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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Today was a very strange bicycle day. A cab which had been gaining on me as I planned to make a left hand turned STOPPED and honked and waved to encourage me to turn after I pulled over to let him pass.

No, really.

A pedestrian objected when I slowed down to let him cross, saying, "Let's go!"

How often does that happen?


Volunteering at the SF Bike Coalition was fun as always, even though it's office work. Dinner from Tu Lan was delicious; another volunteer packed some food for me to take home, which served as a very happy dinner for S; a mechanic gave free tune ups to the volunteers, and did a better job than my neighborhood bike shop - he even fixed my wobbling back tire (which the bike shop failed to do!) by using a flat wrench and a special vice clamp tool I'd never seen before. IT'S SO GREAT! My bike is working so well!

I love this town!
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:53 PM

Notes from Monday, though my headache kept me from posting them:

It's a hot, sunny day, and all I can think is: Mmmmmm. Tamales.

I know there are fresh, fully cooked spinach, potato, and cheese tamales at home, just waiting for me to get there. Primavera foods in Sonoma makes them, and they are just great. Fresh, with creative fillings (S likes butternut and cheddar), vegetarian, and DELICIOUS. It's tormenting me just thinking about dinner...

We've been having lots of unseasonably warm weather, which is tricking me into thinking about summer foods more and more often. The green grocers are playing to this trickery, with bright red, ruffled tomatoes from Mexico and ripe strawberries from who-knows-where. Avocados are plentiful and soft. Pineapples from Hawaii are PERFECT right now, completely sweet and ripe and inspiring tropical fantasies.

Pineapples are in the bromeliad family, and were originally from Brazil and Paraguay. ( NOT Hawaii. Would you believe it? S learned this recently while visiting a nursery, and so has had to give up his firm conviction that they grew on trees. It's almost disappointing, like when I learned that macadamia nuts are actually native to Australia (, not Hawaii. (They're in the protea family! So there is yet another protea I like!)

Mmmmmm. Pineapple.


Good food link: California Rare Fruit Growers' fruit facts. ( (Grenadine is made from pomegranates! I suppose I might have figured this out if I spoke Spanish...)


Lunch today: a roasted eggplant/red pepper/lettuce/tomato/goat cheese sandwich on a soft bun with a pleasantly small serving of fries from Zebulon (out near the camera hospital).

On the way back to the office from the camera hospital, I was melting in the heat. I went in search of a pureed ice/sugar beverage at a suburban snack shop that opened recently on Market Street. All 8 or so customers were in front of the same machine. We were all City people: we didn't know what the dome was for until late in the process. We each tried to fill the cup, realized something was wrong, looked around, got a dome, and tried again. Together. Getting in each others' way. It was silly.

I spattered myself with not-quite-frozen red flavor, and found that it was so artificially colored that I couldn't wipe it off my leg, and had to walk back to the office with two bright red stripes down the front of my left calf. The line is STILL visible! (I'll need to brush my teeth for half an hour...)


Image: Weston's Pepper No. 30, 1930, part of a sale of famous older photographs. (BBC)

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:38 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Life has been especially exhausting lately. Long work days in the east bay visiting clients; medical appointments; hot weather; birthdays…

S’ birthday was this week, and I took him to Greens. Greens is a lovely, all-vegetarian restaurant established by the San Francisco Zen Center many years ago, famous for its great food. It’s located in an old industrial building at Fort Mason, with paned glass walls providing views of the Golden Gate, the setting sun, the Marina Green and its marina… It’s just gorgeous.

It was very lively for our meal, with our fellow diners in a good mood because of the warm weather.

Dinner was delicious. I had a grilled salad of potatoes and tender leeks in a fresh tasting vinaigrette. S had a HUGE, fluffy spinach salad. For our entrée, we had a ‘polenta gratin’ – slices of polenta layered with cheeses, fresh veggies, and a sweet tomato sauce. It was WONDERFUL, and came with sautéed chard with pumpkin seeds and delicate little baked onions which were remarkably tasty, and may have had just a hint of vinegar to soften the sweetness.

Dessert was a chocolate mousse tart for S. I had berry sorbets with vanilla frozen yogurt.


