Archive for February, 2008



The guy sitting next to us at this burrito place totally brought this cool reading apparatus to dinner. Awesome.

Walking San Francisco

On the beach at Pacifica

It’s chilly this afternoon, but all last weekend it was like summer. Well, maybe not like summer in Texas, but summery nonetheless. It inspired us to take a quick run to the beach in Pacifica with friends on Sunday, where it was just gorgeous. After that and a lunch at the Ramp, we took a long walk though the city, through Potrero Hill and Dogpatch and even a bit of Bayshore, just to be out in the beautiful weather.

There’s been a lot of walking going on. For the last two weekends we’ve incorporated long walks through Noe Valley and the Castro into our Saturday evenings. Last week it stayed warm even into the evening, we barely needed our jackets, and we walked through the neighborhoods and saw two bands at two different venues, which was pretty uncharacteristic for us, but really fun. Last night it was cooler for our walk, but it was still very pleasant, and we wound up at Anchor Oyster Bar for a yummy seafood feast with E&B. Another great night out.

I plan to leave after this and take another walk, just to stretch my legs and get my heart rate up. If I could only get activity points for blogging …

Super Tuesday

Wash, fold, vote

A lot of firsts for me today. This was the first time I’ve actually voted on Super Tuesday, since Texas doesn’t hold their primaries until March. Between that and not living in Texas anymore, it really felt like my vote counted. And, after years of voting in elementary schools and churches, it was certainly the first time I’ve ever voted at a washateria. Finally, I think it might be the first time I actually liked two candidates on the ballot.

More photos of my voting experience here. Note the San Francisco-style “I Voted” sticker.

Roughing it

View from the cabin, after the fog dispersed on Sunday

It’s Saturday, and I’m writing this entry from Hope Cottage at Green Gulch Farm, part of the San Francisco Zen Center. It’s down Highway 1, within walking distance of Muir Beach, theoretically, only today we’re not doing much walking. This won’t be posted until we get back to town, though, since, although we’ve had an intermittant wireless connection here, it’s not consistent enough to post to the blog.

We got in last night just in time for the dinner served in the Green Gulch dining room; it was pasta puttanesca with homemade bread and homegrown broccoli, and for dessert there was a big bowl of chocolate pudding that was still warm. It was awesome. This is a serious Zen retreat and a lot of the meals are taken in silence, but people were talking at dinner on Friday night; dessert is not an everyday thing either, so we apparently arrived at a hedonistic time.

Here are some things we knew about Hope Cottage before we got here: There are electric lights that are fed by solar panels, and we could run out of power during the evening, so we should try to be conservative with our light usage. We knew that water is hauled up here and stored in a cistern, and heated with a propane tank, so conserving water would be necessary too. We knew that the place is heated with a wood stove, so we might get chilly, since the forecast said it would be in the mid 40s at night when we were here. We knew that it was a 20-25 minute walk up to the cabin, and that we’d need to haul everything up in backpacks. We expected it to be a little rainy today, so hiking might be a little gross.

What we didn’t know was that the 20-25 minute time for the hike was measured by people who weren’t packing in loads of stuff, and carrying your packs up the steep hills, especially after a rain, generally takes more like 40 minutes. It was pitch-black dark too, of course, so that made things interesting; you have to keep one hand free for your flashlight. Maybe that’s why all the Zen students kept wishing us good luck when they heard where we were staying.

We also didn’t know that instead of the “few showers” predicted for today, we’d get what feels, to us, at least, like a serious storm. This morning we woke up to a gorgeous view of the valley and the ocean, but the view was pretty quickly overtaken by a fog so heavy we can’t see past the edge of the ledge we’re on. Forecasts said it would be about 50 degrees this afternoon, but this is apparently a pretty cold weather event, since we’re still seeing our breath inside at 4 p.m. We do have a temperature gauge; it’s about 53 degrees right by the fireplace, and more like 46 by the bed. The fire is nice, but you have to stay close, because the wind is blowing strong and the cabin is drafty. And I haven’t kept the fire raging because I’m a little afraid we’ll run out of dry firewood (not likely, there were too big piles in the house when we got here, but we’ve had to have the fire going since we woke up at 8:30 this morning.)

And, we didn’t know that the pilot light for the water heater could blow out during a windy storm like this one, leaving us with no hot water. Last night we had hot water, but none today. We do have a three-burner propane stove where we’ve been able to heat up water to do dishes and wash our hands.

There’s electric lighting, but, as it turns out, no electrical outlets, so my rechargeable items aren’t recharging. I don’t expect to be able to use my laptop for long, and I’m a little sad I brought it, since it’s a heavy item to carry up and down the hill to the car. I had a fantasy I’d write all day, but probably a few hours is all I’ll get. Also, I didn’t think to charge up my camera battery before I got here, and the low battery light started blinking immediately, so it looks like there won’t be a tremendous number of pictures of this trip (Here’s all I took).

All that said, this is really lovely experience in a lot of ways. This is obviously a very special place. Last night, walking up here, we heard coyotes howling in the wood around us. Today we saw hawks hunting over the gulch. It’s cold, but we’re cuddling up. We brought up good snacks, and there’s also homemade bread and granola here, and eggs and butter, tea and coffee and milk. This morning I made eggs sunny side up, then warmed up slices of homemade bread in the skillet with the leftover butter. For lunch we made guacamole and had hummus and veggies, and wine, of course. We’re talking and reading and I’m writing this, and I’ve practiced my ukulele. The wild storm is raging outside, and we’re not in it. That’s nice.

Of course, my biggest worry is that this storm won’t end, and tomorrow morning will roll around, and we’ll be forced to hike down the hill in the driving rain and wind carrying 40 pounds of stuff. I’m trying to keep in touch with my optimistic side. I guess that’s our Zen lesson for this trip. At least, on the way back, we’ll be going down rather than up.

UPDATE on Sunday: We’re now safely back at home. This morning was sunny and clear, but only after a night of howling wind and pouring rain. We chose to move to the futon close to the fire to sleep rather than the cabin’s famous platform bed by the windows; there was just too much chi up there. Good thing, too, because the clothes I’d left near the bed were wet this morning; water had apparently snuck in through the edges of the windows. I woke up several times in the night with the winds sounding like a hurricane outside. It was nerve-wracking, and I didn’t sleep so well.

But this morning we saw a rainbow, and were able to pack up and head down the hill with the sun on us. We didn’t make it all the way down before the rains started again, though, and by the time we checked out we were ready to get out of there. We did a half-hearted tour of the farm before heading out to find civilization and hot coffee in Stinson Beach.

Last night we read the guest book in the cabin, and while most folks were waxing rhapsodic about the place (one guest described, in rather graphic detail, the sex he and his partner had after their hike in), we were relieved to see that not everyone was thrilled with long hike up, the state of the food left for guests, and the general uncomfortableness of the situation. At least we didn’t encounter the rodents one woman complained about.

Tonight, back in the city, we’re turning on the heat. And I’m about to take a shower — with hot water. Namasté.