Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Fourth Was with Us. And Beyond

We went up to Mom and Don's over the 4th. Mark and the kids were there, as was JeriLu according to tradition - we celebrated her 70th birthday. We packed a lot into the three days..


We went up to Don's property up on the hill hoping to rescue a homemade Big Green Egg style cooker but unfortunately it was a little too primitive. We met the horses that are staying in the orchard. The palomino took quite an interest in Rex, who of course nipped at him. The horse didn't like that much and started chasing Rex, which freaked me out - I thought I was going to see him trampled so I tried to distract the horse, which in retrospect was not a very smart thing to do. Rex finally headed back to the gate with his tail between his legs, all disasters averted.

I took Ry and My into town to see Grandma at the gallery, and wander up and down Main Street one afternoon.

A few weeks before our visit, the barn at The Village burned down. That made me a little sad. So many memories! Katrin and family were also up for the 4th, so I met her, Peter, Leslie, Ruby, and Theo at The Village to see what was left, but it was just a patch of scorched earth by the time we got there. We walked up to Peter's cabin, then down to the river. It was a good visit, despite the feeling of loss over the barn.

No barn



We all headed out to the bluffs to watch the fireworks. We were worried about fog, but it was beautiful weather. Not too cold or windy and though the fog started lowering a bit, it ended up being more ethereal than obscuring, especially when the smoke from the ignition point on the wharf framed the lower part of our view.




*****

I wrote a poem for Grandma a couple of weekends ago:

You get used to telling someone
I love you
when they can read it,
hear it.
Can words still echo in a heart or ear
whose chambers have collapsed?

If the ashes of my love rise
to you in heaven
will you taste the fiery spark?
I don't think so, though I want to.
So much love has gone unsensed.
Does it collect in a pool,
like a quarry with no outlet,
a liquid darkness descending forever?

If I bathed in said pool would I
be washed clean of the despair
of not knowing where my love for you flies?
Please don't let it be wasted on air or
seep away between the quarry stones or
be that small blue egg (your favorite color
the shade of heaven)
that was yarded out of the juniper bush in mischief
and dashed to the driveway,
tender yolk and fragile oval shell exploded open
for nothing
for nothing

please don't let I love you be
for nothing.

*****

July brought the annual excursion to Portland. (M spent that week with Mom and Don and apparently Rex pointedly did not go into the orchard with the horses on their visits to the hill property.)

I had only one night with Lloyd and Jacque, but we made the most of it. Heather came down with a friend, Michelle and her boys and Jim and Enid all came over for dinner. I really appreciate how they all come together for my visit. Before bed, I went through a number photo albums that Lloyd had brought back from Grandma's, and took a fine stack of prints, some that I hadn't seen in quite some time. Lloyd, Jacque, Heather, her friend and I had a lovely breakfast at Bread & Ink the next morning, then they dropped me at the hotel for my work day to begin.

Thanks so Uncle Lloyd for snapping this one!


The conference went well. It's our longest one, six days including set-up. I paced myself, which meant I didn't get out much, but had fun at some of the conference parties. 

Goofing around with Monique
Trying to look suave with Sharon. The mustache was a great way to get noticed!

I did have one nice meal at Ned Ludd, followed by a long and pleasant postprandial walk back to the hotel through the lushly planted neighborhood. 

So, so many people wishing for so, so many things
The conference ended after lunch on Thursday, so I took the streetcar and spent some time downtown, taking in the Portland Art Museum for about 45 minutes, which wasn't enough of course, but I did enjoy it, particularly the first peoples artifacts and the large red Christmas-tree-shaped pile of Chihuly glass. I shopped my way (the museum store, Crafty WonderlandCanoePowellsKnit PurlBuffalo Exchange) to Andina for dinner with friends from work. Writing all that, I see I probably could have spent more time in the museum after all, but I wasn't sure how long it would take me to walk over to the restaurant. Visiting the museum and seeing all of the art throughout the city (for instance, the bathrooms at the convention center have some really lovely art in them) reminded me that I've let my Art Imitates Life photo project lapse a bit too long.

