August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.
– Sylvia Plath
On Monday school starts. I need to catch my breath. How is it that summer is over already? After our trip to Italy in June, I was trying to find my easy pace of summer, my groove. It was not to be this year. As soon as we came home we prepared for our traditional Fourth of July visit with my cousin and her husband Tim (aka Timbuktu), which includes the Oakland A’s fireworks game, City of El Cerrito Fourth of July celebration at Cerrito Vista Park, Fourth of July feast, Alameda Flea Market, and lots of science experiments, board games, catching up, and sometimes we sneak in a hike.
Tim, Janet, and me at the Oakland A’s fireworks game. Tim took pleasure in entertaining us by photo-bombing the group of women in the row in front of us.
The A’s lost – again – but at least the fireworks were fun!
We all agreed that this Fourth of July’s fireworks show was the best we’ve seen in our four-year tradition.
One of the things Janet and I love to do while at the El Cerrito Fourth of July festivities is to buy a necklace from our favorite Himalayan Jewelry guy. And check out other artisan goods. These earrings are by Moon and Leaf.
Enjoying a conversation with talented jewelry designer and Harding Elementary School mom Kristen Satzman of Moon & Leaf. You can see more of her work at http://kristinsatzman.com/moonandleaf/
Salmon and steak, potatoes and salad, and the fresh corn that Janet and Tim brought up from the Central Valley for our Fourth of July feast.
Up bright and early Sunday morning for a Girls’ Day at the Alameda Flea Market – our group selfie with the San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
Beautiful 1920s French marcasite necklace from Gypsy Road Studio, which happens to match well with the marcasite earrings from Firenze.
In the summertime, Janet and I love looking at lawn art. For old-time San Francisco Giants fans – See the crazy crab.
I’m forgetting this Oakland artisan, but I loved the poems and adages burned into wood, stone, and other found objects. I immediately gravitated to this poem by Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets, whom I studied while at Syracuse University.
Then after they left – such a short visit this time around – we offered our home to a French exchange student for three weeks. All the while, I was trying to edit my manuscript, and then proof and go through the production phase of the book. The month of July, I think I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep. Wait, that’s normal. At any rate, every evening and weekend was filled with reading the manuscript over and over and over again. While trying to entertain our exchange student.
On a beautiful Sunday in July, Isabella and I took our exchange student for a day-long walk along the Embarcadero. At Pier 27, we chanced upon a free concert by the San Francisco Symphony – lovely!
Sunday brunch at Butterfly Restaurant at Pier 33. California-Asian fusion and a nice view of the Bay.
We rarely venture to Pier 39, but I forget how spectacular the views can be, so long as you look outward!
The end-of-our-walk view of the San Francisco piers….
And in the midst of our hosting duties, I flew out to Portland for a week for my company’s annual sales meeting in mid-July. Every time I come to Portland, I fall in love all over again. I had to edit/proof in the evenings while there, but I really enjoyed spending time with my colleagues since I only see most of them twice a year.
Downtown Portland – my view from my temporary office at my company’s headquarters.
Lunch outside at the The Portland Regency with my colleagues.
The courtyard of my boutique hotel – the Portland Harbor Hotel.
On the menu? Of course.
Our company took in a Portland Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Fields. The Sea Dawgs are the Red Sox’s AA team. They played the farm team of the Yankees. Classic.
Normally I go to baseball games to watch the game, but I had too much fun catching up with my colleagues. Here, with Eric and Cathleen. And this is after my third hot dog! Yup, I was hungry.
One street down from my hotel, I found a true gelato place – Gorgeous Gelato!
I had to go to one of my favorite shops in downtown Portland – Waterlily.
The earrings on the right were made by two sisters from Thailand. I had gotten a pair crafted by them a few years ago at Waterlily. Thanks to Fay, we walked into Edgecomb Potters on the waterfront. This collective features artisans from around the country. The earrings on the left are made from vintage watch parts. I chose this very Art Deco pair.
More seafood and fresh greens, please. On the outdoor deck on the waterfront at the Porthole Restaurant and Pub.
Dinner at the Flatbread with Jack, Fay, and Mia. One last view.
Upon my return home, it was back to editing and proofing. My publisher Eastwind Books of Berkeley and I were a week late with getting everything to the printer. You would think that a great weight would have been lifted once Harvey, my publisher, said, no more comma deletions; we are done and you can’t touch it anymore. But all that stress over typos, commas, widows and orphan lines still resided in my upper back. One morning in August, I awoke to chest pains and after talking it over with David, we decided to be safe and head to the ER. Thankfully, at 7am on a Thursday, I was the only one who walked into the ER waiting room. No risk factors. All tests came back negative. I went home in a record two hours and yes, came back with peace of mind and stern warnings from the ER doctor and my NP and physical therapist that I need more hours of sleep. Well, okay.
The day of my ER visit, the kids, on their own initiative, made dinner and a wine cake for me. In fact, Isabella made my lunches on the weekends while I was hunched over my laptop editing. Yes, I am filled with gratitude.
After the production process, however, I dove into the marketing/promotion tasks that need to be done. So I’m immersed in that right now. Press releases. Press release list upon list upon list. Creation of postcards and posters. Approval of ads. FB author page. Twitter handle (gulp). Author website. Reaching out to academics in labor, history, Asian-American disciplines with a little help from a history professor at the University of Maryland. Scheduling reading events. Networking. It’s all exhilarating, empowering, and validating! But hard to do when you have to do it all after hours.
My friend Wendy Johnson and I attended the Stand Up for Books Comedy Night, a fundraiser for my publisher’s bookstore, Eastwind Books of Berkeley (landlord raised the rent – boo-hiss) at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. And you didn’t have to be Asian-American to appreciate the jokes, I think….
Yup, I dragged David to the Jackson Browne concert at the Greek Theatre in August. I bribed him with beer while I had wine. The last time we were at the Greek Theatre? Twenty years ago when we saw the Counting Crows with our friends John (and best man) and Tracy!
I was thrilled when Jackson Browne introduced his heartbreaking song Sky Blue & Black by saying that it was one of his favorite songs. Me too! His latest CD is very political, a call to environmentalism. The title song, Standing in the Breach, is about rebulding a school in Port-au-Prince in Haiti after their devastating earthquake. Browne was very proud to be a part of this school, which he says educates 2,500 students every year for free. Yup, respect him in bunches.
We managed to have some fun, though. But now school is staring me in the face. Time to be co-chair of the high school’s Investing in Academic Excellence. Lunafest 2015-2016 season will be commencing soon. Work will start getting busier. And my book comes out September 4th, with readings and events, and more marketing and promotions.
We are winding down with our season tickets for the very painful Oakland A’s season. A weeknight game with the Dodgers’ Kershaw on the mound versus another pitcher called up from the minors. We went with great trepidation. When our hapless bullpen blew a 1-1 tie in the top of the 8th, a common occurrence this year, we hesitated but still stayed. We were rewarded: First walk-off win, 5-4, in 10 innings. Nice way to end the summer – Country Breakfast (aka Mr. Double Play) getting a pie and Gatorade. My first win since Opening Day. I know, pathetic. Back to the right-field bleachers next year! Still love the summer classic.
But would I want it any other way? Heck no. But I will miss this summer. What a memorable time we had.
The last gasp from the garden. Is this truly the last bouquet of August, of summer?