Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair.
– Susan Polis Schutz, American poet
The 4th of July has come and gone, and I’m in recovery mode. A lot of work went into creating the courtyard and preparing for my cousin Janet and her husband Tim’s annual visit for this three-day holiday. First things first, though, was meeting up with them at Oakland Coliseum’s O.co for a date with the Oakland A’s against the Toronto Blue Jays. They got a late start from leaving the Central Valley and finally got to the ballpark in the 5th inning. We got caught up and imbibed – yes, they serve wine at O.co – and cheered the local team to the first win of what would become a four-game sweep by the time the 4th of July weekend ended. For the third year in a row, we enjoyed the fireworks show after the game, but minus Jacob, who celebrated his friend Connor’s birthday by cavorting on the grassy field during the show. As a child, I was never that excited about fireworks, but magic happens when you watch your kids’ faces light up with delight and wonder, and it matters where you are and who you’re with. Magic.
Despite the fog trying to ruin our little parade, the sun came out enough to allow us to enjoy having breakfast, lunch, and dinner (except for Friday evening) in the courtyard. While the evenings were cool, we were protected by the walls and fence, and spent late nights with blankets, music from Frank Sinatra and his gang, and conversations illuminated by candlelight and string of lights surrounding us. Breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and bacon – mornings were especially ripe for relaxing and taking our time. After the flurry of preparation, this is exactly what I needed, but it’s what everyone should be doing on this particular holiday. Enjoy the weather, family and friends, and traditions, and be grateful for what we have. After breakfast, we walked to Cerrito Vista Park for the city’s annual 4th of July celebration. Lots of music, fun booths, and bumping into friends. We listened to a wonderful performance by the El Cerrito High School’s jazz band, which just left to compete in numerous European jazz festivals.
On Saturday, Janet, Isabella, and I foraged for vintage and salvage goods at Ohmega Salvage (2403 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702, 510.843.7368) and Urban Ore (900 Murray Street, Berkeley, CA 94710, 510.841.7283). Urban Ore has been the epicenter of inexpensive (read: $1 to $3 per item) glass vases for my bouquets. It’s always fun to poke around these places, even if you come away empty-handed. It’s the experience that makes these forays so fun. At Ohmega Salvage, we were treated to a spirited performance by Cuban Maestro Fito Reinoso & Clasicos de Cuba while we shopped.
After such a fun afternoon, it was easy to lure Janet to the Alameda Flea Market (also known as the Alameda Pointe Antiques Faire), which is the largest antiques show in Northern California. I first attended the flea market (2900 Navy Way, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.522.7500) with my friend Raissa back in March, but our morning was cut short by mist-turned-rain. This time around, the fog burned off easily, but we were constrained by needing to be back by 11AM to take Isabella to her organic farm camp that early afternoon. We made the best of our time, staking out a route and only stopping when something caught our eye.
It wasn’t easy, and though we covered a lot of territory, I didn’t like feeling so rushed. Next time, I told myself. Janet was going crazy with the sensory overload and the miles of white tents before us. She loves salvaged goods and got lots of DIY ideas from the various wares. Favorite vendor of the day? Williams Antiks (707.332.0890). William was very cheerful and knowledgeable, explaining what some of the contraptions were in his booth. He and his wife travel to France and bring back really high-end beautiful vintage and antique items such as puppets, tiles, mannequins, and furniture. While there were many vendors who bring back fabulous French goods, I was hurting for Italian vendors, given the courtyard’s vibe. I found, however, a wonderful addition to my courtyard, and I’m glad I pulled the trigger on the spot. William had to throw a blanket over it to keep it safe from other interested buyers, and when I wheeled it out and into the parking lot, my little find received many a compliment from an enviable flea market shopper.
There were so many great items for a more expansive back yard, but that will come later. Isabella found her Breyer horses for a song. Janet picked up a mining cart, of all things, which was heavy and beautiful. And I found a pair of architecturally stunning teal iron chairs that I carried around with us and then shoved into the back seat of my car, both no small feat. After we dropped Isabella off at camp and returned home, I clipped back the dripping branches of the peach tree, rearranged the bird houses, and settled the chairs in their new spot. Lovely. It needs either pea gravel or crushed granite instead of dirt. And the other problem, according to Jacob, is that it needs a small table for the food that the people sitting in the chairs will be eating. Well, I told him, I guess I’ll have to venture to the flea market in August. Maybe, fingers crossed, that rusted iron headboard that I knew wouldn’t fit in the car will be there waiting for me. Until then, it’s time to enjoy post-holiday time and the rest of July relaxing in the courtyard.