Saturday, December 31, 2005

the yuck awards

I have a very mature and professional rating system
for movies that I don't like. I just write "yuck" next
to the title. With books I simply return them to the
shelf, because we have a book loan program that
is now, and always has been, the best part of working
in a bookstore. I don't even list the books that I
return, but with movies I feel I need to keep a record.

So here are a few yucky movies from 2005:

I Heart the Huckabees
Ocean's 12
U.S. of Leland
Lila Said

And now I wish everyone a fine New Year. It has
to be easier on more people than 2005 was. My
favorite day of work is tomorrow ~ I go in a 6am
and work customer-free until 11am. Heaven.

Friday, December 30, 2005

our tough city birds

When I worked down by Fisherman's Wharf, the Wild
Parrots would fly over (squawking loudly) every day
about 3:30 in the afternoon. They would land in a big
tree that was exactly the same color as their feathers
and then they'd fly off about 20 minutes later. Often
the fly-over was the highlight of my day.

Tonight we watched
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph
and it was even better than I expected. And we
even got to see the flock that lives down here in the
Mission, in the palm trees on Dolores. Beautiful scenes
of our bird-friendly city, too. Rent or buy it now!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

me and my silent flip

Today I deposited my old cell phone at the Verizon®
store on Market Street. They have a big bin there and
a program they call HopeLine® wherein they recycle
old phones and give them to women who have suffered
and (we hope) escaped from abusive relationships.

My new phone is half the size of the old one, but the
buttons are larger and it's easier to use. I've been a
happy Verizon customer for about 8 years and when
I read that this company is rated #1 for mobile
phones, it's no surprise to me. Of course I still haven't
memorized my cell phone number and if anyone ever
called me I'd be utterly shocked. So don't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

some small movie treasures

This morning I'll list five lesser known films from
the Flix®, which is really where they shine. We all know
movies like
Hotel Rwanda and Born Into Brothels are
worth seeing, but these are older, little jewel films that
you might have missed. Again, in no particular order:

Bread & Tulips ~ an Italian film about a woman who
runs away from home.
Mostly Martha ~ Sarah the Chefnik agrees that this
German film about a restaurant chef is authentic.
Dark Days ~ recommended by Jen. A documentary
about some homeless people in NYC. Sad/sweet.
Vera Drake ~ a realistic look at how abortions are
done if they aren't legal. (No lectures, move on M.A.)
In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry
~ wait until you see how this janitor-by-day
created a whole fantasy world in his "real" life.

(Oh, I have to mention
Walk on Water and My Summer
of Love
here too. So that's a quick seven.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

lists on top of lists

I keep a list of the books I read and the movies we
rent from Netflix®. My book reading is shameful and
I need to increase that activity in 2006. I am
surrounded by books and book people, so I have no
excuse for not reading more.

Here are the five books I most enjoyed last year
and in no particular order:

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson ~ my rare
sci fi read. Wonderfully strong main woman character.
Gilead by Marilyn Robinson ~ elderly preacher looks
back on his life. Try
Housekeeping, too. Same author.
Refuge by Terri Williams ~ an older nonfiction book
about the environment and author's growth.
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Four people meet
when on roof top New Year's Eve pre-suicide jump.
The Sea by John Banville. Glorious writing and winner
of the Man Booker Award.

Well, now I know why I keep lists. That was a beneficial
exercise for me. Tomorrow ~ my movie BESTS.

Monday, December 26, 2005

dressing down

I had to be at work at 5m this morning to set up the
after xmas sale, so I broke all the rules and wore
blue jeans and felt comfortable all day. It was busy
once again, but the Great Plotnik and his mother,
Rose, came in to visit and to buy some audio tapes.
I heard "there's Mrs. Mushnik" while I was helping
at the registers and that cheered me immensely.
Mother Plotnik (she doesn't like that name) is indeed
a beauty, but I expected that.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

grey, wet and quiet

05xmas walk
Originally uploaded by the omster.
San Francisco on Christmas is unlike our city any other day of the year. No traffic, no horns honking, plenty of parking (free) downtown and all muffled in an unreal way, like we're wrapped in a soft grey gauze. And today the fog horns. We could hear them all over the city. I love that gentle moo-like sound.

My friend Michael and I had breakfast at the Cafe de la Presse (Sutter and Grant) and then walked down here near Crissy Field. I wanted to take my 843rd photo of the Golden Gate Bridge, but today we couldn't even see it. The fog/rain was pretty heavy, but we had a pleasant time and it's hard to believe that today was
our 6th Annual Christmas Day Walk.

All in all, another excellent day.

finally ~ a day off

So after all the retail season was successful. Big sales and
happy upper management. Exhausted workers. I'm in front
of my morning fire which is a splurge because it's really
not cold here in Bernal Heights. Still feeling a bit sensitive
to people and sounds, but delighted that things will be
back to normal soon.

