March 31, 2011

Our beloved truck and home on wheels, U "Go!" Haul

We're not sure if our truck is a boy or a girl. We're guessing either a bad-ass, rolled-up-sleeves, chain-smoking, whiskey-downing old maid in her best fur coat and turquoise earrings, or a down to earth, honest to goodness, no nonsense farmer man with calloused hands and a sensitive soul.

Here is our baby, in Virginia...


Joshua Tree...

... and L.A.

Why oh why can't we just stay together?

Nineteen Forty-Three in Syracuse, NY.

I spoke about these paintings here, but here are some more pictures. Aren't they simply gorgeous?

I love her the best.

He's a close second.

Her father? Mysterious benefactor? Older Italian lover? Ancient Greek professor?

Well, whoever he is, one thing is sure. He is quite the gentleman, obviously.

The Site

We did something today that made this whole thing seem almost real; We saw the space.

That's correct. We saw the site of the restaurant today for the first time. The place in which I will be spending the next two to three months, probably ten hours a day, everyday, working, building, stressing out, breaking things, messing up, starting over, and designing the crap out of it. Yes, we plan on making this thing gorgeous. If we have our way, which I know we will, it will be an absolute beauty -- like nothing this Bay has seen yet. What, is that not modest? Hopefully that is taken the right way, because it's a necessary thing to feel confident about taking on such an enormous project. There's nothing like doubt or timidness to take the momentum away from a goal that will require an absolute and total full-steam-ahead mind-set. If anything, I am talking myself into this attitude of complete self assurance, an attitude of which I will adopt from here on out, and will be unwavering about.

So here it is, in all its large and empty glory. I love it. It's a perfect canvas for what we want to do with the space. Beautiful, huge old windows with large panes, a cement floor, some exposed brick painted white, and a high, wood, black vaulted ceiling. Oh and a working, enormous fireplace. Kind of a perk since it gets chilly and damp here.

There is still so much that needs to be done before we can totally start with the building and design. Some plumbing would be nice, electricity would be awesome, doors need to be moved, a bathroom needs to be added, kitchen walls need to exist, and drawings need to be made and approved. But first off, some serious walls need to be knocked out -- just new walls that were additions for the store that was here before. And guess who gets to swing the first blow? Me! Us! Me and Amelie! It's like christening the boat with a bottle of champagne, though in this case it's a chunk of drywall and a sledgehammer or a sawsall or something.

To put it mildly, I'm ecstatic.

Our lovely truck... now sitting in the alley, lonely, cold, hundreds of pounds lighter, and waiting to be sent back to its abusive family of other renters. Renters who scratch it. Have you seen the side of that thing? I should really show you.

We love that truck, even though it doesn't go up hills, doesn't really go down hills, doesn't corner, eats gas, and is loud and fat. But it treated us well, better than we expected or could have hoped for. So by now, its our baby and we are sad to see it go. Is that weird? I think I know the answer to that.

So all our treasures we collected over the last month are now sitting outside under a tarp. Ouch. We couldn't put them in the restaurant yet because, well, because we still need to knock down walls and make a huge mess, and fifty chairs, seven bar stools, and a four foot high, sixteen foot long, pile of wood would probably get in the way.

So here they are. Our fifty chairs. Boy, are we proud. Some of you may think we are crazy to have such a miss-matched group, but just wait. Just wait and see. If you don't get it now, you will in a couple weeks!

Unloading took quite a few hours of backbreaking work. And it was really hot in this part of California today, for the first time in... my life? So we had to take a lunch break.

Then more unloading.

And more.

Until we were left with one dirty truck and two very tired girls. And that's usually a combination for a pretty successful day.

This is mainly for my mom. And probably yours.

Yup. This is another post about flowers. Please bear with me - this is what happens when you suddenly release an adoptive New Yorker (real New Yorkers might not care, or might be content with the lovely cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden) into a springed out California. Flowers! Bees! Trees! Oh look, birds mating! Or are they eating each other's eyeballs? I wouldn't know, I live in a big city where fauna refers to either rats or pigeons, and flora often designates the plastic rhododendrons on your neighbor's windowsill.

Anyway. For the time being, we're staying in the house where Ariele grew up, and good lord there are some beautiful things in that garden. Lo and behold:

Fuschia daisies (marguerites)

Borage (bourache)

Orange blossom (fleur d'oranger)

Climbing roses (rosier grimpant)

And last but definitely not least, the California poppy (coquelicot de Californie). Check out that orange!

I know the weather has been an absolute horror in New York for the past few weeks, and I want you to know I am not taunting you with these photos. Quite the opposite. I am sharing these as a reminder that Winter ends, that Summer is near, and so is iced tea, bike rides, afternoon naps in the park, warm nights, hot days, cotton shirts, flower dresses, sandals, straw hats and terraces. Summer in all its glory.

Also, California is beautiful.

March 30, 2011

No scratches, no insanity, no tickets

We made it. The sun was setting over the trees and we had the promise of delicious homemade pasta ahead of us. Sounds perfect and relaxing and about time, right? But bizarre emotions are at play here, and I think what we didn't expect is: we don't want to stop.

