Archive for August, 2005

negligent foodie

I forgot to blog the amazing meal we had the other night at Range, the new place where Timo’s used to be on Valencia. We ordered family-style, which was super-smart because we all got to taste everything and it was all outrageously good.

Our appetizers were goat cheese and sorrel ravioli, venison with red peppers, hamachi sashimi with cucumbers and avocado and an incredible chilled carrot soup. For entrees we had glorious roast chicken, perfect steak, delicious chard stuffed with goat cheese and mushrooms with a fried squash flower and the coffee-rubbed pork shoulder, which was out of this world. (And from Niman Ranch, so Salome: shush.) All the desserts were good too, but the standout was the Brillat-Savarin souffle with strawberries and balsamic reduction on the side. We had a cool, light Mendocino Pinot and a big fat syrupy Cotes du Rhone.

The space is gorgeous, all stainless steel and well-designed lighting, and our server Sophia was helpful, enthusiastic and cute. Even the lattes were delicious. Matthew, who has a Morgan Stanley expense account and eats like a feudal king in New York, was blown away: “Excellent, for the provinces.” All for less than half the price of Fifth Floor or La Folie. Very highly recommended.

claire’s proposed names for baby sister

Reflecting her parents’ indecisiveness: “Baby Julia! No, baby Zoë! No, baby Julia!”

Howling like a coyote: “Aroo!”

Django’s favourite: “Bicycle!”

Pick o’ the bunch: “Aroo!cycle!”

claire, child mafioso

Ada: Ow! Claire! No! No breaking my fingers!

Quinn: She must have not made her numbers.

R: She messes up again, she’s sleeping with the fishes.

A: No sleeping with fishes! Ada sleeping with the horses!

what we talk about when we talk about the proletariat

Q: “Dear [potential employer], please hire me.”

D: “I write good one day.”

R: “You are capitalist bastards crushing the rich inner life of the proletariat.”

Q: Oh, I’m okay with that.

D: Quinn doesn’t believe other people have inner lives.

R: That’s because Quinn doesn’t have an inner life.

Q: I do so!

R: You can’t prove it. Unless we dissect you as well.

Q: Being your friend comes at certain costs.

R: Among these costs are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…

lunch with the freedom fighters

Quinn and Annalee swooped down and spirited me away to lunch at Atlas.

Q: Explain your business to Annalee, and why it’s conducted in a crack alley.

R: Oh, okay. We sell private equity research as a front for our cocaine-importation business.

A: Do you have prostitutes too?

R: Yeah, but we outsource on contract, so if they don’t meet quotas, we can smack those bitches up.

A: Tell me more! I’m very interested in the sex vertical.

At Atlas we met various other cowboys from the Electronic Frontier. Seth had written an article about Rusticatio Californiana for Annalee’s magazine Other.

Danny: I liked how the article was pitched to the magazine’s target audience. Lots of Latinate perversion.

A: It’s so cute, I think Seth sees Latin itself as a sort of alternative sexual identity.

S: I –

D: No, shush. I think we should be able to establish this from a closer textual analysis.

R: Let’s inject dye into his brain and dissect him.

Q: Couldn’t we just do an MRI?

R: No, I think any procedure he can survive will leave us with lingering questions.

D: This is a radical new mode in literary criticism. You could totally get funding and tenure.

R: It’s just the death of the author.

S: That’s the funniest joke about my death that anyone’s made today –

There was a lot more, but this margin is too small to contain the proof. Don’t be surprised, though, if you happen to see a geek cabaret featuring dramatic readings of the preamble of the GPL, or a slash-graphic-novel about Helen Keller and Anne Frank. Because Helen is deaf and blind and Anne is hiding in the closet, there’s no dialogue and the pages are all black –

petits financiers

Fifth Floor is so incredibly conservative that the investment bankers and their families politely ignored Kat’s amazing pink and purple braids and dreads and the fact that I wore a cocktail gown over my enormous seven-months belly. The hostess, however, brought jackets for the brothers Fitzhardinge, to smarten them up a bit.

