Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good for you

Finally! Something that is actually not a bad snack! I love it when someone does their homework and gives me the breakdown as to why these are acceptable. Usually I rely on Rachael to guide me in the "green" direction...hope this passes her test too, although I can hear her saying "It would be better if it was all organic ingredients". See Rach, I do listen!

Product: Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate All-Natural Chewy Granola Bars

Price: $3.49 per box of 6 bars (Longos)

Total calories: 130 calories per bar (35 g)

Manufacturer: Kashi Company

The position: "Our chewy granola bars bring our unique blend of seven whole grains and sesame together with whole, roasted nuts, succulent, sun-dried fruit and a touch of wildflower honey."

Top 6 ingredients: Seven whole grains and sesame blend, brown rice syrup, cherries, dark chocolate chips, evaporated cane juice syrup, honey.

Nutritional breakdown: 24 g carbohydrate (4 g fibre, 8 g sugar), 5 g protein, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 0 g trans).

Analysis: When made well, granola bars can be an entire little meal unto themselves. These Kashi bars are a great example.

A good snack should contain a minimum of 10 per cent of its carbohydrate as fibre – these bars are 17 per cent. The seven whole grains provide a mix of nutrients and the protein rounds it out nicely. Finally, the "sprinkling" of chocolate chips adds a lot of flavour for very few extra calories.

Alternative: Other granola bars with chocolate chips tend to be lower in fibre and protein, like Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.

Take it or leave it: These bars can be used to help you keep healthy while on the go.

Suzanne Carere is a registered dietitian and manager of Nutrition & Wellness at HealthWithCare.

I'll be back in a few days. I have to run over to Longo's and fill up my snazzy lunch bag. Must attend to some family business in the next few days.....see you soon!

No Junk Mail Please


I have come to intensely dislike junk mail, otherwise known as "unsolicited" mail. I'm not alone in this regard as the Globe and Mail reports that 67% of Canadians are not interested in all those flyers and advertising that in our home go directly into the blue box.

This is where the Red Dot Campaign enters. According to their website, "The Red Dot Campaign provides consumers with a simple action they can take to reduce carbon emissions. Simply by putting a signed letter in your mail box, and leaving a "No Admail Please" sign on your box, Canada Post will not deliver any unaddressed marketing material."

"And, if enough of us say No!"states the Red Dot website, "advertisers may take notice and find more environmentally-friendly ways to reach their customers."

My neighbor has been sporting his "red dot" for awhile now, and it really works.

The first step is to print out the "No Junk Mail" letter that's available online, sign it, and ask your mail carrier to deliver it to Canada Post. I went directly to the second part, and my carrier (yes I still get to-the-door delivery) gamely complied. Secondly, print out the "No Junk Mail" sign and attach it to your mailbox or mail slot. The bad news is that this will only stop unaddressed ad mail that's delivered by Canada Post.

If you really want to get serious you can contact the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) and have them add your name to the "Do Not Contact Registry". This registry will not only stop addressed ad mail, but can also cut down on those unwanted telemarketing calls that always arrive during dinner. It's important to make sure that you provide the CMA with all the possible variations of your name as it has appeared on junk mail in the past, including mail that is misspelled. It will take some time for this to be effective, but probably worth the wait

Again, the Canadian Marketing Association is the place to contact to have your name removed from personalized marketing materials, including mail, telephone and fax.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Thirty one years ago today. April 29, 1977 - Geneva, Switzerland

We love you

Crochet a Cat Hat

Yesterday, as I was fumbling around looking for something the way this is how insulin was discovered....I came across something that made me laugh out loud. It's this silly little wikipedia driven thing on the "How to of the day".

This particular one is how to crochet a hat for a cat! I think it was the picture of the cat, hat on head, looking so totally unimpressed that tickled me. I have seen that look many times when I dressed our own "Kizzy" many years ago. He didn't seem to mind, until he minded and then the claws came out.


Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Crochet a Cat Hat. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I have been accused of being "a ball of potential with no focus". Not terribly flattering, and I probably shouldn't be admitting it, but today this is exactly what I am.

On Friday, I attended the Creative Sewing Festival. It was overwhelming. I have not been to one of these events in a long while, based on the fact that I keep telling more purchases until you've done something with your last "bright idea".

Once again, so many new sights to inspire. Quilting, knitting, needlework, sewing, scrapbooking, beading, even upholstery!! I have some wonderful antique cheese boxes that could be fabulously altered into pouffy ottomans. Luckily these courses start in the FALL!!! This gives me just enough time to scout out zany fabrics and interesting fringes.

I am hopelessly overcome by enthusiasm, which generally totally outstrips any of my abilities, but I came home with another quilt called a "jellyroll" which is basically two and a half inch strips pre-cut and you design around this format.
Irene and I were told by one vendor that the "Madeira" fabric (as seen in the photo) that I so admired was no longer available, and that I'd probably have to scout it out on eBay. Much to my delight, ever eagle-eyed Irene found the very one at another vendor and it was a happy day! Not only was this woman really nice, but she was from Almonte, not far from Ottawa, so it will be a "Valley" experience when I do get around to actually constructing my latest find.

I got some magazines and a book on beading to try and emulate a bracelet that I own, and am totally smitten with. Again, another of those "moments" when I say "I could do that!" Most of the bead vendors were appropriately appreciative of the amount of work involved...probably not a beginner project, but then again, I usually take on much more than I should, hence the pile of "unfinished".

There was a totally wonderful display of Mac Fab....a local Queen Street fabric outlet, with very hip new designs. I'll try and pull off a lined bag. Amy Butler

Last but certainly not least, a really neat insulated lunch bag, by "Elle", that looks like a purse! Okay, so it perfectly matches my coat. Now all I have to do is leave the house with my lunch and go DO something!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sunday - Church

I don't do Church.

I used to, and was brought up in the United Church. I went to Sunday School and loved the music. I was a member of organizations in the church and was married at Westboro United in Ottawa. I made sure that my children had an opportunity to attend Church, so that they could make up their own minds about organized religion.

"You don't need organized religion to connect with the universe. Often a church is the only place you can go to find peace and quiet... But it shouldn't be confused with connecting with one's spirit." -- Alice Walker

Spirit can mean many things. I think it is much more than whether or not you're religious.

It's what gives me a love for life, a sense of purpose, motivation, inner strength, desire. It's what moves me, that which makes me cry happy tears, all that I am passionate about.

Some of the things I love: My family. Music. Reading. Playing piano. Art. Painting. Needlework. Blogging. Traveling. Being in the garden. Learning new things. Dancing. Listening to, being with, and supporting friends. This is what makes my spirit come alive.

Today I will be in touch with my spirit by thinking about and surrounding myself with the things that I love.

Saturday - Baking

I don't do as much baking as I used to. I love baking, but I love eating it even more. Baking is now done about as often as I wear my vintage aprons...for large special occasions.

My mother was an excellent baker. She was known especially for her chocolate cakes. The picture is nothing like my Mum's cakes. There were no layers and no nuts...this was a cake baked every time for gussying things up!

Every one of our friends knew that there would be chocolate cake at our house, which in the end prompted some pretty bizarre "saving" tactics. The slices served at dinner became smaller, and it became increasingly harder to find where the cakes were kept, as they now had to be "hidden" to avoid overeating.

We had a lower corner cupboard with a swivel shelf. Hiding place number one. This proved waaay too easy for those of us in the family who were adept "finders" know the sort of kid who can find the Christmas presents, unwrap and re-wrap them with little evidence (guilty).

The next place was still in the twirly cupboard but enclosed in an electric frying pan which had to be physically removed from the cupboard (heavy) and the lid removed (noisy) to get that "one more piece". This ended up being not such a good idea, as there was always a little lingering waft of bacon on the cake no matter how well you washed the frying pan! So, in my mother's infinite "slydom".....she resorted to the dishwasher! She finally got a dishwasher after years and years of tea-towel-snapping-good-fun, but rarely used it for doing up the evening dishes....more like my apron...for big family occasions. It was unheard of to use "the machine" with only a few dishes, much less to leave dirty dishes for another day.

