Jade and Immortality

What could you promise an emperor of China that he doesn’t already have? From the Han Tomb Treasures exhibit at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, we learned the answer — immortality.

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Los Altos Weather – Storm Door Open in January

An atmospheric river flowed over northern California in January. My home town of Los Altos (near San Francisco) received 5.4″ of rain in January, with measurable rain on 17 out of 31 days.

Northern California reservoirs are full, and the snowpack in our mountains is above normal. Therefore, California’s water distribution system has water to distribute to urban users and farmers, but our forests and fish have not recovered from the drought. Southern California still hasn’t received much rain, but our aqueducts will transport water south. Our filled reservoirs will enable the state to generate more hydroelectric power, reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide generation.

Visiting San Francisco between January storms, we saw this juvenile, red-tailed hawk hovering in the wind near the Golden Gate Bridge. The wind blew from the ocean, hit the cliffs, and swept upward — enabling the hawk to hover in the wind. The hawk’s tail is pointing down to provide additional lift, just as airplanes extend their flaps when landing and taking off. The hawk is peering down at the surf, scanning for food. Below, the hawk is near the bridge.

hovering hawk at the Golden Gate Bridge
hovering hawk at the Golden Gate Bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge in November

This week we took a road trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate is the gap in the mountains were the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The Bridge spans the gap between San Francisco and Marin County. With clear skies and a high of 61 degrees F, it was a beautiful day for bicycling and hiking.

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Whiskey’s for Drinkin’

“Whisky’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’” is a colorful and insightful saying attributed to Mark Twain. In the fifth year of California’s drought, we may see this as San Francisco’s progressive reputation is tested.

California released draft rules requiring more water in the San Joaquin River by restricting water taken for agriculture and urban users. San Francisco imports its water from this watershed. “San Francisco is expected to challenge the rule, although how aggressively remains to be seen. ‘We intend to participate in that process,’ said Sheehan, the utility agency spokesman.”

Continuing my monthly posts about California’s drought, my home town of Los Altos received zero rainfall for the fourth consecutive month, about normal for us.

Above, a western gray squirrel gathers bunchgrass and blue-eyed grass for its nest. Blue-eyed grass, sisyrinchium bellum, is a California native plant bearing blue flowers in the spring.

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A Trip to Beautiful

This week we took a trip to San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater to see Beautiful, a musical about the life and works of song writer and singer Carole King. We enjoyed the show. Several friends had seen it and recommended it, and we were able to purchase great tickets for a weekday evening performance one day before.

Shown above, the Orpheum Theater is located on Market Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, known for street people. We were careful, and there were no problems.

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Women: New Portraits, by Annie Leibovitz

It’s a small gesture, but the kind of tiny, yet telling detail that Annie Leibovitz notices. It’s at the heart of her work, a career-long endeavor to convey a glint of someone’s essence in a single photograph.

Describing a portrait she recently shot of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg for her “Women: New Portraits” exhibition, on view in San Francisco, Leibovitz says, “Sheryl came right into her office and sat down just like that, with her leg folded under her leather skirt. She looked confident, just a little sexy, and ready. Like, ‘Let’s do this.’”

Drawn by a San Francisco Chronicle article, we visited “Women: New Portraits“, a traveling photo exhibit by Annie Leibovitz that will be in San Francisco through April 17.

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Lady with a Unicorn

Intrigued by a unicorn picture, we saw Rafael’s Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn at San Francisco’s Palace of Legion of Honor. The unicorn is a romantic symbol from the Middle Ages. Leonardo da Vinci wrote:

The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.

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