Tuesday, August 31, 2004

How do you see the world?

"We do not see the world as it is; we see it as we are." -Anon.

This is something I've been thinking about lately. Although things may seem "clear" to us, they may not be as they seem because we each have our own little filters by which we process information. I think maturity comes when we are able to see things from different perspectives.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Tired, Annoyed and Happy

We got the keys to our house on Thursday. Finally! When we entered the house, we were instantly overwhelmed. The seller, unfortunately, has a very different definition of “clean and habitable” than we do. We spent at least nine hours cleaning on Thursday and Friday. It was so horrible; I can’t even begin to tell you how bad it was. I know it’s not a very Christian thing to say but I really wanted to strangle the lady for leaving the place such a mess. I was really vexed and agitated. I was especially annoyed with the filthy aftermath left by her dogs. While taking a break after cleaning upstairs, I laid down on the carpet. When I got up, there were jillions of dog hairs clinging to my clothes (did this lady ever vacuum?!). All the kitchen cupboards had food crumbs and sticky residue inside. I won’t even begin to tell you how bad the refrigerator was. I spent two hours cleaning the refrigerator. Some of the mess wouldn’t come off with soap and hot water so I had to use bleach! The walls and all the downstairs windows were filthy from dog dirt and dog slobber. Basically, what I’m trying to convey to you is, I am now more anti-dog than ever before!! Kevin remarked that hating dogs is biblical. (I realize I am going to really offend some of you dog-lovers by saying this. But, at this point, I’m so tired that I don’t care.) Every time dogs are mentioned in scripture, it’s with a negative connotation. So, presumptively, God must think that dogs are evil too.

Several friends came over on Saturday to help us move our furniture and heavy boxes. We were really grateful for the help. Now that we’re officially “in” our house, our minds have been racing with all of the home improvements we want to accomplish. Some of them are things we “need” to do. Most of them are things we “want” to do. Last night we sat down and wrote a long list of things to work on. It will be exciting to cross things off the list.

Kevin (looking at our backyard): “Amy, this is our dirt! Can you believe it?! I could go out there right now and dig a hole – and no one would care.”
Amy: “No one would care about the hole except for ME.”
Kevin: “That’s true.”

Now that our house is actually clean, I think we’re going to really enjoy being homeowners!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Frailty of Life

“There is one thing I’ve learned about life. It is frail.” - Billy Graham

Last week I went in to see my dentist for an initial consultation. He was a cheerful man, probably in his early forties, with gleaming eyes and a big smile. I liked him a lot. I had another appt. for tomorrow to get my teeth cleaned but his receptionist called me over the weekend and canceled my appt. because of a “family emergency.” Last night I was talking to Kevin about this abrupt cancellation. Kevin suggested that maybe my dentist had died suddenly. Well, today his receptionist called me back and said that I could come in tomorrow anyway because the hygienist would be there. She asked me if I heard about what happened. When I replied that I hadn’t, she said that Dr. Swen had died suddenly. They think it was a heart attack. (Kevin has better intuition than I thought!) Although I didn’t know my dentist very well, it’s still hard to take. The other day he was so alive and full of vigor. Now he’s gone.

This incident has caused me to think about where I place my trust. Do I trust in man or in God? Even the most steadfast, consistent human being can never be relied on – because life is so temporal. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I rely way too much on Kevin for my happiness. Although God wants me to enjoy my relationship with Kevin, I don’t think God wants Kevin to be the sole source of my joy and security. God wants “all my springs of joy” to be in Him. God wants me to trust in Him and be content with whatever lies ahead. May I learn to say with the Psalmist, “There is none on earth I desire besides You.” Although we may desire other things (e.g., lasting relationships with another human being, etc.) may all those desires be considered as nothing when compared to our desire and longing for God.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Before Kevin and I were “together” a friend gave me some really strong perfume called Om by Gap. (I don’t know why I started wearing it because, actually, it doesn’t even smell good.) Whenever I would walk by Kevin’s office at HSLDA, on my way to the photocopy machine, he would smell this very distinct perfume (Kevin has very well-functioning olfactory glands) and call out “Om.” And, of course, I would always stop at his door, amazed that he could smell Om from such a distance. It became an inside joke after a while.

