Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I went to Small Claims Court today.  Not as a participant, but as an observer to listen to a case where my husband, as the president of our homeowners association, defended a ridiculous suit brought against our complex by an angry resident.  Although the details of the case weren't very interesting,  I wanted to listen and observe the process, especially since it was my husband who would be doing some of the talking.  I've never been sued nor have I taken anyone to Small Claims Court,  but I wish I'd had the chutzpah to do so a few years back when the engine of my Lexus 400 was seriously damaged by an auto detailer who steam cleaned the "interior" of my car.   I guess when I told him I wanted both the exterior and interior to be detailed, he took the word "interior" just a little too literally.  Apparently he opened up the hood and steam cleaned the engine, screwing it up badly.    

A couple of years ago I went to court as an observer because a lawyer friend of ours was representing a sister and brother who were suing another sibling in a very complicated case concerning their parents' estate.   As I listened to my friend give his opening remarks in a convincing voice, laced with passion and drama, I felt as though I was watching a play unfold on stage and my friend was the 21st Century Perry Mason.   

I was on a jury once in Superior Court, but it was a long time ago.  To be honest, I don't think I handled myself very well.  I was barely 21 years of age and still green around the edges.  I certainly was not mature enough to make a decision on an armed robbery case.   Although eleven members of the jury felt the defendant was guilty, I had a hard time making up my mind.  I don't recall the details of the case, except that I was the same age as the defendant, and I probably didn't want to see someone so young go to jail.  I do remember that other jury members were eager to go home and put this case to bed, so they patiently reviewed the evidence with me again until I finally came around and joined their position.  I'll never forget the scared look on the young defendant's face when our foreman told the judge, "Your honor, the jury finds the defendant guilty as charged." 

Last year my husband was a jury foreman on a case in which an obstinate young man challenged a policeman who stopped him for talking on his cell phone while driving, which is illegal in California.  Not only would the driver not give him his license or registration form, he locked the doors of his car and ignored the policeman completely.  Eventually two other officers showed up to help deal with the problem, but the situation escalated and the driver ended up being taken away to the police station.   He was found guilty, of course, but what a waste of judicial resources and people's time. 

I realize that the law says it's my civic duty to serve on a jury, and, of course, I believe in a fair judicial process.  But perhaps mandatory jury duty should be replaced with a voluntary system.   If jury duty were voluntary, I might be willing to step up to the plate when it's convenient, but as it is now, I just keep my fingers crossed that I'm never called.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


 When a friend told me she had visited Land's End, I thought the mail order catalog company had morphed into a bricks and mortar store.  "No, not that Land's End" she informed me.  "This Land's End is a nature trail located in the northwest corner of San Francisco, where urban development ends and the Pacific Ocean begins."   

One of many beautiful views from Land's End

Last Saturday Bruce and I drove to San Francisco and spent some time hiking the three mile loop from the Cliff House to the Palace of the Legion of Honor and back.  Eager to check it out, we explored  the rugged coastline of what is called Land's End.   

Beautiful views in every direction

The Visitors Center had an excellent display detailing the early development of this historic area.   In addition to browsing the gift shop and devouring a yummy lemon scone, we bought a book entitled Stair Walks of San Francisco and decided our goal would be to hike all of the 29 city stair walks....... some day! 

"I think I can see China from here."

We started walking on the trail along with half the population of San Francisco, I swear, and every Heinz 57 and AKC breed of dog. We had been warned that Saturdays were a busy day in general, especially if the weather was sunny and there was no coastal fog.   We didn't care.  The views of the jagged coast were spectacular in every direction.   The ruins of the historic, very late 19th Century Sutro Baths fascinated us, knowing that this famous sight represented another booming era in San Francisco's colorful history.    Adolph Sutro, a wealthy city poo-bah, whose interests included natural history and marine ecology, constructed an ocean pool aquarium among the rocks just below the Cliff House, another site he also built.  His goal was to create a landmark that would attract residents and tourists to visit this special place he affectionately called Land's End.    Although we could have accessed the Baths via steep steps and a winding path,  we decided to save our knees this time around.   Besides, there is so much history surrounding the ruins themselves that exploring the Baths could be a dedicated visit all by itself.  