Holiday good wishes and love to all my friends: bloggers,
readers and even (gulp) customers.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

and now Lucky's on board

Take a look at the newest link over here to the right
and thank you Michael for your highest technical help.
This blog is lovely. Baby Girl is named for Lucca's
Deli and that's how it should be. The momma is my
sweet writer friend, such talent. Enjoy.

one more day

How I'd like to amuse you with little retail tidbits or
perhaps some angry barbs. But I have turned into a
mean machine that works on the registers and makes
excuses for being out of books and looks at my watch
and eats too much chocolate during the day. This
is not what our ancestors had in mind when they
escaped to this country seeking freedom.

Tomorrow is a quiet fire, a beach walk with my friend
Michael and dinner in Kennsington with our middle son
and his wife. Simple. Perfect. That keeps me going....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

under destruction

Two more days to endure in Retail Hell. Everyone is on
each other's nerves and I don't think I'll be able to
write much unless some miracle occurs. I feel not
one iota of word play or even a hint of creativity,
so I will go to bed and dream of all the situations I
could have handled better today.

If that man with the umbrella (wet) comes in again
tomorrow and leaves it on the books I might have to
resort to physical violence. Loathsome man. If the
obstreperous woman bothers Jon G. about the broken
book light one more time, it will be lights out for her.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

bake at 325º for ten days

Over the years I have trained myself to look for the
unusual "city thing" when I walk. A sight one would not
see in San Leandro or Abilene, Kansas. Yesterday it
was an easy winner and so delightful that I had to
return for another look-see, even if it meant a few
rain drops on my head.

There is a used appliance store at Bryant and Cesar
Chavez (nee Army) and it does a brisk business. In the
front window is a stove without a door. Inside the oven,
on a small red rug, is a manger scene! There are tiny
multicolored lights framing the oven, and two too
large angels guarding the wise men and the Jesus
family. The first time I walked by I did a "what the?"
and wished that I had brought my camera. Then I
decided it would be a good exercise to describe this
little treasure for you here on commano.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

a 3 kleenex® morning

I couldn't sleep in this morning, even though I've been
looking forward to doing so for 5 difficult get-up at
4am(s) in a row, so for the first time in my life I
watched a movie before the murk of dawn. I
borrowed "the murk of dawn" from John Banville's
The Sea, by the way. This book is so beautiful that
I can only read about two pages before I put it down
to say, "oh my lord". Or whatever. It is well worth the
$23.00 price tag, even if you have to sell something
really valuable, like the parking space in front of your home.

Anyway, I watched
Saint Ralph this morning. I can't
remember where I read about it, or if someone told me
to rent it, but it was delightful. Tears and small smiles
and a nice way to ease into this day. About a boy kid in
the 50's who runs the Boston Marathon. And more.

Monday, December 19, 2005

according to carrie

Now here's an interesting article in today's Chron.
that I can actually paste for you. I'm thinking of maybe
a Great Plotnik apron or a calendar for next year. (It's
a little longer than my usual post, but I bet one or two
of you will get some good ideas.)

