Saturday, June 24, 2017

Revelation(s) -- Day 6/124

Walk: de Young Museum (Revelations: Art from the African American South)
Distance: 6.3 miles, yoga stretch

Mary T. Smith (1904-1955, Mississippi)  in her painting yard and Untitled, 1987, housepaint on board 

So, when Ciwt heard that the de Young Museum had acquired a large collection of African American Art from the South, her reaction was "Here in San Francisco?  Please, how patronizing can you get?" (Yup, true confessions, that's what she thought)  The show was proudly hung about a week ago, and today, expecting very little, Ciwt walked over to see it.  Within a few minutes she was on the verge of tears where she stayed throughout the entire exhibition.

Even if any of collection purchasers were the slightest patronizing, the pure Soul, bedrock authenticity and immediacy of each and every piece in the show overrides that or any cynical thoughts like Ciwt's in a nanosecond.  These artists are not crafting art to sell; they were and are standing in their backyards or sitting in their crowded sewing rooms communicating with their art, speaking through it - sometimes to humans, sometimes to God, much time to both.  These artists are "self-taught," "outsider," "naive" in art parlance - and their art is devastatingly powerful in person.

Even the quotes encountered throughout the show are killers.  Hear some of the hard truths of Thornton Dial (1928-2016, Alabama) : Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of world.  It can lead people through the darkness and help them from being afraid of the darkness.  Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something.

The show is up until next April at which time the pieces will be integrated and rotated with the rest of the de Young's superb American Art collection.  Ciwt will be back often - so her readers will hear more about Revelations).


Friday, June 23, 2017

Morning Arises --- Day 6/123

Walk: Crissy Field, Kabuki Theater (Beatriz at Dinner)
Distance: 5 miles, small home yoga

Thursday, June 22, 2017

David and Goliath Revisited --- Day 6/122

Walk: Crissy Field
Distance: 3.5 miles, Home Yoga

Little Red Deck Plant vs. Bay Area Heat Wave

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hopper's Hands, Part Two --- Day 6/121

Walk: Goldsworthy Loop, Presidio
Distance: 3 miles, small home yoga

There's another part of the Hopper's Hands story which Ciwt just learned about (as well as has doubts about).  It concerns sign's connection, however unintentional, with the Golden Gate Bridge jumpers. Apparently Hopper has been among the ironworkers called upon to try to rescue prospective jumpers. As of three years ago he estimated he talked or wrestled down 30 people and lost two.  So now, according to some local runners and various online accounts, many people associate the Hopper's Hands sign with the real man's hands, reaching out to deter someone who has come to the bridge to jump.

Ciwt thinks this is sort of an urban legend.  Hopper himself feels people just sort of tied the sign and suicides together and says: "..When I put those hands up and the paws up, that was the furthest thing from my mind.  The hands sign is lots of things to many people.  Except that some people have made it a good thing about reaching out and stopping those people or whatever."

Ciwt still thinks of the hands as the turnaround place (which she sees now can be taken on several levels).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rising From The Mist --- Day 6/120

Walk: Crissy Field, PGCC Book Group (A Gentleman in Moscow)
Distance: 4.3 miles

When you walk/run Crissy Field in the morning, you head out toward the ocean and are completely absorbed by the shore and water activity.  Then you high five Hopper's Hands, turn around, and are startled anew each time to see San Francisco.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

(Arm)chair Traveling --- Day 6/119

Walk: Union Square
Distance: 2 miles, Small Home Yoga

When Ciwt would think about her life after Callie, she had some notion of spending something like an extended time abroad.  Now that the time is here, she thinks of possible places - then goes to You Tube.  What a resource for armchair traveling - even though Ciwt's office chair doesn't actually have arms!

Today she took a several hour Matisse pilgramage to all the places he lived and painted in: Bohain, Paris, Collioure, Nice, Vence.  And to the place, amazingly, he said he would have chosen to live his life if he had known it before he was an old man: New York City.  He was astounded by and deeply attracted to the Big Apple's energy.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pet Tree, Blue Sky --- Day 6/118

Walk: Crissy Field
Distance: 3 miles, Home Yoga

Another Marvelously Uncommon San Francisco Summer Day

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rare San Francisco Sighting --- Day 6/117

Walk: Crissy Field
Distance: 4 miles, Home Yoga

                  Perfectly blue sky - all day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hopper's Hands. Part One --- Day 6/116

Walk: Crissy Field, Fort Point, CPMC, TJoe's
Distance: 4.2 miles and home yoga

They are still there!  Along with the paw prints just off the ground under the hands!  Ciwt's route to her favorite Crissy Field walk has been much less accessible for years of highway construction so she was apprehensive today when she reached land's end under the Golden Gate Bridge. What if Hopper's Hands weren't there any more.

