Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Respite Next Door

One of my favorite things about being in a new location is finding those special spots. They could be anything: a cafe, a quaint bookstore, or even....a cemetery. My love for cemeteries stems from Paris, when I would pick a spot on the map and spend hours wandering. At first I shied away from those large green patches on the maps until one day there was one between me and my desired cafe. Summoning my courage I briskly strolled in, only to slow immediately at the still beauty. Birds flitted across the continuous stones, from the lush lavender wisteria twining over a monument to the pooling water on a centuries-old marker. It was a secret garden, full of unexpected treasures, and I fell in love. I remember the Cimetiere du Montparnasse and the side-by-side graves of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir. I clambered across the hills and crowded stones of Pere Lachaise, in search of Chopin, Colette, and Jim Morrison. I spent hours strolling, simply enjoying the stillness and the reverent beauty.

And now I've found my new respite. Last weekend Brian came home and told tale of a cemetery right down the street. So, on a sun-filled afternoon we sauntered in and once more I found myself slowing at the sight. Mountain View Cemetery, the location for many movie scene filmings, is so for a reason. Much less crowded than its parisian counterparts, this cemetery wooed me with vastness and views. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park), the gently curving roads wind their way to the hilltop, with glowing sunset views of downtown Oakland and the San Francisco Bay. Brian and I are both enamored and are already planning afternoon picnics and slow walks, to continue our discussions on the romance of side-by-side stones, the incredible detail on the personal mausoleums, or the beauty of family legacy. 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Catching up on September

"Welcome to the future. Today's date is September 9, 2011. I know that, to you, only 3 weeks have gone by, but to the rest of the world, your last post was 4 months ago."

That, my friends, is the dialogue that just occurred when I sat down to write this post. Um, what? April 28th? My last post? I thought that during this time of transition for Brian and I, the whole rest of the world was put on hold just like we were. Apparently I was in a time warp. Sigh. that the pressure of 4 months of missing posts is all on this one, I'm unsure where to begin. Perhaps I will revert to my writing crutch: a bulleted list. 

1. April 29th, 2011: Brian and I flew from Beijing, China to our "home" in Orlando, after an incredible goodbye party thrown by none other than Greg Kaeuper. Set in the dappled shade of the Stone Boat in Ritan Park, we ate dumplings, speared marinated peanuts, drank chinese beer, and played the range of Chinese kids games for an entire, glorious afternoon. Friends from our offices, church, and elsewhere all gamely played badminton, hackysack, and some sort of game with a string and a double-sided orange top...and sent us off in grand fashion. (These were taken on our Diana Mini...not sure exactly what happened, but i think somewhere the film got stuck and started double exposing. I hated them at first, but the more I see them, the more I'm intrigued)

EDSA group
EDSA friends: Austin, Yan, and more
Nathan and his beautiful mom Bridget
the incredible Kristiana Leniart
Justin and Sadie Stone
Me, Sadie + Me and the always-lovely Ariane Brault
Small group! Kelsey, Melissa, Maria, and Ryan + The poker fiends: Dana and Tom Zemke
having fun...and looking really cool
Maria and Melissa
Yan. Coolest girl in school.
Gordon, Kristiana
Ashton, Tracy (Guo Xiaoying)
The Russian Princess Marina, all-around cool guy Stephen
The best Tawainese ever: Tiger and Jenny
the one, the only: Greg Kaeuper (and stephen trying to do the double-top thing....and failing)
Jenny succeeding at the double-top and string game
Brian....dubious success.
absolutely gorgeous afternoon

2. In the above statement, "home" is in quotes because all of our belongings were still in storage from the previous August and we had given up our apartment in Lake Eola Heights. To our rescue, however, were Kristina and Justin Miller, who allowed us to completely crash their new home and stay with them for 3 months. 

3. Brian and I both worked at our respective companies through June, finished projects, were hosted by wonderful and gracious people for welcome back/goodbye dinners, and attended lots of weddings. 

4. Then came 3 weeks off, in which we spent loads of time with our loved family members, eating incredible food, laughing, adventuring, and Florida, Minnesota, and Texas. 
Camping in the Boundary Waters & Quetico
Brian did really well in not yelling at me.
cooking delicious food for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary

saw some incredible art in Houston
hung out with family

5. Road trip. Brian and I have decided to move to the Bay Area of California in order for Brian to get his masters in Urban Design from UC Berkeley. We're so excited. So we took 4 days, piled our little Toyota Corolla high with suitcases, dog treats, and Hanna and ventured cross country. We saw the Grand Canyon, cruised the Las Vegas Strip, and regaled one another with facts about Albuquerque. 

6. Now, we're here! We settled in the Piedmont area of Oakland, California and are absolutely loving it. There is so much to see, do, and experience in short reach. We've got great shops, grocery stores, and amazing fish tacos all within walking distance and San Francisco is only a short BART jaunt away. I'm so looking forward to sharing our new adventures with all of you!

San Francisco Bay