Category Archives: Canjoose

San Francisco Travelogue

For our 10th wedding anniversary, TP and I bandied about the idea of traveling to Paris (where we spent our honeymoon), Quebec (North North America’s Paris – apparently DC is America’s Paris), and Charleston, SC (nothing like Paris). After debating the financial, emotional, and physical costs, we settled on San Francisco (the title totally gave that away, didn’t it?).

Thursday: We bundled the kids off to school, wrote them each a letter replete with lavish love and subtle threats if they didn’t behave, and drove to the airport. The drive itself only took about 45 minutes but getting from the parking lot, through security, down the escalators, onto the tram, up the escalators and finally to our gate took about an hour. For some mysterious reason, the TSA gods decided to bestow upon me the glory of “precheck” which meant that I could skate through security in the fast lane WITH my jacket on, WITH my shoes on, WITH my dignity intact!  Ah, irony: white boy was not so blessed and I ended up waiting around for him anyway.

Fly, my pretties, fly. Arrive. Since this was my vacation too, I treated myself to a small planning break and delegated to TP the task of figuring out how to get from SFO to our hotel. More fool me. Frazzled by the choices and buttons and growing line behind him, TP made us purchase $20 BART tickets even though the fare to downtown was less than $9. Even counting the future trip to Oakland ($3), we would still have unused funds left on the cards. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the hotel we were staying in was pretty swank and we were getting a deal because this was TP’s 10th hotel stay via hotels.com. I was annoyed by the loss of $15 but slightly mollified by the savings of $100.

Late afternoon found us trying to squeeze in a nap before trekking about but with such precious little time in the city afforded to us, we couldn’t relax.  We stretched our legs by walking up, over, and around Chinatown (more legit than our paltry version, cleaner than NYC’s, but mostly tourist shops) and the waterfront. Guided by our concierge’s advice, we made reservations at a nearby sushi restaurant, Ozumo. Highlights: Hanabi (hamachi, avocado, warm ginger-jalapeño ponzu) and, pictured below, Choco Chan (Flourless chocolate cake, green tea ice cream, shiso syrup). The time difference served us well as we were more than ready and happy to accept an early reservation. A post-dinner constitutional was followed by immediate snoozing. I’m not 100% sure I even took my shoes off before I fell asleep.

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Friday: Of course, the downside to falling asleep at “8:00 pm” (real time 11pm) is that I was up at “3:00 am” (real time 6am which is actually almost oversleeping for me these days). Thank you, MCPL and Jim Butcher (and a hat tip to Eric) for the ebook to keep me company until the more decent hour of “6:00 am” finally arrived. I shook TP awake (still abed as he’s not a morning person… or any time of day really person) and suggested a morning stroll before the highly-lauded (and rightly so) Blue Bottle Coffee Co. opened at “7:00 am”. We headed down to the port and loitered on the docks watching the early morning ferry commuters disembark while we waited for the shop to open. Third in line? Inconceivable!

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We had a quick first breakfast (“cheese toasties” for me, eggs-n-cheese-grits for TP) at the nearby Cowgirl Creamery before we walked over to Mama‘s on Washington Square for second breakfast. I would have loved to stop at City Lights Books but it was closed at “9:00 am”. Arriving on foot, we had no worries with respect to parking but for the fact that the friends we were supposed to meet were driving and thus were delayed looking for parking. After we waited for an hour in line, they neatly swooped in just as we were next to be called. The food was good, the company was better.

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Well-fueled, with a mediocre cannoli to top us off, we packed our meager belongings and stored our single carry-on with the concierge before we hoofed it through the rest of the town. Up to Nob Hill, across North Beach, and up some more to Telegraph Hill to arrive at Coit Tower. Whew, my dogs were barking! After some totally unnecessary banter by the elevator operator (seriously, dude, we all walked up here and stink to high heaven and now we’re trapped in this claustrophobic, rickety, antique elevator and you want to give a speech and make jokes about the elevator elves before even pulling the lever?), we were released into the wild, blue yonder.

