Saturday, March 19, 2005

Things I like about Berkeley

I'm shamelessly copying Laura. Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts about Berkeley, because I like it, but not as much as the other places I've lived.

There is something in bloom every day of the year. There's hardly ever frost, so all sorts of things can grow. I love walking around the neighborhood just to see what people have in their gardens. Plants I used to grow with effort flourish in people's gardens: huge rosemary bushes, nasturtiums with eight-inch leaves. We don't have outdoor space for plants, but I can grow plants on our windowsill. I have an orchid I got for eight dollars at the farmer's market and haven't killed yet. It's on its second bloom.

The restaurants are fabulous. I dragged Laura to Ristorante Raphael the first day we got together here (it didn't actually require force). It is a kosher Italian restaurant. I bet you've never been to a kosher Italian restaurant. Everything there is absolutely wonderful. Whatever kind of food you want, it's here. If you want sushi, there are lots of options. Thai? Lots of Thai. I might even finally persuade Justin to like Thai. Burritos are the best fast food ever.

When I want to cook (since we can't afford to eat out all the time), there is plenty of fresh, inexpensive produce, at the farmer's market and at Berkeley Bowl, which is a great grocery store even though it's always mobbed. There are two dozen kinds of granola in the bulk bins.

Even when the winter weather is awful, it's still less depressing than Seattle's winters. The autumn was sublime.

We don't have a car. I had a car for nine years before I moved here. I don't miss it at all. We can walk just about everywhere, and the BART to San Francisco is twenty minutes. No car maintenance, no gas (which is really expensive here!), and no insurance.

This is the highest concentration of good bookstores I've ever seen (though for single best bookstore Powell's still wins). Same for music stores.

There are lots of nice people in Justin's department. We hosted a visiting student last weekend and ate out for free at several great restaurants (see above).

We have Hare Krishnas next door, and they sing their Hare Krishna songs every Thursday night, with an accordion and tamborines. It's very charming.

I like the houses. Lots of cute Arts and Crafts bungalows. It makes me sad we couldn't possibly afford even to rent one, but they are fun to look at.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Come and knock on our door!

I lived in Charlottesville for three years. In all that time I had a modest but functional sofa bed, yet nobody except Justin visited till I got married there and made our families and friends travel from all over the country to our beautiful little town. I told everyone (and I was right!) that it was a great place to visit, but I wasn't that persuasive, apparently.

One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is that everyone wants to visit us, although we're not always the main attraction. Justin's dad comes to San Francisco frequently on business. My friend Laura is spending the semester at the Graduate Theological Union just a mile or so from us. Justin's friends Joe and Charlie, who live in San Diego, visited a few weeks ago. My dad and stepmother are visiting in a few weeks. My friend Andrea's planning to visit a bunch of us who live out here in California. We hosted a prospective Berkeley student this past weekend. Our smarmy couch is seeing a lot of traffic.

And my sister and nephew flew through SFO on Monday on their way back from my nephew's great-grandmother's funeral (it was a Buddhist ceremony, which is why Ronel's head and eyebrows were shaved).

It's nice to have visitors.

If you write it, they will come

I originally puttered around with this blog a long time ago, but it never really occurred to me until recently that people might actually want to read the thing. So here it is. But right now I don't want to write anything, I just want to look at pictures. Maybe you do too!

After more than six months as a permanent resident of the Bay Area (as permanent as my residency anywhere is likely to be in the foreseeable future, anyhow), I finally saw the Golden Gate Bridge up close when Justin's friends were visiting us from San Diego. Note how patriarchal his beard has become (he hasn't shaved since the honeymoon).

Here's another view of the beard, although it's a little less full because this picture's from our visit to Chapel Hill over Christmas. Interesting beard facts: Did you know beards can have parts, like regular hair? And dimples?

An old picture of Phoebe watching the presidential debate. My cat is an informed voter! (She's even registered in Florida.)

Sabina is ready for another adventure.