my soft spot

just a mom who plays hockey and knits

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend with my sis

My sister's kids got out of school on Thursday, the same day that G did. They had enjoyed their last trip down here, and she asked them if they wanted to visit San Francisco again. They did. So we set up a weekend visit.

They had planned to arrive maybe 10ish and, with plans being what they are, arrived about 2ish. Unfortunately, they couldn't sneak in as we had planned, because I'd given her a set of house keys from before the Great Lock Change, whenever that was. So I woke up to a doorbell at 2AM, let them sleepily in, and stumbled back to bed, knowing they're quite self-sufficient as a group (and that I'd set things up so they could just fall into bed).

The next morning, I got G ready for school Y-kids and started to head out. My sister invited G to stay home instead and he was so happy to accept! She also did me the big favor of taking him to his dental appointment (this was huge, as I'd had various time off already this week for a random set of things--and because he had not been brushing well, something I'd suspected, so the cleaning was a nightmare). I got off work 12ish, and we set off on a massive shopping expedition: restaurant supply store, Cost Plus, a break for Ben & Jerry's (in which my sister bought a cone for the nice security guy at Cost Plus!), then IKEA, where we had dinner. I chose to have something other than the delicious meatballs this time, and it was a good gamble: really nice eggplant parmesan. My sister bought a glass-topped desk for my niece, and it turned out to be so big that we could only fit it in her van if we tilted some of the seats forward slightly. I was concerned, but she pointed out that the most-rear seat and shotgun were fine, so her driving home was safe. Hm, I don't think I ended up buying anything. That's a first! I did finally spot a sink and vanity I'm ready to buy for my bathroom.

Saturday, we didn't get going until about noon, and drove in to a garage near the Embarcaderos. According to what we'd read, we could get $3 parking when we validated (for free) for the North Beach Festival. We finally found the shuttle stop, which dropped us at the edge of Chinatown, but certainly near the NBF festivities. And just one block from Molinari's, where we studiously followed the Soup-Nazi-like rules we'd read: 1) grab number, 2) select bread, 3) hand over bread while giving order. Worked like a charm. I chose the South Beach Special, which was worth swooning, even though my first bite didn't even include turkey! I was just sad that it didn't work out to bring fresh ravioli home.

We walked up the street to Washington Square Park, found our way in (I hate barricades!), and selected some grass upon which to eat our tasty sandwiches. After lunch, we headed up to Coit Tower (my sister: "It's only a few blocks from here!" me: "It's straight up!" but it was fine) and took the elevator up. So not handicapped-accessible: stairs up to the main level, elevator up to the top, more stairs up to the very top. ? San Francisco, wake up! The view is amazing. My sister spotted some lovely tiny-forest area below that she'd read about. When we went back down, we headed into it down some worn brick steps. On the way back up, we heard a terrible screeching, and the "Parrots of Telegraph Hill" were there for us to see. Wow! It really was a lovely area.

After that, we headed back down Columbus, my sister stopping at an ATM and G and I heading farther down the block to get the parking ticket validated. Just next to the validating restaurant, we spotted Stella Pastry, which my sister had pointed out on the way up, mentioning that her bf thought it was wonderful and worth a visit. We settled there to wait for them, letting my sister know by cell that we were there. Managed to snag a table (by an act of God--those tables go FAST!) after perusing the offerings and choosing what we wanted. When they showed up, we all ordered, me with a cream horn with custard (very nice), G with a man-cookie sandwich with chocolate in between, the others getting a small fruit tart and an eclair with whipped cream (not custard? It's just wrong) to share. G's cookie turned out to be rather bland, so the gal who'd handled our order, who was just dealing with my credit-card slip, sold me some tiny round sandwich cookies for about half price instead. We also got some lattes that were... aaaaah.

We headed back to the shuttle stop through the festival, with me buying a subscription to the Chron for just $10--him: "blah blah blah" me: "I have one question: how fast can you write?" and we were done--and a switchplate from FIMO for G's room. G tried to get me to buy him cotton candy with the argument that he didn't remember what it tasted like (nice try, buddy).
We stopped at the Hunan Restaurant for takeout for dinner (walking past those strip bars on Broadway, some things never change) and headed to the shuttle stop. After waiting at least 15 minutes, my sister suggested we walk to the garage. "I don't think it's more than 2 miles," she says. "Really? I don't think it's nearly that far, even!" I said. "So why were we waiting?" she asked. I had no idea. We had a nice walk back to the garage, found the car, and the validation saved us, I am not kidding, thirty-three dollars. Yes, it would have cost us $36 to park for that long without validation. Amazing. What a racket!

Sunday, we decided to take the Alameda-Oakland ferry over and visit the Exploratorium. Once we landed, my sister discovered that we'd arrived without our SF map at all. She went into a store on Fisherman's Wharf and found one that included the bus lines--handy! We took the #30 down near the Exploratorium. We walked 2 blocks to the Palace of Fine Arts--it is so beautiful; I'd forgotten how beautiful. G chose that time to throw a tantrum about carrying his jacket, even though I pointed out everyone else was doing it. My sister gave me a break by handling his timeout and I walked a short distance away, sat down, and knit while gazing upon the lovely pond and a graceful swan in it. After a while, I wandered back to the group and G was calm and his beloved cousin was tying his jacket firmly around his waist. We headed out for the Exploratorium, which was as wild and ADD-inducing as I'd remembered. I most enjoyed a station where you could pull an enormous (like 3x3') square bubble out of a basin. If you blew on it, you could make a really long bubble punch out the back. Amazing. (and, I was thinking, not that hard to build on your own. Fun!)

We left there, hungry as anything, and ended up walking 12 blocks to Amici's, where Nephew got his birthday pizza (Oh, I forgot to mention, he turned 16 that day!) of "meat and cheese pizza." G and I shared a Hawaiian pizza, which was really delicious. We ate several slices, and then just the two of us set out to catch the bus back to the ferry building for our trip back, so that I could make my 5:45 hockey game. The bus came right away, we found our stop easily, and were nearly to the ferry building when... oh my god, where are my car keys? Called my sister, and yes, they were safely in her purse, way back in the Marina district. Dang it. We made a go of it, with me knitting away on the hour-long (!) trip back to Alameda (it stops at Angel Island), catching the bus right off the ferry, and walking the 8 blocks from its closest stop back to our house. When we got there, I did the math, and would be driving an hour round-trip to make the last period (20 mins) of the game. Andrea was very sweet at me begging off. We relaxed and hung out, eating cheese & crackers and watching TV.

My sister and her kids leisurely finished their lunch, walked down to the beach (there's a beach next to Chrissy Field! I honestly did not know that), up to the GG Bridge and all the way to the first tower, my niece holding my sister's hand the whole way. Then they misread the ferry schedule and went all the way to the ferry building to catch the ferry back to Alameda--the ferry that left Pier 41 (where they were) to pick them up at the ferry building. We had a fairly casual dinner (Nephew having his birthday steak) and shared chocolate birthday cake.

I just talked to my sister and they made it home just fine. It was a good visit, but G will be very sad that they aren't there any more tonight. When I told him they were on their way here, he asked, "Will they be staying all summer, Mom?" He is so cute.


At 10:04 AM, June 20, 2007, Blogger snarfdog said...

Wow! What a busy weekend. Sounds like a lot of fun though.

At 10:00 PM, June 21, 2007, Blogger Dharma said...

Busy weekend indeed! Glad the cousins enjoy each other so much. That is such a sweet gift.


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