Life Lessons

"Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.” – Allison DuBois

Monday, March 13, 2023

Nesting Instinct

 Song - Two of Us by The Beatles

The other day I saw a flash of brilliant blue outside the window.  I figured it was a Blue Jay or most likely a Steller's Jay because they seem to be a deeper blue. But when I got up to look I found this little fellow on our deck gate.  

He flew over to Mr. B's birdhouse and looked inside.  Four out of the last five years Oak Titmice have made a nest in that house but this year maybe I will get some Bluebirds nesting in our yard!

Within minutes a Titmouse began building a nest inside.  I guess he or she decided that they were not ready to move quite yet! I looked down at the deck and there was a smattering of twigs beneath the birdhouse so I guess they have been working on their nest for a while (I just hadn't noticed).

I'm wondering how she is going to get that long twig in through that tiny hole but she found that by turning the twig sideways it would fit.  I was so proud of her!

Nearby there were a couple of feeders that I moved further away today so the Titmouse won't have to worry about other birds waking the kids! 

"Look closely. The beautiful may be small."   

--Emmanuel Kant

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

A Crabby Kind of Birthday

 Song - Red, Red Wine by UB40



On February 14th - Valentine's Day - it was Mr. B's birthday!

And he decided he wanted a meal that my mom used to cook for him....

Spaghetti and Crab!

The table was set and the tools were ready for some fast crab work.

I made the spaghetti sauce the day before and all of the additions for the crab & salad like

hard boiled eggs & asparagus, etc.

Andy made a delicious berry cobbler for dessert.

Unfortunately no one took a photo of the spread. 

But trust me it was delicious.


Two days later Mr. B and I headed to Calistoga for a little R & R. Our first stop was R & D Kitchen in Yountville for their spectacular Ding's Chicken sandwich. It was a beautiful day and we sat outside and enjoyed our wine and fries while waiting for our yummy lunch.



 Heading north from Yountville our next stop was in the town of St. Helena for a little shopping.

Can you believe these are all silk flowers?


Onto Calistoga and check into our room at the Bergson Hotel.
 We had a nice room on the ground floor which was perfect as I'm still not walking up stairs too well!

Dinner on Monday night was at Sam's Social Club which is affiliated with 

Indian Springs.  It was a delicious meal and it was packed so we dined at the bar.

We both had an order of the caviar as it was only $225 per person!!! NOT!

We shared the Autumn Salad and Mr. B had the Lamb Shank on risotto 

with an arugula side salad while I had the Pork Chop on polenta with broccoli.

They were both a home run!


 Sweet dreams at the Bergson.



After breakfast in the Bergson social room we headed into town which is just around the corner from our hotel. We walked around shopping but we really enjoyed our time in the book store! The funniest thing of all was while we were just finishing up our lunch I spotted two friends - Jill and her husband John - walking up the street.  What a surprise! They had come up to celebrate Valentines Day.

We also drove back down to Saint Helena's to go to the Robert Louis Stevenson museum that neither of us realized was even in this area until Mr. B happened upon the information. It was a fun, informative place were they displayed his furniture, silver, paintings, photos, and some of his writing. The woman working there was very knowledgeable about his life. (Don't worry Mr. B kindly tested her knowledge!)

Dinner on Mr. B's official birthday was spent at the Calistoga Inn Restaurant.  Our friends happened to have reservations there as well an were sitting just a couple of tables away from us.

Mr. B had the paella which he raved about while I enjoyed delicious beef short ribs.


The following morning we had a delicious breakfast at Cafe Sarafornia 

sitting outside in the warm sunshine.


Time to head home.  Driving along the Silverado Trail we enjoyed viewing the bright yellow mustard blooming in the vineyards and the workers carefully pruning the vines.

We will be back....

The breakfast restaurants name is derived from this quote:


 The town's name comes from 

Brannan's tipsy malapropism 

that he would make this the 

Saratoga of California, 

which came out as the “Calistoga of Sarafornia.”

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Trains and Timetables

 Song - Stop This Train by John Mayer


 Early in February my friend Jill and I decided to check off a bucket list item which was traveling up to Truckee on a train in the snow.  We had both had knee replacements several months ago and the photo above is what Truckee looked like the day before we were heading up there.  I was ready to cancel and split our losses as I wasn't too keen on walking in the snow and ice with my new knee!  But if you know my friend Jill.....she was having none of it!  We were going!!!



I purchased a ice tip for my cane and Mr. B was kind enough to attach it for me. He discovered that it flips up when you are indoors so you don't ruin any hardwood floors and flips down for outside use. The photo above is my new tip taking care of me in the snow!

We hopped (more like hobbled) onto the California Zephyr train on a bright Monday morning. And off we went on our snow adventure......except the train had other plans!

Stuck in a field in central California waiting for the crew to fix our brakes with the Sierra in the background.  We had several of these stops until finally they called a repair crew from Sacramento to come fix it permanently.  With each stop there was no electricity, no bathroom, no food and no air.

As we approach Donner Lake we enjoy the snow outside of our windows.

More and more snow as we approach the summit.....

We check into the old Truckee Hotel with Moody's Bistro awaiting us for dinner that night.

We forgot to tell them at reception that I still was not climbing stairs real well and they put us on the third floor!

Gilian from reception walked us up the steep stairs and even carried my backpack.  She was very kind and kept apologizing saying that the hotel was booked an she didn't have another room available. Our room was great with everything we needed.

That evening we had an incredible steak dinner at Moody's Bistro along with some excellent Frank Family wine.  Our waiter was fun as were the people sitting near us. It was surprising that it was a full house on a random Monday night but the food and service spoke for itself.  BTW it also is the place where Paul McCartney played several surprise gigs while his wife was up there skiing.

The following morning we get a text from Amtrak that our train was delayed by an hour or so.  We were content as it gave us time to get breakfast and go shopping in town.

However we kept getting messages about further delays and so we bought lunch to take onboard. The train didn't arrive until about 1:30pm about 4 hours late.

Above is a view of some of the tunnels we went though up on the summit.

We arrived home just as night was falling.  It was a fun time and a whirlwind 36 hour trip!

Thanks Jill for your adventurous spirit that I hope you never lose....J

Wednesday, February 1, 2023


 Song - Stuck in Lodi Again by Creedence Clearwater Revival


 On Tuesday of this week my friend Jill and I took a drive about an hour Northeast from home but sill under the watchful eye of Mt. Diablo in the distance.  It was part of a Christmas present I had given to her this year and next week I will share her gift to me with you!


 We arrived at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve on a beautiful crisp winter morning.  An American Kestrel greeted us from high atop a telephone pole.

Unfortunately there were only a smattering of Sandhill Cranes on this trip.  For some reason the reserve had drained two of the fields of all of the standing water. However we did see a fun mix of other birds and had a great Thai lunch after we finished our bird watching.

An Great Egret was standing near a canal watching for something tasty to float by.

And a Belted Kingfisher was happily chattering away high on top of some barren tree branches. 

A Great Blue Heron was also standing near the canal of water watching both the water and us driving slowly by. 

The air was filled with a variety of bird calls as well as a chorus of frogs croaking quite loudly. And one of the highlights was watching a hawk catching a very long snake.  It was so exciting that all of my photos turned out blurry....

It was a day of laughter and fun with a dear old friend!


" We are best friends. Always remember if you fall, I will pick you up....after I'm finished laughing."


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