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We filled our eyes with views of the city, its beautiful bridges, and the bay, filled our lungs with deep, cleansing breaths, and hiked down, down, down the city.

IMG_1647 IMG_1649 IMG_1651 IMG_1653With plans to avoid Friday rush hour traffic, we took the BART into Oakland around “3:00 pm” and were met by our law school buddy who whisked us away to her comfortable and thoughtfully ‘cat free for a week’ home. We caught up on our lives over a tour of the house and garden, caught up on other people’s lives over Vietnamese food at Xyclo, and caught up on health woes and dietary restrictions over gelato at Lush Gelato. We stocked up on snacky snacks for our outing the next day and returned home. Ever the gracious hostess, J let me go to bed at “8:00 pm”.

Saturday: With only Ebony, the ousted cat, to keep me company (she glared at me from outside the kitchen window), I caught up on my reading, showered, changed, ate a giant slice of delicious homemade peach pie, and finally rousted the rest to get a move on for our trip to Muir Woods.

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By the skin of her teeth, Yaznotjaz and Lemon fortuitously met us just as we were parking. We wound our way through the majestic redwoods, startled a deer (not as newsworthy as these deer but still pretty unexpected), and took many a lovely sit to discuss all our favorite topics: books, travel, gadgets, blogs, and other people.

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We had planned to have lunch in Sausalito but Sushi Ran wasn’t open for lunch and Fish had a line out the door. With the assurance of only a few minutes to wait, we settled on Scoma‘s where we were granted a nice table near the window overlooking the bay. I had the special of the day: pan seared rare ahi tuna with a sesame seed crust, wasabi-ginger soy sauce, goat cheese, beets (which J kindly ate for me), toasted almonds on a spring mix green salad. Not sure what the others had because who cares, this is what I had!

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Following G’s advice, we swung by Philz for more fuel before heading to the next comestible destination.

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Even since I read a blurb in “Telegraph Hill”, I’ve wanted to try suff. You’d think that living in the city known as ‘second only to Ethiopia’ in terms of Ethiopian population and restaurants, I’d have encountered it by now. You are so silly. I mean, where do you come up with this stuff? Honestly. I had to travel across this wide country (though not as far as Zora) to land at the steps of Cafe Colucci and get my suff. Slightly gritty but sweet and so satisfying.

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Stomach full of sunflower seeds, I sloshed into the car and joined my crew in recuperating at home. We learned French as taught by a Scot. We recharged our bodies and devices. We heaved out of our comfy seats and went to the cemetery.  As you do.

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We strolled over to Geta and patiently waited for our final takeout sushi dinner. The restaurant was packed. Standing around was a little uncomfortable after a full day on our feet but J warned us not to rest our weary bones on the dusty ledges nearby because the ongoing drought meant there was untold amounts of untold yuckiness around that had not been washed away in untold months. Point taken. Home again for delectable sushi, a peach pie chaser, and bed.

Sunday: We were drawn to Caffe Trieste when we saw it in North Beach but didn’t have time to partake in a coffee break. Today, we made the time. TP and I had a quiet morning with the other early risers (bums and hipsters alike) before returning home to catch J in the act of cuddling with/seeking forgiveness from Ebony. With farmer’s market fresh eggs, newly purchased Parrano, and a dash of half-and-half (you didn’t know that, did you, J?), we whipped up some cheese omelets with avocado and tomatoes for breakfast.

The drive over the Bay Bridge was thankfully uneventful (we just missed this snarl) and we arrived at SFO in good time for another “what’s the point of this pre-check when I can’t even use it properly” dance through security and to the gate. The rest of the journey home was replete with the requisite arm-rest skirmish (but thankfully no all out recliner war), terrible movie, and patient zero passengers anointing us with their various viruses and disgusting diseases. I looked forward to a Silkwood chemical decontamination shower.

