Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does this city make my ass look big?

So, yeah.
We were in San Francisco/Sonoma from Friday until yesterday, and it was eleventy hundred kinds of fun. Laid back, no real itinerary, eat like a queen with a tapeworm, drink wine like your life depended on it sort of fun. Sell all your possessions, buy a van, move there and get a job selling homemade vodka at a roadside stand sort of fun.

We rolled into Sebastopol to meet up with my sister & her husband, as they both work in town and she took half the day off to entertain us. After lunch at a local place that had the best hummus I've ever had the pleasure to shovel into my mouth, we headed off to Lynmar Winery since it was on the way to their house and even though all I heard was "Blah, blah, blah, WINERY", I guess that they also boast a great patio with lovely views:

(Yeah, I know we look alike- trust me, people tell us that ALL THE TIME.)

We drank wine, we discussed the commune we're starting when we win the lottery, we took in the views, and I bought a lovely bottle of Chardonnay. It was 70-something degrees, we were surrounded by some of the best scenery on the planet, and we were with people we actually like to be around- not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon at all.

When we got back to her place, she bestowed upon me an article of clothing she had found and "had my name written all over it":
A kelly green terrycloth jumpsuit.
Yeah, I guess she "gets" me after 38 years of having to put up with me. I kept mentioning all evening how much I loved the ease of one-piece dressing, and threatened to work more jumpsuits into the regular rotation.

As the night progressed and the costume box was raided, this is what I desintegrated into:
Mavis the 74 year-old gambling addict.

Dinner was made: Scallop pasta with lots o'garlic & red pepper flakes, chickpea salad with bitter greens, balsamic & sundried tomatoes, good bread and lots and lots of good wine to wash it all down with. After dinner, we played Uno until our 5:00 AM wakeup that day finally caught up with us.

Did I mention how in love I am with Sis & Mr. Sis's pets?

Deep, deep, get-arrested-for-stealing-them love.

This is Jasper the border collie, who I dubbed "crazy face." He's not real smart, but he sure is cute & cuddly.

This is Bubs' new girlfriend, assuming that I can smuggle him to CA in my carry-on next time. Siouxie likes sweaters, wiggling her butt, rubbing her hiney on the carpet, and long walks on the beach. Turn ons: kibble and running after stuff. Turn offs: Cranky old lady cats and cold feet.

Speaking of cranky old lady cats, here's her butt that I drunkenly insisted on taking a picture of. I'm pretty sure that I justified it by saying I was going to e-mail it to Gwen. Sort of "kitty grandma porn" for her furry boys.

She's much cuter from this angle, dont'cha think? Well, at least this angle smells better...

When we were driving around Sebastopol the next day, we were near a street that my sister said we would probably like. I guess this dude makes all sorts of crazy sculptures out of junk, and a ton of people in the town have them in their front yards. This particular street had one in nearly every single yard, so we parked the car and meandered (as opposed to sauntered) about:

I love this one- the harried waitress. I'm guessing her name is Vera:


Which is real, and which is made of junk?
(Nope, I can't tell the difference either.)

That night, we went to dinner at a local place, Barley n'Hops. I had the sausage plate (insert any of 1,000 jokes here), and about 43 glasses of wine.

Here I am on the patio, basking in my blurry, drunky drunkyness:

The next day, we said goodbye and drove into San Francisco. We stayed in North Beach (sort of "little Italy") at the Hotel Boheme. This is Gwennie's hotel of choice when in SF as well, and I can see why, though Allen Ginsberg didn't haunt me while we were there like he did her, so I feel a wee bit cheated. Small (15 rooms), but right on Columbus Avenue in the heart of things with a fabulous little bakery next door, tons of great food within blocks, and cozy & chock full o'charm rooms:

This area of town was big with the Beat writers/poets in the 50's, and there are photographs all over the hotel documenting the history. This one was in our bathroom:

Holy balls, did we eat some food. Fabulous food. Piles of food. Mostly Italian, all delicious.
I didn't take pictures of our best meals, unfortunately, as I am shy about whipping out the camera and photographing my plate when strangers are sitting about 12 inches from me.
One of the stunners was lunch at a little cafe called Cafe Divine- the food was simple, but we both ordered pizzas that were fan-fucking tastic. Mine was piled high with caramelized onions, about 100 cloves of roasted garlic (yes, I still managed to get laid this trip, despite the odor), shaved grana padano and fried sage on a ultra-thin crust.

