Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Flora in a time of drought.

Lantana, lavender, yarrow...butterfly paradise.

This lovely garden was put in by a water-conscious client of my brother. The client was telling us that the county offers a monetary rebate for those residents who take out their lawns and replace them with drought-resistant plants. I can't recall the dollar amount she received, but I should think it covered the costs of planting this abundance.

It must be noted that of my bro's many clients, this one actually tends her own garden. Nicely done.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Weekend visit with old friends.

It was really sunny outside.

We ladies in the photo all met back in '89 in California. This picture* was taken at a back garden gathering in honor of T. who was recently in town from London. I think the only reason we all do get together, at this point, is because of T., to be honest. Although we don't see each other regularly, we do seem to fall right back into place when we are together. The conversation flowed and lots of laughs were had. What more could one want?

The next day, the same group plus a few more folk met in Golden Gate Park to skate on eight! I may have been the only adult to have a pair of 'old school' wheels. Most of the others wore inline skates. I was too busy skating to even think of taking pictures. I think someone took a video, but I haven't seen it yet.

Post-skate, post-dinner pic.

The whole weekend was action-packed & filled with familiar, friendly faces. I was reminded of how social I once was & how much I miss it, to be frank. It was certainly easier to get together back when we were 'twenty-somethings' then it is now. Pre-proper jobs, pre-families we hardly needed an excuse. House parties back in the 90s were a particular favorite past-time. -don't miss the hangovers tho'.

I have an upcoming opportunity to learn the game of Bridge from a friendly retiree who lives in the vicinity. She's currently 'polling' those of us who are interested to see what days would work best. I'm keen to join in & I hope to both get the hang of the game & meet some nice women to boot!

*That's me with the crooked teeth up front.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eight wheels good.

Back in the 80s, when roller rinks were still en vogue, my friends and I skated away our weekend nights. We'd show up to the rink in our teenie-bopper uniform: tight tops and jeans, hair feathered to the max, eyelids marked with pink and grey eye shadow, and a dab of Jovan musk behind the ear.

The music of the day was rock. We skated to the likes of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc. I think Ozzy was actually reserved for ladies' fast skate where we girls would skate like mad around the rink either until the song was over or we rolled off the floor.

I recall once my middle school hosted a skate party at our local rink, Valle Vista, in Hayward, CA. A friend and I were photographed that year for the school year book. My feathered hair was a little bit droopy that day, but I was rocking a lavender London Fog jacket and a jersey with an image of a unicorn on the front, so I was feeling pretty cool. Alas, Valle Vista closed in 2003 & a fire gutted the building in 2008. The year book from '82 is also gone, so there is no photographic evidence to back my assertion of how fly I looked. Instead, I offer you the 2017 version of that girl still skate crazy, if however, a little less suave on wheels.

Already looking rather forlorn...
Me, lacing up for a quick skate around Old Oakland
Remains of Valle Vista

I bought the skates in the photo in Bayswater, London at a joint called London Skate Centre about four years ago. There was a local skating event at a bar (yes, alcohol & skates were a bad combo, thanks for asking) that I had wanted to attend, so with the help of Yelp I found the skate shop. Since 2013, I've worn these skates a total of five times. The last two skate outings took place in Golden Gate Park.

The Church of 8 Wheels, a local skate organization offering roller boogie nights at a church here in town, also puts on a wee spread Sundays in the park. A gaggle of us joined in a few weeks back. I was thrilled to be skating again & in such nice surroundings as the park. There was a sound system playing funky tunes, a host of costumed participants, and those of us in 'civilian' gear. Both inline and quad skaters were welcome. It was a joyous scene, to be sure.

Valle Vista, skate rink extraordinaire of yore, used to host skating competitions. This clip shows the beauty of quad skating. Of course, then as now, I could barely do a fourth of what this young girl was capable of. I'm lucky if I can still skate backwards in a straight line, but darn it, I'm going to keep at it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017



-picked up this lithograph at a charity shop somewhat recently for $45.00. The price felt laughably low, but I'm not complaining. After I took Ora home, I did a little research on the artist. Irving Amen was born in NYC in 1918. He lived a long and productive life, having only died some five years ago. Amen studied and traveled in Europe in the mid-twentieth century. He also taught at the Pratt Institute in Manhattan in the 1960s. He was a master of painting, printmaking, & sculpture.

I've checked out Amen's woodcut art online and it's superlative. I doubt I'll ever run across any of it at the local charity shops. Who spots a unicorn twice? I'll just count my blessings with the lovely Ora.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Windows and visitors

This sweet kitty was keeping me company while I washed windows. She was especially keen to hang around when I opened the windows in order to clean the sills. I had one arm blocking her hasty escape attempts & the other arm stuck out the window in order to clean the muck off. The novelty wore thin fairly quickly.