The headline:
Many bloggers are experimenting with
selling merchandise

By Carrie Kirby
Chronicle Staff Writer

Katy Barzedor of Flint, Mich., had no trouble choosing a 2006 calendar for her office wall. She happily paid $15.99 for one featuring 12 photos of Chuck, a mixed-breed dog that lives in Salt Lake City.
"It makes me a little disturbed to want that, but I'm just a huge fan of Chuck," said the 40-year-old systems administrator. She got to know the dog -- whose full name is Former Congressman Henry Buck Chucklesworth -- through the blogs of his owners, Heather and Jon Armstrong.
The transaction is symbolic of a trend sweeping the blogosphere: As more and more bloggers look to their Web sites to supplement or replace their regular income, they are experimenting with selling merchandise. While advertising is still the leading revenue source for most bloggers, many find they can leverage their popularity by selling T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars and books.
John Aravosis, publisher of, said T-shirt sales generated a third of his site's income this month, thanks to holiday shoppers. Aravosis, who stopped working as a political consultant to concentrate on his blog in early 2005, normally gets about a fifth of his income from merchandise, with ads and donations taking care of the rest.
Americablog is a liberal political blog that's very critical of the Bush administration, and its products reflect that slant. People are snapping up T-shirts featuring Karl Rove's face and the slogan, "Treason's Greetings," in Christmas red or Hanukkah blue, said Aravosis, who lives in Washington, D.C.
Aravosis and Heather Armstrong, publisher of
, are both among the top 100 bloggers on the Internet, according to Technorati, which ranks sites by the number of other sites linked to them. But even lesser-known bloggers have found -- to their surprise and delight -- that they are able to leverage modest popularity for supplemental income.
Margaret Mason, a freelance writer and editor in San Francisco, said she started selling T-shirts on her blog,, to fund the purchase of a digital camera. On Mighty Girl, Mason publishes often humorous snippets from her daily life, such as conversations with friends, things she overhears on the street and excerpts from things she's reading.
"Now I've become addicted to the micro-income," she said. She estimates that she has made a few thousand dollars selling hundreds of shirts in the past two years.
Eden Marriott Kennedy, who writes about her life as a parent in the Santa Barbara area at, said she has been making $600 to $700 a month selling shirts, enough to pay her son's preschool tuition. Her first batch carried the phrase, "Writing well is the best revenge," while her most recent design says simply, "Fussy."
Barzedor said that when she proudly showed off her new dog calendar at work, she got a lot of head shaking from people who just didn't get it. But experts say that it's no surprise that people want to buy products that promote their favorite blogs.
"People have worn entertainment brands for a long time," said Robert Kozinets, a professor of marketing at Toronto's York University. "I don't think it's any more surprising than if someone wears their favorite TV show on their shirt. They're saying, 'This is something I think is cool, and I want people to ask me about it.' "
It seems that some bloggers have developed fan bases rivaling those of television and movie stars, in dedication if not in number. And like television audiences, blog readers have the feeling that they have real relationships with the bloggers they read every day, said Keith Campbell, a University of Georgia psychology professor.
"This is part of that reality TV thing. It's kind of voyeuristic," said Campbell, who studies narcissism.
Heather Armstrong, whose Web site income is supporting not just her but also her husband and their toddler, acknowledged that people buy the dog calendar because "they feel like Chuck is part of their own family."
"Some people think it sounds creepy, but it doesn't to me, because I'm sharing my life with people around the world," she said. Armstrong has written about such intimate topics as her hospitalization for post-partum depression and every family member's bowel movements, including the dog.
Readers have actually been clamoring for merchandise featuring photos from the Web site, Armstrong said. However, the calendar project has not been a big financial success, with about 250 unit sales at $3 profit each. That's not much when you take into account that Armstrong's Web site gets viewed about 3 million times a month. She increased the number of ads on the site recently after Jon Armstrong quit his job, and now the ad revenue pays as much as his salary used to, she said.
"This is all in the experimental stage right now," she said.
The fact that readers feel that they know bloggers also drives them to be concerned about their well-being, which also drives sales.
"People who read blogs want to support the people who are giving them free content," said Peter Freedman, a spokesman for Raleigh, N.C.'s Lulu, one of the production-on-demand companies that helps bloggers make and sell products. "Buying merchandise and donating to virtual tip jars are common ways people support creators they like and admire."
Companies like Lulu are partially responsible for this trend, because they make it possible for anyone to design and sell a T-shirt, calendar or other merchandise with no up-front investment and very little hassle. Another such company, Foster City's Cafe Press, said it has seen the number of bloggers using its services double since 2004.
Using such services, anyone can upload art or text for printing on merchandise, then offer the product for sale. The fulfillment company sets the minimum price, which it keeps. The seller determines the markup, which she keeps.
One blogger, Jennifer Laycock of Sunbury, Ohio, recently set out to demonstrate how just about anyone can start with nothing and turn a profit within 30 days, using a fulfillment company. Laycock, who works as the editor of Web site Search Engine Guide, decided to open a blog and Cafe Press shop selling shirts that promote breastfeeding and breast milk banking. She'd been pumping and donating some of her milk to a bank for babies in need since her daughter was born last year.
Now, several weeks into the experiment, Laycock has earned $200, which she will donate to her local milk bank. She's chronicling her efforts at
Those who skip the fulfillment company and mail out items on their own get to pocket more profit. But it's hard-earned, said Mason.
"Fulfillment is so monotonous it makes my eyes glaze over," she said. "People are used to getting things almost immediately when they order online. When they order something and it doesn't come within three or four days, some people freak out. They don't realize that it's just me, hunkered down in my bedroom closet with a shelf of shirts, a Sharpie, and a box of envelopes."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

and yet another book list

The good Doctor (J) gave me this list from the 12/23
Entertainment Weekly. Stephen King's 2005 picks
are interesting, especially his #1 and I'll discuss
that in a minute. He lists them from 10 to 1, so
I'll do the same:

The Godfather Returns by Mark Winegardner
The Mad Cook of Pymatuning by Christopher
Drama City by George Pelecanos
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
Harry Potter & the Half Blood by J.K. Rowling
4. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Saturday by Ian McEwan
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
    (not published until April, 2006)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I've been reading this
Case Histories and stopped
because it seemed a little too violent and pointless
to me. But King says, "not just the best novel I read
this year, but the best mystery of the decade. There
are actually
four mysteries, nesting like Russian
dolls, and when they begin to fit together, I defy
any reader not to feel a combination of delight and
Case Histories is the literary equivalent
of a triple axel. I read it once for pleasure and then
again to see how it was done."

So I'll bring it up from the garage resell pile and give
it another chance. I often don't read far enough into
a book to get hooked. It took me quite a few pages
Middlesex for instance, but it was well worth the
initial struggle.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

nocomma blogger calmer

xmas 05
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I know, you've been looking forward to seeing this tree. So different from all other trees. I couldn't find the pink angel, so I put a bright cerise doll that someone brought me from South America, on the top. And I should have done something with the picture, like crop it and maybe fiddle around with some dial or other so the tree looks green (it is) instead of an odd fuzzy white. Next year I'll buy a couple more light strings too.

