Friday, March 19, 2010

Mt. Diablo

Not to compete with the rock climbing in Hell's Gate in Kenya, there was a
mountain excursion in the San Francisco Bay Area, a leisurely (on a very
cold but beautiful day) to the top of Mt. Diablo.

Very spectacular, and although we drove up the mountain, stopping to see the
views every so often, we saw several people on bicycles and I was impressed.

And even more impressed with I told one of my local friends that we had done
this and she casually remarked that, "oh, yes, we ride our bikes up there
pretty often."

I guess that's California for you. And explains why my friend is so healthy!

The views are spectacular. And while my friends in Kenya will notice some
similarities to what I've seen and shared in that beautiful land, the
terrain is pretty different here. And of course since it is still early in
the year, these Northern California trees are not yet in full leaf (but
perhaps that's even better, since it opens up the view a little more).

Napa in the Spring

What visit to Northern California would be complete without a visit to Napa?

Beautiful countryside, delightful friends, and a splendid day out.

Guy St. Clair - Andrew Berner - Dale and Debi Stanley enjoying a good time
together, with Guy and Andrew very grateful to Dale and Debi for their
splendid California hospitality.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Catsup Tower

And while San Francisco is famous for some of its towers – Transamerica, Coit, the supports of the two suspension bridges, etc., the city may one day be more famous for its catsup tower.

While visiting a friend’s garage recently, one’s eye alights on a packing box labeled: “Catsup Tower.”

Yes, you read that right, and Keith – obliging fellow that he is – agreed to display the contents.

When he was a lad, Keith Stanley’s artistic apprenticeship was occupied with a number of splendid adventures in design. Not the least of which was his version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, built from catsup packets.

Never again will a visit to a fast-food restaurant be the same! I’ll forever be wondering about how many catsup packets I can take away, and what Keith might make of them.

Well done, sir.

Brussels - Geneva - New York - San Francisco (2)

So the connection here is a little stretched, since it has been three weeks
since I left Geneva (and a little more since I left Brussels) but I'll do
what I can.

Back to New York to work at the U.N., catch up with some friends (not too
many - too busy and the time too short), see a show (my favorite Sondheim -
"A Little Night Music" with Angela Lansbury and Catherina Zita-Jones - just
terrific), give a speech (see the SMR International blog), and head out to
San Francisco to work on the West Coast for a while.

And to attend a family wedding (well, extended family, I suppose), which is
my real reason for being in America at this particular time.

As with Brussels, couldn't resist having a few days to play around in the
city, and since San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, capture a few
images to help me remember why I love this place so much.

Interesting - as always - building decorations and of course a couple of
famous landmarks. Washington Square in North Beach is always fun to visit
and photograph and the Sts. Peter and Paul Church offers a uniquely San
Francisco-esque view. Naturally the two towers are fun, seen from everywhere
in the city.

And I have to find my art nouveau wherever I go. In San Francisco it's in
the lobby of my favorite hotel, the Galleria Park, right in the heart of the
city at Sutter and Kearny. Here it is, a mecca for lovers of art nouveau,
even if it is (probably) a modern adaptation. It's still pleasant to look at
and, on a cool San Francisco afternoon, sit in front of and talk about how
lovely it is to be in one of the world's great cities.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brussels - Geneva - New York - San Francisco

A blog is, I suppose, something of a diary - and particularly a travel diary
for people who move about a lot - when one does interesting things.

But sometimes we get caught up in the mundane and don't get to post what or
when we want to post, which I seem to recall is an on-going issue for people
who like to keep diaries. Since we don't live in the 18th century anymore,
it's hard to fit it all in, and keeping a diary I expect is 'way down the
list for most 20th-century folks!

So it's been a while since I left Geneva, and truth to tell, there wasn't
much to tell. Work went well, and I got done what I went to Geneva to do.

The hotel (shown here) was pretty ordinary but it worked. I didn't have to
sleep in the streets!

But there wasn't time to visit the sites, and I'm sorry not to have had a
tour of the Palais des Nations and the other U.N. buildings in Geneva.
Perhaps there will be another assignment to Geneva one of these days.

Saw only one work of art, oddly enough directly outside my hotel window. But
very special, and well worth the time I was able to spend looking at it.

Could find out nothing about this piece of sculpture, and I somehow had the
sense that it was in a temporary location, since so much construction is
going on in the area, especially behind a huge shopping mall just across the
road. And the setting seems very strange for such an important work of art.

Still, I found it kind of fascinating, and I'm intrigued that the sculptor
gave the kiters - whom most of us would think of as boys and not as men -
the forms of adult men. An interesting little intellectual excursion into an
artist's way of thinking, I suppose. Very nice.