Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Morning

Silas is napping his 9 AM nap, Ben is surfing his Saturday morning surf, and I am sitting up in the loft. It is clear and cool outside. From here I can hear the sound of the freeway and the quiet of Saturday mornings.
I just got back from breakfast at Kim's house. Sunflower Bakery bakes such good bread. Frontier is my usual, but this morning we had cinnamon swirl as french toast. Yum.
Last night Ben and I found a babysitter (hooray!) and went on a date. I made Beef Bourguignonne yesterday -- this is NEW territory, making recipes for dinner -- so we ate here, then went to Alta for vanilla chai and chocolate cake, then a bonfire on the beach. The wind was cold off the ocean, but fed our fire, which smelled like pine. We sat on the cold sand, the skin of our faces hot, talked and read Prince Caspian. On the way home, we stopped by Ralphs and each got bags of bulk candy (really to break a $20 to pay the babysitter) -- I mixed gummy frogs, good n plenty, those gummy black/raspberries, and jordan almonds. Ben put each kind in a separate bag: sour apples, reces pieces, red licorice (which ended up being waxy and hard and tasting like my childhood).
There are so many things we will miss if we move (it kind of makes my chest hurt). The other day I found myself wondering how life could ever be better than this...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Driving North on the 5

The drive from my house to San Francisco has become one of my favorites. First of all, it is beautiful and the landscape is so varied (back to this). Also, once through LA, there is hardly any traffic and you can fly. There are also multiple rest stops with Starbucks and huge mini marts. Always a plus.

The landscape: it is Orange County/LA weirdness -- strip malls, brake lights, weird power plants, car dealerships, sitcom billboards -- until you come to the Getty perched up on the left. Then there is a gradual climb up and the scenery quiets into steep brown mountains patched with brush, and then a decent into "the valley." The net 45 minutes or so, you climb and wind through the mountains. They are a different kind of mountain than we have in the east -- they look much more geologically formed, more sculpted crevices and grooved faces, as if water gushed down them not too long ago. Their surface is different too; rather than being covered head to toe in trees, they are brown dirt and rock with scattered shrubs, desertous ones, patchy over them. The higher you climb, though, the more pines there are, and this morning, I even saw some stubborn remaining snow frozen in the shadows.

When the road begins to wind downward (my ears always pop here), it suddenly straightens out into a perfect ironed ribbon and the land becomes farms as far as you can see. Unfortunately, yesterday when I drove north, there was so much smog that as far as I could see was only a few cars in front of me. . ,

The farm land lasts for miles and miles. There are mostly orchards. Some were shaggy with leaves and full of oranges, but most were barren. Those trees, which I think were almond trees (must ask Eli) were the color of pink tinsel Christmas trees, but quieter -- just the sheen along the bare branches.

My favorite part of the drive is what comes next -- the smooth round hills, much softer than the others, that bulge and roll for the miles before San Francisco. These hills, I think, are where Salinas is -- read East of Eden. These hills, which slope to the road and have cows standing at impossible angles on them, are different every time I pass them. They change with the light and the seasons. Last time I drove, they were soft and downy (see pic below), but yesterday they were different entirely. They looked more like worn leather, the down gone, like skin. They looked muscular, sensual, breathing.

And today they were shadowy and lovely but not striking. These are the hills where the windmills are that make me think of Ben. Yesterday, they were all stopped. Almost eerie. And I wondered who decides that an energy supply is sufficient for the moment, who programs them to resist when the wind blows.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Road Trip

I am sitting in Kirsten and James' apartment in San Francisco. Decided this morning to pile Silas in the car and drive up for Kirsten's Stegner reading. Throwing things in the car is much more involved with an infant... I remember swearing that when I had a baby I would not haul a lot of things around, but it turns out it is a worthy trade off to be prepared. And so here I am with suitcase, huge bag, small bag, pack n' play, refrigerated items all in hand...

It also turns out that it is difficult to attend a poetry reading fully with a 10 month old. I walked into a woman's office in the Stanford English Building (a woman who was clearly working -- books open and typing) and asked her if she'd be willing to play with a baby for 5 minutes. How could she say no? So thanks to Melissa, I was able to have 5 uninterrupted minutes of listening. Kirsten was poised and despite herself seemed utterly at ease. And her poems were, of course, striking.

And now I am sitting in an apartment I love -- blend of modern and antique -- cream, oranges, green. I love it here. Off I go to retrieve my suitcase from the car.