The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Julaiku Part 4 July 23, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing,Yoga — lizardesque @ 8:07 pm
Tags: , ,

July 19


Intense yoga class

Jelly-legs burn and quiver

Shavasana soon


July 20 (Bonus day: Three haiku for the price of one! But they are free anyway, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal.)

Strange Texts, Stranger Disagreements

Parents, brother meet

Without me. I, from afar,

Must adjudicate


Sticky Situation

Super glue better

At bonding my fingers than

What requires repair


Oh, Dusty

Been here eight years

Neighbors’ dog still barks as if

We have never met


July 21

Morning Surprise

Slippery substance

Underneath my desk–cat puke

Thank goodness for shoes


July 22

It’s the Little Things

Too excited by

A pack of new highlighters?

Nah, not possible


July 23


Begin the morning

With ambitious intentions

But ardor dwindles


Julaiku Part 3 July 18, 2014

Filed under: Life tales,photography,Poetry,Writing — lizardesque @ 4:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

July 12

Rain Check

Alas, soggy day

Not very conducive with

Outdoor concert plans


July 13


Laundry forgotten

Since yesterday, mildewy

Requires rewashing


July 14


On my walk, rain starts

At the farthest point from home

As if the sky knows


July 15


During my workout

Roxie flops in front of me

Wanting belly rubs



July 16


Give us what we want

Not what we said we wanted

You silly vendor!


July 17

For Ezra

Oh, Oxford comma,

I certainly give a fuck,

a shit, and a damn


July 18


Wrong turns remind me

How I envy those born with

An inner compass


Julaiku Part 2 July 11, 2014

Filed under: Life tales,photography,Poetry,Writing — lizardesque @ 1:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,

July 6


T. rex skeleton

Sixty-some million years old

My brain can’t quite grasp

T rex


July 7


Composing haiku

While riding my bike today

Poet on the move


July 8


“Cleaning” eyeglasses

In actuality is

Smudge relocation


July 9

Perilous Drawer

Seeking salad tongs

Cut my finger on steak knife

Painful irony


July 10

College Memories

An old photograph

Gussied up for formal dance

Made silly faces




July 11


Contortion required

To put on my dress today

Stupid back zipper


Julaiku July 5, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — lizardesque @ 2:03 pm
Tags: , ,

A Haiku for Each Day of July (first installment)

July 1

Wait, where did June go?

The year is now half over

How did that happen?

July 2

Bright morning sunshine

Later became gloom and rain

A cold July day

July 3

The fortieth birthday

Of my dear husband Ian

Warrants bread pudding

July 4

Killjoy I may be

Unimpressed with, annoyed by

Amateur fireworks

July 5

Ah, three-day weekend

Like having two Saturdays

Back-to-back. So nice.





That California Trip Part 9: The Second Flitterwochen Finale June 29, 2014

All good things must come to an end, and so we arrived at the last full day of our second flitterwochen. Despite this being my fourth and Ian’s second time in San Franciso, neither one of us had been to Coit Tower. We decided to rectify that. It was a pleasant day, and we were sure to get a nice view of the city, so we boarded a cable car and headed for the tower.


Coit Tower

I sometimes wonder if tourists are pretty much the only people who ride the cable cars in San Francisco. I imagine there are times when it would be convenient for locals to use them, but whenever I have been on one, it has been populated mostly by tourists. On this particular ride, we chatted with some men from Winnipeg.  The conversation quickly turned to hockey because a) we were talking to Canadians, and b) the Stanley cup playoffs were in progress at the time, and the Blackhawks were still alive. Turns out, these fellows knew Jonathon Toews. Then again, Canada is not all that populous–most Canadians probably know each other, right? :-P I should have asked if they know my cousin who lives in Winnipeg…

Anyhow, we made our way to Coit Tower (another place I suspect you will find mostly tourists), and as expected, it offered lovely views of the city and the bay.

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Another view from the tower

Another view from the tower

View of Lombard Street from Coit Tower

View of Lombard Street from Coit Tower

Next, we went back down to the waterfront and grabbed some lunch at Pier 39. We had been thinking of visiting Distillery 209 and tasting what they had to offer but were perplexed when we could not find the pier on which it was located. You’d think that Pier 50 would be fairly close (11 piers away, to put a fine point on it) to Pier 39, right? Well you’d be wrong. When we finally gave in an consulted a map, we realized that the last pier on our side of the harbor was 47 and the numbering picked up at 48 all the way over on the other side, just under 4 miles away. It was then we determined our need to visit the distillery was not that pressing.



Instead, we decided to take the cable car back toward Union Square. The line at the turnaround seemed long, but we really had no idea. During the 45 or so minutes of waiting in line, we tried to figure out the system for dispatching cars. We failed, as we were unable to make head or tail of it. Cars would sit empty for long but varying periods. Every so often, one would be filled with passengers and only to stand still for another long period. Then suddenly, inexplicably, it was time to go. Thankfully, the weather was nice, and we were not in a hurry.