Greens is one of the relaxed fancy restaurants – it never feels stuffy or uptight.


Saturday was my firm’s Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas In April) project. We remodeled a house about 8 blocks away from our own, for a nice older woman with some maintenance needs. She also had many grandchildren who didn’t quite know how to deal with people running around all the stuff they’d helped their grandmother pack, just at the time when they thought they could relax and watch TV. (They wound up helping just about everywhere.)

S and I had floor duty in the kitchen: we pulled up the old linoleum floor, scraped the adhesive off the subfloor materials, attempted to smooth out many patches and lumps that were reluctant to be leveled, and then installed a bright linoleum tile and a dark flexible baseboard. It was hard work – lots of gripping, pulling, and scraping. Especially scraping. (My arms are still swollen internally from all the scraping, and have been since 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Ibuprofin is helping, somewhat…) This year, instead of staying late and finishing other people's work, we were able to leave as soon as our own project was done!

After we completed our work, we headed out to the Ambrosia Bakery on Ocean near Junipero Serra, where S picked out a chocolate cappuccino birthday cake for himself. He needed to stop by a nursery before we went home, and I feared the cake would melt in the heat, so he tossed his coat over it. And when he was done shopping, he tossed a large fan onto his coat, which was on the cake!! It survived with just one large dent, thankfully.

Then I went home and made dinner for 10 people. Really. Marinated broccoli pasta salad (blanched broccoli, garlic, olive oil, capers, roasted red peppers, white balsamic vinaigrette, freshly ground pepper, pasta); a fruit plate of fresh pineapples, strawberries, and cantaloupe; a cheese plate with pepper jack and gouda, along with cracked pepper water crackers; tortilla chips, and my own guacamole (this time: 6 avocados, two cloves of garlic, the juice of two lemons, three minced Serrano chilies (2 deseeded, 1 with seeds), a tiny sliver of minced white onion, half of a ripe tomato (minced), a dash of salt, and cilantro leaves and tomato slices for garnish). S made lemonade. Before I could shower, S’ family and friends began to arrive and we celebrated both S and his niece’s recent birthdays. We stayed up talking and drinking wine until I was nearly asleep standing up.


Today was the Cherry Blossom festival in San Francisco’s Japan Center. It was lovely, but… I’m sooooooo tired right now (still?), and ought to go to bed. Goodnight!

posted by Arlene (Beth)11:10 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

One of my friends just started a new job. Today, he sent phone pictures of all the espresso machines he could find at his company.

It's not just me that's obsessed about food and related beverages. Really.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:40 PM

Very artistic food! (

Not so artistic naked sushi! (BBC)
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:37 PM

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Yesterday was full of great photography revelations for me, even though my film cameras are both suffering from health problems and will need to visit the Camera Hospital very soon.

The 'Pirkle Jones and the Changing California Landscape' exhibit at SFMOMA was fabulous. Jones (whose name suggests he really should have been a great blues singer instead of an accomplished photographer) took some very sensitive and dramatic photographs of towns in California that were experiencing destruction or upheaval. Where Lake Berryessa currently sits were once two towns, which were destroyed so that other towns could store water in their gorgeous valley. The valley was as lovely as the Napa or Sonoma Valleys are, and the photographs do them justice. (The old cemetery full of poppies is just so lovely… Or the town of Monticello in sunshine, surrounded by hills in the shadows of clouds…)

Dorothea Lange worked on this project with Jones, and photos by and of (!) her are included and are GREAT.

I had never realized how lovely our state’s rolling hills appear in the shadows of tall, fluffy clouds…


After a great lunch at the always great Caffe Museo (a Margherita pizzetta and vanilla Italian soda), I went to Stacey’s Booksellers, a local independent bookstore with a great selection of books and a specialty in code and professional studies topics.

The armchair travel section contained a photography book that caught my eye: Wanderlust by Troy M. Litten. Litten’s photos (see "The newest trend in Monk Wear" as an example) are fun travel photos. He makes little collages of clipped pedestrian crossing signs, confusing foreign-language toilet instructions, cardboard cutouts of people… He displays different series of objects from different countries to compare them: cardboard cutouts of people, train seating, bowls of noodles… He has a great eye for pattern and comparison.