Well, last night we discovered the remains of my Om perfume bottle, buried at the bottom of a cosmetics box, as we were packing. I put some on for old time’s sake. This morning Kevin could still smell traces of it on my wrist. “It’s amazing how something like an old, familiar smell can bring back so many memories,” he remarked. How very true that is.

Signing Our Lives Away

Today we said goodbye to our debt-free lifestyle and signed our lives away. [Gulp.] Everybody we’d talked to who had gone through the experience said they were amazed by how many documents they had to sign to get a loan. We were envisioning a desk piled high with paperwork. But, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. We were done signing within the hour.

After leaving the title company this morning, I went to the state GOP headquarters and got myself a Bush Cheney ’04 bumper sticker. I got one for Kevin too. He doesn’t like bumper stickers but I think he’ll put this one on his car for the good cause. I really wanted the bumper sticker that says “‘W’ stands for Women” but they were out. Any little thing I can do to tick-off the neo-feminists makes me happy. ;-) Seriously though, I hate it when people say the GOP party doesn't represent women. I think it represents me just fine. And now I have a bumper sticker to send that message. It's a war out there on those roads.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Lawbreaking and Note-taking

After a certain experience this past weekend, I can better understand why some people commit crimes. There’s a certain rush involved. Not that lawbreaking activities should ever be justified (lawbreaking is bad, bad, bad!)– it’s just that I can now comprehend why it’s attractive to some people. It’s the thrill of doing something prohibited and not being caught.

Before your mind starts to wander too far . . . I will quickly say that all we did was hop in the back of a truck to ride three blocks to someone’s house from a park. It was dark and, in the spirit of self-preservation, we didn’t want to walk in this neighborhood for three blocks late at night. On the way there, a police car pulled up behind us. It followed us for two turns. We all quickly ducked down in the bed of the truck, sure that he was going to pull us over. We knew we’d have a lot of explaining to do and wanted to avoid an encounter. I felt like an illegal alien sneaking across the border or something. There were a few tense moments. When we finally pulled into our friends’ dormitory complex, the cop hadn’t turned the corner . . . yet. We yelled to the driver of the truck to pull over so we could quickly hop out. While the car was still rolling, we jumped out and ran like there was no tomorrow into our friends’ dorm room. We all crashed on the couch, out of breath and dying of laughter. Fortunately, this cop had a real job (like chasing down burglars and murderers) and didn’t stop to ticket us. It’s been a while since I had a brush with the law. I think the last time was that speeding ticket I got three years ago. Whew!

Lately (probably because I’m such a bad, evil person for riding in the beds of trucks without a seatbelt and stuff), I’ve decided I should start taking sermon notes at church. (For those of you who don’t already know, I have a clinical diagnosis of Adult ADD. My attention span is equivalent to that of a five year old.) Taking notes at church really forces me to concentrate. The only problem with taking sermon notes is that Kevin, a naturally compulsive editor of everything he comes across, constantly points out my spelling errors. It’s not that I don’t know how to spell certain words . . . it’s just that I’m writing too fast to worry about silly, inconsequential things like spelling properly!! Hopefully all this editing won’t totally destroy my note-taking confidence. After all, I must concentrate on the sermons so I can work on my goldiness. Oops, I mean godliness.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The front.

The foyer.

Our new house.

Thoughts of the Moment

We’re getting a new phone number. I was hoping to keep our old one because it takes me such a long time to memorize new numbers. Kevin totally cracks me up – he’s glad to get rid of our current phone number because the last four digits are 1721 and he hates having so many ones in our phone number. I never realized he was so particular about these types of things. Apparently, he doesn’t like odd numbers unless it’s a five or a seven. Hmmm. Picky, picky.