I plug the lights in/on the first thing in the morning, even before I put the coffee water on to boil. Despite the cold, I open the drapes because I think maybe I can add a little cheer to someone driving or walking by.

Today, though even busier, was much easier for me and I learned once again that my attitude affects people around me. When I am a snarl ass the customer senses it and when I feel mellow, I can diffuse almost every situation.

I completely forget all that, however, when I'm "in a mood".

Friday, December 16, 2005

la frantica

That was the nickname I gave a boss at one time many
years ago. It was in retail, of course, and it was this
terrible time of year. She took everything waaaaaay
too seriously and I was thinking of her today because
I was getting to that dangerous state of high anxiety
myself. I don't like me when I get this way and I start
spinning my wheels and making mistakes and getting
all caught up in this craziness.

So now I'm sitting quietly beside the Christmas tree
in front of the fire, reading e-mails and watching
the Polar Express. Multi-relaxing. I'm also working on
my resolve to handle things better tomorrow. I
won't let anyone push my irritation buttons and I
will remember that this madness will be over in
a few short days and life will get back to normal.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

a giftee from e.e.

Yesterday we bought, lugged upstairs and
decorated our tree. The nice man at the tree lot
said he felt that it was going to a good home
and that made me think of this delightful poem.

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see    i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid

look     the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy

and then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

e.e. cummings

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

it's still retail!

I was interested in the article (written by Adair Lara)
in today's Chronicle on the Goodwill Stores in SF. I wish
I could remember how to link it here, but I can't, so
I'll do a quick recap. Basically, the Goodwill stores are
getting very smart, finally, and selling stuff on eBay
themselves, rather than losing the high profit. Of
course the customers who used to seek out great
buys, so they could reap the rewards, are pretty pissed.
And that is a lot of people, is seems.

They are also merchandising their products better
and paying more attention to customer service. They
put tables and chairs near the used books, "just like
Borders". The front window displays are current and
themed and I say, more power to 'em.

Salvation Army, Goodwill and the Community Thrift store
on Valencia add so much to our life here in The City.
They train people, recycle goods, offer shopping
fun and hope. Once when we were very poor, the only
stores we dared browse in were second hand stores.
We remain loyal customers even though we are not
officially poor people anymore.

The least I can do is link you to the Chron. Then just
type in "Goodwill" to find the excellent article.
SF Gate: News and Information for the San Francisco Bay Area

the lazy way out

This morning I'm just going to post a joke from my
friend Leah in New York. We had lunch together last
February during our trip to see The Gates. More on
that trip at a later date.


Crawford, Texas ~ a tragic flood destroyed the
personal library of President George W. Bush. The flood
began in the presidential bathroom where both of the
books were kept. Both of his books have been lost.
A presidential spokesman said that the president was
devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the
second one. The White House tried to call FEMA, but
there was no answer.

Monday, December 12, 2005

chuck and kiki

Today I had a little change of pace because I visited
the museum, mainly to see the Chuck Close exhibit.
SFMOMA | Exhibitions | Exhibition Overview: Chuck Close
It was especially delightful to walk into our MOMA
where it wasn't crowded and I could get up as close
or as far away from his work as I wanted to. At the
end I watched some of the video and was impressed
to see him painting from his wheelchair. So interesting
to see him change and age over the last 40 years
and his work is amazing because only recently has he
started using color.

I didn't want to be late from my slightly extended
lunch hour, but I did drop in to see some of Kiki
Smith's work and found it to be disturbing. Some of
the images will be difficult to whisk broom out of
my mind, so maybe they just need to remain there.
SFMOMA | Exhibitions | Exhibition Overview: Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980-2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

the man booker prize

Today I brought home The Sea, a small novel that
won the Man Booker this year. The author is John
Banville from Ireland. Of all the book awards and
prizes, this is the one I pay the most attention to.
With one or two exceptions, these are the best of
the best books every year. I'll report on this one
in a few days.

If you'd like to know more, I recommend:
Powell's Books - Award Winners - The Man Booker Prize

Saturday, December 10, 2005

25 years, imagine

strawberry fields
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Every time we go to Central Park I take a photo of the John Lennon Memorial at West
72nd Street. How impressive that so many fans of all ages congregated here last week to mourn his death 25 years ago. It doesn't seem possible, of course, that so many years have passed without him. His music, his voice lives on.

Friday, December 09, 2005

world weary

Too many people to deal with in one day, plus I have
that extra touchiness because I was up too late with
the Tiapos writers. It was a lovely evening in front of
the fireplace, but we missed our Jane. Maybe someday
Karen H., Martha and Eric will return too. Thanks
to Sarah the Chefnik for bringing all that food and
Will for the pizza, Dougo the chocolates. Will's new
nickname is "Ten of All Trades" because he isn't
much of a handyman. Hahaha, good one!

