Sunday, January 1, 2012

Palace Hotel

This was the first year Mabel Watson Payne joined in the ritual New Year's Day brunch at the Palace Hotel on Market Street downtown in San Francisco.

The Garden Court took its present form in 1909 when the hotel was restored after the '06 Earthquake. The space was a carriage entrance when the building originally went up in 1875.

Mabel Watson Payne began the exciting work of exploring her grandmother's new bag while standing in line with the big people and waiting for the kind lady to lead the way.

Grownups left the table in shifts to enter a vast, rather indescribably opulent buffet in another room. Most of the pictures below were taken when my daughter and I were on our own with Mabel, and the camera was less in the way.

A mother and daughter New Year's toast in milk and orange juice.

The one toy chosen to come along on this trip was a baby owl. It belongs to an owl family I made as a Christmas present for my granddaughter. My daughter gave me an owl kit that came from the Tate and instructed me to make the figures into little dolls instead of the hand-puppets and finger-puppets the kit declared them to be. Mabel is very fond of saying the word owl.

There is no grownup not grateful for all opportunities to spend time with this baby, her grandmother and her father included.

Toward the end I escorted her into the buffet room. There she got interested in some large-scale seasonal figures. They appreciated being singled out for notice instead of being treated merely as vague decorative background.

And we ended by admiring a pair of gigantic nutcrackers standing guard at the archway. Buttons are one of Mabel's many current interests, and the buttons on the nutcracker's uniform were admirably three-dimensional.