I’m hoping to go to the state fair this year. (It starts tonight.) Truth be told, I’ve never been to a bona fide state fair. We always went to the L.A. or Orange county fairs – which are both gigantic. Sacramento was always too far to drive. Even though Kevin and I lived here last year, we didn’t go to the state fair ‘cuz we were both jobless and broke. This year we may not have time to go. But I’m still crossing my fingers! If we make it, I want to go on that zipper ride. Do you know which one I’m talking about? It’s the one that’s oblong-shaped with little cars that spin up and down it. It’s the most nauseating, white-knuckler ride ever. (Very fun!) I have fond memories going on that ride with Kevin at a Maryland county fair in the fall of 2001. It was definitely one of those bonding experiences. I think both of us closed our eyes and screamed incessantly for the entire ride. Ahh . . . good times.

Today we were supposed to close escrow but our loan docs didn’t arrive in time. So that means we won’t close until at least Monday. Which also means that we’ll lose a weekend to clean, paint, and move our stuff. Bummer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Excursions at Lowe's

As a child, I always thought hardware stores were the most boring places on the planet. Not only did they smell gross, there wasn’t anything interesting or colorful to look at or touch. (Maybe it’s just that my dad always took me to the humdrum aisles to buy bolts and nails and stuff.) Although I still think hardware stores smell badly, I’ve overcome the rest of my prejudices. Last night we went to Lowe’s to price window screens. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I could think of a lot of other things I’d rather spend our money on. As Kevin was perusing the screen aisle, my attention was diverted to a long row of beautiful oriental rugs. After looking at those for a while, I went to try out the patio furniture. Then I discovered the paint department. It was fun to gather samples and figure out what kinds of colors I want for the house. We ended up spending like three hours in the hardware store. Although, I must confess, thirty minutes were spent arguing with this totally whacked-out new age guy.

“Charles,” a very friendly local chap, was trying to be helpful in the screen aisle. After “helping” us, he asked me what I did for a job. When I told him, we ended up talking about the life issue. He started spewing off this nonsense about how all life (human, animal, vegetable, etc.) is equal. Unable to help myself, I told him that his comment was completely ridiculous: “How can you equate swatting a housefly with killing a child?” I really wasn’t in the mood to argue. Honestly! But how could I let someone get away with saying such outrageous things? (This is why I get into trouble so often. And poor Kevin gets dragged along for the ride!) That brought up the point of how a person determines what is right or wrong. Charles said he knows what’s right inside his heart. That’s nice . . . BUT if it’s just what someone happens to think, is right or wrong, that’s really scary – because it’s so unpredictable. That’s why it’s important to have an absolute moral standard (i.e., the bible). Obviously, I think that my morality (the bible) also makes sense. That’s because God created the mind and is a God of order.

It was incredible, to me, how Charles was so concerned about “agreeing” with me at the end of our conversation. Truth be known, it’s not important to me to agree with people. I can disagree with someone and still be their friend (e.g., Kevin is my best friend and we disagree on things now and then). It was obvious Charles wasn’t comfortable with that. Charles is the type of person who has probably read all those “success” books and tries to implement them in every day life. Those people really annoy me. Karen and I were recently talking about this lady we know who reads all those “how to climb the corporate ladder” books and is constantly trying to implement the principles she’s learned. She walks around saying things like, “My management style is . . .” How retarded is that! I mean, it’s okay to read them, just don’t act in a way that makes it so obvious you’ve read them!

In my next life, I think I shall try to live as though I have no opinions at all. It makes things much less complicated that way. (And it would probably be better for Kevin’s nerves, too.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

". . . the fairest picture . . ."

