Monday, December 26, 2011

San Francisco, on the way to Asia

It was a wonderful Christmas. Santa came early and left gifts and filled stockings - incredibly we actually found some bits of carrots that the reindeer didn't finish on the front steps - wow! I read The Night Before Christmas same as I have for the past 25 Christmas eves. And the magic of Christmas and our little family.

We stayed at Charles' house, so were with David and Charles most of the time (Charles was on-call, hence working
on and off through Christmas eve and day). We all cooked and hung out and walked around the neighborhood (Castro and Noe Valley). David and Charles made a roast, curry, macaroni and cheese, souffles and I baked two pecan pies.

Leslie and I did our usual San Francisco trip ... trolleys and buses all over creation. Look at that! Yeah, Look at that building ... house ... garden ... trolley ... person - over and over again. Look! Look!

Photo: And look at that pecan pie Leslie and David are holding! Taken with camera David and Charles gave us.

Of course we made it to Good Luck Dim Sum. Of course we found new (to us) bus routes. Of course we went to Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park. Of course we found new places and new marvels. over and over again ... Look! Look! Of course we made it to new places and new marvels.

We wanted to be sure we didn't wear out our welcome and so moved from Charles' house at the junction of Noe Valley and The Castro to David's apartment waaay up the hill in Diamond Heights/Twin Peaks. So here we are with San Francisco and the Bay spread out before us diamond lights in the night and fog in the morning. We're leaving tomorrow night for Hong Kong. Leslie has (again) gotten us brilliant seats on that big Cathay Pacific 747 - at the back of the plane where the fuselage begins tapering and there isn't room for three seat rows, so we're in one of three rows on each side of the plane with two seats + space between the seats and the bulkhead to stretch our legs. Niice.

Photo: David and Charles outside of David's apartment

I'm reading one of the books I've been saving for travel - Jon Krakauer's Eiger Dreams. Here is something from the chapter titled On Being Tentbound: "Being tentbound isn't wholly
an ordeal. The first few hours can pass in a dreamy euphoria while you lie peacefully in your sleeping bag, watching raindrops trickle down the outside of the translucent fly, or the snowdrifts slowly climb the walls." Exactly so. Cozy in my tiny space, glad I did a good job of getting stakes in and reinforcing them with rocks (the wind blows hard in the Wind Rivers), rearranging my stuff, getting ready for the short dash to the overhanging rock where I'll brew up some coffee or hot chocolate - ahhhh.

On the road again.
(The following written before the preceding - what can I say but that it's the internet) It's Sunday. I stayed home from church to prune the roses and get the yard squared away in general. Last night I did a good close-to-final packing so that I have all my stuff + our medicine bag + the "kitchen" and electronics box (coffee, sugar, heater, plugs adapters, etc.) in a medium-size roller. I also have a carry-on daypack with a laptop, books, weeks worth of medicine, etc. in it. There's also a shoulder bag which we'll leave in Cali. Leslie has a shoulder bag and a carry-on bag. Summary: check one bag, carry on the rest.

Photo: What a great trolley coming up the F Line! I think it's one of the ones from Cincinnati or Baltimore (SF bought old trolleys from various places and volunteers restored them).

The past few days I've felt occasional waves of euphoria as the trip gets closer
and closer and and it's two days before we leave.
Tuesday. Last night we talked more about the sense of adventure with this trip.

"Whole generations of westerners who went out there as soldiers, doctors, planters, or journalists lost their hearts to these lands of the Mekong ... there are places that take over a man's soul." Jon Swain

Leslie feeling waves of anxiety and euphoria. Me too. This feels like an adventure. The route is not untraveled (San Francisco, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Hue, Dalat(?), Saigon, Can Tho(?), Chau Dac(?), Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, BK, HK, SF), but still, given our ages, every trip has the distinct potential of being the last. And, even in these days of bottled clean water and plenty of aircon guesthouses, there's some of what some people would see as somewhat hard traveling in that route + it's hot, and maybe, hopefully raining some. At this stage of the game it's a challenging trip. Like the Sherpas say, Ever Onward!

These lands of the Mekong ...

Monday, December 12, 2011


2011 has been an amazing year, and I'm filled with gratitude. We’ve had some really good times with David and an intense family time in May. Leslie and I have traveled a lot, hung out together a lot – these are the days. Leslie is taking care of business. I’ve been baking and cooking some wonderful things (see below). I was able to backpack again(!) and am planning on going back into the mountains in 2012. Photos: Spring, Wind Rivers, San Francisco & home, CK's SF trip, Trance & assorted, Thanksgiving

Next year we may need to slow down some.

Photo: Spring at our house

Part of retirement has been (thus far) a marked reduction in time and effort in helping others. Leslie is doing a big job with someone who has pancreatic cancer and other serious problems and I’ve been helping some with that, but she’s doing most of the work. Maybe we’ll get back to those sorts of things further down the road; maybe not. Maybe our race is run and it’s goodbye to all that.

Our house smells like coffee every day. Some days it smells like coffee and chocolate, some days like garlic and chilies, some days like cookies and hot chocolate, some days like curry and chutney, some days like bread coming crusty and brown hot off the stone and out of the oven.

January – We traveled for about 8 weeks in Cali and SE Asia with David (the trip started 11/2010 and ended 1/2011).

Photo: Junior wren - her or his first day to fly

February – Arthroscopy knee.

March – Cali (Oakland & SF) – some good times.

April – I went to Oklahoma to see Jeff for a couple of days – a good trip.

May – Berkeley for David’s graduation from Berkeley Law School (photo below). Congratulations! And talk about an intense family trip. What a great thing to have been there, then.

