Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

View from the Legion of Honor by suzipaw
View from the Legion of Honor, a photo by suzipaw on Flickr.

It’s been quite good so far.

I took Friday off to see an exhibit at the Legion of Honor, Pulp Fashion, which I’d been wanting to see for a while. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d call it art. While I was there, I also saw the Magna Carta, a large, lovely mosaic from an ancient Roman home, and illustrated books from Japan. I loved the contrast in calligraphy between the stiff, horizontal English and the sinuous, vertical Japanese, which on the page looked almost like the dark path rain leaves on a window.

I’d been planning this excursion for weeks and wondering if I should go alone or call up a girlfriend for company. In yet another example of how procrastination pays (usually) for me, while dithering about an outing companion, an exchange with an old acquaintance about updating our email addresses turned into lunch at the museum. It’s a little hard to describe our relationship. I’ve known her family all of my life--I call her older brother my first friend, her sister and I were pretty close in high school, and her parents founded the commune where I spent part of my youth. But she’s much younger than me, and I’ve never known her as an adult. She mentioned to me she also wasn’t sure how to label our relationship, but told a friend she was having lunch with her babysitter, which I thought was pretty funny. That is one career I’ve never associated myself with, at any age.

Through the magic of Facebook we’ve connect again and I’ve been interested in her serious urban garden projects, including Hayes Valley Farm. We had a pleasant time wandering the exhibit then catching up on more personal stuff over lunch. She mentioned how a few years ago she had gone back to the commune, now an apple farm and commercial garden, as an intern to learn more about gardening and how it had been an eye-open process in many ways. She said people treated her pretty badly when she was just the anonymous person who scrubbed their toilets, but when they found out she was one of the original “commune kids,” their attitude completely changed. And she said she had a much greater appreciation for what her parents accomplished with starting the commune, being part of an “intentional community” and living in a tent infested with rain and woodrats as an adult.

My friend was a little late, so thankfully I had time for a latte when I arrived. The museum café wasn’t crowded at all at that hour, and I notice a few people who seemed more like regulars, chatting with the bus staff, reading the newspaper. I wondered what it would be like to live nearby and have a museum be my local coffeeshop. I could pick one work of art every time I came to spend time with and really appreciate. Ah, city life.

After the museum I detoured on the way home to our local “premium” outlet mall and spent more money on new clothing than I have in a while. (Yesterday I had to clean out my closet and drawers of togs I just haven’t donned in a while to fit them all in.) My last stop at the kitchen supply store was a bit of a buzzkill—after checking my driver’s license to verify my credit card ID, the barely-of-age cashier observed, “Wow, your hair was much better back then!” Tell me something I don’t know, sister.

Saturday was too rainy and gloomy to execute our outdoor chores, so M and I took turns choosing activities to fill our day. We took the motorcycle out, but had to turn back as the rain came. We went to lunch at a burger joint that got my order wrong not once but twice, then to an open house (it was actually almost too big! Didn’t think I had an upper limit), then Borders (is it wrong to read a Sookie Stackhouse paperback gently with the idea that I’ll be able to return it?), then to a car dealership (M had a car in mind he wanted me to test drive; I didn’t like the looks of it, but I did receive a bottle of homebrew beer from one of his former colleagues—bonus!), then to a coffeeshop.

Yesterday was gorgeous, a true summer day, but we frittered it away on yardwork and chores and reading on the back deck, listening to the quail calls. M forgot to put his rib on the grill early enough for dinner so of course we were forced to go out for Vietnamese for dinner.

And what will today be? The sky still hasn’t decided between a blue or gray ensemble. Maybe we’ll be able to take the bike out today. I think foraging for French fries in quaint little towns would be a fine ongoing quest.


The work week was an interesting one: a woman I’ve worked with for many years is retiring, so we threw her a little fete on Thursday. I’ve known she’s been planning to retire for months, but it’s still a bit hard for me to absorb. We’ve traveled together a lot over the years and she’s probably the only person I can laugh and commiserate with about some of the foibles of our office, so I’m really going to miss that outlet. Her road to retirement was a bit rocky. The economic troubles and drop in the real estate market didn’t help at all. Observing the politics and process around her departure has been a good learning experience for me. She and her husband spent several years building their dream home in Idaho and that too has provided good nuggets of info for me to squirrel away. One thing she shared recently that I’d like to try: they bought a painting of a river in Idaho and hung it in their living room as a reminder of what they were working towards. So…what’s the inspirational image for M and me? Gotta work on that.

Relatedly, on the flight home from Baltimore, I sat next to a young man who became quite talkative as our plane circled Denver yet again. He was an interesting combination of ego and charm—a pre-med student at Johns Hopkins thinking of volunteering for Medecins sans Frontiers based on a recent semester abroad spent in Tibet where at one point he watched monks feeding a body to the birds and dogs, a traditional funeral rite. He apparently gave up a promising career in acting (“You know, I won a bunch of awards and stuff.”) to dedicate himself to helping the world. At one point he asked what my greatest adventure was, and I wasn’t able to come up with anything that came anywhere near the Tibetan funeral. And then he asked, “So what’s next for you?” I told him that I was nearer to retirement than any kind of career change (he approximated a satisfactory amount of surprise—those acting classes were definitely worth it!), but I admit for all his whippersnapperiness, he got me thinking about my next decade. The Big Birthday looms, as do the attendant questions. Am I where I want to be? Doing what is worthwhile or am I frittering too much? And back to my friend’s river painting, what the hell does it all look like? Lately I’ve also been focused on putting things in place to be able to buy a new house, but would a home sustain me and comfort me? Maybe I should be thinking along more spiritual and mental lines for satisfaction rather than the physical.


Chico Recap: It was a lovely weekend. The weather was blissfully unoppressive, the graduation ceremony not too endless, the food was good, the dorms not too icky though coffee making and the lack of toilet paper was challenging, and the capacity of the young folks for lack of sleep and imbibement of beer impressive (and the stout brewed by her engineer neighbors delightful). The best part was having so many family members together. We so rarely gather together. We hung out at Felicia’s apartment Friday night and Saturday, and at Mark and Glo’s place Sunday morning. M and I had a bit of “us” time too. We had dinner at the brewery Saturday night, then wandered downtown for ice cream after returning and impressed the beer-pong-playing kids by pulling up in a pedi-cab.

We left the dogs in the care of a housesitter for the first time ever, a friend of M’s from work, and it turned out fine! Rex slept with her both nights. I missed them very much, but it was reassuring to know they had someone with them that didn’t involve a trip/transfer up to “grandma’s” house. It wasn’t cheap, but a dog-free getaway definitely something we’ll do again this summer.


In other ephemera, I just finished City of Thieves and highly recommend it.


At 3:36 PM, May 30, 2011, Anonymous Janice said...

I enjoyed your blog very much. Thank you Suz!

At 2:35 PM, May 31, 2011, Blogger Brenda said...

The pedicab touch was nice. I'll have to try that some day.


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