San Francisco, July 2018 - - Day Four, 7/16/18
Howard and I thought we’d go to the cute diner down the street from Arizmendi, ironically called Howard’s Cafe. But they were closed! So instead we went to another beloved place down the street, Crepevine, a place known for their crepes. I had a blueberry and strawberry crepe, served with ice cream AND whipped cream. Because why should I have to choose? Howard had a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. We were both very happy.
We walked to the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, where we were meeting two friends and customers of Howard’s, Emily and her son Arthur. Arthur is five and is a pianist and composer. The garden was in the last day of their piano festival, they had about fifteen pianos scattered around the gardens, available for people to play. Arthur played probably eight or nine different pianos, improvised something on the spot at each one. My favorite piece was the first one, it had a strong whiff of Debussy and some surprising harmonies. Everything he played was impressive. Best of all, his mother encouraged him but didn’t pressure him. I’m very curious to see what Arthur is up to in five or ten years.
I love the schwung of Emily's hair in these pictures:
Our other date for our trip to the park was Howard’s friend Jen, without a doubt my favorite person I met on this trip. She was such a darling - - she’s an artist, specializing in textile design, development, and printing. Her new book is *Print, Pattern, Sew: Block-Printing Basics + Simple Sewing Projects for an Inspired Wardrobe,* a wonderful book, so beautifully put together, user-friendly, extraordinary. It was fun going through the garden with her, she knew many of the flowers and uses them in her work. She pointed out these lovely fried egg flowers:
And who did we run into but Sue and Llu! What a hoot to see them again. Here’s a cute pic of me and Sue:
Howard and I went to lunch at a place his friend John had recommended - - John is a cutie pie who works at Green Apple Books down the street from the bakery. He and his partner are moving to Nashville and Howard asked what places he's going to miss. He instantly said Burma Superstar and their tea leaf salad, so that was a must for this visit. The Thai iced tea was of course delish and the tea leaf salad, oh good LORD, it was incredible. I thought it would be a salad where the greens were mixed in with tea leaves, but that not at all what it was. That would actually probably be really gross. This was your typical salad and tossed in with the greens, the veggies, the nuts etc was a small bowl of fermented tea leaves. So fantastic. We also got the pumpkin pork stew, which was fantastic.
Jen invited us over to her place for some peach cobbler, so how could we pass that up? It was such a treat spending more time with her, getting to know her, seeing her work and her work space. And the cobbler was fantastic. Oh, and I played the accordion!
I don't believe I'd ever worn an accordion before, and since Jen happened to have one in her living room, naturally I had to try it on. That is one tricky contraption. I had a hard time getting it to play something I wanted to hear, it was a mess of buttons and keys. It gave me an even greater appreciation for Dick Contino (my tribute to Dick Contino is included as a bonus feature below).
As if Jen herself isn't cute enough, she has an impossibly cute dog named Gus, short for Caesar Augstus. But she usually calls him Goose. He's very sweet. I like how in the second photo you can see me photo-bombing in the mirror in the bathroom:
Then it was time to meet up with Paul and Annie and the boys. Paul Stoller and I became friends at UW Madison sometime around 1989 or 1990 when he was dating Lara Venard - - she and I sang in Concert Choir. Yes, in my world all roads lead to Concert Choir. He and I stayed in touch and became very good friends indeed sometime in the late 90s. I visited him in New Haven when he was in grad school, he was my date for my ten-year high school class reunion (THAT is a story), I visited him in London, he visited me in Madison quite a few times.
Here's a timeline of his relationship with his extraordinary wife, Annie Tennant:
Dec 2007: They met in Sydney on New Year's Eve. Paul was living in New York, Annie was living in Sydney.
Feb 2008: They had their second date in Japan.
April 2008: I met Annie for the first time, in NYC.
May 2008: They got engaged in Hawaii.
Sept 2008: Annie moved to NYC.
March 2009: They were married in Sydney.
June 2009: They had a party in Madison to celebrate their wedding.
June 2010: Their son Anders was born.
Sept 2012: Their son Sebastian was born.
Sept 2013: They moved to Sydney.
Jan 2016: Richard and I went to visit them in Sydney.
They've been to visit New York a few times since they moved to Sydney in 2013, and of course we get together every time. I knew I had to make a special trip to SF when they told me they were planning a trip there. I told Annie that I was happy to go a quarter of the way around the world to see them, rather than halfway around the world. She advised me to check my math: I went a THIRD of the way around the world, they went TWO THIRDS. Gotta love the straight shooter quality of the Aussies!
They were staying in the fabulous apartment of a friend who was out of town. Howard dropped me off, we all hung out for a bit. Paul's sister Laura had made the trip from Wisconsin, but sadly had a migraine that night, so Howard didn't get to see her.
Annie took some pictures of us using Paul's brand new iPhone. It has special enhanced software to make you look dewy and gorgeous!
Am I right?
We ordered Mexican food from a place down the street and Paul and I went down to pick it up, it was a treat to get some one on one time with him. We brought it back to the apartment and it was a whole hilarious process getting the boys to the table and setting up the food. The boys are now six and eight and they are adorable and shall I say lively.
Delicious. You can tell that I took these pictures with my dumn old iPhone because they don't look dewy or gorgeous. Annie took these dewy and gorgeous photos of me and Paul after dinner.
This was the Fabulous Friday feature on 4/27/18:
I have a thing for the New York Times obits. I used to read them every day, but I guess I've found more useful ways to use my time. My favorite thing is reading the obit of someone I've never heard of, and then I get turned onto that (dead) person. That happened a few years ago with Dick Contino, an "accordion heartthrob" of the 1950s (that's the NY Times term).
His recording of "Lady of Spain" is nothing short of hair-raising! It's only 2:39, so I urge you to listen to the whole thing, but please allow me to point out a few highlights.
0:15 - - The whole intro is hilarious, but the finale to the intro is totally nutso.
0:52 - - He does some dazzling work in the bridge. I'm sure those fingers were flying.
1:14 - - There's a flourish here that KILLS ME.
1:38 - - I like that they give him a chance to catch his breath at the key change. Maybe just three seconds.
1:45 - - Something about the rhythms here gives me vertigo.
1:53 - - Another key change, back to the original key! I never heard of such a thing.
2:07 - - The grand finale, which goes on and on, a la Tchaikovsky!
That grand finale really knocks me out. At 30 seconds, it's nearly 20% of the length of the whole damn recording!