Category: Content – Unsorted

An Essential Errand

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From my vantage point, I couldn’t tell if his eyes were open or closed. I wanted to take photos, but I didn’t want to interrupt him

I got to Trader Joe’s before 8am. People were already lining up outside, each grabbing a shopping cart and placing it in front of their bodies, between themselves and the next person. The joys of social distancing.

I had just taken a cart for myself when a young, bearded man approached the area. We met each other’s eyes and smiled. I was impressed by how genuine this stranger’s smile was. We each said “Good morning,” and he proceeded with getting his cart and moving to a place in line.

When a senior patron was declined a request to be admitted inside early, I learned the store would not be opening for another hour, so I decided to come back some other time. I sanitized my hands, got back in my car, turned the key in the ignition and checked my rear view mirror.

It was then that I noticed the young bearded man in the distance behind me. His cart was along the wall with the others in line, his fellow customers standing, slumping, looking at their phones, but he had stepped out in front of them and was standing, straight backed, head slightly down, with his arms out from his sides, palms up and rising, as if he was welcoming, embracing and gathering the sun and the world, all at the same time.

From my rear view mirror vantage point, I watched him repeat an exercise in which his arms slowly kept rising until they were over his head, then came down in an equal meeting with each other just in front of his face, like he was pushing gently down onto slowly sinking, level water.

His arms continued the gentle push down until they were at his sides, and he flicked his wrists at the last moment, as if to dispose of any stray, unnecessary droplets of energy.

He slowly repeated this exercise at least four or five times. I admired the lack of self consciousness that allowed him to do this in public almost as much as I admired the exercise itself, his patience and presence in the midst of pandemic and parking lot.

There is not much room on our minds right now for anything but the virus. The world is shutting and hunkering down, waiting for an invisible monster wave to crash. We feel sadness, anxiety and fear. Tom and Rita tweet from quarantine. We try to amass enough toilet paper and granola bars to wait it out on the high ground of home.

I didn’t get my groceries or even a chance at a pack of toilet paper at this particular trip to Trader Joe’s, but I did witness that calm. In these days, in this moment, it felt important.

History Podcast Keeps Me Connected to My Hometown

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I’m one of those born and raised San Franciscans whose heart was left there when they moved away. So, my ears, now residing with me hundreds of miles away, gratefully absorb the weekly Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast — the podcast of the Western Neighborhood Project, a group that studies and preserves San Francisco history, especially of the “western neighborhoods” of San Francisco.

I am continually surprised and entranced by the stories they bring to light of the people and places that existed before, interesting well-known and/or lesser known folks and the homes and neighborhoods in which they lived. These stories, especially of “ordinary” people, remind me that everyone who calls themselves a “San Franciscan,” (including me!) holds in their memories and experiences a valid sliver of a piece of the City’s history.

I especially enjoyed the recent Carol Schuldt podcast. Woody LaBounty’s descriptions of this “Queen of the Beach” acknowledged her eccentricity while a personal, reverential tone shone through. He and his co-hosts succeeded in painting a picture of a rescuer/rebel in all her glory.

It’s too bad that it was the intensity of Schuldt’s connection to nature that made her seem so odd. It made me think about how our present disconnect from nature is what is really more odd.

I wish I had known her — and to be honest, I wish I had known OF her. I lived in the city till I was seventeen years old, but was not a beachgoer, and I am at once thrilled to hear about her and sad that I was not able to enjoy even the knowledge of her existence all those years she was alive.

https://medium.com/@eveahill_70924/history-podcast-keeps-me-connected-to-my-hometown-506b8695ee5a

 

Field Position – What Women Get from Pro Football

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“FIELD POSITION” – What Women Get from NFL Football

Eve playing backyard football

I have been a football fan since I was little. I like the crack of the tackle, and also what that contact represents. It’s the crispness of the aggression. The ballet of steel and power, the driving ahead, the impossible bounce of the ball that swings momentum like a wrecking ball. Grace under pressure, broad shoulders, snug pants, white shoes, and speed. The player is as big and as strong as he can be. He uses one hundred percent gravity to become the opposite of gravity. It is athleticism and power and drama of the game, the teamwork, movement and personality of its players.

