Friday, December 7, 2012

Do we get to...

Since I was unable to fly home to MN during Thanksgiving week  (because I could fly to MN…..or Paris for the same price!) I spent some time volunteering at the Winter Interfaith Shelter in San Francisco.

The first night I was there was “opening night” of the Winter shelter.  Thirteen of us gathered in a church kitchen, cooking everything from scratch --meatloaf, potatoes, a variety of steamed vegetables, 2 desserts,  dinner rolls, pats of butter. 

We watched them as they checked in at the door and found a place at a table.  Before dinner could be served, the rules of the shelter were read aloud to everyone.   The men get a 7-day pass to the shelter.  So for 7 days, they know they will have a hot dinner, a place to sleep and breakfast in the morning.  After the rules were read, one man raised his hand to ask a question.  He was visibly dirty, tired, thin, and rather young (I would guess mid-forties).
“Do we get to take a shower?” he asked.  And all I could do was stare at him from across the room seeing the hope in his eye of hot water and soap.  In my head, I kept replaying his words, “get to,”  “ get to,”  
 get to.” 
 I’d never thought of a shower as a privilege.  And it lead me to think about what I take for granted, what I complain about, what I get to do.
Get to take a shower. Sometimes more than once if I get to go the the gym.
Get to make coffee every morning.  Get to go to my job. Get to drive my car. Get to eat three times a day, every day.  Get to do my laundry. Get to know where I am going to sleep each night, not just for one week.

My friends said I was doing, ”such a good deed.”  The truth is, I felt guilty because being there brought me such a sense of joy and honor getting to meet these men and the other volunteers.  To have the pleasure of cooking and preparing food with so much thought and love behind it, and to say,  
” Welcome.  We have a place for you here.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Baseball!

There’s nothing quite like October baseball is there?  I never could have imagined mid-season that we would be right back in the thick of it all the way to the World Series.
Night after anxious night, watching and yelling and hoping -- hoping for more wins and more baseball games.  Hoping for another World Series Parade!
One of the best parts for me is that now my family back home can watch the Giants on TV.  Except for the occasional Giants game on ESPN, they rarely see them play.

As the Giants were playing the Cardinals in the deciding game on Monday the 22nd I was all at once texting with two of my friends who no longer live here (one in Arizona, one in Wisconsin) and with my mom on the telephone, and we were watching the game together (she is in Minnesota).  And as the rain was pouring down on the ball field, we WooHoo-ed together as the Giants won and advanced to the World Series.
In case you’ve been asleep or otherwise uninterested in this event, the first game of the World Series was played on October 24th.  The Giants won 8-3 over the Tigers.  I was eating my deep fried foods and enjoying my cocktail(s) & I knew this was going to be an exciting World Series - fun nights out with friends; lots of WooHoo-ing; and a transition to wearing pants with elastic waistbands.  Just sayin’.

                                                      World Series Schedule:

Game 1: Wednesday, October 24, at 5 p.m. PT in San Francisco.
Game 2: Thursday, October 25, at 5 p.m. PT in San Francisco
Game 3: Saturday, October 27, at 5 p.m. PT in Detroit
Game 4: Sunday, October 28, at 5 p.m. PT in Detroit
Game 5: If it happens, will be Monday, October 29 at 5 p.m. in Detroit
Game 6: If it happens, will be back in San Francisco on Wednesday, October 31, Halloween, at 5 p.m. PT, and that will be crazy.

The Independent in San Francisco is showing World Series' games 2 & 4. Normally a concert venue, the Independent turns into a giant screen pop-up sports bar for an afternoon as they host a free screening of the 2012 World Series games 2 and 4. And the screen is huge… 14 feet wide over 10 feet tall.