"At last the lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft three thousand feet higher still! As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords." -- Mark Twain, describing Lake Tahoe

Kevin had a mediation at Lake Tahoe yesterday. I went up with him on Sunday afternoon to make a little vacation out of it. We stayed in Incline Village, Nevada, at the nicest resort on the North Shore - and the client paid for it! (It doesn’t get any better than that!) The place we stayed at was surrounded by mountains and pine trees. It also had a private beach with little canopies and sun chairs. We enjoyed walking on the beach and then huddling near the bonfire to keep warm against the cool winds from the lake. After dinner we lazed around on the pool deck. This hotel had the largest hot tub I’ve ever seen! It was fun to pretend we’re rich for a day. ;-) On Monday, I spent time walking around the shops and reading on the beach. It was wonderful to just relax and forget all the cares of city life.

I got Monday off work because I "volunteered" (along with Kevin) at a Placer County GOP barbecue on Saturday. The barbecue was held at a horse ranch in the Lincoln foothills. Honestly, it was the easiest volunteer job ever. We had a lot of fun. We met interesting people, ate a lot of tri-tip, took a hay ride, and laughed whenever "Senator Kerry" was dunked in the dunk-tank. Especially when this little girl nailed him good. (Hee, hee.)

Friday, August 13, 2004

Worthy of Mention

Mrs. Sara Jones posted an insightful commentary on legalism, worthy of reading and thinking about. It's easy to live by a set of rules. It's a lot more difficult to live by the Spirit. Although we are to always follow God's commandments (evidenced in His word), there are a lot of areas in a Christian's life that are left to liberty.

There's a big difference between convictions and preferences. Let us never be so pious as to impose our mere preferences on other believers. Above all, let us show love, which is the greatest commandment and the greatest gift.

Childhood Play

Tomorrow is Saturday. Yay! A day to sleep in. Last time we had a free Saturday morning, we sat on the floor cross-legged, eating Reese’s Puffs cereal and watching cartoons. It was like we were little kids again. It was great fun. When I bought the Reese’s Puffs (they were on sale, what can I say?), Kevin wanted to know if I was going to eat them for breakfast or dessert. "Yes," I told him. And, can you believe it, I talked him into eating some as well. Never doubt the persuasive powers of Amy Koons.

Requiem Contemplation

My favorite date (his name begins with a "K") took me to another chorale event last night. The only problem is that I couldn’t sit with him. I had to sit with a bunch of strange ladies in the alto section and, per instructions from the conductor, we all gave each other shoulder massages as a warm-up exercise. (Shouldn’t I be up for some kind of Best Wife of the Year award by now?)

The thing I love about requiems is that the lyrics encourage introspection. Despite my extraverted tendencies, I firmly believe that it’s important to regularly pause and reflect on the deeper things in life. Requiems, as I’m sure you know, are prayers for the dead. They embody deep, soul-searching emotions. Last night we sang of the terror of the judgment of Christ. And then we sang of the beauty of the forgiveness of Christ. While in the midst of song, I looked around the room at the hundreds of vocalists. I wondered if they were thinking about the words they were singing. I mean, really thinking. (Christ is coming to judge, am I personally forgiven?) I know that the conductor, who goes to a very liberal church, sincerely contemplates the lyrics of all the pieces he conducts. I don’t doubt his sincerity. Or the sincerity of anyone else. (Most people in the chorale are very "religious.") But I was also thinking about how often people become involved in religion and go to church for the wrong reasons. For many religious people God is simply an emotional experience and church is a kind of social "club." Religion feels good - it meets emotional needs - so why not do it? I realize that it’s not for me to judge a person’s motive for engaging in religious activities. It’s just interesting to think about, that’s all. I just can’t imagine someone spending a lifetime singing such beautiful words, with such tremendous emotion and depth, and having it not be real for them. "Real" in the sense of having lasting consequences based on true belief vs. temporary feel-goodism. But I’m sure it happens every day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Legal Writing

As much as I like to write, legal writing was not my favorite subject in school. In fact, I still cringe when I think about that first year legal memorandum project. The question was whether Alice-somebody could keep an engagement ring after her relationship went south. When writing my first draft of the memo, I was interested in Alice’s plight. On the second draft, I could care less about Alice and her problems. On my third draft, I wanted to wring Alice’s neck and say, "Give back the blasted ring and get on with your life you stupid idiot!" (Wouldn’t I make a great plaintiff’s lawyer?)

