ON A CLEAR DAY
20 June 2005
When she puts her best foot forward, there is nothing more beautiful than San Francisco, and today she put both feet forward. If I had ordered the perfect day for my "grand tour," I could not have done better than the one Mother Nature gave me.
It started with a bit of a glitch. While Sharon and Tammy were out getting coffee, I called Greens restaurant to confirm our 11:15 brunch reservation. Turns out that when I placed the reservation on line, either the computer blipped or I blipped because they had us down for brunch next week. I wailed that my friends had been looking forward to this for six months (probably a gross exaggeration!) and that they would not be here next week and wasn't there something they could do.
Thank goodness the customer is still always right, because Greens fit us in, but said it would be better if we came at 10:30 instead of 11:15. This involved a bit of a schlep because it was already 9:30, but somehow we managed to get there only 6 minutes late. The "advance party" I had sent out (Sharon and Tammy, and Andrea, who had driven in from across the Bay) had actually been on time.
It was a wonderful brunch and we were joined by Mary's high school friend, Steve (not "my" Steve), a delightful man who looks eerily like Brent Spiner ("Data" in Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Next it was goodbye to Steve, Andrea and Tammy and the rest of us set out on my "grand tour" of SF. We started with the Palace of Fine Arts, then on to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate bridge. Next we drove through the Presidio out to Sea Cliff, where Robin Williams lives (and I showed them his home). Out the Lincoln golf course, past the Palace of the Legion of Honor (with Rodin's "The Tinker" in the courtyard), and on out to the ocean beach.
Then we started coming back inland--through Golden Gate Park, past Queen Wilhemena's garden (with its big windmill) and ultimately through the Haight-Ashbury district and then on up to Twin Peaks, where the view was spectacular.
Next we wended our way to North Beach, where a street fair was taking place. En route we went through the Castro district, over Divisidero and into Pacific Heights, with its ritzy "old money" mansions, many of which are now consulates or the like.
I giggled a bit when the hills going down from Pacific Heights caused the visitors to gasp. I knew what was ahead of them and they did not.
We did the twisty Lombard Street, the house where Bev lived, and then the Filbert St. hill, the steepest in the city. I really should start carrying smelling salts or something before I subject these poor out-of-towners to Filbert St.!
There was, naturally, not even a hint of a parking place to be had on the streets of North Beach, and so we let some garage attendant gouge us out of $25 to park for 2 hours while we wandered around the fair, along with a bazillion other people. We were unimpressed and didn't discover until too late that we'd only hit the beer and food area, and that the "craft" part was off on a different street. Owell. Instead, we had antipasto and drinks at a table outside a restaurant with a waitress that looked like Debbie Reynolds does today, only with an Italian accent.
Sharon was a HUGE Ginzberg/Ferlinghetti fan and so she really wanted to have her photo taken in front of the City Lights bookstore. Time was growing a little short, but we walked down there, took the photo....
...and then Sherry and I went to get the car, calling Sharon and Mary on the cell phone when we'd managed to get through the bumper to bumper traffic and were approaching City Lights again.
Everybody wanted to stop. So we stopped. I'd never been to a...uh... hardware store like this, and enjoyed checking the...uh...tools and the...uh...instruction materials, and the customers.
Purchases were made and we wended our way back to the hotel with the...uh...tools.
We had missed the hotel's nightly wine reception, but the desk clerk, a lovely man named Theo, brought us glasses of wine anyway and we sat down in the lobby to drink and chat. Sitting with us was a man from Winnipeg named Bob. Bob was waiting for his wife and another couple to return from sightseeing and we began chatting. When our wine was finished, we asked Theo for more, and he said that he really couldn't give us any more complimentary, but they he returned with the end of a bottle of white zinfandel anyway.
Mary thanked him and made a comment about how it was Sherry's birthday and Theo said, "Well, why didn't you say so?" and brought back a full bottle of wine for Sherry, compliments of the hotel. (recommendation: The Hotel Carlton is a great place to stay!)
We invited Bob to share the wine, since by now we had become great friends and Sherry went upstairs to bring down some crackers, cheese and grapes that we'd brought back from Tahoe. Soon an impromptu party was in full swing and Sherry was absolutely glowing, she was having so much fun at her "birthday party."
Bob's wife, Virginia, and the other couple arrived. Virginia stayed while the other couple went upstairs. By now we had consumed a fair amount of wine and someone started talking to Virginia about the...uh...tools that had been purchased. That led to the tools being brought out for inspection, amid much hilarity--especially from the desk staff who could hear all the conversation.
A demonstration of how the...uh...tool worked was unsuccessful because it didn't seem to be working right. So Bob decided to fix it, which he did. Everyone was very happy...or would be, eventually, when the...uh...tool was put to proper use. There was much laughter, especially when Bob and Virginia really examined the...uh...tool. Virginia was interested in learning where the...uh...hardware store was located.
But eventually, Bob and Virginia and their friends went out to dinner, our wine was finished, and those of us still left, gathered up the...uh...tools and turned in for the night.
It had been an absolutely perfect day, with surprises everywhere, and wonderful camaraderie. Tomorrow Sharon flies home to Virginia and I drive home to Davis. Our little group has become close knit -- you can't help but get close to each other when you are wandering around...uh...hardware stores together. I have so missed this female energy. They keep saying how wonderfully patient I have been for taking such good care of them, but really, this has been a labor of love almost the entire way.
PHOTO OF THE DAY