Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The title of my previous post lies!

Well, so much for MB's two days of summer. After two months of one of the foggiest, chilliest summers in San Francisco history, yesterday's high was 87, and today it got up to a sun-baked 98, with triple digits in some of the outlying areas. Kinda like the old saying "when it rains, it pours", except considerably drier. It was so hot today, I traded in my wardrobe staple of jeans for a dress. (Yes, I manage to look like a girl about three days a year. I really should've started using the self-tanner a bit earlier, though!)

Now, I try not to be the type of person to look a gift heatwave in the mouth, but really... did we have to go the meteorological equivalent of zero to sixty in just a few days? Even our sun-worshiping cats were both constantly shifting places around the apartment trying to find a cooler snoozing spot. I, on the other hand, had no trouble there... I just pulled the curtains closed, turned on the fan, climbed into bed and sacked out blissfully for 45 minutes.

Prior to naptime, though, I managed to slip out for a walk in Golden Gate Park before it got too crazy hot. The sprinklers were on in various parts of the park, and unlike my usual effort to dodge the spray when it's 30 degrees cooler, today I just plowed right on through for a welcome little spritz. Ahh... a brief trip back to my childhood when my mom would set up the lawn sprinkler to spray around the side yard for Jean & me to frolic in.

Taking full advantage of this rare new thing called summer, I was inspired to make lemonade. Steve & I do try to watch our diets (most of the time), so I found a recipe for low-sugar lemonade made with unsweetened applesauce and maple syrup instead of sugar. Yeah, it does sound weird, doesn't it? But I thought I'd give it a shot, using agave nectar instead of the maple syrup to make it a little less weird. It was okay, but it wasn't lemonade. I've decided that I'm a lemonade purist. Nothing more than lemons, sugar and water will do. Okay, maybe strawberries once in a while. All right, maybe some mint. And occasionally a splash of vodka, but that's it, I swear.

Thankfully, this little taste of summer slipped in before I got bogged down in schoolwork again. My Penn State fall semester classes started yesterday, and the first week is very basic introductory stuff, so I got that all-important taste of summer freedom before I have to start seriously hitting the books. Tonight, I raise my Diet Pepsi high in a toast to the sun... while it lasts. The weekend forecast is once again calling for clouds and fog, with below-normal highs in the 50's and near-record lows in the 40's. Sixty to zero, here we come.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MB's two days of summer

Fog. Fog. More fog. For a girl who loves sun in the summer, this year has been a real bummer. So it was liberating to make an escape from the San Francisco chill and head north to Lake County to hang with our good friends Lysle & Marietta, whom we don't get to see nearly often enough these days. Weather conditions: lots of sun, highs in the 90's. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

We met up with Lysle at Benessere Vineyards in the Napa Valley (St. Helena, to be specific). Sadly, Marietta is recovering from a nasty illness, so it was just the three of us on the receiving end of some very attentive service from Eric in the tasting room. And in the barrel room, where we tasted some baby wines that will grow up to be great big wines someday. And in the vineyards, where Eric showed us the effect the cooler-than-normal summer is having on the grapes (nothing detrimental, but the harvest may be slightly later than normal this year). We grabbed Eric's business card and told him, to quote Steve, "We'll de-he-he-hefinitely be back!"

After lunch at Brannan's in Calistoga and a stop at Bennett Lane's tasting room, we headed over the mountain to Hidden Valley Lake where the lovely (but jealous) Marietta was waiting for us at home. Steve & I were happy to have taken with us lots of fresh Acme Bakery bread from the Ferry Plaza, which we took out to the patio and proceeded to cover with four different kinds of cheese, olive & walnut tapenade, and truffle mousse pate. (Um, no, I was not watching my diet on this trip, thank you for pointing that out!) Lysle then treated us to his amazing grilled leg of lamb, which was complimented oh-so-well by the magnum of 2004 Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Pinot Noir that Steve contributed for the festivities. (No, believe it or not, Steve & I cannot drink a magnum by ourselves.)

After dinner (and a welcome break after that feast), Lysle broke out his luscious lemon-ginger creme brulee for dessert, which we proceeded to eat in our jammies. Oh, how much fun that was! Then the next day, after more food, more wine, and more sun, it was time to wrap up our getaway and head back south to reality. Funny thing is, I'm beginning to realize that the older I get, the less a fan of the heat I'm becoming. Don't get me wrong, I still love the summery weather... but if I don't have some AC to escape into after a while I get a little cranky. And when we arrived back home in San Francisco, I opened the car door to the dense fog that blanketed us and thought, "Ohh, now that feels good."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ah, the best laid plans...

Yeah yeah, I know... this is the first time I've updated my new blog since I started it a couple of weeks ago. I've had all sorts of good intentions to write here on a regular basis. In fact, there have been several days recently when I thought, "Hmm, I really should update my blog." I'd like this whole new writing thing to become a welcome habit, not something I dread like jury duty, or eating tripe.

Now that I'm on my two-week semester break from Penn State, I've got some extra time on my hands. And again, I've had all kinds of good intentions: "I'm going to work out like a demon every day!" "I'm going to catch up with all the friends I've been neglecting!" "I'm going to find every excuse to use copious exclamation points!" Okay, that last one's not real, but still... during the first several days of my break, I've done very little exercising, a lot of sleeping, and a bit of reading.

Since I don't normally read much for pleasure when school is in session, I vowed to finish the book that's been on my nightstand for months: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. I had read my older sister's dog-eared paperback copy while I was in my teens, but a lot of the deeper stuff in the book went whooshing over my head. I appreciated it so much more this time around. (And unlike my sister's copy back in the day, my newer one doesn't automatically fall open to the hot forbidden sex scene between fallen priest Ralph and his true love Meggie.)

Next up: the "reconnecting with friends" part of my break. On Sunday, Steve & I will head a couple of hours north for a much-anticipated weekend reunion with our dear friends Lysle & Marietta. There'll be tons of mouth-watering food, incredible wines flowing freely, and a chance to spend some long-overdue quality time with two of the most wonderful people on the planet. And it's my intention to enjoy every single moment of it.