Let There Be Light 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The Photo Challenge this week is “Let there be light.”  Here’s an excerpt from the prompt on The Daily Post site:

We’re entering a truly light-filled season.  Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinarahs are spreading their glow in homes the world over (or are just about to), while main streets and public buildings are being prepared for the winter holidays with an explosion of bright decorations.

Take a look around you.  Choose one of the light sources you see, and make it the focus of your challenge entry.

So here are the light sources in this post:

  1. The taillights of passing cars, freeway signs, billboards — all on Highway 101, heading south towards San Jose
  2. The San Francisco War Memorial Opera House chandelier.  Self and The Man were there to watch the San Francisco Ballet.
  3. Boardwalk, Santa Monica.  Son and Jennie and self had watched a Cirque du Soleil show.  Afterwards, we had dinner at one of the restaurants on the pier.
101, 10:30 p.m., Saturday Night, May 2013

Heading home after attending a concert by the San Francisco Symphony:  Highway 101, 10:30 p.m., Saturday Night, May 2013

The Chandelier:  War Memorial Opera House

The Chandelier: War Memorial Opera House, April 2013 (Attending the ballet)

Santa Monica Wharf, after the Cirque du Soleil Show

Santa Monica Wharf, After Watching a Cirque du Soleil Show with Son and Jennie, February 2011

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through Your Eyes 5

101, 10:30 p.m., Saturday Night, May 2013

101, 10:30 p.m., Saturday Night, May 2013

Here’s a picture that self thinks fits in with the “World Through Your Eyes” theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

She took the picture on the drive home to Redwood City from a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Davies Symphony Hall — proof positive, if any were needed, that self has her camera attached to her AT ALL TIMES.  Self was so inexpressibly transported by the music.

Van Ness is a quick connection to 101 South.  This —  well, self really doesn’t know which part of the 101 she was on when she snapped the photograph.  She thinks it was somewhere close to the Van Ness on-ramp — ?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2nd Saturday of February (2012): Concert at Davies, Symphony Shop, Pocket Chinese Almanac 2013

Self and The Man were at Davies this evening.  It was fantastic!  A performance of Poulenc’s Stabat Mater, with beauteous Canadian soprano Erin Wall, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, conducted by Charles Dutoit.  After intermission, a performance of Berlioz’s Te Deum, with guest appearance by the Pacific Boys Choir.  Self had never heard either of these pieces before.  Their effect on self was quite electric.  She kept her eyes closed as much as she could, to concentrate on the music.  Towards the end of the Te Deum, she actually felt tears at the corners of her eyes.  But, mindful that The Man was staring at her with a look of utter amazement, she steeled the tears not to fall.

Did dear blog readers know that Poulenc was noted for being the most “cheerful” of all composers?  And he was apparently well-off:  He had an apartment overlooking the Jardin du Luxembourg (which self had occasion to ramble in, just this past July, dear blog readers!), and a castle in the Loire.  In the late 1930s (Poulenc was born in 1899), a good friend having been killed in a horrific automobile accident, he began to meditate on death and mortality and, in his castle in the Loire, wrote pieces like The Litanies of the Black Virgin.  His Stabat Mater is a very uplifting work.  Self particularly loved the passage (So handy that the text was in the program):

Holy mother, do this for me:
imprint the wounds of your crucified son
deeply in my heart.

During the intermission, self had to run to the powder room, and The Man said he would meet her at the Symphony Shop. Self had little tremors of premonition at the mention of “Symphony Shop.” She expressly told herself she would spend nothing at the Symphony Shop this evening. But since she was meeting The Man there, she couldn’t very well NOT shop. And she ended up spending about $40 (If you must know, the man spent $7. She tried to get him to spring for her $40, but he was quite adamant that he was “broke” and all his credit cards were maxed out. So of course self ended up feeling sorry for him. It’s a wonder she let him pay for his $7 item instead of offering to include it with hers!)

One of the things self sprang for (on a rack right next to the cash register, wouldn’t you know) was a tiny book called:

POCKET CHINESE ALMANAC 2013

Self knows it is all just superstition, but as soon as she got home, she turned to the prognostication for today, the 9th of February.  Lo and behold it is a good day for “rituals, asking for blessings . . .  meeting friends, going out, weddings, tailoring, starting a business . . .  ”

Starting a business!  An anxious glance at the clock:  11:52 p.m.  A little late to be thinking of what business she can start, there’s only eight minutes of Feb. 9 to go!

