Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Storm Activity --- Days 13/53 & 54

Walks: Hood, Union Square

Distances: 4 miles, 4. miles

No a storm hasn't blown through Ciwt's place, but one is on its way into the Bay Area.  The weather service is telling people in Tahoe it will be dangerous to even go outside their doors and it is going to be pretty ferocious around here for the next three or four days. So Ciwt has decided this is the time for the long delayed project of tackling absolutely everything in her clothes closet.  Maybe even tame - or come to grips with - all her city black.

As you can see above, the project has begun; so it is getting dangerous to even walk around inside her place.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Perfect Acting --- Day 13/52

 Walk: AMC Kabuki (Perfect Days)

Distance: 2.8 miles

So Ciwt went to see Japan's Oscar nominated Foreign Language film, Perfect Days, and it is truly lovely.  The acting by long time movie star Koji Yakusho is astoundingly perfect and a/the reason in and of itself to see it yourselves.  Ciwt leaves the overall evaluation up to you.  So far the critics and larger audience have been enraptured and given it very top ratings.  On the one hand , Ciwt agrees, but on the other ....never mind, you can decide; it just isn't perfect.  In any event Perfect Days is well worth your time in the theater.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

From No Place to Showplace --- Day 13/51

Walk: Hood

Distance: 5.6 miles

So a young designer friend asked Ciwt if she could use her place for a photo shoot.  Ciwt of course said "Sure" but was thinking "Wha??"   Here Ciwt is hemming and hawing about whether she can embrace it as home and others are full speed ahead on it being a great place for Ciwt - and for a photo shoot.

She arrived today - with an assistant, zillion dollar camera and props galore.  And they proceeded to ransack the rooms while also exclaiming  "What perfect light!," "The view is wonderful!," "Great shot!"

And after they put everything back together again, Ciwt had to admit her place felt a lot more like her real home.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Swan Song --- Days 13/49 & 50

Walks: Day of Rest; SF Ballet

Distances: Not even 1/2 mile; 5.5 miles

So, it isn't quite at the level of Madame Butterfly which brings Ciwt to tears every time she sees it, but  the ending of Swan Lake is still pretty devastating.  Certainly as danced and staged by our world class San Francisco Ballet.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

So Green, So Young --- Day 13/48

Walk: Hood
Distance: 5.5 miles

Here is the After the Ball section of the de Young Museum's current exhibition
of San Franciso couture over the years*.  All were worn by local philanthropists and fashionistas or carefully preserved unworn by couture department stores. Which ones jump immediately to your eye?

Edwin Oudshoorn (Dutch, b. 1980 dba Edwin Oudshoorn, est. 2005),
Spellbound Gown with Detached Sleeves and Pin , 2020, 

Ciwt is green girl so her eye went to - or was Spellbound by - the rich warm green one.  It is timelessly lavish but, even so, Ciwt was surprised to learn it was created by the youngest designer in the show, Edwin Oudshoorn, a Dutchman. 

* Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style, deYoung Museum, January 20 - August 11, 2024

  Also see CIWT Days 13/10 through 13/14

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Turn Key Life --- Days 13/46 & 47

Walks: Not far, wind and rain

Distances: 2.2 miles

So Ciwt is slowlywarming up the advantages of a 'turn key' life.  Still kind of a creepy phrase.

Monday, February 19, 2024

What We Learn at Work.... --- Day 13/45

Walk: No, Presidents Day Storm so 'storming' through home stuff instead

Distance: n/a.  Mostly up and down from trash room and fingers exercised on computer

So of all the jobs in Ciwt's checkered work life, one of the most useful turns out to be the part time one at a housewares boutique.  Tuesdays were recycling day, so she spent much of Monday out on the sidewalk in front of the store deconstructing boxes (and trying not to injure herself) with her retractable blade utensil. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Winter Moments --- Days 13/42 to 44

Walks: SFMOMA, Inside for Storm, Hood

Distances: 7 miles, day of rest, 4.5 miles

Claude Monet, The Magpie, 1868, oil on canvas

So Ciwt is partial to Monet's art before he became MONET, the Father of Impressionism.  Early Monet as they say.  When he was struggling singlemindedly to - literally - invent ways of painting what he saw before him and loved.  Struggling to develop his art while struggling to survive and support his girlfriend (not yet his wife) and baby son.  His father refused to support his work or family - probably to pressure him to become a businessman - and patrons were exceeding few.

