Friday, April 30, 2010

Heading back to Canada

We're in the midst of our trip back home.  I like being on the road and, in many ways, wish we had more time so we could stop and take side trips.  But I miss my cat, my friends, my wardrobe, and my bed (not necessarily in that order), and I have to start teaching a summer course the day after I return (oh yeah, totally prepping on the road, right), so we're making our way back east.
   Who knew Washington state had this whole desert side to it (rhetorical question)?
(That's the mighty Columbia river.  Gorgeous shade of blue).
(Those are fake horses on a hilltop.  Yeah, really.)
   And then we passed through Idaho and headed into Montana...
    And as you might've seen from my earlier post about the weather, it stayed that way for awhile, and to top it off, the blower for the defrost (and heat) didn't work.  This is where I say "Thanks!" to our friends at Eccles Auto Service in Dundas, Ontario.  We've called them a couple of times about issues with our car and they've been a great help.  Sure, they probably think we're crazy, but that's okay.
    What I didn't have yesterday were these great photos from Liss that showed what Montana and North Dakota looked like after we got out from under the ass weather (totally a meteorological term).
    North Dakota:

   Haven't heard much about food?  Well, it's been a bit of the regular sub-par road food (Denny's was exciting yesterday).  For dinner, I made us go to Bonanza because I used to go there when I was a kid.  Liss was wearing a Carhartt vest and a bright orange knit cap (she'd been cold) that's been kicking around the floor of the car.  I was wearing camo Army pants I got from my dad (a new go-to item in my wardrobe - I'm serious) with a Patagonia hoody.  The manager, making the rounds and checking on everyone's satisfaction, stops by our table and says, "You ladies doing some hunting?"  Yes, that's what's become of my fashion sense on the road.

Cherry on top

This road trip has allowed us, and particularly me, to see family and friends, and the cherry on top of this trip has been my visit with one of my very best friends, Sereatha.  Sereatha knows me almost better than anyone and it had been six years since I'd seen her.  Since that time, she's gotten married and had two children.
    It seems that time and distance (and changing family demographics) don't affect our friendship.  We spoke with the same intimacy we shared when we lived together in San Francisco, way back when Ian was two years old, and I'm happy to accept the pain that our inevitable separation brings with it because it acknowledges that bond.  All my life I've made friends and then found a way to let them go because one or another of us moved away, and it was too difficult to maintain the connection (often we were too young to even try).  I'm tired of that defence mechanism, and I really want to keep the people I love in close contact with me.  It's worth the effort.   
   We spent two nights with her and her sweet, sweet family (shout out to Samuel, Savannah, and Secily!).  Here are some of the highlights with minimal narrative.
   Pike Place Market -
(Sanitary Public Market!  Love it!)
    Sereatha and me with a very friendly vendor.
    Again, look at the produce!  (It's becoming a fetish.)

Volunteer Park Conservatory:
    I loved the colours on this hydrangea, so not what one expects from this plant.
    Another hydrangea variation.
    There were lots of cactuses...
 and cool plants.
(That's water caught in its center.)

   And then, it was time to hit the road again with lots of promises to see each other before another six years passes.  It seems that this trip has also highlighted my desire to stay in touch - letters, e-mails, and visits.  I like the visits best.


I want to say congratulations to my friend Celine on the birth of her baby and to take this opportunity to share this great video, Pregnant Women are Smug, that Ian showed us.

Oh, yeah - that whole rain thing

The next day, driving from Coos Bay, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, we were reminded of Seattle's reputation for rain and realized that it probably extended along the whole northwest seaboard.

On Carla's (from 1078 Gallery) suggestion, I'd wanted to stop by Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon. Unfortunately, construction and the poor weather deterred us.  Next time.
    She'd also suggested we stop at Local Ocean Seafoods for lunch.  The food was fresh, sustainable, and excellent.  Here are some of Liss' arty  food shots.
    Inside was all warm, cozy, and tasty.  Outside, it wasn't so nice, but it was still scenic.

Coastal trippin'

Driving up Highway 101 was amazing.  Here are a few quick shots.
   A scenic view in California...

    A scenic view of Liss taking in the scenic view.
    Here's the Trinidad story that goes along with my earlier rumination about "country" living.  We stopped at this totally hippy joint in Trinidad, California (a tiny little coastal town), and I was in love.  My feeling is that I'd be happy to live outside the city if I weren't the only freak in town.  In this case, my not-so-secret hippy leanings could be nourished.  Don't I look at home here?
Mmmmm, cheese!

