December 23rd, 2010

me blue hair

Lisa's Birthday: The California Academy of Sciences and Dinner at Farallon

Hmm. I haven't written in a few days. I've been catsitting Ilah's gigantic white cat, Caruso, but he doesn't like me much. If I want to pet him, I have to hover near where *he* chooses to sit ... he won't come join me on the comfy futon couch. I felt like a slave waving a palm frond to cool his royal brow. But he was sure purring a lot, so that was nice.

Yesterday, Lisa and I went in to the city and spent the whole day together for her birthday. It rocked, though I got very tired. First we went to the California Academy of Sciences, which is my favorite museum in the Bay Area. We checked out much natural history type stuff, including neat stuff about the Galapagos Islands, and there were two very unhappy looking reindeer in an enclosure outside (presumably to celebrate the season, though they definitely didn't look like celebrating -- they kind of looked dead, actually), and we checked out the lazy albino alligator (and I told Lisa about how Shannon insisted last time that it was just a statue, because it never moves -- Lisa and I then spent the rest of the day suggesting that various animals were statues if they didn't move around much), and the Steinhart Aquarium (with manta rays and tropical fish and sharks and eels and coral and all kinds of cool stuff), and the planetarium (where we watched a kind of boring film about how life developed on Earth, and how the universe was formed, and other stuff -- but I fell asleep for part of it).

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After lunch, we went to the rainforest exhibit, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever! 4 stories of "living rainforest," with exotic butterflies and birds flying free through the tropical trees and huge Amazon River fish swimming around in the pond below. They even had a new turtle (swimming around with the fish), which was new since I'd last been to the museum (a couple years ago). The turtle was one of my favorite things we saw all day (certainly much more exciting than the comatose reindeer).

Lisa and I had a great time in the rainforest exhibit, because we have a very similar approach to the exhibits. Along with the free-ranging birds and butterflies, there are all these glass cases with living animals inside (mostly frogs, lizards, and snakes), but the cases include lots of plants and stuff for the animals to hang out in/on/around, so sometimes the animals are difficult to locate. But there are signs next to the exhibits, telling you what animals are in there, and Lisa and I both stuck persistently to each exhibit until we had found all the creatures the signs described (though there was a "strawberry poison-dart frog" we were never able to locate, despite very determined searching). Sometimes it took several minutes, but it was fun! And so rewarding when we finally spotted the camouflaged gecko or hidden frog!

I felt bad for the little flying snake, because it was continuously bashing its head against the glass, trying to get out (and leap at people from the light fixtures, perhaps). It just kept trying and trying, hitting the glass over and over again, and I couldn't help wondering if it does that all day, every day, over weeks and months and years. Very sad! What a life!

The "panther chameleons" also looked very unhappy. Maybe their mouths just naturally turn down like that (the photo on the Wikipedia page seems to indicate that this is true), but they just sat there on their branches and glared at all the people staring at them.

At least people (even kids, of which there were multitudes) weren't tapping on the glass (which always annoys me, and probably the animals as well), though many people were taking photos with their phones despite the numerous "No Photographs" signs posted every few feet. The chameleons seemed particularly popular with the illicit photographers.

The neatest frog was a poison-dart frog that was singing and singing and singing. Even though it was inside the glass case, we could hear his song! We wondered if there was a microphone inside the case and a speaker hidden somewhere behind us, because it seemed strange that we could hear him! But he kept bulging out his throat and making this sort of continuous chirping, trilling kind of sound. It sounded a lot like this. (I think that may be the same species of frog, actually.)

After the museum, we headed back to Union Square, where the restaurant where we had dinner reservations (Farallon) is located. The inside of the restaurant is sooooo cool! There are arches and domes and cool light fixtures (some shaped like sea urchins, some like jelly fish) and ocean-themed mosaics everywhere!

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When we were getting ready to leave, we stopped by the bathroom, and while there I noticed that my black boots (which I hadn't worn in years) were totally coming apart! I mean, the internal structure was still sturdy, but the black surface fabric was coming off! It looked horrendous. I was a bit embarrassed, but I figured if anyone got terribly interested in my shoes, then they were probably a little weird anyway, so who cares what they think!

So we came home on BART, and it ended up being about a 12-hour outing. I can't believe I spent 12 hours being continuously social (well, except for the 10-15 minutes of sleeping in the planetarium)! When I got home, I was absolutely wiped out. I threw away my disintegrating boots (too bad! they fit really well and were cute!), talked a bit with Shannon, and went to bed soon after. But it was a great day!
me blue hair

Christmas Eve Eve

I got a gazillion things done today, mostly housework. Very exciting. I also biked over to west Berkeley to visit Caruso the Loaner Cat, only to find that Ilah's house is once again being invaded by ants. This seems to be the case every time I cat-sit there. Poor Caruso had little black ants easily visible, crawling on his white fur. Grossed out, I spent a while picking them off, along with my more aggressive attacks on the ant invasion on the floor, food bowl, etc.

Well, our annual ant invasion in our house hasn't happened thus far this winter, so perhaps this is just my usual battle, transplanted.

Ting and his guys completed the framework for our garage today, so we now have an actual structure there, with a roof and everything. Now they need to do the electrical work, then have the city inspector come out before they can continue. So they'll be back next week.

Then, in the evening, I went to dinner with Katherine, Michael, and Mimi at Venus, one of my favorite Berkeley restaurants. Katherine and I were both torn between the same two dishes (a sea bass and a steak), so we each ordered one and then shared. (Luckily, we like our steak cooked the same way: medium rare.) For dessert, we had sticky toffee pudding (which was much more similar to what I remember from Scotland), which was served with candied kumquats, just as it was at Farallon. What's the deal with the candied kumquats on the sticky toffee pudding? Weird. I piled all the candied kumquats on one side of my plate and didn't eat them.

But the meal was excellent, and the company was great. I don't see Katherine often enough! To think that we spent years living together! At the end of dinner, Mimi (who is 4 years old) decided that she wanted to sit in my lap, whereupon she put her arms around my neck and kissed my cheek and told me she likes me and told me various stories (including one very long story that ended up being about poop). She kept poking the candied kumquats on my plate with her fingers, though I repeatedly told her not to. Katherine took a great many photos of Mimi and me together, probably because such camaraderie had never previously occurred between Mimi and myself. It was rather a novel sight.

After dinner, I stopped by the Dollar Store to pick up tissue paper for the wrapping of my step-MIL's Xmas present, then came home and fell asleep until Shannon was done with his gaming a couple hours later. I hung out with him while he ate a light dinner (his habit on Thursday nights), and then he read a bit aloud from the Poe omnibus we've been reading together. I wasn't much impressed with The Pit and the Pendulum, to be honest. And I had somehow confused "Annabel Lee" with Longfellow's "The Wreck of the Hesperus," as I last read both when I was a kid. I mean, both are about the death of women, but they don't have much more in common! But when he read "Annabel Lee" out loud, I kept thinking, What's with the "killed by wind" thing? Where's the shipwreck?

And now I'm about ready to go back to bed. Yaaaawn!

Tomorrow, Shannon is taking the day off work, so we are going to visit Caruso (of course), hang out at the dog park (if the weather allows), and go to dinner at Nation's (home of many varieties of excellent pie). Yum! I'm pondering well in advance what pie to get. Pecan? Chocolate cream? Coconut cream? Pumpkin? Whatever their seasonal fruit is? This is a very serious decision that must be contemplated. Hmmm.