Self turns to the prognostication for Feb. 10:

BAD for the maiden voyage of a boat, hairdressing, manicure/pedicure, hunting, fishing, or starting new jobs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Brain Cloud, 3rd Thursday of April 2010: 7 Hours of Sleep, No More Symphony, 2nd Chance for Shteyngart

Oh, self had suuuch a good sleep last night, dear blog readers! She fell asleep on the couch while hubby was watching the Sharks in the Stanley Cup play-offs, and then she woke up just in time to catch some of Craig Ferguson, and then she wrote a few pages, and then she started reading an Economist article and started feeling her eyelids drooping, inexorably drooping, and next thing you know, it was 9 am, and Gracie was going ballistic barking, and the big Japanese street-wrecking machines were outside (They’re completely re-doing all the sewers on our street: at least the local government must have some funds), and there was a very loud bang and self knew it was hubby leaving for work (banging the door to wake her up, probably).

So, let’s see, if self adds up the two hours she was asleep on the couch, and five hours from 4 am to 9 am, she had seven hours sleep all told. Hallelujah!

Today, self had to work. And she had to water her garden. And she had to walk the dogs. And she had to buy them their extra-special diet dog food ($53 for 28 lbs., from Bow Wow Meow, but — anything for the li’l crits!)

The phone did not ring, not once while self was home. Oh, wait! There was a tinkle just a few minutes ago, but self saw it was from the San Francisco Symphony, and as self and hubby are imminently to be jobless and income-less (probably), we have decided not to take any more calls from the Symphony, much as we enjoyed the last two years of watching Michael Tilson Thomas and assorted greats (not to mention all those desserts at Citizen Cake!)

Self was in such a good mood that she even rescued the Shteyngart book (Absurdistan) from her car, which she was about to return to the library. And, as it turned out, immediately after self had made that momentous decision, she suddenly came upon a most hilarious scene (not the circumcision scene — about a dozen pages after), and it was about the 325-lb. hero falling in love. And self found that scene so absolutely sweet (though certainly it was written from a very sex-crazed young man’s point of view) that she smiled, then began to guffaw, and ever since then, self has been hugely enjoying this most picaresque novel of the new, mind-boggling Russia.

And now self, having walked and fed the dogs and checked all her e-mail (No one, no one has e-mailed her. And she can’t even decide whether to watch a movie this weekend, as it is going to be a very busy one — she has to be in the city Saturday and Sunday: let’s just hope her car doesn’t break down on the free-way! It does have a very weird knocking sound which even Dear Cuz remarked on, last time she was visiting, a few weeks ago, but that’s neither here nor there), is now all agog watching TMZ. God, WHY is she on TMZ? Why can’t she just watch “Justified” 24/7? She’s avoiding finishing her Netflix movie, “My Sister’s Keeper,” because she forgot when she ordered it that it was about someone dying of leukemia. And though the acting is very top-notch, it makes her weep.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Upon Arriving Home From the Symphony

Self and hubby had, as usual, a grand time at Davies.  The featured performer, pianist Yuja Wang, was fetching in a crimson dress.  She had very white arms and very black hair.  Since self could see almost nothing of her face, she seemed (to self’s very blurred vision) like an apparition.  Something like the ghost in the Japanese horror flick, “Dark Water.” She made deep bows to the audience, flinging her long hair forward over her head.  This girl is a year younger than son.  Like Dearest Mum, she is a graduate of Curtis.  Self toyed with the idea that Yuja is what Dearest Mum would have turned out to be, if she had not gotten married and had five children.  She’d be traveling all over the world in crimson gowns, making deep bows to adoring audiences.  Mind-blowing.

The other interesting feature of the evening was the premiere of a new piece by a 31-year-old composer named Mason Bates (what a fab name!) who was raised in Richmond, Virginia but moved to the Bay Area when he was 23.  This piece was fantastic.  It was otherworldly.  A man in a tuxedo wielded a broom to make swishing sounds against a piece of wood which were then amplified, augmented by actual taped conversation from one of NASA’s first space walks.  It put self in mind of — of course — Star Trek!  Interplanetary travel!  Spock!  Interplanetary travel!  Star Trek!  Spock!  Hot Spock!  Hot!