Perhaps my childhood football fantasies were bigger still because I was a girl. Because I knew that I would never actually be able to play.

I was a physical, athletic child, refusing the pink Barbie aisle in favor of cowboy outfits and cap guns, but at the same time I was mooning over Drew Pearson’s sweet smile on a Dallas Cowboys rookie card. I could have it all in watching football. And it made me different, it made me feel special. I traded cards with a boy around the corner, and played pick-up football with boys at the park (until they realized I was a girl). Read More

Eyes in the Cards

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Drew Pearson Topps trading card
Topps Trading Card, 1970s
My way into the romance of football came when I was 9 or 10 years old, and I stumbled upon a few NFL trading cards on the street. Naturally I picked them up. Back in those days (the 1970s, so far gone!) many players posed for close up pictures, and many of those without helmets.

Walter Payton Rookie Card

Dave Casper

I would put row after row down on floor or table and study faces, consider personalities, thoughts, emotions of those players. Some looked angry — game face on — others innocent and hopeful, or determined. Some stood in the 3 point stance and smiled good-naturedly, and one looked up with pleading eyes as if he needed protection.In my mind, I created alliances between the players on the cards whether they were on the same teams or not. And on Sundays I’d watch as many as I could.This was my original Fantasy Football.

Field Position – What Women Get Out of NFL Football

SPORTS

“FIELD POSITION” – What Women Get from NFL Football

Eve playing backyard football

I have been a football fan since I was little. I like the crack of the tackle, and also what that contact represents. It’s the crispness of the aggression. The ballet of steel and power, the driving ahead, the impossible bounce of the ball that swings momentum like a wrecking ball. Grace under pressure, broad shoulders, snug pants, white shoes, and speed. The player is as big and as strong as he can be. He uses one hundred percent gravity to become the opposite of gravity. It is athleticism and power and drama of the game, the teamwork, movement and personality of its players.

Perhaps my childhood football fantasies were bigger still because I was a girl. Because I knew that I would never actually be able to play.

I was a physical, athletic child, refusing the pink Barbie aisle in favor of cowboy outfits and cap guns, but at the same time I was mooning over Drew Pearson’s sweet smile on a Dallas Cowboys rookie card. I could have it all in watching football. And it made me different, it made me feel special. I traded cards with a boy around the corner, and played pick-up football with boys at the park Read More

A Trip to Carville

Excerpted from “Long Journey to Now”

Anna took herself into the fog of memory, into San Francisco’s Outer Sunset, circa 1915.  There were several streetcar lines heading out to the beach back when she and Ed were courting.  Mr. Adolph Sutro and Mr. Sol Getz saw to that.  They were building a city where the rest of us saw sand.  Tunnels constructed from downtown to dirt.  They are the ones that made this city happen.

Ed, he didn’t ever own a car, unless you count his home in Carville by the Sea.  It was a retired Cable Car, There had been quite a surplus of cable cars after the quake. Many lines were damaged and never rebuilt.  Abandoned after years of service, they had at one point been loved, trusted, and relied upon. Ed looked at his home as a rescue, an adoption of an almost sentient being, and slowly fixed it up.  He took out one row of benches and put in a mattress. Turned the front conductor pod into a little kitchen/hotplate with a breakfast nook that almost resembled a porch.  He had screened it in, but the winds and sand had torn it in so many places over the years that the patchwork repair had become a kind of signature to his place.  A welcoming flag of many nations.

Hundreds of people took to the task of turning assorted outdated Cable Cars and carriages into habitable spaces, clubhouses and cafes.  Ed was one of the small percentages of folks at Carville who used his car as his only residence, not just a beach cabin or place for a secret rendezvous.  Ed’s job demanded seriousness, but when he wasn’t a gripman on the Powell and Mason line, he lived like a Bohemian, with the ocean and the air.

