Thursday, March 22, 2012

First Day in San Francisco

I raced home from school last Monday, and we left shortly after I arrived home, running only six times back into the house for this and for that.  I think we've never gotten out in under six.  I had swallowed a caffeinated drink while waiting on Dave for one of our runs back into the house and then drove as far as the Kettleman exit, when Dave took over.  

 I worked on my English Paper Piecing while continually checking FourSquare for destinations to check into.  We were surprised at how many entries there were for the stench around mid-drive from the cattle ranch: Stinky Cows, Cowschwitz (the more polite version equating this muddy, smelly cattle ranch with concentration camps for animals), and many variations on the impolite term for cow dung.  We were happy to have a "re-circ" option on the car ventilation system.

We arrived in the greater Bay Area as the sun was setting over the Pleasanton hills, and we slipped through the Altamont pass and past the spinning windmills.  This town always causes us to think about our courtship, the beginnings of our life together, and how much has changed since Dave joined a newly divorced mother of four children and all our lives changed forever.

 We found The Chancellor Hotel by following the directions on our smart phones--happy to be living in the day and age when we don't worry so much about having a printed map in the car (although we do, because we are of THAT generation).  Unload, go up to our room--with a tiny view of Union Square--and back to take the car to the garage around the corner.  First things first: check to see that the wireless works (it does), then relax while Dave figures out where to go in the morning.

For breakfast we eat the soda bread and the tangerines I'd brought, Dave headed to the Moscone Center to his meeting, and I headed out into the rain.  It rained nearly the whole time we were there.  At first the tendency is just to sort of put up with it, hoping for a clearing patch.  I photographed these hearts, installed on all four corners of Union Square, in the grey day. 

A building on Union Square.

Then I headed to Britex fabrics, where I shot this illicit photograph of their solids wall because as a quilter--we document.  I bought some buttons for my raincoat, some trim and notions, then dropped them back at the room.

 Lunch with David at Cafe Claude was on the docket, then he drove us up to Japantown, where I looked for tiny "blind box" figurines, little plastic Japanese doll-like toys.

They have a display with lots of boxes and you just choose a box, not knowing what you'll get.  I ended up with a Goth horse (complete with tattoos) and an anatomically correct little rhinoceros angel boy-thing.  Yep, didn't know that it was soooo boy when I bought it (false advertising?)   

We met Jenna for a quick hello, then he took me back to the hotel where I waited for my Dave to arrive home from his meeting.  This is a shot out the back window of our bathroom. Glad we didn't get this view.

Our rubber ducky has a cell phone,  and under his arm--a tablet.  Very vogue little duck.  We were allowed to bring him home.

One last shot of Union Square under a beautiful tree with giant yellow lily-type blossoms.  In the rain.

 That night we took the car out of storage, and drove over to where Dave had arranged an alumni ETOX graduate dinner--those affiliated somehow with this graduate program where he teaches. This mural was near where we parked. (Yeah, I don't know what it means either.)

 Some had driven in from Sacramento (Cal-EPA) and others were students and former students.

And here is Dave's very first graduate student: Hong Wei (on the left) with Jennifer, another alumni.  Fifteen years ago, he graduated--hard to believe it's been that long. I thought it was quite cool that he could come and join us; all of these people were in town for the Society of Toxicology Meeting--over 7,000 attending.

We took Sharada back to her hotel, and drove Jennifer back to her friend's house where she was staying, then holed up in our little apple-green room, warm and dry out of the rain.  Forecast: more rain.  And then some more.  I know all of California needs the rain, and San Francisco was getting theirs.

Friday, March 09, 2012

This week really began last week, with our little trek to see the Big Rock.  The videos on YouTube have had a lot of hits, as shown above.  Where we were, there were just a few bystanders, but a couple of nights ago, the local town hired a DJ and had a street fair with over 20,000 people there.  That Big Rock's come a long way, in more ways than one.

I mentioned to my students that I'd seen the big rock and it was a thrill, fun, cool, interesting.  One young man--one of my favorites in the class for his dedication--raised his hand and asked, "Why are they moving this rock?"
"Art," is all I could reply.  "It's art."  Some are disputing that, of course, but according to the paper, there is no disputing that when other big rocks have been moved there's ancient evidence of people dancing, cheering, and maybe even a street festival with a DJ or two.

 Monday, I'd brought home a stack of their first essays to grade, along with their library assignment, done in-class.  Wednesday, I brought home in-class writings, and vocabulary words.  Today I neatly stacked it all up for after three days of grading, I was done. I printed off Monday's lesson plan and packed it all up, ready to go.  I don't have to look at it over the weekend, which is a celebration on the order of street festival and a DJ, I think.

And yes, that is a pink briefcase, purchased in New York last fall on my trip with Barbara.  I think of her, that city, Chad,  and that fun experience every time I pack it up and tote it to work.  A satisfying memory.

And somewhere in here I took a moment to photograph our local church group, the women's auxilliary, as they celebrated the birthday of the founding of that fine organization 170 years ago.  We had a little fiesta and people were in fine form, as evidenced by this video.

Party On!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Big Rock Rolls to LA

Early Saturday morning, the 3rd of March, Dave headed towards LA to see LACMA's "Levitated Mass" take a stroll.  The rock, weighing in at 340 tons, has garnered a lot of press lately (with the best articles in the Los Angeles Times), and always one for a novel experience, I talked my husband in to going and see this beast.

It is HUGE.  Gigantor.  Massive.

We followed the map to where it was supposed to be.  Not there.  Just a few souls hitting lonely tennis balls on the local tennis courts.  We decided to drive the route backwards to see where it could be.

When we started to see intersections with their light signals turned to one side (we still don't know how they did THAT) and temporary stop signs, we knew we were getting close.  The rock, or Levitated Mass, as it is formally known was supposed to move during the night and park during the day.

Twenty-two southern California cities,  105 miles, 11 days,  294 foot-long truck.

But apparently this beast blew the transmissions of two trucks as it was going up hills last night.

It shows only two trucks in the schematic I found at the LA Times.  But we saw two trucks up front, and three trucks in the back pushing and pulling this beast of a load up the hill.

This blue truck was attached by a steel cable to the red truck in front.

The Levitated Mass, suspended from massive girders.

And here are two of the trucks in the rear, pushing by using these bars.  The grinding and growling noises of the trucks emphasized the effort that was being exerted.

A few tree branches here and there attested to the height and size of this conveyance.

I guess having truck troubles in the middle of the night paid off for us, because we got to see this outfit in action. Twice.  We watched it once, near the intersection of the 57 freeway and Pathfinder Road, then got onto the freeway, looped around ahead of it and watched it again.  Dave noted that as long as we made the effort, we might as well see it as much as we want to.

After it passed by, we got back onto the freeway and zipped home.

I remember once when I was a young mother hearing another, more experienced mother, tell about how one day she gathered up all her children and had taken them to watch a building being imploded.  I determined then to try and take in all of the offbeat experiences I could manage.  This ranks right up there.