Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ornaments in the City, Part 2

I finally found the ornament I was looking for, and I found two.

I was told that a couple of stores sell special holiday ornaments and there I might find what I was looking for - a Babushka doll ornament. Why am I obssessing about these type of ornaments? I still don't know. Maybe in my mind, these dolls epitomize what a winter scene truly is because they're from Russia? I did check out those stores. While I knew they sell decorative items that cost more than the average price, I was surprised to learn that most of their ornaments are extremely expensive. It was a relief to discover that they don't carry my ornaments.

This story ended well because I found a couple of unlikely stores that have them. I was ecstatic, of course.

This is kind of a Russian doll but it works for me. It has a modern twist because of its simple patterns and minimal color. It comes in three sizes in frosted orange, frosted silver and shiny silver. They're currently on-sale at CB2.

SF Giants World Series parade We were on our way to our favorite Ethiopian cafe on Valencia St. when I saw these beautiful Babushka dolls on display inside a store window. They're the traditional ones with lively colors and they come in a box of three in small, medium and large sizes. I got them from Serendipity on Valencia @ 20th Sts.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Ornaments in the City

We got a much bigger tree this year, about 7 feet tall.

The ornaments we had from last year's looked inadequate to accessorize the tree so we went shopping for more. We found a lot of hand painted wooden toy soldier and shiny glass ornaments, although I was really looking for Russian dolls or something similar to it. I haven't found one yet. I should have bought the ones I saw at a toy store inside the Royal Arcade in Melbourne! I was told that Gumps on Post St. should have a good variety of quality ornaments and it should include Russian dolls.

I never thought ornament collecting can be this fun and addicting. Maybe I should make it a holiday tradition, much like seeing the Nutcracker or drinking spiced latte during Christmastime, from now on?


(The photo above is a wooden toy soldier ornament which is part of a set of six soldiers.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Baseball in the City

SF Giants World Series parade
I took Wednesday off from work to see the Giants parade. I figured, how often does a local team win a World Series? It turned out, over a million people had the same thing in mind.

I've never been part of anything this big in my entire life. Imagine what it felt like for a guy like me, originally from a small town outside Manila, standing in the middle of what could be over a million crowd waiting to welcome the heroes of his adopted city? It was an overwhelming feeling of pride and joy. Everyone was happy, talking and sharing their excitement with people next to them, hugging strangers, and smiling while wearing clothes of black and orange in color.

I got to the corner of Montgomery and Clay Sts after Mijo and I had coffee together, around 7:30a. It is close to where the parade was supposed to start. There were already masses of people who have claimed the strategic locations where the view is the best during the parade.

Since the parade was not going to start until 11am, and D and H, who were supposed to meet up with me haven't shown up, I did a who has the best slogan among the crowd contest . Here's the top 3 that made my wait a fun one.

"Yes Tim (Lincecum), I will marry you!!!"
- by a young lady in her office outfit wearing an orange scarf.

"Fear the Beard"
- referring to beard of 3 of the Giants' Pitchers

"Let Tim smoke!"
- referring to the Giants' pitcher's misdemeanor pot charges

For the others, they've waited a lifetime to see the San Francisco Giants clinch the World Series title. For me, the wait was only 10 years. My wait started when they moved the franchise from the city's Candlestick park into the AT&T park in 2000.

When the Giants won, their fans won as well. Congratulations SF Giants!