The interesting thing about moving is that you discover stuff from your past that you had buried in some deep closet and put far from your mind.

Last night Kevin unearthed my senior paper. "Look at this!" he exclaimed. "Oh no," I mourned, "You found it. I thought I’d lost it and I was glad." Kevin started laughing because he remembered how bad I was and how much I complained while writing it. I was in my last year of law school and just wanted to be done. The only thing tying me down was that dreaded paper. I think I block-quoted at least half the paper. It had to be 35 pages and I didn’t have the mental energy to write that much about a topic I wasn’t even interested in. (That was my problem - I couldn’t think of a topic I was particularly passionate about that fit the criteria. So I picked Eighth Amendment considerations of the death penalty. Blah.) The last page, which is (incidentally) page number 35, contains half of a sentence that was stretched-out across the top of the paper! But I made it!! (Whew.) "Kevin, didn’t you help me edit that paper?" "NO," said Kevin. "You just don’t want to be associated with that paper in any way, do you?" (More laughter.) Well, my Prof gave me a B. So, obviously, he didn’t think it was totally shabby. Ugh.

My roots must be blonde.

After putting in my left-eye contact this morning, I started to put in my right-eye contact. That’s when I realized that the vision in my left eye was worse than before I put the contact in. "That’s weird," I thought. "Why is it so blurry?" Rationalizing that maybe, just maybe, the lens was simply dirty, I rinsed it and put it back in. No luck. After the third attempt, with the foggy contact secured to my left eye, the truth hit me. I was wearing Kevin’s contact lens. I know that we’re married and everything - but I still thought that was kinda gross. It was bound to happen some time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Thanks, Friends

Thanks to Mark Bigger and Aaron Klein, my boss now knows about my blog. ("Hi, Karen!") Apparently Mark and Aaron mentioned it while having lunch with her at the GOP state convention this past weekend. And then Karen brought it up at staff meeting today! So now my co-worker, Angela, knows about my blog. ("Hi, Angela!") Sigh . . . If more people keep finding out about my blog, that means I’ll run out of people to talk about. Or I’ll just have to say nice things about them (vs. telling the truth). And how fun (or interesting) is that?! [wink, wink]

Monday, August 09, 2004

Is this guy for real?

Check it out! Where did this guy come from and why aren’t there more like him? (Listen to his radio spots - they are HYSTERICAL.)

Weekend Widow

Kevin had to work pretty much all weekend, so I didn’t have anyone to play with. I was really bummed about this. (Settlement negotiations fell through on a case and he had to turn in a brief today.) On Saturday, I cleaned, packed, and made a blueberry pie. The pie definitely helped to lift my spirits. When Kevin finally got home, he felt like crashing. We decided to get a movie. I suggested we get Runaway Jury. Kevin said he’d rather not watch anything law-related. So we got a chick flick instead. One thing I like about Kevin is that he is secure enough in his masculinity to admit that he likes watching chick flicks now and then. Most guys probably, deep down inside, really do want to watch them but feel like that have to always choose movies in the Jackie Chan genre to keep up their macho facade. That’s what I think, anyway.

(Okay, if it’s possible, I won’t say any more inflammatory things for the rest of this post.)

Yesterday we had a lovely dinner at the Schweickert home in Walnut Creek. We enjoyed our visit with the whole family. I personally enjoyed sitting outside watching their bunny rabbit hop around their beautiful garden. In the car on the way home, I asked Kevin if we could get a bunny rabbit too. Usually when I ask him for something he is noncommittal and says "we’ll see." He must not be too keen on the bunny idea because he flat out said "no." Maybe it’s just that he’s overwhelmed at the idea of caring for an orange tree and a bunny rabbit. Maybe once we figure out how to care for an orange tree, he’ll say "yes" to the rabbit idea. (Geesh, what will happen when we have kids?! Maybe getting a bunny first is a good idea - so we can work our way up! I know Kevin’s mom is already worried about the well-being of her future grandkids because of my plant-killing habits. Sigh . . . Being a grownup is a lot of responsibility!)