His photos are stuck together without spaces between, which makes the layout very busy, which is intentional – the world is very busy! It is the combination of photos that provides a context for further consideration. Alone, the photos might not convey the same meanings. It's a great approach for his work.

My favorite thing on his site: “Traveling China with a blank book and a glue-stick” – a gorgeous collection of labels and brochure excerpts. (Part of the reason I like it, is that I've experimented with this also, and have admired other scrap books with similar themes. I had seen an artist book like this before I went to Japan, and so I collected all sorts of papers while I was there in 1992. My Tyvek envelope of clippings have been waiting in vain, however: my plans were almost immediately hindered by the fact that all of my Japan negatives were lost (!), and the prints have been damaged by one of those ‘magnetic’ sticky photo albums…)

There is also a line of Chronicle Books stationery products associated with Litten’s work: a travel journal, an address book, a postcard book…

As a rabid fan of Chronicle Books (a publisher which only appears to publish things I either want or appear to have written myself), an avid (and sometimes good!) travel photographer, a stationery fanatic, and someone who hopes to publish work like this, the very existence of Litten’s book made me giddy.

I’m still giddy.


I was giddy enough that I only drooled for a moment or two over a watercolor sketchbook of Rome, which was very charming. It would make more sense for people to make their own sketchbooks reflecting their own travels, even though it wouldn’t be as GOOD as the great watercolors that were included, but people are in such a hurry nowadays…


I visited the magazine section next. (And you are thinking, thanks so much, Arlene, for the dramatic play-by-play of your odyssey in one store, really, we appreciate this level of detail, but please stop before your next restroom visit. I’ll keep that in mind.)

Stacey’s is very clever in their categorization of photography magazines. There is a section for gear. There is a section for what is done with the gear. They are on different racks entirely. I love Stacey’s for this.

I resolved at least part of my photography magazine lust/dilemma by purchasing three magazines, at least two of which I plan to subscribe to for professional (tax deductible!) purposes. They’re from the ‘what is done with the gear’ section. Aperture, published by the highly esteemed Aperture Foundation, covers the art side of things and supports a great educational non-profit. Photo District News (PDN) covers the professional concerns side of things – advice on contracts, news about which stock agencies aren’t paying on time, lovely photographs from other pros, instructions on how to come up with a great portfolio for just $8k (!), and the profile of a new stock agency which seems to have come into existence just to sell my images, which was the clincher.

The other magazine, which was in the film/literature/bands/zine section, is Benetton’s Colors, which may be the magazine that best uses photo essays in its single-themed issues. The website is also brilliant: check out the HIGHLY educational Flash presentation about this issue’s topic, energy. In my opinion, this magazine surpassed National Geographic in terms of the relevance and cultural openness of its reporting years ago. (Even before the National Geographic swimsuit issue!)


I knew I chose magazines well, because S sat on the couch, mesmerized by them, for HOURS. I was so thrilled by the existence of a plant-photo-centered stock agency, that I suggested that S should also get a sellers license, so he can sell his lovely images as a side business as well. He kindly asked if I would be intruding on ‘my thing,’ and I said no. (This means that, if he sells more than I do and I become insanely jealous, I’ll have nothing to blame but my own encouragement and wish for him to do well… Remind me to become slightly less nice in the future, please.)


This morning, I had a revelation as to who I should approach as potential clients and/or sources who could help me dramatically expand my portfolio of things I like to photograph. And a list of additional skills and equipment I would need to make the most of a positive response from one of these entities. S offered to be my assistant for these projects. The list in my head of the million things I need to do has just gotten even longer…

posted by Arlene (Beth)11:54 AM

Friday, April 16, 2004

Anti-Chief Forces Occupy UIUC Admin Building

As those of you who read the excellent blog may have seen, students at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign staged a peaceful sit in at the major administrative building of their campus yesterday and today to demand the elimination of the school's caricature of a Native American as their mascot. The mascot has been divisive for years (15 years of discussion about its removal?), and all ordinary procedural efforts to remove the mascot have failed - the administration cancelled a recent meeting on the topic to avoid discussing it. Hence, the sit in.

