Thursday, March 24, 2016

Skywatch Friday - March 24, 2016

It has been raining so much, it would seem like the California drought should be at an end.  Gray skies continue to be the norm with an occasional bright sunny day to remind us that we shouldn't bemoan this monsoon-like rainfall.  When I was up in Sacramento this past weekend, visiting my two grandchildren - and their parents, of course, I was amazed to see the water level of the Sacramento River, with trees almost to their tops, under water!  Soon, with spring arriving in full force, the river will go down to its more normal levels  and the rice paddies will be planted.  

I am participating in 

Point your camera toward the
heavens and join in the fun!

Friday, February 26, 2016

My Saturday Pinks - Beverly's Pink Saturday - February 26, 2016

Spring has definitely arrived in San Mateo, California and the San Francisco Bay area.  These are just one variety of beautiful flowering trees that delight me these days.

I am so fond of elephants - the live variety and any kind of ornament, jewelry, and work of art depicting them.  I think I have passed that on to my precious granddaughter who will be three-years-old April 13th.  I saw this beautiful elephant throw on Amazon and got it for Harper.  However, I loved it so much, I have kept it and will have to order another for her!!!

I am participating in

Add your pink photos and join in the fun!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Skywatch Friday - It Looks Like Rain - February 25, 2016

While California is still suffering from drought conditions -
and outdoor watering is being restricted - gray skies such
as these over my San Mateo neighborhood have dumped
much needed rain.  It is wonderful to see the reservoir along
Interstate 280 fill with water.  

I am participating in 

Add your photo and join in the fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Monday Mellow Yellows - Schubert Bakery, San Francisco, CA - February 21, 2016

I came across this photo, taken four years ago, when Warren Fukushima, my friend of over fifty years, left the warmth of Hawaii, to visit me in San Francisco.  We stopped for coffee and a sweet treat at Schubert's Bakery on Clement Street.

What a spectacular place that was!  I had the hardest time
deciding what to eat.  I've often thought of returning but, thus far, I've managed to resist the temptation.

The bakery case was filled with so many yellow confections, perfect for Monday Mellow Yellows!

I am participating in:

Trying to Play Catch Up! - February 21, 2016

Days are passing so quickly.  I had my final post op visit with my orthopedist, Dr. Belzer, but I still have a few more physical therapy appointments.  My shoulder feels great, however, and I should have no problems with my return to India.  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Welcome to the World, Isaac Vukasinovic - February 9, 2016

Much to my consternation, I didn't make it to Roseville,
California Kaiser Hospital in time to greet my new grandson.  After one false start last week, Alex and Laura decided not to call until Laura was actually admitted to the hospital and, since the Sacramento area is a good two plus hour drive from San Mateo, traffic and weather permitting, I arrived after his debut.  Much to her relief, I'm sure, Laura's labor was pretty brief and sweet Isaac was all swaddled and resting comfortably in his daddy's arms when I arrived.

With both children, Alex and Laura declined to know the sex of their baby in advance.  I was so delighted that their firstborn, Harper, was a girl.  Having given birth to THREE sons, I wanted the delight of having a girl in the family.  This time, I wanted a boy!  How nice of Alex, with his determining chromosome, to accommodate his mother!

Isaac Vukasinovic arrived at 0054 on February 6, 2016.  He 
weighed in at 7 lbs. 15 ounces and was 20-1/2 inches long. 

Both uncles were waiting with me at the Vukasinovic home when the baby arrived.  We had a celebration though Isaac slept through most of it.  His "big" sister, Harper, was clamoring to hold him and, occasionally, with mom carefully supervising, she was allowed to do so.

Uncle Jeremy ( left ), Uncle Shawn ( in his Air Force uniform ) and dad, Alex ( right )

Uncle Jeremy ( who will start his new position in Chicago next week ) with his nephew

Harper LOVES her uncles!

What beautiful smiles from Mommy and Harper!

I wish I weren't living so far away in San Mateo.  I hope I can 
get to Sacramento a few times before my departure to India
on April 13th.  I will fly first to Tampa, with my good friend 
with whom I've been staying.  After a three day visit with
Charlene Payton, my friend of over 45 years, Kris and I will board Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas ( my first cruise in over five years ), for a two week transatlantic crossing which ends up in Barcelona.  After five days there, Kris and I will fly to India.  She will stay with me for six weeks - I am so excited to actually have a friend with me in India.  We'll go to Goa and Jaipur and some other places.  I haven't planned our complete itinerary yet.  She returns to the U. S. mid-June but I'll stay on in India till around the first of November.

By the time I get back home, baby Isaac will be so different. I'm hoping Alex will be better about Skype than he has been in the past!!!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Video of the 173rd Basic Academy of the Oakland ( CA ) Police Department - February 3, 2016

My middle son, Alex Vukasinovic, graduated from six months of training at the Oakland Police Department on January 8, 2016.  I've never seen him more dedicated to completing anything.  It was especially difficult because Oakland is eighty miles from his West Sacramento home.  He had to go from being a very hands on father to studying for hours, commuting, often staying overnight at his older brother's home, when there were late night commitments.