(The photo above was taken on Montgomery St in San Francisco during the World Series champions parade of the Giants)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Opera in the City - Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly at the SF Opera
I didn't like the 1st act. I am not sure if it is because I needed to warm up to Cio-cio-san's voice or the uncomfortable feeling caused by a sharp pebble inside my shoe.
It took me awhile to find the appropriate shoes for this event. Not those with rubber soles because they have to sound sophisticated when I walk on the marble floors of the Opera House. Not that the clacking sound can be heard easily because it just gets lost with the other noise echoing inside the opera hall. Mijo also thinks it is obsessive compulsive. I think so too. It was a lot easier when I was younger when my choices were between a pair of black school shoes and a pair of tennis shoes. But I'm not in Novaliches anymore, I thought to myself.
A few minutes after we left the house, I felt something inside the shoes. Something hard. Something small and sort of sharp. Because I didn't want to bend down to undo my shoes, doing so will wrinkle my jacket and my shirt, I decided that I'll take care of it as soon as we get to the opera. We took BART that night so just imagine how uncomfortable it was walking to the Glen Park station and from the Civic Center station to the Opera house.
From afar, I could see the facade of the Cityhall and the Opera house bathed in orange lights in honor of the SF Giants. They were playing that night against the Phillies. The thought of the Giants and the scenery in the Civic Center provided the needed distraction from the pain caused by the sharp pebble.
Finally, Cio-cio san gets married with Pinkerton and then the moment I was waiting for, Intermission. I ran to the nearest men's room to undo my shoes without any care if it will wrinkle my shirt. I remember it was extra hard to bend down. It must be the extra weight, it must be age? But what a relief when I took out the culprit!
When I went back to my seat and I can see Mijo smiling sensing the big difference. It was as if he saw a whole new different person. A few seats away, a group of people was gathered around and then they all cheered and clapped. I was told the Giants just won another one-run win against the Phillies.
Act 2 was superb and the sharp pebble made the difference. :D
(The photo above was taken inside the War Memorial Opera House. Taking pictures is not allowed but I thought I can get away with this since the performance of Madama Butterfly has not started yet.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Change of Season in the City

It is Tuesday and I wish I were motivated to do great things at work today. I've been trying hard but it isn't working.
Am I due for a vacation? I think I am though in my opinion, it is an extravance to take a trip during recession. Aside from the money one needs to spend for an exotic trip, I dread playing catch-up at work because I always end up working more hours when I go back to the office.
Maybe it is lack of sleep? I’ve been on grave yard shift for two days at the Command Center for the company’s bi-annual worldwide release so perhaps it is just harder to recover and get back to normal bed time at this age?
Some people say that moods are associated with the weather. There must be some truth to that since the season is changing. It is still fall but I can already smell winter in the air.
Should I go on a long break and get a haircut for tomorrow’s plan to see the Opera? Maybe I should.
(The photo above was taken around the Ferry Building farmer's market in San Francisco, CA)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ceviche tostada in the City

This weekend is one of those rare weekends where I am pager-free, errand-free, and Salvadoran-free. Mijo had to go across the Bay to visit his mom so after our short trip to the farmers market to have breakfast and shop for the week's essentials early in the morning, I had the entire day to myself. I went to the tennis courts to practice serving for half an hour, took a shower, and went to the library to pick up the photography books I requested online.
Since the man of the kitchen is gone for the day, I thought of preparing a little something something for my snack slash late lunch that is light but doesn't require a lot of cooking. I made something close to what is called a ceviche tostada, something that I learned from the Salvadoran. The good thing about being with someone from a different background, that is, from a Latin American heritage, I not only immerse myself with the Spanish language, I also get to adapt my taste buds to their rich cuisine.
At least, this is how my version went.

Corn tortilla. Start by toasting this thin shell made of corn. This is commonly called corn tortilla or plainly a tostada. It usually comes in several varieties depending on the corn used to make the tortilla.
I used the yellow corn variety that is already crunchy so all I have to do is lightly toast it in the convection oven.

Ceviche. Put the ceviche on top of the tostada. Ceviche is a dish generally served in coastal Latin American restaurants, is made of raw fish marinated in lime juice.

For this snack, I used sea bass since I needed a white fish meat that does not smell too fishy. The meat of this fish gets silky as it cooks in lime which is perfect for ceviche.

Tomato Salsa. For Latin American food connoisseurs, this is called pico de gallo. In California, this is plainly called salsa.
For this dish, I diced two medium sized ripe tomatoes that I bought from the farmers market. One small onion, diced. Sprigs of cilantro or chinese parsley, chopped. One small lemon, juiced. Salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole. This is just another name for avocado. This fruit adds that creamy texture to Latin American food.
For this recipe, I used a medium sized ripe avocado. The one I got from the farmers market is a variety that stays green even when ripe. Serve it mashed, squeeze a small lemon and add two tablespoons of the tomato salsa to add color.