Tomorrow will be wall-to-wall customers with totally
unbelievable questions, so I'll probably be in bed
at 8pm tonight. I was a little too close to the edge
today and that really doesn't work for anyone.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

walkie talkie talk

Things are heating up now and here's a sampling of
the constant retail jabber on our walkie talkies:

Kevin: Mary Ann, are you in the store?
M.A.: No, I'm across the street at Saks.
Kev: In the lingerie department?
Craig: Who has phone 373?
Craig: Who has phone 373?
Felix: We need someone to gift wrap
M.A: Where are those damn gift wrappers?
Lisa: I'm completely out of ones
Ryan: Here's a customer who wants 200 Streetwise SF maps
M.A.: Sounds like a corporate customer, call Terri
Craig: Has someone logged out of phone 373?
John: Why can't I find "1776"?
Pam: Are we still out of "March of the Penguins"?
Linda: Can I take my 10 minute break?
Kev: Who wrote that book about the two young women in rural China?
and on, and on...add much nauseum
What a pleasure to remove that thing from my ear and trudge
down Powell Street to BART at the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

pondering pain

I'm having a cup of green tea now to jump start my
brain. That and typing here in ol' commano should
help me reach some conclusions. Maybe.

There is a short story in the 11/14 New Yorker by
Paul Theroux and he tells of the absolute worst year
of his life. Title:
The Best Year of My Life. Here is
the passage that I marked with my pen:

This whole plot - the beginning, the middle, and the
end - had been lived before by others, but I had had
to live through it myself to understand it, to know
that agony can be an analgesic, that the memory of
pain can itself be a painkiller. That year made the
rest of my life easier.

Now I remember once again my worst year. When
I was in college and my father died. I did not think
I would survive that, and yet I did. Subsequent
deaths have not been quite as horrible and I do
believe that his death taught me how to live my
life. It never occurred to me until that awful year
that I had even a drop of inner strength. I do.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

xmas lite

I spent the morning writing little notes and sending even
smaller Am Ex gift certificates to the children. I do not
miss the buying, wrapping and sending of presents. It
is perfectly calm and delightful not to struggle with the
xmas cards. So far no guilt.

We hope to send a sizable check to the Red Cross this
year with the money we are not spending on gifts in the
wrong size and unacceptable (to the recipient) color.
I repeat the phrase in each note, "we have so much".
We all have so much.

Sunday night was the final
Curb Your Enthusiasm and it
was filled with "let's watch that again" details. Larry
David is a comic genius ~ watching him go to/fro Bisby,
Arizona on the plane was worth the HB0 monthly charge,
but there was so much more. Finally we meet his mother
and I won't say anymore because some people have
not seen this yet. It's all we are talking about at work
and surely makes the whole difficult scene there so
much more tolerable. "I have a SYSTEM", we say and
laugh uproariously.

Monday, December 05, 2005

do you know maxine?

I'm too tired to write tonight, so I'll type one of
my favorite poems by Maxine Kumin from her book
Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief. I don't know
why I love it so much since it's sort of depressing,
but I do.

How It Is

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you've come to visit, he's ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay Street Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.

I think of the last day of your life,
old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
it together in a different collage,
back from the death car idling in the garage,
back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
into a ceremony of sandwich,
running the home movie backward to a space
we could be easy in, a kitchen place
with vodka and ice, our words like living meat.

Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

sunday morning thoughts

It's so cold (for the West Coast) this morning that I turned
on the oven and opened the door when I made coffee. Our
back room has a huge plate glass window and we keep that
door closed and hunch in front of the fireplace in the living
room during winter months. But I find a million little reasons
to keep going into the freezer just so I can check on my
city. Scattered lights on Potrero Hill to the right, downtown
all lit up with even more sparklers than usual, Twin Peaks
with those distinct almost-mountains to the left. Not even
a wisp of fog or a cloud this morning glorious. But cold.

The holidays are heating up and The Season is officially here.
I'm mentally exhausted from too much customer contact
and trying to keep my irritation in check. People close to
hysteria because they can't find exactly what they want
at a discount, of course. I understand that, on one level,
but on another I want to give them the toast/tragedy
lecture and piss them off even more.

Downtown streets are over flowing with red and green bags
Santa hats, sweaters with snow men and trees, strollers and
always the cars. Cars, taxis, trucks and buses ~ all honking
at once in blocked intersections. When customers call for
directions from say, the East Bay, I give advice, "please,
take do not want to drive here". Do they listen?

I return with a second cup of coffee and the calendar.
Three weeks from today is a Day Off. A rare Sunday off
for me, the Christmas celebration for many. Sanity
will return for retail workers the world over.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

cracking good crab

crab season
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Lucky you, the dining room table again! Almost like our lives are centered around food, isn't it?

Note the SF Chronicle table cloth. This is part of the tradition. You toss the crab shells on the newspaper and wrap them up after the meal. They will start to smell ghastly after about an hour, so we freeze them until garbage day. (I know you wanted to know that.)

The first time I had cracked crab was on the back deck at Neti and Frank's house in Twin Peaks. It was one of those very special warm/clear winter days and I had just returned from a "break up". We had been living in New York and I returned alone to my friends in Frisco. Neti and I devoured cracked crab in the sunshine, drank gallons of white wine and solved my problem, as best we could.

