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Apparently Not

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

centralparksailing

Two weeks ago tonight, in the post I’m Back, I apologized for the longest hiatus in the five years of Ron’s View.

The longer I go without writing, the larger my list of overdue items and the harder it is to get back in the rhythm. Being in San Francisco two weekends ago (for a wedding) and New York/Chicago last weekend (for family, then business) made it difficult to find time to write. Yet, the trips gave me more to write about. And this weekend had its own major event, which perhaps I’ll get to at some point.

It appears that I was premature in my announcement, in part due to the major event to which I referred, which would be my mother-in-law Bea’s death two weeks ago. That led a week ago to another eventful weekend, with pre-funeral dinner on Friday, funeral and dinner on Saturday, post-funeral immediate family dinner Sunday. And this weekend, well, Thanksgiving has brought more family events. It’s been a full month.

Tonight I’ll see if I can start catching up. I’ll begin here with a photo (up top) from our walk through Central Park three weekends ago, as we were heading to the Frick. You may recognize the remote-controlled model sailboats as the rentals available at the park’s Conservatory Water.

Categories: Life, Writing

Quote of the Day

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

NYTVows

From the NYT Sunday Vows column—the column that keeps on giving—a passage today. The column features newly married Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of Jacques Cousteau, and Ashlan Gorse. We learn that Mr. Cousteau was

mesmerized by her spontaneity and boldness, particularly after she told him that she had once volunteered to swim with sharks wearing only a bikini and a mask. Not to mention that she has visited over 60 countries, thrown the first pitch at a Dodgers game, sky-dived with the Army, zip-lined through a Costa Rican rain forest and nearly sacked Joe Montana during a celebrity football game.

Golly!

As a bonus, we’re treated to two brief but tantalizing descriptions of our wonder woman. At the civil ceremony at the city hall of Paris’s 8th arrondissement:

The bride, in gilded stilettos and a tight white dress with a low-cut back, clutched a red rose and her livret de famille, a family record book that is given to all the newlyweds in France.

At a second ceremony three days later, which took place in “a 16th-century castle near Versailles that has been turned into a flamboyant four-star hotel”:

Before the vows were pronounced, the long-legged bride, dressed up in a dashing white bustier dress from Lazaro, stood in front of the groom with a bouquet of lilies, as tears occasionally fell from her eyes.

Categories: Journalism, Life

A Wedding and a Homophone Pair

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Rowing Home, Winslow Homer, 1890

Rowing Home, Winslow Homer, 1890

[The Phillips Collection]

The summer of limited blogging continues. Between work, remodel, and social events, I see little room for improvement. Prior to the past week, we’d been to four weddings in a two-week period, plus a sixtieth birthday party. This week brought a retirement party and a wedding tripleheader: rehearsal dinner Friday, wedding Saturday, post-wedding brunch Sunday (today). All of which was wonderful, but not conducive to blogging.

The bride is the daughter of good friends, and the officiant was Gail, which put us in the middle of the action. Gail anyway. Me, not so much, though I did get to observe, and to meet a lot of fascinating people on the groom’s side whom I may not see much of again. But for three days they were constant companions.

There’s the groom’s aunt from Fort Worth, and her husband, who runs the business side of a large university down that way, which means—when we found ourselves sitting side by side at the wedding reception last night—that we ended up having a lot in common. Especially beef, as it turned out. They’ve given it up mostly, in favor of fish, chicken, and a healthier diet. But they talked about ribeye steaks and barbecue in the most enticing of ways. I had previously wished to visit Fort Worth in order to see the Amon Carter Museum. Now I want to drop by their place for the ribeyes, the barbecue, and steak fajitas.

Also for a piece of golf history, as the uncle took golf lessons in his youth from the famed golf pro atColonial and lived near Shady Oaks, where Ben Hogan ate lunch and played golf for decades. Plus, the aunt’s storytelling. She’s quite the monologuist. At the rehearsal dinner the night before, she gave such detailed descriptions of Fort Worth summers that I was sweltering.

