Highlights: November 2019

Another month mash-up!  At the beginning of the month, SMS and I took a walk over to the Cantor Arts Center.  We enjoyed the temporary exhibit West x Southwest: Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.  We also looked at the objects in the “Melancholy Museum,” an organized presentation of many items collected by Leland Stanford the III, the only child of Leland Stanford, Jr. and who died at the age of 16 from typhoid.  The pictures above are the death masks of the three Stanfords (macabre!) and on the left, an Ansel Adams picture.  Mrs. Stanford’s death story is especially interesting since she was poisoned twice and the second time, died.  She was murdered and it is an unsolved crime!!!

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I went to UCSD for Grand Rounds during the week and decided to document this statue’s ignominy of getting constantly crapped on by birds.

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SMS gave me this cool mug!  Thank you!!!

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Haha, the perils of taking your questions to the internet!

SMS and I spent the weekend in Newport.  I got a breakfast-in-a-glass Bloody Mary and had SMS take a picture in front of Birdie to show to the paraquitos!

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Newport Beach, CA

 

The next weekend, I took a few days off of work for a family vacation.  First, I stayed with my grandfather in Stuart, FL for  a few days which was really relaxing and fun.  My grandfather just became a Bridge Master, so I took a picture of his trophy glass.  I also took a picture of the many panic button lanyards at the gym…hazards of working out when older but hey, it’s good to be alive and kicking, just not on the floor unable to get up.

Then I drove down to Bay Harbour/North Miami for a family wedding, Dad’s side.  On the way, I stopped for lunch and a quick walk at the Morikami Museum.  The Japanese gardens were gorgeous.  I enjoyed lunch on an outdoor deck and during that time, I decided I really liked Southern Florida in November!

I was the only one of my immediate family who could make it and since my cousins had been great in coming to our weddings, I wanted to show up for theirs.  It was absolutely beautiful with a ceremony on the beach and the reception indoors at the Four Seasons.

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Selfie with my aunt and uncle who still tell me stories about when I would sleep over at their apartment in NYC, circa 1985.

On the way back, I connected through Chicago which meant I could get a margarita roadie to go while making my way across the airport.  Yeah, I really needed that!  *Eyeroll*  But how can I stay away from Rick Bayless?!?!  I also met a woman who has a “real” company and a “fun” company.  We talked about her “fun” company, which specializes in cashmere onesies.  She was rocking one herself and both the flight attendant and I thought it was wonderful.  It’s pricy but so tempting!  Don’t worry, have still resisted temptation…so far!

I arrived home to a full apartment since our friends were visiting.  The A family had a crazy-busy San Diego itinerary- they went to the Zoo, Safari Park, Legoland, AND SeaWorld!  I worked during the week, but we would meet up afterwards for dinner.  On Wednesday, I watched Ishaan while the parents had a date night.  Even though Ishaan and I had fun, I am no match in the popularity contest once SMS arrives!

Yes, Ishaan made SMS a poster and we picked him up from the airport.  On the way back, we stopped at the Spruce St suspension bridge, which made Ishaan a little nervous.

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The next day, we all went to La Jolla for lunch at the Taco Stand (so good!), followed by a trip down to the Cove and the Children’s Beach, now overrun by sunbathing seals.

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Drinks in La Jolla!

Afterwards, we went to Cabrillo National Monument and walked around the tide pools at sunset.  It was beautiful!

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Gorgeous!
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Dos amigos!

We went to the top to overlook San Diego and saw a really cool focal rain storm.  It was hard to capture on camera, but we did our best!

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We met up with John at Craft & Commerce, which everyone enjoyed.  Jyotsna ranked their cocktails slightly higher than Herb & Wood, but thought both places were amazing.

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Finally, SMS and I found a new-to-us restaurant, A Taste of Denmark.  Their smørrebrøds, with homemade multigrain bread, were on point!  The herring was my favorite.

To end the month, SMS and I took a walk through the Hotel Del to look at the Christmas decorations.  We also caught a beautiful sunset from the beach.