This Christmas, I decided to bake one of my friends famous "Blueberry Cheesecake" recipes. One year I had received one of these confections as a gift, loved it, and since we were expecting visitors, I decided this would be a really fresh and decidedly different little sweet. The recipe called for quite a bit of butter in the crust. While it looked a bit odd, I had total confidence in my friends culinary abilities and followed it to the "teaspoon". After putting out the fire in the oven from the drippings on the burners, I found out that as in most recipes the cook has done it for so long they neglect to tell you that OOPS....oh yes, I always use much less!!!! Thanks Irene :) The cheesecake turned out perfectly after the crust incident, the guests had to cancel, and I ate the entire thing...some the next day, most of it from the freezer. That's another of my 'talents'. I can eat anything in the dessert line frozen! No need to take time to thaw. Today is Saturday. I'm off gallivanting with the cheesecake lady, so there may be baking involved, but it will likely be our choice through a sunny window in Bloor West Village. I know just the place!

Friday, April 25, 2008

FRIDAY - Cleaning

You would think that after washing, ironing, sewing, and marketing, by Friday you'd be worn out. You can't be, because tomorrow is baking!

While in Hawaii I saw a robot vacuum cleaner for the first time. We couldn't figure out how to get it going, but with two little dogs, I guess it makes sense to have a little picker-upper machine. After my recent hip injury, the doc says "no more vacuuming!", so this robotic thing is getting even more interesting to me. I had to add this picture to show you what these machines look like, just because it's such a hilarious thought. Does this ad mean that you sit around drinking wine while the vacuum scurries around the house doing it's thing?? I guess this means you have to clean at "happy hour"??? It's only 11 a.m. here, but somewhere in the world it's happy hour.

The other machine that I have my eye on is anything by the DYSON outfit. There is something about his accent that makes me believe that this cyclonic action will be much better than anything I have now. It had better be, based on the price alone. Since I won't be doing any more vacuuming (for at least a while), I should really be leaving this task up to my husband, but I can't see him staying home from lectures at the University to vacuum on Friday!:)

Looks to me like James Dyson might just come with this invention of his. Obviously this is a man who knows vacuums! The surgical mask gives him an air of educated authority on the matter don't you think? Wonder if he's available weekdays???

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I think you can see where the "market" day post is going! The very first time I had to use bags other than what are provided *free* in the shops, was when we lived in Switzerland. There, when you did groceries, you either had a little canvas tote on wheels, much like carry-on luggage, or a string bag that has the most amazing properties of stretch. In Marie Claire there were instructions for crocheting one's own, and I certainly tried....but that would be in yesterday's post.

Lately, I 've been on a crusade to use the supermarket .99 cent carriers. I started with Loblaws who were the first off the mark in our area. There was a lot of skepticism regarding how much they could hold, but there is a solution to this as another one!
I am not loyal to just one grocery store. I usually do the rounds, depending on my particular needs. We have Michaelangelos, Longos, Dominion, Loblaws, and Food Basics all in a comfortable radius. Longos was the most difficult in the beginning. It was as though they resented the "green" bags option. There were feelings at the check-out that they didn't want to pack the bags, and certainly NOT a Loblaws, or Michaelangelos bag! When one of the clerks mentioned that at least I could use a Longos bag, I replied....."I'm so sorry that you were so late in coming on board with this save-the-earth-plan, that I've now purchased these bags from just about every other grocer in the neighborhood. Some day, when I forget my other bags, I'll be forced to purchase one of the way, where ARE they???" They are now located at the end of each check-out counter.

When you realize that it takes 1,000 years for plastic bags to degrade in our land fills and that when they eventually do break down it becomes toxic to our soil, rivers and water sources, not to mention ugly, it's not a difficult option to choose.