One of these patrons helped arrange a house in Etretat where Monet could shelter his family and paint in relative comfort.  From the year he moved in Northern France was blanketed by snow in an ongoing series of winter storms.  The invention of the collapsible metal paint tube and portable easel had brought opportunities to move out of the studio into plain air, and Monet had been one of the first to embrace this freedom.  So in those impossibly severe winters, Monet invented methods to (barely) stay alive outdoors - and to truly capture - for the first time - snow.

Not just any flat, cold white-with-grey shadows snow but violet, blue, pink, yellow snow often applied with short choppy brush strokes.  Snow that captured the vibrating quality of light.  And winter scenes that capture some deep truths of that season: the solitude, the quiet delicacy, the fleeing, changeable moments. The sense of snow.

And in one of those early years, he produced a simple, quiet painting that almost brings tears to Ciwt's every time she sees it.  The Magpie.  Ciwt is not alone; The Magpie is one of the most popular paintings in the Musee d'Orsay's collection.

PS - It was rejected by the Paris Salon of 1869.  Jurors dismissed it for reasons such as 'too common, too coarse,' too experimental with colors and too radically different from the accepted academic style. No wonder a few years later, that young group of Impressionists finally rebelled!

Claude Monet, A Cart on the Snowy Road to Honfleur, 1865 or 1867, 

The painting above was Monet's first snowscape during those winters.  And below was his largest.

Claude Monet, Snow at Argenteuil, 1865, oil on canvas

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Riding the Rails SF Style --- Days 40 & 41

Walks: 1. Hood    2. Rockridge, Oakland

Distances: 4 miles average

So here are a couple of Ciwt's co-riders on BART today.  They had a boom box with music to accompany their break dancing.  Ciwt was all eyes and clapping.  But she's only taken BART a couple of times.  The rest of riders never looked up from their cell phones or whatever they were doing so they must be regulars and used to the things that happen as they ride.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Home? --- Days 13/33 to 39

Walks: Hood mostly

Distances: Average 3 miles (loping)

So, where has Ciwt been for 6! days?  Good question.  Researching on line for things to make her new home look more like her.  That consists of doing the searches mostly on line, then if she finds something, saving the information, printing out a picture, walking around her place with it, and maybe pressing the "Buy' button and hoping.  It is intense and amazingly exhausting and consuming for something you do just sitting around.

It is almost two years since her decision to move into a 'age appropriate' place with a garage and without 73 steps up and down to it.  And she was very fortunate to find a very nice condominium in her 41 year zip code.  So she has been able to keep all her old shopping and walking patterns.  And the view is bigger but essentially the same as her old one.

She's in the 'final touches' stage of decorating as well as having gotten totally rid of furniture she no longer has use for.  (A huge project: disposing of old furniture and furnishings).  So when she looks around her new place she's feeling some pride in jobs well done - appropriately relocating and furnishing, as well as becoming a good 'new community' member/neighbor.  

But when will it feel like home?  It looks nice but it doesn't feel like home - not deeply.  Maybe places don't for many of us of a certain age.  Or don't in the same nesty way we are used to.  It's confusing.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Come on!? --- Day 13/32

Walk: Not yet; cold and light rain

Distance: tbd

© Tzahi Finkelstein / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

How do photographers capture these instantaneous, once in a life time moments?  In this award winning photo a Balkan pond turtle shares a moment with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel's Jezreel Valley.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

One Way to Hibernate --- Day 13/31

Walk: Hood

Distance: 4 miles

© Nima Sarikhani / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Is this dear or what?  It is time for the Atlantic Magazine's Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 Award, and the photo above is the People's Choice Winner.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Day After the 'Bomb Cyclone' --- Day 13/30

Walk:  Yes finally after bug and storm hiatus

Distance: 3 miles

Poor little park next door today - after losing 12 big trees in last winter's storms.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Making a Dent --- Days 13/27, 28 & 29

Walks: No, None

Distances: 000

So Ciwt has been felled by one (or a stew) of the many bugs sailing around windy San Francisco.

Probably a good time to make a small dent in the many books piled around her place.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The Other Football Half --- Days 13/25 & 26

Walks: No, felled by cold/allergies/sinus (?)

Distances: n/a

So during her little stay home so she recovers from one of those 'stew of everything' maladies these days, Ciwt  happened to read the present cost of a suite to watch the upcoming Super Bowl in Las Vegas.  Are you ready? (she wasn't): $2.5 million.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A+ Birdwatching --- Day 13/24

Walk: Hood
Distance: 3 miles

So today Ciwt was walking by the little park next door which, it turns out, is known among birdwatchers as one of the best.  It is also a major home base for growing flocks of red headed parakeets (which are mistakenly though understandably called Wild Parrots).  Bright green and chattery they swirl around the park neighborhood, landing here and there for a while on trees and rooftops.  You feel lucky if you see them in flight or for a moment on their temporary perches.

