Thursday, March 10, 2005

She's ba-aaack

I'd love to put a humorous spin on reasons why I have been such a dilletante blogger.

Fact is, it is not easy to keep up with a blog when I don't own a laptop and I am travelling back and forth.

I had several interesting little incidents and blog-worthy destinations since I left Bali in October, but the moment I'd survived one bizarre battle, I was already involved in the next. I have barely even written emails. Christmas cards? Don't make me laugh! Valentine missives? HAH! This writer has put into her novel exactly seven new pages. Life's just too filled with stuff to do and things to see, for me to update the blog in a timely manner.

In brief:

I returned to America in time to discover that all of my possessions being stored next door in the garage ...were covered in mold and mildew. Nonstop bleaching in the driveway.

Contractor Bill did a bang-up job on Architect Patricia's house. He finished in time (juuuust in time) for the Melchert Family (and Moss-covered Three-handled Gredunza) to descend upon the Jay n Renee campsite for Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, I was still moving furniture into the new house the night before Thanksgiving.

Bought a car to replace my cherry-cherry 1989 Saab Turbo convertible that was stolen in September, its California palm tree and sunset vanity plates reading "OR BALI" gone with the professional thief who did the dirty deed. New car is delightfully baddass black 97 Chrysler Sebring convertible, found in a San Jose used car lot. Vehicle ID check revealed it had a long history as a leased vehicle, explaining its amazingly good mechanical shape. Now, I never, ever, park this baby without locking the Club anti-theft device to the steering wheel. San Jose's autumn has never been so beautiful. Leaves on the trees rivalling those of the east coast. Amidst such color, we are delighted to make the drive to Sunnyvale as we shorten our list of viable used cars.

Thanksgiving was awesome; a Melchert quorum save for Oxford-based big bro Christoph. What did we have... fourteen people at the two Thorpe tables? Our college kids opted for a kids' table and an adult table. Guess which table had more laughs. But our old fogey table got the Green and Red label Napa Zinfandel ( or just search for it on and the Nautilus New Zealand Pinot Noir... God, how I love Beverages and More for their discount prices. I am so sick and tired of buying a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz at Bali's Delta Dewata Supermarket for about three times the price Cost Plus advertises back in the States. America's a fine place to shop!

My parents stopped by the very next day for a little visit, bringing grandson Galen. We all went out for Mexican food and Regnier told his funny story of why his father knows The Birds scene-by-scene, but has never heard a word of its dialog.

Brief respite before Christmas, going back up to my ears in dust and bleach, readying the house for another assault of family. I do manage to sneak up to the Sierras for a day of skiing via the Bay Area Ski Bus to Sugarbowl. Soggy snow (nine feet of it) makes for a day of green-rated slopes, even for many of the seasoned veterans. I felt like a klutz, but so did everyone else, it turns out. Homey ski lodge nothing like the slick and globally-savvy Mammoth ski area or the New Yorker infested Wyndham in the Catskills. I really realized how spoiled I was, remembering the last place I'd skiied: Vail... in its powdery magnificence. Bleary-eyed, I manage to get home and collapse.

Jay met up with me in New York, and we had a low key Christmas at Heathcote, the Cooperstown home of his sister and a perrennial Thorpe holiday hangout. No Christmas Eve party. No William Spain. But we managed. News of the Indian Ocean / Aceh tsunami hit me as I sat in the parking lot of the Catholic church on Boxing Day, waiting to pick up Dr. Thorpe and Barbara. Reports were sketchy, but when I heard that Phuket had been hit, I could only imagine our three delightful trips to that part of Thailand... PhiPhi Don, which in 1991 was little more than a crowded backpacker magnet; PhiPhi Lei, pristine one year and overfished the next... pre-Leonardo di Caprio, I might add. But enough bragging. The horrific clips of home video footage and eyewitness stories was to assault me every morning when I got back to California and CNN.

We had a nice Melchert Christmas celebration on December 30, again at the "green house" by the sea. Jay will never let me forget my panic in the middle of the previous night, when I thought I was realizing that the ham I'd bought to cook for the big dinner was not indeed already smoked. Whew. All was well.

Housesitter and blogger extraordinaire Renee Blodgett moved in to house sit on about January 2. Then I left on January 4. Seven hectic weeks in Bali, but, in the end, magical for me and Jay in the knowledge that our time there, together, is so precious.

Back to New Jersey with a cold shock at the end of February, just in time for several inches of snow to descend upon the Navasink peninsula or whatever you call it.

Great visit with son Evan at Princeton. Of course, he is in his senior year, which is the most stressful time for kids at that particular Ivy League institute. He was not exactly his jolly old self. Will write about the lectures and alumni events I went to (later) but highlight was surely the two hockey games... the semi final victory over Penn and Princeton club team's brilliant come-from-behind defeat of Staten Island's scary-looking Wagner College Seahawks. Now there's a school that takes its hockey a little too seriously.

One more big storm, leaving ten gorgeous inches of snow in coastal New Jersey. Flew back to San Francisco, taking a lovely overview of Mono Lake and, before I knew it, Mount Diablo... so low that I spotted my parents' house. The entire Bay Area gorgeously green after weeks of rain.

Today the weather was outstanding. Hot and sunny. My Bali-fied extremities are thawing. The badass car's top was down and I was a happy lass.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Gates

Just wanted to say a word about Christo's installation in NYC this winter...

Yes, the color of the gates' cloth was a wonderful warm orange, evocative of monks' robes and orange fruit. It brought people out, it made people talk to each other, it jarred people from the routine.

Look at this lovely picture by an anonymous photographer. Very much captures the sense of the piece from afar. But you won't see too many photos of the suitable-for-bridges support structures. The grace and lightness of the cloth was almost negated by the rather ugly, squat supports.

From a distance, they were so inviting. Come and walk under! But once I was into the path of swaying orange, it all seemed so far above me. I could not reach the cloth, and all I saw around me were the I-beam supports. Get the idea of affixing your diamond earrings with gaffer's tape. Imagine wearing a white silk evening gown and slipping your feet into hiking boots. Ghastly.

I wanted the gates to feel like Japanese torii. Seeing the preliminary sketches, I thought that Christo's project would generate the same magic as the gates in Kyoto and elsewhere in Japan. To walk beneath a row of brilliant torii... now there's wonder, delicacy, and grace.

After an hour squinting with the gates, I got back on the train in time to hop in my car and drive to another Princeton Club Hockey game in Vineland, NJ. Did they beat Wagner College that day? I believe so.