Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Flowers in our Hair

Where to begin?

Well, I can start by telling you that I am writing this on my iPad. Yay! Picked it up on Saturday night at Susie’s in Sacramento, where I had asked Apple to send my pre-order.

I won’t bore you with it except to say that it is AMAZING!

It was cool in Sacramento, and wet, when we flew in from Seattle on Saturday night. But that was nothing compared to the rain that crashed down on us on Sunday. Like a tropical downpour.

We splashed along the freeway to Davis, and lunch with our old friends Sharon and Hibbard, then back to Sacramento for dinner with Susie’s sister, Kathy, and her family. By the time we got back to Susie’s that night, inches had fallen, and thunder and lightning were crashing all around us.

Then, lo and behold, Monday brought painfully clear blue skies and sunshine, and an interview on the Jeffrey Callison show on Sacramento Capital Radio. Jeffrey is an ex-pat Scot with a mid-Atlantic accent, who has been entertaining Sacramento listeners with his daily chat show for years now. It was my third appearance on his show, and you can listen to it here (scroll forward - I was in the final segment of the show).

Then it was into the car and a two-hour drive south to San Francisco. It was my third visit to the city, and the first time I have seen it in sunshine. It is an extraordinary place - white houses built across the steeply pitched slopes of hills that push up out of the bay, clustering around the skyscrapers of downtown. The view of it from the bridge as you approach from the north is stunning. And on Monday, with the sun coruscating away across still, burnished waters to the misted silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was quite breathtaking.

We drove, then, through the city’s gay area, The Castro, where men stroll hand in hand, finally arriving at Noe Valley, the home of Susie’s daughter, Shannon, and her husband, Tim - just in time to help Tim demolish the entrance to his home to get a new refrigerator through the front door. Proceedings were directed by Susie’s 2-year-old-granddaughter, Madeleine, whom we then took for a walk up and down the city hills, puffing and gasping for breath while she continued to direct our progress - from her pushchair!

Then on, finally, to the evening event at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, before grabbing a bite to eat, and driving back through the dark to Sacramento - barely awake as the lights of downtown San Francisco rose up all around us, before dipping away as we crossed the bridge and into the night.

Tuesday was a day of catching up on shopping for all those essential little things you need on a long trip - computer cables, iPad apps... oh, yes, and some toothpaste and stuff! Before Eric the Viking descended on us with his new Volvo to sweep us south again, past San Francisco, still basking in sunshine, to the smaller Bay Area city of San Mateo, and the incomparable Ed Kaufman’s M is for Murder bookstore. There I met up with long time fans Milene Rawlinson and Dennis Sitcler, delivered my talk on Virtually Dead, The Runner, and Freeze Frame, before signing well over a hundred books and staggering off for a late dinner in a nearby Italian.

The lights of San Francisco seemed like a dream seen through nearly shut eyes as they drifted past once more on the drive home.

Tonight another drive south, not quite so far this time. Stopping at Berkeley for an at-home evening at the house of book critic and editor of Mystery Readers International, Janet Rudolph.

I seem permanently tired, but never able to sleep at the right times. Maybe I’ll get the chance to catch a few winks during the 8-hour drive south on Thursday to Newport Beach - as long as I’m not behind the wheel at the time!

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