Turn, turn, turn

Turn, turn, turn



At last, we boarded a car, which eventually got moving. Our next destination was Gump’s. This local department store is known  primarily for high-end home furnishings and decor, but I like it for array of fun, quirky, occasionally ridiculous, stuff you can find there. Collage of the Golden Gate bridge made from cutouts of vintage books? Check. Whimsical watering can shaped like a pig? Of course! Gorgeous crystal cocktail glass that I love but would never dream of spending anywhere near that much money on? Yup. Bronze meerkat? Sh’ya. Giant glass insects? I couldn’t find them on the website, but I did see them in the store. It’s just a fun place to browse around for a while.

We then returned to Union Square to enjoy some beer, sunshine, and people watching. Actually, we ended up doing a fair amount of pigeon watching as well. A particularly persistent pigeon kept pecking at a clear plastic container that housed a woman’s sandwich. Although confused and flustered (Damn it! I can see the sandwich. It’s right there! What is this cursed invisible barrier?), the pigeon persevered. Occasionally, it turned around and, feigning nonchalance, started to walk away, only to dart back and peck at the container again, as if the element of surprise would somehow cause the plastic container to surrender its contents. Eventually, the sandwich owner noticed the pigeon’s antics, pulled her sandwich closer to her and shooed the bird away. I felt kind of bad for the pigeon. Good effort!

While in Union Square, we took the opportunity to recreate (well, sort of) a couple more honeymoon photos. Along with several other locations in the city, each of the four corners of the square has a painted heart sculpture. We took a couple of pictures with the hearts on our honeymoon, the first year the sculptures were there, not realizing at the time that the hearts would be part of a continuing annual art installation, with new ones being placed and eventually auctioned off each year.

Okay, not the best picture, but you get the idea (2004)

Okay, not the best picture, but you get the idea (2004)



"I knew I left it around here somewhere." (2014)

“I knew I left it around here somewhere.” (2014)



Later that evening, we went to the Starlight Room for pre-dinner cocktails and more lovely views of the city.

View from the Starlight Room

View from the Starlight Room

We wrapped up the evening with dinner at Millennium, which I had been highly anticipating after hearing many good things about the place. Unfortunately, it fell rather short of my expectations. Although we had made reservations a few days earlier, our first inkling that there was a prix fixe menu that evening came when the menus were put in front of us. Had I known this in advance, I would have made reservations for another night when the regular menu was available. But, it was our final night in San Francisco, it was after 9:00, so we had little choice but to go with it. The theme of the menu was “Southern Comfort”– traditional southern foods made with a vegan twist (and a fair amount of snark it seemed if you read the menu). It’s not that anything we ate was bad, it was just not what we were expecting. When I think of high-end vegan food, I don’t expect anything Dorito-encrusted. Heck, I wouldn’t have even guessed Doritos were vegan (apparently, certain flavors are). Also, you can dress up iceberg lettuce all you want, but it’s still iceberg lettuce. The dim sum tater tots were decent, because well, how can you not like tater tots? Still, it was not the kind of thing I had expected from and allegedly gourmet establishment. Dessert was an “ice cream” concoction, and we were directed to the table of toppings where we could customize it to our liking–or, presumably, we would have been able to if there had been anything but a few dregs of toppings left. All that, in combination with the seemingly indifferent waitservice, made for a somewhat disappointing last dinner of our trip.

So as not to end on a sour note, we agreed to go out for breakfast the next morning. Each day we had passed David’s Delicatessen and had been amused by signs under the awning that said things like, “Mel Brooks doesn’t eat here, but we think he’d like it if he did,” and so we figured we’d give it a try. It’s a cute place a 50’s diner kind of vibe and mostly counter seating. The apple pancake was delicious, and I had one final mimosa before vacation ended and day drinking would no longer be a regular occurrence. Also, there were chickens! Okay, they were ceramic, but they were very cute, and, especially after the Sonoma chicken letdown, they left me with a smile to round out an altogether wonderful trip.




That California Trip Part 8: Kicking the Day in its Sunshiny Ass June 25, 2014

We began our first full day in San Francisco with a bike tour. Our guide, Sam, started by assuring us that the tour involved only a couple of hills, and not big ones by San Francisco standards, which was nice to hear, having just walked up and down several gigantic ones on the way to the rental shop. Off we went from Aquatic Park, through Fort Mason and the Marina, and over to the Palace of Fine Arts. Sam was a wealth of information, explaining how the palace was constructed for the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915. At the time, the palace was intended to stand only for the duration of the exhibition, and was constructed out of something only slightly more substantial than papier-mâché. Nearly 50 years later, the crumbling palace was demolished, and a more durable concrete version was built over the original steel structure. On a fairly unrelated note, Sam also informed us that there are more dogs than children in San Francisco.

The Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts–now in concrete!

Sam liked to take pictures at jaunty angles.

Sam liked to take pictures at jaunty angles.

On we went, past Crissy Field and the Presidio before we got to the main attraction.

Notice how our helmets kind of match the bridge!

Notice how our helmets kind of match the bridge!

I had been across the Golden Gate bridge before, but only via car. I’d also been under it in a boat, but going across it on foot or on a bike definitely gives you a different perspective. The main thing that struck me was the sheer size of the main cables. They’re huge! Their circumference is substantially larger than a typical wine barrel, and, as Sam informed us, they contain enough miles of wire to circle the Earth more than three times. Vacations are so educational. I should really take more!

Pylon, fog, and sun

Pylon, fog, and sun

Our timing was good in that it was mostly sunny, so our view was relatively unimpeded as we crossed, but it was cool to see the fog start to creep across the bridge. When we stopped at the other side to rest and let all the tour members catch up, Sam turned to me and said, “Do you get fog in Chicago?” This seemed like an odd question, like asking, “Do you get rain in New York?” True, fog does not come to Chicago with the same regularity as it does in San Francisco, but, for anyone else who is wondering, yes, Chicago does get foggy from time to time.

We continued on to Sausalito, where the guided part of the tour ended and we were free to do as we pleased. We locked up our bikes, took in the town, and enjoyed sandwiches and beer at Venice Deli as our reward for all that hard work of biking, not to mention all the learnin’ we did!

Side note: During this trip, I could not help but notice that California seems to have a great many stores devoted entirely to socks. Sonoma, Napa, San Francisco, and Sausalito all had dedicated sock stores. Perhaps sock shops are simply popular in touristy areas (probably because souvenir junkies like me can’t help but purchase novelty socks while on vacation…or any time really, but especially while on vacation). In any case, I picked these up, which seemed especially apt for that day.

Indeed, we did!

Indeed, we did!

We retrieved our bikes and took the ferry back to San Francisco, watching the fog loom in a beautiful but somewhat menacing way as we departed Sausalito.

You can almost hear the fog going, "Nom, nom, nom."

You can almost hear the fog going, “Nom, nom, nom.”

Once off the ferry, we rode back to the rental shop to return our bikes. After all the exercise, we figured we deserved some ice cream, so off we went to Ghiardelli. (Okay, it really wasn’t that much exercise, but it was more than we’d had for most other days of the trip. Besides, it was vacation!)

It's a dessert. No, it's a hat. Wait, it's both!

It’s a dessert. No, it’s a hat. Wait, it’s both!

We strolled around the waterfront for a while, and at one point, we spotted in the crowd a woman and her young son, both dressed as superheros. He was Captain America. I’m not sure who she was supposed to be, but my knowledge of superheroines is rather lacking. Regardless, after our Superman sighting the previous day, I  began to wonder if there was a convention being held nearby or if I was unaware of some new fashion trend. These two looked considerably less conspicuous among the crowd near Pier 39 than did Superman in front of Napa Town Hall, but still…why? In this case, I never seriously considered taking a picture because not one of us was sitting still. Plus, there was a kid involved, and that definitely ups the creeper factor when it comes to snapping pictures of strangers.

I was slightly disappointed that none of the sea lions at Pier 39 were dressed as superheroes. Those are some pictures I definitely would have taken. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

Quick! Fetch my cape!

Quick! Fetch my cape! Super Sea Lion will save the day!

We started to make our way back in the direction of our hotel. The previous day, I had notice signs in Union Square offering Happy Hour specials between 4:00 and 7:00, and that sounded good to us. We arrived at the square, which has two similar bar/cafe buildings opposite one another, each with outdoor seating. It was cool out, so we opted for the sunny side of the square, not noticing at the time that the drinks were more expensive there. Clever! Have specials on the side that’s shady in the afternoon to lure more people over there. We shrugged at having paid a couple dollars extra and sat down to soak up some sun and people watch.

When our glasses were empty, there was one thing left on the agenda for the afternoon–hat shop! In my out-of-date San Francisco guide book, I had found a hat shop I wished to patronize, but alas, learned that it was no longer in business. I searched the interwebs to find a suitable replacement to fill my hat shop void and came up with Goorin Bros. They have stores in Chicago, so it wasn’t exactly exotic, but I’d never been to one before. Plus, it was not far from the hotel, so it seemed like a good place to get my hat shop fix. It was a tiny little store. The lone employee there informed me that it used to be an elevator. Then all I could think of was the scene in Being There when Chance (aka Chauncey) is wheeled into an elevator and remarks, “This is a very small room.” Anyway, small as it was, it was packed with lovely hats, and I walked away the proud new owner of this one.