Carville gave Ed the chance to relax and admire the world and even himself, in uninterrupted surroundings of the polished wood and brass of a public car.  It made the hours he worked grabbing cable a fine counterpoint to contemplation at the beach.  It was easy rejuvenation, and he didn’t question it.  He liked making his living in something physically hard, and of course he liked the control and power of the machine. It took mental focus, too.  He couldn’t allow himself idle banter with the passengers.  He knew when to shut up and do his job.

Ed wasn’t easy to get to know in those days.  Anna was just a girl, after all.  A girl riding to the Fair.  The cars were always crowded and noisy, and Ed would have to admonish the patrons, ‘Step back!’  He would lurch with his entire body to fix the handle in the right position.  After cresting a hill he’d bring the stick back, and be like a goose with his neck craning around the tops of people’s heads, watching for the cross traffic and ringing his bells, slowly creeping forward to a stop.  The view was spectacular, and when they got a glimpse of the Fair, the assembled would gasp in excitement.  That’s when Ed would pause a little longer and let it sink in.  We are grand again, San Francisco!

 

Food & Culture

Blackberries at the Bus Stop
Ride Muni to 4 Top San Francisco Attractions
http://www.evenhill.me/blackberries-at-the-bus-stop/

 

Top 5 Cheap Eats in San Francisco
Far from fancy, but full of character, these tasty treasures of  San Francisco will leave you feeling so appreciative and full, you’ll start thinking you could afford to live there.

Moroccan Memories – Eve’s Home-Made Chicken Bastilla Recipe
I finally got around to making my own version of Chicken Bastilla, a dish in which the chicken is simmered slowly in a satisfying blend of cinnamon and onion, then baked in buttery filo dough to puffy, crispy, golden perfection.
Bastilla has always been my idea of an exotic delicacy.  My simple, homemade recipe is also a scrumptious delight.  Eat it with your hands, with a knife and fork, and with your friends and family!

 

Blackberries at the Bus Stop

Blackberries at the Bus Stop
Ride MUNI to 4 Top San Francisco Attractions

Take Public Transit to any of these 4 San Francisco attractions located right near wild blackberry bushes.  From late July to October, sun sweetened blackberries can be found within arm’s reach of MUNI (www.sfmta.com) bus stops and parks throughout the City.

San Francisco, city of many famed and golden-gated splendors, is also home to an urban wilderness of ripe fruit for the finding.  Blackberries grow wild through dozens of parks, streets and local backyards.  Take Public Transit (www.sfmta.com) to any of these popular 4 San Francisco Attractions, and top it off with a small urban harvest of the city’s enduring natural bounty.

  1. Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is forever in the fog belt. Sixty-one acres of dense, glistening green nature call for a ramble through its damp paths and puddles. The mist envelopes and refreshes.  Listen to the eucalyptus creak, the woodpecker echo, and step aside for mountain bikers.

As the fog condenses, it feeds the towering eucalyptus trees and drips down to nourish the English Ivy and sprawling understory of non-native Himalayan Blackberries.  The flowers of the Himalayan Blackberry have fatter white petals than the native Pacific type, and the green leaflets come in fives, not threes.  They are flavorful and abundant, but do watch out for drop-offs. Many plants grow at the edges of ravines and cliffs.

There is an ongoing campaign to reduce fire danger in the forest and welcome back the area’s native biological diversity by removing a percentage of the imported trees and invasive understory.  Before Adolph Sutro introduced the eucalyptus in 1886, this 900 foot hill was covered by sand and native grasses. The current redevelopment plan would give millions of long dormant seeds another chance to flower in their native home.  But songbirds and animals also love blackberries, and those seeds easily disperse from one place to another.  Mowing, bulldozing and even burning wouldn’t necessarily control the hearty weed, which will inevitably re-sprout from fragmented roots and stems.

Getting There: View the Trail Map to locate any of several entry points into the forest.  The closest MUNI stop is near the 17th and Stanyan Street entrance.  Take the 37 Corbett, which will drop you off at 17th and Cole.  From there, walk west on 17th for a couple of blocks until it dead-ends into Stanyan.  The stairs that enter Sutro Forest are between two private homes, just a few steps south of the 17th and Stanyan intersection.