The best meal by far, however, was dinner that night at a place called Ristorante Ideale on a little side street near our hotel. It was warm, inviting, run by actual Italian people, and bustling on a Sunday night- which speaks volumes to me. We shared a half bottle of prosecco and two apps: Fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and arugula, and prosciutto-wrapped pears with fresh mascarpone. Sweet Jebus, I'm still thinking about that mozzarella app, though. Semi-firm on the outside, but creamy in a way that I've never experienced before on the inside. I think we both had our own little "come into the light" moments when we took the first bite. The pears w/prosciutto weren't exactly crap either: perfectly ripe bosc pears smeared with fresh, homemade mascarpone, and wrapped with some of the best prosciutto I've ever had in my life.

For entrees, the Mr. had seafood risotto, and I had the pappardelle with lamb ragu. A glass of verdicchio for him, a wine called cometa (a lot like a full-bodied chardonnay) for me. Dining really doesn't get any better than this: simple but amazingly high quality ingredients, great service, great dining room, and lingering over the meal with no one rushing you out the door.
I think our waiter took a shining to me, as when I said I was too full for dessert, he brought us out some fantastic hazelnut/chocolate gelato anyways, on the house. And when I ordered some Sambuca as an apertif, he gave me what he called a "double shot" (which was actually more like a triple), again- on the house.

I do that to men sometimes.

Here is one of the less-exciting but still delicious meals, eaten at sidewalk cafe on Columbus Avenue while we just watched this amazing city move all around us. I had a margherita pizza (again with a terrific crust- why are so many places in MN unable to do crusts this good? Why??) with some vino, the Mr. had a linguisa (spicy) sausage sandwich and a bowl of roasted eggplant soup with berry lemonade:

For dinner that night, we decided to stray from Italian, and since it was a two-hour wait for the fancypants Asian-fusion place, we decided on the quiet Thai restaurant a half-block away.
I look cranky here, but I think I was just thinking how grumpy I was that I've never had Thai this good at home. I've had good, but not like this. Tofu spring rolls, curried fish cakes, Rad Na noodles that were as fluffy as I've ever had with the perfect sweet/spicy balance. The Mr's pumpkin curry was spectacular. It's hard to describe how it was just...better, but try this: Compare how you feel when you get to go pee after riding an hour in a bumpy car, holding it. THEN think of how you feel when you finally get to pee after a four-hour plane trip, three bloody marys, one bottle of water, and turbulence, holding it because both air pottys were clogged.

Yup, kind of like that.

The mutilated remains of our meal, after I stopped mushing my face into my plate of noodles mumbling something about "making sweet sweet face love" to it:

Our after-dinner bar of choice both nights was Vesuvio, just a block or two away.
I loved this bar- I felt right at home among the clutter, weird arty types, eclectic art on the walls, no-nonsence service and no-bullshit attitude.
Here I am in a blurry pic, trying to kiss the bum on the neon sign in the window, such was my adoration for this place:

My last pic, which pretty much sums up all that I love about San Francisco: a light installation comprised of book-shaped lights that flickered randomly like birds fluttering about, against a building-sized mural depicting some of the history of North Beach:

I love you, San Francisco. I miss you already.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ahh...Go-go's- you were so very accurate in your little homage to a brief break from the work day.

(A somewhat short, but still...) VACATION!!!!!

I'm off to San Francisco until Tuesday for a much-needed break from the futility of pushing rocks uphill, AKA "work".

I get to see my sister for two days in the place that people like myself (read: lushes) view as our own little Bethlehem: Wine country, CA. Oh, lordy- I feel my liver pickling as I type, and it feels oh so good. Mmmm...pickles.

I bought a new camera today, so you've got that to look forward to. I have this habit of accidentally taking a picture of my crotch whenever I get a new camera, such is my technological awkwardness. So, yeah.