Sisters in Japan, Day 9: teamLab and Kanazawa

Day 9 started out on the drizzly side.  After waking up and saying goodbye to Ricardo and Brady, I headed out to teamLab Borderless in Odaiba.  SMS and I had seen an exhibit in Palo Alto and thought it was pretty cool.  I had slight regrets in pre-purchasing my tickets since I now thought I’d rather get to Kanazawa earlier but the money was spent and off I went.

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Tile peacock

When I got there, there were hundreds of tomodachis already in line.  There was an employee holding a multilingual “End of the line” sign far from the entrance, which was simultaneously helpful and depressing.  Eventually, I got into the exhibit which was really crowded.  This is in contrast to the fake! news! website which features solo visitors only!  Of course, I wasn’t really expecting to be on my own.  It’s popular and very cool.  I do think that once you’ve seen one exhibit, that’s kind of enough since essentially, a large part of the exhibit consists of fancy light projector effects.

Part of my meh reaction to the exhibit is that I really had not allowed myself enough time since I had picked the time I wanted to leave for Kanazawa.  I wanted to arrive mid-afternoon so I could see a sight or two before closing.  I took a crazy tight schedule of two subways to Tokyo station and just made the shinkansen.  Running was involved, which always makes me feel like a crazed tourist godzilla but it’s an acceptable trade-off at times.

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Kanazawa was overcast and beautiful.  I saw one of the few sakura trees still in bloom, since the area is cooler than the East Coast around Tokyo.  I bought a bus pass and headed over to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.  When searching #kanazawa, I had seen pictures on Instagram of Leandro Erlich’s “The Swimming Pool” and I had to see it!

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A different way of hanging out in the pool!
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It really looks like a normal small pool.
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View from the bottom!
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Am I swimming through the water or jumping around like an IG influencer?!?!

It’s a really neat installation of a limestone pool with a glass bottom over a room painted aquamarine.  It’s a very playful way of tweaking assumptions of what we think we see in common objects and what they actually may be.

The whole museum was quite cool.  There are only a few exhibits but that allowed me to focus on them rather than have many go by in a blur.  There was a love exhibit that consisted of paintings that looked all the world like neon signs.

An added museum bonus goes to lockers that, while mandatory for larger bags, have a refundable Y100 charge.  Travel tip for people with hand luggage in Japan- lockers are everywhere and are awesome to avoid lugging bags around.  Even light bags can be heavy!  Just have several Y100 coins in your change purse!

After the museum closed, I walked back to the bus stop and headed towards my capsule hotel.  I had made an online reservation, which I feel is the way to go!  Especially since capsule hotels for women are not as common.

The capsule was clean and, since this was only my second time staying in one, a really unique experience!  I was given a goodie bag of towels and pajamas for my stay.

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Towels and pajamas. There are also toiletries in the bathroom, including single-use toothbrushes. A person doesn’t have to bring a thing!

Now, it was time to plan for dinner.  Kanazawa is known for being a foodie town, so I wanted to have something delicious.  I found an amazing sushi place online, but the it was small and I felt it was unlikely I’d get a seat.  Then I found Iwashigumi, a restaurant specializing in sardines.  This sounded so niche and quintessentially Japanese (focusing on one thing and doing it really well), that I decided I was in even though my familiarity with sardines is limited to Caesar salad dressing and occasional forays into trying to up my Omega-3 intake by queasily eating small fillets.

I walked down the 157 towards the river.  The restaurant had the type of wooden slated door, which always seems like such a commitment when I enter that I almost chickened out.  But I went in, sat down, and ended up having the most incredible dining experience!

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Door on the left

There were two main people I interacted with, an older man and older woman who worked there.  They didn’t speak English and I hardly speak Japanese so there wasn’t a lot of verbal conversation, but we still communicated with each other throughout the night.  It was an atmosphere of such warm hospitality that I felt at ease and at home.  I loved it!

There was an English menu, which was very helpful.  I decided to go all in and get the extended tasting menu.  I was hungry and I felt that I was in for a singular experience.  I wasn’t wrong!

The first three courses were a sardine salad with assorted sashimi, followed by a sardine croquette.  Next was a larger sardine served whole.  Given the size, there was a good amount of fish to eat.  I did not eat the whole thing- the head stayed!