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Friday Afternoon Music Jam: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Never heard of these guys or this song before today but it spoke to the canjoose goddess in me and so here you go, fellow spendthrifts.

In Which TP Speaks! Well, Edits Anyway.

Saturday 12.22.12 travelogue – TP

Woke up to find myself sharing the plush king-sized bed with AP who clambered from her pile of blankets on the floor to settle herself next to me.  I didn’t feel it was decent to go out while it was still pitch black but Baji had other ideas and was long gone. Left to my own devices, when the kids finally made me turn the lights on, I switched the digital babysitter on (Nick Jr.), brewed some Kauai coffee in the bathroom (in a coffee pot, don’t worry), and caught up with the news online.

After the sun came up, we breakfasted and killed time waiting for the Kauai Plantation Railway to open. We took a short little jaunt through the ex-sugar plantation which now features many varieties of fruit trees. I wished we could have hiked through the orchard to taste them but didn’t want to pay the $75 fee to do so. The kids were very excited to get off the train to feed bagels to fenced-in dirty feral pigs and mountain goats. A mutant rooster with a humming bird beak tried to muscle in. As one reviewer accurately described it, the ride was “semi-enjoyable for adults”.

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We had lunch at Tiki Taco and I was unsure how anyone could mess up Mexican. Long wait and not good food. At least the Thai place we went to the night before had okay food even if the waitress was dour.  If we had a kitchen, I could just cook what I wanted as I did in Barcelona – good times. We drove along the coast to take the kids to a combo beachfront and playground spot at Lydgate Beach Park before returning to the resort for more beach and pool time. The water was really much too cold to swim in but Aunty C volunteered to take AP swimming so that we could just sit on the lounge chair and relax while ZP occupied himself in the kiddie pool.

In the late afternoon (i.e., supper time), Baji and I went in search of poke and found Fish Express down the street.  Alas, the poke was unavailable just as they were about to close so she grabbed some ahi tuna sushi and ate it in the car as I drowned my sorrows in some taro pie from McDonalds. Pretty darn good, filled with sweet purple stuff.  Worth it to break my “no wheat” diet. Needing a bit more dinner than that, we met up with LB, KG, BSG, and Aunty C at Kalapaki Beach Hut for some burgers and taro fries.

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Pretty island. Big waves. Roads were really good. The next day, we found a good spot for whale watching from the shore (which helps avoid the nausea guaranteed by boats) but that’s someone else’s turn.

Shawarma on the Brain

Well, the eye anyway.  Went to visit my neuro-ophalmologist today: super friendly guy with a super friendly staff, a puff ball of a dog in the waiting room, and actual floppy discs because the peripheral vision machine he uses would have cost $5000 more if he got it with a CD burner. When I complimented his tie during the “look at my left ear, look up, look down” test, he exclaimed, “thanks! I got it on sale! I refuse to pay $80 for a strip of cloth that can’t cost more than $10.” Canjoose doctor after my own heart!

Anyway, after checking my eyes and the MRI, it turns out I have an itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie yellow polka dot shawarma on top of my left eye ball.  My vision is good, I don’t have any headaches, and it doesn’t cause me any pain.  Prognosis: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I concur.

So now I have my leg surgery scheduled for the end of January.  If you are looking for me then, check the ground floor of ANYWHERE.

New Orleans: Day One

What does it mean when you look at the fluffy white clouds overhead and think, “they look like the delicious powdered-sugar mountains completely obscuring the beignets underneath”? It means you’ve just returned from a trip to New Orleans and spent way to much cash and time at Cafe du Monde. It also means you should only eat clouds for the next week to balance out the gluttony-fest into which NOLA seduces you.

On Saturday afternoon, TP and I arrived in NOLA around 1pm to find that our room would not be ready until later (Big Easy Standard Time translates into 4:30pm). Content to leave our two carry-ons at the Place D’Armes Hotel, we spent the afternoon walking the few feet it took us to get to the Mississippi River and St. Louis Cathedral.