There's also nothing as stunning as coming out of the redwoods and seeing the ocean, as happened when we were in Oregon.  I love the huge waves and the endlessness of it all.  Pacific, Atlantic, I'll take either.

That's ocean mist obscuring the cliff.
   And this is a weird root I thought was cool.
Doesn't it look like it'd just get up and walk away when you turned your back?

Travel Update

This is what we drove in for the first part of our day:

We decided to persevere. Montana was pretty ugly for a long stretch, but then, the snow ended, the rain ended, and there were blue skies. Suddenly Montana was beautiful and North Dakota even more so.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick Interruption

Not particularly looking forward to today's drive as there is a winter storm watch here.  It looks like we'll be either changing our route or stopping earlier than anticipated.  Awesome, snow in April and we're not even in Canada. (Note:  we're in Montana today and had planned on getting into North Dakota.  I'm behind in posts, but I'm hoping to catch up tonight.)

Chico-licious! (or Chico & the Man)

From Alameda we went to Chico where Liss had a retrospective at 1078 Gallery.  (Here's an article written about her for the show.) This is what I have to say about Chico - it was great.  Really.  The people at the gallery were great, (Carla Resnick, holder of 4 positions at the gallery, and I bonded over beer and compost - check out her blog at, we were invited to brunch by members of the local lesbian community, and it's the home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  Do I sound like I'm easy to please?  It just sounds that way - don't be fooled.
   Before her screening, Liss and I had time to kill, and we sat in the park where Liss asked me whether I could rock a small town.  This is one of the tensions I often go back to - the proverbial city mouse/country mouse thing.  As someone who has moved a lot, I like to think I could find my way in almost any locale, and I often fantasize about living in the country.  However, there are often things outside one's control - oh, like homophobia.  Nevertheless, some thought I wouldn't be happy outside of New York (okay, I was one of those people), but I'm finding my place in Hamilton.  I'm not saying I want to move to Chico, but there are some things that appeal to me in a smaller locale (we'll get more on this in my post about Trinidad, California).
    The other thing that became apparent in Chico is my inability or reluctance to speak about my own work.  I functioned more as Liss' partner (or arm candy, as I like to imagine) than as a writer and artist in my own right.  This is partly my fault because if you don't ask me, I won't tell you.  I need to work on this.
   We only have one photo from our trip, and it's from the 24-hour restaurant next to our hotel in Oroville (no room in Chico because the Wildflower Ride was that weekend).  This sign is awesome.  It was totally hand-done.  You just don't see that kind of work anymore.  Check out the juicy drumstick!

   Liss and I are going to put in a proposal (as Shake-n-Make) for 1078 Gallery.  Hopefully that'll mean we'll be back in Chico sometime in the near future.

Bay Area Wrap-Up

I know, I know - it's been days since I was there, but it's not like I can update my blog from our car.  Here are some final shots from Alameda.

We traveled back to the naval base where we went to St. George Spirits, and I did the tasting (some 15 different vodkas and spirits - whoo hoo!).  St. George was one of the first distilleries to produce absinthe after it became legal again, and yes, I sampled it.
(Note - I had to tell my nondrinking companions that nothing's more annoying than nondrinkers saying the drinker is drunk.  I happen to have a rather high tolerance although this photo does actually make me look drunk.)

We took a walk in Merritt Park in Oakland, where Ian and I practiced possible 70s album cover shots.

Here's the boy after our goodbye breakfast.  We'll definitely be back in the area soon.

Monday, April 26, 2010


There's much to catch up on, but I'm waiting for additional photos from Liss.  We're in Oregon right now, making our way up to Seattle.
    Here's something I've noticed with this blog - right now it seems like it's the kind of person that people are friends with but don't want others to know they're friends with.  You know, like when you hang out with a certain friend only in places where no one else will run into you (there's a Sex in the City episode that corresponds with this) because, well...we've all had our reasons.
   Anyway, I say this because my friends (yes, I have friends) send me private e-mail comments about the blog.  It's kind of like "I didn't want to say this in public but have a good time or sounds like fun or nice outfit or yummy chicken or whatever."  Sure, it's nice to hear that later, but at the moment when I share something, it kind of feels like I'm talking aloud to myself (which I already do enough of, thank you very much).
    You know, you can post anonymously.  No one has to know you're my friend or a reader.  It's like wearing a big hat and sunglasses.  I'm just saying.  But you can still send me an e-mail if that's more your style.  We can be "special" friends.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