It was nice to come home after so long away. 


M and I have had nice weekends, last weekend sitting on the beach for a few hours. This one he's spending fixing one of the side-yard fences. I really appreciate that he knows how to do home-keeping stuff like that!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hello, Summer

Yes, I still need to finish the Hawaii post!

In the meantime, the days of my life continue to unwind in a regular rhythm. (Or do they wind up? Guess it depends on my perspective at the time.)

Work is a bit higher level of stress than I'd like it to be, but then again exercising my brain at a higher level is A Good Thing. Two people have left my immediate team, which was partly OK since one didn't really want to be there anymore, and that's just a drag to be around, but it also means a lot of extra work for me and the new gal.. We had three days of training with two different leaders last week, which was energizing in many ways too. I think a lot of the stress is just that things are changing, and trying to both absorb the changes around me while embodying change as well.

Weekends have been lovely.

M and I took a motorcycle ride to Napa and lunched at Oxbow Public Market, a place we hadn't been before.

We saw a good friend of M's twice: once at a performance of the SF Symphony at Weill Hall one evening for a really excellent Beethoven and Shostakovich program.

The other time we rode out to his lovely home (which actually bears a close resemblance to my dream home...) in Sebastopol. His wife is a talented artist, and was participating in an Open Studios tour event. I almost bought one of her works, but it sold before I could muster the courage--she charges artistic prices--to actually pull the trigger. Maybe next time. We continued on after the visit to have lunch in Occidental then over Coleman Valley Road to see the fog-wreathed sea.

Last Sunday, Mom and Don came down for a visit. We celebrated Mom's birthday the previous Friday and Fathers Day with a little gathering. Felicia, Erin, Jerilu, and Judith came over to celebrate. It was nice entertaining. We should probably do it more often, the house would probably be cleaner.


Yesterday was a lovely adventure: Sean and Caitlin invited us to a day of boating on Lake Sonoma. The day was warm but not unbearable, the dogs got along just fine, the water was beautiful. We cruised about, the men fished. We discussed the merits of boat-in camp sites. We saw mergansers (which Chavo tried to catch by swimming after them) and an osprey and pig tracks. We picnicked under an oak tree and lolled about in its shade. We imagined ourselves in the houseboats, the luxury yachts, the pontoon boats.



It was hard to see the water level so low, however.

And we continue to attend "church" irregularly. The theme for June has been forgiveness, so Sunday mornings have been extra thoughtful.

And now it's summer. I love the long days. The orioles and hummingbirds have continued to entertain us at the backyard feeder. We may have to add a few more.

Well, I should go pack. I'll be at a conference in Santa Clara all next week. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wow. Two Months.

Is this the longest I’ve gone without blogging? Definitely some of my absence from writing is due to work stress. The job has been occupying a lot of my brain space, and that’s pretty tedious for me, so I can only imagine how unengaging it would be to read about. But things have gotten better at work: we hired a new manager for the position I’ve been filling in for, so in a few months I think I’ll be in a more creative space. I did some culinary projects this weekend—bread, yogurt, ice cream—so I think the agita grip is loosening a bit already.

So, on to catching up. I’ll do the Hawaii post separately.

Back in April, the big fun was taking a three day weekend and heading up to the coast for a multi-part visit. It was Don’s birthday, Jay and Brandon were visiting, and M and I were enjoying Mom’s Christmas gift to us, a night at the Greenwood Pier Inn, including dog sitting. We drove up Friday the 11th to hang out, walk on the beach, and have a lovely birthday dinner at a newish place in town, Uneda Eat


On Saturday, Felicia came up and we drove up to Elk to check out the room at the Inn and walk on the lovely beach there. 


Then they all left and M and I got some snacks at the store and just stared at the incredible scenery from the deck for a few hours. I felt like we were in training for Hawaii. 



