Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Let's get quizzical

Tuesday night is quiz night at Martin Macks on Haight Street, San Francisco, so it was time for me to show my mum and dad that I actually listened to some of the teachers at school.
Greg and Tugso came along too just in case there were some Mongolian questions and we were also joined by Gary who turned out to be the brains of the team, he always acts like a "know it all", now I know he is.
After a very close 7 rounds of trivia, picture and music rounds, much to the absolute shock of my parents, we ended up winning the whole thing! I assured them it had nothing to do with he quizmaster being my friend Mark.
Here's a couple of questions we had to answer, leave your responses in the comments section.
1. Airforce one is the (idiot) president's plane, what kind of craft is Marine one? (Greg got this one).
2. Who fought in the Rumble in the Jungle?
3. How many times a day should you floss? (not a good question if you have 4 English people in your team. My dad asked "What's flossing?". I rest my case.


"We're number 1, we're number 1". Cue huge bucket of icey,sugary,orange energy drink being tipped over everyone.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The San Francisco Treat

I picked mom up at the airport this morning from a week spent with Carl in LA. One more day together before she flies home to South Carolina. We went and had breakfast together at the Full House Cafe--one of our old favorites. It was really nice to have a quiet breakfast together after all the company and chaos that occurred right before she left for LA. With all the dress shopping and the bridal shower behind us, we were able to sit quietly and really talk to each other. I always value the moments in life when I can really connect with people and speak to each other from the heart so this was a special breakfast for me. From there, it was imperative that I let mom take a shower and wash her hair. I can't imagine why, but neither Andrea nor mom dared shower at Carl's apartment. Strange that.
All cleaned up and ready to go, Rob, Bob, Jo, Mom and I went to Berkeley to visit the horticultural center I had heard about. Rob and I have been trying to buy a few plants for house to make the apartment feel a little nicer. This horticultural center is absolutely fantastic. I haven't been to many but I would be surprised if this one isn't one of the better ones. I couldn't believe the variety of plants and shrubs they had available. Mom discovered the cactus greenhouse and we spent a good deal of time in there. So many bizarre and funny succulents in there several of which we bought to take home with us. One of the highlights was the hummingbird nest in one of the permanent trees. I've never seen a hummingbird sit long enough to really look at it. Here it is--you can't tell where the bird's body ends and the nest begins.


Rob grabs the opportunity to have his own personal trophy ceremony.

Rob wins plant trophy

We stopped for lunch and then back home for "power naps" before going to San Francisco for dinner. We decided it was a good idea to check out the Cheesecake Factory which is on the 8th floor of Macy's and has an outdoor patio overlooking Union Square. Rob puts on his best outfit for our evening out.

Rocker Rob w Parents

They don't take reservations at the Cheesecake Factory and when we got there at 7:45 PM they told us it was going to be at least a 1hr and 15 minute wait. Since we had eaten a late lunch, we all felt we could manage the wait and decided to walk across Union Square to take everyone in the elevator where Rob proposed. Mom managed to keep her motion sickness at bay long enough for two trips up the elevator and then we had to call it quits. Only 1 hour and 5 minutes left to go. Not quite knowing what to do to pass the time, Rob and I just started walking down Powell Street and the idea struck us to go on the cable cars. Since we couldn't all fit in a cab to come back, Rob and I thought we would put our parents on the cable car and then meet them in our car at the end. Only thing is we'd have to give up our cracking parking spot right in front of Macy's. As we got to the cable car stop, the driver started shouting that we better get on quickly or they were going to leave and before Mom, Bob and Jo even knew the plan, they were rolling up Powell Street with us running behind shouting that we'd meet them at the end. Rob and I ran to the car and then raced up Powell Street until we were level with them taking pictures out the car window. I think it put my mom's mind at ease to see us there and know that we would be able to connect at the end. Then we raced off again and waited for them at the top of Hyde Street overlooking Lombard. When their car pulled up and stopped to show everyone the view, apparently someone else on the cable car spotted me and asked mom "is that your daughter?" We were becoming celebrities around here.

mom on cable car

Down at the bottom of the hill, the three of them got off the cable car and immediately into our car and back to Union Square where our parking spot, unbelieveably, was still waiting for us. About 2 minutes after arriving back in the restaurant, they called our names for a table. If we had needed to look for parking, we would have missed dinner.