The Indy has a full bar and you’re awesomely allowed to bring in your own food – so that means hook yourself up with a Little Star Pizza or guacamole and chips from Little Chihuahua to go and bring it in. There’s lots of tables and chairs set up, along with bench seating along the wall – arrive early for a good seat.  For more Info: World Series at the Independent

If you’re not watching the game this weekend (and why aren't you?), here are some other ideas:

Roller Disco, 70’s style! Friday, October 26, 8pm-2am  @ Cellspace in San Francisco. Roller Disco

Michael Jackson Thriller Dance-Off, Saturday, October 27, 9:30-Noon, Studio One Art Center, Oakland

 Harvest Festival 2012 at the Ferry Building in SF. Saturday and Sunday, October 27-28, 10-1pm. Harvest Festival

Annual Ghost Walk at the Palace Hotel, 2 New Montgomery St, SF. Sunday, October 28, 6:30pm.Palace Hotel Ghost Walk

Friday, September 28, 2012

I *heart* Andy Williams, I really do!

On Tuesday, September 25th, the great Andy Williams passed away.

My mother immediately phoned when she heard it on the news.

“Tricia. Oh, Tricia. (sigh). Andy Williams died.”
“I know.  I heard.” I exhaled heavily.

For me, Andy Williams is Christmas.  I think perhaps most people associate him with Moon River and Breakfast at Tiffany’s,  but I was an Andy Williams and Christmas music fan long before I ever saw that movie.

When I say I love Christmas, ( and pretty much the Holiday time from October 31 thru the New Year), what I really mean is that I am totally obsessed with it.   Ob. sessed.  
I'm up to 1,327 Christmas songs on my ipod. I can be wandering through a store in June and
think," Oh, this would be a great Holiday decoration." While many people go into a store, see the Christmas decorations in September and think,” Could we please get through Halloween first?”  I see the trees up and decorated and the holiday displays up earlier and earlier, and get a little whispy emotional, thinking, “It’s almost here……… It’s almost…….. here!”  Last weekend I walked into Kohl’s and stopped dead, there they were……the Christmas ornaments! Can it really be?!  And I got this year’s trimming ideas.  About two hours later, after examining each one, I’m ready to decorate, ignoring the fact that my storage closet is about 98% full of boxes labeled “Christmas decorations.”
( All this love does set me up for post-holiday blues from about Mid January until Easter, I won’t lie.)

Back to Andy.  When I was in….Hmmmm…..the 10th grade, my mother and I went to the Andy Williams Christmas Show in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  If you remember watching these shows on TV, well, it was *that* show, only LIVE.      LIVE!  Can you even stand it?
How I ever lived through the happiness and pure delight, I’ll never know.  (Now, the fact that I loved doing this so much in the 10th grade gives away the fact that I did not run with the “in” crowd.  Not by a long shot.  I was a (self proclaimed) Orchestra nerd, who dressed up to go to school, my best friends were my teachers and I wanted to be a professional Violist. So not cool, but I didn’t know it at the time.) 

The Christmas show was magic.  There were horse drawn sleighs; Reindeer!!!! on stage;  they made it snow; they made the night sky twinkle with stars.  And there was the music, and my favorite Holiday song EVER:

So this year I will play my Andy Williams Christmas LP’s (MmmHmmm, LP’s people!) with a slightly heavy heart now that he is gone, but will always lovingly remember the wonderful memories he has contributed to during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  RIP, Mr. Williams. 

Do you need something to do this weekend?

Tonight, September 28th, is the 20th Anniversary of Critical Mass!  Starts at 6pm, Justin Herman Plaza.Critical Mass Anniversary

Fog Fest! September 29-30, 10am-6pm along Palmetto in Pacifica. Fog Fest

Polk Steet Blues Festival, September 29-30, 10am-6pm, on Polk St. between Jackson and California. Polk Street Blues Festival

2012 " La Madonna del Lume,"  Blessing of the Fishing Fleet. This is a Sicilian tradition of protecting fishermen that’s been practiced in San Francisco for over 70 years.
The 2012 blessing and fishing boat parade  is an annual procession from St. Peter and Paul’s Church in North Beach down to Fisherman’s Wharf with a blessing of the fleet and a fishing boat parade and Memorial Ceremony at sea.  Saturday, September 29, 10am-1pm, Fisherman's Chapel on the Wharf, Pier 45.  Blessing of the Fishing Fleet

