Places: 2011

Places encountered in the Philippines:

  • Balay Daku, Burgos Street, Bacolod
  • La Vista Highland Resort
  • L’Fisher Chalet!  You’re the best!  Self loved, more than anything, chatting with the staff, who at first mis-took her for a doctor (Doctors Without Borders had arrived, almost the same time as self.  Self hates that she had to leave the same day as Chinese New Year, when the Dragon Parade was just entering the hotel lobby)
  • Bailon Fastfood, Pendy’s, Virgie’s and every bakery known to man in Bacolod
  • Silay:  Balay Negrense
  • Louie’s, Lacson Street, Bacolod
  • The Landmark, Makati (the Tar-zhay of the Philippines, and the place for dresses, self kids you not)
  • Peking Duck something something in Makati somewhere, this was supposed to be her “farewell” lunch or some such.  At least, all her brothers were present.  Dearest Mum got into a fight with a waitress because a dish listed on the menu as “with walnuts” presented “with kasoy.”

Places encountered since getting back to California:

  • Country Kitchen, Vierra Canyon Road
  • de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park
  • Hiller Air Museum, San Carlos
  • Manilatown Heritage Center (for the launch of Zack’s book)
  • Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop, Hayes near USF
  • Palace of the Legion of Honor
  • Tribu, San Bruno
  • Giant Pak’n Save, South San Francisco

Places Encountered in New York City:  The Smyth Hotel and Plein Sud, as well as the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, as well as 9th Street off St. Mark’s Place, as well as the Flatiron District near the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as Madison Avenue (on the day Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon were filming a movie) and Mercer Street (the Korean Bar with the cute waiter that Drew has his eye on)

Places encountered after returning from New York:

  • Auto Pride Car Wash, San Carlos
  • Brian’s house somewhere in Marin
  • In Palo Alto:  Kara’s Cupcakes, Howie’s Artisanal Pizza, Rick’s Ice Cream at the Arrillaga Alumni Center and Hoover Archives on the Stanford Campus
  • Macy’s, Stanford Shopping Center
  • Menlo Clock Works
  • three different farmers markets:  San Carlos, Redwood City, and Menlo Park

This morning, self awakens and YOWZA!  She has a big pounding headache, the kind she thought was only possible after a night spent drinking.  She thinks back to yesterday:  Yes, she did make it to San Carlos Farmers Market (which keeps shrinking), and she did buy two pounds of the sweetest, juiciest Bing cherries imaginable, and she does recall hubby interrupting her while she was writing on her computer, and yes she did what she always does when she is frustrated: grab fistfuls of cherries, and this morning there is nothing left????  Is there a link between cherries and headaches?  Well, there is probably a link between two pounds of anything and headaches.

Anyhoo, self stumbles to the kitchen, where faithful Bella awaits her breakfast, and then afterwards self stumbles to her daily horoscope (“If you can’t see the finish line in the near distance, don’t get frustrated —  turn around!  There you’ll see it, miles behind you.”  —  BWAH.  HA.  HA.  HA) and then she opens her book, Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts.  Fermor was a teen-ager who got kicked out of school and decided to write a book about walking from Holland to Constantinople.

A few days ago, just after beginning this book in fact, self was googling Fermor when she found out he had died.  That very day.  He was 96 years old.

Or how about this?  She was reading a 2007 issue of The Multicultural Review and she found a notice that Alex Taylor of Curbstone Press had died.  Self knew the name was familiar:  she rushed to her files and yes, she found a letter from Alex Taylor, dated oh so long ago, telling her he would be willing to see more of her writing.  So, that was a bad moment.  Self missed Alex Taylor’s death by about four years.

So, back to the Fermor book.  He has crossed Holland (with amazing speed, self must say) and is now in Germany.  On the banks of the Rhine, he takes refuge in an inn called Zum Schwarzen Adler.  Here is how he describes the inn (Every so often, self has to remind herself that this is 1933):

The opaque spiralling of the leaded panes hid the snowfall and the cars that churned through the slush outside, and a leather curtain on a semi-circular rod over the doorway kept the room snug from cold blasts.  The heavy oak tables were set about with benches, hearts and lozenges pierced the chair-backs, a massive china stove soared to the beams overhead, logs were stacked high and sawdust was scattered on the russet tiles.  Pewter-lidded beer-mugs paraded along the shelves in ascending height.  A framed colour-print on the wall showed Frederick the Great, with cocked hat askew, on a restless charger.  Bismarck, white-clad in a breast-plate under an eagle-topped helmet, beetled baggy-eyed next door; Hindenburg, with hands crossed on sword-hilt, had the torpid solidity of a hippopotamus; and from a fourth frame, Hitler himself fixed us with a scowl of great malignity.  Posters with scarlet hearts advertised Kaffee Hag.  Clamped in stiff rods, a dozen newspapers hung in a row; and right across the walls were painted jaunty rhymes in bold Gothic black-letter script:

Wer liebt nicht Wein, Weib und Gesang,
Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang!*

Who loves not wine, women and song,
Remains a fool his whole life long!

Beet, carraway seed, beeswax, coffee, pine-logs and melting snow combined with the smoke of thick, short cigars in a benign aroma across which every so often the ghost of sauerkraut would float.

Amazing, simply amazing.  Self means:  a descriptive passage that can encompass all these disparate elements:  “hearts and lozenges” piercing the chair backs, Hitler scowling from a portrait with “great malignity,” and a rhyme celebrating wine, women, and song.

Only a few beats later, Fermor describes the entrance of a dozen S. A. men:  “They looked less fierce without their horrible caps.”  And what do these men then proceed to do?  They sit themselves down and begin to sing a song about “love under the linden trees”:

Darum wink, mein Madel, wink!  wink!  wink!*

So wave, my maiden, wave, wave, wave.

Sentimentality, banality, and incipient evil:  everything Hannah Arendt wrote about in Eichman in Jerusalem:  Here they are, on display in Fermor’s book.  He witnessed all this as a teen-ager, “someone born in the second year of World War I.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


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