Saturday, October 25, 2014

Since My Last Post

"Since My Last Post" should be the title of every post from now on, eh? Reflecting on the recent past always makes me happy. This last unit of history included:

A visit from Aunt Janice and a rendezvous at Mom and Don's. It was great to see her especially since the occasion became a partial family reunion of sorts with the Chico Axtells coming over too. We ate well, we walked the Stornetta Public Land bluffs, we played cards. The weather was unusually fine - I actually got sunburned on the walk. More photos in the Flickr album.

It seems so long ago now, but just a few weeks ago I was in Phoenix for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event. It was really wonderful to be at at a technical event that was almost all women, the very opposite of what I'm used to. I was in the room when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made his most unfortunate remarks about women not needing to ask for raises since karma will out, apparently. That took the happy edge off a bit. Unfortunately I was quartered an urban wasteland and worked a lot of long, intense days so didn't have time to see the city at all, but I was so glad I went. I met and reconnected with a lot of great people.

I had a weekend at home after the Arizona journey then was off to New York for my last conference of the year, yippee. I had less time in New York this time and the conference was exhausting, but I think I made the most of it. I journeyed down to my old neighborhood one night, dining at Lucien then walking up 2nd Avenue to Union Square, which was filled with folk - I imagined the ancient agoras of Athens must have similarly hosted throngs sitting, eating, playing chess, taking the evening air. On another night I shopped at Fishs Eddy before having pizza at Eataly. I had my traditional dinner with Cathleen on Friday, my last night, at etcetc.

Opera students in the 42nd Street Subway

The next morning, I arose, packed, checked out of the hotel then sallied forth. After the successful one-hour visit to MOMA last month, I tried it again at the Metropolitan. It was a very worthwhile whirlwind tour. Though there was a long line to get in, it moved swiftly and I was the only person in several of the rooms, including a kimono exhibit. I visited the Temple of Dendur which is always inspiring, and finished with a tapestry exhibit which I had low expectations for but the sheer enormous scale of the tapestries and number was transformative. How often are you surrounded with a huge hall of them, allowing you to come eye to eye with beautifully woven representations of equine scrota, blood coursing from a recently beheaded neck, vistas of ancient Jericho, the serpent in Eden, and of course God?

After the Met I subwayed downtown to Union Square where I felt produce envy at the farmers market which has only gotten larger and more wonderful in the 16 years since I lived nearby. I walked uptown and around Gramercy Park to meet the Caiola Madhu clan for a delightful south Indian lunch at Saravana. We shopped at Kalustyan's, and then we all took the 6 train uptown. I picked up my bags at the hotel and met the car to JFK and home. More photos in the Flickr album.

It was a relief to return, though work continues to be quite stressful.

M has been taking on even more homekeeping projects. I'm really enjoying his wine-bottles-to-glasses craft and we're (the royal we - he's doing all the work) finally replacing the front lawn sections with ground cover plants and stepping stones.

Even with the cone of shame for a skin allergy, Rex is able to adequately supervise the work.

Dad was here from Texas for a few days, and it was great to see him. It was a good occasion to have Felicia and Erin over too. We had a lovely time reviewing all of the photos Ginny posted from their Morocco trip - made me want to go! I took Friday afternoon off and we went thrift shopping at Lytton Springs on our way up to Coppola for a wine tasting and vista enjoyment. He left for Chico this morning, but we had time for a nice breakfast with Felicia.

Tomorrow I'm meeting Rachel for lunch and then we're going to a clothing swap at a friend's place. Nothing like free clothes to lift the spirits!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Blog-iversary to Me

Ten years ago today I started blogging. Ten! Doesn't time fly? Fly!

I've been meaning to blog for some time and am glad this occasion finally compels me. I have no excuses other than work being stressful, some travel, and generally finding life rolling away the way that it does. Faithful readers, thank you for being here, still.

Since my last post:

Motorcycle rides through the desiccated countryside. A classic car show in Napa the weekend before the big earthquake. Undertaking some long overdue home keeping projects. The county fair.

Learning to meditate. A trip up the coast for the opening of Mom's show. So nice that again Mark and the kids were there.

We recently returned from a trip to New York. Business venn diagrammed by birthday, so M came with me. There were many highlights: several occasions to visit with the Manhattan Madhus, Book of Mormon, a service at the NY Center for Spiritual Living, a sail around the confluence of the East and Hudson rivers, a stay at the storied Algonquin, an unexpected an serendiptious lunch with Ginny and Laura, and a quick but lovely visit to the MOMA.  I took notes during the trip and would like to share more, but given my lack of posts recently, I'm feeling pessimistic.

More travel, more stressful work, more family visits that make life so worthwhile all coming up soon, so I have a lot to look forward to! Oh, and more attempts to meditate.

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.