For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The "Baby" Grand

Seven years ago, my Dad had just passed away and we were
cleaning out my family home.  

This was my father's workshop - the basement.  He spent
a lot of time down there, puttering around.
Our fear of spiders prevented us from venturing down those stairs.
 After he was gone, though,  I was drawn to this place.
Amidst the chaos, there were treasures to be discovered!

One of those treasures was an old piano - 
a real "baby" grand piano.  It was really beaten
up and missing a leg, but when Annie saw it,
she wanted it.

It's been in our basement for the past seven years. 
Last week, we finally got around to refurbishing it!
A mother/daughter project.

It was my "piano" when I was a little girl.

The paper covering on many of the keys had peeled off.

A series of graduated metal tines inside the piano is 
what actually makes the sounds.  

When a key is pressed, a hammer is raised, 
hitting the corresponding metal rod for that note.

The wooden hammers are attached by a piece of cardboard. 
There is a little piece of felt on the back of the keys to
prevent wear and tear on the cardboard.  After more than 55 years,
it is amazing that all of these hammers were still in good shape!

The piano box was cracked in a few places, so I needed
to glue and clamp it until it dried.

The piano originally had 3 legs, but one was missing.
We couldn't duplicate the same leg, so instead added
a more decorative one.  

A good sanding and coat of paint
was next.

Next, the keys needs to be covered.   We used sheets of
dry-erase paper.  Since each key was a slightly different size/shape,
Annie glued the paper and then used a razor blade to shave the
edge of each key.

While working on the keys,  we noticed there was a lot
of dust under the keys, so we pulled a rag through
to clean it out.

A nice new set of 20 keys! 
Now it's time to assemble to pieces!

The metal tines are screwed in place under the top of the piano.

The new leg was screwed into place.

We used the original screws to attach the bottom
of the piano.

Mother/daughter hands.

Annie had a little fun before touching up 
the paint and painting the screw tops.

Finally,  she cut shiny black paper to simulate the
black keys.

Ta-da!  BEautiful!

Just the right size for Maddie!

Although it has only 20 keys,  it really does play!

Annie will be taking this piano with her
to her new apartment when she moves in
at the end of this month.  She will use
it as a little table, maybe with a vase of
flowers on top!

I love that Annie wanted to give my old toy a new purpose.
I love that she could envision its possibilities.
Most of all, I love that we worked together to give it a new life!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alone But Definitely Not Lonely

Vance had to spend the final 2 nights of our trip a few hours away on business.
I didn't mind.  I love spending time alone.

Looking back on my life,  I've always been this way.  When I'm alone, I am much more mindful of my thoughts and surroundings.  I don't expect anything from anyone.  I am free to experience the world through my eyes alone.

My happiness doesn't depend on someone else's presence. 
 I love my husband, and I love our time spent together.   
But what a burden it would be if I needed to be "with" him to be happy.

So when Vance left, he was glad that I was looking forward to my alone time.
And he understood.

As I packed my backpack that morning,  I was filled with anticipation.
Camera, lenses, water bottles, deli sandwich, chia bars, phone, 
headphones, hat, sunglasses, jacket, map, reading glasses, money.
As I hefted it onto my back,  even it's heavy bulk couldn't weigh me down.  

My camera didn't stay inside my backpack for long.  As I headed up the hill
in Pacific Heights,  the Victorian's were calling out to me.

No two houses were alike, and the attention to detail was
fascinating to examine as I walked to my destination.

I especially loved the color combinations!

The owner of this house must be totally lacking
 in imagination - or possibly colorblind.

The gardens in front of the houses were intriguing too.

When I reached Presidio,  I hung a left.  Almost there!

The Presidio is a unique national park that is home to spectacular vistas, nature, and recreation facilities as well as museums, restaurants and the Golden Gate Bridge.
My main goal was to hike the many hiking paths in the park. 

I entered the park at the Presidio Gate near Lover's Lane.  I walked a path parallel to West Pacific Ave.  Everything was new and different from what I am used to back East.  I came upon this group of very angry looking trees forming a canopy over the trail. 

A little farther down the path I was pleased to come upon these beauties.

I stopped to eat my sandwich early in a very nice playground - Julius Kahn Playground.
There were many groups of young moms with little kids. I watched them as I ate.