June – Deep in the Heart of Trances (photo below), which was wonderful and Sonic Bloom, which wasn’t. Deep in the Heart felt like coming home; Leslie to San Francisco to spend a week with David.

July – Rest. LOL, after I wrote “Rest” I quit working @ the Agape Clinic – differences in values. I’m fully retired. What a wonderful career and what a wonderful time working with Leslie.

August – Full Moon party @ Armadillo Acres; backpacking in the Wind Rivers, into the alpine and the incomparable Titcomb Basin, again! Past the trees, into the alpine, rock and snow, water and tundra, high and wild and beautiful

September – Many days August and September over 100o; Leslie to SF for a week with DK and at Holden’s; David home for a few days; CK to SF for a week, staying with DK.

Photo: David after receiving his diploma

October – We had a brilliant trip to SF and Berkeley – saw David, 4 days at Grant in Chinatown and 4 days at Judy’s guesthouse in Berkeley (Leslie got us $99 RT tix DFW-SFO – we had to go); party near Austin.

November – Soul Rise, a perfect psytrance gathering in the Hill Country - good times with Loyed, Melvin, Roberto, Devon, Derick, Chris, and others; I reached my goal of doing the same # push-ups as my age: 67; to San Francisco for a great Thanksgiving with David.

December – home from SF, getting ready for SF and Asia.

Some of what I’ve cooked in the past several years is listed below. Baking has been a wonderful experience:

Flour in the air!

Flour in my hair!

Flour on my nose, ears,

Flour everywhere!

Photo: One of my campsites in the Winds

Mains & related

Tomato basil soup

Bun cha


Grilled chicken (Cajun, jerk, curry)



Tom ka

Tom yum

Avocado salad

Poulet Marengo

Stuffed chicken breast

Mushroom soup


Crostinis a la Leslie + pesto, kalamatas, other

Goan curry

Tikka masala



Assorted dehydrated things

Photo: The bench in front of the Star Grocery - where we sit to have morning coffee in Berkeley


Whole wheat bread from Tassajara


Batards and Boules from Acme Bread Co. recipes

No-knead bread

Country French sourdough

Sourdough and yeasted breads with cheese, kalamata, herbs

Photo: Sunday morning at Deep in the Heart of Trances


Pecan pie from Cook’s Illus.

Pecan pie (chocolate/bourbon), whipped cream

Toasted pecans


Banana pancakes

Hot chocolate

Chocolate pie almond crust

Pecan sandies

French toast with eggnog

Honey bars from Tassajara

Apple cobbler

Banana nut bread

Orange marmalade


Pear, strawberry preserves

Chocolate chunk pecan cookies


Ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, pistachio)

Oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies

Triple chocolate cookies

Chocolate pecan torte

Photos: Above is of peach blossoms and below is whole wheat bread and some oatmeal cookies

Sunday, October 30, 2011

San Francisco and Berkeley

San Francisco, Berkeley, war story, psytrance. Photos have become difficult to insert in this blog, so I'm putting a couple in and the rest (a few of home, most of SF & Berkeley) are here:

Another Bay area visit - a few nights in San Francisco and a few in Berkeley. We stayed at the Grant in Chinatown. I was sitting in the bay windows (room 501) overlooking the street and remarked to Leslie that it feels normal to be sitting here, overlooking Grant Avenue, the main (tourist) street in Chinatown. We spent a fair amount of time on Stockton, the next street up with all the grocery stores/shoppers, dim sum joints, BBQ places, etc. We had dim sum about twice a day

while we were here. As always we took the bus, trolley, etc. all over creation.

When we were checking in at the Grant a woman gave Leslie two passbooks which allowed us to ride everything but BART for free - including the cable cars. So instead of the already very cheap senior rates on everything it was all free. We made it to Chinatown, the Tenderloin for curry at Shalimar (where I saw a man smoking crack at a bus stop - the same bus stop where I saw someone selling it last trip - I need to find another stop), the Castro, Haight/Golden Gate Park, Embarcadero (where Occupy SF was set up - buncha hippies who just don't get it that it's a good thing to take money from old people, cut back on veteran's benefits, tax the middle class at higher rates than the rich, etc., Lord, Lord, someone is crazy here and it's not me), Richmond to the Pacific, all over the place.

We spent several days hanging out with David and his friend, Charles and that was wonderful. We also saw Dave's roommate, Matt, which was also good.

Notes from a day: Dim sum for breakfast at You's (photo above), stop in assorted Chinese grocery and other stores selling mysterious things, take the bus to the Japanese dollar store, take the trolley to an art deco store, take the trolley to the Castro for a visit to a natural foods store, walk around the neighborhood, take the bus back to the trolley, trolley to Ferry Building, bus to so on and so forth. Photo: Our room at the Grant - $75/night.

So that's kind of the story of how we travel - hanging out, walking, riding, resting, ride some more, walking...

From SF we went to Berkeley – a garden city, so many houses are true gems. We stayed in a guesthouse (Shout Out for Judy's Channing GH – review follows). For $50 night, shared bath, kitchen to hang out in, good vibes, good times.

