An equation for a fabulous celebration: California (CA) on my birthday (Bday) was filled with family (F), friends (F), and food (F).  Actually the formula probably should read CA + Bday = F x 4 as there was so many food opportunities.

My Bob found us a great VRBO rental in Rockridge (in the Oakland hills), within walking distance of a Bart station. Very handy for our trip to the Oakland A’s game. It was also convenient for jumping on the freeway to get to the west side of the bay and over to wine country.

On our first evening we headed into San Francisco to meet up with family and especially to get in some cuddle time with my niece’s new babe. Dare I say he is a perfect child?  Yes, he is. Walked from their near The Embarcadero digs to a fabulous restaurant, Fog City.  As my sister had been before she guided us through the menu and made some incredible selections.  I would let her take me anywhere…

On my actual birthday we took in a baseball game.  My sons surprised me with a birthday greeting on the big screen.  Found out that the money from the sign purchase goes to the A’s outreach program for local youth. A’s didn’t win the game (in fact we witnessed some pretty hapless playing), but the kids who benefit from the fund will be winners. Weather was a bit chilly by the latter part of the game so we were happy to retire to the club area for burgers along with a nice view of the game from behind glass.

While in Rockridge we did some window shopping (quirky little retail area within easy walking distance from our VRBO; when is the last time you saw 3 independent book stores in a 5 block area?) and one evening we headed for Tomatina’s in San Mateo for dinner with dear friends from the coastside. Then on to St. Helena to reunite with a former colleague/friend/one of my favorite people.

Dining alfresco under an enormous and breathtaking fig tree at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.

Following lunch we stopped at Markham Winery, mainly to see the latest art installation: “iPhonic art” – all photographs taken and processed with i Phones; and a retrospective of Rolling Stone covers by Baron Wolman. And you can be sure we did not skip the wine tasting.

Koi pond on entrance patio of Markham Winery.
Before leaving wine country we made a recommended stop (thanks, Denise!) to look at a winery that is as much about art as it is about wine.
Before leaving wine country we made a recommended stop at Hall Napa Valley (thanks, Denise!) to look at a winery that is as much about art as it is about wine.
Camel contemplating the eye of a needle. Religious interpretations abound…
Interestingly enough, a vine sculpture was in Northern Virginia when we visited there about a month ago. A new genre? Same artist?
Note the signs in this and the following photo. Love a bit of wry humor.


After walking around the gardens we headed indoors. The building itself is a work of art.


And of course more art to be appreciated within.
Sign that accompanies the above.


Whoever would have though that bedazzled sweaters would have a second life?
Look closely, the weaving is made from newspaper rolled and dyed red (the weft – horizontal) and assorted fiber (the warp – vertical).
A Tesla charging station. With the battery production facility being built in Reno, this made my heart flutter with pride.
Decked out for the holiday. Happy 4th, everyone!!