Monday, April 28, 2008

Go Fly a Kite

In our 7 months of living in San Francisco, one of the real constants that we have found is that every day sometime around 2:00 in the afternoon the wind will start blowing in off of the Pacific. If you happen to be near the bay in the Marina District or at Fisherman's Wharf, the wind is quite obvious and sometimes down right cold, even in the summer. Given the consistency of this daily occurrence, it creates an ideal time to fly a kite. And since the Marina has an open area with no trees that is about the size of about 6 football fields, it becomes a great place to fly a kite. So with an ideal time and a great place, how could we not go fly our own kite?

I was supposed to find a kite that I wanted and order it on line. Unfortunately, I just never got around to it. I was getting down right naggy about the kite. When I first thought of it I was just thinking it would be a fun outing when Reeder comes to visit (I love planning outings for grandchildren that are only a thin excuse for doing something I want to do- but wouldn't because I'm "not a kid anymore"), but the more I thought about the kite the more excited I became- so I'd bring it up- and bring it up- and bring it up. But somehow I couldn't get a fire lit under Don's butt to actually order the kite! So Max planned our Saturday to include a drive in the Smart Car (so we could find a place to park) down to Chinatown where there is a kite store.

Max had already staked it out during one of her trips to Chinatown to visit one of her patients. I am absolutely all over this city visiting patients. So I couldn't help just "driving by" the kite store. So by now I was so obsessed (Marianne thinks Clint "inherited" this "determination" from me- Clint is now "obsessed" or "determined" to watch a ballgame in every ball park in the country- a much harder task than lighting a fire under Don to buy a kite- Clint is just more ambitious than me.)

This place was packed with kites. They were hanging from the ceiling, stacked on shelves and covering the walls.

I didn't want a trick kite, the kind with several strings that you can make fly in figure 8's. But then again, I also didn't want the old diamond shaped kite that we used to make out of newspaper when I was young. So I picked out a colorful butterfly kite and 500 feet of string on a winder. These new kites are made out of light weight ripstop nylon with flexible plastic rods to provide the vertical and horizontal supports. They are so much better than the thin balsa wood cross with paper stapled to it that we used to use. I cared not a bit which kite we got- though I do love the butterfly- I just wanted a kite- And this was definitely the place to buy a kite!

We were late getting down to the Marina and didn't arrive there until about 4:30. The wind was moving at a pretty stiff clip by then and there were at least 12 other kites already in the air. But this is a big grassy area and has plenty of room for kite flying.

At first I didn't have it put together right and the wind just blew it to the ground. Once I figured it out and had the rods in the right place, it almost flew by itself.

So Max and I spent nearly an hour flying this kite against an absolutely clear blue sky.

I had sooooooooo much fun! I think the last time I even tried to fly a kite was probably with Clint and Brandy in Norman- I can't remember now if there was enough wind to catch the kite in the sky. But our butterfly floated in the clear blue sky above us on this lazy Sunday afternoon. I had thought we might fly the kite for 15 or so minutes- I think we stared up into the beautiful sky and our kite for close to 60!

Who would have thought that flying a kite could still be so much fun. The answer is Max, the person who planned and executed this whole afternoon.

Cincinnati Reds in SF

The Reds only came to SF once this season and it was last week. So of course Max and I got our tickets to go on Saturday night. Now the Reds haven't had a stellar season thus far this year. In fact, I believe they had lost 12 of their last 15 games before this one including two loses to SF. This was the third game of the 4 game series. We took the bus down to the Embarcadero and walked the two miles to AT&T park. This is a really nice baseball park. Imagine the new Cincinnati Reds Great American Park, except as a backdrop you have the San Francisco Bay instead of the Ohio River. It is a little different.
I love going to ball games- it always screams the coming of summer- and such a lazy way to spend an evening- it's not much work- and baseball fans don't do that up and down and up and down and up and down of some other spectator events- just sit and soak up the evening mood. I do love THE GREAT AMERICAN PARK in Cinti- always welcoming- and when you don't want to watch the game you can watch the river go by. And the ball park here is so like the Cinti park- just bigger- And of course I must admit watching the boats here in the Bay is quite an experience.

We had great seats, up a little high, but right behind home plate. I did see another person quite a ways away from us with a reds hat on, but other than that, it was a sea (or a bay) of the SF Giants orange and black. Max and I wore our red shirts and we each had on a Reds baseball hat.

Max and I do enjoy going to a baseball game, but it's not just the game that we enjoy. What can be better than also enjoying a Giant hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard. We each had one and just called it dinner.

