on the gad

there are no good questions

In coffee on September 6, 2018 at 1:12 pm

it was hot as hades in new york. we ducked into moma. for culture. for air conditioning. and for soy cappuccinos. we stopped by a help desk for directions and advice but the woman was ‘not in’. she had heard it all and no longer cared. having worked in customer service in one form or another my whole life i recognized the look in her eyes: there are no good questions.


i had been summoned across the land because kirya was taking me to court for not having a phone. judge john hodgman presiding. if you know how much i hate talking on phones and how far i will go to avoid it you can imagine how out of my element i was on a freaking podcast. it meant the world to me that the judge was as kind as he is funny. which is very. you can have a listen here: http://maximumfun.org/judge-john-hodgman/judge-john-hodgman-episode-380-dont-call-next-witness.

i am happy to report that working the counter at a bakery for these last two and a half years has not ruined hanging out in coffee shops for me. cherry on top is quality time spent with daughter. my daughter lets me follow her around the city like an imprinting baby duck. i am a little embarrassed that my new old-age dairy intolerance leads me to ask for vegan options. so obnoxious. but maybe we made up for it later when we went out for jamaican curried goat. and cocktails of course.




my brother in law lives less than a dozen blocks from me but the joke is that it is only when i (and my people) am moving about the planet that we bump into each other. so of course we are both boarding the same homeward bound plane in newark. he goes first because he is more fancy (just medium-fancy, he insists). as he rushes off his suitcase slips out of his hand and crashes to the floor. if i had an iphone i could have shared that on instagram. i am planning on going to an art museum downtown today like i am classy or something. if i had an iphone you could be sure my cardamom coffee and goodie would end up on instagram.



photos courtesy of kirya yvonne traber


In coffee on October 24, 2016 at 2:57 pm

we hear the train whistles blow every day here. last week i followed my sister onto a night train bound for oregon. we hurtled through a night and a day with a voice from above cajoling, teasing, admonishing, and cuddly ishmael in the aisles herding passengers and maintaining order. on the menu: lost souls, odd pairings, and kind strangers. travis shared the last breakfast croissant with me and raphael from switzerland approved of my plans to retire to zurich.



wanda planned the trip, made all the travel arrangements, and brought me a peppermint striped umbrella. and packed my raincoat. it rained a lot in salem. every day. never travel without a grownup. the plan for our three days there was no plans. other than finding gus, the last baby, and sharing meals. coffee dates too. the very best goodie i had was jean’s oatmeal cookies. jean runs a b&b enthusiastically just a few blocks from gus’s college. she enjoyed the challenge of working around all of our dietary peculiarities. in between guests, jean can be found climbing mountains on her bicycle.





gus is lovely. so lovely to be able to picture him in his new natural habitat now. lovely hugs. he was lovely when we lingered a day longer than the other parents. i attempted imitating his lovely posture and stride and have sore muscles for my trouble. we discovered lovely restaurants, museum, bookstore, and vintage antique store. i don’t want to talk about the apple pie. the stream running through the college has ducks.





trip began and ended with the love & support of eldest brother and eldest daughter chauffeuring and fetching us. also wanda and i have grown accustomed to being fed lavishly. i hear a train hooting across town right this very minute.



berkeley’s under $5 lunches

In before afternoon coffee on November 10, 2015 at 5:12 pm

these days i occasionally play at restaurant reviewer and have to endure lovely solicitous folk taking exceptional good care of me while i dine on mighty fine food. in contrast, in the bright light of day, i can be found bustering around town nosing out very cheap lunches to nosh on. i have accumulated a few scrummy favorites.


Fournée Bakery  • 2912 Domingo Avenue • open daily

Ham & Manchego Croissant

the very best croissants in town with plentiful sweet and savory choices. ham is sourced from niman ranch. i always bring an apple and sometimes some greenery to stuff inside my croissant sandwich. the perfect reward for having climbed to the top of berkeley for a two-mile run around the neighboring track. sun basking also available in their courtyard.



Arizmendi Bakery & Pizzeria • 4301 San Pablo Avenue • open daily

Pizza Slice

toppings vary (goat cheese, spinach, roasted peppers, etc.) but always a tasteful combination and supported by the oh-so satisfying fresh organic sourdough crust. your pizza will comfort and restore while you recover from the long bicycle ride through bleak neighborhoods. or you could choose arizmendi’s sister location in north berkeley’s ‘gourmet ghetto’.



The Cheese Board Collective • 1504 Shattuck Avenue • open monday thru saturday

Seeded Roll with cheese

some of our favorite lunch spots have been around since we were kids. the cheese board has been in business since 1971. even without plans to spend your afternoon frolicking with swiss goats, a fresh baked hearty bread with a slab of (your choice) cheese will fill you up and lift your spirits. perhaps the two small boys milling about your knees discussing fine cheeses experiences and favorites will help you choose between a drunken goat and a soft teleme. did you bring an apple?

price varies


Juice Bar Collective • 2114 Vine Street • open monday thru saturday

Polenta Pizza

around the corner, we have another open since the seventies collective in its same teeny-tiny space emitting big bold aroma. prices have climbed here, like everywhere, but their polenta pizza, with parmesan & garlic mixed into the crust and topped with house-made marinara sauce, cheeses & veggies, is an affordable good choice. just the right amount of whole olives too.



Top Dog • 2534 Durant Avenue • open daily


since 1966, this no-preservatives pork/veal bockwurst has been my go-to comfort food. more recently i have been importing my own raw cultured caraway sauerkraut to crowd dainty dog on toasted bun. durant is the original site, with nearby fountains on campus to sit at while you picnic, but top dog on center street downtown is another option. parklet coming soon.



Koja Kitchen • 2395 Telegraph Avenue • open daily

Chicken Koja

while you are on the avenue, and since you were thrifty and saved your pennies, i recommend this korean & japanese fusion fare. korean barbecued chicken on a crispy garlic rice bun with pineapple, sesame vinaigrette, lettuce, red sauce, and sesame seeds. also fun to follow their food trucks around and in & out of town.



Elmwood Cafe • 2900 College Avenue • open daily

Soup of the Day

not just a lovely coffee served in latte bowls and fresh baked goodies destination. the elmwood cafe has an extensive and wholesome breakfast and/or lunch menu. i found the cup of soup met my budget. mushroom barley soup served with acme baguette. i could have asked for butter but i ate it up too quick.



Sweet Adeline Bakeshop • 3350 Adeline Street • open daily


the second choice of quiche will vary from day to day but ham & swiss spinach is always on the menu. and there is nothing wrong with that.