Monday, February 19, 2007

night walk

A gorgeous weekend... we had a spectacular Saturday in Napa with Scott & Louise. Breathtakingly beautiful and warm all day long. The two hour talk on the front porch of the brilliant Victorian house of St. Clement Winery drinking a bottle of buttery Chardonnay while talking of faith, church, life, was the highlight of a perfect day.

Today, Dan and I roamed our city. We slept in and ate banana pancakes I made, then had a leisurely, long Italian lunch at Perbacco in the Financial District. Afterwards, we went to SF MOMA since we have free membership through Genentech to go any time. It was nice to head in for an hour just to check out the latest exhibits (a Picasso exhibit opens next week so we must return soon.)

There was a fabulous photography exhibit of Henry Wessel, a California artist (born in NJ) with a simple, clean style approaching what might seem like every day, bland subjects: tract housing, run down homes, people waiting in line, bushes, etc... Yet there is a haunting quality coupled with realism in his photos. Something very magical, especially in the "Night Walk" series, my favorite. It completely captures the spirit of a moonlit walk, so many fairy-like walks I've had, through neighborhoods at night: the glow emanating from each house, literally taunting me to come inside; the stark outline of trees against the night sky, illuminated by the moon. In my childhood, I'd take night walks often, in Orange County and in New Jersey, with the gentle stillness of the nighttime hours soothing me as each home settled in to sleep. I love these walks still, especially now in my own neighborhood with its gorgeous Victorians, unique homes, delightful corners and unexpected views from the hills. "Night Walk" captures the enchantment exquisitely. I found a website that shows these photos and others of Wessel's:

Wessel reminded me how much I enjoy Robert Doisneau's photography. I know some of his photos are so popular it borders on cliche to be a fan, but I am enveloped by the romantic, lyrical, beauty of his work:

We finished the afternoon sitting overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens with the glowing sun warming us, the surreal blue of the sky encompassing, the soothing downpour of the waterfalls, the birds bathing in the pool, people laying in the sun, reading a book, talking with friends, children splashing in the water. It is good to be alive and be warmed not only from without but from within by our Creator who crafted all of this simple, profound beauty.

Currently watching : The Science of Sleep

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


From my dear Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek", a soul book of mine for more than ten years now:

"You don't run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You'll have fish left over."

These lines hit me as a promise of hope back in 2000 when I had finally started dating Dan and was so afraid and unsure of where it would all lead. They are a promise to me again now as I wait, rather than run down, the uncertain but strangely freeing present... wait for the woods to open up to wild meadows and cliff side vistas.

Wait. It is coming.

Monday, February 12, 2007

the essential for the trivial

I love what C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham, said about him when being interviewed in Christianity Today for the book he published last year on his insight into "Jack's Life":

CT: Americans have latched on to C. S. Lewis, and yet here's a guy who was a chain smoker, who liked his pints, who told ribald jokes, and in general, wouldn't fit what we think of as the "typical evangelical." And yet we've all wrapped our arms around him. Why is that?
Gresham: One of the reasons is that through the—if you can excuse the expression—the bullshit that has come to be taken so seriously in American Christianity, through all of that, they can still see the essential truth that Jack represented. The problem with evangelical Christianity in America today, a large majority of you have sacrificed the essential for the sake of the trivial. You concentrate on the trivialities—not smoking, not drinking, not using bad language, not dressing inappropriately in church, and so on. Jesus doesn't give two hoots for that sort of bullshit. If you go out and DO Christianity, you can smoke if you want, you can drink if you want—though not to excess, in either case.


Currently Listening: Begin to Hope - Regina Spektor

Friday, February 09, 2007

And yet...

Reading Wendell Berry poetry again today and this passage from his "Sabbaths" series (2000) hits me powerfully, capturing the hope on the other side of despair:

Days without strength or hope,
days that pay the cost
of the always losing battle
that is never lost, and yet
in no foreseeable lifetime
is ever to be won. "And yet,"
I say again to myself,
"And yet.. . "

Currently watching : Conversations with Other Women

Thursday, February 08, 2007

the wild sea

A beautiful day with our dear McClellands... their family is in town and we enjoyed a day of pursuits together, from lunch on the beach, to watching the Queen Mary sail in, to the Super Bowl at Scott & Louise's place.