This is my Yelp review: Five stars for sure. The rooms are immaculate as are the shared bathroom and WC. Judy had fresh flowers in our room, a fresh bottle of water, and some chocolates. The kitchen is available and it's very comfortable. We had breakfast and dinner there most nights (food from Berkeley Bowl - a 30 minute walk away). Good Lord, you can even go out back at Judy’s and check the chicken coop for fresh eggs! A washer and dryer are available and I think there is a TV available, but who needs it here? Internet access is fast and reliable. The garden is great - classic Berkeley, very inviting. The Berkeley Cafe Trieste is a few blocks away, as is Good V-V-V-Vibrations, Black Oak Books, an architectural salvage place (nice), and some upscale cafes. Bus stops are nearby, but we've always thought Berkeley bus routes are confusing. Yet, we got back every day. Finally, it's nice to do business with a truly good person. So yes, it's a very good place and a good deal.

We did the usual - bus to Elmwood, the UC Cal campus, I met an internet friend on Telegraph, sat at the entrance to Sproul Plaza (Shout Out for Free Speech), and of course Leslie and I took the bus to Oakland, for, what else, dim sum.

Leslie got a call early this morning from someone who had read some of my things on the internet. It was from the older brother of one of the men who was killed in our unit in Vietnam - one of our first men killed. I ended up standing outside our little dim sum place in Oakland talking with this man on the phone - pretty hard to hold it together for both of us I think. I've gotten several calls like this in the past few years. So sad. This man told me how he'd enlisted after his brother was killed. Went to the infantry, but because of the death of his brother, wasn't in combat. Incredibly he spent a year with a primary duty of being one of the men who informs families that their loved one was killed.


I posted this on facebook a few weeks ago ... There was a levain (pre-ferment) working in the kitchen for some sourdough bread and I was sitting on the floor in the front room, using a mortar and pestle to grind some seeds for a Goan curry and I was thinking, “I must be retired.” I got all inspired and here’s what I baked and cooked these past few days: Country French sourdough (plain and with cheese and Hatch chillis), whole wheat bread from the Tassajara Bread Book, triple chocolate cookies (the real deal – oh man!), Goan shrimp curry (brilliant), chicken tikka, tikka masala curry (okay, not great), raita, grilled CM sausage, and grilled Hatch chillis. I am retired and the house smells good. And since then, mango chutney (2 batches), cilantro chutney, and karahi potatoes.


Before the SF trip, I went to a psytrance festival with friends from Dallas and Oklahoma. I was there for three days, camping in the hill country. A beautiful time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Charles Kemp Award for Excellence in Community Health

When I started at the Agape Clinic it was a one day/week treat ‘em and street ‘em clinic with a vaccination program. Leslie and I were responsible (i.e., none of this would have happened without us) for the clinic expanding to four days of services/week including expanded primary care and providing a medical home for people without insurance. There were specialty services (gynecology, psychiatry, neurology, dermatology, etc.), health education (in the clinic and community), health screening (cancer, depression, etc.), and other services. The clinic was in excellent financial shape (in at least the top 12% of US non-profits according to figures in the New York Times, 3/26/2009) and the clinic had been presented at a number of national conferences and was the subject of articles and chapters in professional and lay publications. There was a spirit of kindness toward patients, volunteers, and staff – that spirit and the clinic were described by the clinic psychiatrist as “a collective.” To me it was more than a collective – it was a living manifestation of hope and loving kindness. We were taking the word agape seriously. Photo: Leslie in her natural habitat. I'm there too. From an article in the the Advocate.

Some months ago I was approached by leadership at Agape about the establishment of an annual named award commemorating my service to Agape and the community – something along the lines of the Charles Kemp Award for Excellence or Compassionate Service in Community Health. Though I’ve received awards in the past, it had never occurred to me that an ongoing award would be named for me.

It was tempting, but eventually I declined the award – in part because I’m not into that sort of thing (awards are nice, but sometimes there's something else to give), but primarily because there are vast differences in values between the current clinic leadership (including the board of directors) and me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

San Francisco September 2011

I've run into far too many problems with this blogging host. I don't like to learn new things, but I have to find a new place to keep my journal. In the meantime, Here are the photos from San Francisco:
Here are the words:
I was tired from the flight, etc. on Tuesday, so was slow getting going. Basically this day was a trip to Safeway via #24 bus down Castro and the F Line Trolley to Market. Shopping was slow in a new-to-me store, but I got it done, had some sushi for lunch and headed back to DK's. I cooked up some chicken with shrimp sauce (substituted yogurt for heavy cream – good call CK), roasted new potatoes with rosemary (filched from a neighbor's substantial stand), and salad, and (at last) some country French levain. SF has such good bread. Leslie and I went on a bread quest in Dallas last week. We looked at Eatzi's and Empire Bakery, which is supposed to be Dallas' best bakery. Neither had the sort of crusty, coarse artisan loaf we were looking for. Well, I got it here. What's up when I bake better bread than Dallas' “best?”

Okay, SF, I'm here now. Caught the #24 down Castro to Haight Street. Walked along lower Haight to Buena Vista Park, then up into the park and around the hill and back down. Talked with some homeless men, then on down Haight to Golden Gate Park, where I sat for awhile with some brothers, then back along Hays Street toward Divisadero. I was a little lost, so stopped in a coffee shop (Sacred Grounds) for a double espresso and pastry and wrong or maybe just unintelligible directions. Anyway, I found myself and caught a bus to Geary and then our old favorite, 38L to the end of the line. I walked from the bus to Point Lobos above the mighty Pacific Ocean and down some trails to a small beach so I could put my foot into the water.

My first time in the Pacific was in 1965, near Camp Pendleton. (Haha, I didn't get into the water coming back from the rifle range, where the non-quals had to march in the water while the rest of us hiked along the shore.) Then into the Pacific from the Philippines and Vietnam, and much later, David and I were in SF and Palo Alto looking at unis and made it to the beach and in 2005, from the beach near Hoi An, and now, today, loving being near/at the Pacific Ocean again.

