Tuesday, December 29, 2015

November 15 Sunday in San Francisco

One of my reasons for wanting to go to San Francisco was nostalgia for Glide Church.  It used to be Glide Memorial Methodist Church, then Glide Memorial Church and now it seems to be just Glide Church.  Going there is quite an experience.  I got there early so I could have a good seat for the second service and ended up being at the first service.  The big treat was seeing the Reverand Cecil Williams.  He is 86 and has been minister there for over 50 years.  They have no order of service and no hymnals, though words of songs are projected on a screen. I could go on and on about Glide, and the solid commitment they have to those on the margins of society.  They serve 3 meals a day--every day--and it amounts to over 2,000 meals.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, they have a dinner catered by high end restaurants, with white tablecloths and the whole deal of a nice meal.  I just love it.  They are also active in LGBT and transgender support, substance abuse support and other ways to serve their neighborhood, the Tenderloin District of San Francisco.

After church, I went down to Fisherman's Wharf and to a meet-up group,SF Sketchers.  We sketched in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Museum.  I enjoyed the group and made a couple of sketches.   The first is of a model of a pilot schooner.  The "California" was built as a yacht in 1924, but worked as a bay pilot from 1931 to 1973.

I also sketched a real boat that is on display and was in a wreck.  The front part looks pretty good, but it is demolished at the back.  I only got to the front part;

It was fun, and we went out for coffee after and everyone shared their sketches.  About 20 of us participated.

I walked back to the hotel and, along the way, I saw some fun wind sock guys on a roof::

It's pretty windy there and I think they have a lot of fun dancing.  I wish I had taken a video.  I got a couples of slices of pizza and settled in for my last night at the Royal Pacific Inn.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Congressional Cemetery Arsenal Monument

 One of the more interesting monuments in the Congressional Cemetery memorializes 21 women who were killed in 1864 by an explosion at the Washington Arsenal.  According to material at the Cemetery, the sun's heat set up some fireworks outside the building where the women were filling cartridges.  It sounds pretty strange because a burning fuse blew through an open women into where the women were working and it ignited the exposed gunpowder.  Apparently there was no escape.  A grieving you woman is at the top of the monument.

It was a tragic accident and President Abraham Lincoln led the cortege to the cemetery, which also included 90 pall bearers, a band, and 2000 mourners. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

San Francisco Saturday, November 14

I wanted to have breakfast Saturday morning at Caffe Trieste, just a couple of blocks away.  More about that special place later.  On the way, I realized that I had passed some books hanging in the air several times and had never stopped to see what it was about.  They aren't really books, but are lights in the shape of books and they do light up at night.   This is what they look like in the morning:

I read the plaque and learned that the installation is titled "Language of the Birds."  It is a city sponsored work of art.  The description explains " 'the language of the birds' is considered a divine language birds use to communicate with the initiated. Here a flock of books takes off from the plaza to fly the urban gullies of the city."  It really does look like birds at first.  On the pavement below, there are scattered words that seem to have fallen from the books.

This installation is in a strange spot, across the street from the Condor Club, which was famous in the sixties for topless female dancers, notably Carol Doda.  (She died while I was in San Francisco and the Condor Club had a memorial banner put up.)  This spot is also close to City Lights Books.  I was glad I stopped to see what it was about.

I continued along to the Caffe Trieste, where I had a delicious quiche breakfast.  Caffe Trieste is a favorite spot of mine.  It attracts all kinds of people and is very quirky.  I didn't get a good picture, but here is one from the internet:

There's a wood stove and there is a jukebox that h   as lots of Italian opera.  The tables are small and some are mosaics.  They usually get shoved together like in the photo above.  There often is live music, too---always Italian!  Love that place!

I then set out by bus to go to the Asian Art Museum.  It used to be at Golden Gate Park, but now is near the Civic Center.  It is a beautiful building and the art is amazing.   I spent the rest of the day there as it is a large museum.  In addition to the permanent displays, they had a special show, "Looking East:  How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and other Western Artists."  I really enjoyed that show. My lunch as at the museum cafe, where I had Salmon with Miso Sauce.  Delicious.

After leaving the show, I went to an art store close to the hotel.  It was quite a comprehensive store, and a lot of fun....though I didn't buy much.  While I was there, I realized that it used to be "The Hippodrome." and I once went to a Muddy Waters rehearsal there....and smoked a joint with the band!  Memories!

I had dinner at Molly Malones, which used to be the Coffee Gallery.  It is quite different now, but the staff was nicer than any of the other places I used to frequent.  I have a soft spot for that place as it is where I met Gordon Reynolds when he was a bartender and I was a waitress.  It was a real "60s" place---Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, Pat Paulsen, and others would come in.  Now, it is just a kind of cozy neighborhood place.

Cafe Trieste

Asian Art
Molly Malones

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Congressional Cemetery Thomas Lantos

Last week at the Congressional Cemetery, I noticed the stone for Congressman Thomas Peter Lantos. What drew my attention was that there lot of stones on the marker.  I looked into it and learned that it  is a Jewish tradition to leave stones on graves when you have visited them.

Lantos is well known as being the only Holocaust survivor who also served in the Congress.  He represented the northern part of San Mateo County.  He was Hungarian and. of course, was a strong advocate for human rights.  There is a film that talks about his experiences that was produced by Steven Spielberg called the The Last Days.

He died of esophagal cancer in 2008, and did not complete his term.  When he announced his cancer to Congress, he said:

It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family, and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a Member of Congress. I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country."

I think I may bring a stone next time I visit his grave.  I believe I support what he did with his life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

San Francisco Friday November 13

Friday the 13th was not unlucky for me, although I did have some challenges. My planned outing was to go to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.  I went by bus, and that worked out pretty well..except I got off a stop different than the one I had researched.  Since I was early, it was no problem.  I walked through parts of Golden Gate Park and eventually arrived at the Museum.  My next shock was the remembrance that it is not the same museum as it was in the sixties.  It was completely remodeled.  I have been there a couple of times since the remodel, but the new museum is a bit of a shock.  Above is a picture of how it is now.  And this is how it was before.  In fact, I saw it this way in the sixties.

I don't think I was ever in the tower of the old museum.  The new tower is a "must see,"though.  The view is truly amazing.  This is what I saw, and I love the peek at the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

I was also happy to see the work of Ruth Asawa in the lobby where you wait for the elevator to the tower.  She was at Black Mountain College and became a truly amazing artist.  I hope to see more of her work next month at an exhibit in Boston of art from Black Mountain College.  The exhibit is called "Leap Before You Look."  Asawa's sculptures are magical woven shapes in metal or natural materials.  Here's an example:

A current show at the museum about Panama-Pacific Exhibition in 1915.  The show is called "Jewel City."

That Exhibition not only highlighted the city of San Francisco, and the West....but also many artists who are familiar today, including Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.  The poster shown above is dazzling, but doesn't show well in the tiny space here.

I was at the museum quite awhile and had lunch and looked around some more.  When I decided to head back to the bus, I learned that my cell phone battery had expired!  I was able to find the bus stop and eventually made it back to my room, but I was happy that I was somewhat familiar with the route I needed to take.  I think I rely too much on Google maps when traveling.

My day was not over, though.  I had learned about a candlelight labyrinth walk that night at Grace Cathedral...walking distance from my hotel.  I decided to take a bus, even though it was just a few blocks, but it was uphill and I had done a lot of walking.  I learned that  rush hour bus travel in San Francisco is tricky.  I had to wait for five before one could take us.  The first five were totally full.  I loved the labyrinth walk, though, and told the woman who greeted us that I had done a series of paintings based on labyrinth experiences.  I learned that she was Lauren Artress, who wrote one of the books that I used for research.  It was a great experience to meet her and talk with her.  After the labyrinth walk, which was illuminated by candles, I walked back to my hotel...it wasn't very far, and was almost all downhill.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

San Francisco November 12

I began my first full day in San Franncisco by taking a bus to Fishermans's Wharf.  I was compelled to see the Golden Gate Bridge and check out a familiar neighborhood.  The bus is the #30 Stockton Street, in case anyone cares about that. I was just happy because it was a bus I used to use a lot....and it seems the route is the same.  I was a little early in my outing, as I was still on Eastern time, but it worked out.  I walked to the park on the waterfront and had a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I walked around quite a bit and finally ended up at a Starbucks's.  It was a great spot for my breakfast and then I noticed that it was next to a stop for the J Line.  The J Line is a streetcar line that runs old rejuvenated streetcars.  I was excited to see one from Washington DC, though I didn't take it because I was still eating my breakfast.  It turns out that San Francisco has been successful in buying and restoring streetcars from cities across the country.  This is the DC Streetcar.  It really is.

I walked around a little bit more and ended up going to Ghirardelli Square. It was fun to see one of my favorite fountains of mermaids nursing their young.

I saw an "Elizabeth W" shop and went in.  My favorite fragrance is Elizabeth W's "Vetiver."  I told the clerk the story about how I once tried it at Gump's (downtown SF) and walked out the store and a woman asked me what the fragrance was because she loved it.  I went back in and bought it.  This time, I got a bottle at the Elizabeth W store, but planned to go to Gump's sometime during this visit.  I used to work there....in the jewelry department!  Very nice!

I also used to work at Atwood Imports near Ghirardelli Square.  Atwood's is gone now, but I did recognize the building.  I didn't take a picture, which I regret.  I walked back to the J Line stop.  I did see an art gallery along the way with a plein air show.  The artist is David Horowitz.  This poster is on the outside of the gallery.  His work is colorful and fresh.  I was glad I took a look at it.

I then took the streetcar to downtown.  I noticed a  pretty interesting sight in that some streets are painted bright red, in either lane or both.I think that means it is prohibited for cars, but my picture shows a car driving and one parked. This was near Union Square.  

I walked back to the hotel from Market Street.  This is the day that I walked 19,500 steps.  I went into Vesuvio's, another place I used to hang out and it was pretty much the same, though not as friendly because I didn't know anyone.  After that, I walked around a little more and topped the day off with a very expensive dinner at "The Stinking Rose."  I had garlic-laced prime rib!  That's enough for one day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Trip to California begins

I vacationed in California for a little over two weeks!  I left from Washington National Airport (Reagan) and went by Delta.  My transfer was in Detroit.  I had never been in the Detroit airport before and it was quite a treat. The terminal is the second largest in the world (largest is in Osaka Japan) and it has an indoor tram to get to the numerous gates.  It is really nice, but I have to admit that I used the people mover walkway.  Having never been there before, I wasn't sure how to get to the gate for my flight to San Francisco.  If I go through there again, I would definitely use the tram.  I saw it several times in motion and it is very fast

One of the first sights I saw when I got to San Francisco was the sign for the yoga room at the airport there.  I posted on Facebook about it.....thinking to myself:  "Only in California!"

I took a cab to the hotel, but wished I had explored a little more and found Uber.  The cab driver complained constantly about Uber and Air BnB and anything that was internet-based.  I understand that cabs feel threatened by Uber, but a better system IS a better system.  It seems that cabs are still often dispatched by a person with a phone.  Of course, it is easy to get a cab at a taxi-stand or the airport, but not always from other places.

Fortunately, it was still early in the day and I could appreciate by balcony view in my room at the Royal Pacific Motor Inn in Chinatown and on the edge of North Beach.  I used to stay there in my Forest Service days, and it is still the same.  I couldn't believe the beautiful views, though.

And the weather was crystal clear, too!

It was early enough in the day that I could visit some of my old "haunts:"  City Light Books, Specs and the Italian restaurant Soldini's.  I had a yummy seafood pasta.