Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The home stretch...

After driving all day, and missing Christmas with our folks, we finally made it into San Diego close to midnight. It was great see the Coronado Bridge disappearing into the fog of the bay.

For several years, the San Diego bay and its bridge were our daily view from the window. Payan and I have spent many afternoons deep in conversation and joyful reverie here in Golden Hill. Since then, we grown nostalgic for our old neighborhood, with it's 24 hour taco shops, ocean breezes, and sailboats on the horizon.

For the moment, it feels like Home Sweet Home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holi-daze!

Sissi cat wishes you una Feliz Navidad

Monday, December 24, 2007

Deer is Dead?...sometimes literaly

Was it dramatic foreshadowing that had warned me against it?

As Payan and I prepared for our holiday road trip to California, I scanned the my fav design site - Apartment Therapy - and saw that they were debating whether the "deer trend" was dead. The NY Times ran a similar article, this time declaring the whole antler thing kaput. Deer was officially Dead.

Then my beloved niece called and asked me to drive her little Honda out to Califas instead of my trusty Jeep Cherokee. I didn't think of it as a dangerous option -- plus I really liked Ashley and wanted to support her escape from muggy Houston for a West Coast Disney internship. She'd flown out the month before and told me how she was shivering now that the cold weather had set in with no car of her own or boots to wear. How could I turn her down?

So Payan and I took 2 extra days trying to pack up her little car with all our gear. Our shiztsu Poopi wasn't happy about the setup.

As a result we headed out much later than we'd planned. I knew we had to make up for lost time if we expected to work my family's annual toy giveaway the morning of the 24th, which we had promised to videotape.

Sissi cat was a trooper and settled into a comfortable position. Victor was exhausted, so I took the first shift on the road heading West. The night caught up to us pretty fast...

...and I began to see the bodies of dead deer all over the road. Driving at a 35-mile-an-hour crawl thru the Texas wilderness took forever. My eyes were anxiously straining for any live animals crossing the road...hour after hour.

Of course, Fate had other plans, and I did hit a deer...even though I swerved to miss it. It was awful. My niece's car was badly damaged. Thankfully, the engine was still running so we scattered some rose petals and said a prayer for the poor deer before continuing on.

I'll spare you the gruesome images and emotional fallout of this sad event. Payan and I were just glad to be alive. As we drove thru New Mexico, we knew we wouldn't make it to the Festival Hall event in time, but were comforted knowing we both had family in Arizona to at least share Noche Buena with.

My sister-in-law Lydia waited up for us with her shiztsu Lina. Poopi was relieved to be on solid ground when we arrived.

Christmas Eve this year for us was people and not a geographical location. We had some hot toddies, recharged and gave thanks for the best Christmas blessing of them y familia.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Most Beautiful Homes of San Antonio 2007

I know San Antonio is surrounded by acres of multi-million dollar McMansions, but these cookie cutter developments just don't float my boat. I've always harbored a soft spot for older homes with character. Maybe I've watched too many British dramas on PBS or have a secret crush on Bob Villa from "This Old House"?

Antonia's home with the charming turret and green roof

One of the great things about this town is that it has an abundance of historic homes. This isn't the disposable So Cal culture I grew up in, where yesterdays relics are regularly bulldozed in the name of "progress". Aaaand, since the holiday house parties are in full swing, I've been fortunate to receive several invitations to actually visit these gems and see what they look like on the inside.

Antonia y sus admiradoras

First off is Antonia CastaƱeda's house. She heads a wonderful women's group called MALCS and is one of the brave souls helping to revitalize the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.

It was such a pleasure to see the loving attention to detail displayed throughout Antonia's home.

Everywhere one's gaze fell, there was a beautiful figurine or gorgeous vignette.

I especially loved the modern steel shelves in her traditional kitchen. It gave the whole room a chic and edgy vibe.

Aren't these Mexican tin folk hearts flanking "Que Bonito Amor" ("A Beautiful Love") just precious? And the bathroom terracotta tortoise was also a charming touch.

Later that week, I got to visit the home of Roberta Hassle, a business woman and arts patron who sits on the board of the Martinez Street Women's Center.

Roberta's cool Frida Kahlo nestled among the branches

I love Roberta's Frida glass ornament and her eclectic mix of furniture, especially the divine mid-century dining room ensemble.

Hassle's awesome art collection was an inspiration as well. My New Year's Resolution will be to get more of our artwork properly framed.

This woman has an excellent use of color throughout her home. I luvit!

My final soiree in San Anto for 2007 was at Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark's lovely Woodlawn home. She was kind enough to chat with me a bit after the party about San Antonio gastronomy. Now I know where to get the best torillas. ;-) Plus, I got to explore Ellen's lush courtyard and garden.

A bewitching moonlight walk led me to the glowing embers of a bonfire...

...and a twinkling fairy shrine. Pure magic, from deep in the heart of Tejas.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mom visits the Alamo City

Riverwalk illuminated for the holidays

San Antonio is what is known as a "destination city" -- meaning that each year hoards of tourists and convention attendees come out to visit it's many picturesque locals. The Alamo, Sea World, annual Fiesta celebration and the Riverwalk. Since I grew up in Orange County, with a father who worked at Disneyland, I kinda O.D.'d on the whole manufactured "amusement" park experience at an early age. Even now, when my husband wants to drag me out to oohhh and ahhh at a fireworks display, it's hard to pull myself out of my 80 or so memories of Tinkerbell suspended on wires above Disney's Matterhorn, illuminated by pyrotechnics. Then as now I just want to put my hands over my ears and wait for the predictable spectacle to wind down.

Mom and me

My mom doesn't share my jaded sensibilities when it comes to 1st World amusements. She loves the flash and garish spectacle of places like Vegas and Miami. A visit to the annual Riverwalk Lighting Ceremony was definately in order. It was mom's first night in the Alamo City, so we braved the traffic and crowds to share a slice of wholesome and silly X-Mas fun.

Amidst a blaring rendition of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" featuring a boatload of tweeny future Texas pagent queens...

...and costumed holiday soldiers, we did our duty as San Antonio tourguides to dear Mamaw. She loved it. A lifetime of Bolivia's muted earthtone palette with pretty llamas wandering afoot and condors soaring above has given her the abilty to appreciate these "plastic" pleasures. I of course having grown up in the shadow of the Mouse house, always yern for wilderness and ecological splendor. We're a bit of yin & yang mother daughter pair. It amuses Payan tremendously.

Mom loves Rosario's cactus tuna margarita

Thankfully, we're both fans of good food and my favorite spot for dining out is currently Rosario's on the edge of King William and Southtown. I like to head over on weeknights, before the loud salsa band starts playing. Maybe I'm becoming a bit of a grump in my old age, but I like heartfelt conversation at dinner, as opposed to clublike yelling over loud music. Rosario's salsa is to die for and their cactus tuna margaritas are as potent as they are tasty. Everything on the menu is fresh and flavorful.

Martha and Pocha at the swank Tower bar

We topped off the week with a visit to San Antonio's "space needle" - the Tower of the Americas. Since the terrain here is flat, I often long for the kind of perspective being up high gives you. In LA I used to love driving up to the Griffith Observatory and taking in the breathtaking view.

Thankfully Texas' tower bar -- glamourous, plush and serving a generous array of cocktails -- is a great alternative for my Griffith park nostalgia. Mom had the hot chocolate and I savoured a yummy pomogranate creation. Mi madre totally enjoyed her stay deep in the heart of Tejas.