Seated Buddha - Sri Lanka 1700-1800
As an Asian Art Museum Docent trainee, I had the assignment of giving a 3 minute presentation on meaning of the colored pattern behind this seated Buddha.  The museums curators haven't come to a conclusion as to what it represents as there are several possible interpretations.

One interpretation is that the background is a hood of snakes based on the story of Buddha's 7 week meditation at Bodhgaya.  According to the story, during the 6th week a great rain storm arose and the snake deity rose to form a protecting cape to keep the Buddha dry. 

Others believe it represents fire -- showing Buddha's enlightenment.  Still others believe the pattern shows lotus leaves -- a continuation of a lotus leaf base  -- a common buddhist theseen many times.   I pondered this for a while as the three little knobs at the top and sides certainly could represent cobra heads.  If they were cobra heads, then perhaps the top and back of the sculpture would reinforce that ideal - so I tried to get a glimpse of the back.  Although it wasn't possible to see the back since it is up against the wall, I went up to the side as close as possible.  I was surprised NOT to see a continuation of the knobs as snakes, but a field of  objects that looked very flower-like to me.  My conclusion is the background represents lotus leaves rather than a hood of cobra snakes -- but that's only my opinion.  If you look at the museum's website for the Seated Buddha, you will see a picture of the back that clearly shows a field of flowers.
Tuileries Garden Paris
The trees in the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre in Paris are trimmed yearly to a maximum height of 2.2 meters and the overall shape is gently trimmed to emphasize the axis of the gardens leading to the I. M. Pei pyramid. Here the lower branches are all trimmed to a uniform height to form a ceiling canopy of tree branches. The effect is being in a huge outdoor room looking out between columns of tree trunks to the space beyond.
Palais du Royal, Paris
The French, however, don't stop thee and aren't afraid to really make those trees stand at attention as shown here at the Palais du Royal, also near the Louvre.

In this smaller and more formal space an alley of trees stand rigidly at attention with identical buzz cuts.

Marie Antoinette's Garden at Versailles
Yet the ultimate expression of this idea can be seen at Marie (let-them-eat-cake) Antoinette's playground at Versailles just outside Paris. 

Here the trees are buzz cut just as at the Palais du Royal, but they are also given a little flip at the top for added flair.  Fun, but mon amie, you must have grounds to do this.

At first glance, you might think this was taken at a winery in the California wine country.  The setting seems bucolic, but the photo was actually taken in the middle of San Francisco at the outdoor cafe of the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park.  The new museum design by the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog and De Meuron is a dramatic change from its previous stogy incarnation.   Its dimpled copper sheathing has weathered now and the museum seems to have settled-in. 

On nice days, the outdoor cafe seating is popular and the dramatic overhang frames the sky and space nicely.  On rainy days you can even park in the underground garage and enter the museum directly without getting wet.
almond cake at Chez TJ
If you know you're going to a Michelin rated restaurant you probably would arrive with high expectations -- fine silverware, china, exquisitely prepared food, and impeccable service. I, however, didn't know about this restaurant so it was a great surprise.   Chez TJ is just off Castro, the main shopping street in downtown Mountain View in a former Victorian house. 

We were welcomed to the table with a glass of champagne or prosecco.  There were two menu options, a four course prix fixe menu as well as a more elaborate tasting menu.  Both had optional wine pairings.  The food was delicious, carefully executed showing classic french techniques  and beautifully presented.  The pace -- perhaps a little too leisurely.  All in all a nice experience and a good option for a special event.  The restaurant is not accessible and will be difficult for people who are not able to manage stairs.  There is  parking available nearby.
Chinese Tin Box

I found this metal box in the garage among things from my parents home.  There was nothing .  At least 60 years old, brightly enameled and decorative, it was obviously a container for something purchased.  I wondered if it was special. 
White Phoenix Pills
My Chinese reading ability is pretty bad, but I was trying to guess what was inside based on the writing outside.  I recognized some characters above as being, "white phoenix balls" and I though oooh, maybe it was a jewelry box.  I'll ask Mom.  Last night I finally got around to showing it to her, and she said, "oh, these are pills for ladies only".  I forgot that the character for balls is also used to mean pills -- and apparently white phoenix pills is a well-known Chinese herbal prescription used to treat menstrual issues.  

I was a little disapointed, but the box was sure nice.