Friday, September 27, 2013

Old Friends

Lynn and Mark passed through town this week en route to celebrate a friend's big birthday elsewhere.

Old friends are so comfortable, so easy to settle back in with. We took them on a drive along the northern perimeter of the city before dinner and watched the kite surfers off Chrissy Field, the dogs on Baker Beach and the view of the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point.

Dinner was at Lupa in Noe Valley. It's my favorite kind of restaurant: Roman-style food and a neighborhood joint, the kind of place Dave reminds me that we look for in our travels far and away. We ate a great meal and laughed over the contrasts between our children, aged similarly and gendered differently. Afterwards we window shopped along 24th Street and wondered about the people who dared to open a store just for pajamas or that only sells chocolate in keepsake tins.

The evening was over far too soon.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Bounty Garden

I couldn't do anything about the color of the sky Monday morning, the blue sky that turned grey and red and spread. I couldn't do anything except tell my kids that they should take the media reports with a grain of salt, that sensationalism sells. I couldn't do anything except hope that the firefighters on our mountain were staying safe and that they were saving the lives and homes of the people and animals in the fire's path, which was 3,200 acres by day's end.

What I could do was help others. I dropped the kids at school and headed for The Bounty Garden, our community's organic contribution to the Contra Costa and Solano County Food Banks. I harvested squash and weeded and composted. It felt good. And it was still cool outside, a brief respite from the temperatures over 100F for four consecutive days.

There's just something I love about The Bounty Garden. It's not the bugs and worms. It's a visual place, 24 raised beds all in some cycle of growing. It smells like dirt, clean, healthy dirt. It's cute. The log books for each bed are neatly displayed in a rack by the shed door. The sign is iron. The compost bins are well designed, with removable horizontal slats. The tools and gloves are colorful and all put in their correct locations.

Heidi and Amelia Abramson are the mother daughter duo who came up with the idea then founded The Bounty Garden while Amelia was in high school. In the summer of 2012 three members of Danville Boy Scout Troop 223 built and installed raised, irrigated vegetable beds to earn their Eagle Scout designations.

More community members wanted to participate than there were vegetable beds available. Our NCL chapter was chosen.

The Morgan fire on Mt. Diablo is out now. More than 1700 firefighters helped put it out. There were no fatalities. Dave and I are in awe of the number of people who reached out to us offering assistance in the form of trucks, strong backs, beds and food.

I wish for you to never be in the position to mentally sketch what your home will look like when you rebuild.

Neighbors who move out of our 31-home community always say that our neighborhood is special. People inside it say the same thing. I don't know any differently. All of you seem to have close friends as your neighbors. The kids and adults play well together. I think that is what I'd miss most if our home were destroyed -- the neighbors who didn't come back.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Belize

That's the paint color on Thing 1's bedroom walls now. It's pretty. Much prettier than I thought it would be when I tried to talk her into one shade less saturated.

Normal people hire painters. In my family we paint our own walls. Mostly. I inherited my love of painting from my mother.

While I'd like to tell you that Thing 1 and I painted her room together, in reality my Mom did 90% of it with her.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Monday, September 2, 2013

The All Sport Store

Nordstrom for Sporty Spice. A three-level sporting-goods store with masterfully displayed firearms, boxing gear, bowling shoes, stand-up paddle boards and camo lingerie.

Dave, The Pinks and I made it a destination while we were up at Tahoe this summer. There's one in Reno that opened in 2008 and where we could have spent the whole day, including three square meals. The store is 295,000 square feet. You enter by walking under a 16,000 gallon aquarium. In the center of the store is a 65' tall Ferris wheel. We rode it of course.

Scheels started in Minnesota in 1902 and now has 24 stores in ten states although none are in California. The Reno store is worth a trip. Dead serious. If you get bored you can always go to the Legends of Sparks Marina outlet mall next door. Does anyone know why the mall is called Marina when it's not near any significant source of water?!

While walking through every department we took our best shot at the indoor shooting range, bowled a few frames and ate fudge. The backpack display was so overwhelming that the kids had purchase paralysis. I was tempted to buy shotgun shell Christmas tree lights for our next door neighbor.

Scheels doesn't have the smell or cramped feeling of a Big 5. The departments are spacious (land is cheap in the 10 states they operate in??) and the displays well-stocked. I was fascinated with the hunting clothes department. It had your basic utilitarian wear, things people who want to kill animals would wear. And then camo baby clothes. And camo lingerie. And camo bathing suits and camo six-inch-heels suitable for who-knows-what in the wild. In case you aren't into guns you can buy bows and arrows there, either for hunting or archery. Or fishing rods and reels. Want to fish from your canoe? You're covered.

Amidst the gear were displays of the US Presidents and facts about them. This seemed a little odd to me, frankly.

A bush plane replica hangs from the ceiling. Tired? Take a nap in a hammock or cot in the camping department. There's even a Disney Princess tent if your daughter needs a rest or diversion. Attending the University of Nevada at Reno? Or just a fan? Get your Wolfpack wear here. Buy new running shoes and shorts to wear with that Wolfpack wear. Or get some Rollerblades. Or a new bike or nine.

We're going to go back during the Holiday Season. I can't wait to see how they decorate for Christmas.