Latest addition to my collection

Latest addition to my collection

We finished out the day with cocktails at Mortimer an dinner at Colibri, which had delicious food and one of, if not the, most extensive tequila menus I’ve ever seen. However, no one was coercing me, so I didn’t have any shots, just a margarita. Ian and I toasted our penultimate evening in San Francisco and having kicked the day in it’s sunshiny ass (in a good way, of course).



That California Trip Part 7: Superman and Garlic, but no Tequila June 18, 2014

Filed under: Food,Life tales,photography,Travel — lizardesque @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the things I like about staying at bed and breakfasts (or is that beds and breakfasts? B&Bs? Bs&Bs? gah! I don’t know!), rather than at hotels, is the social aspect. On our final morning in Napa, over breakfast, we chatted with a couple from San Francisco who frequently came to Napa Valley for brief getaways. They described an evening 20 or so years ago when they happened upon what first appeared to be a quaint and rustic-looking launderette but was revealed, upon further inspection, to be a restaurant. They figured they’d try it. Why not? Well, that restaurant was none other than the now world-famous French Laundry, back when it was relatively unknown. Turns out, they got a tasty meal and a great story.

Anyhow, our time in Napa was almost up, but before we left town, we had an important task to complete, namely, shipping home all the wine we had purchased. We loaded up bags, toted them to the UPS store, and filled out a shipping form. The employees said they’d pack it up for us and e-mail the tracking number and receipt. This sounded reasonable, and we figured a UPS store in Napa probably has plenty of experience with shipping wine, so we went on our merry way. It wasn’t until half an hour had passed with no e-mail from UPS that we began to worry. Perhaps leaving a few hundred dollars worth of wine with some brown-shirted guys who gave us nothing but a promise was not the wisest thing we’d ever done. In the end, it was fine. The e-mail came, and the wine arrived safely at our house.

As we strolled about Napa, we passed Town Hall, where a man sat by the steps near the front entrance, casually reading a newspaper. That might not seem particularly noteworthy, but here’s the catch: the man was dressed as Superman. I know, I know–pictures or it didn’t happen, right? I don’t know what to tell you. I thought about taking a picture, but I was seized by a moment of…I’m not sure what. Timidity? Diffidence? As much as I wanted a photo, I was worried I would look like a weirdo by taking a picture of this stranger in front of Town Hall, somehow forgetting that A) I would probably never see the guy again, and, more importantly, B) he was the one dressed as Superman on a Tuesday morning for no apparent reason and therefore was in no position to judge me or anyone else as a weirdo! I will probably forever kick myself for not taking a picture, but please believe me–it happened!

When it was time to bid Napa adieu, we packed up the rental car, drove (okay, Ian drove, I mostly slept) to San Francisco, and checked in to the Hotel California. We were slightly let down that the hotel had changed hands since we had booked it and no longer offered tequila shots upon check-in, which we’d read about in reviews. It’s not that I love tequila shots. In fact, I rarely drink them and usually only do so when coerced (as in, “Hey Liz, want to do a tequila shot with me?” “Well, I don’t know…” “Aw, come on!” “OH FINE, JUST STOP HOUNDING ME!”), but there is something novel and charming about welcoming guests with shots of liquor. It’s sort of like the welcome chocolate chip cookies you get at DoubleTree hotels…except different. Anyway, although there was no free tequila, we did enjoy the complimentary pineapple cupcakes. Plus, I had a good feeling about the place when I saw this in the lobby. I like a hotel with a sense of humor.

I'm glad they cleared that up!

I’m glad they cleared that up!

There was no pink champagne on ice or mirrors on the ceiling, but there were dolphins on the ceiling.

Livin' it up at the Hotel California

Livin’ it up at the Hotel California

All in all, it was a lovely place.

You can check out any time you like...

You can check out any time you like…

We enjoyed a couple of drinks at Millennium, the restaurant attached to the hotel (more on that in a future post), then headed out to dinner. The rental car had been returned since we intended for our feet to be our main mode of transportation while in the city. As we walked we were quickly reminded that San Francisco has these things called hills, which are few and far between (not to mention much, much smaller) in Chicago. When you live in such a flat place, you forget how taxing it can be to walk up and down huge, colossal, gigantic, behemoth hills. San Franciscans must have fabulously strong legs.

With trembling quadriceps, we arrived at our destination, The Stinking Rose, where we indulged our love of garlic. We had eaten there on our honeymoon, and I had been there once before that. Each of those times, I had considered trying the garlic ice cream, which sounded simultaneously frightening and intriguing, but ended up passing on it. Not this time! We tried it and liked it. I do kind of wonder how it would taste if I had not had just eaten a very garlic-laden meal (which made the ice cream seem tame by comparison garlic-wise), but I did enjoy it as a lovely end to our second-flitterwochen garlic feast.








Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 315 other followers