But not today.  Ciwt heard the usual squacking but assumed the parakeets were hidden in some trees.  Then she looked up to her left and saw a bunch of them just hanging out on a bare limbed wintering tree.  Maybe the birds would stay for a moment longer and she could have a closer look, so she climbed up the stairs and saw several people with their iphone cameras pointed at the birds.  Surely the birds would fly away any moment with all these people around.

No, they stayed put, still squaking and flitting around, but right there.  Beautiful, antic and fun to watch.


Now this is the kind of bird watching that appeals to Ciwt!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Survivor Guilt --- Day 13/23

Walk: Hood 

Distance: 2 miles

As most of Ciwt's readers know, the 49ers survived as victors in yesterday's playoff game against the Detroit Lions.  We're relieved and happy out here, but there is no overturned cars joyous celebration.  To get to the Super Bowl, the 49ers had to dash the hopes of a team beloved in many areas of the country - including the Bay Area.  Lots of people out here are either from Detroit or spent many years rooting for the franchise and many of them were in the stands yesterday. 

When the Lions came to play San Francisco it was their first Super Bowl opportunity since the franchise began as the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans in 1930.  And they almost did it!  So close; they were fired up with energy and played beautifully.  So beautifully, at half time Ciwt congratulated her friend who grew up near Detroit and said she would happily cheer for the Lions in the Super Bowl. But as Yogi Berra said: It's not over till its over....

Most fans out here were mindful of the 49ers' difficult task as spoilers.  Those who weren't were reminded in sympathetic columns by our local sportswriters.  As long time sports writer Ann Killian wrote before the game: They (the 49ers) are the villians in this script.  And after the game, she acknowledged both the sensational playing of the 49ers in the second half and some of the coaching errors that changed the Lions' momentum.*

Survivor guilt:  If the 49ers beat the Lions, it would be inevitable.  They did....

*If you are interested to read her pre- and post-game columns, here is a link:

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Where Are the Dogs? --- Day 13/22

Walk: Lafayette Park Dog Run

Distance: 2 miles

So one of Ciwt's favorite and most heart warming outings is walking to the park across the street to watch the dogs cavort with each other, their owners socialize and think about whether to get a dog herself.  

Midday today she headed out, and when she reached the dog area of the park (really it all is), this is what she saw:


No dogs or owners: 

Then she realized: Playoff Football Games! Apparently the whole park crowd was absorbed in the play and the dogs were staring patiently at their owners.  She turned around and went in to her place to watch herself

Saturday, January 27, 2024

New Season, New Artistic Director, New Ballet, New Era(?) --- Day 12/21

Walk: SF Ballet

Distance: 3 miles

So Sf Ballet's 91st season has begun out here and it is definitely not your grandmother's - or mother's or sister's - ballet.  At least today's performance and world premiere of  Mere Mortals wasn't.  

The stage: mostly black, empty except for a huge AI video screen.

The music: Synthesized electronic combined with full orchestra. Very loud aural roller coaster.

The costumes: broad shouldered coats and capes; shiny latex body suits.

The dancing: Full gallop writhing, undulating, spinning, completely in sync with each other and the music for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Simply superb.  Then curtain and home.

The story: Not sure, something to do with Pandora, Prometheus, Hope.

Audience Reactions:  LOTS of standing, clapping, whistling, "Bravos" from the likes of Ciwt.  On the other hand, the man sitting next to Ciwt sat silent, motionless and staring throughout the performance and beyond.  Then still staring straight ahead, stood and said out loud "Well, that's one I'll never see again."

Friday, January 26, 2024

Wright Good Fiction --- Days 13/19 & 20

Walks: AMC Kabuki (American Fiction)

Distances: 3 miles

So, Ciwt found the movie American Fiction so intelligent and well acted, she went once and then returned the next day.  What role can't Jeffrey Wright excel in?

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Blood from a Stone --- Days 13/17 & 18

Walks: Marin Errands    AMC Metreon

Distances: 3 miles    6.5 miles

So Ciwt can certainly see why Emma Stone has been winning all this year's movie awards and should absolutely recive the Best Actress Oscar.  Her performance in Poor Things is astounding -  breathing vitality into a scientifically cold, cynical, raunchy but very well done movie.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Moving On With LUGG --- Day 13/16

Walk: Public Storage

Distance: 3 miles

Bye, Bye 43+ Years of Stuff

So San Francisco has a service called LUGG that has been invaluable to Ciwt in her moves out and in and out.  You can call them and request nearly instant service, and, with bells on, they come through.  

