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velvet underground

The crowds are gone and restaurant reservations are not impossible which make winter my preferred season for visiting Napa. An added attraction is the Napa Truffle Festival which runs from January 12-15. It celebrates the richly textured, prized, expensive ($90 for 2 mall pieces) subterranean black fungus which is now being cultivated in wine country. The event has seminars on training dogs to hunt for truffles, wild mushroom hunts, cooking classes, truffle-based dinners and lunches at local restaurants and on Monday a free festival at Oxbow Public Market.



continuing ed

Add to your list of local enrich-the-brain activities the lectures, salons and performances at Humanities West, held downtown at the Marine’s Memorial every few months. Upcoming are evenings exploring Blues, Jazz and Rock ‘n Roll, Lucretia Borgia and her dynasty, Hannibal’s Alp’s crossing, Celtic mythology and ancient Greek colonization. Tickets appear to be $37.50


acting out

Explore being someone other than yourself this Sunday from 1-3 at a free acting class at Berkeley Rep. Apparently you get to pick from a menu of various movement, voice etc. classes. No registration necessary.


make the cut

Now that nature has denuded all your deciduous fruit trees it’s the ideal time for some serious pruning. Get proper, professional instructions on doing it yourself from 10-1 on January 21 from Sequoiah Wachenheim (what an echt Northern California name) in her Berkeley back yard. The hands-on curriculum includes purchasing the correct tree for your microclimate and natural approaches to insects and diseases. $40.


be it resolved

I’ve lived long enough to know that my New Year’s resolutions will evaporate like soap bubbles. But I am sincerely resolved to avoid looking back on 2017, the year America went berserk. Frankly my mind, or at least the part of it with a public conscience, is looking towards 2018 when all 435 Congressional seats are up for grabs. My cynical reaction to the effect of out-of-state, on-line petitions and phone banks was upended in Alabama and Virginia. So this year I am resolving not to instantly delete MoveOn emails.

And in case anyone is interested I am leaning towards John Chiang for Governor.

Since getting high will now be legal around here I will give medical marijuana another try. The result of my previous experience was medically disappointing and my interactions with cannabis “professionals” were strictly amateur. The dosages of THC vs CBD, which appear to be the basis for recommending the correct “prescription” seem currently to be a matter of guesswork. But if some form of the wonder weed will help me sleep through the night, why not?

Watch my mouth. Be more careful with the words I use. For example I will try to steer clear of the word “misogyny” which is mistakenly tossed around to cover every form of uninvited male behavior. “Misogyny” is hatred of women. The guys making headlines hugging, grabbing, rubbing against women are not doing it because they don’t like women. Au contraire.

My resistance to technology will not abate. If you are thinking of sending me any gifts of Siri, Echo, Evie or Alexa they will be returned. I will delete all appeals to update Adobe Flash. I will continue to keep my distance from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter. Once again I will consider eliminating my landline and then not do it. Where I would like to advance my skills is with my thumbs. I’ve been slightly envious of people speed typing their text messages with just their two thick digits.

Last year I succeeded in my resolve to cut short my car travel time back from the City  by leaving SF at 3pm. I am afraid that this year I’ll have to get out of town by 2 if I want to beat the #!**!!! Traffic.

I would definitely attempt to be more “woke” if I knew what it meant.

My search for a replacement for my Charlie Rose addiction will continue though there is little hope of finding a tv interviewer who switches from politicos to basketball coaches to brain surgeons with every program as deftly as Mr. Rose did. Of course there are always podcasts but there are so damn many of them and I am already giving too many hours in the week to media. I admit to an envy of the French who are enriched with all kinds of tv fare where books, films and ideas are heatedly discussed.

Reduce the number of grudges I’ve held for over 20 years.

Expand my gustatory experience but draw the line at fermented moss, sous vide nasturtium and lamb tongue tartare.


Open my heart this spring to my new grandchild.


lights fantastic

The neighborhood competition for holiday light displays grows fiercer and more dazzling every year. A couple of websites can navigate you towards the most extravagant examples of electrical creativity. Neighborhoods.com covers the Bay Area. California Christmas Lights lists 339 homes from SF to San Diego. Light artistry illuminates the City year-round in various displays, performances and tours. Check out the scheduled installations at Illuminate SF.


o, holy afternoon

A stirring alternative to herr Handel this holiday are the San Francisco Renaissance Voices performing very traditional carols and hymns this Saturday Dec 23 from 4 -5:30pm at the Incarnation Episcopal Church on 29th Street in the City. It will be a duplicate of the Christmas Eve Service held at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. Free but donations requested.



Go way beyond wreaths and icicle lights. Be the first on your block to celebrate the holidays with this humungous, inflated snow globe. It’s 10 feet tall and comes with holiday decor, snowflakes and its own tech to operate the air chambers. 4 hours, $1700. It’s provided by Party Jump which also offers inflatable bumper cars, zip lines, baseball parks and mobile rock walls.


the nutcracker for not tutu much

Just a reminder that if you get your timing right and move quickly your ticket to the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker (running until Dec.30) could cost you a mere $32. All that’s required is that you register for their Senior Rush list and check availability the day of performance. Their site doesn’t say what the age requirement is but I guess if you are reading this, you qualify.


napa without cars

Always puzzled why there are not more bicyclist fatalities in Napa considering riders have to share the road with inebriated automobile-driving tourists. My advice for a safe ride is to take your two-wheeler to Stanly Lane which is off High 121 in Carneros. It’s a 6 mile round trip through rolling vineyards on paved roads with no cars, ending up at picnic tables along the Napa River. You can walk it, too, with your pooch. Feeling peckish? Stop at the Stanly Lane Smokehouse for hearty BBQ.