A choice it is. The problem becomes remembering to bring them with you. I have a solution for that too. If you forget to bring your purchased cloth bags into the store, you can either a) Turn around and go back and get them (consider this aerobic exercise that you're not paying the gym for), or b) Buy another .99 cent reusable bag and either use it or give it to someone who hasn't yet gotten this message.

You can even have enough in your car so that when you go to Costco, you leave all your items in the cart when you check out, and when you get to your car, transfer the stuff into your containers there....that's only if you forget to bring them with.

In some parts of this country, cashiers are asking..."Do you need a bag?" SAY NO THANK YOU. I have been in shops in Vancouver, where they have no bags! Bravo! I really feel this is the only way we are going to change our habit.

The caption on this photo is "Tree MUGGED by 5 plastic bags"

Reusable Bags

Bravo Whole Foods Market - Almost worth a trip to Oakville!
AUSTIN, Texas, April 23 (UPI) -- Whole Foods Market marked Earth Day Tuesday by ending the use of disposable plastic grocery bags at its U.S., Canadian and British stores.

A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for the natural foods supermarket chain, said the move will keep keep 100 million new plastic grocery bags out of the environment the rest of this year alone.

"Central to Whole Foods Market's core values is caring for our communities and the environment, and this includes adopting wise environmental practices," Gallo said in a statement earlier this year.

The company will continue to offer recycled paper grocery bags to shoppers who choose not to bring their own reusable bags to the store.

I'm off to the market today. I have to get supplies in for baking on Saturday! I have more than enough cloth bags to complete the task!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday - SEW

The inside scoop from my 90 year old mother is that the sewing was really darning, mending, sewing on buttons, making a dress......MENDING!!! When is the last time you darned a pair of socks or sewed a patch on your apron? Shows you how "green" my parents generation really was. I throw out socks with holes in them and while I love "vintage" aprons, I only ever seem to put them on when I'm doing big family dinners. My aprons tend to last longer that way. I do sew on buttons, but not until I really, really, really need the item that the button fell off of in the first place. There are things in my sew-on-a-button-pile that have not seen the light of day for years. As for making a dress.....I think the last time I made dresses was for my three year old daughter some three DECADES ago! Previously my own wedding dress was sewn by a dressmaker (that's what we did 40 years ago!) and I still have the pattern. Nowadays, I'm tempted to use the old pattern pieces in an altered book. On we move!

That was the kind of sewing I call SEWING. In the 70's I took an Old English smocking course on Avenue Road at a wonderful shop called "Quilts and Other Comforts". It was there that I met a group of women who would endure as friends forever, and be affectionately called "Stitch and Bitch". We finished our course, my daughter was duly rammed into her smocked dresses and while the group still exists in it's own evolved format, the dresses have been handed down and worn and worn again, but the art is now out of fashion. I do remember loving smocked dresses....perhaps they will come back again some day.

"In the 1950's there was a woman from Canada called Grace Knott who pioneered the smocking movement as we know it today. She along with an author named Chela Thorton inspired hundreds of women with the technique known as English Smocking, which differs from N.American style in that you make up the pleats first and then do the embroidery stitches. The effect is basically the same but the look is much different. Around the same time the smocking pleater, (invented in South Africa in the 1950's by Read Company, was readily made available to the American and Canadian public through Grace's Company "Grace Knott Smocking'.

Smocking has become much more sophisticated since then, the 1980's brought about Smocking Guilds all across America and the world and many talented women took up the challenge to bring smocking into the patterns and smocking plate designs that you see today."

Ellen McCarn - Beginning Sampler
[photo credit:]

The other sewing I consider SEWING was a tablecloth that Ingrid and I decided to follow from Kaffe Fasset's book We collected about a million dollars worth of floral fabrics. We then got busy and ultimately unfocused. The line then became "We'll complete the quilt in the fall".....That was about ten "Falls" ago. The cut out pieces are still in a box, but the spirit of the hunt and the collection still lives on, and even though we may have to re-invent the was a rather large piece, I'm sure that one of these "Falls" we'll get at it.