It is usually our habit that Max always does the hot dog buying at the ball game, which is something that I don't mind a bit. But she also knows that mustard has a great affinity for parts of my body other than my mouth. Consequently, I think she sometimes tries to see how much mustard she can get onto a hot dog and then how much of it gets transferred to my nose, my chin, and my clothes. As you can see from the above picture and the one below, taking a bite out of this dog covered with mustard can include some occasional misplacement of the yellow stuff. At least I had lots of napkins to get it off of my nose before she took another picture.

Watching Don eat a "dog" covered in mustard and sauerkraut is so much fun- and he always get mustard on something- this night it was all over his blue jeans. And I wasn't quick enough to get the picture with mustard on his nose- and he did look just a bit cranky when I scrambled for the camera rather than the napkins!

This game was certainly the one we wanted to see. By the 7th inning, the Reds were ahead 10-5 and the SF fans started leaving. We were lucky we were sitting among very good natured Giants fans- they didn't scowl when we cheered for the Reds- though we did clap when the Giants did something right- which wasn't too often actually. They did get a bit testy when the refs called all our runners safe (couldn't tell from our seats) but we tried to stay a bit quiet at these moments. We of course stayed until the end, and the end was more exciting than the rest of the game. In the bottom of the 9th, the Giants scored 4 runs to make the score 10-9. They had one man on base with two outs and the winning run at the plate, but Cincinnati's closer did just that and struck out the last batter to give Cincinnati the win.

We left the game and caught the trolley back to the Embarcadero and then the bus back to our neighborhood. The trolley was packed with Giants fans, but we proudly wore our Reds hats. I had to hold Don back- he was so proud that he rather wanted to rather gloat (that is so Don)- I was afraid for a minute that at this point in the evening these Giants fans might get a little surly- I will say they didn't look the least bit happy that's for sure. It was a great game and great fun. We may actually go to another Giants game just because it was lots of fun.

PS: Look closely in the last picture- and you'll see our reflection in the glass! What a great time we had.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Next Year in Cincinnati"

Each year for the last oh so many years we have celebrated Passover with our wonderful friends, Fouad and Mary Ezra. But this year we aren't in Cincinnati for the celebration- we're far, far away from home. I rather thought I might ignore the whole event- nothing seems very real here in San Fran- as if the calender of the year is a bit off kilter (no falling leaves, no snow, no teasing of a spring that waits so very long to finally arrive)- so it's easier here to move from one day to another without so much a thought to season, to rhythm.
But then somehow the time just couldn't be ignored- and finally I decided that we would do a "symbol" of Passover- just to mark the day- and remember.

Further, our friend Linda Wise was here visiting us. Linda always comes to our house for Thanksgiving (at least when we are in Cincinnati). But this year she joined us for a short vacation visit to San Francisco and thus also for Passover.

I decided to cook Matzo Ball soup and Charoses (a mixture of apples, nuts and wine and cinnamon- a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews in the construction of buildings as slaves in Egypt). And of course you have to have Matzo crackers for the Charoses and horseradish.
BUT THERE WERE NO MATZO CRACKERS IN THE WHOLE OF SAN FRANCISCO! Honest- the story even got reported in the New York Times- Now this is big news- Passover in the San Fran- and no Matzo crackers- I couldn't decide from the article if the blame is on the manufacturers back east- or Costco or Trader Joe- But somebody has to be the fall guy in this travesty. So Passover went on without Matzo crackers in the homes (except those willing to drive literally hours away)- But there was the soup.

Max did buy some Matzo flour, something just made for making Matzo balls. So we mixed up the dough and then made the Matzo balls to cook in the soup. Now no one told us that Matzo balls swell up when you cook them, so we made Matzo balls that were about the right size for us to eat. Once cooked in the soup, these Matzo balls turned into Matzo giant balls, more the size of a large eggs. Consequently, we had plenty of Matzo balls in the soup.

But first things first- The surprise was the call from Fouad and Mary from Cincinnati-
So we toasted the day together...

And there was Matzo Ball Soup and Charoses and wine and eggs and bitter herbs....

The ceremony always ends with "Next year in Jerusalem"- that plaintive from the heart for one's homeland. For us we ended with the toast "Next year in Cincinnati!"


PS: Today (4-28-08) we got the most absolutely wonderful surprise when we returned from dinner. Mary sent us Passover cookies- not the bland Manichevitz macaroons that still haven't been eaten- but the real deal.

So we're going to divide them into two containers to make absolutely sure that Don doesn't get more than his share (he actually had eaten one before I had time to remove my jacket!)