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Adventures with Claire and Julia: No. 2 – The St. Francis and Balmy Way

No trip to SF is complete without lunch at the St. Francis Soda Fountain and a Mission Mural Walk – especially on a perfectly warm, sunny day. In continuous operation since 1918, the St. Francis Soda Fountain is one of the best diners anywhere ever. I always enjoy the N.Y. Ruben with fries and a chocolate malted milkshake.  I also always make sure I am wearing pants with a little give!  One of the most fun things about having two teenage girls visiting us was enjoying the junk food that I ate when I was a teenage girl but now avoid as an adult. Our meal at the St. Francis Soda Fountain was a perfect compliment to our diet of Girl Scout cookes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, and Laughing Cow cheese rolled in pieces of salami (but that’s another story).  Fortunately, our St. Francis gluttony was balanced by a walk in the Mission and exploring the many beautiful murals there.

1 St. Francis Soda Fountain
Julia and Claire deciding on lunch at the St. Francis.
2 Mission Girls
I love this mural! “Once a Mission girl, always a Mission girl.” Doesn’t it make you want to be a Mission Girl?

The Mission district is covered with colorful, artfully-crafted murals especially along 24th Street. It’s easy to do your own self-guided tour but Precita Eyes Visitor Center has several tours to chose from and lots of useful information about the murals and the area.

3 Balmy Way
A one-block street between 24th and 25th streets, Balmy Way is the epicenter of the Mission Murals.
4 Cuidado Hay Perro
One of the most interesting “Beware of the Dog” signs I have seen. I love the repeating pattern of the face on this fence.
6 Mujeres Revolucionares
Many of the murals depict the struggles of Latin-American people both in and outside of the United States. I call this beautiful mural, “Mujeres Revolucionarias”.
7 Uncle Sam
Other murals are political reflecting the community’s concerns.
5 Hombre 66
Some murals are just super-cool. How could you ever be in a bad mood with this chic fellow to greet at your door?
8 Girls in front of murals
Claire and Julia in front of one of the more colorful walls. It still surprises me when I remember that people actually live on Balmy Way! What a pleasant street on which to reside.
9 Virgen de Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Mission.

A 500-year old Catholic icon, Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most familiar religious figures in the world. In most representations of Our Lady, her eyes are downcast and her head is tilted to the left. The artist, Patricia Rose, turned the head to the right so Our Lady could look into Balmy Way and made her eyes open. Rose said, “she’s a mother so she would have to be watchful”. What a wonderful thought and a most beautiful representation of Our Lady, a figure who gives comfort and solace to those in pain. Comfort and solace, things we all could give and recieve a little more of!

My Experiential Reality

Since 2008, every few months I get together with my good friends, Susan and Meera, to discuss our shared passion for phenomenology**.  “What is phenomenology?” you ask.  Why, it’s the philosophy of human experience!   Although developed by the grumpy and, at times, unpleasant German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, phenomenology is grounded in ancient Greek thinking and shares some aspects with Buddhism.  What I love most about phenomenology, is that our experiential realities –  that is, our feelings, our sense perceptions, our interpretations, our EXPERIENCES, count as important in understanding and making meaning within our worlds.  In this meta-data-show-me-the-numbers driven life, I find it reassuring and delightful that, in phenomenology, our whole-body experiences are valued as knowledge and representations of the truth. I also love that phenomenology gives me a reason to see two wonderful friends every few months, or my “phenomenology ladies” as my husband, Brian, calls them!

It’s not all deep thinking when the three of us get together. We talk about ourselves and our lives, and of course, eat delicious food and drink fantastic wine!  Our past few gatherings have been week-end retreats at Susan’s and her husband, Charles’, Santa Cruz Mountain lodge.  It’s a lovely place complete with fruit orchards, views of the Pacific, and wonderful wineries to visit – a perfect activity when we need a rest from our scholarly discourse. 😉