After that was a sardine chawanmushi, which was delicious!  It’s one of my favorite dishes.  Sardines in wonton-like wrappers were next, with a sardine “meatball” tofu soup to follow.  Finally, the savory dishes ended with assorted sushi.

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The last dish was a little ice cream sandwich.  I do not think it had sardines in it but, given the theme, who knows!?  It did taste like fairly straight-forward vanilla.  During the dinner, I had sake served in a small pitcher shaped like a fugu.  It was very cute.

Afterwards, the chef gave me a little goodie bag with a box of sardine prep mix to cook at home.   I have instructions and I’m saving it to cook for SMS.  I’m not sure if it’s curry, soup, etc at this point but one of these nights, we’ll find out!  I also filled out my address and several weeks later, I received a postcard.  It was such a wonderful experience and I would recommend the restaurant to anyone (other than vegetarians!). It was such a warm, kind-hearted vibe that I absolutely loved the place!

On my walk home, I walked past Mariya, a shop my Dad had told me about.  The temari balls were beautiful and I resolved to go the next day when the shop was open.

Southern Road Trip, Day 1: Richmond

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One thing I love about SMS is that his interest is piqued by things that would never catch my attention.  This is almost always a good thing since I learn about something I otherwise wouldn’t have.  Richmond made our list because of the Civil War Museum on the grounds of the former Tredegar Iron Works. 

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We arrived a little after noon, paid for our tickets and took a tour of the Tredegar grounds.  This tour focused more on the Iron Works than on the Civil War, which was covered inside the museum, housed inside the former armory.  The grounds were beautiful.  It’s strange to me how crumbling industrial buildings and rusting machinery can be aesthetically pleasing but is really has its own allure. 

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The Iron Works was started by an early American entrepreneur.  He thought it was inefficient to mine iron ore in America, ship it to England and then buy the goods from England.  So in 1837, Francis Deane and a Welsh engineer Rhys Davies opened the factory.  Interestingly, the expertise had to be recruited from Great Britain since the training and apprentice system created the industry masters.

Richmond had the trains, waterways and coal to lay the foundation for becoming an industrial center.  The iron ore came from West Virginia along the James River and manmade Kanawha canal, which is now filled in.  The iron works increased in size and prosperity in the 1840s and was bought out by Joseph Anderson who had joined the company several years earlier.  Among other products, the factory made cannons and the first shot of the Civil War was fired from one of the cannons onto Ft. Sumter.  The company was part of the reason the Confederacy moved its capitol from Montgomery, AL to Richmond, VA.

During the Civil War, the factory made over 1000 cannons and the process was described by our tour guide.  It was very interesting.  For example, the method used by Tredegar was to make a solid cannon and then drill out the core.  That must have been very loud! 

After the Civil War, the factory reopened within a few years after oaths of allegiance were made to the USA and the Confederacy alliances were whitewashed away.  Apparently, Mr. Anderson was quite the pro-secessionist but in his post-war affidavit, another story was given and, apparently, accepted.

The factory slowly lost productivity over time as the industry shifted to steel and Tredegar stayed with iron.  It closed production in 1952 and there were a few dates given for its total closure, but now it’s a museum and National Park Visitor Center.

After the grounds tour, SMS and I toured the museum.  It tries to tell the story from the North, South and slavery perspective and I think it does a really good job.  It talks about the founding ideals of the USA and how that morphed over time between the South and North as to what States’ rights actually meant.  All of it though, rested on the issue of slavery and that the economic basis for the South depended on it and they didn’t want to get rid of it.  This was explicitly mentioned in Georgia’s and South Carolina’s Seccession declarations and other states alluded it it as well.  Although the North was not fighting for Emancipation initially, it became clear over time that this was the main cause and the Emancipation Proclamation was  released in 1863.  Even then, it wasn’t a perfect document as it excluded slaves in several Louisiana parishes that were under Federal control.

After the museum, we headed down to the James River for a swim.  The current was noticeable but manageable.  We swam around and even took a turn on the rope swing.  We walked over to Belle Isle, the site of the former munitions lab and explosion caused by the careless Mary Ryan (seriously, every Park Ranger seemed to mention this story, each with a slightly more dramatic twist).  After our walk, we decided to grab a snack before hitting the road.