San Francisco Day

Yesterday we went into San Francisco.  I had a specific agenda: to go to Omnivore Books and to hit Community Thrift, where I had scored an amazing coat (Liberty of London coral/pink herringbone one-of-a-kind) on a visit years ago.
   Omnivore Books was great.  I finally found the book Liss had kept me from buying in Provincetown years ago (When French Women Cook).  I also bought a book of grocery lists found around the world.  More on that later.  Liss also picked up a few books.  We were amazingly restrained.  It was really excited to see a cocktail book I'd picked up at the Army thrift store at Fort Myers was "scarce" and going for $150.  I probably paid $1. 
   While I didn't find anything thrifting, it was a great walk (from Cesar Chavez & Church over to Valencia from 25th down to 16th).  I finally got to stop by the Curiosity Shoppe, retail relative of the blog Smarts & Crafts.  They had a great show of custom-made/art bird houses.  We also stopped at Paxton Gate, where I was sorely tempted by a real hourglass.  It's now on my list of desired objects.
   A beautiful day for a walk.

The phenomenal Women's Building -

 And on the theme of women - I got into the Nike Women's Marathon (random lottery drawing) here in San Francisco in October.  Yay! (Yes, I've been managing to sneak in a few runs here and there on this  trip.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bay Area Visit

Coming to see Ian in the Bay Area was the primary reason for this road trip. Everything up to now has been a bonus of travel.

The last couple of days have been really nice.  I can lounge around our friends' house in my pajamas until we embark on our plans for the day, and the plans may not be that elaborate.  On our first day, we tooled around Alameda, where we're staying.  Being on the water and near Oakland, a major shipping port, you get to experience the beauty of industry.

We went to the decommissioned naval base that now houses a couple of wineries, a vodka distillery, movie studios, and so forth.  For me, the base really resonates because although my father was in the Army, there's an immediate sense of familiarity and even "home" in these spaces.  I didn't take a lot of photos of the buildings (I loved the ghost town feel of it) but did manage to snap this one.

One of the reasons we went is because Don, one of our hosts, wanted to check out some wood flooring at the woodworking collective also housed on the base.  As you'll see, one of the things I'm also responding to is old signs as well as text.  Like this return to Kalamazoo (one of the woodworking machines) -

In this one, I like not only the obvious vintage aspect of it, but the fact that they use an adverb correctly.  Go grammar!

Yesterday we spent the day with Ian.  You know how when you visit family, there's often that sense of "Okay, what are we going to do today?," which some might translate to "Do we actually have to interact?"? (Note: while I think the punctuation in the previous sentence is correct, it looks a little weird.)  Well, we like just hanging out with the boy, and I decided one of the best things I could do as a mom was to make sure he had the food that reminds him of us.  So we actually just hung out at Ian's place, made meals to freeze (lasagne, tuna noodle casserole (Liss' speciality), and vegan chili (to include Ian's roommate), and played video games.  Yes, sometimes we like to chill out like we're 23.

   Shopping for groceries at the Berkeley Bowl threw me into a desperate fit of jealousy.  Look at these vegetables!
I mean, c'mon - this is standard fare for California.  Even looking at this photo I'm getting jealous.

Ian lives in Oakland and not too far from his apartment I found these great signs.
Quite honestly, I'd be happy to retire right now.  Why not hang out with the people you love and enjoy each day on its own merits?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Napa - Day 3

After we saw my parents off, the four of us checked out a couple of shops in downtown Napa and had a little lunch.  (Please note, these photos are from the fabulously talented Liss.  Another note - it's kind of hard to share the blog with Liss for the trip because she's all over me to update it.  Yo!  It's my vacation, too.)
Ian and Heather in Napa.
A great and prolific growth mushrooms growing around a tree in Napa.

Heather headed home and Ian, Liss, and I went to the Hess Collection for another wine tasting.  The Hess Collection has one of the five top private collections of contemporary and modern art.  I was really psyched to see a couple of Francis Bacon paintings.  He's one of my favourites.  The wine was also very good, and yes, I bought a few bottles (one for me, one for Ian, and one for our hosts in Alameda).
    Here I am looking like I know what I'm doing.
 While Ian and I are interested in wine, Liss is interested in the scenery.
After we finished up at the Hess Collection we headed to ad hoc in Yountville for dinner.!  It was by far the best fried chicken I've ever had.  Everything was served family style at the table (prixe fixe - one set menu).

    Dinner consisted of a local salad featuring enoki mushrooms; buttermilk fried chicken, wild rice with bacon (bacon!), and sweet corn on the cob; a cheese course (Dante cheese from Wisconsin); and then dessert - sourdough waffle sundaes.
    Documentation of our enjoyment courtesy of Liss.

There's no shame in licking your fingers!