He did it, though, and we were so thrilled on graduation day.
I saw this video at graduation but, in the excitement of the occasion, with family around, laughter and glee, it didn't impact me as it did just now, watching it alone.  I have to admit, I shed a few tears.
Congratulations to all you young men and women who made it through, even the experience of being tasered and tear gassed.  I pray you absorbed all you needed to make you the best officers possible.  Even more so, I ask God or the gods, depending on your beliefs, to always have your backs, your
fronts and each other.

Again, Alex, I can't tell you how proud I am of you - as I am of Shawn and Jeremy, too.

Well, I tried to embed the video on my blog ( Oakland PD allows it ) but, somehow, I couldn't figure it out.  I guess I should have consulted my brilliant Indian IT professional,
Shiju Sugunan.

At any rate, I'll just post the link and you can see it that way.  It's on the Oakland PD Facebook site, on the left side of the page as you view it, under video.  I see Alex several times in the film...with his "Vukasinovic" sprawled across his back on this sweat shirt or work out gear.

If you watch it, say a little prayer for these young officers, that they make it to retirement, without mishap, and put a lot of bad guys away.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Fantastic Cities" - An Adult Coloring Book by Steve McDonald - January 31, 2016

The most amazing things have happened to me since I've
begun blogging.  I have met the most incredible people and
my life has been enriched in ways I would never have thought possible.

For example, way back on December 1, 2014, I got the following email from a gentleman by the name of Steve

My name is Steve McDonald. I'm an illustrator/artist originally from Ontario, Canada but now based in Bali, Indonesia.  I have recently become well known for my line drawings of aerial scenery. I work with a number of photographers to source reference material for my work. Jeffrey Milstein, Klaus Leidorf and Jason Van Bruggen are a few well known photographers that allow me to use their images as reference material.

Presently I'm working on a book for Chronicle Publishing in San Francisco. It will be full of crazy detailed line drawings of aerial views of architecture.  I'm wondering if I may use one of your photos as a reference for a line drawing. The one you posted of San Francisco. I do change, crop and sometimes stretch the images before working from them and often remove or insert objects. I am also happy to attribute the source photographer if requested. ( some do , some don't - I do prefer to credit the photographer even though the final drawings are sometimes are quite different ). Included are a few of my drawings so you can see what I do.  I'm represented by Illozoo illustration in the US.  I'd be happy to eventually send you a copy of the book as well. publish date late 2015.

Thanks in advance,

Steve McDonald,  AOCAD

I gave him my permission and I was curious as to how he'd found a picture of mine.  He said he goes to Google images, searches for aerial views and city name.  He came across my blog.  He also told me that he'd lived in India for two years when his daughters were small.  

I forgot all about his project until, before Christmas, I was in a lovely gift shop in my neighborhood and, lo and behold, there was "Fantastic Cities."  I could not believe the elaborate work involved in his drawings.  I was in awe. I showed Craig and Derrick, the owners, my name in the book and the San Francisco drawing.  They were most impressed.  I bought four of the books myself for friends.  After that, I saw the book in several shops.  It is truly amazing

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Viognier, San Mateo, California

While I was definitely feeling gratitude this year on Thanksgiving ( six days after my right total shoulder replacement and not feeling that terrible arthritic pain anymore ), I didn't feel like a two hour drive to Sacramento for a family gathering.  My arm was still in a sling ( for another five weeks ).  

My dear friend, Kris Bleything, who had welcomed me back from India and offered her home to me, agreed we should dine somewhere locally in the San Mateo area.  She left the choice of restaurants up to me so I spent an hour or so reading reviews and finally picked Viognier.  I liked the menu and their wine list was excellent.  I figured I might have to drink dinner since my right hand was pretty ineffective at cutting meat!

We opted to go early which was good.  Draeger's, the gourmet market that houses Viognier, was not open, so we were given instructions to park in the garage and to phone up for someone who would bring the elevator down to us.  

The restaurant was bright and airy, with light woods and huge flower arrangements of blue hydrangeas.  

It wasn't crowded at that time and we were seated by the crackling fireplace and had an energetic, cheerful server who made excellent suggestions.

I hadn't thought to consider that Viognier might be serving a set menu for Thanksgiving.  I had already looked at their regular online menu and chosen my meal for the evening.  Not so.  Kris was happy to have turkey and dressing but I opted for a meal and an appetizer of pork!

My very good Sazerac cocktail!

A champagne cocktail - lovely but I can't recall its ingredients

We had a long leisurely lunch, enjoying the fire, our meal and an excellent bottle of California pinot noir, recommended by our server.

Turkey and dressing - with a turkey sausage, for good measure

My pork appetizer

Pork, again

I really should have ordered something different.  The pork was delicious but appetizer and entree were so much alike, I found myself craving fish at the end!