 I also noticed the cement was decorated with imprints of branches and leaves.
Pretty cool.

After eating,  I headed on the Ecology Trail toward Inspiration Point.

A beautiful hummingbird flew by and I was happy to be able to capture it in flight.

I passed by a field of wildflowers too.

The scenery kept changing and pretty soon I was on
 a shaded path with trees covered in ivy.

There was a strange but pretty bird sitting on the stairs 
leading to the Inspiration Point Overlook.

Inspiration Point provided a nice view of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz.

Crossing the road from Inspiration Point, I took a short path to the "Spire".
The Spire was built by Britich artist Andy Goldsworthy, making use of felled
trees "to make connections between what we call nature and what we
call man-made."

I hooked up with the Bay Area Ridge Trail at the Spire.  
It was very peaceful and beautiful. 

It seemed like I was in the middle of a forest, 
yet as I look to the right I can see the skyline of the city!

I didn't expect to find this cemetery in the middle of the park.  Over 30,000 Americans veterans and their families are buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery.

Over the tops of the headstones, 3 boats could be seen.  
I was amazed at the size of the cargo ship! 

Continuing on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, many different flowers
caught my eye.

 Immigrants Point Overlook provided an unusual view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Carved into the stone wall at Immigrant Point Overlook was this:
"We opened the gates to all the world and said,
 'Let all men who want to be free come to us and they will be welcome." 

I walked down many steps on the trail to a road overlooking Baker Beach.

Walking down the sand ladder to the beach was challenging, 
but very worth the effort for what I would see once I made it down!

I squatted on the sand with my 400mm lens to take 
a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and saw a most unusual sight.
The day was very breezy and cool - as you can see, most people
are wearing long pants and jackets - but this old guy only needed 
a hat!  I sat on a log and observed people walking their dogs, 
tourists taking pictures, sunbathers.  But this guy just strutted 
back and forth along the busiest section of the beach 
near the bottom of the sand ladder.

I can only be grateful he wasn't jogging.

I did manage to get a lovely picture of the beach and the bridge 
without having to include ugly naked guy.

As I was heading toward the sand ladder and the long trek back up to the trail, 
a guy spread his blanket next to the steps and proceeded to strip down.

He left his hat on too.  Hmm.
What I didn't realize ahead of time was this was a clothing-optional beach. 
The guide book just said to keep an eye out for harbor porpoises frolicking in the surf!

I made a few friends on my way up the sand ladder.  
Taking their pictures actually gave me a good excuse to rest.

At the top of the sand ladder,  I joined up with the Batteries to Bluffs Trail.

This was a gorgeous trail along the bluffs next to the ocean,
heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge.

At the Golden Gate Overlook, I took a break and had a snack.

With my long lens,  I could see the cars and peope on the bridge.
It was neat to be able to see the curve of the bridge from this angle too!

The trail wound under the bridge to the other side.

I walked half-way across the 1.7 mile long bridge before turning around.
I was beginning to get a little tired and it was getting close to dinnertime,
so I hopped onto one of the free Presidio buses and got off at Inspiration Point
near where I entered the park.

As I walked through Pacific Heights on my way back to 
our Airbnb,  I marveled once again at the lovely houses.

My day spent wandering the Presidio alone was
exactly what I wanted and needed.

Just me, myself, and I (and my camera).

I didn't have to worry about anyone else's happiness but my own.

There was time to think about everything good, bad or uncertain in my life
and sort through my thoughts and feelings. 

There was time to appreciate the beauty of the world around me.

And I felt a "good" tired - the kind of tired that comes from a day
outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

I walked close to 23,000 steps (@11 miles) 
and climbed terrain equivalent to 89 filghts of stairs.

It was a very good day.

Vance was gone for two days.  In addition to the Presidio,  I figured out the bus system and rode the bus to Golden Gate Park where I visited an art museum and ate a scrumptious organic chocolate soft serve dipped in dark chocolate and sea salt!  A short walk from there, I experienced what it was like to live back in the 60's hippie culture in "The Haight".  I also went into lots of stores - something I don't do very much when I'm with Vance.

I was happy to see Vance when he got back from his trip, though.
Alone time is nice (and necessary) every once in a while.  
But there are many benefits to having a companion too!