Not getting older – getting better!

Like Dustin Hoffman’s Graduate (shot in Berkeley in 1967), and Harold from Harold and Maude (shot in Berkeley in 1971), the Bay Area definitely has something of a love affair with older women. Is it the climate? The yoga? The positive effects of feminism and ensuing gender equality? The excellent food? Medical marijuana? Free speech? I have no idea, but rarely have I seen so many women over 50, 60 and 70 who have the posture of ballerinas, the smile of buddhas, the hair of schoolgirls and the rosy cheeks of newborns.* On the weekends – if they’re not off to Oregon for white water rafting trips, like our retired downstairs neighbor – you will often spot them on their bikes on Marin County roads, clad in skin-tight speedo suits that show off their enviable, lightly muscled curves – at an age where in the rest of the world,  “exercise” would mean sitting in a rocking chair and knitting! All, I’m sure, without the help of modern medicine or high-tech cosmetics.

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that when a 62-year-old windsurfing Bay Area lady is rescued from the freezing waters of the bay after 13 hours, she is described as “alert” and “pretty well”, because she has “a lot of stamina”. You go, girl!

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Happy are those who are called to this supper

In the last ten years, the nearest I’ve come to communion was a few days ago when we ventured into Oakland to check out the famed Casserole House. This stretch of Telegraph Ave, by the way, has a handful of Korean places right next to each other, all competing for your palate with mouthwatering pictures of their food (much like the signs of rivaling churches along a suburban street with their promises of giving meaning to your life and/or rescuing your soul from eternal damnation). We had just sat down in a comfy, quiet booth when the waitress plonked down literally dozens of appetizers in little bowls – first, a Korean variant of potato latkes, then several types of tofu, sweet pickled beans, tiny oily fish, hardly bigger than matchsticks, sweet potatoes, broccoli, omelette, pickled bok choi and crunchy radishes, and miso soup. We could hardly believe our luck. Instead of going for cow intestines or squid as main dishes, we had made the scared beginners’ choice of beef and pork bulgogi – mounds of incredibly soft, fragrant, thin slices of meat, surprisingly light and almost fluffy in their consistency, not so boring after all all. But all this was just a preface to the meal’s real climax – the Communion rite.

Suddenly, a wise and friendly-looking woman appeared at our table and introduced herself as the cook. Between our main dishes – as the glorious centerpiece of the table – she placed a plate of Kimchi, and while reciting a litany about the virtues of said pickled cabbage (“Is four month old! Is special Kimchi!”), removed the lid from my rice-bowl and asked me for my chopsticks.

“(…) the priest breaks the host and places a piece in the main chalice; this is known as the rite of fraction and commingling.” (Wikipedia: Communion Rite)

She took the chopsticks from my hands, gingerly tore off a leaf of cabbage from the serving plate, placed it on my rice and mixed the two.

“The priest then presents the transubstantiated elements to the congregation, saying: “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.”

The sage/cook pointed at the printout of a newspaper article that hung in a frame on the wall above our table – it was a page-long ode to the Four Month Old Kimchi in front of us! And we were happy.

“Then all repeat: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” The priest then receives Communion and…distributes Communion to the people.”

She held up the Kimchi, cooed “Say Aaaaaah!” and then, with a friendly nod, placed the cabbage-and-rice ball in my opened mouth, and indeed I “bowed [my] head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence, and received the consecrated host on the tongue” (I stopped at the “Amen”, though, replacing it with a nodding “Mmmmmmh!”). A spiritual experience is one that one cannot be put into words. We’ll be back for the squid!

(Picture: Nagyman/Flickr)

Looking for spring

Once the rockets are up…

You know you’re in the West when on NPR, the local police chief advises the inhabitants of your (densely populated) surroundings not to “celebrate the New Year by firing their guns in the air” because “the bullets will come down somewhere and might do harm”. Hardly any rockets around here, by the way, they are much too dangerous. All this reminded me of a song about a fellow German expat, who put it so well: Once ze rrrrockets are up, who cares where zey come down? Thatz not my department, says Wernher von Braun.

Happy New Year!

The day I missed my first whale

We were promised the “foggiest and windiest point” of the U.S., and sorely disappointed! (To be fair, everything was covered in thick fog about 15 minutes before I took this picture. We were quite lucky.)

The beach.

Gray Whale migration is typically from December to May. There was one gray whale today, which I didn’t see because I looked the other way for a second…

Dirty hippies not beneath stealing cheap toys from disadvantaged kids

Posted in Dirty Hippies!, The Bay. Comments Off on Dirty hippies not beneath stealing cheap toys from disadvantaged kids

Where the sun goes to sleep

Well, not really, but the sun does seem a bit tired when it gets here. After illuminating the western hemisphere for a day, does it take a little nap when crossing over the Pacific Ocean? It’s not as if anybody would notice. (That’s our new sofa, btw)

Pier review

SF as seen from our Kensington driveway.

César Chávez Park. Bay bridge: check. Skyline: check. Ground squirrel: check.

The Berkeley municipal pier used to be 3.5 miles long (that’s 5.6 km!). Now it’s just 3000 feet (1 km). Still a nice walk.

This looks a bit like Miami but probably feels more like Antartica.

Disapproving seagull.

This is where the pier ends, or at least the tiny part of the pier that’s still in use.

This is just to say…

View from our living room. For breakfast, we had plums from the tree in the back yard.

…and the home of the brave

Während man sich in München nur mit relativ mehrheitsfähigen Verboten herumschlagen muss, weht in Cohus neuer Heimat scheints ein anderer Wind. In den letzten Wochen in San Francisco vorgeschlagene Verbote:

Verkaufsverbot für Wasserflaschen auf öffentlichem Grund (also z.B. Parks, Festivals, etc.). Bottled water ist der Feind Nr. 1 des amerikanischen Umweltschützers – in Concord, Massachusetts, ist der Verkauf von Wasserflaschen übrigens bereits verboten.

– Ein Soda-Verbot oder zumindest eine Soda Tax, dh eine Steuer auf Cola und Limo. “Soda is the new tobacco”, lautet die Devise des Bürgermeisters Gavin Newsom.

– erwogen wurde auch, den Handel mit Haustieren (ausgenommen Fische) zu verbieten. Hauptproblem: Hamster, die nach Fehlkäufen eingeschläfert werden müssen.

Plastiktüten sind schon seit 2007 verboten. Supermärkte müssen stattdessen Papiertüten verwenden.

Eine umfangreiche Liste der San-Francisco-Verbote findet sich hier. Vielleicht ist die eine oder ander Inspiration für Herrn Ude dabei. (Ach ja: Ein gscheides Rauchverbot à l’américain schaut übrigens so aus!)