This was different from other sorts of sit ins in that this one was webcast through an excellent blog! It starts with instructions from a grad student on how to occupy the administration building, complete with witty graphics. (

Native American groups were sending supportive messages; Caucasian alumni were cursing. The arguments against the mascot seem obvious - only oppressed ethnic groups are used as mascots in offensive ways, whereas no whites are. The school has a diversity and non-discrimination program that has serious consequences for racist activities ASIDE FROM those by the school. (!!) An entire catalogue of links demonstrating the negative effects of racist caricatures can be found in the comments section here.

The arguments FOR the mascot appear to be 1) because the US successfully committed genocide against the particular tribe that the mascot represents, no one is harmed by the caricature (by this logic, any massacred group, from specific groups of Jewish people in the holocaust to entire slain African tribes would make charming mascots. However, I have yet to see any dead European missionary mascots in use, so it must not REALLY be acceptable...); and 2) this doesn't help Native Americans, and even if Native Americans are saying so (they are), we should ignore them because we non-N.A.'s know what's best for them.

Read more here

This afternoon the sit in ended with an agreement for a bunch of high level meetings with people who had previously rebuffed the students working to be rid of their Native American caricature mascot. If you haven't already called, feel free to hold off. (An e-mail in support probably won't hurt the ongoing negotiations.)

This is a good step in the right direction.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:50 PM

Get Your War On, Page 34, just posted today, is INSPIRED. ( Passionate. A must-read. Go!
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:50 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I have been very tired all week. I have felt like I owed my body more rest than I can usually give it. So instead of working a full day and then volunteering at the SFBC as I'd planned, I went home early, had an early dinner, and went to bed at about 7:30 p.m.

I slept for 11.5 hours last night. I truly needed it.


One of the reasons I owed my body sleep was because I consumed 3 cups of Peet's delicious, caffeinated teas on a recent evening. One lovely cup of English Breakfast, two+ delicious cups of Yin Hao Jasmine. Mmmmmm. I slipped into bed, drifted off to sleep, and the next thing I knew, I was completely awake at 3 a.m., wondering where I had gone wrong.

I'm going to try to learn from this mistake. Really I am. (Mmmmm tea. No, no, no...)


My backpacking trip has changed my relationship to food in an unexpected way. I realize that I don't need to eat so much. If I can carry a heavy backpack across a couple of tall ridges in a day while eating just a couple of instant oatmeals, a Balance Bar, a few handfuls of dried fruit and nuts, and a modest dinner... Why am I eating so much at my desk job?

Admittedly, I don't really LIKE to eat while on-the-move. Be it biking or hiking, food doesn't settle well when my blood wants to be in my legs, so I automatically eat less. But the fact that I didn't routinely 'bonk' (have a low blood sugar incident common to bicyclists) despite the lower caloric intake on this trip means I should make a few minor adjustments. My doctor was quite right about 'the pill' giving me false senses of hunger. I consider this much more seriously now whenever I feel an urge for a snack while in the office.

As an aside, I returned to find that clothes associated with my hips are all much looser. I apparently lost volume during the trip in that region of my body. I rather like it.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:11 AM

Saturday, April 10, 2004

On Backpacking

I've been on vacation. A backpacking vacation. Backpacking vacations can be more difficult than ordinary working life: everything is an effort; everything must be done with the least amount of equipment; there is constant discomfort; there are technical problems; going to the bathroom without wading through poison oak at 1 a.m. when mosquitos are whining in complete hysteria just outside the tent flap is complicated; cameras are nearly impossible to repair with the leaves and twigs available; and I plan trips that require very long days of hiking and very little of anything else.

Backpacking vacations can also be far more pleasurable than working life: there is nothing beeping or honking; the air has an amazingly unfamiliar fresh smell; clock time is nearly irrelevant unless it's tied to such real events as sunset, or when the red winged blackbirds stop singing and the crickets take their own musical shift, or when it will be too dark to see dinner; nature is breathtaking away from paved roads; the intensity of traveling by foot with an immense load requires such concentration that trivial worries about work/money/physical appearance dissolve under the fabulousness of RIGHT NOW. The world is filled with beauty, life, death, good light, bad light, and sweeping vistas.

