Saturday, August 29, 2009
Before I bought my house, I drove to the neighborhood, parked my car and walked around. It was a little rough around the edges (the San Jose Mercury News once referred to us as the grittier neighborhood to the east of Naglee Park) but it seemed interesting, lively and yet peaceful for a downtown neighborhood. I liked the mix of architecture and the variety of ethnic food available. But what I liked most was the classic little East San Jose Carnegie Library right on the corner of my street (during prohibition my little neighborhood seceded from San Jose and was its own city hence the name East San Jose) . The selection of books was slim (it has a high DVD to book ratio) but as part of the San Jose Library system (which is completely on-line) I could have any book I wanted practically delivered to my door. Then our little library closed for two years for remodeling. Today it reopened in all its new glory. The new library literally encompasses the old library and what used to be the wood trim on the outside now graces the inside. The metal hoops which hang from the ceiling are filled with images of neighborhood birds and leaves cut from iridescent plexiglass. The grand opening was a little too crowded to get a real feel for the new interior, but I am sure I'm going to love having it open again.
Friday, August 28, 2009
When I was in my twenties, I never thought having a house with sidewalks out front would be my greatest heart's desire. But then I had kids, with all their wheeled things, and suddenly it became an obsessive need. Likewise, when I was living in the suburbs and I had a Safeway, a Lunardi's, a Nob Hill and a Whole Foods within a few miles of my house, I never thought a Safeway in my neighborhood would be what would make my life complete. But then I moved downtown and the Lucky closed down (not that the downtown Lucky was a place in which you'd want to spend any length of time) and suddenly I had a hard time pasting together all the ingredients I'd need to make most recipes in my repertoire and I became obsessed with the desire to have a Safeway or even a Whole Foods here. As of yesterday, I got my Safeway and you can see from the picture how ridiculously happy I am. This is not your ordinary Safeway, it is called The Market. There is underground parking (how urban!) and pretty displays and a comfortable place to sit and have coffee and a real butcher and meat counter and all kinds of boutique touches. The place was bustling today and everyone seemed as happy as I was to be there, although maybe most people were just excited about the free pound of bacon.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thinking about Roy's gives me another reason to be sad that my summer vacation is ending. No more long walks in the morning or leisurely cups of coffee. I'm in "power up and work" mode now. But some Saturday, I will get back to Roy's Station at 6th and Taylor because it is absolutely divine. About a month ago I wrote about the coffee counter at Santo's Market which is a grab and go kind of place. Well Roy's is the exact opposite. From the sleek, shiny, gorgeous red espresso machine to the beautiful tile work and landscaping, Roy's is so beautifully turned out that you won't want to leave. They have all the usual coffee drinks and pastries plus a perfectly restored vintage Coca Cola vending machine, a remnant of the days when Roy's was a gas station. Hence the name Roy's Station. Go enjoy!
Monday, August 17, 2009
Most of the gardeners I know here in San Jose are enjoying bumper crops of tomatoes this year. I certainly am. I planted mostly heirloom tomatoes this year and was worried that I might be plagued with all kinds of tomato diseases but my tomatoes thrived and they couldn't be tastier. My two favorites have been Gold Medal and Japanese Black Trifele. The Japanese Black Trifele has its shortcomings (uneven ripening, tough core) but the flavor is spectacular. With my abundance of tomatoes I give them to anyone who comes near me and I've made 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce and of course Caprese Salad, pictured above.
Friday, August 14, 2009
There was a very high-spirited feel to the First Friday Art Walk, partly because it coincided with the Jazz Festival. But the intricate Mola face painting (at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles) also brought out that happy, festive feel. For me the best part of the evening was the live opera by five members of the San Jose Opera at Caffe Trieste. I expected to enjoy it but I wasn't expecting the jaw-dropping, great performances that I got to hear. Without breaks, one opera singer after another went up to the microphone and treated the cafe customers and the everyone walking by on the sidewalk, to truly magnificent solo performances with a piano accompaniment. Add a cup of coffee and a piece of tiramisu and it just doesn't get any better.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
For me, the most anticipated part of the art walk was the exhibit of the photos from the Metro's photography contest. The theme was "Life in Motion" and photographers were invited to submit work related to this theme. The Metro had a really good live rock band playing at the exhibit and a dynamic mix of gallery visitors and photographers. People were invited to vote for their favorite photograph from the contest. I can't wait to see if my choice won. Next up on my art walk was the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. The Institute is currently exhibiting work relating to the theme "Green" with many distinct perspectives on climate change. My favorite was an installation by Christel Dillbohner entitled "Ice Floe." The installation fills an entire room with thousands of cone-shaped, painted pieces suspended by threads from the ceiling. The viewer becomes completely immersed in the manmade landscape. The rock band, wine, and artists may not be there now but the exhibits remain. Treat yourself to some art, check it out.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
If you walk down South First Street between San Carlos and Reed on a weekday it's usually pretty quiet. You'll probably notice some intriguing storefronts and vibrant murals but not too much going on. However, on the first Friday evening of most months, the street comes alive with artists, craftsmen, musicians and performers and art lovers of all ages. Galleries set up tables of food and drinks (mostly for purchase and a few for free) and the public is invited to wander in and out of galleries to enjoy the wide variety of exhibits and even meet and talk to the artists.
My first stop was the mural where one of the muralistas was signing his name. People were helping themselves to treats from platters of cookies decorated with bright purple dahlias.
Next was an exhibit called "Polar Identity" (complete with a polar bear handing out otter pops) and the flag exhibit (pictured above), which recreates an installation at the South Pole and is a tribute to significant events there.
From the arctic cold I went to watch the flames of the talented glass blower Lionel Chapital as he gave a demonstration on glass-blowing and viewers were invited to sign up for free glass blowing lessons with the San Jose Glass Artist Alliance.
Next stop was MACLA where I had the privilege of listening to artists talk about their work as part of the Chicana/o Biennial Artist Talk. The exhibit was wonderful with works of art made of wide ranging materials including khaki fabric (for a cactus) and plastic spoons (see above). The Friday Art Walk was just too much for one blog entry and so I'll be posting more in the days to come.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Last night was the perfect night to go out and meet your neighbors. For National Night Out neighborhoods all over the U.S. and Canada plan social events where neighbors can gather and get to know each other. The idea behind National Night Out is to strengthen neighborhood spirit and their ties with law enforcement agencies. Last year 37 million people participated! My neighborhood, Roosevelt Park, had a potluck dinner with music, face painting and lots of smiles.