Cliff House and the ruins of historic Sutro Baths below

Good exercise for the buns

I brought my camera, of course and thought I might hold Bruce back from getting the exercise he hoped for, since there were so many beautiful sights and interesting people to photograph.   Wildflowers brought on by the recent rains and kids in brightly colored jackets made a simple forest picture pop to life.  Strangers  falling in love?  Now who could resist taking that photo.  And, of course, there's always another boring picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.  

A family field trip

Falling in Love

This is just one of the many beautiful views that will have us coming back

Land's End provides a corridor of dramatic spots, connecting you to secret beaches, breathtaking cliffs, coastal chaparral, redwoods and gnarly cypress trees.  While on a map,  the setting may seem accessible only for the hearty and adventurous, but that is not the case.  The trail has been developed to accommodate people of all ages and various levels of fitness.  All that's required is an interest in spending time with nature, and a willingness to get out there and do it.

Views of China Beach and Baker Beach

Can't NOT take a photo of a bike, even if it's not the kind I ride

Surfer Dude

Sunday, March 2, 2014


In a couple of hours I'll open a bottle of wine, get out some cheese and crackers and plunk myself down in front of the TV to watch  two hours of scintillating entertainment spread out over four hours called the Academy Awards.  With the Oscar ballot in my hand, I'm wondering whether I should vote for the movie I loved or vote for the movie I think will win.  I know that the Oscars are very political.    I've been disappointed before, but this year most of the films nominated for best picture are worthy, although I'm basing that comment on my having seen only six films out of the nine.    

I would like American Hustle to win Best Picture because it is my favorite, but I think the Academy will pick Twelve Years a Slave because it's the politically correct thing to do.   

Some people took American Hustle way too seriously, thinking it was a documentary on the Abscam case , but, in fact, it was a farce, a spoof, a good laugh in almost every scene.   The first five minutes had me cracking up with Christian Bale gluing on his hair piece and a few minutes later Bradley Cooper messing it up.  What's not funny about this?  And Amy Adams?  Only a con-woman would show up at a meeting with members of Congress wearing a dress cut so low you could see her navel and everything else.  And then do you really think it was the sour-smelling fingernail polish that kept Christian Bale going back to Jennifer Lawrence's bed?   

The best thing about Dallas Buyers Club was the story and the tremendous talent of Matthew McConaughey, who up until recently appeared mainly in B-rated movies, like Surfer Dude, not A-plus movies like Mud.   Along with his cameo role in Wolf on Wall Street,  McConaughey has finally transformed himself from a handsome star into a first-class handsome actor.  I just hope he gains those 42 pounds back before he does another movie.

Gravity was entertaining from a cinematic point of view, especially in 3-D.   I loved the amazing special effects and the gorgeous scenes from space, but I had to listen to the Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuaron's interview with Charlie Rose before I understood the true meaning of the story.  

Nebraska is another movie that I hope receives recognition tonight. Bruce Dern was so believable in his role as Woody Grant, and June Squibb as Mrs. Grant has my vote for Best Supporting Actress.  While I think Jennifer Lawrence has a better chance for American Hustle, Jennifer has many good years ahead of her, while I'm not sure about June Squibb.   

For Best Director I have to vote for Martin Scorsese for Wolf of Wall Street although it was not my favorite movie.    It was just too over the top, too long at 3 hours, and although I'm not a prude by any means, too graphic sexually.  But Scorsese gets my vote because this film exemplifies his talent as master of his craft.

Amy Adams has my vote for Best Actress, but Cate Blanchett is a shoe-in as she was stunning in Blue Jasmine and the recent controversy involving Woody Allen has to give an added boost.

Well, I only have an hour before the show begins so I'd better hurry and publish this since it's a time dated piece and tomorrow will be meaningless.

PS:  For those who subscribe to my blog via email, I'm sorry but this post will be meaningless!