Sunday, July 17, 2011

today's fortune

Who are these cute kids?

They are the Sanchez children, Antonio and Adelina. Why are they on my blog? Because granddaughter Emily left for Spain on Thursday and she will be living with the Sanchez family for a month. Did I forget to mention she was going to do that? I AM out of practice.

Last night we went to a new (to us) Chinese eatery in town. I would give it about a "B". The spicy tofu wasn't good (or spicy), the Mongolian beef was tender and hot, the steamed veggies were perfect. Here's my fortune: Great works are performed not by strength, but my perseverance. I have not idea what that means.

Off tomorrow morning for a few days with boarding school gal pals in La Jolla. Not taking the LapMac; traveling light. Taking camera, tho. Hostess has computer so I can post, if so inclined. Obviously I have not been so inclined these last few weeks. Maybe a little trip will wake me up.

Weather here cool and lovely. Same in SoCal, I think. Even cooler, perhaps. Looking forward to beach walking, avenue strolling, getting caught up with friends. And I love being in La Jolla.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

dueling oyster (photos)

Yesterday's trip to San Francisco was nothing short of spectacular. I love going into that city. I am energized by everything I see; the hustle and bustle of buses, trolley's, people rushing up and down the streets, intent on business or mischief. I think often about living in a big city, about all it's treasures and pleasures but I may have lived in a small town too long to make the adjustment to such excitement! I checked the weather; cold. So I exchanged my Valley-appropriate linens for wool pants, two sweaters, a jacket and scarf. I needed it all. I got on the train at 8:45, got my coffee and a seat and settled in for a nice ride. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the fields were abloom with sunflowers taking their early morning hit. Whoa! What happened here, around Suisun?

And Vallejo?

Oh yes, I forgot. It's mid-summer in coastal Northern California. The train rolled into the gloom and fog, leaving the sunshine behind. In Emeryville I transferred to the Amtrak bus that took me into the city and right to the Ferry Building where I was to meet up with Mary Ann and Ginger. I was a bit early so I checked out the designer food shops and various cafes. Such choices! Pretty soon the other two arrived and we adjourned to The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant, for lunch. We got a front row booth with a great view of the water and the Bay Bridge. Around noon a bit of blue sky appeared; a good omen.

First course for MA and me was raw oysters. Heaven.

This is NOT a good photo.

She took some that are much better. (I have it on my list to buy a new camera; this one is five years old and was probably out of date when I bought it.) Next dishes were a tasty, crunchy shredded cabbage and jicama salad and a platter of sweet corn, off the cob. Big kernels. Very tender. Lastly came a puffy crepe filled with tiny shrimp and something crunchy, too. Maybe bean sprouts. The three of us polished off every bite. Lots of catching up, sharing news of folks we knew back when. After a couple of hours of doing this we strolled around the Marketplace a bit and then the two of them left, via Bart, MA to her Casa Verde in Bernal Heights and Ginger back to Pleasanton. My bus wasn't due for awhile ~ you have to get back on the return bus at the same spot you got off ~ so I did a bit of shopping. Bought two gorgeous loaves of bread at the Acme Bakery, some goodies at Sur La Table, and then, while browsing, stumbled on this Mother Lode of oilcloth bags. If I can find some heavy webbing to use for handles, one or two will join my collection of shopping bags.

Then I sat for awhile and watched the passing parade. These two young women in their Eiffel Tower heels stood around chatting. Just looking at their feet made mine cramp up. As I contemplated my comfy Fisherman sandals I reminded myself that, at one time in my life, I, too, risked lethal foot problems by wearing spike heels.

Soon it was time to get back on the bus to the East Bay, then onto the train for the ride home. By now the sun was shining but it was still quite cold; I think it got up to 59º in SF yeterday. Easy ride home, reading all the way. Mr. C was at the station to pick me up. It was a lovely day. I hope we can do it again.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

lunch in another city

Who doesn't love going off for a lovely lunch somewhere new? That's what I am doing tomorrow when I take the train to San Francisco to have a get-together with two women I worked with at Capwell's in Oakland. That was a very long time ago. In fact, I haven't seen one of them in probably 25 years. Last time was at a birthday party for the other woman's husband. It's too late for a lift or a tuck but most of us cherish antiques so not to worry.

One of my most treasured "lunch somewhere" was with my parents in San Remo, Italy. They were living in Nice, France for awhile and I was living in Paris. I took the train down to stay with them for a couple of weeks. One day my father ~ a fearless and curious traveler ~ rented a car and we drove to San Remo for lunch. We spent a couple of hours eating a wonderful lunch and drinking and laughing and having a fine time. When the bill came we tried to figure out just how much money we had spent; translating from lira (this was before the euro) into dollars but we had no idea what the lira was worth. Or we had just had too much vino de la casa. It seemed awfully funny to us but not to anyone else. We finally stepped out of the restaurant and my mother snapped this photo of us as we discussed where in the world we had parked the car. Was it off to the north? To the south? In back of the restaurant? Anywhere near where we are?