Also, I have next week off, so once we get back I'll actually be able to settle into the couch in my one-piece footed jammies with the rabbit ears and FINALLY get caught up on the 2,756 posts from y'all in my reader. I've really, really, really been trying to keep up lately, but between buying modest underpants for the kitties (they're shy), trying to figure out if I really, truly need to concern myself with Bubs' anal glands, and making at least a half-assed effort to stay employed- there just aren't enough hours in the day, it seems. My toes aren't just going to wax themselves, you know! I've been a bad friend, and I need to make it up to you. If you want, we can get a little tipsy on peach schnapps and accidentally make out (topless- offer applies to both the ladies and the gents) after a playful pillow fight. I owe you that much, I think.

Gotta go- I'm still trying to decide what to pack. I can't remember- is it still OK to wear a tutu with moon boots after labor day? How about Monkey fur hot pants with a parka?

So many decisions still to make...

I'll send you a postcard, my little foggy nuggets of West Coast goodness. Happy Friday!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Jesus at yard sales!

This past weekend, my girl Blondie and I had another of what is now seeming to be a yearly event: The Big Fucking Yard Sale.

Last year, we swore we'd never do it again. Ever.

Two months later we already had enough crap accumulated to outfit the entire cast and set of The Real World: Des Moines and we decided that maybe we needed to give it another go. I figured that if things got really bad, she and I could start mixing whiskey into our coffee cups while we sat in her yard. If things got really bad we could do what we did at our first sale: start trying on all of our early 90's now-way-too-tight clubwear over our clothes while standing in her yard, entertaining both ourselves and our customers. The sparkly hotpants/furry suede jacket over jeans and a sweater with hooker heels combo was a real hit, if I remember correctly.

Yard/tag/rummage/garage sales are strange, strange things- something you totally understand if you've had one, something you couldn't possibly comprehend if you haven't. Blondie & I tend to take a lighthearted approach to it all. We write honest things on the price tags like, "Bring out your inner hoochie!" and "Worn once but then I got too fat for it" and "Great evening bag, hardly used- just the right size to put your coke in!" We throw old cutoff jean shorts and things missing crucial parts in the "free box", just to see if we get any takers.

We also spend a fair amount of the day reminiscing about where and when we wore certain articles of clothing, Blondie very often correcting my fuzzy memories with her own razor-sharp ones. That girl will remember not only what she was wearing when she went to the Love and Rockets concert in '92, but she'll remember if you had a zit on your chin that night and exactly how many times you tried to drunkenly hug the bartender. Me? I remember what I wore, but I very often forget my husband's middle name & birthday so I'm pretty much useless here. I'm lucky to have her- she'll come in handy when we're 80, widowed, and all living in a Florida rambler like the Golden Girls.
The best line of the weekend, as related to this "clothing trip down memory lane": (Blondie thinking about a vintage dress that she sold and delivered to me with a totally deadpan face) "Yeah, I'm positive that stain on that dress was spooge. I'm positive."

We've learned over the years to expect the "weirdo" to "normal" people ratio to be in the 6:4 range- for some reason the prospect of buying my mismatched glassware and exercised-bad-judgment-but-forgot-to-return-them-in-time clothing purchases is too hard to resist.
And, whoo baby- they were out in full force this weekend. Yard sales have a strange gravitational pull on certain groups- The mentally ill, cranky old people, middle-aged singles hoping to find something that will get them air time on the "Antiques Roadshow" and thereby gaining a leg up on the other eharmony folks, hoarders, criminals, fetishists and semi-toothless people are especially sensitive to this phenomenon.

