Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A musical blast from the past

When I sat down in Julie Sanford's coin-pearl ring class (which was fantastic, by the way), the woman in front of me introduced herself.

"I'm Lissa," she said. She grew up in Whitefish Bay and looked familiar.

Lissa (pronounced "Lisa") is a metalsmith, swimmer, runner, singer, dog lover, Spanish speaker, and sea kayaker. Among other things.

Turns out that she was also an oboist. And I was a violinist, and we were in Music for Youth together. 25 years ago.

What a small, great world!

Monday, June 2, 2014

S'mores season

After grilling dinner on Saturday, it was time for s'mores.

Peter went for all the hot spots and set his jumbo marshmallow on fire; Carol toasted hers with almost surgical precision. Unfortunately, these "jet puffed" monstrosities ruined the chocolate/graham cracker balance.

I have a huge bag of marshmallows left, so if you come over for dinner, plan on having s'mores for dessert. Unless you want a supersized hot cocoa or a double recipe of rice crispy treats.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Last thoughts on San Francisco

The best part of my trip was of course catching up with friends and family. But I also got a chance to see the City in so many ways — on the seedy walk to pick up our race bibs, as a jogger, and riding the post-race shuttle with guys dressed as Snoopy and Tweety. Plus I drove up California Street, past Nob Hill and Lower Pacific Heights, where I lived in my very first apartments. I even drove past streets I didn't know if only because I'd never walked or taken the bus that far. It's funny how places change — the City was as memorable as ever, yet there's always more to discover. Cheers to San Francisco!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bay to Breakers 2014

A month before the San Francisco Bay to Breakers, I decided it would be fun to trek the 7.46 miles. (That’s 12K to those of you who are runners or love math.)

I hadn’t run or even walked 7.46 miles since the last time I did the Bay to Breakers, 20 years ago.

But this would be a chance to hang with Ruth and get back to the City. So I trained as much as I could, running and walking and adding yoga to the mix. At Highlander, Susie and Scott gave me advice and "You got this!" pep talks. Ruth, on the other hand, needed no such encouragement: She just ran seven miles the week before the race.

On race day, we went to our corral with plenty of time to check out the costumes. Fortunately none of the naked runners started in the 10–12-minute-mile group.

As SNL’s Stefon might have said, this race had everything. Tutus, capes, unicorn hats, girls in body paint, men in see-through mesh shorts. People sitting on the course and spectators wandering in.

Ruth and I lost each other about a minute after we crossed the starting line. (To her credit, she actually tried to find me.) I spent most of the race jockeying for a position among the runners and walkers, looking for those mile markers.

Thankfully the only hill was about two miles in. It doesn’t look bad, but I felt it more than I saw it.

After getting Ruth's finish-line text, I decided to run the last bit. Unfortunately I had an idealized vision of the finish line, thanks to seeing too many races in movies: I'd imagined the finish as a straight shot, but the course kept curving around and around.

I finally wound past two penguin-costumed walkers for a finish in 1 hour, 51 minutes: 17,007th out of 28,253, if you must know. But it was a 12K sans incident, with a burger and fries afterward!


Monday, May 26, 2014

Friendship and photobombers

Though Liz and I have been friends for decades, I’ve gotten to know her family in a slow and piecemeal fashion. (One day I hope to finally meet her husband, Michael!)

While I was in San Francisco, Michael was in Chicago with their daughter, Alexandra, whom I met two years ago when she was an easygoing, polenta-eating baby.

This trip, Liz and I hung out at the house with her 2-year-old twins, Hayden and Matthew.

We played with alphabet puzzles and Liz asked, “Who wants dinner?”

“No one,” said Hayden, the redheaded joker. He sometimes looks serious, but then he breaks out into a smile.

Over Mexican food and the frequent opening and closing of sippy cups, we caught up about our lives and what our college friends have been up to.

Then there was basketball and t-ball — Matthew has quite the swing and I stood farther away than was probably necessary.

I snapped some photos, but it was surprisingly hard to get everyone in focus. (I miss my digital camera.) The selfies were also challenging: Why does Hayden look like a shadowy photobomber? Why do we all look surprised? Where was Liz in that last shot, and where was Hayden going?

After the photos it was time call it a night. The boys stood at the window and waved goodbye. And stayed there waving after I left. Liz, thanks for telling me; it's nice to hear.

I hope to see all of you — together — soon. Those will be some crazy selfies.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Linda and the Shanghai dumpling

Last Friday, Linda and I met for lunch in San Francisco.

There are plenty of restaurants in walking distance from her work, but we went to Yank Sing for dim sum (or "deem sum," as it is more likely spelled).

We talked about life over baskets of dumplings, dumplings, and more dumplings. Having grown up with shumai and gyoza, I pretty much love any dumpling, but I have a special affection for the Shanghai dumpling. (Here's Yank Sing's photo of their version.)

Apparently I can experience these dumplings only once every seven years. Unless I can learn how to make them or find a place in L.A. that serves them. Anyone?

When you're in San Francisco, be sure to visit. And get the pork buns, too. And the honey walnut shrimp — because even though it's a bit hakujin, it's so good.

Linda, thank you for the years of friendship and the wonderful lunch. I'll try to see you again soon!




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jim's 50th birthday

Jim crossed the half-century mark on Saturday, and Lisa planned a surprise party to celebrate. At one point, we weren't sure where he was (Doug lost him), but then he came in from the garage and was indeed surprised.

Sandy, the gnome's previous owner, couldn't be there, so Colleen presented him to Jim. We talked about where he's been and where he'll go (the gnome, I mean).

Great conversations were had. Heavy topics covered:
• Why Colleen never answers her phone.
• Where to store extra hangers. (What if your closets are really small?)
• How smokin' hot Scott and Wendy know Jim.
• The omnipresence of sugar.
• How Dave pulled a hamstring at Jaws.

The pasta and wine were free-flowing, and we ate both of Cindy's cheese-and-grape pizzas. So good!

Thanks to Jane and Sophia for helping decorate the cupcakes. When I worried that I didn't make them a consistent size, Sophia put it in perspective: "He can deal with it."

That also sums up Jim: He can pretty much deal with anything (unless it's a missed overhead, then he gets super emotional).

Happy birthday, our well-preserved Jim Jim! Enjoy the gnome.