From the ocean I took the #38 to 6th Street and walked over to Clement Avenue to Good Luck Dim Sum where I had sui mai, har gow, steamed pork bun, and a chive dumpling all for $4.40. I walked back to Geary and caught, what else, the #38 toward downtown and got off just past Jones Street in the Tenderloin. I walked across the street at mid-block and almost blundered into some homeless men sprawled on the sidewalk (a different sort of homeless than in the Haight) – yikes – I cut up and then to Jones and into Shalimar where I got chicken korma, tika masala, rice, raita, and naan to go for dinner. The #38 back to Divisadero where I almost went the wrong way (what is Post Street doing here? Is the street in the wrong place or am I?). I got reoriented, fell into a conversation with a man who had hair like Frank Costanza, rode up Divisadero, which becomes Castro, up, up the hill to David's hilltop apartment. Whew – I'm exhausted.


My basic problem in SF (and elsewhere) is that I start out too early so a lot of places are closed. I took it slower this morning, lounging around the apartment, cleaning the bathroom, and getting things generally squared away. I took the bus to 24th Street and walked around some (still to early for Qiona though), then caught the #24 back up and over the hill to the Castro where I walked around some more and went to Cliff's everything store looking for something to hang a hanging basket from. The owner and I had a nice conversation about “Yankee” push screwdrivers and drills – which I discovered are very expensive now. I left empty-handed, but it was a good time.

I had this amazing inspiration that since you're not here, I can just go right on back to Shalimar – which I did, for another order of tika masala and naan. It was better there than take-out. Mmmmm.
From Shalimar I walked to the bus stop on O'Farrell. There were two men sitting there (a black guy about 50 years old with good dreads and a white guy about 60, looking pretty down and out) and as usual I said, "How y'all doin'?" The black guy nodded and the white guy didn't say anything. The black guy reached into his jeans cuff and pulled something out and was doing something in his palm and then I could see he was pinching off a piece of something kind of waxy and off-white. He gave it to the white guy who put some money in the other guy's hat that was sitting between them and then walked off. The black guy nodded to me again and I said later and he left. Meanwhile the white guy was sitting in a doorway in an alley across the street. I watched him light up and then kind of jerk back and shout "Goddam!." My guess was that he'd sucked a hot coal of crack down his throat. The bus came and I headed on.

I rode the bus to Stockton and walked up the street to where it starts to be two ways and caught the bus headed up the long hill into Chinatown. I got off shortly after the top of the hill and walked along the street. I stopped at one of the packed produce markets and got four baby bok choy for a quarter and about a pound of cherries @$1.59/pound. Then on to our favorite BBQ place for an order of pork and an order of duck to go. Caught the Stockton bus to Geary, back up Geary to Divisadero and on to Castro and up the hill to DK's.

Dave worked for awhile when he got home, destroyed the duck and pork, and then I read and he computed for awhile before sleep. You said one time that you always get enough walking in in SF. It's so so true.


I fixed eggs scrambled with cheese, red pepper, tomatoes, and chives + levain for breakfast. And then here we go again on the #24 bus. We stopped at Spike's Coffee for an excellent espresso and latte. Coffee on the sidewalk – to me this is San Francisco. We walked along Castro a way and went to a wonderful plant store – clearly a work of skill and love. Then caught the bus to Geary, and at 33rd Street the bus turned, which was (to us) an unexpected turn of events. We got off, walked back to Geary, and tried again, and this time got to where we wanted to go – a stop close to the cliffs and bluffs above the ocean. We walked along the trail for awhile, then off the main trail to some steps going down and then over to some bluffs. Amazing, windy, cold, foghorn blowing, Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, surf rolling in and in and in … then down to the beach with the surf breaking over the big rocks. What a place.

The next stop was Good Luck Dim Sum, where we had a major feast for $12: shrimp dumplings, pork sui mai crystal dumpling (my new favorite), fun kor, chive dumpling with shrimp, steam BBQ pork bun, fried taro, and Chinese chive dumpling. Ay Caramba! A woman and her daughter invited us to sit at their table. We ate and ate and couldn't eat it all. The woman said we should take the leftovers home (thanks for the supervision), which we were already going to do, but still, it helps to know that that's what we should do. Back to the Castro, where we got some sausages at A.G. Ferrari's and then went to Worn Out West, a place that sells used western wear. The clerk or owner was basically naked (at least above mid-thigh, so that would be basically naked). We went to a few other places and then caught the bus up the hill and here we are, seven hours later. A good day. I'm planning on fixing some putanesca like you used to get at La Dolce Vita, but, I'm not sure – that was a lot of dim sum we had! Haha, David had a few potato chips and I had some cereal and yogurt – that was our dinner.

How I wish, how I wish you were here! I love you Leslie.


Eggs with cheese, chives, red peppers, and tomatoes – and of course some country levain – for breakfast again. We took old #24 down the hill to Spike's (my new favorite place) for a double espresso for me and a latte for Dave. Matt V. came by and we had a nice time talking outside. FYI, Leslie, Spike's is right across the street from the Tibet store around the corner from the Buffalo Natural Foods store. Matt and David and I walked up Castro to Market and Matt split and David and I took the (underground) Muni to downtown. We went in a few stores (C&B, C&B2, and Williams-Sonoma) looking at household stuff. The downtown Williams-Sonoma is their flagship store, so it had everything – really a foodie's paradise. We stopped in at Rasputin Records, which like the Dallas stores, didn't have anything by Aes Dana.