1 The view
The view from Susan and Charles’s lodge. Yes, that is the Pacific Ocean.
2 Flowers and Bees 2
One of the lovely flowering trees on their property. The bees approve!
4 Flowers
I love these exotic beauties! Does anyone know what kind of plant they are?
5 Olive Tree and orchard
Susan and Charles’ orchard. Complete with pear, apple, grapefruit, and avocado trees. They also have a very large olive tree. One year, Meera and I cured olives from the tree. They were not bad. Mine were quite salty though.
5 Sally
Sally – a phenomenologist’s best friend.
6 Little People
Susan and Charles’ house is full of interesting objects. I spent one afternoon taking photos of their objet d’art. These little people turned out the best.
6 Swiss Chard
Both Susan and Charles are fabulous cooks, so we always eat well when we visit. Here is some fresh Swiss Chard about to go into our dinner: a tasty vegetable frittata.
8 Loma Prieta Vineyards
Finally! Wine tasting! This is now a bonafide CCC blog post! The Santa Cruz Mountains have a small but growing wine region. This is the view from Loma Prieta Winery. They have a gorgeous outdoor patio where you can bring a picnic and enjoy their wines – and this beautiful view.
9 Susan
Susan. Of course, her outfit matches the wine; the mark of an authentic California Cocktail Camper.
10 Charles 1
Charles. Yes, he is the most interesting man in the world.
13 Wright's Station
Our next stop was Wright’s Station. I loved the wines there. They were “blended and integrated” (an inside joke between the CCC and her phenomenology ladies!).
13 Wright's Station Bar
The bar at Wright’s Station. I love the lighting concept!
15 Wine Glass
One of Wright’s Station “blended and integrated” pinot noirs. (Photo by Meera.)
13 EM 1
I am never happier than when I am sitting at a bar drinking with good friends. (Photo by Meera.)
16 Susan and Meera
My phenomenology ladies, Susan and Meera, standing on the patio built by Charles. Thank you ladies for being such a fantastic part of my experiential reality!

NOTE: If you are interested in learning more about phenomenology, I recommend checking out Hans-Georg Gadamer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

The Hang-Over Cure

As the CCC, I preach the responsible enjoyment of all alcoholic libations. However… Sometimes my best laid plans for moderation go awry especially when I have two fabulous friends in town ready for a night out.  Recently, my friends, Kiki and Sue, traveled to SF for business.  How lucky was I that they cleared their schedules for an evening of conversation and cocktails with me!

Our festitivies started at the bar at the Four Seasons, or “4S” as we like to call it and ended with dinner at Scala’s.  The 4S is a lovely place and a perfect meet-up for ladies as fancy as Kiki and Sue but it’s not a go-to place for me generally.  While the service and selection are excellent, it doesn’t have the San Francisco flavor that I love so much – too many men in sport coats with Blackberries and absolutely no hipsters!  Still, we managed to enjoy ourselves thanks to delicious Sidecars, delightful bubbly, and excellent conversation.

The highlight of the evening was our late supper at Scala’s Bistro. Scala’s is quintessentially SF. The food is tasty and Italian (are those two words synonyms?) and Natalie, the maitre’d, is the most glamorous, charming person in town.  She always greets you with a hug, a smile, and a “how are you, Dah-ling?”. You’ll leave Scala’s feeling full AND like a celebrity.  Whether you are local or from afar, I recommend a trip to Scala’s – a true San Francisco Treat!

Needless to say, when the Scala’s staff turned the overhead lights on full blast, we knew it was time to depart. The pain we would experience the next morning was far, far, far from our minds.

Ladies night with Sue and Kiki
Selfies at the 4S. Why was I suprised my head hurt so much the next day? (NOTE: Uber was our designated driver for the evening. While our livers may disagree, we still maintained the CCC’s rigourous standard of responsible imbibement.)

I managed to get through the morning with motrin, caffiene, water, and the excitement of getting to spend the afternoon with Kiki!  While no marathons would be run, we knew some time outside followed by a late lunch would put us right.  The Presidio with its beautiful views and easy walking paths was the place for us.

