On our last day in California, we met a friend of mine that I went to high school with in Arizona who has lived in Oakland for years. We met her and her husband at the University of California in Berkeley  and she gave us a little tour. There were, of course, students walking everywhere. I wonder if they have any idea how lucky they are? I wouldn’t mind going back to college.

Here’s the main gate into the campus. In the sixties this is where there were a lot of demonstrations. It was a pretty wild time. I went to a conservitive university and missed the whole thing.

The campus clock tower.

A lovely library. Mostly there were comfy couches and chairs for the students.

You could even get an old 33 1/3 record and play it there if you wanted. Do young people even want to do that anymore? I think it’s the in thing to do.

Two pretty chairs.

In The Hood


My son lives in a really nice area of Oakland called Piedmont. Here are a few photos I took while there.

The entrance to what was once a luxury hotel that burned down and which is now a park.

You don’t see many movie theatres like this. It was called the Grand and it certainly was.

A rose in the sun.

Halloween decorations abound. I especially liked this dress.

Just a few of the many Halloween decorations in one neighbors yard.

One of the rarely seen Panda Boys.


Mary, my friend, took us to the coast near Sonoma mostly that around Bodega. It was stunning.

You can’t see it in this photo but there were seals in the water mostly lying in the shallow water next to the big stone. There were also some whales. I couldn’t really see them until a nice local couple pointed them out. The whales were pretty far out but you could see the little water spouts if you were lucky. The couple even let me use their binoculars.

A bird on a pole with a pretty great background.

Bodega Bay.

Most of  the movie, The Birds was filmed in this area, with the church here being in some scenes.

The couple we talked to told us to eat lunch here. We had some very good clam chowder. It wasn’t fancy at all-as you can see, they sell bate there too.

As were heading back to Sonoma we went through the city of Sebastopol and Mary showed us some metal sculptures all over town made out of mostly  junk. There were a lot on one street where the artist lived which were really fun to look at. They were made by a husband and wife team.


We visited a friend with a place in Sonoma. She had been out of the country and hadn’t heard about the fire. When her plane landed there were suddenly all of  these notices about fires and evacuations on her iPhone.  She didn’t know for a week if her home had been destroyed or not and then, once she found out it hadn’t, she had to wait a few days before being allowed into the area. We drove up to her home from Oakland passing black hills, former homes with nothing but chimneys left, and trees with green tops but black trunks. Tragedy up close. I didn’t get a chance to take  any photos of the devestation, just the beauty left.


We had lunch in a bistro in the town of Sonoma. I liked that olive oil with balsamic vinegar was served with the bread.

We then went to a wine tasting at the Saint Frances Winery which had just reopened that day. Most the their vineyards had made it. The nice guy helping us who, by the way, spoke French and German showed us one of the bottles and said that they weren’t sure if one of the grapes used survived the fire.

The next day we went to a redwood forest which was beautiful to walk around, along with enjoying the scent of the trees. Many of them grew in circles like this, growing around the  mother.

Another circle.

Some of them had black interiors like this one caused by long ago fires. Redwood is slow to burn so they usually recovered.

I have just returned to Paris but while I overcome my jetlag and get my life back in order, I have a few more posts left from our time in California.

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse is a very famous restaurant in Berkeley founded by Alice Waters known for starting the fresh food movement-farm to table. It is incredibly fresh food. We joined my friend for lunch there. The tomatoes on my plate were fabulous. We met a man outside the restaurant delivering fresh vegetables that came directly from a Sonoma farm, one that had escaped the fire.

These were setting on the counter overlooking the kitchen as we entered.

The outside entrance.

They make their own bubbly water so there aren’t tons of bottles to be disposed of. I like their glasses too.

This huge incredible tree stretched high over the entrance. It was called something like a BuiBui tree. Whatever the name, it was gorgeous.


Bonsai are beautiful to look at and fascinating to me. I was taken to a Bonsai Garden in Oakland by an old friend that I met years ago through the Paris board of AOL which sadly no longer exists. The garden by the beautiful Lake Merit is run and taken care of over one hundred voulteers. The plants were donated, often after a bonsai owner died. There is overhead watering three times a day and they are putting in new paved paths to keep walking areas dry.

Close to the entry.

A pretty metal flower decoration that hung near some of the bonzai.

A pretty tree seen through a fence.

I think this one was 1400 years old if you can believe it. The purpose of bonsai, first done in China then exported to Japan, other than the exercise of effort and ingenuity of the grower getting plants to look like minature trees in shallow containers, is for the contemplation of the viewer, a sort of zen experience.

A twig broom looking artistic in the sun.

A tin watering pot in a ceramic pot and a bonzai shadow which all looked very Japanese to me.