We had lunch at Muriel’s and were charmed by the attentive staff, discussion-provoking decor, and delicious food.

blackened catfish on a bed of spinach in a pool of butter for me

roast beef po-boy with shoestring fries also for me (via tp)

Bellies full, my demand for immediately-after-disembarking-from-the-plane beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde was not only delayed but nearly denied but we bravely stood in line, took a deep breath, and made room. Thank God for betsubara!

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The constant conversation buzz, waiters milling about, and powdered sugar wafting through the air was overwhelming. Granted, it was a Saturday afternoon and so the abundance of tourists was to be expected but did they all have to sport bleached blond hair, darker-than-me tans, the trashiest outfits and worst voices (nothing makes TP shudder more than “party-girl voice”)? I took a breather by looking at the waiters (pretty sure 95% of the staff is Vietnamese) taking a breather from shuttling precariously balanced towers of treats and drinks.

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Our room was still not ready when we returned at the agreed upon time but, luckily, the hotel was so centrally located that we easily found pleasure in strolling through the French Quarter and ducking into some of the many art galleries along the way. It’s amazing how much you can see and experience when you aren’t on constant kid-alert. Thank you, Nani and Babu Spring Break Camp! An hour later, we were finally granted admittance to our interior, windowless room (canjoose, yes, but then again, a completely blacked-out and nearly sound-proof room has its perks too). No conditioner (mujahideen hair, zindabad!), no HBO (but luckily AMC), and did I mention the no windows? It did, however, have free wi-fi, a quiet pool, a private (well, private enough that nobody but us ever used it) balcony, and lovely and serene courtyard.

our room with a view ... after you exit the room, go through the corridor, and step out onto the balcony that is.

Foregoing a nap, I was determined to catch the free ferry to Algiers in order to view Crescent City at sunset. We walked along the riverfront and passed several stately steamboats and cruise ships but no ferries. I kept an eye out for signs and docks but did not see anything that would indicate where the ferry was located, what the hours were, or even if one existed. When we reached the end of the path having witnessed two wedding parties (one gora, one desi), a break-dancing competition, and a line around yet another Cafe du Monde with no ferry in sight, I had to admit not planning well enough in advance (see posts below re: new house).

It wasn’t until later that I discovered that we had passed by the ferry terminal TWICE but it was so rusty and dilapidated and sketchy looking that I never would have guessed THAT was it.  Ah well, we needed an activity for the next day anyway. We picked up some refreshing Limonata from a cigar shop (incongruous!) and returned to Jackson Square for some good old fashioned sittin’ and sunnin’ until they kicked us out. Still full from lunch, we sat out on the balcony, witnessed our third wedding party of the day (this one complete with jazz band and marching guests), and called it a night.

2011 Short Story Award Recipient

The Socks By Zain

 

 

Once upon a time there was socks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One time the socks got bigger

 

One time there was a boy

 

But the boy fixed the socks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

voila

 

Friday Afternoon Music Jam: Sonic Youth

I had a little mandatory downstairs downtime today while I waited for my Red Fork pizza to finish baking in the oven.  Our trip to and from Philly was very pleasant road-trip-music-wise thanks to the playlist I made before we left but I realized that there were many artists missing from my itunes catalog and so I foraged around for my busticated old CD collection to rectify that.  One of the CDs I found (which features the above tune) hearkened back to my college days: Never Mind the Mainstream: 120 Minutes.  Both volumes!  Memories of when MTV actually used to play music!  New/Old music to listen to in the car!  I used to adore soundtracks and compilations because I loved the music but also because of the value (come on, the best songs by favorite artists without having to purchase 10 different albums.  canjoose alert!).  BUT WAIT!  Disaster strikes.  My fancy, futuristic Mac is shunning my ancient compact discs.  They aren’t scratched.  They aren’t smeared.  They aren’t loading.  OH, THE HUMANITY!