The Talk of the Porch
It's been a frightfully busy few weeks around Casa del Rawdon, and I'm hoping to catch up over the next few days before heading out on a brief vacation (which I so need; I haven't had a vacation since last year, and I'm really wearing down).
No small amount of the time two weeks ago was spent cleaning the place up for my friend Karen to come visit. She was here last weekend, having been visiting the area on business.
Longtime friends - and maybe readers - may know that Karen's a friend of mine from graduate school. Unlike me - who burned out and headed into the world with merely a Master's degree - Karen stuck it out for the whole enchilada, and is now a professor. So she was visiting Lawrence Livermore to give a talk, and then came to spend the weekend with me.
The weekend started out a little wonkily. She had a student with her, and had to drop her off at the airport after dinner. I'd figured either they'd have dinner and then Karen would meet up with me at home, or I'd join them for dinner, we'd drop her off and then head elsewhere. This was predicated on the assumption that the airport in question was San Jose. In fact, it was Oakland, which is about a 40-mile drive from Apple, in just-past-rush-hour traffic. Urk.
Fortunately, I brainstormed Hobees as a good place for dinner, and we got to the airport in plenty of time to drop her off (traffic was fine, actually). I even got to point out SLAC as we drove over it on I-280 (I always think it looks like a mile-long motel, but it's cool that it actually runs across - underneath - the freeway). If I'd been clever, I'd have suggested then driving to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream, and a view of San Francisco at night from Treasure Island, but having been thrown by the airport switch I wasn't that clever, and we headed back to my place instead.
Which wasn't all bad, since we ended up sitting on my porch for the evening, drinking some Cost Plus orange muscat and generally unwinding and catching up with each other. Relaxing. And the cats got to prowl around the porch at night, which I think baffled them but was exciting anyway. (Especially when Jefferson tried to jump up to the windowsill from the outside - where there was nowhere to perch!)
Saturday I all-but-forced Karen to go to the Golden Gate Bridge, which she'd never walked across before. So after brunch at a good diner in my area, up we went. Well, I hadn't quite reckoned with the traffic of a weekend in the city during the tourist season, but we made it eventually and had a good walk in nice - if windy - weather across the Bridge. I've taken a number of friends (most notably Monique) for their first walk across the Bridge, and it's still fun.
After this we went to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream at last, and then made plans to hook up with Debbi - coming back from her business conference in Tahoe - for dinner. On the way back I took Karen up to Twin Peaks for a look at the city from above (and it's always astoundingly windy up there, in the shadow of the Devil Bunny), and then back we headed through the traffic. We met up with Debbi and had Mexican and margaritas for dinner, and then lounged about for the evening before turning in.
Sunday we'd had grandiose plans of going to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk since Karen wanted to see the ocean, but we got a late start and feared awful traffic and parking, so instead we went to Half Moon Bay. Traffic was still bad, but we got a nice, long walk in on the beach before heading back. Karen - who had driven down from Portland - decided to stay an extra night, so Debbi headed home and I went to my book discussion (about which more in a later entry) while she stayed home and perused her return trip and sights she could see along the way.
We again spent the evening on the porch, and this time had a little surprise: A large furry mammal was roaming the top of the fence around my patio, and eventually ended up prowling inside my yard. I trained a flashlight on it, but it wasn't at all fazed. It drank from my pond and otherwise walked around and occasionally seemed to be eating. After a little while, I said, "I bet it's an opossum!", and yep, indeed it was! Apparently they eat snails and bugs, two things I'm happy to have a predator for in my patio; certainly it was a lot more well-behaved than the nasty raccoons which come by and tear up the plants in my pond!
Karen drove off Monday morning, a little earlier than I'd expected but a little later than she'd hoped. But I'll see her again soon - she's where I'm going for my aforementioned vacation! (Well, I'm going partly to see her and partly to see Powell's! Heh-heh.)
I think Karen and I look at each other's lives with a little envy. I sometimes regret not having stuck around to get a Ph.D., although there were plenty of compelling reasons that it was time for me to leave school. For her part, she commented that my life seems rather restful and not very hectic (I responded that she just didn't see the hours of work I put in cleaning my house - particularly making the spare bedroom safe for her allergies - to make it seem restful!). I think life in academia is also a bit rough on her from time to time. (Maybe it's rough on everyone!)
So that's part of what's kept me so occupied. More tomorrow...