There were two funny moments during our stay. The first came when, after we had retreated inside to stay warmer while still enjoying the view, a young woman suddenly sprang up on our room’s deck from behind the fence, saw us staring (thank goodness that’s all we were doing!) and equally shocked, leapt back off the deck and ran away. We didn’t see her again! The second came after our nice dinner—we were relaxing in the enormous bathtub upstairs that commanded the same stunning view, watching the stars come out and…a quadricopter hovering near our window. That was a little unsettling. We couldn’t see where the pilot was. I hope it didn’t have a camera. 

Aside from continued work stress, the only other notable event in April was our enjoyment of Noises Off by one of our local theater companies. One of my work friends was in it, and it was very enjoyable. That’s two live performances this year! Pretty good. Regular attendance at “church” helps me meet my goal of taking in more live music too. 

We’ve had some nice motorcycle rides. We had an incredible visit to Mt. Tamalpais last month, a place neither of us had been before. The visibility wasn’t great, but even so it was spectacular, helped by the abundant wildflowers and green pastures. I don’t think we’d realized that it had a 360-degree view of the bay, or that one of the roads along the top of a ridge afforded views of both the ocean and the valley. That one will be fun going the other direction, too. 





Then, just yesterday we rode out to Guerneville for brunch, then up over Sweetwater Springs Road, past the old quicksilver mine, to Westside Road. It was hot and my helmet is (or maybe it’s my glasses) starting to give me headaches so it didn’t end well for me. But it’s such a pleasurable way to explore and for M and I to be together. 

I had a conference in the City last week. It was just a two-dayer so it went by quickly. I enjoyed it--robots and futuristic stuff. We had unusually lovely weather. The view from my hotel room was not the worst I've ever had, but close to. 





M and I are also seeing more movies in the theater lately. I’m not sure why. We’re certainly eating out less in an entertaining (i.e., expensive) way in the past year or so, so maybe it’s a replacement for that. Yesterday afternoon, after the motorcycle ride, we saw X-Men: Days of Future Past which was a passable way to stay out of the heat. But it got me thinking a little this morning, as I was mucking around with photos and thinking about the photo book I mean to create this year (really, this year is the year!). I have so many photos now, of frivolous things and unremarkable moments as well as the more significant ones. In the future, how much will I care about some of the photos I put in? How much will I remember about what was happening when I took the photo? I think my reflections were also spurred by the realization that this week marks the 20th year of M’s first visit to New York, our first, amazing incredible date that still feels like it’s continuing. (Aw.) M asked me to come up with a photo and post it on Facebook, so I was looking through some old-ish photos—old friends whose names I can’t quite remember anymore, events that happened in a year I can’t recall. Will more details help jog more memories, or will I just wonder what the hell I was thinking? I guess I’ll have to wait til the future to find out. Here's the photo, one of the first we took together--writing this from the future of that moment, I know I'm glad I have it.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Last Month

…has been pretty quiet, which is why I haven't posted. It's not that nothing has happened. It's more like a nice series of brief adventures that I've collected enough of to set down.

Jay had his shoulder surgery and spent some time recuperating at Mom and Don's so I used that as an excuse for a "turn and burn," driving up for lunch and back the same day. We had a very scenic walk on the Stornetta Public Lands, which were officially named a National Monument the Tuesday after my visit.
I stopped by Manchester Cemetery on my way up, to visit Jim's ashes. The flowers seem to be growing vigorously.

I couldn't spend much time in Manchester was because our second conference of the year happened the following Monday in San Francisco, and it went well. I had another one of my evening events for women. It was a good sized group and they were all very enthusiastic, clapping and cheering all of the speakers, and that was great. There was a photo booth in the Exhibit Hall, so my friend Monique and I mugged for the camera.



M and I took a long wonderful motorcycle ride last weekend, heading up to Cazadero then King Ridge, then down along Sea View to Jenner and home along River Road. It was so steep and green and lovely. I don't think it will be green for much longer, given the drought. We're back to watering the outdoor succulents, roses, and peach trees with water caught in bowls and buckets in the sinks and shower.


On Monday, I did dinner and a movie with Felicia. I know that doesn't sound very adventurous, but I rarely see movies in the theater these days. I love having her in Santa Rosa.