David was planning on going out early (early for him is 7), so we skipped lunch and came home in mid-afternoon and I fixed the putanesca. I added the sausage from Ferrari's and we had a nice salad and levain. Good grub! A very nice day.


I did laundry, straightened up and headed downtown to meet an internet friend for lunch. I got there early and decided to recon the place where we were going to eat. Here I went, back into the Tenderloin and there I was, lost again – due in part to the good idea of asking a mentally ill homeless woman for directions. While I was lost I visited something called “The Tenderloin National Park” - a nice little area of paths and plants (including some fairly large San Pedro cactus) between some buildings. I found the place I was looking for (Saigon Sandwich) and it looked good, so I went back to where I was supposed to meet Don.

Thanks to the miracle of cell phones we did meet. We walked up Larkin to Saigon Sandwich, got our food (I had banh mi sui mai) and squeezed into two of the three seats and enjoyed some good food, conversation, and watching the Tenderloin parade.

After lunch I headed back on (surprise) the wrong train. When I realized I was lost I got off and took the train going in the opposite direction. I sat next to the first really toadish person I've interacted with. She had her feet in the seat next to her and I asked her to please move. “What?” she said. “Move your feet. I want to sit down.” She was pissed, but moved. After a long tunnel it looked to me like I might find my way to somewhere if I got off (and I wanted to be away from this kind of gross person). An actual good move. I was on Noe and a man I asked for directions walked with me through a lovely and very upscale neighborhood – pretty Berkeleyish. And then Bam, I was on Market 2-3 blocks from the Safeway where we've shopped before. I had a list of things to get, so got the shopping done, got on the F Trolley to Castro, caught the #24 up the hill, and was home ~4p.

I fixed stuffed mushrooms (with shrimp, etc.) for dinner. Also some toast with pesto and some toast with the extra shrimp stuffing and a salad. A great dinner. And I made some spaghetti to freeze for when I leave.

I love you Leslie. I'll call as soon as I can.


A lazy day. I fixed David's lunch, got him off to work, had breakfast, drank coffee, read – sitting in this 2nd floor San Francisco apartment – and just generally lazed around. I made a Safeway run and brought the food back to David's apartment, then took off for a last visit to Shalimar (3rd time in 8 days). While I was eating I watched a man who evidently hadn't been there before. He ordered from the guy who brings the food and then dove into his iPhone, where he stayed the whole time, thus missing the show in the dining area and behind the counter. Of course the server didn't bring the sauces, so I told him where they were. I wonder how much of a tip he left.

Caught the bus up O'Farrell to Divisadero, Divisadero to Haight, and walked along Haight. I saw the same homeless crew I'd talked with a few days ago in Buena Vista Park (it was early afternoon so they were pretty drunk), but didn't speak because they were interacting with the police. I stopped in at Amoeba Records, which also didn't have anything by Aes Dana. I walked on to Golden Gate Park, saw the bros I'd spent some time with the other day, and hung out for awhile. Caught the bus in front of Amoeba and was home in no time. Made a ton of pesto and had leftovers for dinner while David went out for dinner with several of his Berkeley classmates.


Another lazy day. I drank coffee and read for a few hours, then cleaned David's apartment. Around 11 I caught the #24 the opposite direction than usual, then #48 down 24th Street to Mission. I walked waay down Mission, past a hundred bodegas, dollar stores, cafes, bars, head shops, women selling fruit, abuelas, veteranos, moms with strollers, mutterers, the whole scene. Had a long lunch at Big Mouth Burgers, eating and watching the vatos across the street pass the bottle, then a number around, playing with a pit bull, hangin'.

Back at David's I got some Jamaican chicken going in a slow cooker, then made one last Safeway run for a loaf of levain and some more chicken to add to the stew. It took exactly an hour to get there and back. Declan, one of David's housemates was home from France and Ireland and Alice, the other housemate was stuck in Ireland with passport problems. Declan opened a letter from the property manager and told me they and David were going to have to move as the person who owned the home is moving back to SF. They have two months, so it could be worse.

For dinner we had Jamaican chicken, rice, and brocolli. David's quartet is practicing at his apartment this evening and I fixed some hors d'oeuvres for them – crostinis with pesto, hummus, antipasto; and tostados with guacamole and salsa. And now I'm sitting here listening to these young musicians play. Sweet.

I'll see you later today!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ice cream, David’s visit, more on birds

For David’s visit home I made some pistachio ice cream – cooked up a custard of cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and chilled it and then churned it with a lot of toasted pistachios (for a quart of ice cream

I used ~4 ounces of nuts). No fillers, no expanders, no anything other than just those perfect ingredients. AND, I made some bittersweet chocolate sauce (Callebaut), which I dipped the cones in and dipped that into chopped pistachios. I also put some of the (cooled) chocolate down into the cone and then froze the cones before I served them. This was the first real ice cream I’ve made, with a custard and all. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Retirement!
David came home for the weekend and though he was out most of the time, it was still a good time. Chris just got home from

Afghanistan and we had a good lunch at Shirin’s – curry, Parsi potatoes, cilantro and onion relish, raita, samosas, etc. It’s always good to sit around the table at Shirin’s – as we have for the past 20+ years. Photo: Wren's nest at the front bathroom window. The babies stayed totally quiet the entire time except when a parent was coming in with food. Then there was a quiet little cheeping. After the babies flew, the parents never came back.
David’s job is going well – 26 years old, living in San Francisco, good job, good apartment – yes! His first publication is here. Good work DK!
I’ve added a few more bird photos. Leslie knew

something was up when the jays and crows started a hubbub. She was thinking a cat was in the yard, but when she looked out, there was the hawk. Yikes, a killing machine!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wind Rivers, 2011

This blogger program is a problem. When I add photos I also get sentences and words fragmented. I give up. Here are the words & a few photos from the Wind River Mountains 2011. The photos are in Picasa here:

I started Monday morning and drove north on 35 through Oklahoma and into Kansas, then west on 70. Stopped for the night in Hays KS and on into Colorado (see the sunflower fields stretching yellow along the highway). At some point in Colorado I talked with Leslie who told me she’d talked with my professional liability agent re not renewing my insurance and I’m thinking, Oh, but a few miles up the road I began to experience feelings of freedom – the loss and the gain and now the unmistakable intro to Dark Star.