Eucalyptus grove
There’s nothing like a walk through a grove of eucalyptus to clear your head. The Presidio, first Indian land then Spanish and U.S. military bases, is full of eucalyptus, lending a clean and soothing fragrance to the park.
Tree Line
Wood Line. The gracefully placed row of eucalyptus trunks is an installation by the artist, Andy Goldsworthy. It’s calming to walk along this path and ponder how the artist was able to perfectly align the trunks.
View from Inspiration Point
Our next stop was the Presidio’s Inspiration Point. How can one not be inspired?
Spire, another Andy Goldsworthy installation, is a short walk from Inspiration Point. Goldsworthy created Spire in 2008 of aging cypress trees cleared to make space for new cypress plantings. It stands over 90-feet tall but will eventually be obscured by the now young, but growing, cypresses.
Tree Bark 1
Spire Close-up 1.
Tree Bark 2
Spire Close-Up 2. (Can you say, “artsy”?)
Comissary Sign
With our heads and livers clearing, it was time for lunch! The Commissary is Traci Des Jardins‘ newest restaurant. How could we go wrong with the words, “kitchen” and “bar”, on the sign!
Entering Commissary
Located in the Presidio’s former Officer’s Club, The Commissary offers California fare with a Spanish twist. Kiki entering the restaurant. She, smartly, refused to be photographed from the front for this posting.
Did you really think we wouldn’t have a cocktail? A lager for me and some sort of smoky brandy drink with coffee beans for Kiki. A little hair of the dog… The food was very satisfying with a great charcuterie and cheese plate, olives, country-style pate and lots of buttery, crispy bread.
EM with Beer
Feeling better by the minute! A lovely afternoon with a good friend truly is the best hang-over cure. And, my rough start to the day was well worth the wonderful evening I had with Kiki and Sue. Thanks Ladies for bringing a some glamour and fun to my life!

The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #4: The de Young and BFFs

Recently, I had the good fortune of three wonderful visits to the de Young Museum. These visits were particularly special because I had some of my best BFFs (Best. Friends. Forever.) join me.  As the CCC, I never mind doing things alone but any activity is always so much more fun with a buddy or two.

We went see the de Young’s current show, Keith Haring – The Political Line.  For you SF-Bay Area locals, this show is a must-see.  For those of you planning a visit to SF, the de Young is a must-go. Orginally founded in 1894 as the Fine Arts Building, the de Young is now one of the preeminent museums in the western United States with its extensive American, African, and Oceanic art collections.  Its special exhibitions have included works by Dale Chihuly, Ruth Asawa, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, and now Keith Haring. (The show is on view through February 16, 2015.)

1 DeYoung Entrance 2
The Keith Haring show was one of my favorites. My memories of his work were from when I was a teenager. I think I had a Keith Haring Swatch Watch! This show highlights what a signficant and profound artist Haring was (and still is). His work continues to resonate with our current political and social landscapes.
2 DeYoung Exterior 4
In 2000 the de Young underwent a five-year renovation by the Swiss Architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron. The design was controversial with many residents feeling it was ugly and didn’t fit with the overall sensibility of Golden Gate Park where it is located. Yes, change is always hard! Now the modern exterior is loved by all. Also in this photo are a 19th century sculpture of the history of wine making and a sphinx from the early days of the de Young.
3 DeYoung Exterior montage pdf 2
950,000 pounds of copper and 300,000 pounds of glass were used to create the building’s facade. The copper, over time, will develop a green patina reflecting the verdant setting in which the de Young is nestled. I love the varied circular themes and textures of this building!
4 De Young Garden
The de Young has a fabulous outdoor garden that must be enjoyed. It’s a perfect place to let your little ones run around and “get the wiggles out” as my mother used to say. I am not sure of the artist who created these strange, rather creepy, sculptures. Maybe they were put in the garden to make sure the kiddies don’t misbehave too much!
5 Cafe Lunches montage pdf
Of course, no trip to the de Young is complete without relaxing in the Cafe. The food is tasty and you can sit inside or out, weather depending. I LOVE the Les Charmes Sancere they have on offer! It has all my favorite qualities in a wine: minerality, cripsness, and just enough fruit (melon, I think). A perfect compliment to good conversation with good friends. (The food from left to right: chicken stew, butter lettuce and beet salad, chocolate chip cookie, cheesy quiche with greens.)

But enough about the de Young, the garden, the Cafe…the real stars of this post are my BFFs!

5 Kiki
Visit 1 with Kiki. Friends for over 20 years, Kiki is one of my life’s treasures. Who else could wear a shirt with leather ruffles for sleeves?
6 EM Carol necklace retouched
Enjoying lunch with Kiki. The beautiful necklace I am wearing was given to me by Kiki’s mother, Carol. Carol has known me since I was a twenty-something twerp.
7 Meera and Crystal
Visit 2 with Meera and Crystal. I met Meera in my first week of PhD school. We’ve been friends ever since. How lucky am I to have a friend like Meera? VERY! Crystal is Meera’s charming daughter. It’s easy to see where Crystal gets her good looks!
8 Lee, Bev, and EM
My sister, Lee, and my mom, Bev, also joined for Visit 2. A happy person is one who can count her family as her friends. Yes, I am a happy person!
9 Annie and EM
Visit 3 with my sister, Annie. Selfies are always better with a bestie!

