Thursday Doors: Painted Ladies

Featured Guest Blogger K.L. Allendoerfer

K.L is a neuroscientist, educator, geocacher, Unitarian-Universalist, amateur violinist, and parent. She has always been fascinated by how people’s brains learn, and especially why this process is easier and more fun for some brains than others. This led her to get a PhD in Neuroscience, work in biotech, and then become a science educator and writer. She is from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Painted Ladies

Most people seem to know these houses because they were in a show that I never watched. I found out about them through geocaching. My family and I went into San Francisco for New Year’s Day and one of our first stops was this virtual geocache.

Virtual caches are a special kind of geocache that doesn’t involve finding an actual container. Instead, you go to the coordinates posted on the site and answer some questions about what you find there, and maybe post a picture of yourself at the location.

In this case, the cache site was in Alamo Square Park, across from the houses but affording a good view (Alamo Square Park is also, I learned, the place where the family in the show I never watched had a picnic in the opening credits).

To read the rest of the article click the link: Thursday Doors: Painted Ladies. Thank you, K. L. Allendoerfer for allowing me to publish your post.

For more of Norm’s 2.0 posts on Doors click the link.

For additional Photo Challenges, click the link.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

This is the perfect challenge to tell you about the wonderful interesting room I had in San Francisco a couple of months ago.  I wanted to support these people because they are from the Valley.  In the pictures the rooms look fabulous.

beresford arms_4a

In their defense, I drove in late, and was lucky to get a room.  I got the last available room, and it was in the basement.

SFW SF Beresford

Whoever heard of rooms in the basement? Yes, it had a window.  It was two stories above the ground level.  I know, it confused me, too.  The view was unusual _______.


I didn’t care about outdated wallpaper that didn’t match the vintage of the building.  My worst complaint wasn’t the bath tub.  In fact I looked forward to getting into the spa tub.  Until…


I ran the water.

before Marsha

I didn’t need a soak in tan that badly.  I fell into bed tired and dirty, and after breakfast the next morning decided to just leave.  I phoned ahead for my car because it could take up to 30 minutes to get it.  I went down up to the lobby twenty minutes later, and waited an hour an a half downstairs upstairs.


As old hotels in San Francisco go, this one probably rates better than you might get from my review. My friend Sally rented a brochure room when she stayed there.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

SC got me started on this quest in a fleeting moment when I was thinking of writing something else entirely, but I do love WP Challenges.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Observing nature and capturing a quiet, special moment.
  • Experimenting with shots of movement.
  • Taking a snapshot of someone deep in thought (or alternatively, in mid-action).
  • Exploring a place that’s transient in nature (airports, stations, streets, etc.).

We think this theme is open to many interpretations and look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Here are some more photos of the Thai dancers that we came upon in a fleeting moment in San Francisco as we just happened on them.  The problem with fleeting is that you don’t really know what is going on, and you don’t stick around long enough to find out.  Even though we were just passing through I decided to move closer to get some better pictures than I can take with my lens extended all the way out to 270 mm.

Click on the pictures below for a larger view slide show and camera information.

If you want to share your story and photos of fleeting, click here.

Alfred Hitchcock In SF

As I begin to compose this post,  I am listening to the stories about the tornadoes in Oklahoma, and I’m so sorry for those of you who are dealing with those horrendous storms.  I have to stop writing and watch the news.  This post will have to wait until tomorrow.  The tornadoes are more frightening than anything that Hitchcock imagined, and more urgent for you to watch and read as well.  My thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering there.

Oklahoma tornado

This morning I am going to take you out of the aftermath of the storms virtually to San Francisco where 67% of you voted to hear about in my next posts.

Back to the recent past, our walk up to Huntington Park.  First of all, if you’ve never been to San Francisco, you don’t get the FEEL for how steep the hills are.  On a 3D video, you might lose your stomach riding in a virtual car.  It’s not that bad in real-time, but almost, especially from a back seat where you can’t see the road as you start downhill.

Remember we were late already!  Huff, huff
Remember we were late already! You math buffs, what do you think the angle of this street is?

The reaction on foot is different!  Trust me, on foot, going up, those same inclines feel more like a heart attack.  Of course, we were almost late.  We had no idea it would take us almost 20 minutes to walk up three measly blocks!  Bending forward, noses nearly touching the ground to ward off wind resistance, we climbed at top speed up Taylor to Huntington Park across from Grace Cathedral on the corner of California and Taylor.  There we met up with our group.