I could continue running through all the people we met and what I learned from them, but maybe I shouldn’t. There is of course the bride’s aunt, whom we’ve met before, and uncle, whom I talked with last night (as I did last September) about their vineyard. It turns out that tomorrow is the day that Quilceda Creek Vintners up in Snohomish makes their latest releases available online for purchase, so I especially enjoyed getting his insight into them and Washington wineries in general. Plus—small world and all that—today I talked shop with their daughter the math grad student and her boyfriend the fellow math grad student. I don’t see mathematicians at too many weddings. Well, except weddings of mathematicians.

Speaking of small worlds and coincidences, we got to talking with the groom’s father towards the end of the rehearsal dinner at his home Friday. Well into the conversation, when he asked about our kids, it emerged that the groom and Joel were born the same day, a couple of hours—and a few states—apart. They even went to the same school, but not at the same time, the groom leaving before Joel arrived for middle school.

This is where the homophone pair enters. Dinner consisted of an orzo salad that the father’s wife later told us is from The Herbfarm Cookbook, a fruit salad, some other things I’m forgetting, and excellent salmon cooked over a large grill. The bride’s father had mentioned earlier that he had been out fishing with the groom and his father the day before, but caught nothing. Now we learned from the groom’s father that he and his son had in fact caught the salmon we ate earlier.

I imagined them in a powerboat, but as the father began to describe the outing, he said they they “rowed out.” I had to change my image from powerboat to tiny rowboat, with father, son, and bride’s father squeezed in. Next he said “in the car.” They “rowed out in the car.” Huh? Not powerboat or rowboat but car? This image didn’t work. Something was wrong.

Time to re-parse. Ah, they “rode out in the car.” That’s it. They weren’t in the water yet, they were on their way. That made more sense.

I found my confusion sufficiently interesting that after the father finished his story, I shared my confusion with him, Gail, and the bride’s mother. Now I’m sharing it with you. I may as well get one post out of this weekend.

The wedding? It was beautiful. But that’s another story.

Categories: Language, Life

The Villages, Here We Come

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Odds are, we’ll be staying in Seattle when retirement comes. And if we don’t, Gail’s preference will be to head straight to Nantucket. After last night’s dinner at neighborhood favorite Cactus, though, I suggested we should consider The Villages. You know, that Florida retirement community with all the advertisements on TV? (And if you don’t know, watch the video above.)

Why not? Restaurants. Nightly entertainment. Activities galore. No need to drive anywhere, except in golf carts. Plus, no kids! I mean, I love kids and all. Really, I do. But last night we were the only people at Cactus without children under the age of 3. Well, it was early, but still.

I always think of Cactus as a young adult hangout. The big bar. The noise. The excitement. That’s the usual reason I drag my feet when Gail suggests we go there. The place is packed nightly, and everyone seems to be having way too much fun.

Evidently, those young adults got a little older and decided to have children, all of whom showed up yesterday.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But we clearly didn’t fit in (as I first realized when our overwhelmingly friendly waitress greeted us by asking if this was our first time in. It was all I could do to keep from saying we’ve been eating there since before she was born. Which might be true, by the way.) The kids hanging over our booth, babies bawling, parents standing over other people’s tables with children in their arms were too distracting.

As we walked out, I suggested to Gail that we rethink our retirement and take a closer look at The Villages. When we got home, I did so.

There’s a video about their newest restaurant, City Fire American Oven & Bar, that gives me confidence we won’t be missing much.

It looks good, doesn’t it? I suppose kids are allowed in restaurants when they’re visiting with their parents, but all in all I picture life as quiet and idyllic. Lord knows, it’s cheaper than Nantucket. And we could build our dream home there.