The best times I spend with my partner are when we are backpacking. There are no distractions, no relatives on the phone, no pets tearing up the orchids, no commercial broadcast devices blaring celebrity nonsense... Just what is on our minds and under our feet. (Did I mention that our relationship was cemented by a 50+ mile backpacking trip in the heat of summer that involved nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in one of my favorite places on earth? S invited me to move in the next week.)

And food. A 59 cent package of onion-flavored rahmen tastes better after a 14 mile hike than a gourmet meal at the end of a stressful workday. It just does. The same noodles aren't as good at home. You'll never be quite as hungry, or look forward to dinner quite as much at home...


Returning to so-called 'civilized' life is very difficult after backpacking. Civilized life, and the environments we have modified for our comfort, don't appear to be civilized at all.

After meaningful silences, sunburnt ridges, laughing wild turkeys, and the fresh air of Henry Coe State Park (, it was painful to descend into the brown smog of Santa Clara. The suburbs were unattractive and conformist. The trees looked thirsty and out of place. Cars made noise everywhere. The air tasted bitter. My observation of a single traffic stoplight sequence in Morgan Hill yielded a ratio of 8 gas-guzzling, never-been-used-offroad SUVs to one car. A young Caucasian boy with a buzz cut in what appeared to be a Polo shirt went past in an Audi with rap music blaring from his speakers. Highway 101 through San Jose is remarkably ugly beneath its thick, brown sky.

This particular return was also stressful: one of S' sisters was in a peninsula hospital after a serious surgery, and we hauled our unwashed selves directly from the trip to visit her, looking sunburned and rashy, into the air conditioned, overlit hospital hallways. She was in pain; she hadn't eaten because they brought her meat; she was too tired to eat when we brought her veggie food; we could do little to comfort her for the four hours we were there. (She was released this morning and is now here, under our care, and is slightly more comfortable.) The newspaper under her bed was full of world news horrors and prescriptions for increased violence to cure increased violence...

But when we finally headed home, the thick, white blanket of fog over San Francisco was comforting. Bathing was phenomenal - we didn't recognize ourselves after long, hot showers. Our lumpy old bed is so soft! There are no mosquitos! Water comes out of taps already drinkable!


Backpacking food list for this trip: instant oatmeal; dried pineapple chunks (new! delicious! better than the rings, which are too chewy!); dried mango slices; Balance Bars; Trader Joe's vegan trail mix cookes; Tasty Bites Indian foods (4 flavors!) with both rice stick (purchased separately) and cooked basmati rice (included in the new meal packets they sell as lunchboxes); angel hair pasta with tomato sauce (demonstrating that even double zip lock bags aren't enough to keep a garlicky tomato sauce smell contained, especially when using cheap sandwich bags for the innermost layer); dark chocolate; Thai rahmen with 3 condiment packets, including one with nothing but chili pepper; instant apple cider; TJ's Matterhorn trail mix (the one with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips); roasted salted peanuts (for S); roasted salted cashews (for me).

This was the heaviest food load I've hauled on a trip: I lost all restraint when I learned there were no bears and we could store food casually. I have mixed feelings about this. The load was heavy. I didn't count calories out to be sure we'd get enough, which I'd done previously, and I think we were a few calories shy of what we should have had. However, I was thrilled on our final morning when my bag contained only dirty clothes, food wrappers, and two handfuls of nuts, so at least in volume I planned exactly right.


(I'll post photos and trail commentary at some very vague future date. I shot film, so I won't even see the photos until late this week.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:33 PM

I have intended to blog and write letters all afternoon, but instead became obsessed over why I can’t find any photography magazines that are both worth reading and under $10 an issue. (Can real photographers afford pricier mags? I’m not so sure. I view the ultra-glossies which claim to be ‘for professional photographers and collectors’ with considerable skepticism.)

I love photography with a great passion, but the newsstand magazines that have photography in the title tend to be about 1) new gear which is gushed over purely for the sake of its newness, 2) how to take photos of nearly naked women, and 3) 'what gear I was using when I took this decent photograph.' Since I’m actually in it for the photography part, I’m beside myself.


A review of 'Fifty years of Magnum' by Russell Miller ( is one of the most entertaining articles I've read on how photo agencies malfunction. It's full of detailed reporting on hissy fits!! Choice line about how applicants constantly displayed war documentary photography: "'How many people have to die,' he asked, 'for someone to become a member of Magnum?'" This review/diatribe/comedy held my attention for entirely too long, when I could have been WRITING...

