Friday, May 31, 2013


All this sunshine! Do people tire of it? My mom, raised in the northeast and Poland, could never tire of it. The draw here is the weather, that's for sure.

But let me give a plug to the Midwest: the lushness, the dense green foliage, the richness of the daffodils, the lilacs in spring -- these cannot be had in a climate with so little rain!

And yet -- ah, that sunshine!

I'm leaving it today to return to storm center, USA, thanking my stars that life did not place me in, say, Kansas or Oklahoma.

I have an early afternoon flight and I toy with the idea of going back to Berkeley for a last breakfast with my mom, but she preempts me right there: I'll come downtown to meet you in SF for breakfast!
No, no, no! That's too much for you! You cannot do this. She hasn't made the trip to downtown SF for a long long time.

Of course, I'll allow you to guess who won that one.

We set 9:30 as the meet up time. I think -- maybe it's okay. Maybe it's not a terribly hard trip for her: Bart train to downtown, comfortable ride, one block walk to my hotel.

She arrives at 9:35 -- unusual for her. She is never late. You wont believe it! Worst Bart ride EVERForty-five minute delay, then standing room only! A thirty minute trip turned into ninety. We find out an accident of one sort or another caused the delays.
They didn't give you a seat? She's nearly ninety. I'm thinking California people are heartless.
You couldn't move, let alone get to a seat! Stop and go, stop and go. But I learned something about myself -- I'm stronger than I thought I was.

I remember when my traveling pal, Diane, got lost on the mountain in Italy and a one hour hike turned into five hours. She, too, learned that lesson then. So -- what challenges do I avoid, thinking that they're beyond my capabilities?

We walk to brunch in all that superb sunshine, warm but not hot, delightful, all so delightful. We get a table outside at the Cafe de la Presse -- just here, by the Chinatown gate.


(As a result, we watch bus after sightseeeing bus come to a stop right by us, so that tourists can take their photos of the gate. One thousand photos a day of the gate. I'll add mine to it!)


We could linger over my cappuccino, we could window shop, we could do all that, my mom and I, downtown in SF, as if we were here, meeting casually on lunch break...

DSC02874 - Version 2 if we did this on a regular basis -- we could, but my flight takes off soon, too soon and so I have to turn away from her and from all that sunshine and head home, where the storms rage and the clouds keep tumbling over each other as if some machine that generated the storms and clouds could not be powered off. Stuck. Day after day of storms.

But the flight from west to midwest is beautiful.

SF, Golden Gate to the north, the Bay to the south

It is on this stretch that you come to appreciate how vast, often empty and remarkably varied the landscape of America is.

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somewhere in Nevada... or was it Utah?

And we come in just as one storm ends and the next has not yet begun and in Detroit there are rainbows, as if begging for forgiveness -- we're good here, we're good! Look at us, sunshine and rainbows!

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Ed is waiting for me in Madison. By 10:30 p.m. I am at the farmhouse.

hats on, hats off

First, hats off to my most superb hotel staff (of the Palomar, in SF). I asked -- where can I get a memorable cup of coffee and they directed me to the Blue Bottle, just a few blocks from here. Hidden, lovely, sort of pricey, or maybe that's just the SF factor, but it was interesting to see for just this brief minute what the cool people drink in the mornings.

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I couldn't resist ordering my usual, only with California strawberries from some small farm or other and a heavenly yogurt over that crunchy granola. I took it to a table outside.

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I may be pleased with my hotel staff, but I'm less pleased with myself because here I am, on a beautiful morning in the city (me, who goes for days without even seeing a sidewalk) and I spend a good three hours of it attending to stuff on the computer in my hotel room. Mind you, some of it necessary, but most of it could have waited.

When a commenter wrote -- next time, can you take us on a little spin through the city? (or words to that effect), it struck me that I take the city for granted in the same way I take for granted all the wonderful places I pass through more than once. Next time I'll pretend I'm a tourist! For now, I side stepped to Union Square and back. So you get almost no photos from that walk, because that walk was mightily inconsequential.

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(Did you ever notice how creamy clean the buildings are here? is it because they're cleaned, or is it that there is less pollution, or is it that the sun is so strong that everything looks, well, brighter?)

Back to hats. And now they're on again! I'm in Berkeley...

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... helping my mom with more paper work. As we're about to set out, she places a head cover on me. California sun! -- she warns. But, but, I put on lotion with an SPF 30 in a shop (free sample) on my way over! I say the words, but I know my hat will stay on. Cool on her, a little funky crazy on me.

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two seniors, exactly thirty years apart

Lunch at.... oh, I don't remember the name: that place behind the public library.

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Deliciously sublime and... outside!

A stop here, a document to notarize there and we're home. Only to realize that said notarized document is not with us. Left behind somewhere in our journey through Berkeley. My mom is dismayed. Good job, Nina (I'm thinking), in helping your mom through the tough times!

I call around, locate the missing paper (it never left the notary's: I was too busy getting the notary to take a photo of us to pay attention to what happened to the paper) and we proceed from a lovely neighborhood eatery called Luca's. Informal, fresh and honest, alive with people dropping in, out, solo, with families. A memorable Berkeley supper.

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...and then home again -- for her, to her sunny room in the heart of Berkeley, for me - to my downtown room overlooking Apple, Macy's etc etc. Home for me for one more night. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I'll be back (at some ungodly late hour) in Madison.