Along the road, It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. Closing my good eye so I won’t see the sign that says I’m another 8 or 10 miles closer to Limon. Thinking of Leslie – I don’t know, maybe it was the roses, the roses or the ribbons, in her long brown

hair. And finally, way off in the distance, the mountains and closer, the snow high up on the mountains. Past Denver, past Fort Collins, 287 north into Wyoming. Spent the night in Laramie and on the road early, seeing magical words and places from my youth – the Snowy Mountains, Medicine Bow River – seeing snow fences in the morning sun. After Rock Springs it’s 98 miles to Pinedale, with the snowy peaks to the east, on the my right. Am I really going up there into the snow and ice! Photo: Camp in Titcomb Basin

I stopped in at the big general store and called Leslie one last time before I turned off the phone and drove up Skyline Drive to Elkhart Park TH. I was saddled up (for you DK) and on the trail by noon.

Day 1. The first hour I stopped four times briefly and then took a 5 minute rest. The second hour I stopped three times. After that I don’t know – it’s all woods for the first few miles. I was happy to pass Miller Park, a large meadow a few miles in. I’d slept there once before on the way out and was thinking I might stay there this time on the way in.

But I was doing fine and continued on to Photographer’s Point. Before I got there I met an older couple who said they’ve spent a lot of time in the Winds. The man told me they were on the way out as they’d seen a small grizzly (oooo – scary word to write sitting in a tent in a wooded area – I’m serious) and opined that the mother was nearby.

I’m camped by Barbara Lake – too close to the trail and the lake, but the bear thing is on my mind and I don’t want to be back away from where I would be found if there were problems. I’m at 10,000 feet now – a gain of ~9,250 feet from Dallas. It took me two hours

to set up camp – tent up, pump water, inside of tent set up, not eat (I had

a Snickers ~2:30), food hung, protein drink made and cooling in the lake for breakfast tomorrow. I think I’m stronger than I was two years ago, but the altitude really gets to me. Haha, a chipmunk just startled me scuffling around the tent, then the chittering – ah, that’s good to hear. The guidebook called this part of the trail “arduous.” Photo: Weasel on the hunt

Day 2. I slept from 8:30-6:30 and lay in my tent until 7. I guess I was tired. Breaking camp was slow and I was on the trail ~9. In ~30 minutes I got to a place where I’d camped before several times near an unnamed tarn in a little valley. Up, up, down, down, past Hobbs Lake. lots of trees, but some open areas, past Seneca Lake. Somewhere around there I talked with a man who said snow conditions are bad and that someone fell to his death yesterday on Gannett Peak. The understanding was that there was a father & son climbing together and that it was the son who fell. This was sobering on several levels and I decided to not try to repeat the epic trek of 2009 and instead, take the road more traveled and go to either Indian Pass or into Titcomb Basin.

The worst part of the day’s hike was a stretch of switchbacks up a dry, rocky area, sucking air, puff puff and finally over the top and into classic Winds terrain. I stopped in a timberline meadow, the same place Jeff and I had camped before and though I was again too close to the trail, this is where I stopped – wasted. I collapsed for awhile, drank the last of my water and set off down the hill to pump some water. Uh-oh, the pumping got harder and harder. A clogged filter, no doubt and hard to fix where I was. Glad for my emergency bag, which includes iodine tablets and iodine taste neutralizer tabs. Back at the campsite

I got my tent up a little faster than last night. I crawled into the tent and lay there for awhile, nauseated, with a headache, like I said, wasted. Last night I didn’t eat anything and tonight may be the same. BUT, I’m in sub-alpine meadows with granite domes and knobs and a lot of open areas and a few stands of trees and Titcomb Basin a few miles away.

So the first push is done and I’m in a place I love.

The mosquitoes are bad. I’m using 100% DEET and a head-net. I hike with the head-net pulled back and when I stop on one of my frequent rests, pull it back down over my face in the moment before they start to swarm. I try to get into the tent when the wind is blowing, hence less swarming. I open the netting fast, dive in, close it fast, lie there on my back watching for any that might have gotten in with me, and kill ‘em.

Day 3. I hiked from that good campsite past Island Lake with some dismayingly steep downhills (USMC doctrine: He who humps down must hump up.). When I got to the Indian Pass cut-off I thought, hmmm, uphill all the way, and so headed up the +/- level trail into Titcomb Basin, “a sight that will haunt you forevermore” (from Great Adventure Treks of the World). I didn't

get as far into the basin as Jeff and I got, but here I am hidden away in a small grassy area among the granite domes and knobs with the stark basin before me. I’m still not feeling great, but not as bad as the two previous evenings and here I am, at last. It’s all above timberline now.

I didn’t eat lunch today as even a Snickers or granola sounded unappetizing to say the least; gross to say the most. Dinner was ½ packet of IDAHOAN mashed potatoes (In case you haven’t tried them, a great freezer bag dish.), pepper jack cheese, dried focaccia (another break-through item), and some bacon from the Central Market salad bar.

