Springing In The Rain

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Woke up this morning to a dark gray day as the (much needed) winter rain pounds the Bay Area.

But this rainy Saturday had a surprise. A whisper of Spring, growing in the small yard beside my building.




Photo © Karen Fayeth, 2014

I bought some daffodils from Trader Joe’s yesterday, but the small wild ‘dils in my yard beat them to the punch.

Oh how I love the sunny yellow of daffodils. Sweet smell of Spring.

While I do appreciate the rain, I really do, I secretly can’t wait for golden California sunshine to return.




From The Department Of Not Sly

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On Saturday the sun shone down so brightly on the Bay Area that it was too hard to stay inside. Roaming and marauding were the order of the day.

Yes, I know as a Californian I am supposed to feel Very Guilty about these sunny winter days we are having. I get it.

But instead of guilt, The Good Man and I went outside and basked in the sun. We decided to wander not our own neighborhood but the one just one city over.

It’s a really fun and funky block of shops and restaurants.

They day started with some chilaquilas that were rated as acceptable to me. You see, I grade Mexican food on a very tight scale. Sadly, most Californian Mexican food fails.

Once we were full to overfilled with good eats, we moved on to a really awesome bookstore that I had never been to before.

I do love bookstores. Especially local bookstores with both new and used books on the shelves. You really get a feel for a town by what is stocked on those used shelves.

As I often do in a bookstore, I wandered over to the art section. I am looking for a used copy of a particular Henri Toulouse-Lautrec book. Hope springs eternal.

This particular art book section was more eclectic than I usually find, which was great. A lot of things I hadn’t seen before.

While perusing, I found one very small section of books under the heading of “Wild, Wacky and Wonderful.”

Boy, this small collection lived up to the billing.

There were just five titles. I can’t quite remember them all. One was Toilets of the World. I recall that. Quite an interesting tome, may I add. One was the Pipe Handbook. One was the Diary of a Sword Swallower or something like that. I can’t seem to recall the other two.

As I browsed I kept walking back to that section and laughing. It was *too* perfect. Just too.

So then I decided to take an iPhone photo so I could remember what five titles were there. But how to snap a photo without incurring the wrath of the storeowners? They are sick, I’m sure, of people finding something in their store then buying it on Amazon. Snap click is a means to that end.

My intentions were good but I didn’t want to be a pain in that charming store.

Then I remembered, oh yes, that you can use the volume buttons on the iPhone to fire the shutter. I decided that I could hold the camera at about waist level and take a surreptitious snap.

I went over to the side of an aisle and thought, “Ok, I better give this a try to make sure I know how it works.”

I pushed the button and then loudly echoing through the store was the shutter sound that iPhone so helpfully adds to camera app.

You see, I always, always, always have the sound off on my phone. Always. I mean seriously, always.

Except on Friday afternoon when I was expecting (and didn’t want to miss) a call from my boss. After the call I then forgot to switch sound back off.

The shutter sound caused three people around me to snap their heads up and give me “grrrr” eyes.

Busted. Flat busted.

So there you go. I have no photo of the crazy fun titles, only my hazy memory.

And this piece of photographic art of the wrong shelves. *sigh*

Enjoy.





Copyright © 2014 Karen Fayeth






Photo Copyright © 2014, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons License in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5, the onboard camera app, and not a lot of guile.




Amirite? Of Course I Am

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Ah the onset of Autumn as these last wispy dog days of summer float by. These very warm September days don’t even feel like summer is ending, rather it feels like we are smack dab in the middle as the high temperatures are still pretty gosh durn high.

But alas, October is right around the corner. And by god, the advertisers of the world won’t let me forget it for a moment.





I’m not ready for it, but Autumn is being crammed into my face. My nose is smushed hard in it while I hear “Who’s been a bad customer? Who’s been ordering non-flavored beverages and food? Who’s going to pay out big money for pumpkin flavored everything? You are, that’s who!”

Just as Christmas shows up in October, pumpkin everything shows up in late August.

And it ain’t right.

Along those same lines, here’s a handy link:

The 12 Most Unnecessary Pumpkin-Flavored Products

That’s ok, I’ll suffer the slings and arrows of fake pumpkin flavor until about November 1 when it will all switch to peppermint all the things.