For instance, today Ciwt woke up finally ready to let go of a lot of things - furniture,etc - she was done with but still holding on to.  So she hurried her fingers to the LUGG app and chose the option of a small van with two men in less than 30 minutes. And in 15 minutes they were at her home.  Things from there were loaded into the van first, then it was off to Public Storage for the rest.  Two hours later the stuff was on to new homes and Ciwt was home and free.  Yay, LUGG or whatever similar services her readers may have where they live.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Only Your Hairdresser Knows --- Day 13/15

Walk: Hood

Distance: 4.5 miles

Pooh with Peace Plant

Over time Ciwt's hairdresser has given her a couple of meaningful gifts - besides great haircuts.

At various times she learned that Ciwt did yoga and that her nickname growing up was Pooh.  So a few years ago when Ciwt moved she surprised her with a sweet Peace plant in an adorable black pot.  And this week Ciwt received a nearly original copy of Winnie the Pooh which her hairdresser had found at a garage sale.  So thoughtful.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Final Touches --- Day 13/14

Walk: AMC Kabuki (All of Us Strangers)

Distance: 3 miles

A few finishing touch notes from Ciwt on the de Young's current Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style.  

*  The de Young has tied the fashion in the exhibit to historical events, places and people in San Francisco which adds a level of interest and brings the clothes on display alive for Bay Area locals as well as visitors. It celebrates not only fashion artistry, but also San Franciscans’ role in harnessing it: the women who wore it, the philanthropists who supported it, the city that nourished it. The rooms of the exhibition are built around iconic locales in the city: Early fashion is displayed in a facsimile of the Palace of Fine Arts, the little black dress is found in Grace Cathedral, the ballgowns festoon the Opera House. In many ways the exhibition a love letter to the city and its residents.


Christian Dior, Junon (above) and Venus (below), Fall-Winter 1949

Among the many gorgeous haute courture gowns on display two that rise to the eye as the most superior were actually never worn.  They are Christian Dior and were brought from France to the exclusive Union Square department store I Magnin.  But, instead of selling them, I. Magnin immediately designated them as 'museum pieces' saying "They represent the absolute pinnacle of creativity and draftsmanship."

(This is the official story, but Ciwt secretly wonders if the gowns were simply too high priced even for the wealthiest San Francisco buyers. Or if there was some concern about a fashion war over who would be allowed to purchase them). 

In any case, the gowns glow with freshness and artistry and are a delight to the eye).  


As might be expected in the Bay Area, there is a high tech touch to the exhibition.  Through some sort of Artificial Intelligence (AI for those in the know), visitors can stand in front of mirrors and suddenly be wearing a few selected gown and outfits, all fitted to their particular sizes and shapes.  

Ciwt assumed this would be tricky and work only for the most tech savvy.  But not so.  Even Ciwt could easily step into the gowns.  She just stood on a round pad across from the mirror, and voila, there she was all dressed up and ready to go to the ball.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Retail RX --- Day 13/13

Walk: de Young Museum, Hood

Distances: 5 miles

Callot Sisters (Marie, Marthe, Regina, Josephine), (French, active 1845-1927), Ensemble bodice and Skirt, ca 1908, silk.  Worn in San Francisco by Ethel W. Sperry Crocker (1851-1934)

Not that many years after the 1849 Gold Rush, the sparsely built territory named Yerba Buena with no more than 1000 residents had become a cosmopolitan city, renamed San Francisco. The population had exploded to over 400,000 with a constant stream of national and international visitors.  It was home to elegant restaurants and hotels as well as an opera house, a museum, a grand park and a multitude of social and cultural events.  Luxurious department stores located mostly on Union Square were busy meeting demands for dresses and gowns imported from New York and especially from France.

But the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and fire effectively destroyed the city and certainly downtown retail activity. How did the new San Franciscans respond?  Well, in the midst of rubble, lawlessness, still burning fires, gerry built shelters, that disperate group of resilient, visionary, ambitious, entrepreneurial, often flamboyant souls, acted instantly.  Within weeks! retail was back in business.  The store owners banded together, quickly erected a temporary shopping district, made arrangements for the delivery of French-made clothes, and affluent San Franciscans got themselves downtown through the rubble strewn streets to purchase them.  This, dear readers, was Retail Therapy, San Francisco style.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Who 'Invented' the Little Black Dress? --- Days 13/10,11 & 12

Walks: Hood, de Young Museum (Fashioning San Francisco Exhibition) - both days

Distances: 3 miles 2 miles, 4 miles

Jean Patou (French, 1887-1938), House of Patou (estab. 1914), Afternoon Dress ca 1926, silk crepe
 Worn in San Francisco by Imogen Abbott Mendoza (American, 1894-1989) 

If you were like Ciwt, you guessed Coco Chanel as the 'inventor' of the little black dress. But she learned differently at yesterday's Press Preview of the de Young's Fashioning San Francisco exhibition. Turns out the French Houses of Premet and Patou designed the earliest versions: calf length, straight, easy to move in, very little adornment. Some of the dress's immediate popularity was related to ease of wear and resonance with the style demands the early 1900's.  Women were increasingly out of the home with many in the work force.  They needed affordable, easy to wear garments. In addition World War I began in 1914 and widows were expected to wear black, the color of mourning, for four years.  Added to all this, the little black dress could be and was styled in numerous becoming ways. Ie, women looked good in it and enjoyed wearing it.

We weren't entirely wrong about our Coco Chanel guess though.  In 1926 Chanel made a landmark contribution to the black dress by publishing a picture of a short, simple black dress in a 1926 American Vogue. In the issue the highly influential and widely read Vogue called the dress "Chanel's Ford" because it was simple and accessible for women of all social classes.  And many sources do credit her with being the inventor of the dress.

PS   If Ciwt had been shopping for a little black dress in the 1920's, she might have at least tried on this elegant version:  

Louise Boulinger (Fr. 1878 - 1950, active 1923-1939), American Copy of Louise Boulanger Evening Ensemble, silk crepe with glass rhinestones 



Monday, January 15, 2024

Memo to Self --- Days 13/8 & 9

Walks: Hood Shopping
Distances: 3.5, 5.5 miles

More often than she cares to admit Ciwt finds herself thinking about her old home.  So quaint, so cozy, poor Ciwt.

Then she gets a delivery at her new home for 1.8 years like the one leaning against her wall above.  It is 10' tall and weighs 43 pounds.  The doorman helped her put it into the elevator, but when she reached her floor she couldn't budge it.  Noticing the elevator hadn't returned, the doorman came up to her floor and took the cumbersome bundle (it's a carpet) into her place. The whole process took no longer than 10 minutes.

When he had left (with a voluntary thank you tip from relieved Ciwt), she remembered other things about her old place.  Specifically the 73 stairs from the sidewalk to her unit.  If this delivery had been made there, it is questionable the driver would have even brought it to the downstairs front door.  If he had, she would have had to call a service like Lugg to carry it up the stairs. Since today is a holiday, they might be closed so the bundle would be outside overnight.  And then there is the matter of the neighborhood crimes around here these days......

Memo to self: No more Poooor Ciwt.  Life without 73 stairs and with the added luxuries of a doorman and elevator is wonderfully liveable.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Review or Movie? --- Day 13/7

Walk: AMC Kabuki

Distance: 2 rainy windy miles

Ciwt has a habit of not reading any reviews before seeing a movie.  She does pay attention to Rotten Tomatoes and word of mouth.  So when she heard Sandra Huller, who was so outstanding in Anatomy of a Fall, was equally as good in The Zone of Interest she put that movie on her list.

It took a while to get to San Francisco, arriving yesterday. Ciwt went today.  And, oh my. Oh. My.  Maybe she should have read a couple of reviews.

Sandra Huller was indeed impeccably excellent - as was the whole movie.  An impeccable portrayal of the banal, soulless efficiency of pure evil.  The movie is methodically chilling, disturbing and unremitting; no fantastical events or remotely pretty music. You know precisely what is happening and there's no place to divert your attention.  It you are prepared for this, this presentation of the Nazi death camps, go because The Zone of Interest is an excellent some say masterpiece production.  If not but you're curious, Ciwt suggests just reading a few reviews.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Oh, It's January --- Days 13/5 & 6

Walks: Hood

Distance: 5 miles each

Ciwt had forgotten how kind of blah January can be.  Good for things like weeding through closets, making some home decorating decisions, grooming cats, figuring out how to have old furniture hauled away, yawning, sleeping, wearing mittens, generally getting tasks done.  But no good for CIWT readers looking for any interesting entries.