Holiday lights of San Francisco

Often it’s the little things.  I was riding shotgun with Shmoopy across the Bay Bridge at sunset on Christmas Eve.  We had been in Danville with family for hearty turkey and carbs luncheon-gift exchange-holiday cheer.  As we crossed I was yakking on the phone with a friend, Babs, who lives far, far away in a snowy and rural place.  And as we crossed the bridge the conversation gradually turned away from the “what are you doing tomorrow”  and “what did you get everybody” to “You won’t believe the view I have of the Golden Gate Bridge out there” and then “Yea – they just turned the star on the Pyramid!”  And by the time we were most-ways across, thanks to Shmoopy’s super-duper-safe driving, I was narrating for Babs about the gift-wrap box appearance of the Embarcadero towers and other illuminated landmarks.   I hung up the phone and remarked to Shmoopy that San Francisco’s skyline looks even more remarkable when the buildings light up in December – but that none seems to go for any use of color, which is pretty common in LA.

And then we came over the far west end of the Bay Bridge, passing what (I think) is the US Bank tower which was lighted at the top in red and green.  I oohed and pointed.  And kept my eyes peeled.  The Federal Building has some zig-zag color bars going on.  And yes, off a ways and further west, I saw City Hall – all done up in red and green, and the gilded dome looking great for it.  Maybe they’ll change the bulbs now that we’re in Kwaanza.

Random rambles

Short day at the office downtown today.  With so many people gone, meetings are lasting only half to a third the usual time, leaving time to !oh! get work done.  If it could always be the Holidays!

Shmoopy and I are in Danville tomorrow for Christmas Eve lunch with family.  I’m making cookies tonight and Shmoopy is bringing a potato side dish.  Christmas Day we’ll be having breakfast at home. My favorite Semifreddi Ciabatta bread is already on the counter getting stale, so it will be perfect for French Toast.  And pancakes – oh yes – homemade pancakes!  The cat will be happily playing with wrapping paper balls all day.  She’s already in heaven – attacking rolls of the wrapping paper last night in some sort of feline martial-art festival.  Then we’ll be having a pot luck dinner at friends.  Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength  – no wait, that’s a different celebration.

I took time in the afternoon to continue revising a story from almost a year ago – “The Woman from Rio and the Muni Curse.”  I had wanted to revisit it, and after a good length of time enough creative distance was created so that I could really see the thing in an entirely different light.  It’s a rewrite not just a revision.  And I really like it now.

Around the Castro, things are all ready for The Holidays.  Mistletoe is carefully poised above the sidewalk at the corner of Noe and 16th – although I saw absolutely no one take notice (and the liberty of smooching someone) for the entire 30 minutes I was on the cross-country ski cardio thing-a-ma-bob upstairs at Golds watching the people parade below.  Come on ‘Mos!!

UPDATE:  Oh, snap! MissionMission has a rundown of local Mistletoe hangings here. This one, in front of Beretta at 23rd and Valencia.

New:  Welcome Frances on 17th at Noe, next to Bauer’s Hardware.  California – French.  Welcome Cafe La Taza on 18th, a new branch of the restaurants already in the Mission and on Polk (Russian Hill?  The Tendernob?).

Out with the:  Bistro24 – closed recently.  Only Millies has so far thrived in this spot, right next to Lupa on 24th near Diamond.  Next to Lupa, you better be very good!

Stocking stuffer

With all my main gifts bought (or delegated!) I took advantage this afternoon of the sunny weather to hop over to Haight Street to do some street art and boutique browsing.  Luckily, here in Queeristan we don’t have to deal with this, as in my hometown of Washington, DC today. I started out on Haight at Fillmore and browsed serenely through Upper Playground – just me and the store clerks in the place.  Upper Playground has all sorts of great clothing with graphic designs in different styles by local artists.  If you’re observant, you’ll recognize several because their work is in murals in nearby stores, restaurants and exterior walls.  Ahh..if only the camera in my Blackberry Pearl weren’t a little bit o’crap!  Down Haight Street a few blocks I passed a cluster of Japanese-looking tourists with guidebooks and cameras out standing in front of a painted doorway.  It was a very cool graphic design and I would have stood there to take it in myself but felt like it would have been a bit awkward, and the group was in no hurry to move on.

I crossed the street to get a salt bagel with cream chese and chives at Katz’s Bagels before (yummy chewy goodness) before heading up Haight to the main part of Haight Ashbury.  The story was different as soon as I got past Buena Vista Park – tourists and shoppers thronged the sidewalks and cafes.  Most of the little shops though were still pretty empty so I managed to get some more browsing in.  I haven’t been there in a while (gosh – its sooo far away, must be almost a mile!) so everything was like it was my first time.  Seemed like the holiday decoration was subdued if not out-right missing from many stores – and I am not counting the nine Tibetan handicraft stores and fourteen headshops.

Later we will be going out to see the Tom Ford film of Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man.”

Just read some poll results that are in no way surprising:  few Americans equate forcing people to buy health insurance from the existing providers at existing rates and benefits restrictions with “providing health insurance for 30 million people.”  And the addition of some subsidies for some people doesn’t move the opinion needle.   Only in Washington (and now, apparently, Chicago).

Homo for the Holidays

We’re putting up the tree, decorating and sipping hot toddies , writing Christmas holiday cards and watching Survivor Samoa listening to carols tonight.  Yea!  I think our one-year-old kitty is going to like the tree most of all this year.  ‘Cept for me.  But then, there’s the dreaded Xmas shopping!  (Not to be confused with XXXmas shopping – which would be fine).

I was too occupied with work this year and Thanksgiving snuck up on me before I had even begun making lists, let alone actually doing any Christmas shopping.  And I only enjoy exchanging gifts if I’ve been able to get most if not all of it out of the way by Thanksgiving.  I am NOT a black-Friday shopper.  I know my sisters look on the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas as an economy-wide blue-light special or something, but I can’t abide the crowds and always have a suspicion the advertised specials aren’t so special.

Now, my sisters are pro shoppers – so I’m sure they know down to a gnat’s eyelash whether they are being offered a deal or not.  Me, my strategy this year (and it worked!) became to Tom-Sawyer the sisters into doing any of my shopping for which they wouldn’t have to ship anything.

And that took care of half of my list.  Pheww!  Shmoopy is easy (and know I am not revealing anything here!)  because he likes being surprised and knows how to fake that whatever it is – cashmere mittens or bamboo-fibre yoga mat – it is just what he always wanted! More than my family back East can do – they are very specific about things – even throwing shade if I buy something safely “on the list” but at a higher price than someone thought necessary.

Ahh – now where is the rum for the toddies?