Beside the box with the tablecloth quilt pieces is the box that contains all my other cherished Elizabeth Bradley needlework kits. Jill and I decided to do the four seasons and had every intention of making carpets flanked by bell pulls! So far, I've completed summer, and will pull out the spring basket and get going on it once again. Since we started, my eyes have dimmed and I have to work the dark colours only in the full light of day.

I have been known to do lots and lots of cross-stitch. I have many many little pieces that would be suitable for framing. Occasionally, I whip up a baby announcement, but only for very special people who would understand how long this particular creating takes.

That's MY kind of SEWING. I used to come home with hand embroidered Christmas tree ornaments, quilted frames with my children's pictures in them, fabric books of discovery for my little ones, and my Father would say...."but can you sew on a button?"

I'm continually inspired by those who sew.....buttons and all the other stuff. Hope you'll be inspired to take the time to sit somewhere on a sunny patio and resurrect an old project...just for the fun of it.

Creative Sewing Festival Spring 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


[photo credit:]

I attached the hoses today and the birds are happily splashing around in the clean bird baths.

I loved Nina Bagley's posting today and thought it most appropriate for both my state of mind and Earth Day.

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

- Richard LeGallienne

Nina Bagley Go on over to her blog and luxuriate in her wonderful pictures and prose. Thanks "Nina....rhymes with Carolina!" :)


Well, I'm procrastinating, but I will iron something today. It's all about the irons really, isn't it??? I would appreciate the "perfect" iron. I usually end up having to replace my own due to dropping it, and end up getting whatever Costco is selling that day.

Once I was tempted to get a supposedly "super duper" iron when I took a quilting course, but then and now the price seemed a bit daunting unless I committed to ironing in a well padded room. I now have a rather odd T-Fal...the only good thing about it is that it does shut off automatically, a feature that I totally require.

I have been known to be as far away as Kingston and having to call a neighbour to go in and see if I'd turned off the iron! I don't mind ironing, really, I don't, but I would love it if someone has what they consider the best machine for the job!

Is anyone out there HAPPY with their iron??? Consumers reports rating in order:

1. Black and Decker Digital Advantage D2030 as their "Best Buy" ($50)
2. Hamilton Beach Professional 14970
3. Rowenta Professional DM890 "Most Expensive" ($120)
4. Kenmore (Sears) KSR400
5. Conair DPP3000R
6. Euro-Pro Shark Professional G1490

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday, Monday

Before you burst into song with lyrics by the Mama's and Papa's.....there was an even older adage that came to mind today.

Monday - Wash
Tuesday - Iron
Wednesday - Sew
Thursday - Market
Friday - Clean
Saturday - Bake
Sunday - Church

This came out in the days when we actually had the time to embroider tea towels for each day of the week! Vintage Patterns

So, today I washed.

The laundry is now swinging around on my Hills Australian Clothes line. See the picture above (this is not me...but from the Hills website). By all accounts I can feel very virtuous as this is a very "green" thing to be doing. I see by the following article that I eclipsed the Premier by a good 10 years. I grew up in Ottawa with a back yard clothesline and despite a "ban" in Mississauga when we moved here, I have always clandestinely "hung out". I got this amazing drying machine at a Home Show one year and have enjoyed the fresh smell of laundry from the line ever since.
Clothesline Ban

This all seems so perfectly obvious, I'm not sure why this silly law was ever put in place. The following "ditty" is exactly as I remember it.

"The Clothesline Said So Much"
author unknown

A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.

For then you'd see the fancy sheets
And towels on the line;
You'd see the comp'ny table clothes
With intricate design.

The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.

The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You'd know how much they'd grown.

It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.

It said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.

But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.

