Sunday, September 28, 2008
We've both been to San Francisco a number of times, so there was nothing pressing beyond eating some great meals and walking the oh-so walkable city. Ate and walk we did. Except for the cab ride we took from our hotel to Aziza the first night - the ride was worth it, if nothing for the free sex advice we got from our Brazilian driver. The mother of three and grandmother of 1 was thrilled to learn we were taking our first away-from-baby trip, and passed along this tidbit.
That she learned from her grandfather.
When she was 12.
"Never let the cold weather enter your sex life, because it will never, ever warm up again."
I take it those Brazilians know of what they speak.
Frjtz was our first meal in the city as we got in too late to catch the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building. Frjtz is a local chain that really, really needs to open a branch next door to my house. It's simple: Belgian frites and crepes. The world's 2 most perfect foods (except for the cheese that I'm going to attempt to not mention for another sentence or 2). 18 different dipping sauces for the frites. We had the kalamata olive ketchup and the tamarind ketchup. Sounds kinda gross, tastes kinda heavenly.
We accidentally stumbled into Miette, a shop that I'd seen online, and, in person is really and truly just a ridiculous orgy of Everything Melissa Loves. Cute wallpaper. Glass canisters. Candy everywhere you look. Doe-eyed shopgirls that look like they were nabbed from the set of Amelie. I mean, c'mon. Don't you just want to put it in your pocket and take it home?
And then the dinner. Aziza is a Moroccan restaurant that gives off a low-fi glam vibe not unlike Electric Lotus in Los Feliz, except with the some of the best food I've ever eaten in my entire life. I don't say this lightly. The food was so good that it would interrupt our conversation mid-sentence. My first bites of arugula salad with a shallot vinagarette, figs, and that insane goat cheese jolted me into silence. I closed my eyes and felt the cheese melt on my tongue, tasted the tang of the fig mixed with the peppery arugula, and I moaned out loud. This was salad as foreplay. I think if the Brazilians imported some of said cheese, I don't think anybody would be worrying about cold weather mucking up things in the bedroom. It's that good. 1 Cilantro martini and cippolini couscous later, the walls shimmered, everybody looked sexy and the cab couldn't get us back to the hotel too soon.
There were tangy lemongrass noodles at Herbivore and more macarons at Cafe du Soleil. Sexy cocktails at The Clift. Browsing the shops of Hayes Valley and the Mission, not to mention finally stepping foot into the famed 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers' non profit tutoring facility, if tutoring facilities were made to look like a pirate ship/store and had classes on making skateboarding documentaries taught by Spike Jonze.
By now the city was just messing with our heads. It's hard to remember that this is vacation, that everyday life isn't a cavalcade of fabulous restaurants and shops sans baby, without jobs or any responsibility beyond finding more deliriously good food. That didn't stop us from dreaming a way back there.
Before we knew it we were in our rented Jetta and off to Napa with a quick pitstop in Alameda to visit our friends the Martins and its world famous cutest tourist attraction, their daughter Loris.
What to say about Napa that hasn't been said? Good food. Good wine. Blah blah blah. What about our cute little house?
It was built in 1890 as a wedding present. The couple married in the front parlor and had their babies in the back. The patio was just irresistible. I had almost forgotten the sensation of sitting outside without slapping some body part every five seconds while killing mosquitos. Come five o clock in the backyard with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc, it was physically impossible to hold any tension in our bodies.
We randomly popped into a winery in Calistoga, a gamble we took up a steep gravel road and a twisty drive through a gorgeous pine forest. We were met by the owner and his blind labrador retriever who poured us some wine and spilled a bizarrely personal story about estranged children, sharecropping, Hindus and Fox News. The wine was crap but he and the property were intoxicatingly strange.
We unwittingly had dinner at one of the Best New Restaurants in the US according to the NY Times, a restaurant/yoga studio called Ubuntu. By this point everything had been so stellar and so F-ing adorable that I was in danger of fabulous overload. But I soldiered through the Vegan devil's food cupcakes.
And then as they must, the fairytale came to a close, and we sat in miserable traffic on the way to the airport, remembering why we left California in the first place.
But I still miss you.
Thank you thank you THANK YOU to Grandpa John, Grandma Patti, Nana and Papa whose hard work and generosity made this trip possible. And a big, big middle finger to the phone call that woke us up on our last morning, informing us that our daughter had turned into a vampire and was biting a fellow inmate at day care. The one kid who couldn't walk.
Thanks for that.
The best of the rest:
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Because we are leaving for San Francisco tomorrow on our very first couples trip since the baby (!!!), I don't have all the time I would like to process to my hearts content. But here are a couple of images for now.
Now I must continue cleaning so that my inlaws will actually be able to see the floor...
Monday, September 15, 2008
Caleb and his snazzy furniture made their big debut on Saturday. As is typical for the CY Festival weekend, summer unleashed one last, nasty fireball of a farewell, but my fellow corn dog eaters were undeterred. Lots of people stopped in to check out his work, not to mention the old typewriter and phone propped up on his furniture. It was kind of amazing to hear more than one adult explain to their children what a typewriter was and how it was used before we all had our fingers transplanted with Wiis.