It was an extremely enjoyable piece.

Upon arrival home, self and hubby approached front door with some curiosity.  Would son and Rebecca be home?  Would they have made themselves dinner?  Would they be watching TV?  Would they be in the garden?  Would the dogs have gotten on Rebecca’s nerves?

But when we entered the house, though all the lights were on, and we saw some of son’s clothes draped over a dining room chair, there was no one inside (except for the li’l crits, of course).  Hubby became insistent that self call son to find out where he was.  “If you think I’m going to call son while he is out . . . no way!  Go ahead, you call him if you want to!”  Which did the trick.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Self Does Not Wish To Give the Wrong Impression

Yesterday was a good day! Yes, in spite of daunting excursion to Best Buy to look at bewilderingly pricey washing machines! Among the things that made yesterday a good day:

Self succeeded in making a reservation at Stelline, small Italian restaurant on Gough that self and hubby have been exceedingly curious about, ever since we started attending symphony concerts at Davies. In the past, every time self has tried to make a reservation, she’s told the restaurant’s already full. But yesterday, when self called (Self and hubby are going to the Yuja Wang concert on May 23: son will be back for a second conference, so he might be able to come with us!), she was able to make a reservation! Happy happy joy joy!

The other good thing about yesterday was: self was able to connect with composer Drew H, who she first met at VCCA two years ago, and we had a very lively conversation about our current project (which shall remain nameless because it’s still so new), and we exchanged news about residencies we are applying for, and he told me the shocking news that he’d been turned down by VCCA (!!!) to which self could only express shock/disbelief, for Drew is such a talented composer! Instead, he is going to Banff. Self then told Drew she’d probably be turned down if she applied again, which is why she’s so afraid to even try. It’s like — the first time was such a fluke! Anyhoo, she told Drew she was hoping to get a residency in Europe next year, and he on the other hand said he’d be very interested in getting a residency in the Philippines. And self said she had a friend who was a fabulous cook who owned an island and we could stay there. But then Drew asked if self’s friend had a piano, and self recalled that, at VCCA, Drew’s studio had not one but two pianos, both baby grands! Regretfully, she had to tell Drew that no, her friend had no piano. Not on the island, that is. She might have one in her house in Manila. But that’s not exactly what Drew had in mind.

Then, we began to talk about — what else? — “Star Trek,” the movie. And Drew said he’d seen it and really liked it. And then self asked him who his favorite character was, and he said “Spock,” (which is why self and Drew get along), and he said he’d seen “Wolverine” just the day before, and that one wasn’t any fun. And, just to impress dear blog readers, self will now reveal that at VCCA, Drew gave a little musical presentation: a song cycle that utilized the poetry of Anne Sexton. And self was so enthralled. Below is one of the Sexton poems that Drew set to music. After VCCA, self began to teach this particular poem at xxxx community college, and all her students loved it, without exception.

January 1st

    by Anne Sexton

My daddy played the market.
My mother cut her coupons.
The children ran in circles.
The maid announced, the soup’s on.

The guns were cleaned on Sun-day.
The family went to shoot.
We sat in the blind for hours.
The ducks fell down like fruit.

The big fat war was going on.
So profitable for daddy.
She drove a pea green Ford.
He drove a pearl gray Caddy.

In the end they used it up.
All that pale green dough.
The rest I spent on doctors
who took it like gigolos.

My finances are quite small.
Indeed they seem to shrink.
My heart is on a bud-get.
It keeps me on the brink.

I tell it stories now and then and feed it images like honey.
I will not speculate today with poems that think they’re money.

* * * *

Self thinks dear blog readers will agree: there’s something rather mordant about the tone, but that is why she likes it! Apologies if it doesn’t exactly put one into the “weekend frame of mind”, dear readers!

Stay tuned.

There Was a Line Like You Wouldn’t Believe

It hadn’t yet begun to rain when we made it to the city. We looked for a small deli recommended by Bourdain but couldn’t find it, so we ended up in a Japanese restaurant in Opera Plaza.