Ahh, the sun just slipped over the peaks to the west and suddenly it’s cool and I feel good.

Overall, I’m happy with most of my decisions – to not try Knapsack Col alone again, that I hiked past Indian Basin and into Titcomb, and that I didn’t let the other people’s fear of a bear infect me. I don’t like my decision to leave my bear spray in the car to save weight (8oz).

Day 4. I was awake last night from ~2:30-4:30, awoke at 6:30, fell back asleep and woke at 8:30. Had some oatmeal and coffee for breakfast (almost everything sounds bad). I left my tent and all and hiked toward the back (north) of the basin. I met some guys from Pinedale, one of whom had a photo of a trout he’d caught – the biggest I’ve ever seen. One of the men had a pistol – a .45/410 – I want one!

What a place, so raw and wild and high. I hiked until the trail ran out and then followed the cairns across granite and tundra further up into the north of the basin. I passed where I came down Twins Glacier from Knapsack Col in 2009 in what I realize ever more clearly was a high-water mark for me. I’m feeling tremendously grateful that I did that. I’m feeling like it was probably my last rodeo.

Across the tundra, granite slabs and domes, across snow patches and snow fields (but none steep or challenging) until I got to a larger snow field that I went part way across and when the effort increased, went back – back down through the crag encircled basin, through boulder fields and marshy meadows and crossing streams from 8” wide to 20’ wide, all rushing to join the bigger streams from the big glacier run-off, cascading in waterfalls, water slides, rushing streams down to the big one, a fast shallow river down into the highest Titcomb Lake and picking up the trail again, hiking alongside the lake. I stopped to talk with two women with a golden, who sat her big wet butt on my leg, then got up to shake off on me giving me sweet Goldie flashbacks. One of the women spotted a weasel in the rocks behind us which was cool, as I’ve never seen a weasel in the wild.

Back at my campsite I was thinking about people who played a part in me being here. I’m dedicating this hike to Dave (swimswithtrout) whose passion for the Winds shines through in his brilliant photos and his tireless encouragement of others. And also to Dorf, whose excellent trip reports have provided me with many hours of pleasure and whose report of Peak Lake over Knapsack Col showed me the way to go in 2009. And also to Joe (offtrail) who has been generous in his support and who is an inspiration. As night fell, a coyote howled from about 100 feet away, just on the other side of a granite knob. I thought at first (I hope I hope) it was a wolf, but it wasn’t.

For lunch I had ½ a granola bar and for dinner chipotle cream sauce with a little dehy burger, some pepper jack cheese, and a “hunger-grab” or something like that bag of nacho flavored Doritos. I ate the whole bag.

Animals I’ve seen: today a weasel, yesterday a rat swimming underwater in one of the beautiful little streams, chipmunks, pika, marmots, and from the highway, pronghorn antelope.

Day 5. It was raining early in the morning, but it slacked off ~8. I had a protein drink and granola bar for breakfast and was on the trail ~9:30, hiking out of Titcomb, sad that I will probably never see this place again and grateful that I got here in the first place. Remember the part about hiking down means hiking up? Near Island Lake I took a wrong (early) turn and hiked up that hill only to find the trail petering out at the top. Hmmm. I hiked back a bit and talked with some men from northern Virginia who told me I was on the way to Way Lake or something like that.

I hiked and hiked, past the Highline Trail, past Little Seneca Lake where I met a 69 YO man, so that was encouraging. Past Seneca Lake I was starting to get tired. For the whole trip I’ve been in a negative energy in/out balance. I had hoped to get to Hobbs Lake, but ran out of steam and stopped at the first decent water, a little jewel of an unnamed tarn by a little meadow where I did my afternoon sinking spell. My wrong turn and poor nutrition did me in.

Haha, I’ve ripped the seat of my trousers out again. Ridicerous. Every time I come here I tear up another pair. This time the seat was somewhat torn and then I ripped it all the way out while I was hanging my food and tumbled 30 feet down a steep slope. Whomp, I landed on the trail. Really ridicerous.

When I started this hike I was thinking in terms of a vision quest. The vision was of Leslie, seeing her true essence – not just the woman I love and her true nature, but her eternal self. I’ve never seen that before.

Day 6. Crying in the morning light. My beloved wife.

I tried something new: protein drink and a granola bar

for breakfast, and then I mixed up another serving of protein drink to carry. I had thought I might stop at Miller Park, but ~11:30 I downed that 2nd protein drink and was hiking strong. I talked again with the Polish couple (Andres and the woman had a difficult to pronounce name) I’d spent some time several times over the previous days. I also talked with Jeff and Jessie from Wichita KS who I had met on their way to Gannett, but with one of them feeling bad, had backed off the snow up to Bonney Pass. I blew on past Miller Park – I could smell the stable. The bad weather was settling in on the mountains and I hiked the last mile or so in the rain. Photo above: I camped by this tarn my last night

To the car, to Ridley’s General Store, and to the Wind

River Brewing Company for one of their brilliant burgers and fries. Ahhh. Ran into the young men from Pinedale I’d met at one of the Titcomb Lakes – and the Polish couple. A perfect ending. Photo: When in Walsenberg, I always stay at the Anchor.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Birds and the mountains calling

I’ve written before about how when we’re lying in bed we can see the bird feeder right outside the back window and 7 feet past that, the bird bath and behind/beside the bird bath is a big bush that's undistinguished in terms of flowers, but is a major bird bush. Actually our entire yard, front and back, is a bird sanctuary. With all the bird-watching, squirrel studies (all squirrels are named Chubby), lizard updates (all named Mr. Green), various roses and other flowers coming into or going out of bloom, so on and so forth, it’s as if our lives inside our house extend to outside. Photo: Junior wren on the front porch - first day of flying

So many wonderful things …

The adolescent jay dive-bombing the feeder to bother the other birds.

