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San Francisco

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How many times have I driven under that sign? Ya need to stay middle-left lanes because the road splits – three lanes right to 280 Downtown and three lanes straight onto any number of city streets or around Lake Merced to take me out to the ocean and the Ancestral Home. In the past 14 years I haven’t driven it nearly enough – but I still know which lane to be in when I need to be in it…

San Francisco. Home. What a great place. And what a total and complete blast it is when all my siblings, spouses, nieces, nephews, in-laws, out-laws, and significant others get together.

Raucous doesn’t begin to describe it.

We got out of Philadelphia between ice and snow storms and landed in 70°+ sunshine and blue skies. California is having one hellava drought. I didn’t seem to mind all that much. What weather! And what fun. We headed over to my brother’s house, unpacked, and started eating. Eating and San Francisco are pretty synonymous. We waited for my sister and her brood to arrive and headed around the corner to a great neighborhood restaurant – The Parkside Tavern. When I was a kid it was a bar called The Lost Weekend and the place had a pipe organ with the organist sitting up in a corner over the bar. Slightly-inebriated sing-alongs were quite common and my parents and my dad’s cousin would stop in now and again and Cousin Don would almost always end up playing the organ at some point. It’s changed, a bit. For the better, I might add! Great food and a lot of fun.

It was reasonably early to bed and then up for a free-for-all breakfast down at the Millbrae Pancake House.  For six siblings with sundry offspring, it’s the perfect place. Big tables and great food and service.

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This is part of one table. And we tipped really – really – well.

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This is Grandma Judy and Granddaughter Gloria.

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And Mason. He’s no longer the youngest great… Nya arrived January 30th. But more on her, later… This was Saturday morning-ish. We were laying the caloric groundwork for dinner later at The Old Clam House where Grandma Judy works.

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The Old Clam House has been in the same location in the same building since 1861. Abe Lincoln was President. And the food is excellent. The drinks are pretty damned good, as well.

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Of course we all had to congregate at the bar while waiting for everyone to arrive…

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Cameras were everywhere, because… well… we like taking pictures.

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Having fun talking with the nieces and nephews and finding out what’s new. How the hell did little Michael become 31 years old? And baby Nicole is 29. As my father would often say, they were no bigger than a popcorn fart. Pop’s off-color and irreverent sayings are legendary – and they really do explain a lot…

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Here’s little Katie with her intended, Ben, and Brandon is going to be the newest official member of the family when he and niece Megan marry in August. Great kids and great additions to the family.

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And no party is complete without the twinnies… Arlene and Eileen are numbers 4 and 5.

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46 of us had dinner and we took over our own room in the restaurant. Loud and Raucous. I did mention we are Loud and Raucous, didn’t I?

And since this is supposed to be a food blog, here’s my dinner… Dungeness Crab Enchiladas

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I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome they were. We gorged for what seemed like hours and then started thinking about Super Bowl Food.

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My brother bought three whole briskets at Guerra’s on 15th & Taraval. Some of the best meat in the city… He slow-cooked them for about 12 hours. They made some awesome sandwiches… There were also…

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Taco Dips and…

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Jalapeño Poppers, and…

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Olive and Cheese Toasts, and… Maggie’s Dip that I didn’t get a picture of but it was damned good!!

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Mike getting the brisket together. Then, there was just general tomfoolery…

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And lots of alcohol…

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Not that anyone needs alcohol to be loud…

Just before kick-off, we stopped to celebrate Maddie’s 7th Birthday. Seven… Where does the time go?!?

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The babies are all having babies. And the babies are growing up, too! We had a great time watching the game. There were 2 Seattle fans in a roomful of New England fans… Did I mention loud and raucous?!?

And speaking of babies… I told you about our niece, Nya… Here she is… all 4 days old of herself! First with Great-Uncle Tim…

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And then with Great-Uncle Victor…

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She is totally adorable. Momma Julia is totally together, totally relaxed, and completely comfortable in her role as a new mommie. It really does help being a part of a large family. You learn early on that they don’t break.

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She is just too cute for words!

From visiting babies, we went off to visit the City…

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First stop was the ocean. This is about three blocks from where I grew up. I spent a lot of time down here in my youth… a lot of it was doing juvenile delinquent-type stuff like smoking and drinking and other illicit stuff, but, somehow we all survived. And we sure as hell had fun!

Next up was Lands End and the old Sutros.

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The weather could not have been more perfect. There’s a new Information Center and Gift Shop up there that opened a couple of years ago. We bought lots of stuff. And then we headed up to the Place of the Legion of Honor. Once upon a time, Point Lobos ran from Lands End to the Palace of the Legion of Honor and then down into the Presidio and to the Golden Gate Bridge. An earthquake in 1957 closed the road. It’s now called “The Earthquake Walk.” Or the land of the whispering bushes… We took city streets up the hill to Lincoln Park. 01-31-15-sf-12

Great views of the Golden Gate and of the bridge. We followed the road down into the Presidio and over to the Palace of Fine Arts.

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This is one of the coolest buildings in San Francisco. Most folks think it’s left over from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. It’s actually a replica. The original was built of lathe and stucco as a temporary building. For whatever reason, this one building stayed while everything else was torn down and housing built. By the 1950’s it had fallen into complete disrepair, and was fenced off. Finally, in 1965 or so, molds were taken of the original buildings and it was recreated in concrete – built to last.

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It’s something totally unique in a totally unique city.

And then there was even more uniqueness… Keith Haring at the deYoung Museum.

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I’ve always been a fan of Keith Haring and knew he was a prolific artist. I really had no idea just how prolific he was! The show was much of his political work.

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Some of his paintings are just so bizarre, I have to wonder what in the hell was going through his mind when he was creating them. Others are just simple executions of very strong statements.

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Definitely a genius.

 

From the deYoung, we headed across the grass to the new  California Academy of Sciences. This is one cool place that really brings back the memories. It’s been completely rebuilt and is now a serious state of the art exhibition. Many many moons ago, my ex-sister-in-law’s father was the Chief Engineer at Steinhart Aquarium and I got to spend a lot of time behind the scenes where the tanks, offices, and plumbing were. It was held together with duct tape and baling wire. The voters finally passed a bond issue to rebuild. And the rebuilt it right. My nephew Michael was a plumber on the job.

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There are still remnants of the original structure and they worked older elements into the new design – like the alligator fence around the alligator pit. Back in the day, people threw coins at them to see if they would get them to move. We’re a bit more enlightened, today. No throwing of anything – and in many places, no photography. They’ve discovered issues with newer cameras, iPhones and the like and how they transmit signals to the animals. Fascinating stuff.

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Of course, we needed to get out and eat more, so we stopped off at Ike’s Place where my niece, Jennifer works.

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Totally awesome sandwiches. As in – totally awesome. There was a line out the door when we got there and they moved them like you wouldn’t believe. Great food.

Great food. We had lots and lots of great food. But what we really had, was a great time with great family. It’s rather amazing that there are six of us and we actually like one another and have fun with one another. The kids all get along and have fun with one another. The babies have 30 parents. Most excellent.

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So what else did we do in my City-By-The-Bay?!? We bought t-shirts. In fact, we bought 14 t-shirts. One-Four. We needed them. And lots of See’s candy. We needed it, too. And when we got home we culled 22 from the collection. That means we need 8 more.

We’ll see what we can do about that when we hit Portland in August for Megan and Brandon’s wedding…

What fun…..

 

 

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