He received tons of praise and kudos for his work, and I just couldn't be more proud. I bugged the everlasting shit out of him this weekend, fussing over the staging of the booth and his business cards and the adorable if not illegible sign I whipped up during Harlow's nap, but it was because his work was that good that I wanted a setting that reflected it. If I can get my dream craft fair up and running in the spring, he'll be back with even more Skateland finery. In the meantime, if you want something built for your nursery, your dining room, your imaginary dream home, drop Caleb a line! Or go listen to his music, because when not building furniture and being an all around loving husband and father, he likes to play.
* my apologies to anyone who read this post prior to 10:30 PM CST as it appears my illiterate, possibly drunk, non-spellchecking alter ego decided to post in my stead.
I'd been in Los Angeles for a few months by the fall of 1997. I was lonely, beaten down, and had no business stopping by the Century City Mall "to see a movie" when I knew good and well about that pet adoption fair. I had been charmed by the frisky kitten, the one with the adoring crowd around him, but the facilitator pulled me aside and said that he would for sure be going home that day. What about Andy? He was big and black and three years old. Three strikes against him, she insisted. I was impressed by Andy's calm under pressure, his stillness when placed next to the spastic bunny and the whining German shepherd. I'd always wanted a black cat, a la Cosmic Creepers from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. So I ditched the movie and walked back to my car with "Andy," one yellow staring up at me through the cardboard carrier. We both had our doubts. The only thing I knew for sure was that that name had to go.
Andy liked to curl up in my lap as I spent hours on the phone talking to the boyfriend back home. And then sometimes things got weird. He liked to bite down on my arm like he would a mate's neck, trying to climb astride it even though he had been spade. Repeated calls to the vet yielded little more than a "Already spade? Hmmm..." Fortunately I was wearing a jacket the day he bit down on my arm and refused to let go. I managed to slip out of the jacket and gave the two of them some privacy. His amorous fixation with my arm ultimately faded, freeing up some of that testosterone to assault the neighborhood. He was a tough SOB, picking fights with any four legged creature that dared pass by our lawn. That even went for the dogs he occasionally chased out of our yard. He didn't always win, resulting in several emergency trips to the vet to remove embedded claws, cuts that needed to be bandaged, and for several harrowing weeks, an absess that needed to be drained via a tube sticking out of his chest and a cone around his neck. We tried to keep him inside for his own protection, but he would quickly announce his displeasure by pissing on the carpet and pooping on the wiring behind the TV.
But it wasn't entirely a nightmare scenario. Andy would often accompany us on our walks around the neighborhood, even following us as we walked up to the bars of Wilshire and waiting at the corner until we staggered home. He was gruff and skittish yet as contented as a kitten if you scratched him under the chin. He didn't take crap from anybody, quickly informing our new puppy who was boss by taking the poor dog down in a scrap heap of flying fur and claws. All Andy had to do was look at Murphy after that and the dog would hang his head and get out his way. He wore the mantle of Second Fattest Cat in LA after we entered him in the local Petco’s competition. That title was his until a woman arrived wearing a 20 pound Maine Coon cat around her neck. They got the first place title and free diet cat food for a year. Andy continued noshing on his poulet-flavored Iams and whatever mouse or bird that had the misfortunte to get in his way.
He really flourished after our move to Memphis. He loved lounging in the backyard, and after briefly going missing when our next door neighbor mistook him for a stray and kept him, he adopted her yard as his own. And after years and years of futile resistance, we finally allowed his brother The Kitten to join him in his escapades outside. They played, they lounged, they chased squirrels, and a peace absent from our home in a very long time returned.
I knew something was off when both of the cats had been missing for over 48 hours. When The Kitten came home by himself, I knew something was wrong.
We walked the neighborhood, calling for him. We checked the Humane Society website, but there was no record of a found black cat. Finally Caleb got permission from our neighbor to search her backyard, and that's where he found Andy, down for a nap beside her koi pond from which he would never get up. The Kitten must have sat beside him until he knew it was time to come home. He hasn't known a world without Andy, and he just hasn't been the same since he came home.
We buried him in the yard and said our goodbyes. But I still catch myself looking over my shoulder when we leave for our walks. I have a feeling he's still keeping watch just a few paces behind.
I miss you buddy.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I've barely seen the boy since as he has been out back in Santa's workshop, frantically getting pieces ready to show. He's been focusing particularly on pieces out of Skateland flooring, so if you know of any Derby girls or roller skating fans or anyone who wants a really cool piece of Memphis history, send them by! ! He'll be the at the corner of Nelson and Cooper with a toddler in one hand and a guitar in the other.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
But I don't have a problem with wasting space. Here is September's entry.