We cleaned the one-room guest house which I saw was reserved for the, I'm assuming, 'revolving door' au pair who lives there. The children had their own individualized welcome mats at their back bedroom doors. Even the pet had a mat. But the au pair? Nah. Too many must come through.

We have had house guests here from London for the past week. -an old uni friend, her wife & their son. It was great to have them. I even managed to find a box of Tetley tea at a somewhat local market to give them a taste of home. PG Tips are easy to come by, but they don't fancy that brand. Fair enough, I prefer Tetley as well.

I ferried the Londoners up to Twin Peaks for the grand view of SF. I don't think they realized how great the view was going to be. I sort of had to convince my friend to go, her wife was keen for whatever. They all seemed duly impressed once we were up atop the peaks.

Partial view from atop Twin Peaks

The wide boulevard bisecting downtown and beyond is Market St. At its base is the Ferry Building(2). One can sort of make out a sliver of it way off in the background. Market extends up toward Twin Peaks, but the main portion of the commercial bit ends at Eureka Valley aka The Castro. 

Other points of possible interest are: the San Francisco Mint(1), the western span of the Bay Bridge(3), and the somewhat obscured Transamerica building(4).

The mint no longer produces coins for general circulation, but instead focuses on producing commemorative sets. -wonder if they were also responsible for producing this monstrosity? 

Philly Mint coins

The image of the Transamerica Pyramid, or as I called it when I was a child, the 'upside-down ice-cream cone', was used by beloved local writer, Herb Caen, in his column header. Herb's header would look a wee bit different today what with all the massive skyscrapers now being built downtown. The Transamerica probably wouldn't even rate, sadly. 

-had a laugh at the column snippet below. Keane's paintings, whatever one thinks of them, were painted by the wife, as we now know. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017


We were met by the most charming dog, George, at a job yesterday in Hillsborough. He stood at the gate to greet us, but didn't seem to really care about us so much as what we had extending from our feet: shadows. Head bent forward, he would move toward any bit of activity along the pavement. George had the softest coat & he would immediately collapse onto his side for maximum petting potential almost every time any of us would give him a scratch. Here he is after a cuddle from me--

Aside from the odd cuddle & chasing shadows, George really likes to nap. He makes a sweet picture, but I was really struck by his little sleeping partner. Do any of you recognize the lamb? Maybe I should say Lambchop?

I hadn't seen Lambchop for years and there she was sans Shari in a doggie bed! My brother tells me that Lambchop is now sold at pet stores. I guess she could be considered a chew-toy. Who woulda thunk it? From beloved side kick of Shari Lewis from the golden age of American television (and, for me, the golden age of re-runs some 15 to 20 years later) to hanging out with the family dog. -not a bad gig if one could hang out with a pooch as sweet as George.

Shari and Lambchop

Monday, June 26, 2017

Priced out.

The stories came in the space of a week. First, it was the nurse who took my blood pressure. Then, it was the window washer guy from the temp agency. Finally, it was a friend from my bartending days.

The nurse had been living in her Daly City rental home for eight years. She'd been told by her landlord that his wife was newly expecting and they needed a larger space, her rental. He and his family were going to move in & she needed to relocate. She'd asked if she could move after her children finished out the school year in a few months' time. He responded with a 'yes' and a rental increase of $300. monthly for the duration. She decided to move as soon as she could. She now lives in a distant city, turning her daily commute to San Francisco into an hour drive.

The window washer lives with his sister and her family in San Jose. They recently received a $700. monthly rental increase, so they decided to move. I didn't think such a rent hike was even lawful. Maybe it isn't, but these folk don't have it in them to fight. They've found a smaller, slightly cheaper place further out of town.

The friend had been living in her place for 15 years. When she moved to this area of Oakland, it was still considered slightly dangerous. I would have characterized her 'hood as dilapidated, largely residential & drab. You'd go over for a visit, park your car out front of her building and hope it wouldn't be broken into. Start-ups moved into her area about 7 years ago. Her neighborhood gentrified in fairly short order. Rents increased. Warehouse spaces became luxury condo complexes. A few years back, a restaurant serving fancy mac-n-cheese opened up across the street. As she put it me, 'a millennial couple' (or was it 'fucking millennials'?) bought her 4-unit building & told her she had one month to move. They'd be moving into her flat. She burst out crying when they levied the boom. The girl millennial had the decency to look somewhat pained at her tears.

Mind you, her flat is a tiny junior one-bedroom & fairly run-down. Given the hands-off approach of the last landlord, I expect that all the units are pretty shabby. Why they chose hers is a wonder. She's not even the tenant who's lived there the longest. In any case, she's no legal recourse. She found an apartment some eighty miles away in Sacramento. She commutes to work back in Oakland.

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