Lord knows, I love me some weirdos. A few of my favorites from this weekend, or as I like to call them- "Whiskeymarie's parade of new best friends"
  • When I pulled into Blondie's driveway at 8:30am to get set up for our 9:00am "opening", there was some dude standing in the driveway. Fucking early-birds. He wanted to know if we had any antiques or "anything he'd be interested in". Dude- I don't even KNOW YOU, how the hell would I know what you'd be interested in, other than Loverboy Albums and air guitar, judging from your haircut. Man, this dude was persistent. He kept getting in our way as we tried to unload the garage, all the while saying over and over, "Yeah, it's a lot of work setting up a yard sale, isn't it?" It took every ounce of my willpower to not punch him in the moose knuckle screaming, "YEAH, AND IT'S REALLY FUCKING HARD TO DO IT WITH SOME DOUCHEBAG IN THE WAY!!" Big surprise to him- it turns out we decided to not sell our Faberge' egg collection and George Washington's original wooden dentures at this particular yard sale. Turns out we were selling crap that, while nice crap, was crap to us nonetheless. And, oh yeah- I didn't just fall of the turnip truck, dude. If I had anything of "big" value, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't slap a piece of masking tape on it with a price tag of $1.00 that you'll try to talk me down to 75 cents on anyways, idiot.
  • Earlybird #2- the obnoxious turd-lady who kept trying to pull crap out of boxes as we pulled them out of the garage and actually pulled clothing off the full clothing racks that Blondie was trying to wrestle out the door of her house, AS SHE WAS TRYING TO CARRY THEM. Seriously- this woman needed a punch in the face and a few more social skills.
  • Earlybird #3, who we have dubbed "Crazy Elvis/Jesus lady." In the mere 15-20 minutes that I spent with her, I found out all about her "crippled" sister at home (her words, not mine) repeatedly, her "crippled" sister's love of Elvis, her own recovery from a stroke, and I learned all about her lord and savior Jesus Christ. All. About. It. She got the Jesus ball rolling with an Elvis story, coincidentally. She "heard" that Elvis once corrected someone who called him the "King" by saying that there was only one "King", and that was Jesus. She really, really, REALLY wanted Blondie and I to feel the same way about this as she did. She mentioned her own "saving" with a deliriously spaced-out look on her face, and continued to go on about how being "saved" saved her life, failing to notice the looks on mine, Blondie's and Earlybird #2's faces. I helped her haul her bags to her car. When I was putting them in the trunk, she mentioned how the blankets she had in there were for homeless people she saw on the street, and then she offered me her copy of the book "A Purpose-Driven Life" that she had in there as well, and asked me if I had been "saved." Biting my inner sassmouth's tongue, I told her that, since I was lucky enough to have a good job that I could buy my own copy and she should give hers to one of those homeless folks. She looked at me like I had single-handedly cured leprosy. This lady was awesome.
  • The really old dude I didn't notice until he came up to me to pay for his stuff. When he handed me a pair of handcuffs (Blondie's), a few sparkly barettes and a coffee mug, I had to pause for a second. Um...what the hell? I think this is one of those things best left not thought too hard about.
  • And the best one of all- the old lady with the walker (complete with tennis balls on the ends) picking out clothes for her granddaughter. She needed help picking stuff out, and as it was the end of the second/last day of the sale and I was bored, I was happy to volunteer. She was sifting through the racks, and she asked me if I was married. "Yup", I replied. "Thirteen years!" She then asked if we had kids, and much to her dismay I said no. "Why not?" she asked. "Um...because we don't want them? We have two cats and a dog though!" I could see the monumental disappointment on her face. "Well," she said, "they sure are nice to have around when you're old, you know." Subject dropped, she kept shopping. "Who wore these tiny clothes?" she asked (for the first of several times). "Most of these are mine", I told her. She turned, gave me a once-over and said, "Yeah, I can see that you USED to be a good-looking girl." (insert blank stare and muffled giggles from me here) "Who wore all these nice clothes?", she asked next. "Um, I did. Back when I had to dress up for work", I replied. She looked at me- hooded sweatshirt, jeans, black Ugg-style boots, sweater cap and braids in my hair- "So, how come you don't dress up anymore? Not even for your husband?" I just hung my head in shame and said, "Well, I wear a chef coat and black pants every day for work, and we don't go out as much..." She made me tell her where I work and then asked for my work phone number so she could come and eat in our public dining room sometime. When I wrote down my last name and work number on a scrap of paper and handed it to her, she asked, "So your name- that's Italian?" (I guess VonPartypants sounds Italian- who knew?) "Um, actually it's my husband's family's name and it's Corsican, not Italian." Big pause. She looks at me...then she goes..."So you're Catholic then?"
"So you're Catholic then"

Man, I hate having yard sales.

Man, I love having yard sales.

Anyone want to come and sit in lawn chairs with me at Blondie's next year? I promise cocktails and first dibs on the free box to you- yes, YOU. Deal?

Happy Whiskeymarie's Back Day, Bitches!- my hardly-used and a bargain at 50 cents little nuggets of yard sale goodness. Happy WBD.