“They’re washed after every use,” she said.

The food was fantastic. Heirloom tomato puree and crab meat on avocado for the amuses-bouches; an extraordinary mussel chowder, with fingerling potatos and infused creme fraiche; apricot-stuffed poullarde with shiitake mushrooms and white corn, so rich and savoury yet light; a “tart” made up of stewed nectarines and a disk of delicate almond pastry, topped with creme brulee. All finished off with tiny berry muffins that the waiter called petits financiers.

We did like the idea of enforcing a dress code at Burning Man – everyone visiting the camp having to wear an x, for various values of x:

“A fur hat.”

“A pee funnel.”

“A merkin!”

“A merkin with a pee funnel attached!”

“Washed after every use.”

insufferable san francisco

I love this city from its foggy head to its heroin-beneedled toes. However, as with other entities I wholly adore (the farting Fitzhardinges, Bebe the bitey cat) I am forced from time to time to acknowledge its slight imperfections.

I just spent forty minutes driving around 16th and Mission looking for parking. A spot finally opened up on Julian Street, and I was halfway through a 3-point turn when a young women in an aged Corolla ducked past me and took the spot. I swore, she swore more, I swore back with interest, and added a vehement gesture.

She got out of the car, slammed the door behind her and came swinging at me with (I swear this is God’s own honest truth) her disabled parking placard.

As Quinn remarks: “BLOG ME, is what that placard really said.”

the joy of cats

One cold night last week Bebe wormed her way under the blankets and slept for a while with her head on my shoulder. When she left there was a strongish smell of kibble, but I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I awoke next morning that I discovered the half-chewed cat biscuit she had left on my clavicle, presumably as a hostess gift.

This morning she was curled up on my lap when Julia aimed a mighty kick at her. Bebe gave a cross mrowl, turned around and bit my belly.

It’s a good thing she’s pretty.

the invisible hand of the sandman

Nat: I should bet William $10 that he’ll need to go to sleep by a certain time, and he can have $10 to bet as well. I believe the market knows what time he’ll go to sleep! I sure as hell don’t.

D: Bedtime futures.

J: Bedtime instruments.

D: Bedtime options.

J: Thirty-year government-backed bedtime bonds.

R: Jesus, men, do you want these kids to grow up to be economists?

dinosaur standup

R: So who here likes ferns?

Q: Take my meteor! Please!

J: That joke was old in the Cretaceous.

D: Now I have nothing against mammals…

J: Some of my best meals were mammals!

D: …so, ladies and gents, I want you all to give a very special welcome to our next act… he’s a little bit nervous because… he’s a shrew!

R: Oh god no, I hate shrewish humour.

great big cliche girl

Last night after work I went to a guided tour of the birth center at St Luke’s. I got there late and only just managed to squeeze into the lift with the two dozen other pregnant women. Then as we were walking around I almost fainted. My thyroid meds ran out three days ago and it has taken me most of the last two weeks to get it through the Walgreens pharmacist’s head that YES, I CHANGED PROVIDERS. So between the heat and the huge belly and the fatigue and achiness of low thyroxine levels, I had to sit quietly for a minute and be the great big cliche pregnant woman until my ears stopped roaring and my peripheral vision came back.

On the whole, though, the provider-changing experience has been a large and brightly coloured plus. I got wonderful care at Cal Pacific, where I had Claire to much fanfare: they called me the hippy mama because I was the only one of 29 women who gave birth there that night who didn’t opt for an epidural (I begged for one at 10cm, but by then it’s too late!) I got even better care at UCSF, where a twinkly-eyed elderly Australian man diagnosed my hypothyroidism, probably saved Julia’s life by doing so, then brushed away all efforts at heartfelt thanks.

(“Do you miss Australia?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, “do you?”

“No.” And we both laughed.)