Then Cadbury Easter eggs will arrive in January.

*sigh*




Live From Under The ‘Over

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There is no such thing as ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ sangria. Sangria is a party drink designed to get your guests drunk really cheaply.

— Damian Corrigan, About.com Guide

Well, what Damian lacks in tact he makes up for by being right. Isn’t truth the best defense? Yes, I think so.

I found this quote when I Googled “how to make traditional sangria” because all of the sudden I have noticed that sangria has become cool. Except, the sangria they are serving in bars and restaurants these days cost $15 a glass and doesn’t taste right. It has become something hipster and these children are tinkering around.

What happened? No one knows how to make sangria right anymore!

In the folds and recesses of my mind, I remember someone’s mom or abuela telling me “Oh, Sangria is easy, just buy the cheapest sweet red wine you can find, pour it in a pitcher then cut up a bunch of fruit and drop it in there and let it sit for a couple days.”

That’s it. That’s how I recall it being told and that’s how I recall sangria should be made. Sweet, fruity, and inexpensive. It takes a few days to make it right. Land of Mañana. A little slow and easy on a hot summer day.

These days bars make “sangria” on the spot, mixing some red wine, some other hard liquor (brandy, vodka, rum or in the case of a restaurant in San Francisco, I swear it’s everclear) and tossing in a couple orange slices.

It doesn’t taste right. It wasn’t given time to do what good sangria should do.

I remember as a child, my mom confiding in me that the best sangria she’d ever had was at La Tertulia** in Santa Fe. I remember dining with the folks and all the adults at the table seemed to love the stuff, like kids and Kool-Ade.

Later as an adult I got to give a pitcher of La Tertulia’s nectar a sip for myself, and by god mom was absolutely right. Ab-so-loot-lee. Mom knows her sangria.

So all this sangria angst was dusted up because over the weekend while at my local Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bottle of Maria Ole Sangria that had been touted so highly in the sales circular.

I put that bad boy in the ‘fridge to get nice and cold and last night on a really mellow evening, I cracked it open and poured some out.

It was pretty terrible. Really terrible. I finished the glass and decided to give it a chance. Sometimes crappy wine needs a second glass. That’s my theory anyway. Second glass didn’t do much to improve this swill.

Very disappointing.

And the worst of it? Today I am slightly hungover. Not in a big way but in that “shoot, I drank some crappy wine last night” and now I’m mad. Good old fashioned aged sangria is usually mellowed out enough that it doesn’t hurt the head.

This new era of not really sangria not only hurts my head, it hurts my heart.

____________


**Sadly, La Tertulia is no more. I shall always remember their indian tacos and their sopaipillas and yes, their delicious sangria. *sigh* Pour one out for a NM institution…..











Image found here.




Functional. Alien. Beautiful.

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My new commute is bringing me lots of new things to look at and new sights I’ve either not seen before or haven’t seen in a real long time.

I’m starting to figure out which side of the train to sit on to take in some of the coolest views on the journey.

One of my favorite parts of the ride is emerging from the tunnel on the Oakland side. Now, Oakland gets such a bad rap, but I find much of Oakland quite beautiful. (No city is 100% beautiful)

In fact, going home each night, I love to sit on the left side of BART so I can take in some gorgeous sunsets over the Port of Oakland.

Here is a photo I snapped with my iPhone from a moving train:




Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page.



I love this photo. What you are seeing here are the shipping container cranes at the Oakland docks. Often compared to At-Ats, I think these are some of the most fascinating machinery I’ve ever seen.

I recall when the first of these cranes were purchased several years ago. They came in on a ship from Asia and were so huge, there was much worry about bringing them in under the both the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge. One big wave swell would have spelled millions in damages. They made it through safely and now many more have come to take their place, revolutionizing how Oakland moves cargo.

This is how you get your stuff, man! Pretty cool.

These cranes make fast work of unloading big metal boxes of goods from the incoming freighter ships. Every morning through the BART windows I see eighteen wheelers lined up ready to get their payload so they can haul it off to the four corners of the state and country.

The Port of Oakland is the fourth busiest container port in the U.S. Their efficiency is amazing.

And those big beautiful industrial pieces of equipment are fascinating. When silhouetted against the setting sun they are so alien and yes, so incredibly gorgeous.

They are modern and very functional art.