After enjoying the Cafe and each other, we were ready to spend time in the galleries with Keith Haring, who is the REAL star! Keith Haring was born in 1958 and died of AIDS at the age of 32.  His work is colorful, playful, vibrant, and completely radical. Through his art, Keith Haring took on racism, capitalism, power, and repression.  He cared deeply about people and his work was an expression of that caring. To me, Haring was the Universe’s muse. The world and its most human concerns spoke through him. Perhaps this is why Haring never did sketches or any preparation for his work.  He just started painting, inspired by the human and cosmic energies around him.

10 Keith Haring Combo
These paintings were done on large, commercial use tarps. Here you can see Haring’s playful and dynamic spirit at work while taking on repressive power, religious freedom, and a human’s right to be who he wants to be.
Keith Haring 4
Annie enjoying the show and the accompanying excellent audio tour. The cartoon human and the barking dogs were prominent themes in Haring’s work. The dogs were frequent symbols of oppressive and violent power.
12 Keith Haring Outdoor Sculpture
One of the many sculptures Haring created during his short life. I hope this one stays even after the show closes. Haring was one of those people who makes you ask yourself, “how can I be a more positive force in the world?” For me, it starts with being ever grateful for the wonderful friends and family in my life! Thank you for the reminder, Keith Haring. And thank you dearest friends and family!

Wine Country Cousins!

My parents and I were thrilled when our cousin, Bambi, and her husband, Dan, paid us a visit. Bambi and Dan hail from the East and came to California to visit one of their sons who was working in San Diego.  As part of their West Coast adventure, they rented a car and traveled up the Golden State’s gorgeous coastline and ending in San Francisco. It’s not often that our East Coast cousins come west so we wanted to make their visit super-special. Is there any better way to host out-of-towners than with a trip to the Wine Country?   We think not!

In planning our wine county tour, Bambi and Dan asked that we visit a winery where we could learn about how wines are made, in addition to enjoying a tasting.  My sister, Joanna, had spoken highly of Medlock Ames, a winery in Healdsburg. When I checked out their website, it seemed an ideal place for learning and tasting.  Founded in 1998 by two friends, Chris James and Ames Morison, Medlock Ames creates wines in a completely organic and sustainable way. The winery is powered by solar energy and their grapes are grown without pesticides or chemicles. And yes, their wines are delicious!

1 Heading out on the tour
Starting out on the Ranch Tour. When I made the reservation, they told me the tour would last 90 minutes. Who knew that, Stacy, our knowledgeable guide would spend three hours teaching and tasting with us!
3 Olive trees
Medlock Ames farms only 55 of its 338 acres of land. In addition to grapes, the winery also grows, harvests, and cures its own olives.
2 Olives
Harvesting the olives.
4 Strawberries in the garden
One of the most special parts of the tour was spending time in the winery’s fabulous garden. We were able to pick fresh strawberries from these plants! The garden is grown to feed the staff but also to attract beneficial insects that will protect the grape vines. It’s a method of keeping bugs and microbes away from the vines without chemicals.
7 Thomas Jeffersons zinfandel vines
These zinfandel vines were cloned from a vine from Thomas Jefferson’s own winery!
6 Thomas Jefferson's vines
Another view of the Thomas Jefferson vines.
9 Bambi and Dan
Bambi and Dan enjoying Medlock Ames bucolic environs. Bambi is a special person to me because, growing up, she was one of my baby-sitters. We were even roomies during summers  on Cape Cod! It’s wonderful to now be friends as adults.
10 EM and Tom
The CCC with dad, Tom. Stacy, our guide, called this spot at the winery, “picture perfect”. I don’t think she is wrong.
8 tasting from the casks
One of the most fun parts of our tour was tasting the wine from steel and oak casks. The taste and texture of the wine certainly changes as it moves from steel to oak to the bottle. (Bottle is best!)
8 Cask storage room
The grounds of the winery are beautiful. Here is one of the outbuildings used for storing casks.
8 One of the outbuildings
Another interesting outbuilding.
11 Dan and Bambi at the tasting
Dan and Bambi about to partake in a most fabulous tasting. The Medlock Ames wine portfolio includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Reserve Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Red Bordeaux Blend (my favorite!). They also bottle their own olive oil, verjus, and preserves.