  1. The Disney Family Museum is a wonderful place to explore the mind of that architect of the imagination, Walt Disney.  An artists and visionaries, Disney embraced emerging art forms and new technologies, expanded the possibilities of optical effects, and blurred the line between reality and dreams.

Getting there: Take the 43 or 28 through the Presidio and get off at Letterman and Lincoln.  It’s a pleasant half mile walk down Lincoln to the museum at 104 Montgomery St.  Ample scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge appear as you get closer to the museum.

Getting back: On the walk back to the bus stop, pause at the grassy island at Letterman and Presidio for a few berries, then continue to the Letterman and Lincoln MUNI stop, where you can find many more blackberry bushes,  right under the trees behind the bench.

  1. Twin Peaks is at the top of a steep and winding residential neighborhood. Skip most of the 922 foot climb by riding MUNI’s 37 Corbett, a humming diesel electric hybrid bus, up to your stop at 74 Crestline Drive. Before hiking the last quarter mile by foot, take a look behind you to find a long, concrete staircase that cuts right back down through the houses. There may even be a blackberry branch or two peeking through as a clue to the riches below.  After climbing one (or both?) of Twin Peaks above, plan to take that same staircase down to a small parking lot with many more berries in plain sight.

The path leading to the summits of both peaks is just across the street from the bus stop and is clearly marked.  Wide wooden stairs cut into the side of the mountain and invite you to take big steps up to the top.  The wind gets stronger the further you climb, until you are buffeted on all sides by the swirl and strength.  The peaks are undeveloped mounds of sand and rocky gravel that offer a majestic view of the city all the way round.   Visitors point out the sights in many languages.  The new Bay Bridge expansion, the remains of Candlestick Park, the fog wafting through the Golden Gate Bridge, and everything down Market Street, from the rainbow flag to the Ferry Building.

Having taken a few photos, a good long look, and enjoyed that balance of being at once knocked and supported by the wind, follow that same trail back down.  Remember those signpost berries across the street?  Let them lead you further down to a small parking lot with many more.

Getting back: From the blackberry parking lot, it’s another staircase down and a few steps to the return trip MUNI stop at Parkridge Drive and Burnett Avenue. The 37 Corbett will return you to Market Street and further connections.

  1. Portals of the Past is an evocative moniker that entices for good reason. The marble portico once served as the doorway to the mansion of railroad tycoon Alban Towne. Before his home was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, these six white marble columns gleamed among the doomed Nob Hill estates of Crocker, Stanford and all the rest.  In the wake of the disaster, this lonely ruin was immortalized by photographer Arnold Genthe as a symbol of the end of an era.  Over the years, the Portals of the Past have come to serve as a reminder of perseverance through tragedy.

Moved from its original location on California Street in 1909, the picturesque portals are now located at Golden Gate Park’s Lloyd Lake, at JFK and Crossover Drive.  Hitchcock put Kim Novak’s character in a trance while she gazed at the portals in Vertigo,” but this tranquil lake setting, among ducks, shady trees, and a path to blackberries, is more likely to invite contemplation, peace and wedding planners.

Getting there: The shortest walk from MUNI drops you off at the north side of Golden Gate Park.  Take the 5 Fulton to 22nd and Fulton. The path into the park is between 22nd and 21st, and it’s only a five minute walk to the lake, with blackberries along the way.

Disclaimer for Picking Blackberries:
“Personal Picking Etiquette” to Ensure Safety and Sustainability
  • Pick at your own risk
  • Do not pick on private property
  • Wash blackberries before eating (area may be irrigated with graywater)
  • Pick only ripe blackberries
  • Pick only what you can eat in a short time (as if waiting for the next bus?)
  • Pick only what you can reach (do not stomp over existing plant life)
  • Watch out for thorns and poison oak
  • Watch out for ground wasps, bees and other critters
  • Watch out for drop-offs. Many plants grow at the edges of ravines and cliffs.
    There is no city policy against picking a few berries on public land.  Provided you know the risks and follow the recommendations, the benefits will be sweet.  San Franciscans may claim to have their favorite “hidden” spots, but blackberries are not on the endangered list. Everyone from hikers to commuters can take their pick.