimsical Wendys. (We have a great holiday special going on right now. $20 to buy the lovely eBook and that includes a whole bunch of extra bonuses.)
6. Fog on days when I have to start work early.
7. Visits with my mom where we get to explore California.
8. Pumkin coffee and beer.
9. The excitement I feel for my trip home to see family and friends at Christmas.
10. Great landlords who have been fair to me and made moving easy.
11. Even greater friends who helped with every moment of the move, including the mini-breakdown.
12. Phone pics of my dog Willie.
13. Friends who listen to my rants on the phone.
14. The train whistle in Lodi.
15. Not only my ability to but my desire to challenge myself daily.
16. My love of dancing and that I have so many friends who share it.
17. My new porch
18. A job where I get to see Bald Eagles and learn to bake pies and am surrounded by other creative people.
19. Zooey Deschanel and her lovely voice.
20. The giggles of two friends.
21. My newly found love of basil.
22. My second home at the Mercantile Saloon.
23. Facebook, Gmail, Skype and all the other technology that makes family and friends seem less far away.
24. Friends who understand and support my mustache obsession.
25. All of the invitations from friends to spend Thankgiving with their families, especially Patrick and Paul who are my California parents.