Saturday, 4 September 2010

Settling in Again

A view across the bay at random from my beautiful walk along Spruce St to Campus
The first couple of weeks in Berkeley has almost become routine on our third trip here - the trips to the supermarkets, Berkeley Bowl and Monterrey Markets; getting used to the house; re-acquainting with friends; establishing a timetable of when Barry is teaching, when I have my exercise classes and choir rehearsals and Tertulias; booking tickets for the Opera, concerts and theatres...and there are welcome functions for various of Barry's academic connections.  There is always a party at Margaret and Irv's, where we meet up with the new and continuing Latin American history students and staff.  Talk about a baby boom - I don't remember anyone being pregnant last year, but this Sunday there were two new babies (8 and 11 weeks old) and another one is due at the end of September (and Irv's daughter was not there, but is due in 2 weeks also).  So I spent a bit of time holding babies and talking about them, getting in training for my own impending grand-motherhood, due to begin in January.  I asked about what was the age at which the young women in Berkeley are having babies, and was told there is a mini-trend of giving birth while still in grad school and before getting on the tenure track, rather than deferring ever longer for career reasons.
One of my favourite houses I pass on the way to campus.

The other party to launch the academic year is the CLAS (Center for Latin American Studies) event, and this time rather than having it in the confines of the CLAS building, an old house just off campus, it was held in the Grand Hall at the Bancroft Hotel. This Hall, maybe a bit less grand than the Hall at International House where we attended the meeting for International Scholars and spouses a week or so back, similarly makes me think of Harry Potter - real Hogwart's style of great halls with vaulted ceilings and lots of dark timber and some stained glass. I guess they were built in the first part of the Twentieth Century, so I don't know exactly why they remind me of Hogwarts, but I half expected the sorting cap or Fawkes the Phoenix to come flying about. We ran into Javiera, the Chilean grad student who had an apartment in the converted garage of the house we rented in Walnut Street last year.  We shared a few meals with her and some of her friends last year, and got to know her quite well.  She was pleased to tell us (well, mostly Barry I guess)  about her revised thesis topic, and that she's off to Chile to do her field work in a month or so. Plus we caught up many of the academics and grad students we have got to know over the past couple of years,  and of course a few new and interesting people, many of whom seem to have originated from the East Coast, like so many Berkeley academics and professionals.

 "The girls" at Betsy's house for lunch last December
It is only a few days now before I head off to the East Coast for the Jewish Holidays. I am trying to catch up with lots of people before I go. Luckily there is a choir get-together just before I leave.  I have a Scrabble game booked with Laurie and Dana, two of the altos, and last week had lunch with the little tribe Betsy drove to the Y exercise classes last year. (In photo from left: MD, Betsy, Sonya, Nancy). I saw a lot of Sonya last week but as they are entertaining a nephew from New York this week,  haven't spent time with her and Philip this week. They'll be off on some local travel and then to Canada with Sonya's sisters and will be away when I get back, but we still have time later in the year.

I have done  a bit of clothes shopping this year, though I am not sure what I will take East with me. The 10-day weather forecasts seem to indicate it will be hot this year, rendering the choice of Synagogue-appropriate clothes I have with me a bit problematic. And just this evening Garrett brought over his old car (he just bought a new Prius) which we will be borrowing for the rest of our stay here - now I have to get used to driving a manual car again, a skill which is a bit rusty but will come back, I am sure- certainly I will get lots of practice at handbrake starts driving in the Berkeley Hills!

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