GREEN BY PROXY
by Melissa Anderson Sweazy
Just so we’re clear: I’m about as counter-cultural as Donna Reed. I live in midtown, but I’m still not exactly sure what a roach clip is or why anyone willingly places tie-dye on or even near their body. I want to trust the folks in charge. If the sky were to start falling, I would be likely to just curl up in the lap of Uncle Sam, a compliant little lamb who just wants to be told that everything will be okay. So no one was more surprised than me when I found myself encouraging Caleb’s dream of adding hemp farmer to his varied resume.
Every few months or so my husband would declare that he wanted to grow hemp, I would roll my eyes, and the balance that keeps our earth from spinning off its axis remained so. He would launch into an impassioned defense of the much maligned crop, explaining that it had thousands of uses, was easy on the land and – most importantly – lacked the chemicals or THC its cousin marijuana has to provide the high. The only thing I knew about hemp is that Woody Harrelson likes it a lot, he of the flavored oxygen bars and prodigious love of smoking some herb. Hemp, like marijuana, isn’t grown in this country without permits, so by extension, hemp – and Woody Harreslon - must be evil, right?
So I was a little confused when I found hemp milk on the shelf at my local Kroger. Having just weaned the kiddo, I was desperate to find her something to drink. She hated cows milk. It hated her. Soy with its suspect pseudo estrogen was out. Rice milk didn’t contain the fat necessary for brain development. And then there was hemp milk, right there on the shelf next to the Rice Dream. Made by Living Harvest, the packaging explained that it was brimming with protein and omega-3s and even came in chocolate and vanilla. Harlow loved it. Did a dance, sang, and performed tricks for her “ba-ba” loved it. When I mentioned to friends how much she loved it I’d get the same jokey “well – she must reeeaally like it,” response, the stretched syllables taking on a Cheech and Chongish inflection. And then I’d laugh, because the idea of my toddler getting stoned off of her daily sippy cup is perversely funny and because, according to DEA policies, it seems that is exactly what they believe could happen.
Now I was really confused. Hemp, I discovered after no small amount of research, is an amazing plant. In the early twentieth century it was the United States’ primary source for rope and sails. (Hemp comes from the Arabic word meaning canvas) With over 25,000 uses (everything from rope to paper to waffles), it’s truly the greenest of plants. It is biodegradable and an excellent rotation crop. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers, and hemp even provided the paper Jefferson used to draft the Declaration of Independence. But what it is not is a narcotic. Hemp (cannabis satvia) is in the cannabis family, but at the reunion it’s the bookish type in the corner while its wild cousin arrives on the motorcycle with the pregnant teenaged girlfriend. Because of its trace amounts of THC, it is impossible to achieve the high from smoking hemp. If grown in the same field as marijuana, hemp will choke its wilder cousin (jealous much?) and drastically reduce its THC content. So it would seem that the DEA was just misinformed, a bit hasty in declaring hemp an offender equally as heinous as marijuana. Right?
According to current policies, hemp is technically legal to grow in the United States but a permit to do so must be obtained first through the DEA – and there lies the catch-22. The Controlled Substances Act unequivacly equates marijuana with hemp, and despite legislature passed in states such as North Dakota that licenses their farmers to grow hemp, the DEA has yet to comply. Dave Monson, the first North Dakotan to receive such a license has since sued the DEA. When not farming, Mr. Monson is a high school principal and a State Representative – as a Republican. Not exactly a countercultural trouble maker. But such stubborn resistance is not a new trend.
According to pro-hemp literature, publisher tycoon William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers to report on the dangerous link between hemp and marijuana in the 1930s. Mr. Hearst had millions invested in timber forests, and these news reports circulated at the same time a machine had been invented that simplified making paper from hemp. In 1937, Dupont patented nylon rope, the same year that also saw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, inextricably linking hemp to marijuana and destroying the hemp industry. So it would seem that big businesses might actually depend on hemp’s unfairly sullied reputation to keep it from becoming a competing cash crop. But then, that would be awfully counter-cultural of me to suggest so. Visit votehemp.com for more information.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The show was crazy fast, setting up right before the meeting and then taking it down immediately afterward. But I got to shake hands with former mayors and pretend like actually knew what I was doing. It was cool to listen in on board members reminiscing about fair rides and watching them sneak a look at one of the more scandalous entries:
Selfishly I'm really sad that the Fair will be moving as it is just steps from our house, but I am so thrilled that this town is small enough that the President of the Fair stumbled onto my work and granted me such an honor.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Must sleep now. Precious few hours before the photography show and tons of work left to do...
I have been absolutely riveted by this blog over the last few weeks.
Blogger Stephanie and her husband Christian were in a plane crash a few weeks ago. Stephanie sustained burns to 80% of her body; her husband 30%. They are in and out of surgery and largely sedated. Stephanie's sister has been organizing fundraisers and benefits on their behalf when not taking care of her four nieces and nephews. If you can chip in some funds toward their expensive recovery, bid on an auction item of just send really wonderful thoughts their way, I'm sure it would be appreciated.
Now go hug your loved ones.