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:32 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004

S and I have just returned from a 40+ mile backpacking trip at Henry Coe State Park, a huge park (about the same size as Bermuda) in the hot, mountainous region just south of Mount Hamilton, whose observatory we could see from certain ridges.

We went up ridges, over ridges, down ridges, up some more ridges. We listened to redwing blackbirds, symphonies of frogs, acres of crickets, yipping coyotes, and cackling turkeys. We pulled a record 43 ticks from our bodies and clothing, one of which had begun to embed itself in S' belly before I extracted it with pointy tweezers. We enjoyed what may be some of the only pleasant weather the park receives annually.

We are now back at home. We have bathed. (!!! Hot water comes out of pipes with the turn of a dial!! It's a miracle!) We fear there are more ticks in our backpacks, so we left them in the trunk of the car, where we hope any ticks present are very very unhappy and are dying an untimely death due to fear of car trunks.

I'll write again when I've caught up on my rest on a soft, indoor, tick-free bed.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:36 PM

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I was out at 'the Green Wedge' political discussion/event featuring Matt Gonzalez, Kevin Danaher, Medea Benjamin, and Jello Biafra, plus music from Matt's brother's band, Son of Mercury, last night.

I know I'm old, because going to bed after 1 a.m. made me really tired. Also, I was congested (pesky allergies), and the only cold medicine we had in the house was a multi-drug combo with an antihistimine in it. So I took one at about 1 in the morning.

At 10 in the morning, S was trying to get me to get out of bed. I couldn't wake up. It was just out of reach, and I was slightly dizzy trying to even contemplate it. I kept frowning at S like he was unduly harassing me. Which he was, frankly, but sleeping that late is unusual for me.

I've maintained that same lack of momentum all day. I sort of managed to dress, only to wind up lounging in the hammock. I made lunch. I read camera-buying porn for a few hours more than I intended to. I realized that a camera I had hoped to repair and take on a trip is no longer in my purse. (Which means what, exactly? Did I leave it at work? Did my purse spill it AND the separate roll of film at some point when I was inattentive?) I'm agreeing with just about anything S is saying, which alarms him. I am attempting to avoid operating heavy machinery or using sharp objects. My biggest achievement today is making soup after S and I had spoiled our appetites by snacking. My next biggest achievement was grocery shopping; my next will be taking a rosemary-scented bath.

Here are some instructions for a rosemary bath fluid and other good things (, in case you'd also like to make your house smell completely of just one fabulous plant.


I'll be offline for a few days. Do not be alarmed. If you like, you can be alarmed that Mark Morford hasn't written a column since March 5th, which concerns me tremendously...
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:31 PM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I am relaxing at home after eating a large bowl of pasta in a spicy tomato sauce. It is quite dark outside, with the sky the deepest perceptible shade of blue. In the kitchen, my kettle is burbling, working up an effort to boil water so I can make myself a cup of soothing honey-lemon drink to comfort my sandpaper throat. I'd like to take a bath scented with rosemary, but I'll need to find the site where I read about that, to see if I'm supposed to add anything else to the tub.


While I was waiting for my pasta to finish cooking, I sat on the couch and ate cheese with crackers to tide myself over (I was dizzy-hungry). It made me think of sitting on the couch in a hotel room in Paris, eating a romantic dinner with my partner, S. Have I ever talked about the food in Paris?

Paris is lovely. It's gorgeous buildings are lit boldly at night, so they glow from afar, and every historic building reflects great drama. On our first night I suggested we go for a walk to recover from our plane trip, and we wound up at the Louvre, which was unbelieveably beautiful in spotlights. All of Paris was unreasonably beautiful that first night...

I had some difficulties eating in Paris. French food, as a rule, has ham in it. As a vegetarian of more than 18 years, this posed some challenges. This posed challenges at breakfast (ham omelette!), at lunch (croque monsieur - ham and cheese sandwich!), and at dinner (ham ____!). I could deal with about 2 food challenges each day and find good things to eat (mushroom omelette; Vietnamese 3-dish lunch), but by evening, I was tired. But there was no way I could eat ham, or any other meat.

