Archive for July, 2006

glen park with children: the sunday morning rambler’s guide

Choose a spectacularly beautiful day. Arrange to have a couple of excellent friends come along. Begin with coffee and bagels at Nervous Dog, on Mission between 30th and Cortland. You can get there on the 14, 26 or 49 buses or the J-Church line.

Wander up Mission to Randall, then cross at Arlington. A little way up the hill, a footpath takes off from the street and wanders behind flower gardens. Admire the black-eyed susans, jasmine, star jasmine, nasturtiums, dahlias and roses. Pick and eat some blackberries.

Rejoin Arlington after a couple of blocks. Your three-year-old daughter will pee in the grass behind a tree here, because potty training is going very well.

Take any right turn to cut across to Chenery Street. Exquisite pastries from Destination Bakery are optional here. You’ll pass the Glen Park Branch of the San Francisco Library on your left, and the Bug childrens’ clothing consignment store and Cheese Shop on your right. Pick up a delicious baguette at the Cheese Shop, and a wheel of perfect brie.

Continue along Chenery to the adventure playground in Glen Park Canyon. Sit on a bench in the shade with your baby-daddy and baby and eat bread and cheese while your three-year-old plays charmingly with a toy truck. Revel.

Head back up Paradise (really), then cut across three fields on beautiful shaded paths to rejoin civilization near Diamond. Take a juice and coffee break at Cafe Bello. Catch the train from Glen Park BART station, a triumph of 1970s brutalism.

Note that the concrete above the escalators still bears the impression of the wood used in its formes.

in other news

Last week was a low point professionally and personally; hence, there is no God. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up, at least.

Claire to Jeremy, on the phone: We need to go to Australia. So my mummy can see her mummy, and be happy.

help me, william carlos williams, you’re my only hope

On Friday Salome said: “I love Claire. But this whole Why? thing she has going? Totally exhausting.”

It’s Sunday. Claire, Julia and I are heading home from Yerba Buena on the J.

C: I want my pony bag!

Her handbag with a pony in it is clipped to my diaper bag. I unclip it and give it to her.

C: I want the clip!

R: You may not have it.

C: Whyyyy?

R (Oh God, not this again): Because so much depends upon it.

C: Whyyyyyyyy?

R: so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


C: What was that?

R: A poem.

C: Poe-wim?

R: Yes. Would you like to hear another one?

C: Yes.

I do Yeats’ Epitaph, Blake’s The Tyger and a little bit of Full Fathom Five, but she is most taken with The Tyger and has to have it repeated 90,000 times. We do a little textual deconstruction, then discuss the nature of poetry and its relationship to memory.

R: … so a good poem can make us remember and feel things.

C: Why?

R: Well, we don’t really know everything about how language and the human brain work together. Maybe when you’re big you could be an English professor or a cognitive psychologist or a neuroscientist, and find things out.


C (gravely): I want to find things out.

the bug

There has been a thorny bug. Jeremy said that things were spooking in the hyperbloviator, before his disenfranchising tools could take effect. I think that’s what he said.

So I took the girls again this weekend, my eleventh straight day of being at the office and/or single-handedly wrangling Fitzhardinge: TNG so that Jeremy can delve into code. Oh, and there’s potty-training afoot, so it’s close and dirty work. Claire has a slight blister and so cannot walk, so I’ve been carrying them both, Jules in the Ergo and Claire on my hip. We look like a giant ambulatory mushroom.

When I got home yesterday and Jeremy said he hadn’t fixed the bug yet, I nearly cried. Objects were moved strenuously from place to place. Imprecations were mooted. Nevertheless I rounded everyone up again this morning, at least everyone non-core to the disempowerment, and we all walked up to Liberty Cafe and had quiche (Julia likes quiche!) and went to the playground, where Claire snuggled next to me on the bench rather than play.

And then Jeremy arrived and said he’d expurgated the snood, and lo there was much rejoicing and the children sang songs of praise!

On Tuesday he’s flying to Canada. God have mercy.

food: a love story

I was very grumpy. Jeremy almost-forgot that it was date night, and Blue Plate seemed to want us to wait for hours and hours. Then the host came and asked, diffidently, if we wanted to eat in the garden. We did.

It’s one of the prettiest places in San Francisco. Reminded me of Frock Advisory Council clubhouse Razor’s Edge in its heyday, all brick paving and tiled walls and flowering shrubs between the tables. A fountain sang. The fog blew overhead. We had pinot noir, lamb and sardines, chicken and steak, chocolate cake and coffee. We talked. There was chemistry.

I walked home, drunk and joyous.

salad nice was

I wanted Salade Nicoise. We didn’t have any spinach, so I distressed some kale in olive oil with lemon juice and red chili flakes. Threw it in the oven to sulk with diced roast potatoes. Added dismemberments of yellow heirloom tomatoes, kalamatta olives and hard boiled eggs.

We’re enjoying Posh Nosh.

i get mugged

Yesterday as I was walking to lunch at Medicine Eat Station (mango and pear nigiri, steamed vegetables with peanut sauce and organic germinated organic rice) a tall man walking past me suddenly ducked and made a grab at my handbag.