This weekend, M and I spent 23 hours camping with Caitlin and Sean at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay. Despite the chill, lack of sleep (I didn't pack quite enough blankets, poor M's air mattress deflated on him at about 3am, Rex paced regularly, and waves that were so close they were more disruptive than soothing when it came to shut-eye), and being surrounded by other "campers" running their generators to watch TV while huddled in their Weekend Warriors, it's something we'd like to do again. Though I'm thinking that two nights is really the minimum stay for all the work that goes into packing and then unpacking. We had nice walks on the beach, pleasant hours contemplating the bay from the beach, an excellent beer tasting, good food, and a bonfire.



I will say that I'm also missing Grandma very much lately. I feel like my spring visit with her should be just around the corner. I had really cherished that routine which was also a small adventure to anticipate twice a year. The woman who leads the gym class I go to on Wednesday morning does not vary her music, which is bad enough--if it drives me crazy, how can she stand it?--but there's one song in the playlist by Mariah Carey about saying goodbye and it usually makes me tear up when it starts to play. It is good to remember Grandma, though, no matter how sad I feel.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Culture Continues

The first big conference of the year happened this month, our big data conference in glamorous Santa Clara, and I was glad to get back in the swing of eventing. It was very successful, which of course is always a relief, but also draining.


After recovering, I've since been very happy and humbled too by how much arty stuff I've been able to enjoy in the last few weeks.

Two weekends ago, a friend from work offered us free tickets to a wonderful concert at the Green Music Center, "Sons of the Fjord," featuring works by Grieg and Sibelius, and an American premiere by Orjan Matre, "Resurgence." The premiere was very interesting--the composer had placed musicians throughout the hall, including putting the brass backstage (they left one of the doors open). We weren't too far from an oboist. We had come early to hear a lecture by the musical director and the clarinetist, so luckily we were prepared for it, and it did help me listen to the music. They talked about how placing the musicians in places other than the stage changed how you would hear the piece spatially, just as how where you sat would too. The pianist had been delayed because of bad weather and had just arrived the night before. I wonder what they would have done if he hadn't made it? M was able to bring a friend and there were quite a few people from work there--I sat next to someone in my book and knitting groups, so it ended up being a social occasion as well. Sadly, the seating was even more uncomfortable than our first visit to the Center months ago--hard chairs, I couldn't quite put my feet on the floor, and we were looking hard right. I wish we could have switched seats with the balcony across the way at intermission. Still, they were free tickets--I'm ungrateful to be complaining. Maybe the hard chairs are to help keep you awake.

The following Sunday, we saw a matinee of "Annie Get Your Gun" at a local community theater. An acquaintance I used to work with was in the title role, and it was very well done. Surprisingly good singing.

For Presidents Day, we took a drive out to Bodega Head, thinking we might see some whales. We did not. It was clear but windy, so we didn't stay long. We did visit the campsite we'll have next month. That's a nice activity to look forward to.


Last Wednesday I went down to the City for the day to a developer conference. I had worked with one of the organizers to help put together a women in tech panel. I suggested one of our editors moderate the panel and secured another panelist, and it was really gratifying to see them on stage and how well it went. They were mobbed after it ended, something that hadn't happened to the other speakers I'd seen. I made some good contacts too.

On Saturday, M and I had another epic double date with friends Caitlin and Sean. We had purchased discount coupons weeks ago for a place I'd been wanting to see for years, the di Rosa Art Preserve. I had been worried/hoping it would rain, but we had spectacular weather yet again. We stopped for lunch on the way at the Fremont Diner, which was hopping.


I wasn't sure what to expect from the di Rosa. I figured a tour would be a good place to start since the di Rosa collection is mostly Northern California artists from the last forty years, and I'm really glad we did it. The docents gave some history of the collection and setting, but mostly just let us wander through the galleries, leaving it up to us to ask about works that interested us. The di Rosas were kind of art hoarders and there was so much art, in all kinds of media. I definitely didn't see all of it. 




