Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Left My Heart You Know Where

Wow! It's been 11 days since my last post, that's probably the longest I've ever gone. But, I have a good excuse: I was in San Francisco without a computer. One week ago today I was strolling the pier of Fisherman's Wharf, contemplating what delicacy would satisfy me that night (frankly, I consider any food that I don't have to cook a delicacy). After three-and-a-half days, which include plenty of sightseeing (but not nearly enough) and great conference for graduate admissions professionals, I headed back on the red-eye via Chicago on Friday night. For the next couple of minutes, though, I'd like to savor some highlights of my great trip!

After arriving around noon last Tuesday, I checked into my hotel, the Hilton at Union Square (no, Annalisse, Paris Hilton was not there), and headed down to the lounge for a quick lunch. After lunch, I went for a nice walk until I reached Pier 1, the Ferry Port, which was about 20 minutes from the hotel. I went into some shops and found a great farmer's market, then arranged to meet some friends for dinner (and got a chance to watch the sea lions at Pier 39). By dinner time, which was around 10pm "my time," I was really dragging. One thing I will say about the time changed: it really kicked my butt!

The really funny thing was that this city reminded me of so many songs that it drove me a little crazy. It all started when I was in the taxi on the way to the hotel, and I saw the sign for "San Jose," (Do you know the way?), then a friend pointed out that Sausalito was just across the bay (Sausalito Summernight - Diesel - 1981...anyone?). And, of course, my pals, after a few drinks, resorted to "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Simply maddening.

On Wednesday, I had a 1/2 day to explore before I had to check in at the conference, so, after waking up at 3:30am and not being able to fall asleep, my friend Carlos and I headed out on the 9:10 ferry to Alcatraz. I would have to say, visiting Alcatraz was probably the sightseeing highlight of my trip. That place was very cool, and the mood was just right: a dark, overcast, windy, rainy day. The second "touristy" highlight was taking a trolley car. I really enjoyed the walkability of the city, and spent some time browsing the high end shops around the hotel and a stroll though Chinatown.

For the next two days I attended my conference, and caught up with friends and colleagues. We went out for some great meals (I felt a lot of pressure to eat Seafood while in SF, which is not really a problem since I LOVE SEAFOOD), and had a lot of laughs. Because I didn't really have very much time for sightseeing, I definitely would like to visit again to hit the spots I missed, and also to rent a car and take a couple of day trips.

And lastly, alright, I'LL SAY IT, I wish I had brought Mark and the kids along. Although Mark spent five weeks in SF for training when he first joined Oracle in 1996, I knew they would really enjoy all the sights and fun things to do. Maybe next time!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gearing Up for Spring Break - Sort of

At the end of the school day today, Annalisse jumped for joy as she ushered in spring break (Cam was off today as we went to the RIT Jr. Open House. He is certainly sold on RIT, now if he can just get his grades up and hit the target on his SATs), but complained that, while her friends were going to Florida, Myrtle Beach, and other fun-in-the-sun exotic and not-so-exotic locales, SHE WASN'T GOING ANYWHERE. She bemoaned this sad state of affairs on her facebook page, stating "Why can't my family afford leaving Fairport for spring break..? I wanna go someplace extremely warm and miss school."

The funny thing is, I AM GOING AWAY FOR SPRING BREAK! On Tuesday I leave for my graduate admissions professionals conference in San Francisco, and return by the red-eye on Friday night. I love to rub this in to her, but am a little careful not to take it too far as she HATES BEING HOME WITH THE BOYS. I expect she'll be texting me out of boredom and annoyance all week long.

But getting back to "spring break." I never understood the hype surrounding the one-week school break every April. Why would I bother going someplace warm when it's already warm and sunny in Rochester? Now, February break, that's a different story. That, to me, is a very necessary, sanity-restoring break; but April break, I just don't get it.

I'll have to ponder that when I'm sitting by the pool next week in San Francisco.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Renovation 2009 - Complete!

The living room/dining room renovation project that started in March 2009 is finally complete with the recent purchase of new furniture and a window treatment for the BIG front window. Last year at this time, when we had taken down wall paper in both rooms and were anticipating the big paint job to take place over April break while we were in NYC, I knew that the purchase of new furniture and something to cover the front window would not take place probably until after the new year. Alas, there are some lingering expenses from last year's project such as the new shower fixtures and shutters in the bathroom and Cam's room but those will come after the shade and the furniture are paid off!

I'm pretty happy with the finished look, with the exception of the window treatment "right now." It was installed in two pieces because the window is so wide, but has a slight gap in the middle so the light shows through. That bothers me a lot, and I'm sure it was the goal of the designer to have the two pieces flow together so they look like one piece. As a result, they're sending someone out to look at solutions for remedying it next Saturday. All in all, the room has a more formal look, but since it's our main living space it was very important to me to be sure people (kids, visitors - all of us!) feel comfortable there and don't feel like they can't put their feet up and relax.

As mentioned before, this year's projects are a little less ambitious than last year's. The goal for this year, probably starting this summer, is to paint Annalisse's room (something that goes with the zebra theme she wants), patch the drywall and paint the side entrance hallway, take down the wallpaper, paint, and install moulding in Mark's "cave" (the back TV room), and install those long awaited shutters in Cam's room, the bathroom, and Annalisse's newly painted room. Once these things are complete, never fear, the renovations go on; but, there is satisfaction that comes in crossing things off THE LIST, even if it makes the list shorter for just a little while!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Blessings

Well, another Easter has come and gone, and for the first time in a long time we were blessed with wonderful sunny, warm weather for what turned out to be a great day of, among other things, eating! We were joined by Mom Shaio, Grandma Pat, our friend Linda (who is moving back to her native Philadelphia from Fairport tomorrow - sadness!), and Mark's cousin, Sue, who was a last minute, but always welcome, addition to our feast.

Mark and and I decided to make prime rib this year, and how yummy it was! As I've remarked a couple of times in the B@ker blog, not a holiday goes by that I don't reminisce about Christmases and Easters spent with my family in Massena, and the family traditions we used to share. Among the things that used to make Easter very special to me was the Easter morning breakfast celebration at Nonnie's, featuring frittata, a baked egg omelet with cheese and cubed ham, which was enjoyed by what seemed like a cast of thousands that filed into Nonnie's red and white checked floor kitchen.

The morning feast was always followed by a ham dinner at our house, Aunties, or Uncle Joe's house, and an afternoon spent with my favorite cousins. I do miss those celebrations, and realize that everyone is now grown up and celebrating with families of their own, and count myself fortunate - no, blessed - to once again realize how much fun it was to grow up as part of a large Italian family (even if I was the only one with green eyes and reddish hair).

Surrounded by healthy children, a great husband, and much love, I am once again reminded about how blessed I am!