Friday, August 06, 2004

Recent Shopping Addictions

The other day I walked eight blocks to the downtown library and loaded up with a bunch of interior decorating books. Halfway back, I stopped at the farmer’s market and bought a couple bags of fruit. Despite my heavy burdens, I managed to eat most of the grapes by the time I got back to my office. I cannot believe a) how good they were and b) how cheap they were. I’m now hooked on this farmer’s market thing. I doubt I’ll ever buy fruit at the grocery store again, if I can help it.

One of the books I got from the library, called Interior Designing for All Five Senses, has really inspired me to think differently about decorating. Although most of design is visual, it also involves so much more. Now I just have to figure out how to convince Kevin to let me get canaries and scatter herbs all over the living room. (Just kidding, Kev!) This book also contains many interesting tidbits. For instance, today I learned that red is a good color to use in eating places because it makes people hungry and when people see red, it increases their metabolism by 14 percent. This is useful information. You know? (I’m just wondering why those diet commercials don’t mention this?)

Anyway, to get to my point . . . I liked this book so much that I went on half.com and bought it (brand new) for $2.66. I was very happy about this since it retails at $30.00. I had never used half.com before. But now I doubt I’ll ever buy books at Barnes and Nobles ever again. I’m hooked. Simply hooked.

In other news, today we had a home inspection done. It was fascinating, to say the least. It was a time for me to take off my rose-colored glasses and realize that our house actually has a few flaws! Much to Kevin’s relief, they weren’t serious or expensive. We will probably only ask the seller to do a few things. For instance, replace all the missing screens that the dogs had chewed up. (Today I added to my list another reason why Dogs are Evil.) Although the things we have to do aren’t expensive, some of them will be time consuming. As the inspection guy was going through everything with us, I turned to Kevin and said, “Well, there goes all our free time.”

And . . . today I achieved a minor victory. I talked Kevin into taking me to lunch at Wiener Works. (I’ve been trying for months.) Although we both dislike hot dogs, I’d heard that this was a great joint. Even though our lunch looked like a heart-attack-on-a-plate, when all was said and done, Kevin said it “wasn’t bad.” (This means that he secretly liked it and wants to go back. I’ve got him all figured out.)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A day of citrus and chickens . . .

For his anniversary present, I got Kevin an orange tree. (Romantic, eh?) He told me once, "If we move to California, I want an orange tree." Secretly, I wanted a lemon tree. But, since it was Kev’s gift, not mine, I got him an orange tree instead. We probably won’t be able to have both, because of cross-pollination issues, so it was very self-sacrificial of me to get the orange tree instead. But don’t pity me. Unless you want to, of course.

Kevin was really surprised by his gift. When he came home from work, he found it perched on the kitchen table. He couldn’t believe that I could pick out any sort of agricultural item all by myself. It was a proud moment for me. The sad part is if we plant it at our house and then move, we’ll lose it. But, oh well, if we move somewhere else in California, then maybe my chances at getting a lemon tree will improve. The guy I bought the tree from said that we should have edible fruit in the winter of 2005. Yippee!

We went to dinner last night at a place called the Slocum House in Fair Oaks. As we were walking up to the restaurant, chickens started appearing from nowhere. Apparently there is some historical significance to the chickens, but I never figured it out. I did hear someone saying that the city council hotly debated whether or not to allow chickens to roam the city, unrestrained. Apparently the ‘free the chickens’ campaign won the debate. We ate outside by a big maple tree and when it started getting dark, lights in the tree lit up above us. It was very romantic. Except for the chickens. But that was fun in its own way too, I suppose.

Speaking of farm animals, I just finished reading Animal Farm by G. Orwell. It’s very funny, insightful, and easy to read.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Two Years

Today marks our second-year anniversary. I always believed that it would take an awfully good man to be better than no man at all. God brought Kevin into my life. And the rest is history.