So I cheated. Being a foodie, I knew that there were some fabulous specialty food shops in Paris, one of which is Fauchon. Fauchon is one of two shops which are a cross between Trader Joe's, Williams-Sonoma, and any shop where overdressed people wait upon your every whim hyper-attentively. All sorts of tasty foods in small jars with Fauchon's logo line the walls, and suited sales clerks (!!) dressed better than I ever am wrap each item in the store's own custom wrapping paper when preparing your logo'd-bag. (Oddly, you pay at a separate counter while your groceries are wrapped elsewhere.)

So one afternoon early on, I told S that I needed to run an errand or two, and that I would meet him at our hotel. And I went to the packaged-goods department for Fauchon, and filled a bag with treats: chocolate bars, jams, multiple kinds of eggplant spread, sweet juices, and jars of roasted veggies and dry snacks. (I don't recall having a refrigerator in our room...) From then forward, we would go out for breakfast (omelettes or pastries) and lunch (Indian food, crepes, inventive veggie stir fries). On the nights when I was too tired or already too hungry to prowl the nighttime streets in hopes of a veg friendly place (like the romantic little Italian place on the island near Notres Dame which was SO GREAT), we would pick up a fresh baguette at a local boulangerie, and would dine in our little cozy room on ultra-fresh bread with savory roasted veggie spreads, sweet fruit juice, and delicious chocolates.

Dining in can be exactly the right thing to do when you dine on really TASTY treats in a cozy room after a long day of sightseeing...

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:54 PM

I need to make a zealous film recommendation for The Fourth World War from Big Noise Films, which I just watched at the Victoria Theatre here in San Francisco. It combines video from protests against injustice from around the world, and shows how people everywhere are in a similar situation - the riot police attacking striking workers in South Korea look just like the riot police attacking seated protesters in Quebec, who look just like the riot police attacking protesters in Genoa... The idea that we're all operating under one global economic system that doesn't have our best interests at heart becomes rapidly apparent.

One especially interesting section: a report on the Argentine financial crisis, in which the middle class enjoyed a currency exchange rate which allowed them to live lavishly for a time. When the economy crashed and the banks wouldn't let them take their money out, it was the middle class that rioted -- if you've never seen men in ties breaking bank windows and pogo-ing in the lobby, this is your chance.


The allegations of lying and profiteering by the Bush Administration against Clarke had one of my colleagues saying that 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.' In inspired me to rant a bit:
A Bush spokesperson will say that the Bush Administration is NOT in a glass house, that all the testimony relating to glass (on the circumstantial evidence that the walls are transparent) is completely false, and vehemently denounce anyone as an insane/disloyal/partisan/profiteer/pedophile/terrorist who disagrees. (Colin Powell: 'We have incontrovertible intelligence that the walls are made of a non-glass, stone-proof substance.') Meanwhile, the Republican Party spokesturkeys will appear on 60 Minutes to look at photos of the glass house, and insist that they cannot see through it, so no one else should be able to, either. Condi won't testify to the Glass House Commission, because her personal copy of the Constitution, while full of holes, has a special provision forbidding such testimony. But she'll tell Larry King that anyone who believes that the Administration is in a glass house is aiding and abetting terrorists.

The Democrats will be afraid to throw stones, for fear of negative reactions in the polls. They will instead attack Ralph Nader, who will look about the same after stoning. Eventually, Republicans will begin to throw stones, and Democrats will try to find a way to take the credit for the resulting damage.


I worked at a client's warehouse in the Mission District yesterday afternoon, and so had a very short commute home. I invited S out to dinner, but wanted to watch the sunset first, so we went to the beach. It was lovely, even though the wind was pounding us - it made gorgeous patterns in the sand. We then crossed the street to dine at the site of our second date, the Beach Chalet, a gorgeous restaurant in a building filled with WPA murals and lovely views of the sea and sky. Dinner was lovely, romantic, and pricey, though the restaurant will never make my short list of faves because they never offer more than one vegetarian entree at a time. There's something about not being able to CHOOSE an entree that makes dining out rather dull.
posted by Arlene (Beth)12:25 AM

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