Pleasant weekend

First I just have to show off my sushi-making skills again. Sorry for boasting, and sorry for making you hungry!

Yes it’s the same kind as last time, but no tamago nigiri.

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Good, now that’s over with.

I love three-day weekends. I think there should definitely be one before every new semester.

Saturday Erik and I decided to clean my floor. My vacuum cleaner broke some time ago and I’ve since been using Swiffers, but they’re really too expensive and wasteful, so I wanted to get something I could wash and reuse. We went to Target (“Tar-zhay” says Jackie, as if in French) in El Cerrito partly because I was sure Target would have floor sweepers and partly because I’ve never been to any Target. Ditto for Erik. Al has told me Geraldine has a theory about Target employees versus Wal-Mart ones, something about which ones are friendlier, but I’ve forgotten which was which. Anyway the people at Target were very nice, and I’ve never been to Wal-Mart either so I can’t compare. But Target itself is scary. It has everything! How can one place have everything?! It’s just not right! Not to mention–their wedding gift wrap section was bigger than their baby food section. That is definitely not right. But I did get my floor sweeper (with washable, reusable microfiber cloth refill), and two dust cloths, also washable.

By the time we left Target it was about four and we hadn’t eaten anything all day (well we woke up late), so we parked on Solano and tried out Ambrosia Gardens, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant I have been wanting to try. I think Jennifer told me about it. We liked it a lot. The flavors are light but not bland, their veggie ham is eerily hammy, and it’s a really attractive place, with nice light and a spacious feel. Their high ceiling tapers off at the peak in a row of windows.

We also discovered a fabulous antiques shop, Antiques on Solano. The ladies there (don’t know if they were the owners) were extremely gracious and friendly, which I appreciated, because I’ve been in antiques shops where the staff just look at you as if you’re sure to break some valuable thing. I felt comfortable exploring and touching everything, and as soon as I realized many of the items’ tags told a little bit of their story I got really excited. One long, very simple, relatively narrow dark wood dining table with drawers had on its tag: “Nicaraguan, used to be in a convent.” Unfortunately the other side of the tag said “Sale $2,200 $1,600″. Sigh. I loved that table. . . I wonder if I would really have forked over for it had it been $500 or thereabout. I think I really might have, so it’s a good thing, I guess, that it was too much for me. That shop is now my favorite antiques shop ever, just because they put provenance on the tags.

Then we went home and cleaned the floor and dusted my desk with my new cleaning supplies. Very exciting. Very sad that that is exciting.

Next day Mommy and Gong-Gong came up for a concert. Daddo was going to come too, but Al got sick so he couldn’t. 😦 We called up Huy, who loves violin and to whom I had actually given a Perlman CD last year, and woke him up to ask if he wanted to come along. So the five of us got to hear the great Itzhak Perlman live. I’m not a big violin fan, and none of the pieces he played especially moved me (though I always enjoy Poulenc), but it was truly incredible just to experience such virtuosity in person. From the moment he picked up his violin, the way he placed it under his chin, I felt I was in the presence of a real master, someone who has done this very thing for so long he and it have become one entity. I’m glad I got to go, not just to hear his beautiful playing, but also because I never realized he is so funny! The program just told us he would be playing Mozart, Beethoven and Poulenc, with “other works to be announced from the stage.” So after the Poulenc he left the stage and returned, to loud applause, bearing a sheaf of sheet music. He and the pianist, Janet Guggenheim (former member of the Berkeley music faculty), seated themselves, then Perlman began to speak. “Now we have here three small pieces by some not very well known composers.” He looks down at the music. “‘Series Three’, it says here.” Everyone laughs in surprise. “This is a very old piece of music, because the price tag says sixty-five cents.” He gives the name and composer of the first piece, then reads the description, a very generic-sounding one typical to the back covers of sheet music, something like: “A virtuosic and brilliant piece, demonstrating several charming themes. Suitable for concert playing.” He continues, with emphasis: “Extremely difficult.” He pauses, then remarks self-deprecatingly, “So we won’t even try that one.” Roars of laughter. He reads the description of the second piece, which is much like the first, concluding with “Must be attempted only by very advanced players.” Again he looks over Guggenheim and himself and comments, “So that’s not for us either.” Then he reads the title of the third piece, “which is by another very well unknown composer,” and finally performs that one. Brilliantly and charmingly, of course. Erik said he didn’t actually look at the music when he played it. Our guess is that it’s a piece he played when he was just learning violin, and liked it enough that he still brings it out every now and then. He played several of these little pieces, with amusing introduction to each, including: “This next piece is one by Tchaikovsky.” The audience ooohs. A composer they know! “He wrote it for a friend who was jailed, unfairly, for some minor dismeanor. For life.” I don’t know why people laughed at this, but they did. “He called it Chanson sans paroles.” Groan!* Erik and I imagine him sitting around one day staring at this piece of music and then suddenly having an inspiration and calling in whoever he lives with to test out this pun on them. Anyway Mr Perlman was so delightful I will always go to hear him now when I can.

Now my sushi pictures are making me hungry. I will go forage, and later I will come back and post some of the pictures Erik and I took of each other while we were feeling goofy after the concert.

*Paroles is a French word which is pronounced just like “parole” in English, though it means, roughly, “words”. So the title of the piece is “Song without words.”

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]