Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Four Months in San Francisco

Hello, from San Francisco! Yes, we know it’s been a while since we entered our last update but we’ve been busy…honest. You see, when we last wrote, we had just completed our first year in San Francisco and were moving into a new apartment. Before we had unpacked our things and settled in, we hosted our first houseguests in Noe Valley. As it was Manny’s and Supna’s first trip to the city, we planned a packed itinerary for their vacation which ended with a road trip to the hot springs in Calistoga and then to Sterling Vineyards in Napa. The winery provided a beautiful aerial tour (via cable car) of the vineyard and ended the tour with a private tasting that included the wines they provide to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar Night.

Not long after they left, Pablo, Karen and Neil flew in from France for a week full of activity. We hiked in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (http://www.bigbasin.org/) where you can walk inside trees that disappear into the clouds; we drove down to Monterey Aquarium (http://www.mbayaq.org/); wound our way down Lombard Street; and spent an afternoon at the Exploratorium (http://www.exploratorium.edu/), a hands-on museum for kids (and adults). Neil especially loved the bubble exhibits at the Exploratorium but was more than a little frustrated with the hologram exhibit (he spent three full minutes trying to pick up the ball that he could see but kept disappearing when he opened his hand). At the close of their trip, we had a big barbecue, and Matt and Anne, who were in town for a wedding, joined us for the afternoon. It was wonderful to have so many friends and family celebrate together in our new home.

Our friends Hewitt and Katya came to visit in late August, and it was also around this time that we took a road trip to Milpitas, CA to catch our second Wizard Rock concert (the first being last year’s Harry and the Potters/Draco and the Malfoys open-air concert in downtown San Francisco). The Whomping Willows and The Parcelmouths played to a near sell-out crowd - near sell-out because the concert was free - in the Milpitas Public Library auditorium. Some might find it a little awkward being the only adults at the show not chaperoning a young child, but years of accompanying Pearl to Mandy Moore movies left Chris well prepared for such an occasion.

The first of September was an exciting day from start to finish as we awoke at 4 in the morning and spent the early hours sitting on our deck watching the Aurigid Meteor Shower (http://aurigids.seti.org/) light up the sky and then watched the sun rise over the bay. After a quick nap, we received massages from our friend, Liz, who is studying Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture at The American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the city. Later that afternoon, we made Chinese dumplings from scratch using instructions we found on-line (http://jenyu.net/fd/photorecipes/dumplings/) and served them at a dinner we hosted that evening.

And then the San Francisco festival season started, and we had The Summer of Love 40th Anniversary celebration and The Power to the Peaceful (http://www.powertothepeaceful.org/) concert just 6 days apart. By the time the Love Parade and Folsom Street Fair rolled around, we were all festivaled-out for the year.

Mid-September brought a new houseguest and new opportunities to explore the city. We took Rishell and her daughter, Julene, to the Strybing Arboretum (http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/) and the Japanese Tea Garden (http://www.holymtn.com/garden/JapaneseTeaGardenMap.htm) in Golden Gate Park. That weekend, we returned to the hot springs in Calistoga and met up with Chris and Allison (celebrating their first year anniversary) in Napa on the way back to the city. The next morning, we explored a new farmer’s market, the Alemany Farmer’s Market in Bernal Heights. Much larger and with greater variety than the market at the Ferry Building, the Alemany Farmer’s Market is a haven for new and interesting produce. We tried Dragon Fruit (also known as pitaya, it’s like a cactus-grown kiwi fruit from Central America), Jujubes (which taste like a cross between an apple and a date), and Longan (which is similar in taste and texture to a lychee), among other purchases.

September also brought out the athlete in us. We joined 5300 other Bay Area runners in the Corporate Challenge (http://www.jpmorganchasecc.com/events.php?city_id=14) and ran the 5K loop around Crissy Field in the Presidio. The setting for the race could not have been any more perfect, as we ran alongside the beach in the shadow of the Golden Gate at sunset.

October began with a trip to Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon winery (http://www.rubiconestate.com/site.php) in Napa to celebrate Lily’s 21st birthday, and ended with a return to the Bridge School Benefit Concert (http://www.bridgeschool.org/events.html) where we saw an amazing (and rare) live performance by Tom Waits with The Kronos Quartet. Also performing at BSBC this year were Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, My Morning Jacket, John Mayer, Jerry Lee Lewis, Metalica and Neil Young.

We celebrated Halloween at the month’s end, dressed as a cowboy and cowgirl for work. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters this year (to their little legs, the hill on 22nd St must seem like Mt Everest), so we spent a quiet evening at home.

The following weekend, Pearl took the Literature GRE exam, and we celebrated afterwards by getting lost in the Cool Patch Pumpkin Farm 40 acre corn maze (http://coolpatchpumpkins.com/_wsn/page4.html), the world’s largest corn maze (according to Guinness). It took us just over an hour to complete, although Pearl tried to quit after the first 10 minutes.

Which brings us to today, November 6th: Election Day. We arose early to vote down the street. The big race this year was the mayoral race and we had 13 candidates to choose from, including a homeless vegan taxi cab driver named Grasshopper, a nudist activist, a sex club operator, a coffee farmer, and a “showman” who goes by the name of Chicken John – you’ve got to love San Francisco!

And in between Pearl found time to study for her Literature GRE test, send out an article for publication and apply to graduate programs; Chris found time to take some photos of the city and read no fewer than 11 books. We took up running in the mornings, became regulars at Yank Sing's Sunday Dim Sum, read the last Harry Potter book, took another sewing class, attended a few parties, hosted a couple dinners, made some new friends, reconnected with old friends, and, occasionally, found the time to sleep. As we said: it’s been a busy few months. We will try to be better about sending updates more frequently but with all that we have planned for 2008, we can’t promise anything.