I had to rent the movie Vertigo after this walking tour.  I never realized how few Alfred Hitchcock movies I had seen until I took this tour in San Francisco with Robert.  Granted in 1958 when this film was in the theaters, my parents would not have allowed me to watch it anyway!  Most of you, were probably not even born by that time.  So, I watched the entire movie until the last two minutes, and the movie stopped and the annoying loading circle took over the screen.  It never finished loading.  If YOU haven’t seen the movie, and don’t want to take the time to watch it, the link above will give you a plot summary and a list of the buildings as well.  They changed the ending for European viewers.  The English particularly, weren’t as into murder as we were.  In the US, the murderer got by with it.  Yikes!  I’m moving to Europe before THAT happens! Oh, right that was almost 60 years ago.  Wake me up!

Robert is the #1 Vertigo/Kim Novak fan.  He had a signed picture from her.  No, he didn’t let us see the real one.  He made copies of everything.  Just like our other tour guide, he had a binder of pictures to show us while we stood in the wrong place listening to his story.  He held us spell bound over hill and dale for over two hours!

Robert told us she argued about the suit.  Sounds reasonable.
Robert told us she argued about the suit. Sounds reasonable to me.  Gray wasn’t her color. Copyright Paramount Pictures


We learned a wee bit about Grace Cathedral and Hitchcock, who, in one movie kidnapped a priest for effect.  A real priest, I don’t think so, but it made an awfully good story to start a tour.

I had a hard time keeping up with the group!  This spire popped into view after we passed the front of the church.
I had a hard time keeping up with the group! This spire popped into view after we passed the front of the church.

Robert told us a great story about the condo where Kim Novak and her husband lived, “The Brocklebank” at 1000 Mason Street on Nob Hill, but all the time he was talking I thought he was talking about the Fairmont Hotel, so I took more pictures of that and of the fog at the end of the street.  What I remember was Ms. Brocklebank, the woman who owned the hotel and had an apartment in it as well, was late on her payment, so they repossessed it.  In addition, since she lived there, they also repossessed all of her personal goods.  Now the rents there are fairly low for some of the renters.  Some of them have been there since the seventies price freezes.  Their rent is only about $1,200 a month.  Normal rent is between $5,000 and $14,000 a month!

The Hitchcock movies filmed in San Francisco created quite a bit of work for set makers, and videographers.  The few things that were filmed inside of actual buildings were done so for odd reasons like he liked the floor.  OK, that’s important!  Hitchcock recreated most of the buildings in a set so that the walls did not inhibit the videographers.  In one scene he hired the chef, and the extras ate real restaurant meals for 8 hours straight.  Then it was time for lunch!  🙂  My kind of job!  🙂

James Flood's Brownstone

This was one of the hotel rooms that Kim Novak entered.  This is one of the VERY few buildings left standing after the 1906 earthquake.

Here is another famous place to which Jimmy Stewart followed Kim Novak.  It’s been renamed and renovated now.  You might like to stay at the Vertigo Hotel.  Robert showed us pictures from his binder that looked like the picture I just copied from the internet.  The rates are all over the place – $79-$550 per night!  hmmm.  Our rooms were pretty small.  I think I’ll transfer.

"Argosy" Argonaut Book Shop
“Argosy” Argonaut Book Shop

The last place I’ll take you is the “Argosy” Bookstore which is really the Argonaut.  It wasn’t open when we were on our tour, so Jean and I went back the next day, and spent half the day there.  Amazingly, when we walked in the first book that caught my eye was a 1895 Atlas of TULARE COUNTY!  Now why in the world would a famous SF bookstore have a Tulare County atlas?  Well, they had just made a huge purchase from a Tulare County estate.  “Who was it?” I asked.

“Stan Barnes,”  answered the Bob Haines at Argonaut.  Stan Barnes is the man in Tulare County that was responsible for getting Tulare County Historical Society involved with Tulare County Office of Education History Day.  He passed away just before the Society named the first scholarship for $500 in his name this March.  We spent the next hour or more looking through much of Stan’s collection, and trying to find information on Bravo Lake.  What a bonus to our amazing Mother’s Day trip.

I hope you are all safe, and hope you enjoyed the tour.  🙂

San Francisco Walking Tour

Sixty-seven percent of you wanted to read more about the walking tours we took.  (that’s about 4 of you!)  Walking tours in San Francisco are free, ours were both well attended.   On Saturday we walked a mile around the very flat Embarcadero area, and on Sunday we hiked UP Taylor Street to California and spent two hours exploring the old haunts of Alfred Hitchcock.  Fortunately we did that tour during the daylight hours, and there were no birds out, to speak of.  I’ll tell you more about that tour tomorrow, if you’re still interested.