I turned on him snarling like all the wolf-bitches on earth. My anger astonished me. It also surprised Jack, who had only mugged me in fun and who thought for a second that I was going to rip his throat out.

I called Salome. “Jack mugged me!” “I know,” she said. “He was on the phone to me at the time.”

claire’s song

In the car, on the way home from the wedding:

“The world is scary
All the days
The world is scary
All the times.”

I had two gorgeous days with the girlies this weekend: Lake Temescal with ducklings, Morrisa and Miranda, Jamey and Rowan, Salome and Milo, then a date with my husband – A Scanner Darkly, which we both loved, and agneau and bavette and tarte tatin at Cafe Claude; then the World Cup Final at Dolores Park with Ian, who Claire greeted with a hug, Burger Joint for lunch, coffee at Ritual, a nap, and finally dinner with the Jaffe-Tsangs and Dana.

I’m very nostalgic for my life as it is right now. Julia’s downy hair, the teething rash on her chin, her overjoyed grin. The way Claire says no: “Neaauu!” Bebe’s silky summer coat, and the kibble she leaves in strategic caches around the house. Flowers on our jacaranda. Handbags, backpacks, unopened mail, nappy bags, library books and nineteen dozen shoes cluttering up our hallway. Dusty car. My bleached-blonde hair growing out. Funky smell in the fridge from weeks-old Point Reyes Blue.

Claire must be enjoying herself too. Here’s song 2.0:

“The world is not scary
All the days
The world is not scary
All the times.”

die old #3

This working out thing? Is not really working out for me. You’d be amazed how completely I suck at it. I have no abs. None. Below my ribs and above my hips, there’s just a sort of meaty network cloud. Nor do I run, qua run. I shuffle around Holly Park like that potato farmer who ran from Sydney to Melbourne in gumboots. And who was declared a national hero for it. Why?

I am not now, nor will I ever be, one of Australia’s-sports-men-and-women. Yesterday morning dying middle-aged looked pretty okay. Tomorrow, too, I expect.

I’m the poster child for people living with laziness.

independent spirits

We hiked up the hill after dark for the holiday thingy, whatever. Jack was wearing the black wool hat from Banana Republic that Salome forced me to give him in exchange for their pine bench, which now graces my bay window. Jack is a curmudgeon, so we like to taunt one another.

J: My head is pleasantly warm.

R: You don’t find it itchy?

J: A little.

R: Maybe fabric softener.

J: You said that on purpose, didn’t you? You know I hate fabric softener.

S: And anti-static dryer sheets.

R: Oh, right. Jeremy bought some rinse-aid for the dishwasher the other day. I asked what it did. He said, It’s a thing you spend money on.


R: He said there was a special place in the dishwasher for it, so he needed it.

J: I HATE that.

C: I don’t like fireworks! I want them out of the sky!

The fog cleared and Bernal Hill was thronged with neighbours, a superb natural amphitheatre. We could see Oakland’s and Berkeley’s fireworks as well as San Francisco’s, plus the alarming and unauthorized displays in north and south Darkest Mission, not to mention the Excelsior. The whole city was exploding with joy.

In the Australian left of my youth you had to hate America. It was a condition of entry. You had to rationalize away the fact that Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and so on are American. I suppose that was considered a useful exercise in denial. I’ve lived here eight years and like any rational person I am terrified of the vice president and Prairie Muffins and extraordinary rendition and what have you, but you know what? It’s more complicated than that. This country is something. It’s impossible to ignore.

The show was over.

C: Where did the fireworks go?

J: Rachel! Your head looks cold.

R: No, I keep it warm with my thoughts. My intellect is radiant, and so forth. Don’t hit me!

J: No no, I was just moving over to listen to your ravings!

S (laughing pitilessly): “Don’t hit me!”

R: I’m a poster child for people living with cowardice.

S: You’re stoic.

R: I’ve touched so many lives!

county fair

Marin was the Platonic ideal of a county fair.

S: How was the carousel?

R: The merry-go-round?

S: Yes, the carousel.

R: In English, we call it the merry-go-round.


R: Well, the mechanism that made the horses go up and down hadn’t been oiled, so it gave this horrible jerk at the top and bottom of its range. And the lights were out and three of the horses were too damaged to ride and the music actually came from someone’s boombox… it was AWESOME.

The carnie stuff reminded me of the funfair that used to come to The Entrance when we were kids. The whole experience was adorable. We arrived early enough to avoid the crowds; the views across the lake to the Frank Lloyd Wright Gattaca building were utterly gorgeous; we were charmed by llamas, Morgans and Jersey cows. You could tell it was a county fair by the smell of the piglets. You could tell it was Marin because we had jambalaya for lunch.

In other news, teh InterWeb is a series of tubes.

a murder of crows

R: No, Claire, you have to whisper.

C: Why?

R: Cian’s grandma is marrying her friend Asa Crow.

C: Why?

R: So they can be husband and wife. Like Daddy and me.

Sunshine, pink roses, beautiful bridesmaids, glowing bride. Someone, not me, dabs her eyes.

C: My husband will be like Cian.