Need I mention that sour dough bread is an absolute necessity here?

This was decades ago, but it is one of those strange memories that stay right in the top of my head. When it's crab season again, I think of that day and as trite as it sounds, it must have just been last week.(A salute to friendship.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

the 10 best books of 2005?

Thanks to Bruce Almighty bla bla bla for this list from
the New York Times:
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
The Assassins Gate by George Packer
De Kooning by Mark Stevens & Annalyn Swan
The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Postwar by Tony Judt
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Thursday, December 01, 2005

quads on wheels

This morning I want to recommend Murderball, a film
you can now rent on DVD. It's the unlikely story of
quadriplegics who play this violent game of some
sort of rugby, but of course that's not the real story.
Spend an hour and a half being inspired by these men
and their families and friends. I will misquote something
I heard the other day (Chekhov?) on radio: "there are
tragedies and then there is burnt toast". Mostly I've had
the toast trouble in my life, but once in a while I treated
it like the disaster that it wasn't.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

you come first

I didn't post anything yesterday, so I will write to
commano first, with my coffee. I usually don't have
a fire on Wednesday, but it's so cold this morning
that I am splurging. Also, it's conducive to reflection,
don't you find?

Mostly I read emails,
The Lighthouse and the Chron.
yesterday. I burned some CDs, so that used up most
of my technical knowledge and produced just enough
frustration to remind me that the computer always
wins. I tried to take a short cut and that never works.

The highlight of the day was coffee with the Great
Plotnik and Mistress Jane at XO. We discussed many
things, but one in particular left me stewing on my
walk back home. Stewing in a good way.

To me, a book isn't really a book until it's between
two covers. Online is admirable, but it's just a step to
becoming an authentic book. One you can hold and
loan to friends, pick up and quote from, use as a
coffee coaster and eventually give to Goodwill for
others to enjoy. Savor, that's the word. We can't
do that with online books.

Today to yoga, lunch with my friend Evie and then
prepare for five more days in our retail wonderland.

Monday, November 28, 2005

can you hear the registers ringing?

union square sf
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Yes, this looks much like last year's disaster of a xmas card, but this photo was shot this morning a little before 6:00 and the tree and all the lights are truly something to behold.

"A perpetual holiday is a good working
definition of hell", according to George
Bernard Shaw. One of my co-workers said he started to get excited about the holidays what with the lights and the Christmas music and all. "I've been duped again", he snorted with disgust.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

did you say 85?

I've loved mystery stories since reading Nancy Drew
as a child. In my own personal and totally unbiased
opinion, I believe that women write the best mysteries,
maybe because we like to solve problems, or maybe
because we are just so damn smart.

My favorite mystery writer is Elizabeth George, but I also
love Amanda Cross and P.D. James. I just started
that arrived in store last Tuesday and is
written by Ms. James. I am amazed to learn that she
is 85 years old. Here ~ from the very first page:

He liked Conistone, who was one of the few eccentrics
remaining in an increasingly conformist and politicized
service. Conistone had acquired a reputation for crisis
management. This was partly founded on his belief that
there was no emergency that was not amenable to
precedent or departmental regulations but, when these
orthodoxies failed, he could reveal a dangerous capacity
for imaginative initiatives which, by any bureaucratic
logic, deserved to end in disaster but never did.

You can see that P.D. James is no lightweight here in
The Lighthouse. I'm in for a treat in front of the fireplace.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

just say no to cards & cats

My dear friend Kristin persuaded me not to send
Christmas cards this year because it stresses me out
too much and last year was the worst. If you were
lucky enough to get one from us, it featured a photo
of the tree in Union Square. Then most likely there
was a blob of glue somewhere on the red paper.
It was an awful experience and I agree that I need
a break from this tradition.

Of course I will feel some guilt when we receive xmas
cards, but I'm planning on writing individual notes to
everyone in January, when life is easier. Right.

My boss said that the SPCA has filled some windows
at Macy's with kittens who could be adopted. I will
avoid that side of the street this year because I
fall in love too easily.

Friday, November 25, 2005

black friday

after 11.24.05
Originally uploaded by the omster.
This is the first of many difficult days until Dec. 25th ~ be nice to all retail clerks everywhere, even the ones you want to hit. So far no major "issues" for me, but that won't last forever.

Here is the table after the v. successful turkey dinner. We did get the dishes done, but now I need to put things away and shrink the dining room table down to its normal size. We ran out of stuffing and the pie crusts were less than perfect, but the guests were delightful and witty and wise. Every year the turkey seems to taste better and do try Trader Joe's cranberry sauce.
I also recommend flowers from the Flower Mart on Brannan and candles from Big Lot's (tres chic) on Mission Street.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

setting the stage

Originally uploaded by the omster.
One of the things I learned long ago is that if the table is beautiful and the house smells good, one can make a few small mistakes when entertaining,and no one will remember. I am looking forward to this afternoon and know that everyone will have an excellent time. Memories of past Thanksgivings blend with today and I'm feeling nostalgic and (oh, okay) thankful.