Hubby ordered the dragon roll and it came with a face and two bean sprouts for antenna (the image is preserved forever in a picture on hubby’s cell phone).  We rounded off the meal with ice cream:  green tea for hubby and red bean for self, and afterwards we found that dessert added $9 to the bill:  each scoop was $4.50.

But, anyhoo!  We made it back to Davies in time for the lecture. James Gaffigan, the Associate Conductor of the Symphony (who looks like a very young twenty-something), admitted to the venerable audience that everyone has a crush on Anne Sophie Mutter: “Heck, even I have a crush on her,” he said, to much laughter.

So, first was Michael Tilson Thomas conducting a Prokofiev (much livelier and bombastic than the usual). Then, she-who-everyone-has-a-crush-on made her entrance, in strapless electric blue gown that hugged every curve. Dear blog readers, when she turned her back to the audience, self was reminded of nothing so much as that ABBA singer, the blonde with the long hair, who was at one time known to have the best butt in the world. Anyhoo, Anne-Sophie’s butt can certainly give that ABBA signer a run for her money.

Another thing that self found unusual was how much she moved as she played. While other violinists (Joshua Bell et. al.) pretty much remain rooted to the spot, Anne-Sophie migrates across the stage, such is the energy of her playing. She didn’t move all the way from left wing to right wing, of course, but she did move a couple of feet. Self thought she held her violin rather high, so that when she applies the bow it looks like she is reaching upward to embrace something. Self kept leaning forward, leaning forward, wishing she were in the Orchestra so she could hear every nuance. At the end of the Mendelssohn, the crowd got to its feet and there were whistles and shouts and you’d almost think you were at a rock concert.

Afterwards, we tried to get our CD signed by she-who-everyone-has-a-crush-on, but the line was — oh, unbelievable. Instead, we drove back home, but hubby was so restless that we decided to try and have a nightcap at Peet’s (which of course was closed, at 10:30 p.m.) So, we drove back home and self sat down on the living room couch and the next thing she knew it was 4 a.m. and she was still wearing her symphony clothes. Hubby had his laptop part-way off his lap and was snoring, enough to bring the house down.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

February Is Almost Over!

Tomorrow is another Symphony Night: self and hubby have been anticipating this one for weeks, for the performer is violinist Anne Sophie Mutter (who self has heard was quite a bombshell — in addition to being a violin genius!) Last year, hubby and self watched a concert by a 30-year-old French pianist, thin as a reed, who also happened to have written a bestselling novel in France (!!@@) which fact had self, of course, gnashing her teeth in awe and envy.

The big decision is about where to eat: It’s our fourth concert of the season, and the previous places we’ve tried are

  • a small kebab place, busy with young people and families, on Hayes.
  • Citizen Cake
  • Hayes Street Grill (which had, hands-down, the most fan-TAS-tic french fries self has ever tasted: after she finished one small bucket, self felt like asking for another one)

Self tried making a reservation for Absinthe: she was informed that the next opening would not be until April.

If the forecast wasn’t for rain, we’d try places further afield. Oh well!

Today, self has to submit her NEA application. She pretty much did an eensy-weensy-miny-mo selection of 30 pages to submit. She chose her two favorite stories, even though one of them is un-published (Self lives for danger).

In a few days, self is going to New York. Her brother-in-law is going to be in Brazil, but her youngest nephew, the one who is wait-listed at Georgetown, will be there. The last time self was in New York was summer of 2006, with son. This blog was one month old. She was teaching on-line at UCLA Extension. She would read student stories in the mornings, and in the afternoons go with son to museums or bookstores. One day, she and son lined up at TKTS and bought tickets to a Martin McDonagh play (the guy who directed “In Bruges,” which so far has been self’s favorite Colin Farrell movie), “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” Son discovered the Strand and fell in love: he’d spend hours there, while self parked herself across the street, at Max Brenner, and stuffed herself with chocolate and peanut butter crepes!  Son lost his wallet, he couldn’t remember where, but a businessman picked it up on Park Avenue, saw the driver’s license, and had his wife mail it to us.  The wallet had tire tread marks and had no cash (of course), but the license and various photographs son had treasured were still there.  Son was so overjoyed that he asked self to mail the couple a box of See’s chocolates.  They responded.  If son had truly and for all time lost his wallet, that trip would not now have the aura of nostalgia self is at this very moment giving it.  Thank God for the kindness of strangers.

