About Valentine's Day, San Francisco, my nephews, and why vacations are never long enough

Wednesday afternoon. I'm taking a little mental break from the fun of consolidating feedback from six different people, in six different formats such that it can be distributed as a single document to people outside our company. Did I mention that it has to look professional and polished? But of course! Ugh.

My little mini vacation was wonderful, other than the fact that it reminded me, rather forcibly, of my need to take a real vacation. I'm sort of burnt out after our busy season and now we're going into budget, plan, headcount, process review, and initiative implementation season. I've got two more mini vacations planned, one to see Chris from 2/26 to 3/2, and one to Phoenix for MLB Spring Training from 3/26 to 3/28, but that's just not going to cut it. It doesn't even really matter if I go anywhere, frankly. I just need not to be here for a sizeable period of time. I've got something like six weeks of vacation at this point, and I accrue four more every year, so it's there for the asking, I just always feel guilty "wasting" vacation without a really good trip to take. This year, honestly, I think that I ought to take a week or two and just do the things around the house that need doing. Like painting my room and the bathroom downstairs. Like getting the handyman out to fix my carport door and bathroom cabinet door. Like dismantling my non functional treadmill, renting a truck, and hauling the pieces to the dump. Little, not-so-fun things like that. Things that haunt my dreams and keep me from being able to enjoy a lazy day off.

Back to the trip. My flight was right on time (always a bonus with Southwest), and we did a little recreational shopping before getting ready to go out with Tracy's friend, Mindy. We did dinner at a place called Yankee Pier, or something like that, which seemed really overpriced to me. I got two crab cakes (not huge ones, mind you) and a Caesar salad, and my portion of the bill was over $30. Seriously! The crab cakes didn't come with any side dishes, just this really nasty apple slaw, which I ate every nibble of because I was so starved. I drank tap water, thankfully, or I would have had another $4 to add to the total. Anyway, after dinner, it was off to our creepy, Friday the 13th flashlight tour of the Winchester Mystery House. What a letdown! We had about 10 rambunctious kids under 10 in our tour group and they just kept being rude and talking over the top of the tour guide so that there was nothing scary, just lots of irritation. Two spooky things did happen, though. Tracy's umbrella, which had been snapped in to her purse, fell on the ground. No big deal except that the snap never came unfastened! Then, on the way up a winding staircase, on the 13th step from the bottom, my flashlight just conked out. Ooooooooooh, spooky!

Saturday morning, bright and early, we were off to the SF Farmers' Market down at the Embarcadero. What a neat place! I bought a cool black and white, matted picture of the Wharf area from the water, which is perfect for a frame that I've had for a few years now. It's already hanging and I smiled as I put it on the wall. There was a lady selling handmade journals that were of such amazing, exacting detail that Tracy had to get one. Lots and lots of local farmers had booths displaying their wares, including chocolatiers, dairy/cheese products, fruit and vegg, and home made pasta. We stopped at one of the several booths offering espresso drinks to get our morning fix, the wandered the entire concourse several times. Our next stop was at the SF Herb Company to check out the goods. Tracy bought Dave and Abby (my kitties) some cat nip and also picked up some staples for home. They had a huge bag of lavender for $4, which strikes me as a very good price, but I didn't have much room in my suitcase, so I passed. We finished up the afternoon at the Whole Foods Market, where we picked up the goodies for our Tapas Valentine's dinner.

Saturday night, Mindy and another friend of Tracy's, Ann, came over and we had a girls night in. Tracy found a "love spell" on the Internet and wanted to give it a try, so that's what we did. Now, I do already have the man of my dreams, but this was also to "keep the love that you have", so I participated as well. I felt a little squeamish because I was fairly certain Chris would disapprove (this being somewhat akin to witchcraft, which is frowned upon in the Bible), but I knew that I wasn't taking it seriously, nor putting the strength of my convictions behind it, so I hope I'm still OK. Basically, we burned pink candles that we had said a little prayer over after enscribing our names on the candle with a pin. Once the candles were burning away, we watched "The Princess Diaries" on TV. Exciting, eh?

Sunday morning, Tracy, her mother, and I went shopping at a couple of cute little crafty stores. I bought a carved angel with twisted wire for wings (for Chris' mother, who collects angels), this, and this (both for my mother). I met my brother, sister in law, and two nephews for a late lunch, which was fun, then we headed to the PetSmart so that the boys could check out the reptiles and rodents (boys will be boys!). After a Starbucks interlude, it was back to Tracy's for the evening.

Monday, we had a lazy morning and then it was time to head to the airport. Once again, miraculously, my flight was right on time, and I arrived back in the land of sunshine and happiness about 3pm. I headed straight for the couch, contrary to my energetic visions of getting lots done around the house, and napped for several hours.

I just love vacations!


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