But I am overjoyed to be at St Luke’s. My midwives are legends in their field; the birth center is almost equally renowned. It’s tiny, and chances are I will be one of only two or three women there when Julia is born. The c-section and episiotomy rates are among the lowest in the city. The whole experience of being monitored for gastroenteritis was remarkable for all the unpleasant things that might have happened but did not: a six-hour wait in the ER at SF General; a fruitless battle with insurance. And St Luke’s is my neighbourhood hospital. You can see it from my bedroom window. I walk past it on my way to work.

On the tour I started chatting with a first-time mom who is tossing up between Cal Pacific and St Luke’s. Once other moms overheard that I’d already had one kid, they surrounded me and started peppering me with questions. Did I have a natural birth? Who was my doula? What’s it, y’know, like? I kept wanting to say “I’ve only had one!” but of course one is infinitely more than none.

What I did try to say is how lucky we are here in San Francisco. You can have your silver-spoon birth at Cal, your birth with a view at UCSF, your midwife-attended birth at SF General or St Luke’s, or a home birth. They’re all excellent options. In every case you’re likely to have a healthy mom and a live baby, which is all that really matters when you get down to it.

All women everywhere should have so many choices.

Oh, and I picked up the thyroid meds on the way home. Those little pills work so fast, I’m already back up to 90% of normal speed.

kat is perfect

Kat: You know, pink is really not your colour.

R: I thought I looked okay in this shirt.

K: Makes you look pregnant.

R: I am pregnant.

K: Makes you look pregnant in the wrong way.

R: Okay! Come to dinner tonight and I will get a haircut and put on another shirt.

K: Oh, your hair looks great, and I love those frames. It’s just the shirt.

R: Good thing I have robust self-esteem.

K: You value our honesty.

django rock!

In which we continue to fail to climb Mt Diablo.

We’d had this plan with Django for the last couple of years – I think Claire was a peanut when it was first mooted, but scheduling conflicts, weather and the awesome power of inertia all stood in our way. Finally, yesterday, after corralling Jonathan and his lovely daughters into our mad scheme, we made the long trek out to Dublin, a pleasant oasis of strip-malls in a desert of arid paddocks, and then commenced the slow climb through the newly developed suburbs and up the side of the mountain. It was a very challenging ascent! For the cars. Claire kept threatening to fall asleep, so Jeremy started counting with her, until the infinite series of integers provoked an existential crisis.






“No, Daddy, stop.”

I asked at the gate whether the tarantulas were out, and the ranger said it would take a few more weeks.

“No big furry spiders today,” we told Claire sadly.

“Oh no,” she said. “Big furry spiders tomorrow?”

We parked at Rock City in the beautiful oak woods near the top. “Diablo, Rock City!” sang Django and I, making devil-horns with our fingers and banging our heads. Knoa and Claire were enchanted with a nondescript boulder in the parking lot and had to be pried away to see the beautiful wind caves in a sandstone wall.

Claire climbed intrepidly enough, but Knoa sped over the rocks like a large pink spider herself. Jonathan dangled by his fingernails from an immense height. Even Avi hooted until she was held to boulders and allowed to inspect the lichen. We all piled into a large cave in a basin among the rocks, where Django plans to hold Tribal Rituals. Girls will be allowed to come along, he told me, as long as we wear sheepskin bikinis with coconut bras.

A hike like this is full of teachable moments. “Knoa,” said Jonathan, “can you see the big-ass poison oak? Can you say big-ass?”

Horrified gasps from passers-by.

Me: “Can you say, ‘Knoa’s not getting into the selective pre-schools?'”

It also turns out, according to Django, that those prefab suburbs are entirely prefab. You get your silver, linens and wine cellar as part of the package.

Django: “It’s for people with absolutely no tastes of their own.”

Jonathan: “It’s a good way to ensure that your neighbours are exactly like you.”

Finally we trekked out a good tenth of a mile to Django Rock, with its incredible views of the entire world, partly blanketed in fog. After such an immense effort we were completely exhausted and decided to attempt the actual summit another day.

“The mountain is a cruel mistress, changing from instant to instant,” I said.

“Yes indeed,” said Django. “Sunny one minute, partly cloudy the next.”