I was out walking at 8am and it was so still and peaceful. Only a few people out with their dogs and then, BANG (!) a gun shot less than a block away. And outside, so I dashed home to safety and will probably try to walk after lunch.
There is some sort of lesson here, but I don't want to think about it right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the grateful heart

general heart
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I try to walk every day and it's easier if I have a destination. Once a month I gather all our magazines (we get a lot of freebies here...long story, boring story) and drag them to the Rehabilitation Office of the Psych. Ward on the 7th Floor of SF General. You can see this heart out in front. This, by the way, is where my friend Mary works and sometimes we'll have
coffee at the St. Francis Ice Cream Shoppe on 24th Street.

It breaks my heart to see the people in wheel chairs in their hospital gowns with tubes coming out of their arms. Usually they are smoking outside the main entrance, but today they were basking in the sun.(Bruce Almighty is one of the few people who knows the word Tropism, by the way. You might want to look it up.) How awful to be at SF General on Thanksgiving.

This morning I listened to poetry and baked a pumpkin pie. NOT a good idea as I kept turning off the mixer so I could hear the words. Words come first, everyone knows that.

One day I will write about Potrero Hill, but I need to think about it. We have a history. But, for NYC Karen, we always have a cesar salad and pasta at Aperto at "our" table in the back left hand corner. If it is occupied, we go elsewhere. Privacy comes first, everyone knows that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

steinbeck's advice

I'm starting to believe that all writers love giving advice
on how to write because it's so much easier than actually
sitting down and writing. Here is what John Steinbeck
told Fred Allen when the latter was stuck trying to write
his autobiography:

Don't start by trying to make the book chronological.
Just take a period. Then try to remember it so clearly
that you can see things: what colors and how warm or
cold and how you got there. Then try to remember
people. And then just tell what happened. It is important
to tell what people looked like, how they walked, what
they wore, what they ate. Put it all in. Don't try to
organize it. And put in all the details you can remember.
You will find that in a very short time things will begin
coming back to you, things you thought you had forgotten.
Do it for very short periods at first, but kind of think of it
when you aren't doing it. Don't think back over what you
have done. Don't think of literary form. Let it get out as
it wants to. Over tell it in the matter of detail - cutting
comes later. The form will develop in the telling.

That's my post for today ~ ever so much easier than
writing about my 8am walk at Ocean Beach in this
glorious sunny summer weather. Or lunch at Aperto
on Potrero Hill and walking to Farley's, which happens
to be Karen NYC's favorite coffee shop and hangout.

Monday, November 21, 2005

thankful indeed

Monday of Thanksgiving Week and I will have 3 days off
in a row.  I really love this holiday because we have a
few friends (and friendly family members) over for a
luscious dinner at 4pm on Thursday. There will be 7 or
8 of us and by now we have the preparation work down
to an almost-exact science.  Rita will bring her cauliflower
and rice dish, Neti "something green" and John and
Kathy the red wine. We soak the Willie Bird in brine
a day before we stuff, serve and photograph him. I
will bake a couple of pies and splurge on flowers for the
occasion. I'll be relaxed and ready to face the rough
5 retail weeks before Dec. 25th. (Of course, I'll be
tense as a tick by 9am on Black Friday, but so it goes.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

writers and substance-abusers

This is a daily write of mine from April of 2003.


I recommend Stephen King’s book entitled On Writing. It is really a memoir, and he is very honest in this book. I don’t like all of his writing, but once in a while a gem will appear - a short story in the New Yorker, the Shawshank Redemption or the Green Mile series, come to mind. Some of King’s horror stories are too far out for me. However he does say that the character Annie, who holds him captive in Misery, is really alcohol, and he really was in misery.


Stephen King’s wife had to arrange an intervention to get him to stop drinking. She cleaned out his office that was filled with bottles. cans and cocaine paraphernalia. He drank Scope mouthwash after consuming a case of 16 oz. tallboys every night. She told him that if he didn’t go into rehab, he would have to leave the house. That she and the children did not want to watch while he committed suicide.

He has not had a drink or any drugs for more than twelve years. It was hard for him to learn to write sober, but he kept working on his craft and after a while the joy of writing took over. His natural talent returned, but he was prepared to stop writing entirely if he couldn’t write without his mind-altering substances. Stephen King does not mince any words when writing about his problems with alcohol and drugs.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

direct from cooperstown

baseball as america
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Yesterday we took BART to the Oakland Museum to see the Baseball as America exhibit. We stood in a short line for tickets and the people in front of us gave us some guest passes, so that was a fine start! The exhibition is quite professional and easier to view and enjoy than Cooperstown (in my opinion). My favorite part was seeing Jackie Robinson's #42 uniform along side a letter from then Senator John F. Kennedy wishing him the best. There was also a small poorly written hate letter and we know Jackie received many of those.

Then we walked a few short blocks to the bustling Chinatown that has grown tremendously since we were last there 5 or 6 years ago. We had lunch some place where we were the only non-Asians and as result had something different than we thought we ordered. But that's OK, it's all good.