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Well, we might have a slightly heavy definition of snack but we were so happy at Proper Pie Co in the Church Hill area.  It’s a New Zealand-style pie shop and we each had a savory pie (lamb and veggies for me, veg chili for SMS) followed by a few bites of a raspberry ricotta pie.  So, ok, ok, it turned into an early dinner but it was so delicious!  The crust recipe is on point and there are so many options, including veg/vegan.  The gluten-free options are limited but available- a savory soup seemed to be the main choice.  It was made with a New Zealand tuber so I would like to try it someday.

Then we were done and off for Norfolk.  Restaurants in Richmond included the Secret Sandwich Society for dinner (excellent shrub cocktail!) and an excellent brunch at Tarrant’s Cafe!

Washington DC New Year’s Weekend!

Happy New Year!

SMS and I went to Washington for the New Year’s weekend.  We arrived Friday evening and met Mom and Dad at the Old Ebbitt Grill.  SMS and I split half a dozen oysters, yum!  I had a delicious Nicoise salad for my main course and overall, it was a great dinner and fun to spend time with Mom and Dad.

The next day, Mom and Dad headed off to Wintergreen for a wild and crazy New Year’s Eve.  SMS and I went into the city.  First, we went to Eastern Market where we ran into a friend of mine from freshman year of high school.  It’s a little hard to catch up on 20 years in the course of 15 minutes, but it was really cool to see her.

Art!

We went to 7th Hill pizza which was…ok.  Not great but it did the job.  Afterwards, we drove over to the Mall.  We looked at the Hirshhorn sculpture garden on the way over to the Sackler.

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The Sackler had some great exhibitions.  We saw the Art of the Qur’an, Turquoise Mountain and Red: Ming Dynasty/Mark Rothko, a visual dialogue on the immensity of the color red (sure).  There was also a modern installation inspired by Whistler’s Peacock Room, which is currently undergoing renovation in the Freer.  Although I didn’t love the modern take, it was pretty cool to see

Continue reading “Washington DC New Year’s Weekend!”

Washington DC Weekend

East Building, National Gallery of Art

This past weekend, I spent in Alexandria hanging out with my Dad.  It was pretty mellow but the most beautiful Fall weekend- tons of sunshine and the most perfect temperature.

How I would feel in a museum without lunch first…

On Saturday, Dad wanted to check out the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.  We took the metro into the city, which takes a little longer but it’s so nice not dealing with weekend traffic and parking.  When we got off the metro, the first order of business was lunch because I was hungry.   I hadn’t eaten a lot of breakfast and I had gone for a run so I would be running on fumes if we went to the museum first.  We ate outside and had burgers and beer.  It was awesome.

This is art.  It has its own security guard so people don’t step on it.  I guess
that’s what happens when you have art that looks like a puke-colored melted bag.

Afterwards, we headed over to the East Building.  I could tell there were some updates but overall, it looked the same.  The most noticeable thing was the sun slats over the upper skylights.  The Calder mobile is still in the grand foyer and there is a lot of colorful art well-placed throughout the open main area.  We went to see the Photography Reinvented: The Collection of Robert E. Meyerhof and Rheda Becker.  It’s a temporary exhibit through March 2017 with 33 excellent modern photographs from influential artists.  My sentimental favorite is Hiroshi Sugimoto since I have fond memories of an incredibly staged exhibit of his in the Hirshhorn Museum (2006).

From the Hirshhorn Display.  It was amazing. Photo Credit

Afterwards, we headed home and tried to watch The Lobster but we didn’t have any luck in renting it online.

The next day, we went out to brunch in Old Town.  I scored a sweet parking spot, so I was already feeling pretty cheerful!  We went to Virtue Feed and Grain.  Brunch was tasty but Dad definitely won with his order.  Here’s a tip to me: don’t order Mexical breakfasts on the East Coast, it just isn’t the same.  Also, do not order a Bloody Mary at Virtue- it’s watery gazpacho with vodka.  The mimosas are much better (I had a sip of Dad’s!).

The rest of the day was pretty mellow.  I did some online coursework and watched football.  It was a really relaxing weekend and I was glad for the quality father-daughter time.  Oh, and the quality time with the birds.  I can’t forget the surrogate children.

Bath time!
Bird Love