It's that good

At last.  After much anticipation, a story.  On California.  In pictures.  You would probably stop reading right about here if I shared all of the glorious photos my sister and I took documenting our adventures in and around the Bay area, so I've selected just a few of my favorites that highlight just a few of our doings.  You might notice that nearly every image notes a venture centered around food or drink.  I can't help it.  I work in a bakery. I experience the world by tasting it.  You might say we ate our way through San Francisco. And that's fine by me, it was ever so good.

There's nothing like wine tasting in Lodi with old friends.  We actually made it to five wineries (!).  With a pitstop for snacks and recovery somewhere along the way.  The wine country of Lodi is incredibly beautiful.  It did my city-lungs good to breathe in some fresh country air.

My sister and I ended up in CA over Easter, so we celebrated with Easter dinner on the front lawn, Outstanding in the Field style.  Beautiful.

Our main reason for travel was to visit two of the dearest ladies in the world.  They know how to have a good time.

Have I ever told you about my Collection of Natural Wonders?  Well, I have one.  And these crab shells became a part of it.  My sister likes to make fun, but it is how I experience and treasure the natural world.  So what.

We stopped in the famous Buena Vista for some Irish Coffee.  San Francisco's finest.  I loved watching the barista line up the glasses and layer them with rich coffee, whiskey, and fresh cream.  The perfect warm-up on a windy SF day.

We splurged on a ridiculously delicious Italian dinner in North Beach.  Fit with red wine, authentic pizza, housemade gnocchi, and butternut squash stuffed ravioli with a sage butter sauce.  And we ate it all.  Our waiter surprised us with a digestif - limoncello. 
Like I said, ridiculous.

This brings me to Tartine.  A hidden gem in San Francisco's Mission District.  Working at a patisserie, we talk about other delicious, sometimes famous, bakeries all the time. Tartine was on my must do list once we planned this trip to SF.  I was immediately overwhelmed by Tartine's selection of pastries.  The space is small, dark, and fairly rustic. Everyone was just sort of bumbling around with their pastry and coffee, talking and laughing, and making that face you make when you eat something so delicious you just can't stand it (my coworker always says "you'll want to take your pants off it's so good") and you don't even care that you have croissant crumbs all over your shirt and chocolate smeared across your cheek.  It's that good.  I couldn't possibly order everything on the menu, though I wanted to.  Instead, I took pictures of everyone's food.  They didn't seem to mind, they noticed the gleam in my eye, that look of a true pastry connoisseur, and stepped to the side.

I love these next two photos.  They're so genuine.  They remind me of that scene in Chocolat, at Armande's birthday party, when things suddenly slow down as everyone indulges - taking bites and chewing slowly, licking their fingers, and looking around the table to see if everyone else is enjoying it as shamelessly as they are.  Not the most graceful of moments, but you know they're loving it and you want to be a part of it.  

So there it is.  And here we are.  Back in Chicago, back to work and life and bees.  I looked in on them this weekend.  We even spotted the queen.  She hasn't started laying yet, but they've been busy, working on the comb and getting ready for the honey flow.

Oh, and a friend gave me these.  I haven't found any of my own this year, but for some you might call it a year of plenty.  A free gift from the spring earth to us.  How generous.  


Where I've been

It is incredibly windy in this here Windy City at the moment.  Chicago sure is living up to its name.  It's giving me wild hair, and there are leaves and little helicopter whirlies and all sorts of other bits of spring swirling about the air.  But actually, I love it.  It reminds me of the sea, which makes me think of Cape Town, which reminded me of Chicago, which made me miss home.

Anyway, the presence of the wind also seems to match the essence of my days.  I've been thinking and doing a lot lately.  My days have been full of both movement and rest, much like spring.

- I've been to San Francisco and back again.  More on that later, photos and stories to come.  In a word, it was:  lovely.  
- The bees are here!  We installed our new package of bees on Saturday, all 4,000 of them.  They are busy getting settled and visiting with the Queen.
- I've been thinking a lot about this book I just finished, The Fault in Our Stars.  To say it was amazing feels like an understatement, beautiful seems too generic, and poignant may be too pretentious.  But I loved it.  I'll never forget it.  And I'm thankful to John Green for writing such an amazingly beautiful, poignant and funny book about a girl and a boy.
- I'm really loving on this Gregory Alan Isakov album a friend recommended for my travels.  This Empty Northern Hemisphere.  It's somehow fitting with all this wind and travel and thought.
- My spinach seeds are in the ground, germinating away in the damp soil.  The lettuce and zucchini are growing like mad!  I'm actually worried the zucchini will flower before I can get it in the earth.  This crazy rush of a spring we're having is really confusing our flora.  I hope you're ready to hear about a lot of recipes featuring zucchini.  
- I just started reading Diane Keaton's biography, Then Again.  Her story is fascinating. Here is a gem from her mother's journal that really has me thinking:  Would we hurt each other less if we touched each other more?
- And lastly, I found this image a while back that I was remembering the other day when I saw this flock of birds swooping overhead, far above the horizon.  I think it's rather beautiful.  Remember in Mary Poppins when they all hop into Bert's chalk drawing on the sidewalk?  Well, I'd love to hop into this photograph. 


The week that is holy

The God of curved space, the dry
God, is not going to help us, but the son
whose blood splattered
the hem of his mother's robe.
Jane Kenyon, Looking at Stars

From Jayber Crow, a novel by Wendell Berry:

"For a while again I couldn't pray.  I didn't dare to.  In the most secret place of my soul I wanted to beg the Lord to reveal himself in power.  I wanted to tell him that it was time for his coming.  If there was anything at all to what he had promised, why didn't he come in glory with angels and lay his hands on the hurt children and awaken the dead soldiers and restore the burned villages and the blasted and poisoned land?  Why didn't he cow our arrogance?...

But thinking such things was as dangerous as praying them.  I knew who had thought such thoughts before: "Let Christ the king of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe."  Where in my own arrogance was I going to hide?

Where did I get my knack for being a fool?  If I could advise God, why didn't I just advise him (like out great preachers and politicians) to be on our side and give us victory?  I had to turn around and wade out of the mire myself.

Christ did not descend from the cross except into the grave.  And why not otherwise? Wouldn't it have put fine comical expressions on the faces of the scribes and the chief priests and the soldiers if at that moment he had come down in power and glory?  Why didn't he do it?  Why hasn't he done it at any one of the thousand good times between then and now?

I knew the answer.  I knew it a long time before I could admit it, for all the suffering of the world is in it. He didn't, he hasn't, because from the moment he did, he would be the absolute tyrant of the world and we would be his slaves.  Even those who hated him and hated one another and hated their own souls would have to believe in him then.  From that moment the possibility that we might be bound to him and he to us and us to one another by love forever would be ended.

And so, I thought, he must forebear to reveal his power and glory by presenting himself as himself, and must be present only in the ordinary miracle of the existence of his creatures.  Those who wish to see him must see him in the poor, the hungry, the hurt, the wordless creatures, the groaning and travailing beautiful world.

I would sometimes be horrified in every moment I was alone.  I could see no escape.  We are too tightly tangled together to be able to separate ourselves from one another either by good or by evil.  We all are involved in all and any good, and in all and any evil.  For any sin, we all suffer.  That is why our suffering is endless.  It is why God grieves and Christ's wounds still are bleeding."