For decades it has been runner's tradition to run out to the chain fence next to Fort Point, an old military post at the windy, forlorn place the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay come together. Every runner would stop briefly and press both palms against the fence - and, if they were running (or walking) with their dog, they would lift the dog's paw and press one or both against the fence.  Then they'd turn around and head back toward the city and wherever their outing ended.  This happened quietly, unsung, day and night - a simple ritual among San Francisco runners that would often get the confused attention of tourists who had no idea what was going on.

Another confused on-looker was Ken Hopper, a bridge ironworker, one of a group of hardy souls who fix and maintain the bridge, often at dizzying heights. Day after day he'd watch runners and walkers touch the fence before turning around.  Wouldn't it be nice, he thought, if they had something more inspiring to touch than rusty chain-link of "No Tresspassing," "Men at Work" signs.  So in 2000 he had the bridge's sign painter create a small plastic sign with a pair of high-fives and affixed it to the fence.  About a week later he saw a woman making her dog touch the fence below, he had another sign made, this one with dog paws.

The original signs, 2000

Eventually Hopper's bridge co-workers insisted on adding the words "Hopper's Hands." They felt strongly people needed to know whose hands these were.  Finally Hopper just took it upon himself to paint it himself.  He also periodically replaces the signs after wear and tear take their toll, sometimes varying the colors to make tributes to the 49ers or the Giants.
Various Iterations since then

"I still get a kick out of it," Hopper says after all these years.  And so does Ciwt and an untold number of Bay Area walkers and runners who are in on the wonderful story of Hopper's Hands.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pooh Perplexed (and sad) --- Day 6/115

Walk: Up and Down Stairs carrying Callie stuff donations and discards
Distance: 1.5 miles, Home Yoga

Ciwt is catless for the first time in over 35 years.  What next?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Not Home Alone - Yet --- Day 6/114

Walk: No
Distance: 0, not yoga yet

Callie ails....Vet on the way....We'll see...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Visiting --- Day 6/114

Walk: Around SF
Distance: 2.5 miles

Ciwt is busy with a visiting friend.  Catch you tomorrow.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Flower Power --- Day 6/113

Walk: Monday Errands
Distance: 3.5 miles, Home Yoga

Summer of Love Flower in her Hair for Warriors 

Ciwt is rooting for NBA finals to be over tonight.  Warriors will be winners, and the Bay Area will be on to something else. Go W's!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Doc Thoughts --- Day 6/112

Walk: Presidio, Vogue Theater DocFest
Distance: 5 miles, small yoga

One reason why Ciwt lives in San Francisco: year round, quality film festivals.  The current one is DocFest in its 17th season of pre-release (if they are picked up by distributors and released at all) excellent documentaries.

Today she was able to walk a couple of blocks to the Vogue Theater for two of the 100 in the festival. The first, Surrounding Game, is about the game gi (Go) - begun long, long ago in China and one of the four arts that were required of the aristocratic ancient Chinese scholar-gentleman caste.  The other three are gin (Stringed Instrument), shu (Chinese calligraphy), and hua (Chinese calligraphy).

Go is multiple degrees more difficult than chess and to call it esoteric would be a vast understatement.  It's also bamboozling for the observor if they are not Go players themselves, so, even though the filmmakers have done an outstanding job capturing viewers' attention, Ciwt wonders whether it would attract a big enough audience to warrant a distributor's investment.  Ciwt (who actually used to play (at) Go around the family game table growing up) hopes so.  It is a deeply fascinating game and highly interesting movie.

The second doc, Spettacolo, will definitely be picked up because it concerns one of Italy's most favored travel destinations, Tuscany.  Specifically the tiny village in that region, Monticchiello, population 136, which has been producing a village play for over 50 years.  The countryside and medeval architecture are gorgeous enough to make you want to live - or at least go - there, which many tourists and a few very rich second-homers do.  But, unfortunately, that urge - along with Italian bureaucratic corruption and modernity - is exactly what is killing the traditional way of life.

It's bittersweet, beautifully filmed, thought-provoking - and Ciwt is quite sure it will be in (an art house) theater near you relatively soon.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Amazing Succulent --- Day 6/111

Walk: No.  Was going walk downtown to ACT's "A Night With Janis Joplin," but decided no and took in a few of Joplin's real concerts on You Tube instead..  Maybe a future CIWT on that. 
Distance: Home Yoga

Remember the limp dilapidated Ciwt found on the sidewalk and just randomly stuck in the dirt of one of her flower boxes?  (The most exposed to the elements one, at that).  Just to see if it could possibly survive?  Ciwt was highly doubtful.