I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!
Tomorrow: IRONING!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

John Adams

When we were in Hawaii, Dana, LJM(2) and I got watching the 7-part, t.v. mini-series John Adams. We had it taped on HBO and in Canada you can access the series on TMN or tune in Sunday evenings...the last two episodes are coming up.

At the time there were only 3 episodes available, so we just watched them over and over! I was so disappointed that I couldn't get it for two more Sunday's while I was away. It's really that good. Now that I'm home and dealing with jet lag and irregular sleep patterns, I can watch it all over again, and have finally convinced Laurence to watch. He's hooked. You can't stop at just one episode...even if you do know the eventual outcome:) So if you love good historical biographies, Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and in the one I sneaked a peek at Sarah Polley......find this.

If you can't find the movie, read the Pulitzer prize-winning book, David McCullough's "John Adams". Also of interest is a book of letters that John and his wife Abigail wrote to each other, I'm on the trail of this one as well.

Loft Dining

This hilarious restaurant trek at staggering heights came to me as an e-mail. I thought considering all my recent posts on the effect of heights on my traveling companion, that this would be enjoyed by those of you who are likewise "vertically challenged". I wonder if my son is amongst these climbers? It is SO something he would do!

Would you like a free meal at a restaurant with a view?

First take the tram up to the start of the trail.
Now follow the path.
Be sure to hold on to the ' railing '
Keep an eye on the person in front of you.Be very careful when passing someone going in the opposite direction.
Now just up a few steps. (they are on the left in the picture)Gets a little steeper here - so put your toes in the holesA few more steps to go

Finally in sight.


This restaurant is in China .
you manage to reach the restaurant, the food is free.

Let me know how the food is. I'm not going...

Thank you to the photographer of these amazing pictures.

[Hat tip: Linda H.}

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Annie Leibovitz

Our last full day in San Francisco, we decide to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the Legion of Honor museum in Lincoln Park. Little did we know that this is a gem of a facility. It was a bit like being back in Paris.
"The museum contains a representative collection of mainly European art, the largest portion of which is French. Its most distinguished collection is of sculpture by Rodin. Casts of all his most famous statues are on display, including one of The Thinker in the forecourt. However there are individual works by many other artists, including François Boucher, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, David, El Greco, Rubens, and many of the Impressionists and post-ImpressionistsDegas, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Seurat, Cézanne and others. There are also representative works by key figures such as Braque and Picasso, and works of contemporary artists" (Wikipedia)

Legion of Honor
Built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor is a beautiful Beaux Arts building located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, the Legion is noted for its breathtaking setting. Its collections include European decorative arts and paintings, ancient art, and one of country's largest and finest collections of works on paper (prints, drawings, photographs, books).
  • The Legion of Honor is a three-quarter-scale adaptation of the 18th-century Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris.
  • Constructed on a remote site known as Land's End, the Legion of Honor was completed in 1924, and on Armistice Day of that year, its doors opened to the public.
  • The museum is dedicated to the 3,600 California men who lost their lives on the battlefields of France during World War I.
  • Between March 1992 and 11 November 1995–its 71st anniversary–the Legion underwent a major renovation. The renovation included seismic strengthening, building systems upgrade, restoration of historic architectural features, and underground expansion that added 35,000 square feet
"Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous photographers alive today. She shoots for magazines, was Rolling Stone's photographer, and has made images of many of the world's most famous people".(Wikipedia)
At a dinner this week we got to talking about the recent ado of Annie's photographs of the Queen and I found both the original documentary and the BBC retraction of the alleged dispute between Annie and Queen Elizabeth.

You Tube - Monarchy Annie Leibovitz.

Portrait of the Queen by Annie Leibovitz (Leibovitz unveils Queen portrait).

You Tube BBC retraction

This was a fabulous collection, a unique way of mounting an exposition and a wonderful way to end a very emotional and satisfying trip to San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fog City Diner

Twenty some odd years ago, we went to the "Fog City Diner" in San Francisco with Neil Patterson, on the publication of Larry's first text book. It was fun then, and even more fun this time, as we were actually able to remember the name and find it! We took the "Bart" from the airport to downtown and experienced this rocking, screeching mode of subway transport and then found our way along the Embarcadero with it's many piers to the eatery at the foot of the hill we were to climb in search of the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill.

I can usually lure Larry along with the promise of food at one end or other of the process, and this was no exception. After a typical "diner" lunch....which included the tastiest chocolate milkshakes in the world, we proceeded to climb the most stairs we've seen since the Eiffel Tower, in hope of seeing feral birds, or at least a cool drink at the Coit Tower which looms over this part of the city. As I'm urging Larry further and further upward, he is less and less convinced of my insistence that one more set of stairs will surely reveal parrots. The following is a picture from the video and the man who started my obsession. There were no parrots that day. Laurence was not amused. This is my picture at what I am sure is just above the same parrots.If you have not seen this documentary, do yourself a favour and find it some time. It's so wonderful and the flock does still exist and does come back to telegraph hill, but not right when we were there "Not right now!".... I myself will be renting a copy very soon to prove to Larry that there was a really valid reason for this stair climb! The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

By the time we got to the top by the Coit Tower, with a "bird's eye" view of Alcatraz, Larry was firmly planted by a substantial concrete wall and not budging (that could be a very bad pun if you're into birds...budgies...budging...forget it). I toured the perimeter of the hill which gives you a 360 degree view of SF. There is a giant statue of Christopher Columbus, which Larry from his "perch" decried historically incorrect, it should have been Balboa. All Balboa got was a street. (My old Folk Art buddies will appreciate the 1930's art deco frescos in this building)

What goes up must come down. This is an even more hysterically funny process than the going up, AND there are corner stores that sell lemonade. The way the streets are paved and the cars parking on a terrifying slant, is a little too incredible for the likes of the vertically challenged!We had a big party to attend in the evening, so had to leave the city once again. No parrots sighted.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Okay, so I skipped a few of the scientific symposium lectures and took the "T" to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. I got back in time for the final talk, so no one was any the wiser, except for me, (but they will be now:) because this is one fabulous installation.

I was lured by another former Princeton friend to join her for the afternoon. We followed a Docent around and had a wonderful time learning about the exhibit. Catching up over lunch on the outdoor patio was amazing. The only thing missing was my girlfriend Dana, but she's here with me in spirit!

To see more:
DRAMA and DESIRE from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Along The Coast

In search of the Beach Boys once again.

In Hawaii, I decided that they, "The Beach Boys", must be Californian's and switched my allegiance to Jack Johnson, but now that I'm here, it's pretty hard not to think about surfing boys when corvette convertibles with 50+ something males at the wheel (ever notice how many jazzy convertibles are driven by small balding men?) are overtaking you on a two lane winding road from San Francisco to Monterey. Did I mention that the car we got at the rental was a RED Impala? Dana and I had a gold Impala in Hawaii, but the red really does seem to give one the edge:)

We started out at places like Half Moon Bay and wound down the coast on Route 1 heading as far as we could get before having to turn back for a dinner party in San Jose at 6 p.m. The coast here is much more rugged than Hawaii. The drops are dramatic (sorry Larry) and the surf is wild where there are huge outcroppings of rock. It was COLD. No one in THIS water. People were all wearing jackets and wrapped in blankets in a leeward spot on the shore.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in Santa Cruz and just happened to pull into a surf museum stop as well as a hangout for surfers! This is a surfer girl. A pretty unique spot, where everyone arrives with their boards in or on top of cars and descend some pretty treacherous cliffs to wait for what today were some pretty small, and for them, disappointing waves. I was in heaven. It was so CLOSE. Perfect spot for watching while listening to a local colony of sea lions perched on a rock outcropping not far away. At one point, the sea lions were hanging out with the boys waiting for waves and frolicking right along. From Santa Cruz to Monterey is not all ocean view, rather Artichoke view. Ever seen artichokes growing on big bushes? Castroville, CA Artichoke Center of the World". We will miss the Artichoke Festival May 15-17th.

Cross over to a highway North and we're on our way to San Jose. We have been invited to dinner with dear friends from Princeton days, Peggy and Ed Engler. They have been in California now for almost 30 years and have a wonderful home with their family close by.Our visit with the Englers confirmed to us how exciting it is to just connect with friends who we have not seen for over 20 years. We all decided that the values that brought us together in the first place are the same ones we hold dear today and that friendships like this are a truly comfortable fit. It's like you pick up from where you left off and there has been no gap in time.

The old stories are told once again, laughter is non-stop, just like in a family, these are the bonds that tie us and the the history that defines us. For Larry and I this trip has been one down memory lane, with so many people from 40 years ago when we started our married life. Everyone looks exactly the same and by the end of our fabulous reunions, we are all feeling like we are 20 years old again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wine Tour in the Napa Valley

Okay, it's official....I think this is becoming a grastronomic blog. At least, wining and dining across the world.

Today we set out to tour the Napa Valley. With a few hastily scribbled notes from a "Google" of "Napa Valley Wine Tours",and purchasing a map of San Francisco, we set off in the general direction. Daringly enough, we decided to cross the Golden Gate bridge, despite the possibility of protests due to the Olympic torch fiasco. Indeed, the look-out points for viewing and taking pictures of the bridge were packed with both protesters, curious on-lookers and about as many police in powerful vehicles of all description as I've ever seen in one place.

We decided to just get across and out of any disruption, and in crossing the span were immediately transported back to 1968. This is a certain sort of magic, because after all we are in San Francisco to celebrate Bruce Alberts' 70th. birthday. Bruce was Larry's PhD advisor in Princeton. We were married in 1968 and moved to the USA just as Trenton, NJ was on fire with riots. If you're old enough to remember, the USA was embroiled in the Vietnam war and upon our arrival into the "Ivy League" we were swept up in the fervor of anti-war sentiment and protest. It was almost like we were seeing the same people on that bridge today! Perhaps there were some of the same there....who knows. We honked in support...well, I honked, since I was driving, Larry was more intent on staying on the bridge, what with his newly derived fear of heights....too hilarious really. I was exclaiming and flashing the peace sign and Larry was praying that our license plate was not being photographed by undercover cops who would later arrest us for being subversive Canadians. That was a flashback to Students for a Democratic Society petitions:)

After the elation of crossing the GG Bridge, you are shortly into the real deal. The Napa Valley. Following highway 29 north, we swung off at Yountville to get some local information. (History: In the early 1800's the area that now makes up the Town of Yountville was owned by Mexico. In 1836 George C. Yount obtained a land grant from the Mexican government. The first grape vines in the valley were planted by George C. Yount in 1838). Again, par hazard as they say in France, we parked in a "Bicycle Tour" of the Napa Valley brother David would really enjoy this mode of visiting wineries. It's all quite flat in this area and the weather was a perfect 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with a light breeze and cloud/sun filled sky. One of the destinations I was originally headed for was the ,"Domaine Chandon" and the ladies in the info. centre readily agreed that this was a stellar place to taste and dine.As you can see, they specialize in "bubbly" and we had a wonderful light lunch outside on the patio. A quick tour of the property, gift shop and we're off to our next destination. "Sterling Wineries". On the way we pass "Robert Mondavi", "Beaulieu", "Louis Martini", "Beringer", "Culinary Institute of America", "Charles Krug" and end up at the top of the tour....Sterling, with a gondola ride (sorry Larry) to the best view in the valley.Sterling's architecture reflects the owners upbringing in Greece and is a totally different look to all of the other establishments. We tour the wine making facility and end up at a tasting of 4 different wines. What goes up, must come down! By now Larry is not amused at the idea of any more pictures of him at lofty heights....down we go, and back to South San Fran via way of Berkley, Oakland, and the Bay Bridge. Tomorrow will have us singing ....Do you know the Way to San Jose....????????????