Saturday, August 28, 2010

a day without plans

It's a good sky today, 2010

Sometimes the forecast is just the forecast. The predicted high today is 56°. It is currently 63°. We made it to the park with our coffee, before he had to go. It seemed we landed in the only place in the city free from wind, and we just sat, calm and content. Sadly, it wasn't long before he had to hop in a cab. But the sky is perfectly balanced, tomatoes are slowly roasting, and the few shadows on the bench beneath my bay window are crisply defined. I feel the wild parts creeping in and overshadowing the responsible and efficient. Which are more wise?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Almond Soda

happy hour, 2010

I wasn't sure where to buy such an ingredient, so I asked the owner of our favorite cafe if she carried almond syrup. My plan was to ask her where she bought hers, but before I could say another word she said "Oh, Orgeat, you want a bottle?" I think she gave me the wholesale price. We are regulars. North Beach likes regulars.

Almond Soda

2 tablespoons orgeat (almond) syrup
10 ounces sparkling water

Measure syrup into a pint Mason jar. Add sparkling water. Stir.

9/25/2010 Just tried adding a splash of cream. Tasty!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The lipstick is off the pig.

Suddenly it was summer, 2010

Above you will see a glimpse of my lunch. A raw salad. The perfect solution when you are just too hot and tired to consider anything else. San Francisco is freaking out a little. We've all come to expect the cool grey days we've been living with for the last, I'm not even sure how long, months? And suddenly, it's summer. Today should reach 94 degrees. This is such an unbelievable change. We even had mosquitoes buzzing in our ears last night. This never happens. Yesterday, I ventured out into the early evening air without a jacket. It seemed a miracle. It was amazing, wonderful, absolutely fantastic. This morning, I glided through the new warm air with bare arms and flip-flops and drank my cappuccino on a park bench. A few hours later, close to noon, I left a very challenging yoga class and wasn't feeling so lovely. I was seriously wiped out and ready to walk outside into the fresh cool air. No cool air today. I was immediately craving Shari's grandfather's spring water and cool raw vegetables. On my way home, I stopped at the market and bought these little tomatoes. Someone said they were so good and I was in the mood to believe good things. I picked up a variety of other light items that wouldn't require much heat or effort and was on my way, back into the not-at-all-cool air. Once I made it up the hill and into my apartment my mood had shifted from not-so-lovely to downright hot-and-grumpy. The honeymoon over. The lipstick off the pig. Be careful what you wish for is what I'm saying. I made this salad because I was just too hot and tired to consider anything else. I was not feeling the slightest bit patient or tolerant. Luckily, it was really good.

raw too-hot-and-tired-to-consider-anything-else salad

1 fresh ear of corn
1 generous handful of small highly-recommended tomatoes
1 glug of good olive oil (I used Bariani)
a few grinds of black pepper (I like my pepper ground coarse)
2 pinches of good fleur de sel
1 splash of red wine vinegar

Slice corn kernels from cob* and place in bowl. Rinse and stem tomatoes and add to bowl. Add olive oil, pepper, fleur de sel, and vinegar. Toss together. Eat.

*Today I discovered that slicing the kernels off the cob on the lid (placed upside down) for my 9x13 Pyrex pan keeps the kernels from scattering all over the counter and floor.

What did you eat for lunch today?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


last slice of bread, 2010

The morning tastes of preserved blackberries and peanuts melting on toast. The thickness cut by the chill and harsh bubbles in my frosted glass. No coffee. My vegetables and plans crowd the table around my plate. Anaheims, Early Girls, avocado, my notebook and pencil. I look up through the slats to an opening in the dull grey, a patch of hopeful blue. It shrinks all too quickly and then disappears. The window breeze raises tiny bumps on the skin of my left arm. I'm too close. My feet, both of them, are cold. I shrug my shoulders near to my ears, a tense comfort, a reflex. This is August.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What is wonderful?

I love these bottles, 2010

I just spent $3.99 on a fancy Icelandic style grapefruit yogurt with a pretty label. I'm rationalizing my purchase. I'm focusing on the fact that I've never tasted a grapefruit yogurt and better yet, this one tiny container houses 16g of protein. And I walked home instead of taking the bus. You might wonder how my cardiovascular output compensates for the $3.99. I'm not sure I can explain, but it somehow works for me. Okay...I just had my first taste. I don't love it. Hmmm. This texture is not for me. Damn.

The milk bottles above are from the milk I started buying when I lived right beside the town of Marshall, CA, home of Straus Family Creamery. It felt good to support a neighbor, but I must admit that I adore these beautiful glass bottles. How much did the glass bottles factor in to my buying decision? I'll never know for sure. But I don't live beside Marshall any longer and I still love this milk, and the bottles.

These thoughts about why we buy lead me to some other feelings I've been having lately. I always seem to fly into a frivolous buying frenzy when I'm nearing an upcoming trip. I begin to think of all of the things I need for the trip and wonder how I've lived this long without owning such things. It's typically a list of odd little things. Nothing major, but all seemingly very important.