What’s that? The Villages is owned by Gary Morse, major Romney supporter last year? Fox broadcasts from there frequently? Glenn Beck held a massive rally there in 2009? Oh, and this story from last November might give us pause. Here’s one paragraph:

If Villages transplants aren’t already disposed to conservative values, they’ll get a good dose of them through the Morse family’s small media empire. Fox News Radio is pumped daily out of speakers in town squares by the community radio station, WVLG-AM 640, making for an odd blend of sunny Villages-themed dispatches and distinctly right-leaning political news reports. A driver listening to Villages radio can step out of his car in one of the town squares and hear the same broadcast without missing a beat. In talking to HuffPost, several liberal residents likened the public speakers to Orwellian propaganda.

Darn.

Gail, what are we to do? But watch the video below. Aren’t they having fun?

Categories: Life, Restaurants

The Continuing Decline

August 4, 2013 Leave a comment

louie's

This summer continues to be a disaster for Ron’s View, and I’m at a loss as to what can be done about it. As the Ron’s View host explained in a post a couple of weeks ago, “other duties seem to be getting in the way.” New work duties taken up on July 1. The never-ending kitchen remodel. And all those weddings. They don’t stop.

Two weeks ago we were up in Oak Harbor Friday and Saturday for one, only to head south Sunday for another. More of the same this week, though confined to Seattle. We attended a wedding Thursday evening (interfering with what is often prime blogging time). And yesterday we went to a 3:00 wedding with a 7:00 reception, presenting us with the difficult dilemma of whether to drive all the way back across the city to spend some time home between the two or whether to stay on the other side of town in search of diversions.

We chose diversions, which turned out to be fun, other than our being a little overdressed. Ballard, the former independent waterfront city annexed by Seattle in 1907, was both the site of yesterday’s events and the home of Gail’s youth. Since the selling of her parents’ house a few years ago, we don’t get over there too often. Yesterday we got to revisit and explore, starting with an early dinner at Louie’s Cuisine of China, the cavernous restaurant just north of the Ballard Bridge. I had never eaten there until a month and a half ago. Now it is becoming a regular. Not that the food is all that great, but Louie’s features a classic Cantonese-American menu, an enjoyable change from our standard.

And Brown Bear Car Wash is just across the street. Not normally a reason to detour, but there’s this remodel we’re doing, as you know, and my car sits in the driveway under a maple tree these days instead of in the garage. Yes, I could park on the street, but the tree keeps the car cool. And messy. It needs washing, which it got in mid-June on our last visit to Louie’s and again yesterday.

brownbear

Then, off to see Gail’s childhood home. We drove up the street to see the front side, then down the alley for a rear view. The foot of the alley lined us up to drive ten blocks west for one of the great views Seattle offers, from Sunset Hill Park.

Why oh why didn’t I bring my new camera and take pictures? Here’s one, from a city website.

sunsethillpark

The park sits atop a bluff, with Shilshole Bay and the Puget Sound shoreline directly below. Across the Sound directly west lies the north end of Bainbridge Island, and beyond that the Olympic Mountains. It’s an expansive view from north-northwest to south-southwest.

Next we drove south through Ballard past Ristorante Picolinos, which we have been meaning to get over to for years. We did eat there unknowingly one afternoon three summers ago, the day after we had our 25th wedding anniversary party, in order to celebrate the wedding of our friends Sverre and Megan, who had married in Norway. The party was on the back patio and it took us another couple of years to realize that the restaurant we kept hearing about and intending to try—Picolinos—was the very place we had been to for this occasion. Since we entered the patio directly from the street, the restaurant’s name never registered on us. Truth is, we should have eaten there last night instead of at Louie’s. But they don’t have a carwash across the street.

From Picolinos, we continued south to the Ballard Locks, hoping to find a parking spot and walk around by the canal, locks, and gardens. But parking there on a summer weekend is hopeless, so we continued driving instead, along the opening to the canal toward the waterfront, then north along the waterfront to Golden Gardens Park, another Seattle treasure that is impossible to park at on summer weekends.

Up the switchback road we went, back up to the bluffs, and then on through a variety of neighborhoods to the north of Ballard. This gave us the opportunity, as we meandered past houses with extraordinary views, to review why it is exactly that when we spent a year househunting twenty years ago, we didn’t move to such neighborhoods.