 Well, what does Ciwt know?  Today, less than a month later, here it is: maybe 5" taller
And with a whole new flower growing. She thinks its name might be Echeveria Green Prince.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Reading Rooms --- Day 6/110

Walk: Kabuki Theater (Wonder Woman)
Distance: 2 miles, small yoga

Architecturally, what is more beautiful than a beautiful library?  At least to book people?  A friend of Ciwt's sent these pictures along with the dates the libraries were established:

Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Salle Labrouste, Paris, 1868 

 Trinity College Library, Dublin 1732

Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra University (Portugal), 1728

Here are more captured by Paris-based photographer Thibaud Poirer....
And here's Poirer's website

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lacemaker Perfection --- Day 6/109

Walk: Marin Driving Day, PGCC Book Club
Distance: A Few Blocks

Johannes Vermeer, The Lacemaker, ca 1669-70, oil on canvas, 9.6" x 8.3"

A rare rainy day in San Francisco June put Ciwt in mind of the indoors and the smallest of Vermeer's paintings.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rather Boggy Myself --- Day 6/108

Walk: Golf Club for Bridge
Distance: 1 mile, small home yoga

To tell you the truth, Ciwt is feeling a bit Eeyore-ish today.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Perhaps Insane..." ---Day 6/107

Walk: Union Square, Last Straw  & Hook Fish Co on Irving Street at the Ocean
Distance: 1 mile, Home Yoga

Here is the iconic El Capitan in Yosemite:

Here is Alex Honnold free soloing* up El Capitan three days ago:

Here is a professional climber's explanation of free soloing:

To free solo is to climb without ropes or support of any kind. It is the purest, and most dangerous, form of climbing. It is you and the rock. To put it more viscerally: If you slip, or miss a handhold, or cramp up and lose your grip, you will fall for a very long time and then you will die. 

Here is that same writer's headline about Alex's feat:

Alex Honnold’s free solo climb of El Capitan was dangerous, perhaps insane, and the athletic feat of the century

And, finally, here is the writer/climber's thoughtful and hard cheese article about Honnold's essentially impossible feat:  (click underlined)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Neighborliness --- Day 6/106

Walk: T. Joe's, Hi Tech Nails (ie, Monday errands)
Distance: 2.5 miles, Home Yoga

So Ciwt was just reading her monthly neighborhood newspaper about a couple of her neighbors. They have been here for fifty years and love, love, love our neighborhood.  (As does Ciwt). According to the article, when the woman sees somebody new move in, she takes her home baked goodies over and says, "Hi. I'm your neighbor down the street.  You must be frazzled from moving and need something to snack on..."  She also makes 'quiet distributions of home baked cakes on birthdays,' and the two of them make a point of 'wandering into neighborhood shops and talking to customers and salespeople.' They also make a practice of striking up conversations with other diners in restaurants," often inviting their new acquaintances to dinner at their house.

Ciwt is still reeling.  "Please, please, please don't let this couple come into a shop Ciwt is in or let them sit next to her in a restaurant."  Please.

Obviously, since they warranted a full page, laudatory spread, there are very different ideas of neighborliness out there.  Ciwt considers herself - and her neighbors agree - a good neighbor because she does things like pay all her building dues on time, pick up mail when neighbors are traveling, take in packages, interview service people when the building needs repairs.  Just general overseeing, accountability, pleasantness - and Privacy.  Sometimes - every great once in a while - her building has wine and breaks bread together - and we always feel safe to be totally open with each other about building, and sometimes personal, concerns.  But, other than that, we honor each other by letting people lead their lives and not sharing any information about them to inquisitive others. Or something like that; anyway she's often told how much her neighbors value her.

A lot of people live in cities for freedom and anonymity among other benefits.  At least that is what Ciwt assumes.  They come together - maybe bond - over common interests, not because they happen to live near each other. Or at least this is what Ciwt values. Not so much that she wants to be part of some cake bake, do-good church group or other old-timey 'neighborly' activities.

But others have different ideas.  She had a yoga student for instance, who pestered her about her age. To Ciwt this is private information which comes out when it seems appropriate.  But this student would hear none of it, went home to search for Ciwt's age on the internet - and promptly told everyone.  Ciwt assumes for the sake of 'neighborliness.'  (If I like you, I get to know everything about you - or something).

Some people, Ciwt guesses, want to believe we are all one big, neighborly family.  Certainly the people at her local newspaper must.  To Ciwt, these people are being insistent, intrusive, and therefore, Not neighborly.

