Finding the Art in Everything

22 September, 2010

Birthday List

I can't seem to help myself. I don't need anything else. I know I don't. The thing is, I have been posting a birthday list for three years. Although it is a bit later than usual and I live really far away, I thought I'd maintain the tradition.

10 September, 2010

Desert Island Books

"If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one (fill in the blank) you'd want to have with you?"

It's annoying when people say "The
Bible", because we never know if they mean it.

When getting ready to move, this question doesn't exactly count as packing strategy. But the process of selection and rejection is an interesting one. People wouldn't ask about desert islands if what is brought or left wasn't somehow telling.

I don't have to answer "The Bible", because I am moving in with a Pastor. Chances are, there is a bible or two around that house.

I did however take my two beautiful bookshelves and consolidate the travel ones to a single milk crate. If it didn't fit in the crate, it didn't go. Forecasting what I'd need and what I wouldn't was tough. I mostly got it write, with a few exceptions.

The top-five books I'm glad I brought:

1. Discovering Marin, A Historical Tour of Cities and Towns, by Louise Teather.

Every time I go to a place in Marin County, I look up the history of where I went. The book had a 1973 copyright, so it's good for original history, but that's a pretty big gap and a lot has changed in Marin since the 1970's. A friend bought it for me at a book fair. I love the historical information more than I care that this is one of the most boring books I have ever read.

2. Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias. The more I read this, the more I see it as a manual to presenting the Gospel to the heart and mind of Marin County.

3. Holy the Firm, by Annie Dillard. One of my favorite books of all time, re-reading it comforts me. It is very atmospheric as I'm on the rugged, North-Pacific Coast. It talks about both God and Christian community as she finds them revealed in nature-- and God, Church, and Natural Beauty are intense parts of my experience here.

4. Lonely Planet's San Francisco City Guide. I have been a Lonely Planet fan for a while, but between this book and my GPS, I am fearless. I carry it around with me. A few times I have been in The City with some extra time, so I look in the book to see what else is in my neighborhood, plug it into the GPS, and off I go! Neither device, however, prepares me for the parking nightmare I'll find when I arrive. (On Parking: It seems the City of San Francisco got special help with it. They first employed petulant Olympian deities to grant or revoke them from drivers in an arbitrary way, then they reached out to the Italian mafia to fix the extortionist rates and enforce the meters.)

5. The Moon and Sixpence, by Somerset Maugham. Also, on a whim, I threw the Penguin Classics Letters of Vincent Van Gogh in the crate. The Moon and Sixpence is Maugham's fictional, literary tribute to Paul Gauguin. As I'm reading it, I'm finding the veil of fiction to be a pretty transparent one. This turned out to be my most precise set of predictions. While the Musee D'Orsay in Paris closes down for 9 months, my city is hosting some of it's masterpieces. San Francisco is the only one to get the works, and the exhibit is called

Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

I have seen these pieces before, but now I have the books to read and prepare so I can actually appreciate what I see when I do!

The milk crate wasn't a total victory, however. There are a few things I am sorely missing.

The top-five books I wish I'd brought:

1. Orthodoxy: The Annotated Edition - Paperback (Aug. 1, 2002) by G. K. Chesterton and Craig M. Kibler

3. Spirit Rebellious, by Kahlil Gibran--a vintage volume about the strife in Lebanon, on revolution and Society.

4. Everyman's Poems by William Cowper. I had a vintage copy from the 1930's that was the best collection of his work I have seen, especially with some rarely-printed favorites. I found myself trying to recall some of his lines the other day with no way to look them up.

5. The Maytrees: A Novel by Annie Dillard. I have time to read and I left my unread copy of this back in Florida. I keep seeing it featured everywhere here.

For the brief time I lived in that apartment, I sure did love having all of my books around me.

09 September, 2010

Arizona Top Fives

Arizona was a special state that deserves it's own post. It was the best state we visited for these five reasons:

1. Listening to On the Road by Jack Kerouac with Megan. I can't believe she actually liked it!
We would pause it to discuss what the author was saying, cultural history, and who was who, and she would have me write down lines for her. It was such a pleasure to share such a wacky thing with her, and when we got to San Fran, she felt right at home and was quoting Kerouac. I could only think my dad was going to kill me for sending home a beat-poet-listening, California-lover.

2. Flagstaff Coffee Company:

This was truly the best espresso I ever had, and I got it for free because I gave the counter girl an art history lesson about expectations and perception in surrealist art. Her name was Jessica and she made a mean iced coffee, too. She was so charming and energetic, I was the happiest I had been for the whole trip after stopping there. Of course, that could have also had something to do with the immense amount of caffeine she supplied.

3. Meeting my new niece, Gabriella. My sister is such a good mom, and my brother-in-law loves his little girl so much. It was a pleasure to see their home and my little niece, who was three weeks old and such a sweet baby!

4. Seeing family I haven't seen in 12-20 years. I hadn't seen my grandparents since the week of my 16th birthday. I haven't seen my aunt and uncle since I was 7 or 8 when we went back to Arizona for a wedding. Our visit coincided with both my grandparents birthdays, too. It was such a wonderful celebration and homecoming, I can't wait to go back to Arizona. I'm just going to try not to go again in August. It was very poor planning to choose this month to visit the desert.

5. The Grand Canyon - Truly, everyone should see this before they die. I had never been there before, but I am so glad I did. It was such grand majesty and splendor, I didn't think it was real. And we got to see it just the way I liked it: Great beauty with very little hiking and out-doorsyness required.

08 September, 2010

Top-Five Road Trip Highlights

It's been a big month full of change and adventure! I have lots of catching up to do, and though I posted the photos on Facebook, here's some running commentary:

Top-Five Roadtrip Highlights:

1. Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans.
After dinner at Maspero's, Meg and I wandered the Old French Quarter and listened to a Jazz band while eating beignets and drinking Chickory coffee.

2. Fort-Worth, TX home stay. We were blessed to rest at the Keeler residence in Argyle Texas, where we found great food, comfortable beds, cheerful encouragement. Meg wanted to stay in Texas and become a Texan. I barely got her out of and we can't wait to go back.

3. Driving through New Mexico's plateaus and Canyons. Between Albuquerque and Phoenix, the rose-colored canyons and plateaus were stunning. I was quite proud of us that we didn't stop to buy any silver and turquoise "Indian" trinkets.

4. Los Angeles Celebrity Morning. We didn't really see any celebrities, but we sure felt like them! We stayed at my uncle's house in Hollywood, and we could see those white letters
from his doorstep. We toured the CNN Los Angeles building with my aunt who is a producer there. We got to watch part of a segment taping and take pictures at Larry King's desk. (I promised on my life and my aunt's job that I wouldn't post them anywhere). It was fascinating to see how stories are produced and how many people contribute to the production. I wish I'd had that kind of insight when teaching my government students about the media. Then we had breakfast at a cafe/coffee roaster in Larchmont, where I met Sal their roaster. He talked me through the precision of the roasting process, and I saw the completion of a French Roast.

5. The 101 California drive up the Pacific Coast. We were so happy to have the Pacific on our left for the first time instead of in front of us. The drive took us through Santa Barbara, Salinas, rolling hills, vineyards (Welch's) and produce fields. We really felt like we got to know California by driving this way.

And here is the view of our arrival in my new city:

Allen met us in The City as we got close at the Starbucks on 19th. He led us on his Harley the rest of the way "home".