Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Between times

Art in the San Francisco airport [Enrique Chayoga, "Love Letters," in Spanish, English, Filipino, Lakota, French, Italian, Japanese, and American Sign Language].

Travel days that involve hours in airports and on planes always feel like a gift to me. Even if I'm working, the time feels carefree and relaxed (except for those moments getting through the security). Today we left Menlo Park at dawn, and arrived in Anchorage about 6:30 p.m., with hours of sunlight left to enjoy. In between, we had a two-hour flight to Seattle, four hours there, and about three and a half hours on the flight to Anchorage. I spent much of it reading the materials that Antioch provided about the MFA program, trying to wrap my head around what it will mean to be a student in earnest. Bottom line: it will mean a lot of work! But fun, too (I am promising myself).

Dawn sky from Highway 101 -- with the ubiquitous power lines. Certainly there are places in California without so many of them, but we didn't see them.

Looking west from the train that runs from the rental car dropoff to the airport terminals -- morning fog over the hills.

Looking east from the airport -- this is maybe the San Mateo bridge?

Washing windows at the San Francisco Airport.

The wrinkly, crinkly silver water of the Pacific Ocean.

Flying past Lake Washington on the descent to Seattle -- the gray blur along the middle of the photo is from the jet engines.

A plane taking off, and Alaska and United planes taxiing to their runways; mostly sunny skies in Seattle.

Both San Francisco and Seattle airports have artwork; here is a charming creature from a Seattle pottery display ["Treasure Island" by Cappy Thompson and Dick Weiss].

Also in Seattle, one of several mosaics on columns along a concourse.

Jim's coup (he was sitting next to the window) -- the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm, with the train.

Coming over the Mat-Su Valley area -- hardly any snow for the end of March.

Home -- Anchorage, with the mountains rising behind, and Cook Inlet in front.

Anchorage sunset, just after 8:00 p.m.

Thanks for coming along on this trip to California! Thanks to Joe Lazio (expert on many things) and Cathy White (queen of bird identification), and everyone who has shared their California experiences and memories.  Special thanks to everyone who hosted us, and went out of their way to meet us for a meal -- we are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Next up -- Seattle in May. See you then!

Another mosaic at the Seattle airport.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Last California Day

Waxing moon, late afternoon, with palm tree.

We are wondering -- if we paint our house in Anchorage with these California colors, will we always feel that we are in the land of blue skies and flowers?

Freeways, going from Berkeley to the Stanford Mall. This is about the last we'll see of them for a while.

Industrial lines and shapes -- cell tower, loading cranes, bridges. We won't be seeing much of them in Alaska either.

Egret in the marsh adjacent to the industry.

Walker on a trail near the marshes.

Dumbarton Bridge, from the East Bay over to the Palo Alto area.

Our destination for the morning was the Stanford Mall, for last minute shopping. At 11:30 on Sunday morning, it was rather quiet. When we left around 2:00 p.m., lines were forming outside the more popular restaurants, and the  walkways bustled with people in spring clothes, Sunday dresses, and casual summer wear.

A woman relaxing in one of many comfortable chairs scattered around the open areas of the mall.

Mall fountain using "reclaimed and recycled water."

Man with cute dogs by another set of fountains.

I confess to taking way too many pictures of flowers because dozens of well-kept plantings all around the mall made them easily available. There were so many beautiful fresh blossoms on tree, shrubs, in planters. Nothing much in the way of weeds though -- Stanford Mall is well manicured.

Pansy and Cyclamens (Shooting Stars).

Azalea or rhododendron.

Not sure what the flowers with several tones are -- a form of Ranunculus?

A multi-flowered iris.

Pink poppies, white poppies, and ??

A vine with very large trumpet flowers.

A black-headed, rusty-backed small bird. Cathy White knows what all of these birds are, and will let me know soon.

Fiddleheads from Northern California at Sigona's market.

Mushrooms at Sigona's.

Afternoon crowd in front of Macy's.

Loaves of bread at La Baguette, the French bakery in the Mall. By mid-afternoon, the line extended well outside into the mall.

Delicacies at La Baguette.

We moved on, to El Camino Real near Jim's cousin's home, the road that delivers you unto the retailers of Menlo Park.

Feldman's book store has thousands of used books and a small, covered courtyard with a fountain and places to sit and read. We bought books there, and more at Kepler's downtown.

