Dana in Muni-Land

So for those who followed my adventures yesterday with the bag lady shopping cart, the skanky pseudo professor who reeked of alcohol and injured my shin, and my general bad attitude, I am happy to write I had a better day today. It started out much like yesterday at work (as in, I must KILL someone or explode…), but slowly improved through a combination of yoga breathing exercises and my sense of humor. I think my night of relaxation and Dark Shadows movie helped too. Reading all the comments on the post certainly brightened up my day, as did reading everyone else’s (I’ve decided Marvin is quite happily one of the zaniest fellows I’ve ever ‘met’ and am delighted to have made his acquaintance via this blog challenge). So many good tips, interesting articles, great links and overall fun reading material!

By the time I left work, I was in good humor and looking forward to a game of Muni Roulette. Muni Roulette has very simple rules: whatever train comes along first is the one I take and I have to figure out a way to walk home from one of the stops along the route. Today my destination was actually West Portal where I was meeting Dave at 6pm for our Thursday wine tasting at Wine Styles. I wanted as hilly a route as possible (I’m feeling as plump as a force fed piglet these days). I didn’t have my bag lady shopping cart and I DID have my walking shoes (yes, I am one of THOSE women who will put on tennis shoes and socks with my work clothes. Today’s socks were black with the skeletal structure of the feet and shins on ’em) and a new paperback book to read as I walked. I had two hours to get to West Portal. The possibilities were, if not infinite, certainly varied.

The first train was a J. This was doable. I could take it to Noe Valley, wander up into the hills and do the hike up Clipper (at the foot of the hill is a sign warning trucks to use a low grade – steep hill ahead!) and down Portola. It was only a one car train, but without the cart and the crowds of yesterday, it shouldn’t be a problem. As I started to board the train, someone brushed me and boarded ahead of me.

Yes, folks, it was Skanky Professor Man, wearing the same clothes as he’d had on yesterday and still clutching a plastic bottle full of unidentified liquid. Gah!! I jumped back from the door and decided the gods of Muni Roulette would forgive me if I waited for the next train. I had no desire to have my good mood shattered by the sight, smell or sounds of another crazy Muni rat. Especially not one who’d already pissed me off enough to inspire violent daydreams. Not a good thing.

So I took an L train and jumped off at the Castro Street station on Market. I walked up 17th to Stanyan, down Stanyan to Parnassus, from there to 8th Street and then up into this amazing little hilly neighborhood with winding streets and houses that inspire the imagination. Very little of this route is flat and it took me an hour and a half to reach West Portal. During the walk I made friends with an Irish Setter named Maggie (a fine name for an Irish dog) who thought I was more interesting than her owner. I ended up going on a little detour up a hill to keep Maggie from running down into a trafficky area. I was glad I did; I stumbled on this little side street with a series of old stone staircases. One led down onto another curving street and another led up, lined by trees. If you stood at the bottom of this staircase, you could see an old weathered stone house covered with moss through the trees, like something out of a gothic novel. Shades of Dark Shadows and Collinswood! I plan on going back with a camera. I will be using the location in one of my books.  It’s the sort of place you just KNOW holds the magic wardrobe or portal to another time and place.

I love walking in this town. You see things you don’t see when you drive and discover little pockets of the past side by side with the present. I get ideas for my writing all the time…and have started using them instead of going ‘oh, yeah, that’s cool’ and forgetting about it.

Come visit me one of these days. I’d love to give you a walking tour of my favorite parts of San Francisco!

Will Write for WIne

Every Thursday Dave and I go to the Wine Styles in West Portal for a wine tasting.  We’ve been going ever since the store opened a year or so ago because the owners, James and Gail a: are really nice, b: have great senses of humor (they’ve seen COLD COMFORT FARM and have ‘seen something nasty in the woodshed’) and c: there is good wine to be tasted.  What’s not to like? 

Last night Mark, our favorite wine rep, was doing the pouring.  He had two sparkling wines and four reds (two syrahs and two pinot noirs).  The reds were all from wine maker Jim Walker, who was also there along with Mike (didn’t get his last name), He Who Grows the Grapes.  Mark asked me how the book sales were going and this sparked a conversation with JIm and Mike about my writing and more specifically, my murder mystery Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon.  Long story short, I ended up trading a signed copy of my book for a signed bottle of Orentano pinot noir (well out of our budget) and while I don’t think either side ended up with a bad bargain, I’m feeling mighty chuffed that someone would want to give me a lovely bottle of wine for something I wrote.  I guess it’s the same as being willing to shell out money for either the book or the wine, but they were so jazzed over the book and asked so many questions about it, it just made me feel awfully special!  It was a great boost for my ego and my incentive to keep writing.  It had the additional benefit of leaving the budget open to purchasing another of the reds, a yummy Fieldsa syrah, which was an amazing wine for a very inexpensive price. 

It also underlines points made by other August Blog Challenge participants on how it’s possible to market one’s book just about anywhere.  Heck, I didn’t even have to bring it up.  I think it helped that I had an equally genuine interest in the wine (and not just from a tasting standpoint – wine is one of my passions) and I don’t have much of an ego when it comes to my writing.  I’m not shy about it, but I’m always surprised and pleased when someone wants to take about it and takes the time to ask me questions or visit my website.  And it also gave me a great idea for my third MFH mystery…  All good things! 

Happy Friday, all!