I had a lovely visit to California for Christmas with family. My younger sister and I stayed at a hotel at Jack London Square in Oakland (my older sister's home was full with her kids returning home). It was great to see everyone!
David (BIL) and me in front of the tree
I liked staying at Jack London Square. There is a lovely walk along the waterfront; and a HUGE tree was in the main plaza. Several restaurants, cafes and bars were doing a lively business, and there were lots of pedestrians and other walkers which made me feel very safe walking alone.
The square is named after the famous author Jack London, who lived for many years in Oakland along the waterfront. His cabin from the Yukon territory has been recreated along the square, along with a statue inspired by his novels Call of the Wild and White Fang. It is a bit disconcerting to see an Alaskan sod roof hut surrounded by palm trees -- but it is a loving and fitting memorial to the author. Donors to the creation of the plaza and memorial have bronze plaques with a wolf track imbedded in the pavement.
My brothers from out of town joined us after Christmas, and all 5 of us were together for the first time since mom's memorial.
Brothers & sisters
I went to visit the church memorial garden where my parents' ashes have been interred. It is a lovely and peaceful spot. Mom and dad donated to enable the purchase of the central fountain. The names of all those who have chosen cremation are on plaques around the fountain. The memorial garden is at Trinity Episcopal Church where I first had communion, and where my dad converted to Christianity, and it still feels like my spiritual home.
My sisters and I always have a fun day shopping early on the day after Christmas; Mindy and I don't live where many of the large department stores are located, so we have a blast. Pam and I convinced Mindy to try on a Santa's elf dress that was on sale; the entire dressing room of ladies at Macy's came out to cheer her on! All she needs is red striped stockings and elf shoes ... Amazingly, this little number was actually featured in their special holiday catalogue!
I visited several friends from California while I was down there. I met my friend from high school, Shelley, in San Mateo for coffee. We explored downtown San Mateo and enjoyed our walk. There was a lovely mosaic on the AP Giannini administration building, celebrating the accomplishments of the founder of the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America. Giannini (the son of Italian immigrants; his parents sold fruits and vegetables) was fed up with traditional banking, because at that time, no one would lend to working men and women or immigrants. He founded the Bank of Italy in 1904 specifically to loan to this underserved population.
The Bay Bridge and Golden Gate bridge and construction are at the top of this mural panel; symbolizing construction loans. Giannini bought bonds that financed building the Golden Gate bridge during the great depression.
When the San Francisco earthquake struck in 1906, Giannini immediately removed the cash from his bank to his home, transporting it hidden in a garbage truck driven by another immigrant to avoid looters. He got the money out before the fires that destroyed so many other banks, and he was able to loan money for reconstruction (he set up banking on a plank across two barrels).
Shelley has been my friend for 50 years!! It was great seeing her again.
In the photos below, I love the diversity of what the bank invested in. They are very proud to have invested in agriculture, industry, immigrants, Walt Disney's animated film Snow White (financing for Disney was rejected by other banks), international banking, and education.
All in all, I had a very fun trip! I did eat and drink more than usual over the holidays -- but I did not overindulge to the same extent as in prior years!!! I did not bake my usual Christmas cookies, and I cut way down on alcohol consumption. I was able to walk daily on my visit, meeting my goal of over 10,000 steps daily. AND I had a great time!
Here's to a happy and healthy New Year to all of you!