But Ciwt is notoriously private.  And someone just played some tech trick to get into her private email, so probably she's particularly prickly at the moment. In any event, please don't let this couple find out her birthday - even though she might be be missing out on personalized handmade card and a huge "Surprise!!" party.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Old Park Homage --- Day 6/105

Walk: Fillmore
Distance: 2 miles, Small Home Yoga

Has Ciwt told you recently how much she loves Alta Plaza her little, nearby park?  It is two square blocks and part of a sort of chain of city parks approximately the same size. The thing that distinguishes Ciwt's park from the rest of the chain is its awfulness.  It is, knock on wood, safe, but it is crumbled and seedy.  And this is why Ciwt loves it.

This wasn't always the case.  Other parks have been beautified or at least repaired, and a few years ago Ciwt joined her neighbors in a campaign to convince the city that our park should be as well.* Meetings were held, landscape architects were hired, politicians were recruited, neighbors argued, votes were cast.  And finally a plan was settled on; all that remained was for the city to do its part and provide the necessary and promised funds.  Well, much time has passed and the city has only begun its series of 'meetings' (read: stall patterns) about approving funds for each component of the project.

Optimism doesn't run high.  The one and only project the city did fund was deep in the drought when it closed half the park for over a year, tore up authentic old grass and replaced it with 'drought free' grass.  The park was reopened, and within months the new 'grass' revealed itself to be pure and virulent weeds .  The city apologized, the drought free 'grass' is still there protected by some ordinance making it virtually impossible to replace.

Meanwhile - as Ciwt has looked at the improved parks with their fancy blue tennis courts, organized, colorful, and perfectly smooooth paths, their healthy manicured plantings and mown grass - she has become more and more fond of her park just the way it is.

The thing about her park she realizes is its realness.  The haphazard way it has weathered actually feels to her like country.  Real c

ountryside  just a black and half away.

What if those eternal city meetings really do come through with funds?  Perfect paths can't possibly have the same charm as her park's present ones .  And what if the drought free weeds are gone and new trees grow straight instead of how the wind shapes them?   Or the natural old grass grew consistently green and was manicured by machines rather than people and dogs? 

Or off-leash dogs weren't allowed at all like they aren't in other parks?  Or the drainage was actually absorbed instead of demanding tricky navigation on the sidewalks? 

And Just Imagine if there were cute little indoor places in the park where San Francisco's natural (and adored by locals) weather could be ignored! 

Ciwt now realizes if all those 'improvements' happened to her park, she would be crushed.




*See CIWT 3/56, 3/274, 3/309

Saturday, June 3, 2017

In SF with RLS --- Day 6/104

Walk: Callie Errands
Distance: 2 miles, small yoga

Just for openers here are a few of the writers who esteemed Robert Louis Stevenson and thought him one of the finest writers ever: Mark Twain, Jorge Luis Borges, Henry James, G.K. Chesterton.  At the top of the contemporary list of ardent Stevenson fans is Brian Doyle, an honored and prolific Portland, Oregon based writer.

Boyle took on the task of re-enfleshing Stevenson during his months living in a rooming house on Bush Street here in San Francisco waiting for Fanny, his passionately adored mother of two, to be free of her profiligate husband. From December 1879 until April 1880, nearly destitude and sickly, Stevenson roamed the streets of the young city breathing it in and, writing furiously and sending manuscripts back to his native Scotland in hopes of earning money to support the family he would instantly have when they married.

Capturing a literary genius is task enough, but Boyle raised the bar by setting out to do it in a voice emulating Stevenson's.  As someone - probably many - pointed out to Boyle, if you're going to do that, you better bring it. And, Boyle does.

She thinks. Ciwt actually never has read Stevenson, having relegated his A Child's Garden of Verses to tots, Treasure Island, Kidnapped to young boys, and Jekyll and Hyde to Frederic March (who won the Academy Award for the role).  Wrong on all counts: each of those books is considered a literary masterpiece. And if Boyle's voice is even close, she can understand why.

The storytelling is extraordinary.  Every small, everyday moment of life is risen to the level of immediacy that fills the reader with the delicate but deeply human and joyous adventure of being alive. And, wow, if you love San Francisco, your heart will be warmed and touched by Boyle's love letter to the city.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pets --- Day 104

Walk: Union Square
Distance: 1 mile, Home Yoga

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Accent: Purple --- Day 6/103

Walk: Fillmore Errands
Distance: 2 miles, Smallish Home Yoga

Ciwt is paying attention to little succulent gardens around town.  Thinking of maybe having one or two of her own.  They look particularly nice with purple.  N'est-ce pas?