We did look. In fact, we looked closely and fell in love with a house just north of Sunset Hill Park, hidden among the trees but completely open to the very views one has from the park. We passed that one up for fear that it would fall off the bluff in our lifetimes. Our drive last night offered examples of houses with almost as extraordinary views that aren’t likely to slide down a hill. But that crosstown drive just isn’t one I wanted any part of, and so we didn’t look too hard, instead ultimately settling on a landlocked house with no water or mountain views at all.

No regrets. It’s just that last night we got to see what we have been missing all these years.

We weren’t done driving around. There was more to see. Soon, though, it was time to head back down to the waterfront so that we could attend the wedding reception, in a building right on the water, just south of the Shilshole Bay Marina. We chose to sit at a table just past the windows so we wouldn’t be in the sun, and maybe so we wouldn’t continue to have the Sound and Olympics in our faces, questioning our decision to live on the other side of the city.

Hmm. This post was supposed to be about the decline of Ron’s View. Instead it’s about the decline of Ron’s view. Returning to the intended subject, I wish I could promise improvement. I’ll do what I can.

Categories: Life

The Nearby Pied-à-Terre

July 28, 2013 Leave a comment
Sant Ambroeus, West Village

Sant Ambroeus, West Village

One consequence of my bad blogging month (or will it turn out to be a longer stretch of bad blogging?) is that I didn’t get around to commenting three weeks ago on the astonishing NYT article about the discovery by upper east siders of lower Manhattan real estate. What’s astonishing is that we’re not talking about people moving from the upper east side to lower Manhattan. We’re talking about people buying second (or third or fourth or whatever) homes there. Yes, a coop just four or five miles away from their principal residence.

There are so many rich quotes. Let’s start with this one, which opens the article:

Many uptown adherents now [embrace] downtown neighborhoods that would once have been considered unthinkable.

“Downtown is livelier — we feel as though we have been in Milan for the weekend,” said Brooke Garber Neidich, a chairwoman of the Whitney Museum, a founder and chairwoman of the Child Mind Institute and a trustee of Lincoln Center Theater.

Ms. Neidich, who owns the Chicago-based jeweler Sidney Garber, has spent much of her married life living on exclusive East End Avenue. But a few years ago, she stunned her well-heeled friends by buying a pied-à-terre on West 12th Street in the Village. “When we come home at 10:30 in the evening,” she said, “we can sit outside at Sant Ambroeus and the streets are crowded and it’s not even a Saturday.”

It’s perhaps worth noting that one doesn’t need to go down to the Village to eat at Sant Ambroeus. A Sant Ambroeus sibling is conveniently located in the heart of the upper east side, on Madison between 77th and 78th. I’ve written about it several times, most recently here.

Some have gone beyond the pied-à-terre stage and made the move.

“I think there is a big romance about living downtown,” [developer] Mr. Senbahar said. “It is much more diverse, it isn’t all fund managers, but artists, literary people, then some Wall Street sprinkled in.” For those fortunate 1-percenters, “you can live in a building downtown now that has Upper East Side amenities, and still put on your flats, walk into small shops and live that easygoing lifestyle.”

Linda Lambert agrees. “You can go out to dinner and you don’t have to be dressed,” she said; “you don’t have to wear jewelry.” Ms. Lambert lives with her husband … in a loft on Laight Street in TriBeCa. The couple had lived in a town house on 82nd Street between Park and Madison Avenues for decades before moving into the loft …

For Suzanne Cochran and her husband, Robert, … it was a downtown soiree some years ago that persuaded them to buy a pied-à-terre in TriBeCa. “We were at a friend’s party,” Ms. Cochran recalled. “She is a very downtown girl, and it was all my favorite kind of people: artists — cool, hip people. And we were the only ones who lived on the Upper East Side.” At the time they were living on 84th Street and Park Avenue.

The couple … soon bought a 5,500-square-foot loft and began alternating on the weekends between the loft and their home on Long Island. Last year, they sold their uptown home to move downtown full time.

As the article draws to a close, we are warned that this all may pass.