Eventually we found it parked by the edge of the flower market; nobody remembered a flower market when we had arrived. We then had a discussion about who should drive home and it was decided that I seemed to be the most sober so Daddy handed me the keys, got in the front seat and promptly fell asleep. It was Mother and I, as pilot and back-seat pilot, who finally got us back to Nice and to the Hertz car rental. I remember it was a fabulously beautiful drive home along the Haute Cornish overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I remember this and I was driving!

I love this old and faded picture. I have it in a little frame by my bedside. The edges have turned dark and both of us are fading fast. But looking at it reminds me of that wonderful time when we went to lunch, not only to another town but to another country.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

remember chairs?

Back in January, while still at the beach, I somehow got on the subject of chairs. I had taken some equipale chairs up to Colima for refresh and repair. "No More Commas Period" over in the left column then posted a note about her new chair. Next came the photo of the no-legged chair I saw at the tianguis. Finally, the announcement of daughter Alex's new job and, of course, a big executive swivel chair.

Are you ready for more chairs?

These little Italian beauties are for the beach, up on the 3rd floor. Very sturdy plastic, very comfortable. Ordered six of them on line from Crate and Barrel; bought the cushions at our local CostPlus. I think they'll look quite stunning under the palapa around the table when we gather to sip margaritas and watch the sunset.

On a non-chair note, I watched two movies yesterday; it's way too hot to be outside before 4 PM. First was The Draughtsman's Contract directed by Peter Greenaway. The second was Taken directed by Pierre Morel. Neither is worth the time. The Draughtsman is just Greenaway being naughty but with great costumes. Taken is a lot more fun. In my opinion it's a complete spoof on spy/thriller/suspense movies. Our hero, played by Liam Neeson's is on a rescue mission for his daughter who has been kidnapped in Paris. He takes on everyone (and every cliché) from every movie made in this genre. By the end of the film he has gotten the job done without a scratch and has left about 35 corpses in his wake. Right.

Next two movie projects are Louis Malle's Phantom India (7 hours), and Portrait of a Marriage (2 discs), the story of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson, both members of the Bloomsbury literary and artistic coterie in London before and during WWI. I read the book many years ago, written by their son. It was a BBC production about 25 years ago. It will be interesting to see if it holds up.

Monday, July 4, 2011

it's a grand old flag

I was up and out early this morning before the valley heats up to "Broil." Along the way I admired the various 4th of July decorations on the houses in the various neighborhoods on my route. The first one I saw belongs to my neighbor and fellow morning walker.

At the end of our street was this flag fluttering in the cool (for the moment) breeze.

It was actually quite a bit cooler this morning than it was yesterday even though it is supposed to hit triple digits later today and tomorrow.

At the end of the next street were these two decorations, one a bright bunting-style show, one a tiny flag in a flower pot.

We walked along the greenbelt, keeping the dogs (and ourselves) out of the sun. It was cool and lovely, and we were not the only ones with the same idea. Lots of joggers, including a "mob jog" of about a dozen women, bouncing and chatting and having a fine time. Lots of other dogs, too, enjoying the shade and freshness of the early hour.

Our route brought us to the bike path that runs along Putah Creek, now a murky, sluggish green that looks more like a drainage ditch than a creek. We usually avoid this part of the bike path because (a) it's a mosquito breeding ground at this time of year and (b) it stinks. This morning, however, it offered a tunnel of cool shade for man and beast. Back out into the sunshine, this was the last show of patriotism we saw. It is in a yard that is filled to overflowing with pots and beds of flowers. These folks also collect old Mercedes; there are at least six of them parked in the driveway and on the street. They are covered in leaves and webs and a couple of them have no tires. Don't know how many are in the garage.

The schedule for the day revolves around staying cool. Morning swim, late afternoon swim, b-b-q for dinner. It's too hot to be outside between about noon and 4 PM. We've been invited out for dinner but I think we'll stay home instead. Too hot to socialize.

Happy 4th of July to all. If you're nuts enough to be on the road, stay safe.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'll never buy retail again

On Tuesday I went down to the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park to see two marvelous exhibits. The first was "Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. The painting above is of Dora Marr, one of Picasso's lovers and muses. The Picasso collection is from "his" museum in Paris which is currently closed for renovations. Paintings, drawings, sculpture ~ more than 100 pieces. That's a lot of Picasso to digest in one viewing. It was a bit of a disappointment that there were no ceramics. His playful, imaginative plates and pitchers are a real delight.

I saw a large collection of them at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman during one of our visits with Cait.

The second (and main attraction for me) was "Balenciaga and Spain." His clothes defy description and any superlative I can think of doesn't do them justice. What's so stunning, though, is the idea that not only did he design and make these dresses, women actually wore them. Of course such women were countesses and duchesses and queens and all, but still. I tried to imagine myself stepping out in this brilliant red evening coat . . .

. . . but my imagination failed me. There were only one or two things among the 60 or so pieces that I decided would just not do. One was a mustard color suit, the other a pea-green evening gown. Not my colors. Otherwise, perfect. I am forever wrecked for Gap.