The Cheesecake Factory is not a place you will want to eat at very often unless you love cheesecake and a great view of San Francisco. It's a bit loud in general, but particularly if you have a screaming ghetto girl sitting behind you, and the portions are a bit over the top as Rob demonstrates below. In spite of this, we really enjoyed having a fun evening out in San Francisco together. Next time Mom sees Bob and Jo will be at our wedding! Holy Mackeral, WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!

robs cheesecake dinner

all 4 at cheesecake

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Iceberg straight ahead!

Our friends Phil and Jeremy make their first appearance into the blog as they offered to take us all out sailing in the bay on one of the boats that they work on in the Berkeley Marina.
Pip and Jezza were very impressive, it must have been the beer they were drinking (Don't tell the coastguard). They also treated us to quite a spread of goldfish crackers and milano cookies.
Annie took over the helm and we cruised the bay for about an hour until the sun started to go down.
It wasn't until we'd eaten dinner and desert later that night that the smile finally started to fade from her face.

Sailing Jezza raises sail

Jezza in control

Sailing Jo

Mum (Jo) trying not to feel seasick.

Sailing Kari & Annie

Kari & Annie with coathangers in their mouths.

Sailing Pip & Rob

Pip and Rob enjoying the Goldfish.

Sailing Bob

Long Bob Silver.

Monday, March 14, 2005

One Heck Of A Cool Sistah!

It was beautiful and sunny on Sunday morning and Andrea and I snuck away for a walk up to Piedmont Avenue together. We got coffee and browsed in the shops and had quality sister conversation which is a rare pleasure when your sister has three kids. As we arrived back to my house, she gave me a big kiss and told me she loved me. If I was any smarter, I would have suspected something was going on, but instead I walked in to my kitchen to be completely taken aback by a room full of girls screaming "SURPRISE!" Ah, the naivete of a young bride.
I remember once my old boss at Sierra Designs once called me an "attention whore" (is that unprofessional or what?!) but what she didn't reaize is that I am only an attention whore when it is completely inappropriate for me to be. At times like this, when it's acceptable for me to be the center of attention, expected even, I suddenly become shy and embarrassed. It's because of this that the first words out of my mouth when I walked in were--"OH NOOOOOOO." Leave it to Gretchen to snap me into reality by shouting out "What the hell do you mean, OH NO!?"

Shower sash
Mom helps put on my bride-to-be sash.

I graciouly made my way around the room to welcome everyone and who should I stumble upon, poking her head out from around the corner--ANNIE! All the way from New Hampshire for my bridal shower. She had spent the whole day before wandering around Walnut Creek on her own and tested out the Motor Lodge. (FYI--the shower heads are apparently quite low so if you're very tall, you may be disappointed showering at the Walnut Creek Motor Lodge.) Anyway, I was already in such a state of disbelief that I hardly appeared surprised to see her I'm afraid.
It was really a nice little party. We had lovely pastries and fruit salad, Gretchen made her first ever fritatta which was delicious, and we had bagels and cream cheese. One of the cream cheeses had molded overnight but apparently served as a real ice breaker while everyone was awaiting my arrival. It was ages before I could make my way from the kitchen to the living room and when I finally did I was surprised all over again. I don't know where my mind was but it never occurred to me that I would find a pile of presents in there!

Shower Kari wGroup
The girls gather round (notice the new rug that I got for my shower from my mom, Irene, Nancy and Barbara)

I'm a pretty lucky bride though as everyone who came seemed to understand that the sexy lingerie thing just wasn't my style (sorry Rob.) I did find it funny that the sexiest underwear I got came from my 87 year old aunt! And I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn't know which side was the front when I opened the Puma thong from Dina. I think everyone believed I was just being funny at the moment, however.

