Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chapter 6: San Francisco

So, I woke up early on Friday morning in Sunnyvale, a South Bay city I had lived in for almost four years of the nearly eighteen years I spent in California. Cheryl had to go to work, so after we had coffee and breakfast, I ventured out to Palo Alto to do some shopping. I had a list of things to get to take back to France. Among them: liquid smoke, masa harina, DVDs, dental floss, eyedrops, and toothpaste for the dog. I also needed to get my sunglasses repaired.

Now I should say that Cheryl is an old (don’t take that the wrong way) friend of Ken’s from graduate school at the Univeristy of Illinois, who kindly took us in when we moved from Washington, DC, to California in 1986. She has been a close friend to us both ever since, and I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather have stayed while in California than her place.

Cheryl and I went to the Sunnyvale farmers’ market on Saturday morning to get food for the weekend. My plan was to spend the weekend with Cheryl while she was off from work, then spend the next week seeing other friends and former work colleagues. It was hectic and fun. We ate, drank (the Château la Paws, at right, was one of many bottles we savored over the weekend), watched movies, baseball and football games, listened to music, and generally had a great time “hanging out.” It was like old times.

On Saturday, our friends from Los Altos, John and Candy, came over for dinner. We grilled salmon and had great fun. J&C have come over to our place in France several times, and we all enjoy eating good food and tasting new wines and talking about all things Francophile.

John, Candy, and Cheryl showing off the salmon.

I also had the chance to have meals with friends from Silicon Valley and from San Francisco. Ginny and Mitch met Cheryl and me at a Thai place in Sunnyvale. It was great to catch up.

Ginny and Mitch.

I met my former boss, Mike, and colleague, Lucy, at the Left Bank in Menlo Park for lunch. We had a great time remembering old times and catching each other up on what was new. Another former colleague, Pierce, and his partner, Glenn, just bought a house in Menlo Park, and they took me out to a wonderful Italian restaurant there. P&G have also visited us in France, and it was great to see them again.

Glenn and Pierce (and kitty).

One of Cheryl's favorite South Bay restaurants, and one we've been to several times, is Brigitte's, owned and operated by, you guessed it, Brigitte. She's a 30-something parisienne who runs the small dining room expertly, and is never without a welcoming smile. She always finds time to chat with the customers and makes you feel like the only people in the place. The night we were there, Cheryl and I were joined by John and Candy and our friend Crickett. Most of us had a flank steak with frites as the main course. Everything was delicious. Crickett took this picture of us hamming it up:

Dinner at Brigitte’s.

I ventured up to San Francisco for lunch with my friend David, from graduate school at Berkeley, and for drinks with my former colleague, Nancy, at the Ferry Building. I ran an errand for a French friend who collects beach sand from around the world: I collected sand from Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

People fishing on Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

The Embarcadero Center and the Ferry Building Marketplace.

The following Saturday, I left Cheryl's house and drove back up to the city for two parties. The first was at the home of Gerri and Phil in Sunnyside. We've become friends since Ken met them through work in Silicon Valley many years ago, and G&P were our first houseguests in France in 2003. They were having a party with friends and invited me to stop by on my way to an afternoon event in Marin. Here we are in their back yard with their kids Julia and newborn Connor:

Gerri, Connor, Phil, Julia, and Walt.

Next, it was up to Corte Madera to a small gathering at the home of Nancy and Bruce:

Nancy hired me in 1997 to work as a planning manager at the San Francisco Municipal Railway. She and another colleague, Carmen, told me that the job they were hiring me for was "a management challenge." Boy, was that an understatement. But, as they predicted, I was successful thanks to their support. Nancy subsequently left to form her own consulting firm and I was lucky enough to get her position at Muni. A few years later, I was even more lucky to leave Muni and get to work with Nancy in her consulting firm. We shared a great number of good times and working with her is pretty much the only thing I miss about working...

After a great afternoon party at Nancy's and Bruce's, where I got to see old friends from work days and reminisce a bit, I headed to Hercules in the East Bay to see yet more friends, Harriet and Alfred, and spend the night. Ken knows Harriet from France and Illinois in the late 70s. We re-established contact in 1986 when we moved to SF. Alfred is her husband – just married last year! H&A visited us in France this past July, so we had seen each other recently. They suprised us by deciding to buy a house in France while they were there, about twenty minutes from where we live! That purchase is going through now, and they will be back in the Loire Valley this Christmas to finalize the sale. While I didn’t take any pictures at their place in Hercules, here's one of them at the train station in Montrichard back in July:

Harriet and Alfred in Montrichard.

We had a great visit before I headed up to my friend Sue’s place in Auburn for the final part of the California trip: camping in Yosemite National Park.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, almost famous! It *was* fun catching up with you when you were here, Walt. We were honored to be among those you visited (and doubly honored to be memorialized in the blog). Now, we just have to get to France!


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