Buddhist goddess on horse, reading a small journal, in the window at Feldman's.

A rhododendron with two different colors of blooms.

Jim with the English phone booth by the train station.

A stained glass window at the train station.

A red-leaved tree n the late afternoon sun.

Jim's cousin Nancy and her husband Don Barnby -- another cousin on Jim's side of the family wanted to see them. They have most generously hosted us for several days of this trip, and just this evening cooked a wonderful meal for us. It's a pleasure to see them.

Dogwood with curled-together flowers.

Tulip in the throes of its last flourishes, with pansies.

Potted palms at the Stanford Mall. Waiting for the day when we can plant them alongside the birch trees in Anchorage.

Berkeley day --

I'm going to miss waking up to morning views of palm trees and blue skies.

We drove across the Richmond Bay Bridge this morning, from San Rafael to Berkeley.

View across the Bay.

For me, Berkeley is an odd mix of Midwestern and California, with its own unique additions of "only in Berkeley" phenomena -- which I may find odd only because I don't know California well enough. The neighborhoods and sidewalks (broken and uneven concrete pavement with little weeds growing  in the cracks) feel Midwestern; the palm trees and exotic flowers seem California, and the people on the streets seem Berkeley-esque.

The iris could easily be Midwestern.

but not the Birds-of-Paradise.

The squirrel and the lawn could be many places -- Anchorage, the Midwest, California,

but the tiled staircase is most likely California (or someplace Mediterranean).

Spring break, and the Berkeley campus was exceedingly quiet. On a warm Saturday morning, almost hot by Alaska standards, only one student was stretched out taking in the sun.

Agapanthus (Nile Lily) blooming on campus.

A dozen people were swing dancing in front of a closed building,

and over at the theater, two groups were drumming in the shade. They were happy. They made us happy.

Another reason that Berkeley reminds me of the Midwest is that it's a little wild around the edges, "weeds" grow up along edges of sidewalks and buildings. Many of the homes in the area we were walking, near the University, appear to have allowed their lawns to go natural in an effort to save water.

We met friends (Cynthia Wooten Cohen, and Mike Cohen) for lunch at Chez Panisse -- unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of them. And almost none of my pictures of the restaurant turned out either.

The lunch menu for the day.

We had a delightful meal, and a wonderful time recalling the Odyssey coffeehouse that Cynthia and her late husband Bill started in 1968 in Eugene, Oregon; the Country Fair that they started in 1969 (which continues today); and catching up on life in the past forty years.

A loaf of Chez Panisse bread.

A bouquet in the Chez Panisse lobby.

Walking back to the car, we saw more California sights -- a box of citrus fruits set out at a curb for anyone to take.

A profusion of jasmine, wisteria, and honeysuckle, all smelling even more enchanting than it looked.

A squash on a weathered fence post.

A shop with brilliant sundresses for girls.

A market with the three different kinds of Spam on the shelves with other exotic meats.

I felt that it was rude to take photos of the people on the streets. I don't always hesitate, but today's groups -- a mix of homeless, buskers, many students, people who appeared to be retired, a few who looked like tourists, more police and security guards than we expected -- didn't feel approachable.

We met other friends from Eugene for dinner. The restaurant choice was Mission: Heirloom, a block away from Chez Panisse, but a very different approach to food. Mission: Heirloom serves/sells "bulletproof coffee," a wide variety of Paleo-friendly foods,

face cream for women with beef tallow as a major ingredient,

fresh, raw camels' milk ($19.99 a pint; produced in the U.S. A. on Amish farms in the Midwest apparently),

and very few grains (they said that I could drink the decaf coffee that I brought with me as long as it was "gluten-free").

We ate the broccoli-spinach soup, which was tasty,

and the chili chocolate cake which was beautiful and good (but a little dry).

Our friends Franklin and Christina Mason (Franklin and I went to college together, and hung out in Eugene in the late 1960s; he and Jim knew each other from teaching days in Iowa. His wife Christina is a dentist in Clayton east of Berkeley).

Yellow Clivia on Vine Street near Shattuck.

We are nearly at the end of our California sojourn. It has been an exceptional opportunity to catch up with relatives and friends, to make new friends, and to experience the delights of this state. We will be happy to get back to Anchorage, and look forward to our next trip here.

Tomorrow, a last day to wrap up shopping and visiting, to smell jasmine, to see jade plants the size of rose bushes, and to bask in the sunshine.