But while it is fast becoming the latest fad for uptowners to dip a toe into downtown, the trend is still largely untested. “I am not sure that once they get down there, they are all going to love it,” Ms. Kleier said. “They may find themselves constantly going uptown to get their nails and hair done. It could be that the excitement wears off.”

I’m glad the NYT is on this.

Now a small confession. Here in Seattle, I’ve imagined life with a downtown pied-à-terre. Not that I seriously think we have need of a place to stay after the symphony, rather than making the four-mile drive home, though the parking space that would come with our condo sure would be handy.

The point is, when I get to thinking what would happen if Jessica were to vacate her Belltown condo just blocks from the symphony and art museum and surrounded by many fine restaurants, that’s when I imagine life with our very own pied-à-terre. Until last month, those imaginings would end the moment I remembered our dear sweet Emma, who wouldn’t enjoy spending the night without us. Now that she’s gone, why adopt a new cat when we can have a condo?

Am I right?

Categories: Life

Still Down

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

skagitbridge

[Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times]

A week ago, in my post Down But Not Out, I offered some of the reasons for my worst month of blogging (by far) in the almost five years of Ron’s View. I then intended to provide one more post, but it didn’t happen.

And then we had a weekend typical of why blogging has been on hold most of the month. Friday we packed up and headed north to Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island. Gail had a sharp deadline for being there, in time for the rehearsal of a wedding she would be performing the next day. This meant we dare not risk taking the ferry over to Clinton on the south side of the island. Instead we drove north on I-5, the dullest stretch of road imaginable (though it did mean that we got to cross the newly opened bridge over the Skagit River in Mt. Vernon, the one that collapsed two months ago), then west to Fidalgo Island, over to the magnificent Deception Pass Bridge that connects Fidalgo to Whidbey on Whidbey’s north end, and down to Oak Harbor (home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island). Just over 90 miles to Oak Harbor’s Candlewood Suites.

A short break, and then on to the wedding rehearsal and post-rehearsal dinner. No blogging that night. I admit, Saturday morning was free, but hey, that meant I could watch as dramatic a stage of the Tour de France as I can remember, the final day in the Alps, culminating in the climb up Annecy Semnoz. And after that, round three of the Open golf championship in Muirfield. It ended just in time for us to get to the wedding.

Wedding, reception, and south the length of the island to the ferry. Saturday late afternoon. No chance, I imagined, that there would be ferry traffic. Boy was I ever wrong. An hour and a half wait, which we got to share with what must have been a dozen vans filled with cyclists who had just competed in Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage. I hadn’t heard of Ragnar before. I know about it now. Click the link and find out for yourself.

ragnar

Long though the wait was, the ride across the sound to Mukilteo was beautiful, with mountain and water views and perfect weather. We were home by 7:00. A night of blogging! No, I just wasn’t up to it. And Sunday morning, well, we had to watch the final round of the Open. Phil! The subject of another post. And the final stage of the Tour. Paris at night! The first nighttime finish, celebrating 100 Tours, and magnificent it was.

No sooner had the Tour ended than we hit the road again, 45 miles south to Orting for wedding number two of the weekend. One of Gail’s cousins lives in Orting, and we’d been down to her house, but not the extra 2 miles to the center of town, and the two hundred yards more that brings you to the south end, with as magnificent a view of Mt. Rainier, looming less than 30 miles away, as I’ve ever had. When we arrived at 2:15, there was still some marine air around and all you could see was the bottom 2/3 or so, with the huge base. Two hours later, in utterly clear skies, the mountain rose in its full majesty, so much more dramatic than up here in Seattle.

Sunday evening is peak blogging time for me, but not this past Sunday. We were home around 8:00, with no energy. And no time Monday to make up for it, because Monday I attended the annual basketball game and barbecue of the summer program I run. Tuesday was new camera night (subject of another post), last night the weekly pizza dinner with my summer program. I tell you, this month just isn’t meant for blogging. Which is too bad, because I have no shortage of topics. Sorry.

Categories: Life, Travel