Scott's sermon was excellent this morning - about my long-held belief of God NOT being contained in any of the boxes we all put God in, even some of the good ones. I've written a number of poems about this from a young age, so it obviously connected with me right away. He shared images of God a few steps of ahead of where we've landed and settled, doing the next thing, in unexpected places, through people or things we didn't know God would move through. A truth I know well from experience in my short life thus far, but one I am thankful to be constantly reminded of... especially in this time of transition, loss, letting go of structures that have not helped, mostly hindered, despite the fact that I love people in those structures, know them inside and out, and do not want to let go of the safety of trying to make it work within them. But as always, tiring and frightening as it is, I know I must let go, release, set out to the wide open sea where God is working marvelous storms and beauty. Now is a whole new level of release and uncertainty.

I hate to leave many I love at the shore, realizing that I haven't figured "it" out anyway and must remember they're on their own journey, too, even at the shoreline. But I do know for a fact, as I always have, that God is not found in safety, sameness, complacency or in conformity to structures when the wild sea is calling.

Currently reading: "When the Powers Fall" by Walter Wink
Currently listening : "Freefall" By Kenny Barron & Regina Carter

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Las Vegas

A welcome change of pace and a birthday celebration for my Dannee... we escaped on a Wednesday from work to fly to Vegas and get a gorgeous suite at the Venetian for a third of its normal price (thank you American Express for the deal!) A living room, large bathroom with marble tub and glass shower, TVs in both the living room and bedroom - perfect.

Neither of us had been to Vegas in ten years and we remembered why: too fake, flashy, obnoxious, overpriced, lacking in anything real. YET... it was a mixture of hate and delight as we enjoyed the decadence of Sin City. We could wait another ten years to go back but it still was over the top fun for a couple days.

The first night we stayed out till 2am exhausting ourselves by walking around and checking out all the hotels that are new since we were last there... the fountains at the Bellagio were among my favorite things about the whole trip. Mesmerizing, we watched at least five or six shows over these couple days ... I could have watched more. The second night we came back to our room after a long, wonderful dinner and got hot chocolate and exquisite chocolates downstairs in our hotel, then took them up to our room where we ate & drank chocolate in bed while watching Letterman and late night TV. An ideal night.

Our favorite hotels were the Wynn Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (best food strip - so many big chefs in one spot) and the Venetian. The ultra-modern lake at the Wynn was not only the backdrop to two of our three dinners, but was the perfect spot to sit with mojitos on the deck overlooking the stunning lights and flowing water under heat lamps. That is, until weird, random things popped out of the lake every half hour to remind you you were in Vegas: such as a giant frog who sang "What a Wonderful World" - Louis' version. Strange and whimsical.

Despite the overpriced ridiculousness of Vegas restaurants, we had some fabulous meals in stunning dining rooms (knowing me, I thoroughly researched ahead of time to try and narrow down some of the best reviewed).

For Lunch, we dined at:
- Spago at Cesar's Palace (not our choice but last minute resort as a lot of lunch spots were closed since we flew in mid-afternoon): excellent gourmet pizza
- Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay (our local SF Fluer de Lys chef, Hubert Keller's creative burger joint - fun and hearty; mmm Blue Cheese Burger)
- Mesa Grill at Cesar's Palace (the famous Food Network chef Bobby Flay's Southwestern/Mexican restaurant - excellent tamales, the best pumpkin soup I've ever had!)

- Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare in Wynn Las Vegas (incredible seafood flown in fresh every day from Mediterranean; TOO expensive but a delightful, one-of-a-kind experience; the lobster/crab/langoustine pasta was to die for!)
- Okada in the Wynn (sleek Japanese/sushi restaurant at the base of man made lake and waterfalls; great sushi, though not as good as in SF, and robata grill along with your token top-notch miso cod dish)
- Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian (Emeril's steakhouse for Dan! Insanely huge, juicy steak; banana bread pudding with oreo ice cream; addictive beer, steak & cheese fondue with homemade pretzel sticks to dip in it)

We had breakfast one morn at Pinot Brassiere in the Venetian and brought pastries & foamy cappucinos into bed the second morning from Bouchon (our local Thomas Keller's spot). Drinks were had at some sleek bars including the Napoleon Cigar Lounge in Paris Las Vegas and at the Wynn/Parasol Up.

All in all, a memorable escapade mid-week to celebrate my Dan.

Currently watching : Da Ali G Show - Da Compleet Seereez