Polish Harvest Festival, Sunday, Septemeber 30th, Golden Gate Park, County Fair Building ( 9th ave. and Lincoln Way) 11am-5pm.  Polish Festival

Friday, September 21, 2012

90 lb. Butter Blocks and Everything on a Stick

    I recently went back home to Minnesota for a much needed vacation and visit with family.  I love the Midwest at the end of the Summer and beginning of Fall.  The weather is lovely, -- sunny, mild and warm days, cool nights, and the mosquito population is dying down (a bit). 

Oh, but not this year. 

     The temperature hovered  near 100 most days; it was incredibly humid and I wondered if my blood was particularly sweet because every insect that could bite found me!  This, however, did not stop me from enjoying the best, best, BEST part of Minnesota’s “end of summer” ritual: The Minnesota State Fair, aka, The Great Minnesota Get-Together.
     The MN State Fair is one of the top attended fairs in the country!  And why wouldn’t it be, what with deep fried Twinkies; Dill Pickle lip balm (with spf); bacon on a stick and Garrison Keillor.  It lasts 12 days and averages 150,000 visitors per day.  This year’s attendance total was 1,788,512.  I would not kid you about that number.  (Keep in mind that the population of the entire state is a mere 5.3 million).
     The day my mother and I went was “Read and Ride” day -- present your library card when you buy your Fair ticket, and get a discount!
     This year, my first stop was at the butter sculptures.  MmmHmmm.  Butter. Sculptures.

     Young women compete to be one of the 12 princesses to come to the Fair. Girls must live or work on a dairy farm. Then, in the days just before the Fair starts, the winner is crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way, and her likeness is carved on opening day at the fair. On the remaining days, the likenesses of the other princesses are carved into 90 pound butter blocks, in a 40 degree room (that rotates so everyone can see) in the Dairy Building.
A Princess Kay contestant
Princess Kay of the Milky Way (notice the tiara!)

Sculptor, Linda Christenson, working on a butter sculpture.

     After the butter sculptures, my favorite place to be is in the barns (yes, I do wish I had a farm).  I *love* all the barns – horses; cows; sheep; chickens; rabbits; llamas; pigs; and the birthing barn -- with the animals who will likely give birth while at the Fair. 
ADORABLE little lambs, born earlier that same day.

One-day old piglets!!

Llama! I want a Llama!

After butter, and animals, there is, of course, FOOD!
Bacon on a stick, from Big Fat Bacon
Summit Beer on a stick!
Tom Thumb Mini Donuts!! Hot! With cinnamon sugar!

The SPAM throne!

The Fairgrounds cover just over 320 acres, so the best way to see everything is the Sky-Glider!


Sky-Glider view.  Wheeee!

And there is a reason they call it "Minnesota Nice," -- the people are amazingly kind!

Lots and lots of great people! You betcha!

The end of a beautiful day!

See you next year!

Looking to make some memories this weekend??
There's a lot going on!

Sandcastle Building 101 class: Saturday, Sept. 22, 10-12 at Ocean Beach (by the Cliff House). FREE!

National Cemetery Walk, Saturday, Sept. 22, 10am, Presidio Cemetery, SF. details:  Cemetery Walk

Eat Real Street Food Festival, Jack London Square, Oakland. Sept. 21-23 Eat Real Food Festival

48th Annual Big Book Sale, Fort Mason, SF. Sept.19-23. ( All books are $1 on Sunday!)  Opens at 10am

2012 Autumn Moon Festival, Chinatown, SF. Sept. 22-23. 11am-6pm. Moon Festival and Street Fair

Taste of Russia Festival, Sept. 23, 11-6.  Holy Virgin Cathedral, 6210 Geary Blvd., SF.
            Taste of Russia

Britney Spears Flash Mob dance class! Hit me baby, one more time! Monday Sept. 24, 8pm.
             Studio Garcia, 19 Heron St., SF (SoMa).