And What a Birthday It Was
Thanks, everyone, for the calls, voicemails, Facebook messages, emails, birthday cards and gifts wishing me a happy birthday! Who ever would have thought I would live to be this old?!!
The birthday celebration rituals began the day before my birthday with dinner at the restaurant, Paul K. As a starter, I highly recommend the seafood soup of the day––a delicious cream-based soup that doesn’t have any of that “seafood” taste. It’s smooth, rich and textured. Fantastic. Our waitress recommended, and I loved, the pot roast main course. Most of the crowd was bound for the symphony or the ballet; so, get your reservations in early. Even with the rain, they were packed.
The culminating event of the evening was Itzhal Perlman conduction the San Francisco Symphony. He performed the virtuoso violin solos, in typically stunning and brilliant fashion, with the symphony: Summer and Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (1725). The first half concluded with his conducting Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504, Prague (1786). The concert ended with a vivacious, even fiery performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Opus 36. The two women sitting in front of me appeared to lose control of themselves at the very end of the Finale: Presto movement. One of them was actually throwing her fist up into the air repeatedly made whooping noises. Dear god! I felt like I was at a Nascar race or roller derby. But, frankly, I’m glad they found the performance so thrilling. The man on the other side of them ended the same movement by actually conducting the symphony from his seat. Yes, it was another great performance by the SFSO!
The next morning, my actual birthday, among the various voicemail birthday wishes was a voicemail from Katherine Hepburn. Yes, it’s true. She returned from the dead to wish me a happy birthday. You can listen to it below. It’s actually from my favorite cousin, who does an amazing impression of one America’s great screen presence.
After spending a good bit of time on the phone consulting with a software company in San Francisco on a new release of their software, I headed out to the re-opening ceremony for the Point Bonita Lighthouse. This was the highlight of the day.
Access to the lighthouse was closed to the public about a year ago to replace the walking bridge that leads to it which had been severely damaged by exposure to decades of the severe elements at the point. The project was a spectacular feat! All of the building materials, which included exotic woods, had to fit through a curved, hand-hewn tunnel leading out to the lighthouse. And the wind conditions on the bridge, which has full exposure to the Pacific Ocean, are dramatic, to say the least. I was warned that the wind on the bridge was going to be strong. Wow! Can we say understatement!? The workers had to wear harnesses at all times.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was wonderfully done and included brief comments from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, as well as Frank Dean, superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the head of the Federal Highway Administration, and a representative from Flat Iron, the company that built the new bridge. The project, which had numerous engineering challenges, was done on time and, at just over $1 million, came in under budget. I especially liked what Frank Dean said, “As the current stewards of this [historic location] it’s our duty and honor to maintain and preserve it.” The lighthouse was the third lighthouse on the Pacific coast, was built in 1855, and sits at the beautiful north entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Today, it is once again open to the public.
Three days of storms just having ended, the sun was bright; the wind was cool and fierce, the waves explosive and rambunctious. You couldn’t have had a better, more dramatic seascape setting for the ribbon-cutting. I’m just beginning my induction into volunteering as a docent for the lighthouse and was delighted to have been invited–on my birthday, at that!
I shot these pictures, Instagrams, and video with my iPhone. (Click to enlarge any of them below.) The video is shot standing in the top of the lighthouse right up against the fresnel lens––not much room! You can hear Joe, a volunteer friend, talking about the lens. The man you see briefly is the head of the Federal Highway Administration.
- Point Bonita Lighthouse To Reopen Saturday (sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com)
- New bridge dedicated at Point Bonita, public access starts Saturday (Marin Independent Journal)
- Point Bonita lighthouse reopens to public Saturday (San Francisco Chronicle)