You probably knew that these birds were dropped into a background.  They were actually  checking out the local garbage dump.  Sorry to ruin the terror so early into the post, but I’m terrorized frustrated today with my computer because it won’t process my pictures because of a disk error.  It’s driving me insane – oh no that’s Alfred that’s doing that!

The first tour would have been easier if we hadn’t just run from eating lunch at the top of Neiman Marcus Department Store in Union Square down to the Ferry Building to make it to the 2:00 tour on time.

Finding where we wanted to go was like going on a treasure hunt at a party.  We had our trusty map, and cell phone, AND we stopped an asked people along the way.  We prepared by buying a ticket to ride every type of public transportation available, but could we find a bus stop when we needed one?  They were all over, but people kept saying, “You can see the tower from here.”  I’d move to where they were standing and look, nod my head like I really saw it, but I didn’t.  After one person left, I asked Jean if she had seen it.  She FiNALLY admitted that she hadn’t!  🙂  We trudged on – rapidly, our lunch weighing us me down quite a bit.

Pirate Doll

We made it, and by the time shown on the famous clock tower, we were across the street from the Ferry Building and well on our way.  Crossing the street in the thirty years between the 1960s and 1990s would have been impossible because a freeway ran right through the Embarcadero area.  Not everyone wanted President Eisenhower’s federal money to create freeways connecting all major cities across the nation. One woman, Sue Bierman, a resident of the Haight-Ashbury, organized a rally to emphasize that not everyone in San Francisco wanted a cement city.  Melvina Reynolds wrote a song especially for the rally held to halt the effort to populate San Francisco with 10 lovely freeways planned for the area.

At this point on the tour I’m sorry, but got sidetracked by the natives enjoying themselves in Justin Herman Plaza across from the Ferry Building.  It was really Jean’s fault.  She said, “Look at those guys over there.  I think they’re loaded.”  So I focused my long lens on them until one of them smiled at me, and then I knew the gig was up, and I moved on to my next victim I mean sight on the tour.

Get a load of that old lady over there taking our pic!
Get a load of that old lady over there taking our pic!   

The tour guide said something about this lovely fountain designed by Armand Vaillancourt, and how controversial it was because it was made out of ugly concrete tubing.  I must have no taste in art.  I like it.

Vaillencourt Fountain

I missed all that because I was trying to catch a picture of the tightrope walker.  I wonder what kind of toes he had.  We meandered over to a park and stood next to a cherry tree.  She talked about the tree some, but by then a girl had tried her luck at the tightrope, and a young couple in love captured my light sensor.


Next we stopped in a park-like courtyard of an expensive condominium.  Just before we got there, Jean announced, “If I lived in San Francisco, I’d want to live right in the city.”  That was before the tour guide told us that normal rent ranged from $5,000 to $14,000 a MONTH!

We should have taken a clue from our hotel room.  I didn’t take pictures of it for you because we had it cluttered before we opened the door the first time.  Yes, it was SMALL, but in its defense, it was close to lots of cool places.

We ambled a bit farther on one street and stopped where there was a little alcove tucked into this awesome brick building.  There were lines and shadows all over the sidewalk, and sun sparkling on the windows, and I couldn’t hear a thing the young tour guide was reading from her book as I paced excitedly up and down the street somewhat near to the rest of the group.  Which of the three views of the building do you like best?  What is the name of the building?

"Just step away from the crowd, Marsha."
“Just step away from the crowd, Marsha.”

I must have embarrassed Jean with all my wanderings.  She left the group.  She will kill me if she does read this post because she hates having her picture taken – ever!  I just love this picture of her, though, and my background came out perfectly blurry.  I’m so proud of it!  We left the tour after that, and caught a cable car back to the hotel to get ready for our next event.

The man in back of me hanging out the side of the cable car, sort of urged me to not lean out so far.  I had a really hard time taking pictures because I had my coat on, and my camera was over my shoulder under my coat, and I was hanging on with one arm wrapped around the pole so I wouldn’t fall off.  Ding, ding – not me, the cable car!

So that was our first few hours in San Francisco.  We went to see Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest running play in America in the evening then came back to our hotel, checked out the internet downstairs, then crashed.

Our room had TWIN beds!
Our room had TWIN beds!

There was no internet in our room the first night.  No cell phone service either.  By the way, Sally had a huge room with two huge beds and a jacuzzi tub in the same hotel when she went.  hmmmm