Shower Puma Thong

I know boys aren't supposed to give bridal shower gifts but Annie hand delivered a special one from my dad. Apparently he gave it to me and took it back in his mind a dozen times before he gave it to me for real. The gift was a well-seasoned cast iron pan that has been in my family for "at least sixty-five years, maybe well beyond that." Anyone who understands cast iron cookware will appreicate the time it takes to season a pan and will undersand the importance of it as well. The rest of you can learn more about it here. Here's an excerpt from the note my dad wrote to go with the pan:

"I grew up with this frying pan, and as a young man always loved using it, if only to fry one egg in the centre. It was my favourite kitchen utensil." (Notice the English spelling he used in honor of my beyonce.) "Actually, I didn't steal it from my mother. The truth is that after your mother and I were married, we visited my parents, and I EXCHANGED a brand new cast iron pan for this one. As I recall, I may have exchanged three cast iron pans, each a different size."

My father's lucky my grandmother didn't whack him over the head with one of them as he ran off with her good pans, leaving behind the chore of starting all over again. This is a classic in the Rice family folklore and my dad was not wrong in thinking that he was better off giving me the pan before I could go and "pull the same dirty trick on [him]."

Before I tell you about one of the most interesting discoveries of that day, I want you to say out loud the following word--GIGANTIC. That's right. Say it one more time--GIGANTIC. Now, how many of you pronounced the "T" in that word? Maybe you guys in England pronounced it, and perhaps a couple of you Americans did, but I'm sure you all agree that there are plenty of people who kind of slur the T in that word or turn it into a soft "D". GIGANIC. or GIGANDIC. No big deal, it's just that Americans are sometimes a bit lazy with our T's. Well, one evening Gretchen, Rob and I were comparing notes on what famous people and events share our birthdays. Being very sophisticated and proper, I announced that I share my birthday with the sinking of the Titantic. Gretchen and Rob looked at me like I was crazy. "It's true" I said, "it is." And then Gretchen, realizing that I was serious, asked me "titanTIC?" I thought she was just making fun of me for enunciating all of my T's but, and some of you may have learned this before you were 34, there are actually only two T's in titanic. All these years I thought people just weren't articulating that third T. As crazy as it seems that I wouldnt' have learned this sooner, it's even crazier that Andrea didn't learn it until she was 36! How we both independently came to believe there were three T's in Titanic I'll never know, but I'm sure glad Gretchen was around to hear it for herself when Andrea said it too.

Shower Titantic
Andrea gets busted putting three T's in Titanic

Well, as much as I resisted the attention at first, I got used to it pretty quickly. It was great to have all my girlfriends together and extra special that my mother, all the way from South Carolina, my stepmother, all the way from New Hampshire and my future mother-in-law, all the way from England were all there to share in my day. Not only is Andrea one heck of a cool sistah, she's also a darn good Matron of Honor!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tell me more, tell me more...........

Ahhh, Saturday. What could be better than waking up early and going to San Francisco to watch Kari play football, especially on a cold and foggy morning? As luck would have it, my alarm didn't go off, and mom wasn't sure whether she should wake us all up or not. As 8:00 rolled around she thought she better check in on me--Holy Moly!! We immediately had to snap into action to make it all the way to the polo fields for the 9:00 kick-off. I rushed to pack all my soccer things as well as some clothes to wear after the game when I was to go try on more wedding dresses. We made it to the game with 10 minutes to spare, and just in time to catch Heather wrapping Sharon's boobs up in duct tape. All you men out there reading this blog, let me know if you want her number!

Boob wrap

It was our first game of the season and, well, we didn't win, in spite of my fine form, but we've still got 9 games to go for our big comeback.


By the time Mom, Andrea, Jo, Bob and I had gotten some peasant pies, warmed them up and eaten them at Tugso's and Greg's, showered Kari, blown two fuses blow drying my hair and driven over to the Presidio, Rob had just finished playing. Apparently, he was amazing so we were well sorry to miss it.

Rob and Bob caught a ride home with Kara so the ladies could go with me to try on some more wedding dresses. This time I went to a bridal salon that actually sells bridal gowns (as opposed to the first shop I went to that specialized in bridesmaids dresses that could also be made in white). It went surprisingly well here and I actually enjoyed myself. Luckily, mom took me to Old Navy on the way there to buy underwear (which, in my morning rush, I had forgotten to pack) and it was a good thing she did since Deb at the bridal salon was in the dressing room with me the whole time. We found one dress that was really pretty on me and gave me hope that I might actually look like a bride at my wedding.