How is that possible! I just drove across the country for nine days straight and I want to keep going. We are already experiencing an odd separation anxiety from our truck -- and it's still sitting in the driveway. How will we feel tomorrow when we have to return it to the rental place and walk away? It will be a mournful day, and I expect an eerie sadness. Perhaps it will take us a few days to readjust to staying in one place. There is a freedom that comes with having all your possessions with you, being able to leave when you want, go where you want.

I will miss it.

Coast to coast bouquets

It started when Spring started, that is in Northern Virginia. It was raining in New York, snowing in New Jersey, budding in Pennsylvania, but blooming in Virginia.

So on our first day we picked up some forthysia from the side of the road for the dashboard.

The next day we added to our bouquet a branch of lilac from the parking lot of our motel, still in Virginia.

Got a branch of Tennessee Pink tree in... Tennessee.

 These pretty white flowers came from the parking lot of a Denny's in Arkansas.

In New Mexico we found these dried thistle-looking flowers. No idea what they're called, anybody know?

And finally some wild flowers from California: mustard, lupine, pink clover and kangaroo paw (well that last one we snapped off a big plant in front of a building in Los Angeles... ).

March 29, 2011

The highway and Hal

Day eight has come and gone. Long, beautiful, and boring. Stretches of straight road and odd bouts of memory loss. Yes, everything has officially blended together. Were we in New Mexico yesterday or the day before? I don't remember!

There were a couple high points however, mostly based on stupidity we thought was pretty hilarious. For example, we almost ran out of gas in the middle of the Mohave desert; and we nearly took a long detour out deeper into the heat-wave-flatness with only half a liter of warm water left. Perhaps, not our best moments!

More abandoned gas stations along the way!

After we found a gas station that was not abandoned and refilled our sadly enormous tank  (and bought water) we took the long route, route 66, around the desert to a town called Joshua Tree. Where we found Hal.

Not that his store was easy to miss. He had re-painted it himself in colors that specifically went against the trend of browns and golds that were spread across all the other stores in town. We walked in, and were instantly impressed with the collection of items spread around the large building. We knew we had probably found another one of our "amazing people places" when a man stuck his head around the corner and cheerfully yelled "Everything's up for bargaining at Bargain Alley!"

His name was Hal Hiner. He was a talker in the best of ways. We learned about his store, his youth working as a set designer, his rock n' roll grandson, and were even showed a picture of himself in the 70's -- which was awesome to say the least.

After bargaining for a great antique chair and getting a good deal on it, we decided to try our luck and ask the big question we've had anxiety over for the last three or four states: Does he know where we can get some old wood?

He said "Go outside!"

The back garage was his landlords property, but we had found some wonderful old fencing that we, not surprisingly, got pretty attached to. Hal, being the great man that he was, and not wanting to disappoint two insanely excited girls, made a phone call to the reluctant landlord who didn't really want to sell it, but I yelled "Fifty bucks!" and somehow, thankfully, it was sold.

We were so happy! Two huge cart fulls of old, faded fencing, some with paint, some with knots and holes and warping. It was perfect! Just what we needed -- A huge pile of old wood that came with a great story.

We had to rearrange the entire back to get in it, and Hal let us park on his sidewalk to load it up. Amelie had to crawl in the deep recesses of the truck to remove some bits and pieces of junk that were blocking the wood from sliding in all the way. After about an hour of heavy lifting, we were two extremely happy girls! Hal gave us both some fantastic hugs, wished us the best of luck with our journey, and we were on our way again!

Thank you Hal!

March 28, 2011


Well, not very much happened today. Or maybe it did, and I already forgot; all the days are starting to blend together and for some reason I can hardly remember what town we were in yesterday. Strange? Maybe that's just what happens when you are behind the wheel for seven days straight.

So we woke up an Albuquerque, New Mexico, were fed an awesome huevos breakfast by the friends of friends we were staying with, and went to some thrift stores. Not much to be had, but struck up such a good deal on these bar stools that we couldn't really pass them up. We are thinking that the color red may be too retro for what we're going for, so perhaps we will reupholster the vinyl.

March 27, 2011

Through the desert and up the mountains

We left Albuquerque after an excellent lunch (fajitas and flan) and hit good ol' Forty West toward Flagstaff, AZ and ultimately California. Albuquerque (or the little we saw of it) was lovely. I like cities with mountainous backgrounds.

I-40 through New Mexico and Arizona is very -yawn- straight.

A dust tornado! 

Things to look at while on a very straight road: rocks, red dirt, black dirt, horses, cows, freight trains, abandoned towns, trailer parks, Indian trading post billboards... Sadly we also saw a few dead dogs on the side of the road, run over by cars. Also sad, the number of abandoned businesses, gas stations, diners, motels.

Seems like life in the desert is tough for everybody.


A little before Flagstaff the desert turned into mountains. The elevation was 5000 feet, a sign told us. Our ears popped. It felt good to see big trees again. Not so much to see snow.

We didn't stop except for gas and coffee (and a beaded belt) and drove all the way to Kingman, AZ, the last town before California.

End of Day Seven.