During our tasting we were fortune to meet Ames Morison, one of the owners and wine makers.  He was generous with his time answering all of our questions about their process. We were so impressed with him and Medlock Ames’ committment to creating delicious wines through environmentally conscious methods. As Dan said to Ames, “what you are you doing is really important and it’s what everyone should be doing.”  Very well said, Dan!

If you are looking for a unique and personal wine tasting experience, visit Medlock Ames. It’s bright, earthy, and elegant with a lingering finish of many happy memories! Thank you Bambi and Dan for inspiring us to visit!

Mount Monadnock: Not for Sissies!

A few weeks ago, I paid a visit to one of my three sisters, Joanna, who resides in Concord, MA.  Another one of my sisters, Lee, lives nearby and she joined us for one the hardest four-mile hikes I have ever done!  Mount Monadnock located in Jaffrey, NH, is a 3165-feet granite monster. It is one of the most climbed mountains in the world (who knew) and was a favorite of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Emerson even wrote a poem about the place entitled, “Monadnoc”.

I was excited about our adventure as any time with two of my sisters is always good.  However, at the time, I didn’t realize I would be hiking in a vertical fashion through ice and snow.  I laughed when the park ranger said, “It takes about a mile per hour.”  I scathingly retorted, “A mile an hour? Don’t you mean four miles per hour?”  How the mighty fell that fateful day on Mount Monadnock.  Perhaps my first clue should have been when Joanna obliquely said, “There are a few hard spots on the trail I just can’t remember where they are.”

The Country Kitchen
All good Monadnockers know to stop at the Country Kitchen in Concord, MA for delicious deli sandwiches and the tastiest chocolate chip cookies. Most needed refreshment after scaling the Mount.
Three Sister starting out
With my sisters, Lee (on the left), and Joanna (on the right) at the start of the trail – back when I thought it was going be an easy photography hike.
Starting on the trail 2 the easy part
Starting off on the easy part of the trail.
the beautiful and easy trail
Still easy.
starting along the granite trail
Lee’s and my first steps on the granite roller coaster that is Mount Monadnock. How little we knew.
Climbing 1
Joanna looking good as she conquers the often unstable boulders.
climbing 6
Lee and the CCC climbing.
climbing 7 EM smiling
Still climbing.
Climbing 8
Still climbing.
climbing 4
Still climbing.
climbing 3 when the @#$! is this going to be over!
When the !@#$%! is this hike going to be over!
climbing 2 and still smiling
That’s better! Lee smiling. You can’t keep a Marlow girl down for long (unless of course there’s 3 more miles of hiking in 25 degrees with snow and ice swirling around you!).
the view 2
The view from Mount Monadnock. Yes, it was worth the effort.
Climbing in the snow
Although getting up was challenging, getting down was even more so. We had to cross over granite slippery with snow and ice. The wind was blowing 20 miles an hour too. But hey, it’s not called an “adventure” for nothing!
icey tree
As a California girl, I have no tolerance for cold of any kind. I was surprised I didn’t have a nervous breakdown at the site of all the ice-covered trees.
Of course, I wasn’t so miserable that I couldn’t take a selfie!
Despite the chilly temps and icey ground, there was always time to appreciate Mount Monadnock’s beauty.
trees on the trail
The trail heading home. It looks so easy!
fall foliage
Gorgeous fall foliage. It’s easy to see why Thoreau and Emerson were so moved by this place.

On finishing the trail we were tired and very proud of ourselves. Although, Lee and I whined (a tiny bit) while traversing Monadnock, we thoroughly enjoyed it and were so glad Joanna brought us there.

Now onto the most important question – what libation would best warm our chilly bones?

Hot spiced cider
Hot spiced cider with Gosling’s Rum, of course! Here, Joanna, clean and relaxed, warms up with a  mug. Could there be a more satisfying end to a most satisfying day. Thanks Ladies! You girls are superlative sisters!












Alcatraz @Large!

On a gorgeous Fall day my parents, Bev and Tom, and I paid a visit to Alcatraz island.  Alcatraz is one of the premier tourist destinations in the city.  If you have not been (this means you, SF denizen!), it is well worth the visit – especially right now.  Ai Weiwei’s show @Large is currently on display through April 26, 2015. The installations by this internationally renown, Chinese dissident artist are not to be missed.