Saturday night, the six of us went to one of Rob's and my favorite Karaoke spots--Do Re Mi Karaoke Studio in San Francisco. This place rules! You rent a private Karaoke studio and get to sing your hearts out in front of your family and friends. It really brings out the best in you. Bob, it turns out, is a closet performer and gave me a run for the money. I practically had to pry the mic from his hands to get a song in edgewise.


Andrea, mom and I sang a few numbers we haven't sung together since mom was driving us to gymnastics in her old red Honda Accord including ABBA's "Super Trouper" and "I Just Fall In Love Again" by Anne Murray.

Andi & Mom
Bob and Jo belted out a cracking version "The Young Ones" by Cliff Richards. And we left mom in the dark when we sang Queen's classic rock opera "Bohemian Rhapsody".


The evening's top single, however, was undoubtedly "Summer Lovin'" from the hit Broadway musical "Grease". This marks the first time that Andrea actually let sing the Olivia Newton John part and not the John Travolta lines. (I know you're all thinking to yourselves--how come Kari had to sing the John Travolta part when she's the blonde one? Andrea's older, that's how come.)

Rob, obviously, wins the award for being the hottest rock star, however.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ikea is Blogtastic!

Because we didn't make it to Ikea the last time Andrea came to California, I promised her a trip this time to make up for it. And boy, did we ever. We didn't buy much but we sure did have fun.


You lookin' at me?


Sov Gott!!

Mickey Mouse Club

Oh, in case any of you, like my sister, have trouble finding shopping carts at Ikea, they have a couple right here.

March Madness

Well, now that I'm catching up on The Blog (and Andrea is finally reading it) it's time to speak of her arrival in California. Andrea prides herself on showing up to places on time so you may find it of interest that she was 9 hours late arriving in California! And just a few hours later, Rob's mum and dad arrived in California as well. March Madness is in full swing at the Rice-Carey household now! Luckily, Rob and I now have "The Annex" (sponsored by Krups Sandwich Maker) to use as a visitor's palace. This is the studio above the garage of our apartment building and we've been renting it for just over a month now. We've been setting it up as an art studio but because it has a full bathroom, a mini kitchen and quite a bit of space, it makes a really nice guest room and Bob and Jo are quite happy to be in it.

Mom made a delicious meal for us all on Thursday evening so we could just enjoy being all together and getting to know each other a little bit. Friday morning came and we were up and out of the house pretty early with a full agenda, starting with breakfast at Rick and Anns.

Rick&Anns Patio
Plenty of time for photos as we wait 45 minutes for a table

But it's well worth the wait! Look at all the happy diners!

Next we drove out the the Gardens at Heather Farm so they could see our wedding site. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the trees and flowers are just beginning to bloom at the farm making it come alive with color and fragrance.

From there we headed off for my first visit trying on wedding dresses. Gowns, I think they call them. If I get through this part of the wedding planning, we'll be in good shape.

Dress try on

Finally, mom, Andrea and I went to get our hair cut and styled.
Bob didn't.

Bob mullet

Monday, March 07, 2005

Time flies

It's been over a week now since my mom flew in to visit and we haven't made a single blog posting. It's difficult to find time at the computer after being at work all day and wanting to spend as much time as possible with mom. On top of it all, work has been really busy so I haven't been able to sneak away early.
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous since mom arrived. The first weekend set all kinds of records for hottest temperatures this time of year. We got off on the right foot by having a lovely coffee at starbucks.


On Sunday, we went for a long drive. I've always wanted to drive down Skyline on the Peninsula and I read about a nursery there that has all native California plants and is the oldest nursery in California. It's a beautiful drive through the redwoods to get to the nursery and the air there out there is lovely and clean. Mom bought us a nice wild lilac plant for our porch. Leaving the nursery, we drove down to the beach passing through La Honda, where Ken Kesey used to live and into San Gregorio, a small farming community where we visited the San Gregorio General Store. They had a live bluegrass band playing inside the store which sold all kinds of random items, especially beer. I imagine people really look forward to going here on the weekends to just hang out.

Bluegrass Gen Store

From here we drove to Half Moon Bay for a late lunch. It was starting to cool off at this point and we still hadn't even made it to the beach! But Rob took this really cool picture of the jail in the middle of town.