Kevin, I never thought it was possible to love so deeply and be so happy. Thank you for these past two years, the best years of my life. The beauty of true love is that even the 'bad' days are good. I look forward to all the good times, the wonderful times, and the marvelous times ahead of us.

(I have a lot more to say to Kevin - of which I shall save for a more intimate venue.) ;-)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Chinese Surprises and Pixie Weddings

We had a fantastic time with Megan this weekend, finding random adventures at every turn. Megan is such a dearie and we love her.

We are getting to be fairly decent S.F. tour guides, if we don’t say so ourselves, ‘cuz we’ve been there so frequently in the past year! When we arrived on Friday, late in the morning, the city was alive, bustling with activity and excitement. We went straight to Chinatown to have lunch at a place called The House of Nanking. I had learned, from an online search, that this was a favorite place of the locals. When we arrived, the small restaurant was packed. We stood in a line outside the door and this little Chinese man, with a shock of peppery gray hair and an upturned collar, appeared in the doorway to help keep the line moving. He was quite a busy little fellow. He was very animated and kept trying to hurry us along into the restaurant. Soon we were seated at a tiny table in the corner and handed our menus. Someone brought us some colorful cups filled with water and a slice of lemon and cucumber. I’d never had cucumber in my water before, and I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor.

A few seconds later, the same little man who was ‘helping the line’ was at our side again. Apparently, since he was so talented at being everywhere at once, he would also be our waiter. He grabbed our menus from underneath our noses and asked, "This your first time here?" When we answered affirmatively, he said, "I take care of you. I’m chef." He then asked what we couldn’t eat because of allergies or religious reasons. And I asked for no seafood, please. Before we could say anything else, he was gone with a bow and a whirl. Once he had left, Kevin, Megan and I stared at each other in disbelief and astonishment. Then we started laughing. We looked around us wondering what kind of place this was exactly. All the other patrons seemed to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. Kevin decided that having someone else choose what you would eat at a restaurant was kind of fun. Soon we were brought appetizers, and then three huge family-style platters with all sorts of yummy Chinese variations. It was all very delicious. Incidentally, the three platters included beef, chicken and pork, plus stuffed mushrooms, fancy sweet potatoes, etc. I must say that this whole episode was the craziest restaurant experience I’ve ever had!

After lunch we took a cable car to the wharf, where we observed people cracking open steamed crabs and eating them. Revolting, eh? I wonder who was the first person who had the bright idea of eating something so ugly as a crab. We also spent some time in Union Square. We went to this huge, four story, Williams-Sonoma store. It was rather impressive.

On Saturday we spent some time along the coast. We bought some sourdough bread, salami, and cheese and took a picnic lunch to Stinton beach. It was marvelous to eat and relax next to the wonderful ocean sounds and smells. I love the ocean. I can never get enough of it. After playing in the water for a while, and taking a nap, we started packing up. That’s when we noticed a wedding starting to take place a few yards from where we were sitting. Kevin rolled his eyes when Megan and I said we wanted to stay and watch it for a while. It was very interesting, to say the least. The wedding party followed two ladies singing, throwing flower petals and rapping tambourines. All of them were barefoot. The bridesmaids were wearing bright colored dresses with glitter, sequins, and huge wings attached to their backs. Yes, I said wings. I guess they were trying to be either butterflies or fairies . . . or something. The ‘officiator’ was a woman dressed in a translucent black color with large rainbow-colored wings. The officiator’s wings were larger than any of the other wings. The bride had a flowing veil and a large black tattoo on her lower arm. The wedding lasted approximately nine minutes. In the middle of the wedding ceremony, a park ranger showed up because the bride and groom didn’t have a permit to be on the beach. Hmmmmm . . . it’s pretty much guaranteed that, if you go to the S.F. Bay, you will see fascinating things.

Before Megan left, we made sure that she got a well rounded California experience: We took her to In ‘N’ Out Burger and Jamba Juice. And, of course, we listened to the Beach Boys.