Readers, it has been a crazy month. Between my French houseguests, business trips, and a much-needed vacation, I have been too distracted to write much of anything. I’ve been so busy of late that I’m actually thrilled to be home doing laundry and cleaning the apartment this weekend. Of course, catching up on reading and blogging is also on the agenda.

Highlights over the last few weeks include:

The French extravaganza at the San Francisco Symphony. I bought tickets for this mainly to see Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the piano—he didn’t disappoint, nor did Stéphane Denève at the podium. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this whole program despite John Marcher causing me to obsess over the cellists’ timing in the second half. Apparently, that wasn’t the only thing he was observing that day. I’m shocked his write-up fails to mention the man next to us who was buckling up his pants when we arrived at our seats (no, I don’t know why, nor do I want to really).

Alcatraz! I’ve been a bit obsessed by Alcatraz since childhood, mostly due to repeat viewings of Escape from Alcatraz on television. In fact, the prison was my white whale for some time, from my last-minute visit to California with family (in the dark ages before Internet reservations) to my first trips to San Francisco, when La Belle Chantal and I seemed doomed in our efforts to get there. While I finally did take the tour, I actually haven’t been to the island since moving here, so I took advantage of the excuse of houseguests to go. In preparation, we watched The Rock, which, according to Guillaume, is a Michael Bay classic. (Make of that what you will; at least it doesn’t star Jerry Lewis.) In any case, the Alcatraz audio tour is very well done, and the prison is worth the trip even if you don’t have a Clint Eastwood obsession. At the very least, you get a boat ride across the bay and a magnificent view of the city.

Don Quixote at the San Francisco Ballet. I will be writing this up momentarily as it really deserves its own post. (Actually, I backdated this post as part of my tech testing.) Suffice it to say that, while the music is a bit of a snooze, and the Don Quixote bits are irrelevant, this ballet more than makes up for the fact by having some gorgeous stand-out roles for women.

Visiting Maker’s Mark. You know what they say, home is where the bourbon is. I ask you, is there a better way to spend Derby weekend than touring a bourbon distillery? I think not. What I didn’t know is that the tour would be so interesting. My sister is now convinced that all school subjects can be taught through bourbon-making: chemistry, physics, history, economics, etc. While I’m not sure that everyone would applaud such a move, she may be right. Check it out next time you are in Kentucky.

Eating in Charleston. I do declare, there is some mighty fine food in the Lowcountry. From the Glass Onion’s fried green tomatoes on the outskirts of town, to the Hominy Grill’s shrimp and grits, to Sean Brock’s experiments in molecular gastronomy at McCrady’s, we had some great meals at the end of our trip. Of course, nothing beats my aunt’s shrimp curry, pecan pie, and fresh vegetables out of my uncle’s garden.

Shooting a gun.* Yes, you read that right. It took me by surprise too. But, really, what else would one do while visiting a southern congressman? Talk politics? Then the guns might really come out.

*No animals (or humans) were harmed in the making of this Sly Wit first. And not just because I’m a horrific shot. I don’t plan on taking up hunting anytime soon.