Weekend Day

(When not watching the Olympics)

-> Stanford (Zipcar is mostly awesome, until you get a car with no gas in it)
-> Sightglass (The cafe space I dreamed up; Winter clothes and a belly button)
-> Montara Mountain (It’s the smells. Sage and euc. Flowers. Pine grove)
-> El Gran (The same Runts machine!)
-> Blue Bottle (Years ago, SF -> Montara -> Back to SF was unthinkable)
-> Ocean Beach (Mediterranean Spring. Nice.)
-> Wine Shop (Yakking about Burgundy)
-> Fish Monger (Everyone’s getting those shigokus this year)
-> Oysters and Bronzini For Dinner (on the half and on the grill)
-> Not-cherry Liqueur (surprisingly not bad; not Campari either)
-> Caltrain (Evening train to Gagny, 1998, groups of tipsy immigrant kids)
-> Cafe Venetia (Red wine and Tom Waits on my mind)

…Is it the crack of the pool balls, neon buzzing
Telephone’s ringing, it’s your second cousin…

Olympics

I love the Olympics.

In 1984 my Grandma bought me an Olympics themed notebook. It was just a spiral-bound notebook, but on the inside front cover the track and field schedule for the Los Angeles games was printed. It doesn’t sound like much today, but that was the killer app. There wasn’t a place you could go for that information: What events and when.

I remember that first page in the notebook. I wrote out the distance of every track event. And the field events: Shot putt. Discuss. Javv Lynn (my aunt Lynn).

And then I recorded the winners as the events happened. And I got so mad when I missed an event, because in 1984 you couldn’t just look it up. It’s hard to believe we were only eleven years away from being able to do that, but we couldn’t then. If you missed the results of the 400 meters, there was no way or nowhere you could just look it up.

I cried when those Olympics were over. It was 1984 and I was seven and I knew I’d be eleven by the time the next games were on, and somehow I knew that I couldn’t enjoy the Games the same as an eleven year old.

That First Really Nice Day

(California Version)

Biked to Cal Ave for lunch. Had to walk the bike halfway down the street to find an empty rack. Everyone was out: not just the kids from Stanford but the tech employees, the designers and developers and the real nerds who muck around in database administration which makes them no different from an engine room man in days of old who knows every part of his engine cold; they were all out because it was Spring.

Spring on the Riviera! What is a more amazing transformation than taking a train in March from Paris to Nice. You board in a winter land and you arrive in honey, in tangerines and green hills, in sunburns, in Cezanne, in a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, in days that seem to belong somewhere and somewhen else.

Oregon Pinot

Tasted at JK Carriere today. One of our favorite Willamette Valley wineries, Carriere is in the Chehalem AVA, up on top of Parrett Mountain, between Sherwood and Newberg. It’s a beautiful site, especially on a rainy February day with mists hanging low on the hillsides and the vines all cut back to their barest essentials. The vines are all newly planted and so none of Carriere’s wines are Chehalem Mountain AVA – yet – but rather blends from some of our favorite vineyards in the valley, including Shea and Temperance.

This was a library tasting, a bit of a vertical: Wines from 2004, 2005, 2006. A fine expression of the fluctuation between warm and cool summers and just how different each grow season is and how those differences become multiplied with time.

OPCountry

We often forget, as we’re dreaming of upcoming trips to France and Italy, how close we are to a truly wonderful wine country.

Portland Snow Days

2AM cab ride in from the airport. Snow on the roads. Cabbie lets me know she’s from Colorado and “This ain’t snow”. This ain’t snow, ok, but we slide a bit on the offramp and I’m white-knuckling it all the way home, 2:30 by the time I hit the sheets.

Out for coffee the next morning. Fresh powder coming down. Kids watching out the picture windows. Tromping up 35th from Division to Hawthorne. That quiet in the city, the shocking hush of a snow day.

Snow Day

Out in the park, in the powder, we kick the soccer ball around and make it spin and make it slide and kick up great clouds of powder as go at each other with PKs.

Inside, a lamb stew. Bubbling away all day in the oven as the snow falls.

We go on an evening walk. Snow turning from from powder to crunch. Causes you to consider how the Eskimo have twenty-seven – or is it thirty-eight? – words for snow. And then I’m reminded how the Chinese call a variety of vegetables ‘bok choy’, or ‘green vegetable’, and probably marvel over English speakers and their many words for bok choy.