Our fine pinot noir

Bread pudding - out of this world

There was a second dessert but I can't seem to find a picture of it - a heavenly pumpkin pie cheesecake.  We must have consumed it so quickly, I forgot to snap a picture...or my phone battery protested.  

It was a nice lunch/dinner but very expensive ( $250 ) and I think both Kris and I missed being with family - though she is like a sister to me.  I was longing to hear little Harper, calling out "Nana."

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Presenting Officer Alexander Vukasinovic, Oakland Police Department, January 9, 2016

Alexander Vukasinovic, my middle son, was born August
27, 1982.  He was a hefty brute, weighing in at 8'6", if I remember correctly.  I do remember that I didn't have my epidural, not arriving at the delivery unit in time.  I had gone across the street at Mt. Zion to visit with my buddies, former professional colleagues, in the operating room.  When I realized that my contractions were only four minutes apart, we raced across the street.  I barely managed to get up on the delivery table before his head was crowning.  

The face that was to terrify future football opponents

Alex and his younger brother, Jeremy, were only two years apart and kept each other entertained.  Poor Shawn, older than Alex by fourteen years, often was a substitute father, rather than just a big brother.  He was a great role model, though and played a great deal in making Alex the man that he is.

Alex, like my two other boys, was a wonderful son, seldom giving me any grief.  His great love was football, though my focus was on their academics.  I didn't involve them in sports at all, single mother that I was.  I know this didn't give them a well rounded upbringing.  

Since I had been the Southeastern Women's Judo Champion
when I was 17, I did let them take judo!

As both Alex and his younger brother, Jeremy, started high school, they informed me, though, they WERE going to play football.  Alex promised to maintain his good grade point average and he did.  He dreamed of a career with the major leagues and left home, at eighteen, for UC Davis.  Sadly, no sports were allowed his first year and he wasn't happy there.  He transferred to American River College, took over his life, played football for two years and was very happy.  

He hoped to continue on toward a football career but it wasn't to be.  He was recruited by out of state schools who offered partial scholarships but wouldn't allow him to work.  Reluctantly, he gave up his dream, focusing elsewhere.

Alex accumulated several different AS degrees - among them fire technology.  He began paramedic training, found it "boring" and didn't complete the last two months.  He had worked at Safeway right out of college and, ultimately, managed the dairy department.  At long last, he proposed to Laura Winterhalter, the lovely girl he had dated for several years and the most beautiful wedding I had ever attended took place.

Alex began pursuing other career paths, changing his college
major several times - chemistry, math, economics.  In the midst of these studies, the most wonderful thing happened.  My testosterone laden family welcomed the arrival of the sweetest little girl on the face of the earth.  Harper Ann Vukasinovic made her debut on April 13, 2013.

Now, Alex said he needed to pursue a career to provide for his family.  He began to talk about law enforcement.  He applied to local departments in the Sacramento area but, also, to San Francisco, Fremont, and Oakland.  Oh, no, I thought, having been a forensic nurse for San Francisco for 21 years, it's pretty dangerous in San Francisco and Oakland.  

Well, of course, he didn't get the call from Sacramento PD, a few miles from his home but Oakland wanted him and, for six months, he made the long commute, nearly 100 miles each way, to undergo the rigorous training an officer must endure to keep him safe on the job. Thankfully, his brother, Shawn, who lives about halfway in between, was there with a place to sleep on nights when the commute was just too much.

Playing police

With the love and support of his wife, Laura, and snuggles from little Harper who queried, "Are you a police officer, yet, Daddy?" the months slowly passed.  The class numbers dwindled but Alex endured.  He survived being tasered and being pepper sprayed and, FINALLY, he admitted he thought he might make it - whereas up until almost the last week, he had said, "something could still happen."

Interior of the Scottish Rite Center

Midst cries of "Daddy...mommy," the men and women in blue filed out in precision.  It was a beautiful ceremony, with an inspection first, then badges were pinned on, diplomas presented, speeches followed and we were shown a movie of some of the moments in the life of our officers during their academy time.  These young men and women earned their badges, that's for sure and the Oakland Police Department is lucky to have them among its ranks.

A very proud mother with her three sons

Shawn Smith, Carmen Henesy, Officer Alexander Vukasinovic,
Jeremy Vukasinovic and Harper Vukasinovic

Shawn Smith, Officer Alexander Vukasinovic and Jeremy Vukasinovic in the back
The ladies:  Edith Vukasinovic, Carmen Henesy, Elmira Lopez, Harper & Laura Vukasinovic

Following graduation, we went to Manivanh Thai Restaurant in San Francisco, where we had celebrated most of the milestones in the Vukasinovic family.  Sam and Nang Douangpanya and their family had made us part of theirs and knew my boys since they were munchkins.  We feasted with Laura's parents, the Calhouns, and grandmothers and other family members in honor of this special occasion.  It was a most joyous celebration.  The grand finale was this cake.

Harper was very happy that, at last, she could say that her daddy was, indeed, a police officer!!


As Alex and his comrades begin their careers with the Oakland Police Department, I ask that all my family and friends pray for their safety and well being in this very difficult job.