Monday, January 09, 2006

So, so far behind. Here's a journal like update, before I forget what I've been doing over my (oh too short) break.

Going way back in time, to Friday the 23rd...

Fri: Andrew arrived! I'd been sprucing up the apartment for the occasion, and walked to the transit center to meet his train from the airport. His hair has grown out, and one forgets the little details of a person, so at first it was funny, like meeting for the first time all over again. We ended up taking a cab back to my place -- enjoyed showing off the newly cleaned studio. Had a quick dinner involving cornbread, and I think we watched Land of the Dead, director's cut. Lots of added eating scenes.

Sat: Beautiful sunny day. Last sunny day for about two weeks, so it was lucky that we were outside for most of it. Biked all over for groceries, and Andrew helped us find a sane way to get to Safeway (ie, not going on El Camino Real). Dinner: Sushi feast.

Sun: Christmas! We went to James's for a very nice dinner, and it began to rain. Upon our return, it was time to start Hanukkah. Unfortunately, we had no menorah, so we ended up actually making two out of baker's clay. Believe it or not. I biked over to the department for paperclips which Andrew bent and molded and embedded in the clay in order to hold the candles above. Hilarious. Worked well, until the candles began to burn down... then it smelled like burnt bread.

Mon: Cloudy day -- walked the dish, and did not see the mountain lion mentioned on all the signs. Lake Lagunita was not a lake, but a muddy puddle with a few disillusioned ducks. Festive dinner of salmon & latkes. Amazing latkes. Took some good pictures of Andrew attending to the festival of frying. Then, went out to a bar to meet up with Andrew's friends. Fun fun -- and finally put faces to names.

Tues: Wandering around in SF day. We started out in the Mission, explored used clothing stores, and had coffee at Muddy Waters (not recommended: they have a buzzer system for the restrooms, which they use rather absent mindedly. For example, they buzzed in someone else while I was in there already -- luckily I was just attempting to wash my hands. Part II of why it's not recommended: NO SOAP). Next stop, walking toward the Castro district. Called Andrew's friend for directions to No Name Sushi, and realized we were like half a block away. This place is incredible, and IS recommended. It's in a residential area, and you'd never know it was a restaurant... The inside: tile, old tables and school chairs, a bathroom that's really an unfinished hallway, and the most amazing sushi ever. Huge portions, and the bestest yet... We basically gorged ourselves. I went from feeling damp and sickly to warm and well fed in about five minutes. Wandered back toward Caltrain, home late.

Weds: All I wrote down for this day was that we made pasta. Real descriptive, right? I think the weather started out bad, but improved. Strangely better than Tues's SF drizzle, despite conflicting weather reports. I think we biked onto campus and rented a movie -- Drop Dead Gorgeous on Andrew's friend's recommendation. Hilarious. Thought it would be pure mindless entertainment, but lots of interesting stuff going on with class & the American dream...

Thurs: Another city day! We headed in around noon, and did some of the more touristy stuff... visiting the ferry building, walking along the wharf and seeing sea lions from afar, visiting Ghiradelli (ridiculously overpriced, but free samples), getting Belgian fries, walking up the steep hills & down Lombard St., taking the bus toward the museum... The SFMoma is awesome, btw. We went for the half price evening -- visited the special exhibits: Chuck Close, art banned by the Nazis, & some trippy videos (one involving naked people in a box, the other capturing the view from a barrel rolling down a busy NYC street). Got back to Palo Alto late, and hungry. Did the Cheesecake Factory thing: ate half our dinners, got cheesecake to go. Yums.

Fri: Picked up the rental car! Yay, mobility! Ran some errands (ahh I love Ikea), and got back in time for Jill's pizza party. Best pizza.

Sat: Weather had been bad -- food shopped, and then had a beautiful drive to Half Moon Bay. Foggy, drizzly, with lovely forest smells. Got back in time for Andrew to treat me to his homemade green curry, and then prepared for our mojito preparty. Took longer to make them than expected, but Andrew made a good bartender. Then we headed off to Gavin's New Year's Eve bash. Great night: tequila shots w/ our professor (Andrew was the only one to go back for a second round), Krispy Kreams at midnight, the champagne countdown, etc... Bowed out around 1 am -- the kids running about had more energy than I did...

Sun: New Year's day brunch in Berkeley w/ Andrew's cousins. Lots and lots of rain and wind. Got home & I made chili. Last day of Hanukkah -- I was finally starting to remember bits of the prayers. I loved that we did the entire 8 days of gifts, such fun.

Mon: Horrid weather, again. In case you didn't hear about our wretched weather, it rained for about a week straight. Thought we were going in for the whole 40 days and 40 nights. The news stations had many a field day, warning us of the dangers of standing water, and reporting live from mudslides and floods. Ridiculous. Interrupted every TV show we watched, including one special featuring washed up figure skating stars doing their thing to Kenny Rogers. Anyway, so we had trouble finding stuff to do that didn't involve enjoying the out of doors at all.

So we found ourselves again in Berkeley... did some used clothes shopping, made a Scharffenberger chocolate factory tour, and explored the downtown areas. This chocolate is freaking amazing. It's not candy-chocolate like Hershey's, but real, straight up cacao w/ coco butter & sugar and vanilla and some emulsifier. Even their milk chocolate technically is dark chocolate due to cacao percentages. They let us try their various types -- bittersweet was my favorite, then semi sweet, and milk chocolate. After the explanations & tastings, we saw the resting machinery. Then they let us try the 99% cacao: whoa. And the mocha. Apparently you should always go from highest cacao percentage to least when sampling. Andrew bought a great t-shirt that says "extra bitter."