Half Moon Bay Jail

I had forgotten that traffic on Highway 1 along the beach really jams up on nice days. It's funny how traffic gets on your nerves even when you're just out for a drive with no where to go and no time to be there. We pulled over for a walk on the beach and the traffic thinned out by the time we got back. I-boy enjoyed himself bigtime on the beach. And I think mom really enjoyed the wet, sandy poodle in the back seat with her for the rest of the drive home.

surfer pood

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Life Imitates Art

Friday was a busy day as Rob and I had a farewell dinner with Bill, Nancy, Emily and Jenna and a welcome dinner with my mom, who flew in that afternoon. We all met in San Francisco and went to 2233 Restaurant in the Castro for dinner. The place was happening but we got a great (round!) table in the back room that only had four tables so it was a bit more quiet and enjoyable. Bill especially liked it because the bartender called him "honey". This was the same bartender that served Emily and Jenna cosmopolitans and then asked me if they were old enough. I tried to defer the question to Bill but it turned out the bartender already knew the answer--"It was a dead giveaway when they ordered mudslides", he said.

Here's Bill showing off the new magic trick Rob taught us. It's not quite as funny in a still photo but you can imagine that anything involving both Rob and Bill has got to be hilarious.
2233 Bills trick

The Girlz show some art appreciation. Emily's stomach is almost as big as the stick figure's.
2233 artwork

Nancy and her "daughters"
2233 Ladies

Nancy will be happy to be away from our camera for a while. She was not that interested in this paparazzi. She will also be happy she managed to get Emily on a plane out of here before I had a chance to take her to get her nose pierced.
There's always July though.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Told Them To Wear Pants

Emily, Jenna and I went out and around San Francisco Monday night for a load of fun together. I picked them up at the hotel and the three of us went to my soccer practice. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get to play on the same side as them. Emily nutmegged me about a dozen times, which feels a little like being slapped in the face and Miss "I haven't played in like, 3 years" Jenna ran circles around me all night. In reality, I was just lowering my game to make them feel like they weren't out of their league.
After running around for an hour, we went to Taqueria Cancun on Mission Street for some wicked good burritos.

Buzzies w Emily & Jenna

From there, we drove around San Francisco. It's difficult to give a good tour of the city when it's 10:00 at night but it was the only opportunity we had together to drive around so I showed them as much as I could. I drove them through Golden Gate park where we saw absolutely nothing. Not the lake, not the polo fields, not the Conservatory of Flowers and not the Buffalo. Then I took them to Ocean Beach. I had to think twice about it since the two of them were wearing only shorts and a sweatshirt but then, I did tell them when I picked them up at the hotel that they should be wearing pants in case it was cold after--"Oh noooo" they said "we'll be fine". So I was just keeping them true to their word really. After raising their eyebrows at me, they finally agreed to walk out and touch the water. It's the Pacific Ocean for crying out loud!

Beach Emily
Beach Jenna

From there, we drove up past the Cliff House, past the Palace of Legion of Honor and over the Golden Gate Bridge, which it turned out they didn't realize we were driving across. Some tour guide I am. But I did take them up to the overlook, and made them walk all the way out to it. (I told you to put pants on!) If you've never been, this spot overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge is top notch. And if I could figure out how to use this darn camera my dad gave me, I'd have a really great photo of the two of them. Instead, I have a weird, blurry photo of two silhouettes overlooking the bridge. You'll have to take my word that it's really Emily and Jenna.

Bridge Girlz

After that we drove back over the bridge and I remembered to point out we were on it. We drove through the Marina district and down Lombard Street and I took them up and down some really steep San Francisco hills but was disappointed that they didn't even seem to notice. Where's the fun in that?

Finally, I took them back to the hotel before Nancy and Bill started to worry.

Bed Girlz

Nancy asked me to not post this photo on the blog but I think she was just kidding. Anyway, it's not half as bad as all the pictures I've posted of Jenna. Poor thing--hopefully she won't read this.

Bed Bill & nancy

It was a fun little tour around San Francisco but the best part was having the opportunity to be together with just us Girlz. We talked about everything as we drove and it was nice to really connect with each other and talk about things from the heart. For the first time in my life, I feel like I actually know Emily, and it turns out, Nancy was right. She IS pretty cool.