An eye mask is on my list. I've always thought an eye mask and ear plugs would be wise for travel, but have not yet traveled with either item. My ears are very small. Not circus act small, but the smallest side of normal. My Apple earbuds are set on the smallest cap. Any ear plugs I've tried have been too large. How will I find some that fit? Are ear plugs made for children? There's an idea to explore...

When it comes to travel, there are always books to consider. Although I am a huge fan of our public library system, I just purchased 3 books from the used bookstore by the bay. Chris had a great idea. We purchase reasonably priced used books and leave them in a cafe or on the bookshelf in our vacation apartment. I love this idea. Come to think of it, this is how I found Chronicle of a Death Foretold when I was on the island of Salina. It had been left in our hotel lobby by a fellow traveler. It was not a book I would have purchased on my own and it was nice to stretch my boundaries a bit. Hopefully I'll be doing the same for someone else.

But why did I buy these three books? The first book follows a fascinating woman whose fevered quest for fulfillment drives her from lover to lover. The second shows the author's ability to conjure up very quickly the dark side of our emotions. And the third looks deeply and fearlessly into matters of profound human concern.

One problem. I'm looking over my selections and having second thoughts. What exactly will I be passing on? The books do look good. I know that many wonderful novels, films, songs, visual art, and poems are soul searching and sad, but are my selections too depressing? Should I give them all back to the used book shop or just add something not so wonderful, but a little lighter? And what is wonderful anyway?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

first book: A Spy in the House of Love by Anaïs Nin
second book: A Sentimental Education by Joyce Carol Oates
third book: Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

Sunday, August 15, 2010

book one & book two

Reading with grapes, 2010

Have you ever finished two books in one day? I did, yesterday. I am still feeling a little disoriented. That huge exhalation, the slow thoughtful looking back on all you've just experienced, and the tinge of sadness as you let go of the familiar characters. Yes, it is just a book, but if it is a good book you feel as if you were there, as if you were really experiencing every word that was written. I've never had this feeling twice in one day, and although I am an advocate for new experiences, I am not sure I recommend it. I'd been reading book one for a long comfortable while and just had a few pages to read before it was finished. Book two had only a few pages read, the first few. It had its grip on me from the start. When I picked it up from the library I could not wait to begin and just had to read those first pages. I am convinced the structure of book two, no chapters, had at least something to do with my wildly whipping through it as I did. Believe me, it was wild. I did not come up for air and this is not the way I read. I am a slow reader. I savor. I'm still marveling at the way the author was able to take control of me in this manner. Impressive, indeed.

book one: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
book two: The Lovers by Vendela Vida

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Mouse

Spider Art, 2008

I saw a mouse today. It was a small grey furry little thing just going about its business beside a curb, downtown, in the middle of rush hour. I don't know if he was blind, deaf, very old, or just a city mouse comfortable with the chaos of morning pedestrian traffic. I was in the middle of the street when I spotted him. I halted and cringed. A mouse! But he didn't seem nervous at all, so I felt a little silly, and I calmed down too. I watched him nibble on whatever little crumbs he had found down there. He was kind of sweet. I wonder when I learned to fear the little mouse and the spider and love the puppy and the kitten. It's odd.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who is she?

Self, 2010

We are constantly evolving. Everything we observe, create, and think adds another layer to who we are. I often imagine that person I want to become, the little old me. Who is she? Are the decisions I'm making helping me become her? All of the books I read, films I watch, people with whom I share my time, even meals I prepare--all of these things are shaping who she will be. It's nice to think about having so much control. I'm really shaping her. It's not just fate.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Nothing stays the same.

Can't seem to let them go, 2010

The little gallery is gone. The space on Columbus Street, near the truffle shop. The truffle shop owned by the proud Frenchman with funny shoes. He is abrupt and kind. The shop where my little brothers ate their first truffles and drank their first espressos. They wanted to know why the cups and chocolates were so small. Because when things are wonderful you only need a small amount, I told them. They nodded and sipped. It was the same day my dad drank a macchiato and kept saying it over and over again. He loved the word and saying it made him feel like Dean Martin. We saw Thiebaud's sweets in this gallery. His son might have owned it. We also saw the work of a sculptor who shapes figures in bronze. I never remember his name, and when I do, I spell it incorrectly. He makes us think of Giacometti. The blinds are drawn. A for lease sign with a black & white photograph of a real estate agent hangs in the front window. The truffle shop is still there. I saw the Frenchman today. He was behind the counter. I could not see his shoes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

public service announcement (about lunch)

Lunch on the 2nd day of August, 2010

According to Wikipedia, a public service announcement is a type of advertisement intended to benefit public interest, by raising awareness of an issue, affecting public attitudes, and potentially stimulating action.

Eat toasts with mustard mayonnaise and mashed avocado.

This ad was inspired by The Wednesday Chef and food52.

*I added coarse ground black pepper.