After, took Andrew's cousins' dinner recommendation: a Thai place (great building: includes a greenhouse turned seating area) in the Gourment Ghetto. Good curry... Then digested while exploring a huge bookstore.

Tues: Another crappy weather day. Solution: more factory tours. Headed up toward Fairfield. Did the Budweiser tour first. Ridiculous propaganda disguised as informative videos. Lots of patriotic imagery -- eagles, stars and stripes, etc. Let's just put it this way: the TVs were embedded in larger-than-people plastic beer cans. Did give lots of free samples: two full beers. I tried their more experimental types, involving fruit flavorings like grapefruit, lime/cactus, and raspberry. They can fill 2000 bottles a minute in this factory, and we learned that their aging area (monstrous barrels of beer, I think we figured they hold like 70 million bottles of beer? Try using those figures in the 99 bottles song...) is actually the safest place during an earthquake. Gotta protect that yicky beer.

The highlight, though, was going to the Jelly Belly factory. Had a tour guide who was clearly channeling Johnny Depp. Didn't really answer questions, and ended every sentence with a squeaky "OK?" But, we did get to wear cool Jelly Belly hats. We could smell the Juicy Pear flavoring as soon as we hit the walkway (they have walkways conveniently located above the factory -- bird's eye view of bean making). The tour guide, who has clearly never lived near a pear orchard, squeaked: "Just like a pear orchard!" Bizarre place, with portraits of Ronald Reagan & Elvis made out of jelly bellies, dancing machines, and a jelly belly "bar" where you can order a banana split or even garlic bread. Bought "Belly Flops" (beans not quite perfect or fused together) for reduced price, had samples, took pictures... Couldn't eat any jelly beans for about 3 days, due to inhaling so many flavoring fumes.

After, bought some real food at the Berkeley Bowl.

Weds: Big day. Drove out to Muir Woods, along many twisty but pretty roads. Went across the Golden Gate Bridge. Took a damp but beautiful hike among the redwoods. Kept driving along roads with a view, until we finally got toward Point Reyes. Didn't know where to go from there, ended up at a lookout point (after driving through some truly stinky dairy farms) at a lighthouse. Above the ocean waves, watched the sun set behind a hill with deer grazing on it, made into silhouettes. Took some funny pictures. On the way back, saw the entire herd of deer grazing. Some stepped out in front of us. We caught another on film while engaged in the act of peeing (the deer, not us). On the way back, saw a buck set against the sunset. Got back really late -- luckily Andrew had made pesto that morning.

Thurs: Last big trip with the car. We drove out to Santa Cruz, visited Natural Bridges Park, followed the monarch's migration to the Lighthouse Beach Park, and saw an estimated 17,000 monarchs fluttering about the eucalyptus trees. Gorgeous. Lots of pictures taken. Then we crossed the street and watched the huge waves and surfers. Explored the downtown, splashed about on the beach, and walked along the wharf to watch the perfect sunset. Tried to take pictures of the alternatingly napping and barking sea lions that hang out on the wooden beams under the wharf. Walked back after the best of the sunset colors had begun to fade, and hurried to dinner (and warmth! I already think it's cold here, even though it's like a pleasant springtime according to New England standards). Went to a natural and largely organic place for dinner, Dharma's. Pretty good, though I don't think we got their specialties.

Fri: Early morning errands, dropped the car off, and joined half my cohort in a bike ride that ended at the veggie stand that's (unfortunately) closed for the winter. Went back home for a nap, War of the Worlds, pad thai, and, later, cake making.

Sat: Another day in SF: We ment up with Andrew's cousins for Dim Sum at Yank Sing (hope I'm getting the name right) down at Rincon Plaza... delicious. Then explored Hayes Valley (shops were too hip for me -- and too pricey), and a furniture place in the Mission that Andrew & I previously walked right by (remembered because Andrew commented on a lamp). So this furniture place was ridiculous. All 70's feeling furniture. Some of it rather ugly. Like stuff that's hopelessly tasteless in your great aunt's house, but somehow is cool if paired with hip things in your own place. Some of it was clearly beyond help -- like this orange lamp. Ok. The base was almost as tall as me, and seemed to have been shaped out of clay by a five year old. Then, the five year old's younger sibling finger painted it bright orange and brown, and the monstrosity was born. Most of the stuff cost about 10 times what it originally went for. And much of it could be found for under $50 at a local yardsale. Despite this, some cool finds, if you know how to decorate.

After, we just missed our train (damn huge hills in that city), so we took a later one. Biked to Jessica's for a lovely dinner, and then finally fell exhausted into bed.

Sun: Ahh wow, we're up to today! We woke up at a decent hour, and biked to Hobee's for brunch with the studio gang. Amazing smoothies & coffeecake. Then back here for a nap, a visit to the bookstore & the English dept, and some renegade citrus picking. Romantic candlelit dinner (pizza and salad w/ my splurge item, organic red wine). Took a shower early -- watched DH -- recaps of Grey's Anatomy -- original 50's Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- and now... time for bed.

But before that: The best quote of the evening:
I was peeling a very ripe mango while sitting on the couch, and I wanted Andrew to throw out the inedible stem part for me. So I thought it would be a bright idea to toss it to him, as he was standing at the sink (remember, I live in a studio, so the sink and the couch, not so far away from one another). Anyway, I threw it, and it ended up going about a foot and a half, landing squarely on my tote bag (which was sitting at the foot of the couch). Andrew said: "You have like negative athletic ability." So true, so true.

And now, for bed!

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