shewhomust: (bibendum)
There've been several times in the last few days when I almost posted something here: but what would I post about? The fall-out from the election, the post-election campaigning, has been even more depressing than the election itself, and I'm torn between having altogether too much to say about it, and not wanting to talk about it at all. There is a dentistry crisis: everyone's teeth are fine, thanks, but we are growing weary of the administrative ineptitude of our dentist. This is pretty much resolved, but I'm not in the mood to talk about it. We go on holiday the day after tomorrow (tomorrow, now, due to this post being longer than intended!), and that's a good and happy thing, but also a stressful one: so much still to prepare, I should be ironing, cleaning my boots, checking the weather forecast (which is not so good) instead of dilly dallying on LJ...

So here's a post about last summer in California, behind a cut, because long, and photos! )

The post should end there, but I can resist adding that my notes for the following day begin: "Everyone wants to ask about the Scotland independence vote." Next time you hear from me - internet access permitting - I'll be in a Scotland that's just had another interesting vote. What goes around comes around.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Our first visit to California had been in April. Returning in late summer, driving the same highways, I was disconcerted by the complete change in the vegetation. It can't really have been the total transformation it seemed, I must partly just have been noticing different things. The dense carpet of ice plants, whose neon pink daisies had fascinated me in the spring had not really vanished, but it took me a while to spot their darkened leaves. Everwhere was golden tawny grass, and where had those trees come from? Suddenly I was seeing big, impressive trees: they couldn't have sprung up while we were away.

Then we took the road to Amador County, Gold Rush country, and there's gold in them there hills... The default terrain is gentle curves and folds, covered with golden grass, like the flanks of giant sleeping teddy bears. The most scenic section, early on, was spiked by the occasional dark green tree. Later, on route 49. the hills grew steeper, and the pattern changed. [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler made the usual offer: "If there's anywhere you want to stop for a photo-opportunity, just say, and I'll explain why it's impossible." So I have no golden landscapes. Here's a picture from the town of Volcano:



Later, setting off to retrace our route to Sunnyvale, there was thunder and rain - strange, warm rain. The golden fields were luminous under the darkened sky, which evolved into a lingering sunset: a single skeletal tree in a field of gold; a big red sun; a tree on the horizon echoing the shape of a fringed and tattered cloud outlined in light.

But that was later. First we explored Amador County...
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Our friend A. takes the New Yorker, and when she comes across something that she thinks might interest us she rips out a handful of pages and sends them, through the post. Because you can still do this. The most recent of these was this article about the Wayback Machine, the archive of the internet. Which is interesting for what it says about archiving, and link rot, and content drift, but also answers a question I had never thought to ask: where is the Wayback Machine? Its physical presence is not in some anonymous server farm on an industrial estate somewhere, but in a neoclassical building ("We bought it because it matched our logo") in San Francisco's Presidio. If we'd known it was there, we could have paid it a visit on the day we were in San Francisco last autumn. [livejournal.com profile] desperance, why didn't you tell us? Oh, well, next time. And looking up the location I discovered that the Presidio also has three pieces by Andy Goldsworthy. That, too, next time...

Instead we drove into the city, straight up Highway 1, past the rows of little box houses, all the same size and basic shape, all different pastel shades and every one different in the details - I never get tired of looking at them - and into Golden Gate Park. The Japanese garden was cool and green and full of French people. I asked [livejournal.com profile] desperance, how big is the garden? and he told me "It's like your intestines: they occupy a small space, but they go on for miles," This is true. We lunched at the Tea House, and drank different kinds of tea. Japanese pancakes turned out to be drop scones, and the ice cream cabinet was decorated with a cute octopus. The Buddha ignored us benignly:



Back at the car park, there was a flurry of little birds underfoot: about the size of starlings, soft grey all over with iridescent blue-green tails and sharp little beaks.

I wanted to go somewhere where we could be tourists and see the Golden Gate bridge from below (instead of just driving over it), so we went to Baker Beach and walked on the hot sand towards the bridge. Allegedly, Baker Beach permits nude bathing, but there was not a lot of bathing going on: plenty of nude standing about hoping to get in people's tourist photographs, though.

We took the scenic route home, with a pause when we hit the coast, to watch the pelicans flying past, and then along Skyline. There was dinner with Yogis, and I don't remember why we were talking about Le Lorrain, but K. told us about the Claude glass or mirror. I hadn't met this before, and had heard the phrase 'black mirror' without recognising the device it describes. K. explains that it's because she comes from Maine that she pronounces it 'cloud mirror', which adds another level of richness to the mix.

Movies!

Feb. 22nd, 2015 10:01 pm
shewhomust: (dandelion)
On Friday afternoon we went to the Gala to see the Shaun the Sheep film: it was a lot of fun, and that's really all I have to say about it.

We should go to the cinema more often. The Gala isn't the greatest cinema - its programming is very 'family' oriented, which isn't a bad thing in itself but excludes many of the films I would otherwise go and see - but that's all the more reason to go when they are showing something good. As it is, I suspect that the last films we saw* were the ones [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess showed us on out last night in Woburn last September.

We'd spent a happy Sunday wandering around Mount Auburn cemetery, and returned to Woburn to eat at Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, about which J. had heard good things - which were entirely justified by the hand-pulled noodles, chunky strips of almost-dumpling in a spicy and fresh-herby broth, with which I spattered my grey sweatshirt (somehow, I always encounter the messiest foods when I am wearing my only pale-coloured shirt).

Back home, we settled down for movie night, front-loading our inflight entertainment. [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess had been offering a showing of Brave, of which she is very fond, and I was interested to see this film which had been so warmly embraced by the Scottish tourism industry. Not to mention that Chris Stout had told us he played on the soundtrack. And, well, now I've seen it. I was entertained, but rather uneasy at the level of cultural stereotyping: is it OK if the Scots join in?

After that, we watched The Voyage of the Dawn Trader: [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess recommended Prince Caspian, and since I had previously seen The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this would have been the logical sequel: but I wanted to see the Dawn Treader herself, and I was not disappointed. I thought it an entirely respectable adaptation. I didn't agree with all of its choices - in particular, I thought that Lucy was older than she should have been, and that this created a number of problems - but it felt as if those choices had been made by someone who understood what they were doing.

And that was our last day in Massachussetts well spent. Time to say goodbye to [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J., and fly out to California. Logan airport seemed much improved since our last visit: we'd been there a full quarter-hour before anyone even tried to sell us a lobster plushie. In gratitude, I bought a t-shirt.

*ETA: [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler reminds me that we also, in the interim, saw Mr. Turner.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
For the benefit of my friends in Massachussetts who write wistfully, when I post about the green fields of Shildon, that they have "forgotten what grass looks like" - and because [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving recommended we visit Mount Auburn Cemetery, and because [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess (and J) took us there, and walked round with us in the lush late summer green (and maybe regretted just a little bit that we were too early for the fall colours)...

Mount Auburn is a beautiful and historic garden, a public leisure amenity; it is also a cemetery still open for business. The cemetery website tries to balance these two aspects, and strikes a discord which I found oddly endearing: it is "beautiful, timeless and still available." It's also selling itself short, because once you have declared yourself to be timeless, you can't really boast about how innovative you were, in your day. But it's a wonderful place to wander round.



This temple to Mary Baker Eddy has to be the cemetery's most impressive memorial, for its size, its stunning location and because it reminds me of one of my favourite books, Mistress Masham's Repose. I don't count the tower, because it isn't a memorial exactly, but it's worth the climb to the top for the panoramic view, the city beyond a sea of green (so many wonderful trees, and so helpfully labelled, too), and the sense of achievement. It's also where we got the closest look at one of the many hawks that kept buzzing us on our walk:



Not the greatest picture, but the best I could do (probably one of these).

The graves which lodge in my memory aren't the impressive, public statements but the small, almost anonymous ones, these two tiny (each about the size of a shoebox) and much eroded sculptures:



I was nonplussed by the family groups in which graves are identified only as 'Mother' or 'Father', and deeply ambivalent about:



No doubt the inscription is intended as a dignified statement of loss and grief, but it sounds to me like children squabbling over their toys: 'MY wife and child! MINE!'

All this is under the snow right now; but it's still there, waiting for spring.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
In Saturday's travel supplement, the Guardian's restaurant critic recommends where to eat in San Francisco. [livejournal.com profile] desperance, your mission is to try all of these before our next visit. Brunch at Verbena is currently top of my list (they have, and I quote, an illuminated wooden pickle wall), but I await your report...

Across the bottom of the page, readers contribute additional recommendations. One of these is for Hamburgers, in Sausalito - "just across the street from the ferry terminal. It’s a tiny place with a line of lunch customers along the sidewalk..." This explains something. My notes from Sausalito (which will be a post of their own when they grow up, but not yet...) remark that the big queue (much longer than the one in the Guardian's photograph) along the street was not for the nice Mexican restaurant where we lunched, but for the burger joint next door. Apparently it's a thing.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Meanwhile, back in September: Wednesday was the day we spent in Boston; Thursday we spent in Cambridge with [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving and others; on Friday I built myself a nest in our cosy bed which filled very nearly the whole of J.'s study, and treated my cold with sleep, Swiss sugar-free throat sweets and an abundance of paper hankies.

The treatment was successful, and by evening I was feeling well enough to go out to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] sunspiral and [livejournal.com profile] roozle. One of the good things that came out of that dinner was that our hosts recommended an excursion to Salem, to the Peabody Essex Museum. So that's what the four of us did on Saturday.

[livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I had been to Salem before, long ago. We had walked by the sea, and watched the gulls cracking open mussels by dropping them on the jetty, and we had visited a museum (which did not in my memory match the description of the Peabody Essex - more local history, less art gallery - but in retrospect clearly was). This time we walked through a street market, past shops which were gearing up to make the most of Hallowe'en, and I thought of Whitby, and wondered what it was about whaling ports and witchcraft.

The museum's entrance hall is an amazing space, high and light and airy, but it leads into galleries which are dim and warm: good for the treasures stored there, but a challenge to my still rather stuffed-up head. The collection is - as J. said - eclectic, and not always well explained. If I were showing you round, I'd be pointing out individual favourites: one particular blue and white vase, big and round, some scrimshaws, including a whalebone pastry wheel, some netsuke (especially the rat and daikon), a totem pole-like sculpture of found textiles (which turns out to be a Nick Cave Soundsuit, but the more I learn about these, the less that description matches what I saw). To my surprise, I enjoyed the current exhibition of Alexander Calder mobiles. Yes, it had been particularly recommended to us, but I don't have a high success rate with modern art, and Calder's mobiles all seem to do the same thing. Nonetheless, it was pleasant, and mildly hypnotic, to wander around and watch them doing it.

Actually, I did have a favourite gallery, the Native American Art collection which we came to right at the end of our visit. I saw a few things, beautifully displayed but not necessarily clearly explained or contextualised, and now I'm looking at the website and discovering how much I missed: I certainly didn't see this rattle made of puffin beaks, for example. I did see this, though, Carl Stromquist's Lunar Eclipse of Hale Bopp, which doesn't seem to have made it onto the PEM website:



Exit through the gift shop. There aren't many museum gift shop's where I can't find anything to buy, but this was one: many arty objects designed to appeal to cultured people who like the museum, but not so much relating to what I'd seen and liked.

And home via Trader Joe's, the perfect finale to any excursion. The man on the checkout enthused over my purchase of 'hobo bread' - "Oh, brown bread! We used to eat this when I was a kid..."
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Previously: We flew out of Edinburgh, the journey was a journey, we started by exploring Woburn - and since we had a date to meet non-LJ friends for dinner in Boston, the next day was our day for being tourists in the city.

Our gracious hosts drove us to the end of the T, where we bought passes, and then it's an easy trip to Downtown Crossing, where a banjo player on the platform is just setting up for some travelling music, and out onto the Common. Now what? We hadn't made any particular plans, and though there was a tourist information place on the Common, it didn't offer us anything that really appealed: but we wandered across the Common, came out on Beacon Hill, and were very happy just to keep wandering there. Wandering, and taking pictures, so perhaps we'd better have a cut here: )

I'd call that a day well spent.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
When I completed the previous post about our American holiday, I thought I had said all I had to say about the joutney: I'm impatient to get on with the fun stuff. And yet...

Three things set me thinking again about flying and how I feel about it. In no particular order, these were: turning the page of my notebook and discovering that I had, in fact, written more on the subject; [livejournal.com profile] steepholm's post in which a jar of Marmite was confiscated by security; a conversation with J. who is about to set off for Italy by train, about the comparative merits of this form of transport.

The next page of notes begins: There are no Guardians at the airport. Such outrage: I grew up with the idea of flying as an expensive, glamourous way to travel, and although I know this is no longer the case, every now and then I stumble over something as trivial as this, that none of the (several) newsagents can provide me with my newspaper of choice, and my illusions shatter all over again. Implicit in this, I suppose, is that I don't fly very often.

As an infrequent flyer, I'm very aware of the rules without being all that familiar with what they actually say: I wouldn't dream of trying to carry a jar of Marmite in my hand luggage, but it took me a while to realise that I could make sandwiches and take a packed lunch. Indeed, the cup of coffee I bought once we were through security didn't have to be gulped down when it was time to board, I could, and did, carry it on board.

Quite late in the day I realised, too, that while hand luggage stashed in an overhead locker would never be accessible during the flight, the backpack which I use as hand luggage is small enough to qualify as a 'personal item' and be kept under the seat in front of me, so I could swap one book for another, or for my notebook computer, at any time. This makes the already restricted legroom even more cramped, but it's worth it. I'm slow, but I'm learning.

Some aspects of flying, though, are outside my control. I particularly dislike the whole security theatre palaver. I didn't realise how much I dislike it until we were given accelerated passes on our homeward journey: excused removal of shoes, belts, computers... None of these things is particularly onerous, yet I felt as if a weight had been lifted. On our outbound flight, though, I got the full treatment, body scan, pat down, the lot. (The scanner which was X-raying my hand luggage didn't seem perturbed by the roll of jewellery in the bottom of the bag, which has raised questions in the past, so that's something).

We were flying United, which seems to be a pretty 'no-frills' operation (which is fair enough, given that our tickets were pretty cheap) - hence the DIY catering on several flights. Given the quality of the catering that was on offer, DIY didn't seem like a bad option: [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler's remark on tasting the coffee was "Oh, that's an interesting fluid, isn't it?" Every flight, until the very last one, was full to capacity.

For United, all roads lead to Newark, which they promounce N'ork, confusing me at first since I was pretty sure we weren't supposed to be going to New York (though we had some fine views of the city from Newark). On the very last stage of our trip, Newark to Edinburgh, we found ourselves on a plane which was somehow more generously designed, with seats in pairs rather than threes, and what felt like more space between rows as well. What's more, there were empty seats on it. If only it could be like this all the time.

In short: nothing you didn't already know. Flying: we do it when it's the only way to get to where we're going, there are ways to make it pleasanter, some of which we can't control, some of which we can. D'uh!
shewhomust: (bibendum)
When I tried to post about our journey to the US, I was frustrated by a shortage of internets: by the time I was back online, things (and we) had moved on, and I was reduced to saying "But that's another post..." We have moved on again, and this is that post.

Our plan was to fly from Edinburgh, and to overnight there before our morning flight. We emerged from Waverley Station into a dazzle of sunshine, and found a taxi. This was disconcerting: firstly, the driver stowed our luggage with us in the passenger space - it was a bit of a squeeze, but it does appear to be the local style); secondly, he plunged straight into the traffic of Princes Street - again, this isn't as bizarre a route as I thought at first, and I sat back to enjoy a bonus view of the castle, and the drive out to the hotel.

We stayed at the Bridge Inn, Ratho which is as near as we could get without actually being at the airport. It is also on the Union Canal, and there was time before dinner for a walk in the golden September evening. The sun glittered on the water, the trees cast deep shade, the cyclists emerged suddenly from the darkness.



This description of the canal describes most of what we saw, as well as much that we didn't. But it doesn't mention the walled kitchen garden, which I was rather smug at identifying - and then delighted to learn that it belongs to the hotel, and produces many of the vegetables served in the restaurant. Time for dinner, then.

We had a very good dinner, and if it was a bit oddly shaped, that's our fault for some slightly eccentric ordering - but we were very pleased with the results. We both started with the scallops: three delicious, sweet little scallops, with rather pointless accompaniments. The crisped pancetta was good with the pea sauce, but neither had much to do with the scallops (indeed, to my taste the sweetness of the pea sauce killed the flavour of the scallops). [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler chose a main course of bubble-and-squeak: it's unusual for him to take the vegetarian option, but he did help me out with the huge platter of smoked salmon which I had chosen as my main couse (technically, it's a starter to share). It was moist and tasty, and accompanied by a big heap of salad, but the star of the show was my side order of absolutely perfect chips: floury, crisp, hot and salted just right. We had a bottle of Touraine sauvignon (might have been les Mazelles, but I can't be certain), fresh and clean, which we agreed was almost as good as the one we have bought from the Caves de Haut Poitou... I resisted dessert, and was rewarded, because my decaff expresso came with a chunk of buttery tablet, which was exactly what I wanted - that and a glass of Scapa, to tell the truth.

After dinner I wrangled with the wi-fi (the frustration of having not quite enough connectivity to achieve anything, but enough to keep me trying) while the television above my head relayed quite an interesting programme, in Gaelic with subtitles, about living on islands.

And the next morning we were off to the airport, and all the fun that followed.

ETA: A review of the Bridge Inn in the Guardian
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Yesterday morning the sun rose behind us as we drove up the freeway to San Francisco airport. This morning the sun rose over the clouds ahead of us, as we began our descent to Edinburgh. In between there were inordinate amounts of flying and a bonus airport (Newark), which is not my idea of fun, but wasn't as bad as it might have been: the descent into Newark offered fascinating views of hills and wetlands, and the plane onwards was mysteriously the most civilised of the entire trip: larger and more spacious, less crowded and the entertainment was free.

The shuttle bus from the airport conveyed us painlessly to Waverley Station, and now we are on the train - which is running late, as they do. The sun is shining, Scotland was beautiful, and now we have crossed the Tweed and Northumberland is beautiful too. We've had a splendid holiday, and now we are almost home.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
We dined inside a water tower; Mendocino is famous for its water towers, and Flow is located upstairs at the one on Main Street. We brought home with us the remains of a bottle of Atrea Old Soul Red, which is everything the website says.

[livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler has found a weather forecast, and the rain may be easing off. But I won't tempt fate by saying so.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
We are in Mendocino, and it is raining.

As we set off from the Case Ranch Inn where we had spent a couple of nights, we noticed just a few drops of rain. "Good," we said, "California needs rain."

We followed the Russian River, a pretty drive through forests and vineyards, admiring the way the mist was descending gently over the trees. At Jenner, we had a hazy view of the river estuary as it emptied into the ocean, but from then on - and up - the fog grew denser. What must, to judge fo the gradients and the bends, have been one of the most spectacular sections of the Coastal Highway, had no view at all.

As we drove further north, the mist resolved into rain. At least this gave us slightly better visibility. We took a break at the wonderful Four-Eyed Frog bookshop, who gave us coffee, let us wander around adiring their display of banned books and their collection of frogs - and just may have sold us a book as well.

I was fascinated by the trees which seemed to have grown green beards, and eventually [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler found somewhere he coud pull off the road for long enough for me to photograph them:



There may be some raindrops on the lens. Lunch was fish and chips at Lighthouse Pointe, but we didn't make the detour to visit the lighthouse - it was still raining - and so we reached Mendocino. We are staying at the Hill House Inn, which apparently features heavily in Murder, She Wrote (because where else would you film a series set in New England but Mendocino?). We had time for a quick visit to the galleries - and another bookshop - before things closed at five. I liked the Highlight Gallery, a beautiful interior with some very nice things: a wonderful Noah's Ark (with the skunks in their own little boat) and Bonnie Belt's wave ceramics.

We weren't going to let the rain deter us from going out to look at the ocean:



But we didn't stay long, and, once again, raindrops on lens. But it's all good: California needs rain.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
While we were in Woburn, we received an e-mail from [livejournal.com profile] desperance: "Just another data point," it said. "There's a supplement in the newspaper today about Amador, up in the Sierra Nevada. It's two and a half hours from Sunnyvale, according to the internets - and the Shenandoah Valley has forty-odd wineries, including some of the oldest Zin vines on the planet..." That'd be the San Jose Mercury's 'Eat-Drink-Play' supplement, and I'd link to it, but when I try to go there, I get adware, so take my word for it.

Anyway, I read the supplement. I was pretty much hooked at "hundred-year-old zinfandels" (though the cool kids seem to be moving into barbera), but wine-and-food destination among the Gold Rush towns - that's irresistible. Which is how I come to be writing this on my patio at the Sutter Creek Inn, under the grape arbour. (Ours is the Cellar Room, if you wondered, but don't be put off by the name).

By the time we were installed last night, it was five o'clock: we'd stopped a couple of times en route, and reception was slightly chaotic - we had trouble finding anyone to book us in (it's all twisty garden paths and rustic outbuildings), and then the person we found denied being the housekeeper, and wanted us to be an Irish couple he was expecting... But by five we were ready to go and taste at the only one of the town's nine wineries that we expected still to be open.

Immediately across the road, though, Driven Cellars (who aren't on that list) still had the 'Open' sign up, and made us very welcome, even though it became apparent that they simply hadn't had a chance to take down the signs. The 'driven' name comes from the patriarch's collection of defunct automobiles, and the bright, sunny showroom was decorated with one or two dramatic pieces: a rust-red petrol pump, a radiator grille. It's clearly a family affair, and the woman who served us was relaxed and frindly, assuring us that our late arrival was no problem, and that she thought they should shift their opening times an hour later, anyway. She was dismissive about their white wines, and assured us throughout the tasting that her favourite of the wines was the last one we would taste, the primitivo - and we agreed with her. I was pleased to have tasted zinfandel from hundred-year-old vines, but we bought a bottle of the primitivo.

Back across the road, the doors were still open at Scott Harvey, where they were having a 'Locals' Night'. "Are you local?" asked our server; "Say yes." So we said that we were indeed local, from just two doors down the street, and proceeded to taste our way through a succession of delicious wines. Scott Harvey trained in Germany, and knows that it is possible to make white wine with subtlety and elegance, even in the California climate. His Jana sauvignon blanc (Jana is his wife, and her name goes on the wines made with grapes from Napa) has just a touch of riesling, and lots of rounded fruit - I would not have identified the main grape as sauvignon, there was none of the green vegetable acidity I associate with that grape. Premier Beso is a blend of grapes from Amador (chardonnay, riesling and something called symphony). We also tasted three zinfandels: a 'Jana' old vine, fresh and fruity, a J&S Reserve, spicy and beautifully structured, and a Mountain Selection, big and soft, and I'd probably have liked it better if I hadn't been knocked out by the previous wine. (Our server then produced a barbera, so we could see why people were moving towards this grape, and it was very persuasive. It's not that I don't like barbera, just that in California I want to drink California wines, but the barbera was excellent).

If I were permanently local, I'd be buying these by the case, especially at Local's Night prices, but as it was we restricted ourselves to a couple of bottles. [livejournal.com profile] desperance, if you're reading, the Premier Beso is recommended with cheese, so if we're doing that cheese crawl...

By now it was eat or fall over, so we went to the Hotel Sutter and ate their signature dish of brussels sprouts frizzler with bacon and served with a lemony mayonnaise (which they call aïoli, but isn't). Back home, we listened to Scotland deciding not to leave the UK, which is good news for the UK, I think, though not necessarily for Scotland. There was a very high turn-out, which suggests that low polls demonstrate that voters are apathetic, not from original sin, but about the choices they are being offered.

Breakfast in ten minutes. Time to go!

ETA: that of the red wines we bought and took back to Sunnyvale for actual drinking, it was the Driven primitivo which really stood out. I hadn't expected that.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Today we have mostly been sitting around talking to [livejournal.com profile] desperance and [livejournal.com profile] klwilliams. We have sat around and talked in the Bean Scene, and in the house (with added cats), and in the garden next to the lemon tree, and in the study amid the recipe books, and in the Middle Eastern restaurant: which is all good, that's why we came.

We have come back to the hotel for a break and to make plans for the next few days. Later we will return to talk some more. [livejournal.com profile] desperance is cooking, and we have wine.

When we left, he was sawing a sheep's head in half.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Delayed by headwinds, and collecting a hire car at the airport was a bit of a faff, but we are now at the Best Western Silicon Valley, where the man on the desk recognised us: "Weren't you here two, three years ago?" - which we were, of course - and I recognised him, too.

And now I am going to bed. Goodnight!
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
At the breakfast table, logged in to J. and [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess's wifi, dealing with suspicious activity in one of my e-mail accounts: because we are Living in the Future, and We Can.

Breakfasting on good coffee and the last of [livejournal.com profile] roozle's fabulous you'd-never-guess-it's-gluten-free pumpkin loaf, because this is New England in the almost-Fall, and We Can.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
On Thursday [livejournal.com profile] weegoddess, [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I went into Cambridge to spend the day with [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving. J. took us to the bus stop, and we rode the bus past the garden centre offering 'Mums, Asters, Cabbages and Kale' (like a forgotten nursery rhyme), past Myopia Street (why would you call a street that?) to Alewife, a town named after a herring and the end of the red line of the T.



[livejournal.com profile] nineweaving escorted us past the Old Burial Ground, with its notices forbidding loitering between dusk and dawn, in and out of all the best chocolate shops, to TeaLuxe where we sniffed three different grades of Earl Grey and selected one for the afternoon's tea-party, into Harvard Yard where Anthropology students were investigating The Archaeology of Harvard Yard (and digging up lots of clay pipes), a tour of the wonderful Widener Library (with its Gutenberg Bible, as crisp and clean as if it were fresh off the press).

Eventually we returned to [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving's flat, just in time to welcome [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks. The tea party was all that a tea party should be: delightful company, stimulating conversation, light, clear, citrussy Earl Grey that gave me a whole new appreciation of what Earl Grey is about, local strawberries with crème fraîche, all under the aegis of an overmantel laden with blue and white china.

The time flew by, and soon we were back on the T, where we stayed for some time, as the train limped home; which gave us time to agree that the hat was in fact not lavender but silver, but that this would not reduce its contribution to literature.

I had woken that morning with a sore throat, and hoped it was simply a result of shouted conversations in a noisy restaurant the night before; but during the day I became more and more snuffly, and by yesterday I had a streaming cold. I spent much of the day in bed, and I think the treatment is working. I was well enough to go out to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] sunspiral and [livejournal.com profile] roozle - fortunately. because I would have hated to miss it! They made us very welcome, and served us all-American favourites: ribs, and apple pie, and bonus pumpkin loaf; I didn't have the stamina for ice cream...
shewhomust: (bibendum)
It isn't Fall, yet. It's still summer. As confirmed by our server at lunch yesterday: the seasonal beer is a sumer ale (from the Harpoon Brewery, as I recall). There are still flowers in the windowboxes, but the shops are ready for Hallowe'en:



J., who is more alert to these cultural signs, points out the sticks for toasting marshmallows on your summer bonfire, right next to the Hallowe'en candy (I thought Bonfire Night was in November, so I'd missed this). And the Hallowe'en cards: Baby's first Hallowe'en, missing you at Hallowe'en...
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[livejournal.com profile] weegoddess and J. collected us from Logan airport, and carried us off through the rush hour traffic to their home in Woburn, where we have the honour of being the First Guests. The first of the sights they couldn't wait to show us was hidden behind a cut, where there are several pictures. )

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