San Francisco’s Legion of Honor

It’s my favorite museum in San Francisco and entry is free on the first Tuesday of each month. These photos are from my most recent trip last month.

Under that same arch

I should’ve been more diligent about writing down artists and titles corresponding these pictures, but instead I’ll just call it a scavenger hunt. Here are my favorites.

This one I admire for the color of the sky.

This sculpture of Rodin should be called “The Hokey Pokey”

Note the three pink roses at different stages of life. I overheard a docent talking about this painting, and it is deeper than it seems. You can enjoy it as just pretty flowers, sure, but it’s actually rich in social commentary and criticism as well.

It’s unfortunate that modern portraiture doesn’t seem to turn out this well. I guess it’s gone out of style

The next two were sisters. Alice Gray, who looks like a docile people-pleaser

and Sophie Gray, who looks like a defiant trouble-maker.

Okay, not technically art, but I like this chandelier and its wire-sock

I like sitting by this horsey and his man to write


Christmas songs

I’ve been attending tree lightings lately. They seem to be in season. Being in the San Francisco Girls Chorus when I was little made the Christmas season especially hustle-bustle and bright. I miss it. We performed a sing-along yearly at Davis Symphony Hall. We sang at tree lightings of posh hotels, where they would bribe us with intricately frosted sugar cookies. We even performed for the Elks club, and for a morning news show to air on Christmas day.

What does Christmas mean to me? Well, I’m an atheist, so to me, it means singing to dear, sweet Christmas trees. O Tannenbaum is one of my favorite Christmas songs. German club would sing it at the retirement home on Geary street. Some residents were moved to tears, saying that they hadn’t heard a Christmas song in their native German in decades.

It also means snow. I would wish for snow every year because I grew up seeing it in the movies and read about it in Molly’s (American Girl) series. I never saw a white Christmas in San Francisco, but there was one time, when the temperature was below freezing and I tried to jump in a puddle but slipped and hit my head on the concrete because it was completely frozen over. Of course, I love “Let It Snow”.

The true meaning of Christmas for this spoiled girl, though, is getting every damn thing I want. From tickets to the SF Symphony’s new year’s eve ball to plane tickets to exotic locales (omg, only kidding). But wanting just one thing, and having that thing actually be a person is sort of adorable. And it’s in my favorite Christmas movie too, so “All I Want for Christmas” is probably the best Christmas song of all time.

Confession time: my favorite Christmas cd when I was growing up was actually Christmas with the Vienna Boys Choir. Especially the Mozart mass. It didn’t sound like any of the other Christmas music but I figured it was probably just what the Europeans listened to…

Eternity Beach

This is my favorite of all beaches I’ve visited. My friend taught me a game he played as a boy growing up in Kona — “seaweed”. It’s simple: stand on a mossy rock and resist the waves trying to push you off. I’ve never managed more than 10 seconds.

Apparently, Nicki Minaj’s Starships music video was filmed here:

My friend brought it to my attention, and I love that he was so distracted by a familiar beach that he was blind to the nearly naked gyrating woman being splashed with neon paint.

Berry tart

I have nothing useful to say about this. You can tell I have feelings for this subject though, since I have never captured anything else so beautifully on camera.

It’s a berry tart from Tartine, and it’s heaven.



I met this charming car at the BMW museum in Munich a couple of months ago. More adorable than its refrigerator door face are the stories from families that owned one. They were produced in the 1950’s, when the way to get from Germany to Italy was over the Alps. Young couples off to see the world would purchase an Isetta, pack their things and pray that the little car could chug its way up and over the mountains without a breakdown. Now that’s adventure!



I’m not telling where this is from. I wouldn’t want you to come and make the line longer for me. San Francisco looks like a sleepy seaside town in many parts. It’s easy to forget how big it is. The light. What one pays for when dining here is the light at golden hour. The way it softens reality towards the ideal. But it isn’t bright or garish. It’s a grey-blue dying haze. If fog could be illuminated… It makes all the simple things beautiful: white lion head soup tureens, tubby bumblebee striped salt and pepper shakers, the veteran aluminum pitcher and all its icy condensation. Everything is crisp.

Per la gloria d’adorarvi

This aria is the theme song of emotional masochists. It’s for all those dear hearts that find it somehow more glorious or purifying or true to hope in the absence of possibility. Bononcini may as well have written this for hopeless dreamers. Even if you aren’t fluent in Italian, the lyrics are beautiful and well worth the read — I’ll link them below.

Translations of some of my favorite lines:

For the glory of adoring you, I want to love you.

In love I will suffer, but I will always love you.

I will learn this song, and upon my return to San Francisco, I will hold a concert. Perhaps on a rooftop.

Per la gloria d’adorarvi

Annabel Lee (by E.A. Poe)

This has been my favorite poem since my 7th grade English teacher first read it to us. I had my eyes closed, so that I could imagine the story. If you are not familiar with it, you should try having it read to you as well. Here’s the loveliest rendition I’ve found. It’s too easy to intone the entire thing in a sing-song, emphasizing rhyme over meaning, but this recording avoids that pitfall beautifully.

During that initial reading, the first few lines made me roll my eyes. Childish. Then the poem took a rather dark turn and captured my attention. By the end, I was startled by its beauty. I think I gasped at the last lines. That’s love, I decided. That’s real love. Of course, I was 12 and I was wrong (that was limerence), but from then on, my notions of romance were never far from macabre.

Favorite lines:

And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee

Do you have any favorite poetry? Do tell!


Located at the base of Mount Fuji, it’s also known as the “suicide forest.” A bunny trail from the Wikipedia page on the Golden Gate Bridge led me to it, and I’ve been fascinated ever since. If you look past the occasional corpse lolling from a tree, it’s got an otherworldly beauty.

I’ve had trouble with the difference between “romantic” and “macabre” since I was introduced to Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee in middle school. I’d like to go there and set up a tea party. Yes, I’d wear a frilly, lacy birthday party dress with a too-large bow in my hair. Macaroons, fruit tarts, petit fours, and other confectionary would gleam enticingly from under glass domes and on tiered stands. The table would be set with pairwise non-matching tea cups.

I don’t flatter myself that I would be able to prevent even one suicide, but I do want to be there in case anyone wants a last bite of pudding and sip of tea — but just not alone. Or in case someone has a few last words that they want a person to hear. I want to be that person. I want those final stories. I will collect those hearts, for mending.