The next day, ice. Wake up to an emergency broadcast: STAY INSIDE. A quarter inch crust of ice over the snow, a quarter inch of ice jacketing the branches of the black walnut and the Japanese maple.

Coffee and kumquats with a splash of grappa and get out there and crack the ice to make a snowman, hey!

The ice over the snow like a crème brûlée…

The next day. Monday. People gotta go to work. Crunch turning to slush. Slurp and hup. Our snowman melting from the head down, anthropomorphism in reverse, becoming just a lump of snow.

San Francisco Saturday

Started with a dawn bike ride through Stanford campus, the reason being I had to get a Zipcar. Lungs burning, fingers numb, and I just woke up. Orange morning light on all that is early spring (which is so early this year): Tangerines dangling, paperwhites in the verges, pink and white cherry blossoms, magnolias. All just so early!

And then it’s a macchiato at Sightglass. My favorite coffee place. 8:30 and just early enough to have the upstairs to myself. Stretching legs and mind in that big open modern 2014 space. Reclaimed space: Warehouse-ish, like everything was down here when I was a kid, appropriated for today. And a pistachio croissant.

A backpack full of greens from the ferry building market: Radicchio, Brussels sprouts, someone has green garlic already. A sack of Meyer lemons, their waxy perfume sticking to fingers.

Driving around town after the market. Driving up Market St. Market and Castro. Flood of memories comes pouring down from Twin Peaks. Coming here with friends as a teenager. At once an act of rebellion and an act of solidarity. It seems ridiculous now, but there was a leftover stigma of danger about a gay neighborhood. As a young man was likely to be taken and ravaged while shopping for henna art. But it was there. Also just the plain old ‘I don’t want people driving by to think that I might be gay’, in that way you have when you’re 17, 19. Also commiseration. I was ‘different’ and a lot of people here were too, and it felt good to say ‘I’m not like you but I support you being like you’.

Noe Valley Cherry Blossoms

A walk around Noe Valley. Photographing the trees. Thinking about an early lunch and where to eat a dozen oysters. Anchor or Zuni?

Anchor seems a bit casual, so Zuni it is. Intending to stand at the bar, but there’s a table and I take it. Dozen oysters and three clams to ride shotgun. A glass of Alsatian Riesling. All that clean sea taste of the seafood: Some of the oysters melony and almost sweet, some of them redolent of the deep sea. The clams with their very different but equally potent flavor. The Riesling which washes away parts of the taste but leaves the essence in the mouth. The bread and butter which fills the mouth with richness and makes you hungry for another taste of the sea. What a lunch! And at 11AM too.

Blue Bottle on Linden
Epitome of new San Francisco
Tucked away next to freeway bound peninsula stream
bombing and honking down Gough
an Italian space
roll-up door place
Nice kids combining tech
with craft, with joy

Driving around the city. Rosy after midday coffee. Tropic of Cancer in my mind: “The physiology of love” – Henry. Hayes valley. Outer Sunset. Sea. Mar Cantabrico, Cair Fairavel. Cagnes-sur-Mer. Suddenly I imagine west to be south and my entire perspective on San Francisco changes. Suddenly it is Nice in France and this is the way to Italy as I drive through pacific, through the tunnel, to Montara. Gorgeous blue skies. Wonderful. Farallones rocks in the midst of Sea. “Wonderful” – Henry again.

Montara. Gorgeous as ever when the sun is out. The wild sea, reminding me of Geoff Dyer at Taormina and locals everywhere feel the need to tell you how dangerous their sea is. Ours is. And then in town, they’ve cut down so many trees. It fits the town. California coast beach town, really the first as you drive south from San Francisco. The first Central California beach town. Moss Beach, El Granada, Pescadero, San Gregorio, Moss Landing, Bonny Doon, Carmel, Morro Bay.

Dinner is sturgeon steaks. I think sturgeon, I think a book I read as a kid. A proto-human tribe living on the Danube River and how they hunted these strange prehistoric fish. The sturgeon look like something out of a museum. And this fish monger, man does he know how to cut a steak. Paired with Burgundy, of course. The ending to a day.

And then the end of the day. Bed. Done. Another day written in the grand Book of Days.