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.