Mr. and Mrs. C (the cardinals) are always first to the feeder, just as the sky begins to lighten.

The year before last a wren couple made their nest in our mailbox, so we closed the porch off. One day we found a tiny baby wren (no feathers, big head, totally helpless on the porch and put it back in the nest – which we confirmed later really is the best thing to do). When the junior wrens were ready to fly, they spent a few hours clinging to the brick, flying from wall to wall and away they flew. Photo: Junior wren on Phyllis' house - first day of flying

Now there’s another wren nest in the ivy growing all around and on the front bathroom window overlooking the driveway. When a parent is on the way with food she or he calls in a kind of descending trill and the babies respond with the faintest of peeps that Leslie can hear, but I cannot. After the babies get their food there is complete quiet. I walked up on the porch a few days ago and there were two junior wrens on the porch. I got the camera and went to the driveway, where the juniors were practicing flying back and forth between Phyllis’ house and ours. A few juniors were around the next morning and by afternoon they were all gone. Photo: Junior wren on the feeder on the front room aircon - first day of flying

The “homeless birds” (drab-appearing cowbirds and grackles) are the most spectacular bathers, using their wings and tails to splash water everywhere. They crowd up – 6-8 of them on and in the birdbath.

Doves are a poor symbol of peace – they’re aggressive with other birds and among themselves. They lift their wings and spread their tails to appear bigger and run toward others. What goofy birds they are. The sparrows pay them no mind, crowding around like they do. Photo: Chubby in the roses at a living room window

The sparrows are always around, crowds of them, hopping and flying around, happy as larks. They seem to have no conflicts with anyone, including among themselves. They’ll take a piece of the bread and kind of hop off the edge of the feeder to the ground where if they drop the bread often another sparrow grabs the bread and hops away. When the young ones are able to fly to the feeder they hop after adults, shivering and cheeping for food.

For awhile we had what we called sparrots – parrots that flocked with sparrows. They actually live closer to the lake and after a month or so, found their way home.

Once Leslie called me to the back of the house and there on the bird bath was a hawk – a force to be reckoned with.

We have blackbirds (all named Quoth the Raven [said in a husky deep voice]) who prefer the bread. When one of them lands on the feeder it pretty much clears the deck, except for Chubby. They take a piece of bread and fly back to the birdbath to soak it for 15-20 seconds, the scoff it down and back to the feeder. Back and forth, back and forth. Photo: Robin red breast and cedar wax wings in back. The cedar wax wings are around for one, sometimes two days/year - just passing through

Leslie rescued a baby jay from Judo’s formidable jaws. She fed it little pieces soaked dog food on a toothpick for a few days and then found a rescue place (ABC Vets) that took it.

We are on the 35th day of >100F. We’re filling the birdbath several times/day and I’ve begun spraying the leaves of the pecan tree and the bush by the birdbath, thinking that that might improve things for the birds. Yesterday, when Leslie was lying down to take a nap (actually it’s mostly lying down for her daily back, hip, and leg-rub – same as mine, earlier in the day) I saw a hummingbird hovering by the bush by the birdbath. There are no flowers – what is that little guy doing – Oh, right, having a drink, taking a break from the usual fare of Phyllis’ Turk’s caps. Photo: Quoth the Raven

This morning, before daylight we saw an owl on the birdbath.

In a few days I’m headed to Wyoming to do a similar trek to my epic (it was epic for me, anyway) hike into the Wind River wilderness in 2009.

As is increasingly so, I’m uneasy about being away from Leslie, especially going into a wilderness area. But I have my SPOT (satellite beacon to check in okay or to send distress signal) and an ever increasing sense of my limitations. And this time I’m uneasy about leaving home in all this heat – Yikes! And I go with a tremendous sense of appreciation for a wife who is so supportive of this. Leslie is a rare one – in quite a few ways, actually. For all our life, all our love, all our work together, all our travel, our wonderful son, our dreams, all these days, and so much more: I love you. Photo: Looking back on the mountains I came over in 2009.

From Dallas I35 north through OK City, Wichita, go west on I70 to Denver, north on 25 a few miles, cut off to Ft. Collins, then north on 287 to Laramie, west on I80 to Rock Springs and 191 to Pinedale. Here is an exact route that will be abundantly clear to anyone around Pinedale. I’m planning on starting at Elkhart Park outside of Pinedale, through Miller Park (“Parks” are huge meadows.), past Photographer’s Point past Hobb’s Lake, Seneca Lake, Little Seneca and then if everything is real good (I’ll let you know by sending three consecutive I’m okay messages) north on the Highline Trail past Lower and Upper Jean Lakes, on to Shannon Pass Trail to Cube Rock Pass around the south side of Peak Lake up through Peak Basin and up between Split Mountain and G-4 to overlook Mammoth Glacier, then traverse around to Knapsack Col and down into Titcomb Basin to Island lake and on out. If it’s going just okay, i.e., I’m too slow or too much knee pain or whatever, I won’t send 3 consecutive okays and will go past the Highline Trail cut-off to Island Lake and from there into Indian Basin and either up Freemont Peak or just mill around in Indian or Titcomb Basins for a few days and then out.

And here's a song for you, sweet Leslie: