Monday, September 29, 2008
We finally convinced the ever-fabulous Jean Tuttle to come to San Francisco for a visit. We took her to some of our favorite spots, including a day trip up to Pt. Reyes where we dined in the fog at Tony's after a sunny day at Limantour Beach.
The highlight of the weekend was a dinner party for the local friends of Jean. The guests were: Tom and Linda Davick, Bill Russell, Janet Cleland, Jean, Ray Wenzel and Jim Grove.
Steve took this photo of the harvest table setting that Jean & I put together using gourds and pumpkins we got at a pumpkin patch/straw maze down around Half Moon Bay.
Ms. Esther was on duty to greet the guests and, acting as coat check girl, keep close track of everyone's belongings during the party. She took a bit of a fancy to Linda's green jacket.
Speaking of harvest, I've been Googling and trying to figure out how and when to harvest the sunflower seeds I grew. This morning when I got up, there was a marauding gang of 4 squirrels demonstrating the proper technique for me.
Steve was on vacation last week. We decided to take a little road trip down to visit Jack in Santa Cruz. We're off to an inauspicious start here after a "quick" stop at Lowe's to return a broken light fixture. Steve said he was "only going to be a minute" so I stayed in the car. It was hot, so I rolled down the window and had the radio and the fan on. I guess it was more than "a minute," because when Steve got back to the car, it would not start. We had to call a tow truck guy to come and jump the battery. Then we spent another half hour or so in the mis-named Die-Hard Express Battery Service Line. The battery tested "better than new" so we were off, this time for real.
After a gorgeous leisurely drive down Highway One, we stopped at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The rides were closed and it was pretty deserted, but it was a nice opportunity for Steve to try out his new camera.
This is about as close as I like to get to the Giant Dipper. Steve has been on it.
I guess the healthy eating trend has yet to hit the Boardwalk.
There is some very cool signage on the Boardwalk:
My favorite ride is the old carousel. After snapping a bunch of shots, we noticed that workers were starting to open the rides and test them. We found out they were having a special evening for the new UC Santa Cruz students. They opened up the carousel building and we were able to get some interior pictures. I love the old Wurlitzer. It features a painting of the old Cliff House in San Francisco at the top.
The carousel is quite pretty, with a lot of vintage details.
There is one place where you can grab a ring and try to toss it in this clown's mouth.
Although we did not get a chance to go on any of the rides, we enjoyed our visit.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We went to a restaurant downtown called Ducca for our anniversary dinner last night. The waiter took our picture with our Bellinis and appetizers. The arancini were delicious. The prawns were all presentation and had a weird disintegrating texture. Ducca is an Italian restaurant with a Venetian theme. We thought it was a fitting venue for our 30th, since 10 years ago on our 20th, we took a trip to Venice.
The staff was very attentive. Even the pastry chef got in on the action, writing a nice greeting on our dessert plate. This was a lovely dessert, almond crostada with blueberries on top and a little scoop of gelato on the side.
Before leaving, we had our photo taken in front of one of the large screens in the restaurant. One of the paintings is a portrait of the Doge and this other one is his wife. The Doge was the chief magistrate of Venice.
Aside from the prawns, it was a great dinner and a nice celebration.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We were a coupla crazy kids. It was in his mother's backyard. I had flowers in my hair. We were extremely happy (and so young.) In some ways it does "seem like only yesterday," and in other ways it does seem like a long long time ago. A lot of water under the bridge.
Thirty years has taught me to go pick out my own flowers. I got these peachy keen ones at the local florist shop. The florist told me that he had a woman in his shop the other day picking out flowers for her 70th anniversary. I really can't imagine that one.
83 in Cat Years...
I can't believe our "baby" is 17! She looks so tiny in the first photo where she is all curled up. She looks small because she has lost a lot of weight. She sort of stopped eating. I took her in to the vets and they did some tests and figured out that she has cancer. (This has been one of those "for worse..." parts.) We got her on some meds and she's perked up quite a bit and her appetite is back. We'll be able to buy her some time, but who knows how long? This afternoon she was in the backyard trying to hunt down varmints in the tall grass. We are grateful for the reprieve.
We postponed our anniversary trip to Santa Fe. So we're celebrating at home, still in the backyard.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I was driving out by Ocean Beach on Tuesday, on my way to meet a couple of artist friends for lunch. I noticed a band of Indians in full battle dress lined up all along the shore. Whoa!
Not really...it's "art." This guy, Thom Ross, made a bunch of paintings of Indians from the Buffalo Bill show of 1902 and they are installed at Ocean Beach until September 14. Here's the artist in full Western regalia being interviewed on camera.
I took a bunch of photos of the paintings. It was so unusual.
There was a photo taken in September, 1902 of the whole Wild West troupe on Ocean Beach, which inspired Thom to make these paintings. Here's Buffalo Bill in the center.
On close view, the paintings are somewhat loose and stylized.
The studs on their costumes are actually thumbtacks. The artist must have painted some of the costume "beading" with paint squeezed out of fine-pointed tubes.
They had some riders on real horses galloping along in front of the wooden Indians. I think it was for the documentary they were making.
People were walking up and checking out the Indians. They even had one you could climb up behind and it had a cutout for the face, so you could have your picture taken.
You can see Seal Rocks behind them and some cargo ships on their way back and forth from China.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Saturday we joined a group for a bus trip, part of Slow Food Nation, called "Gems of Marin." Our first stop was Allstar Organics in Nicasio. Farmer Marty Jacobsen (pictured above) and his wife Janet Brown grow numerous varieties of heirloom tomatoes, squashes, basil, melons and all sorts of unique crops.
These are tomatillos and various squashes:
Marty's wife grows antique perfume roses and distills the petals into rose water. She also whips up batches of different flavored salts and sugars. I bought some spearmint sugar and rosemary salt. I don't really know what I'm going to do with them, but they are the sort of thing I can't resist. They sell them at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. The blends contain both pulverized herbs and herb oils, so they are extra intense.
Marty is quite a character. Our tour guide told us he was from Wisconsin, so someone asked him if he grew up on a farm. He said, "Heck no, I'm a JEW from Chicago!" He told us he had spent most of his working life as a Creative Director for different ad agencies around the country, the last one being Hal Riney in San Francisco. At our guide's suggestion, Marty led the group as we traipsed through his fields.
Then it was back on the bus to our next stop, McEvoy Ranch. Here's our first glimpse of it from the road.
This gorgeous ranch covers 550 acres of rolling hills outside of Petaluma. The owner, Nan McEvoy, is an heiress. Her family founded the deYoung Museum in San Francisco and owned the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. (Hint: she's got a few bucks...) I have been wanting to check this place out for a long time. It's not generally open to the public.
The ranch is entirely fenced in to protect the olive trees from marauding deer. We did see 3 jackrabbits hopping about. They rent sheep to keep the weeds down. One of the companies that rents them has the cute name, Wooly Weeders.
The place is very tastefully put together. The tasting room features an original Wayne Thiebaud painting of a display of cakes. A guy who I noticed sketching during the trip and I were standing in front of it, slack-jawed. They even have an original Diebenkorn in the bathroom, fer gawdsakes. (Ok, I'll give in and move in here with you, Nan, but only if you insist. Yes, I could be your artist-in-residence. Twist my arm.)
They took us around the olive orchard and taught us all we wanted to know about growing Italian olives for Tuscan-style olive oil. They also grow a lot of lavender, which is the low mounding plant in the above photo. I bought some fragrant lavender olive oil soap. Our tour guide demonstrated the tool they use for harvesting the olives.
It was hot in the noonday sun, so we were glad to go inside to tour the pressing room. They have machinery imported from Italy to grind the olives to a paste before extracting the oil. The grindstones are huge and made of granite.
After tasting a couple of oils, we had our lunch at some tables under umbrellas. The lunch was catered by Della Fattoria. I was the last one seated, and had to sit in the sun. I've been dreaming about how fabulous this lunch was going to be, and I was sorely disappointed. It was a small green salad with a few tiny croutons, a few cherry tomatoes and about 3 slices of cucumber. The salad was fine, but (HELLO!) Della Fattoria is known for their bread, and all's we got was a few crummy croutons. They gave us water and a chocolate chip cookie too, but everyone left unsatisfied.
Back on the bus, we continued on to our next destination: Stubbs Family Vineyard in Petaluma. It's a very small winery which produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some Merlot. The owners built the buildings themselves, and the architecture and decor are very eclectic. They have a lot of interesting wood carvings.
After tasting wine and poking around the grounds, it was time for our trip back. During the bus ride, we learned all about Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) and how they have managed to keep open space and keep working farms in Marin. Thanks to the foresight of a group of conservation-minded folks, we can drive a very short distance from San Francisco and find ourselves in a landscape of beautiful rolling hills and family-owned farms. The areas shown in green below are farmland.
Thank you, MALT!