We popped a bottle of French champagne in the parking lot and everyone had some – “It’ll help them sleep,” said Jonathan, reasonably enough.

There’s a tentative plan to Toddler Tame the Bay Area’s highest peaks, since you can mostly drive to the tops of them. This was inspired by serious mountaineers attempting the seven summits of each continent, an exercise that is very serious in, say, Asia or Africa, but farcical in Australia, where Granny in her electric wheelchair might well overtake the climber on the way to the so-called peak of Kosciusko. (Looks like they’ve replaced Kosciusko with Vinson, in Antarctica; and once again the net mirth of the universe is reduced.) Anyway, at the rate we’re going, Knoa, Claire and Avi will be grannies by the time we get done.

The whole experience has been ruled a smash hit by the key influencers, by which I mean that Miss Claire woke up this morning and announced: “Knoa! Avi! Climbing! VERY BIG ROCKS!” She proceeded to boulder all over her sleepy parents in bed.

In closing, a song:

Dance your cares away!
Worries for another day!
Let the children play!
Down at Django Rock!

badonkadonk, with gratuitous plug

Cynthia the distractingly gorgeous midwife, listening to Zoe/Julia’s heartbeat: About 134, I think.

R (amazed): You can hear the beats per minute?

Cynthia: I trained myself. It took years. I would guess, and look, and guess again.

R: You should be a DJ!


R: Claire’s godfather is a DJ. He’s playing Ministry of Sound!

why we are whedon’s bitches

J: Let’s see a film.

R: Okay. What film?

J: One with LASER BEAMS and romance and jokes and horses.

R: Ah yes: Serenity.

J: I wasn’t actually thinking of that, but okay.

i cynical i

Quinn: There needs to be a name for that Japanese martial art where you wrestle with the tentacles growing out of each others’ genitals.

R: Romance.

why i like summer

Another crazy social weekend: Lake Temescal with hot mamas Jamey, Salome and Vibeke all day Friday, where I succeeded in getting thoroughly sunburned; bagels and Bernal playground with Bryan, Cian and Rowan on Saturday; then a two-barbeque Sunday. First up was a lazy lunch in the Meadows in Tilden to celebrate Kusia’s completion of her bar exam. Claire met three of the Bay Laurel horses, Nadya, Clancy and Tosca; played frisbee with Knoa and Avi; and squabbled endlessly with Chris’s adorable daughter Nora over possession of various balls. Finally, after lengthy naps, we headed over to Tim and Allen’s lovely apartment in Duboce Triangle for salmon and honeydew melon and chocolate mousse.

Too much fun, too much food, too much lying around in the sun telling jokes while the children bounce and squeal. I tell ya, there oughta be a law.


I’d been waiting and waiting and waiting, mostly lying on the couch or asleep in bed, for the nesting instinct to kick back in. We had the shambolic Alabama Street slum nicely ship-shape when Miss Claire made her appearance, so I knew it could be done.

Just now Jeremy and I cleared out the closet and the big blue chest of drawers, prepared three bags of clothes for Community Thrift, dusted off Claire’s baby clothes and discussed where to put any new furniture that might be required at some unspecified future date.

After years of reading infertility blogs while two of my closest friends struggled to conceive, I’m sticking to the Jewish approach of not taking anything for granted until I am presented with a live healthy daughter. Still, one of those friends now has a bouncy four-month old boy, and the other is expecting a son three weeks before Julia’s proposed birthday.

So it’s possible this thing might be about to happen after all.

overheard on the 14-mission

“So this guy came in the other day, this older guy, his name was John, he was like 24 or something but he was so fitted out. His teeth were so straight and white, and he had this pretty hair. He was fine. I was taking his order but I kept forgetting, and I was all ‘So what’s your name?’ He told me he was one-half black, one-quarter Puerto Rican and one-quarter Indian. He didn’t have no rings on or nothing, and I don’t even know if he had a baby mamma. I was saying to myself, ‘Damn, why can’t I be 20 or 21?’ He was hella fine, oh yeah. That boy was fine as fuck.”