In addition to the two main galleries, there was a tunnel to the residence, which was also jam packed with art, and had a view of the meadow with yet more art. 





It was a lot to take in. So I can look forward to another visit or two. We added significantly to the Life Imitates Art Flickr set. 


After the di Rosa, we stopped at the new Carneros Brewery and tried some beer, then had dinner back in Santa Rosa. It was great spending so much time with them. We don't see them often enough, but when we do, we make the most of it!


On Sunday I was a little tuckered out from the art overload of the day before, but met Pointy Pal Rebecca for some conversation and a little work, had a walk on Taylor Mountain with Felicia, and made a Test Kitchen recipe that included kneaded kale, a first for me. Life is pretty darn good.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

City Outing

I woke up to an unfamiliar sound this morning, and it took me a while to figure out what it was. And then I couldn't believe it. But finally, it's raining! Raining! Keep raining! I hope it will. It's been falling steadily today, not too much of a deluge, which is perfect, a nice soaking. I'd really been missing lying in bed on a dark Sunday morning listening to the rain falling. It was a lovely start to the day. The birds are very happy, prancing about on the deck, flitting through the oak tree, flying from fence line to fence line. What a relief, even just a brief one. And a surprise, I didn't see any precipitation in the forecast.

M and I did rouse ourselves from our rain-induced hypnosis and got to the Center this morning. The theme this month is meditation, and I'm glad I went since meditation is something I'd like to do more of. I'm also reading a book about meditation, Peace Is Every Step by Thích Nhất Hạnh, so that's nice synergy. Being out for a bit made it nicer to get home and putter around the house. Yogurt is straining in the fridge, keeping a Cook's test recipe of flan company, and a loaf of sandwich bread is cooling on the counter. I have no enthusiasm for the Superbowl. We'll do some sort of stir fry for dinner tonight, so M can master his wok chops.

But, yesterday! Yesterday was an adventure in the City. Felicia and I had been planning to see the Bulgari exhibit at the de Young for months and it was pretty eye-popping.


The exhibit area was kept very dark, I assume to highlight just how scintillating the jewelry is. Each case was lined with sparkly white material. There were more guards than usual, so Felicia couldn't sneak in any photos. There were a couple of "interactive" displays that were really just animated projections. After seeing the Gaultier exhibit a while back with the projections of faces on the mannequins, I wish they would have a technology where you could project your own face onto a display, as if you were wearing one of the designer dresses or the enormous emerald necklace that once adorned Elizabeth Taylor, and then take a picture. Wouldn't that be fun? I bet they'd get a lot of buzz around that too, though maybe they don't need that.


While we were having lunch at the de Young after seeing the exhibit, Felicia remembered that her friend had recommended a park in San Francisco that had incredible views and a mosaic staircase. Since it was a brilliant day and it wasn't too far from the museum, we set out on foot to find the park. It wasn't quite as close as I had thought it was going to be, and the first hill seemed like just a nice warm up. But then we came upon this set of stairs:


I hope you can see how many flights there are in the photo. And then when we got to the top of the stairs, there were a few more uphill streets to climb. Then more flights of stairs once we got to the park in order to get to the top. We paused regularly to, um, admire the views and kept up a "Hawaii" mantra since we'll both be going in a few months and are trying to get in shape for our trips. But it worth getting to the top! It's not much of a park, but the vistas are amazing--definitely earns the name of Grandview. We saw the Farallon Islands on one side, and the bay on the other, filled with sailboats, Pt. Reyes to the north. We could see so many SF landmarks. We lucked out on an absolutely perfect day.



We walked down the other side of the park looking for the mosaic stairs. Here's a shot of just a few flights, but there are 10 or so, all beautifully done. We had no idea what the theme was when we started, we just paused at each landing and looked behind us for the next installment. It was kind of fun coming from the top and working our way down. The water themed mosaic looked particularly beautiful with the blue sky, and blue blooms of the rosemary and pride of Madeira. 

Such a lovely weekend. A wonderful start to February.