Upper West Side, August 2006

New York, Upper West Side, August 2006

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Post-Concert Report II

Dear blog readers, self is here to tell you:

    that Nikolaj Znaider, all of 33, is the greatest violinist of all time!

    And the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major rocks!

    And guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt (81 years old) rocks!

    And Citizen Cake octopus appetizer on new potatoes rocks!

    And Citizen Cake parfait with caramel sauce and brownie and marshmallow rocks!

    And finally, Hubby rocks for getting subscription tickets to another SF Symphony season of GRRREAT concerts!

Home in Redwood City (This One’s for Kathleen)

Hubby took the two fat beagles for a walk, while self went to the Main Post Office, which is the only one in Redwood City open on Saturdays. There was a line. Also, a homeless vet in a wheelchair begging by the entrance. Also, all the computers were down so only one clerk at a time was servicing customers. Also, the lady just ahead of self kept thinking of more and more transactions she needed to do. Giving self ample time to commiserate with the other customers, one of whom said she worked for the circus (which has been occupying Redwood City Main Library parking lot for the last couple of days).

The phone coughed to life occasionally, but every time it did, self was in the middle of doing something, and the caller never left a message. Hubby kept insisting that self should either answer the phone or give Dearest Mum a call, to which self’s only response was, What for? When Dearest Mum needs something from self, she always leaves a message. So it’s either Dearest Mum who-doesn’t-need-anything-that-badly, in which case self doesn’t need to call; or it’s a solicitor.

Later, self went to the Farmers Market (since it was such a bee-yoo-ti-ful day!) and bought a 10-lb. bag of oranges (only $6, compared to $8 at the Mountain View Farmers Market); two long skinny eggplants; a lb. of brussels sprouts; a pound and a half of tomatoes; and a half pound of smoked ham.

Then, hubby and self proceeded to the Courthouse Coffeeshop, where self had very fattening cheese blintzes smothered in strawberry jam, along with two eggs (over easy) and two huge sausages.

Tonight, hubby is taking self to our first San Francisco Symphony concert of the new season:  Tonight’s artist is Joshua Bell.  Self is so excited.  She hasn’t thought about anything other than this since last night.  She happened to spill the beans to Dearest Mum during one of their random conversations, also hastily adding that she did attempt to get an extra ticket to the concert, but “they were all sold out” (Self!  You will be damned for all time!  See what will happen if Dearest Mum ever discovers just how trippingly the lies roll off your tongue!), but Dearest Mum said she could easily get a ticket for herself from one of those scalpers who stand around on the sidewalk just before a concert.  To which self protested that scalpers charged exorbitant prices.  To which Dearest Mum declared that she would be willing to pay up to $150 for a ticket.  To which self replied that she and hubby planned to leave early, unconscionably early, something like 4 p.m., because hubby is anal about traffic, and also because we might want to have dinner at some place near Davies, like “Citizen Cake,” to which Dearest Mum replied that she herself had eaten in Citizen Cake, many times (which started self thinking:  And why have you, Dearest Mum, never offered to take Dear Broke Daughter-who-is-only-a-miserable writer to one of these many forays to Citizen Cake?) and knew it well and would love to eat there, and self very miserably said that she would check in with Dearest Mum just before she and hubby left for the city.

Today, however, it looks like self has been rescued by niece G, who called Dearest Mum this morning, which caused Dearest Mum to forget completely about Joshua Bell, since now all she wants to do is rescue niece G from the arms of niece’s African American boyfriend, and has made many plans to bribe niece, which include taking her shopping at Neiman Marcus.

So self and hubby are home, feeling mighty happy about being ignored by the whole world, and the dogs are happy, too, and are rolling around in the grass of the backyard, and it is such an excellent hot day, and not even the thought of facing student-who-keeps-wanting-to-direct-self’s-attention-to-the-fact-that-a-short-story-is-like-a-grain-of-sand, which the rest of the class at xxxx community college happens to think is an “absolutely brilliant” statement (Barf!  Barf!  Barf!  Barf!) on Tuesday can faze self.  Not, at any rate, when self has two huge cheese blintzes residing at the bottom of her tummy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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