Add tabasco hot sauce, salt and pepper as condiment. For this one, I used a Chili oil made of sesame seed to add that Asian twist into this Latin American comfort food.
Buen provecho!


Monday, August 02, 2010

Empty apartment in the city

Our tenant has vacated the apartment downstairs to move in with her sister who lives a block from us. So we spent the entire weekend tidying up the apartment for the next renter. After two days, a full recycling bin, and two pails of paint later, the place downstairs is looking pristine. Shalimar seems he approves the look of the inlaw. Yes, I am delighted to announce that our former tenant decided to leave Shalimar with us.

Though my back is sore, it was mission accomplished this weekend. One done and twenty-four items left in my to-do list.


(The photo above is a picture of Chloe's Cafe on 26th St @ Church in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, Ca.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Text Message in the City

I unearthed some very old text messages the other day while cleaning up the computer. These files must have been created during the phone-to-computer sync up process. You can tell by the references to the musicale and the movie that this message is quite old. Plus, Mijo, D, A and I are all iPhone users now.

I hope D will still talk, err, text me after posting this.

D-Test from my new Treo.
Me-Hey new Treo dude, are we still on to see the Altar Boyz?
D-What's that?
D-Yah I am planning on it. I will have to pick up the tickets on Friday.
Me-Haha! Ok, new Treo dude. I work from home on Fridays.

The next day...
Me-Hey new Treo dude, do you just want to meet in front of the Orpheum tomorrow at 2pm?
D-Sure, how much do I owe you?
Me-The tickets are $40 each. We'll be there around 1:30pm. (of course, I've been late before haha!)
D-We are going to Pho if you are interested.
Me-We ate already. We're ready for desserts. We're also thinking of seeing 'The Host' at the Embarcadero.

D-Tomorrow... drunky.
Me-You too... tipsy.

The next day...
D-What are you wearing to this thing? Should we coordinate colors? I am thinking we stick to earth tones.
Me-Ok. Gray sweater on top of light blue shirt, jeans, black shoes, black trench coat.

After 30 mins...
D-We are on our way, 10 mins
Me-We're here.

p.s Also the musicale was terrible, but that was not the last one we saw together.


(The photo was taken after enjoying a visit to my favorite Salvadoran bakery, Pan Lido, on Capp and 22nd Sts.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moving trains in the city

He noticed the shape of this man's left ear first and then he instantly felt a tinge of sadness. It reminded him of his father's big, wide lobed ears, which is almost out of proportion with the size of the face. After discreetly staring at the man, he realized that not only his features made him an an obvious look a like of his father but also the way he holds the newspaper, the way he raises the eye brows and he tilts his head back, the way he wears his reading glasses and the manner he clutches his bag. The man is a bit younger and a little more corporate and western in clothing compared to his father. He liked what he saw because this is how he imagined his father in a big city setting but he knows this is not going to happen. How he wished he had brought his father to the city for a visit, among other things, when he was still strong, healthy and living. While taking note of the time on his way out of the subway, he realized it is the 2nd of March. Suddenly, the chilly draft created by the moving trains starts to sting his eyes. ~rl

(The photo above is taken at the De Young Museum during the Flowers to Arts exhibition in San Francisco, CA).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lluvia en la ciudad

The Salvadoran noticed he does not have his cap on so he ran back to the massage kiosk where we were last in. I was waiting for him at the mall's lobby when I saw this view above me. It was a bit frustrating taking the shot because I could not capture the moving crowd up and down the mall made the whole scene more alive. For a rainy weekend, I am impressed with the size of the crowd at the mall considering a week has passed since payday. Through my camera, I saw the Salvadoran making his way down the escalators. The story turned out to be a happy ending because the cap was found. I took one last shot of the view above me. Click.

(The photo above was taken inside the SF MAll in San Francisco, CA)