Ai Weiwei is a critic of the Chinese government and in 2011 was incarcerated for 81 days on charges of tax evasion that were never officially filed. It is believed that these charges and his subsequent imprisonment were enacted as retaliation against Ai Weiwei’s very public, oppositional stance towards the Chinese government. Presently, he is not allowed to travel outside of China and the Alcatraz show was developed at his studio in Beijing.  Somehow, a show about freedom and speaking truth to power in one of the world’s most infamous prisons by a radical, truth-speaking artist seems fitting.

view from the boat
A view from the Alcatraz ferry. The ferry departs from Pier 33 and you can purchase tickets at
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz is the most visited national park in the country. The audio tour is excellent giving you a sense of what it was like to be both an inmate and a guard on the island.
Indians Welcome
A less than welcoming sign greets you as you step from the ferry onto “The Rock” as Alcatraz is affectionately (or not) known. The Rock was the first lighthouse on the Pacific and functioned as such for 125 years. Identified by Spanish explorers in the 1700s, Alcatraz became a military prison in 1850 until 1933, when it evolved into its most famous form – a federal penitentiary for the country’s most intractable criminals.

It is important to note that before the Europeans and American military came, the first (and original) inhabitants were Native Californians. There are over 100 federally recognized tribes in California, more than any other state. I could not find any information on whether indigenous people lived on or utilized Alcatraz as a fishing spot prior to its “discovery” by the Spanish.

The Rock’s most well-known Native American history is recent.  From 1969 to 1971, American Indian activist, Richard Oakes, and a group of Bay Area native peoples occupied Alcatraz with the intention of obtaining a deed to the island and establishing a university, cultural center, and museum there. Their efforts became unglued when Oakes’ 13-year old daughter was killed during a fall on the island. Oakes left Alcatraz and soon thereafter did the rest of the movement’s members. Largely as a result of the group’s efforts, in 1975 the U.S. government passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

With Wind 1
A dragon’s head greets you as you enter the installation, “With Wind”. The dragon kite fills a large room in the New Industries Building. The ancient Chinese art form of the kite represents each person’s individual power and alludes to governments’ repression of that power.
With Wind Snowden Quote
The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill. –Ai Weiwei
Trace Room
In a second room, the installation, “Trace” appears. Portraits of 176 men and women imprisoned for their beliefs, affiliations, and speaking out against their governments are constructed as a carpet of legos. The images of these individuals were so powerful I hardly noticed they were made from a child’s toy.
Trace Naji Fateel
Naji Fateel, a Bahrainian human rights activist, has been imprisoned and tortured since 2007. His smiling face is so sweet and human to me.
Stay tuned prison cells
The installation, “Stay Tuned”, was next the stop on our tour. Stay tuned is a sound installation in 12 cells located in A Block. Visitors are invited to sit in each cell (on a very cold, hard metal stool) and listen to songs, spoken word, and music of individuals who were imprisoned for their creative and spiritual work. Dissidents and activists include Martin Luther King, Jr., Fela Kuti, and Pussy Riot.
Stay tuned inside the cell
This is a wall in the cell for Czech composer, Pavel Haas. Haas was Jewish and imprisoned in Terezin and Auschwitz concentration camps. He wrote at least eight compositions during his confinement before he was killed. Study for String Orchestra was chosen for his installation. I was so moved, I started to cry.
blossoms 1
In “Blossom”, bathtubs and sinks are filled with fragile white porcelain flowers. Installed in the hospital ward of the prison, Blossom could represent a symbol of caring, like sending flowers to a sick friend, or the fleeting quality of life as in the eventual decay of cut flowers. (Would you have guessed I was an art history major in college?)
Dad in the window
One of the best parts of @Large is getting to visit previously closed parts of the prison like the New Industries Building and the Hospital. Here my dad, Tom, tries to get a view from a window in the hospital.
blossoms your bath is ready
Your bath is ready, sir.  A view of a bathroom in the hospital. Creepy.
Prison sink
When I saw this sink in the New Industries Building, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what were the men that used this sink like? What did they think about?”. Even dilapidated and unused, humanness can still be felt here.
Tom and Bev
Although the exhibition was heavy and a trip to Alcatraz is always thought-provoking, my parents and I were able to celebrate their 55th Wedding Anniversary!
Tom and EM
Tom and the CCC enjoy a little rest before our ferry ride home.
Butterfly sign
Did you think, even for a second, that there would not be cocktails? Butterfly is a short walk from Pier 33 with good food and a complete cocktail menu. “Happy Hour” and “Wine Bar” are four of the most reassuring words in the English language.
Butterfly view
The view from Butterfly. An ideal place to ponder the significance of Weiwei’s show and the questions, “what can I do? How can I make a difference?”.
butterfly cocktails
The moment you have all been waiting for: A photo of our drinks! Can you guess who the Bloody Mary belongs to?

Don’t miss @Large!  It’s moving, evocative, and a relevant reflection of our times.












The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #3: Sutro Heights Park and The Cliff House

San Francisco is always on the edge of Right Now.  Despite its laid-back approach to life, SF, and its cousin to the south, Silicon Valley, are home to technological innovations that have changed how how we experience the world and each other. Think: Apple, Google, Salesforce, Facebook. While I love living in a city that is one step ahead of much of the nation, sometimes all this “Right Now-ness” leaves me feeling disconnected and adrift (despite all my connectivity and GPS apps!).

To reconnect and re-anchor myself to myself and the world around me, I like to visit to Sutro Heights Park. Sutro Heights is the former home of Adolph Sutro, the 24th Mayor of San Francisco and innovator of his time. Born in Germany, 1830, Adolph came to SF in 1851.  He made his fortune in 1859 with the Comstock Load (the discovery of silver ore in Nevada) by developing the Sutro Tunnel – a way draining water from deep underground so that the silver could be mined. How fitting that one of San Francisco’s forefathers would be an entrepreneurial pioneer!

Alfred Sutro
Adolph Sutro. Mutton chops the envy of hipsters everywhere. Here he is on the grounds of Sutro Heights. To learn more about Adolph Sutro, click here.

In 1881, Sutro purchased a 22-acre parcel of land in the northwest corner of the city over looking the Pacific.  He developed a large Victorian-style garden complete with elaborate flower beds. It required 15 gardners to maintain the grounds. In 1883 he opened the grounds for the public to enjoy.

Lion 2
One of two mighty lions to greet you at the entrance to the park.
Lion Head
Such a handsome fellow deserves a close-up.
Palm Avenue
Palm Avenue. The ornate flower beds are gone but it is still a pleasing  (and flat) stroll.
Diana 2
Diana, goddess of the hunt, the moon, and birthing (who knew?). During Sutro’s life the grounds were decorated with replicas of Roman and Greek statues. Diana is one of the few remaining today.
Ocean Beach
The view of Ocean Beach from Sutro Heights. One never grows tired of it.
Gazebo 2
One of the few remaining outbuildings on the property. Sutro died in 1898. His daughter, Emma, lived in the house until her death in 1938. The property became too expensive for the family to maintain and they donated it to the City of San Francisco in 1939.
The CCC (and her really bad hair) were here.
Cliff House
The Cliff House’s proximity to Sutro Heights Park makes it an ideal spot for a post-park libation. Adolph Sutro built the second version of the Cliff House in 1896. It survived the 1906 earthquake only to be destroyed in a fire a year later. Today’s building is a renovation of its third iteration built in 1909.
Bloody Mary
The Cliff House makes a mean Blood Mary. The garnish were tiny pepperoncinis. Delish!
Camera Obscura
The Camera Obscura located behind the restaurant. It’s never open when I come to the Cliff House but it is a popular attraction (or so I’ve heard!).
Cliff House View
A view of Seal Rocks from the Cliff House. Feeling more connected and anchored by the minute with such a scene before me!


The CCC’s San Francisco’s Favorites #2: Ocean Beach

When I need a mini-vacation, there’s no better escape than to Ocean Beach. At the western edge of San Francisco, Ocean Beach is where the sand crunches beneath my feet and the Pacific’s waves crash beside me – possibly two of the most calming sounds ever! Recently, my mom, Bev, and I took a walk along the 3.5 mile beach to enjoy the sounds and sights of the beach, one of San Francisco’s treasures.

With the ever changing waves before you, Ocean Beach is a perfect place for contemplation and relaxation.
A surfer warming up and surveying the waves. Many surfers choose to live in the nearby neighborhoods, the Outer Sunset and the Outer Richmond, to be close to the beach.
fast walker
Walkers and runners alike love Ocean Beach. San Franciscans have been enjoying the beach even more this fall with all the sunny, warm weather. Normally, Ocean Beach is known for its foggy, cool days.
The Ocean Beach Fisherman, a species of urban fisherman. Not quite sure what they catch but these guys are here every day.
Of course, our furry friends love the beach too!
birds 1
There a quite a few interesting shore birds to see along the beach. These, I believe, are called Heermann’s Gulls with a distinctive black-tipped bill. They peck at the ground for food at the water’s edge.
birds 2
When the wave crashes into the shore, the gulls fly away, landing a few moments later when the water is calmer.
birds 3
More gulls in flight.
cliff house view
A view of the beach with Seal Rocks (on the left) and the Cliff House restaurant on the right. From 1926 to 1972, Ocean Beach was home to the amusement park, Playland. At its height, thousands of visitors came to Playland every day to enjoy the beachside park and it’s delicious food. In fact, Playland was where SF’s Famous “It’s It” ice cream sandwich was born! Now there are condos where Playland used to be but you can still visit the Cliff House and take in the dramatic views imagining what the area might have been like almost a century ago. (To see some fun old photos of Ocean Beach click here!)
mom resting
Bev taking a break from our walk.
busy restaurant
Of course, no CCC excursion is complete without some sort of gustatory experience! After our walk, my mom and I visited the restaurant, Outerlands. Recently remodeled, Outerlands is a lovely and warm boite located a few blocks from Ocean Beach. Like most new restaurants in SF, Outerlands serves sustainable and tasty fare.
waiting for a table
Waiting for a table at Outerlands. Once inside, we enjoyed the tomato panzarella salad, an open-faced beef brisket sandwich and cafe au lait. A perfect post-beach lunch.
long view last photo
Thank you Ocean Beach for giving SF denizens so much beauty and respite. (And of course, tourists are always welcome!)



The CCC’s San Francisco Favorites #1: Stow Lake

Although my cocktail camping lifestyle allows me to travel to fun and interesting places both in California and beyond, some of my most favorite adventures are in my adopted home town of San Francisco. I do love living in San Francisco! It’s an easy and gentle place with friendly people, instant access to natural beauty, and an urbane sensibility which means that a delicious cocktail or yummy snack is never far away. For all these reasons, San Francisco is a top tourist destination. As the CCC, I want to do my part to encourage visitors to come appreciate this wonderful place by sharing my favorite spots with you!

For many years, I have taken solace in the beauty of Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.  Developed in 1893, this man-made lake was created as an escape for for city-dwellers.  During Stow Lake’s early days, the 3.5 mile path also served as a promenade for horse-driven carriages.  It is a special place with verdant landscaping, romantic stone bridges, a 114-foot water fall, and a Chinese Pagoda. There are even rumors that the lake is haunted by the White Lady, a young mother who drown in the lake while searching for her missing baby.  Perhaps most enjoyable is that the path around the lake is completely flat – a rarity in hilly SF.

stone bridge
A beautiful stone bridge built in 1894. It connects the main path to the lake’s inner island, Strawberry Hill.  Strawberry Hill is Golden Gate Park’s highest point at 400 feet.
pagoda 4 from a distance
The Golden Gate Pavilion given to San Francisco by its sister city, Taipei, in 1976. It is a perfect place to contemplate one’s deep and not-so-deep thoughts.
pagoda 3
A closer view of the pagoda.
pagoda 2 close up
Every aspect of the pagoda is finely detailed.
pagoda bridge 1
Crossing the bridge to the pagoda takes one to a far away place. No tickets or passport required.
The man-made waterfall. Located on Strawberry Hill, it’s a short walk from the Pagoda.
row boat and paddle boat
Another favorite Stow Lake activity is renting paddle or row boats and tooling around the lake. A completely different vantage point for enjoying the lake or taking a selfie! (Note the young lady in the row boat.)
boat house cafe
Need a break from your paddling, rowing, or strolling? Never fear, the Stow Lake Boathouse Cafe is always near. On a chilly day, their hot chocolate hits the spot! (The Boathouse is also where you rent paddle and row boats.)
it's it
My last visit was on an unusually hot, sunny day. Definitely not hot chocolate weather. An It’s It, the other San Francisco treat, called my name.  Truly one of my favorite ice cream goodies. Now, if they could only make that in a cocktail (wink)!
It’s selfie time! The CCC happy, relaxed, and lucky to live in SF – the home of Stow Lake and the It’s It.
peaceful lake view
A parting view of Stow Lake, until my next visit.

If you are planning a visit to SF, there are many great resources to consult, and I am happy to be another!  Feel free to contact me for ideas about your visit to San Francisco.