It's in Oakland through Jan. 22nd - then on to nine more cities on this four year tour.

Friday, November 18, 2005

cutting, pasting = amazing

I spent my productive morning hours yesterday going
through all my daily writes from the end of 2002 to
currently. I keep them in three 3-ring notebooks and
also (of course) on my computer. I'm still someone
who likes to read words on paper, despite my blog
addiction. One of the main themes in my writing is
the whole work situation and for some reason, people
love the inside scoop of the retail world.

Imagine my surprise to discover that I have more than
70 pieces! I decided to divide them up by years, so
last night I took 27 pages to Tiapos ~ mostly from
2003, with a couple from 2002.  I asked the generous
writers to read and help me and gave them each a
fat stack of this hodge podge of scribbling. I do not
want them to feel pressured or obligated, however.

I already see some topics emerging for the end product:
   1) the customer
   2) the staff
   3) the joys and sorrows of managing people and
        change in the workplace

My dear Dancing Jen also offered to help me with this
big mess of a clump of writing.

One of the benefits of daily writing is being able to go
back to an incident after a few years and remember
exactly how I felt at the time. For instance, I forgot
about Dr. J and the football pool ~ that was fun.
Some staff members have moved on and I was able
to recall a few of their (ahem) qualities.

For your information, 27 pages equals 11,000 plus words.

Thanks to Jane and her Writing Salon for making all
of this possible for me. 
Writing Salon Mistress Muses

Thursday, November 17, 2005

apples abound

apples at de young
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Isn't this a lovely group of apples in the
sculpture garden at the de Young?

elizabeth bishop

Karen in NYC One Foot Out the Door writes about this
fine poet and it is as good a time as any to blog
this poem of hers that I have saved forever. The
interesting thing is that every time I read this, it
means more to me. Perhaps because I keep losing
people and now I too have lost a city (New Orleans).


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something everyday. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther; losing faster:
places and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (
Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop (1911 - 1979)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

our food centered life

In San Francisco, new restaurants and old favorites are
always on our minds. I sometimes wonder about people who
live in these desolate small towns with only one "good"
restaurant and a grimy little coffee shop to choose from.
When we travel, we remark on how unprofessional the
service is outside of big cities, not to mention the limited
food choices. We keep restaurant lists and clip out
reviews and talk/think food. Doesn't everyone?

Monday night the Plotniks treated us to the thinnest and
probably best pizza we've ever eaten. Yes, I did have
pizza as an appetizer and an entree. Yes, I'm glad I did
that. My husband did the same. A warm and friendly
little restaurant called
Pazzia over on 3rd Street. (We
parked right in front, free, by the way at 7pm) It was
a very SF kind of evening, even though it felt like the
heart of Italy inside. ***** (5 stars)

Last night was The Big Splurge down at the Cliff House.
We could see the bright orange sunset as we drove
down Geary with our close friends from forever: Neti
and Frank. White tablecloth dining, but not stuffy or
pretentious. When Frank asked for a menu, the waiter
gave him mine, which amused us all. Truly superb
food which is often not the case (I'm preaching to the
choir here, I realize) in a restaurant with such an
amazing ocean view. Lovely evening and topped off
by about the best full moon ever in the almost-tropical
and unusually warm and clear SF night. ***** (5 again)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a poem to start the day

This is from my Tiapos writing friend:

            --for Andy Goldsworthy

To find hidden things you have to rap at the right doors,
get up at four and pace the frozen shore, stick
pieces of icicle to each other in a little meandering
xylophone of crystal that accidentally catches
the cold rays of the rising sun and turns them gold–

a miracle to share with your frozen breath, a few gulls,
intrepid mussels, and a gallery of imperturbable rocks
soon to be immersed in the winter tides.

Or walk the land for days listening to the trees, letting
your boot soles talk to the dirt, weighing the wisdom
of stones, then envision a wall to snake like a river
old as time through trees standing still as stone.

Let the wall eddy and pirouette up hill, then dive
into the pond by the road, let it emerge on the
other side like a new thought after a deep sleep.

Will Walker

Monday, November 14, 2005

bank deposits needed

My sleep bank is overdrawn and I'm taking two extra
days this week to make some zzzzzzzz deposits
before the happy holidays crush me. That means I
can stay up and play after Tiapos Thursday night
and I can see Kristin and her 2 year old RR, get my
flu shot, finally do the retail compilation piece (and
thank you dear Jen for reminding me about that)
and read all the daily writes that I said I was going
to keep up with from Jane's Round Robin class. I
didn't keep up ~ I'll pay the price.

But mostly I want to sleep in past 4am and get some
cat naps in the afternoons. On Thursday I do have to
go to a manager lunch at work and since I'm there I
myswell check my e-mails, but nothing too strenuous.
No customer contact.

Tonight is dinner with the Great Plotnik and his Lovely
Ducknik and I'll report on that tomorrow. But now,
a little pre-dinner snooze.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

no intermission

Tonight we saw The Hopper Collection at the Magic
Theatre out at Fort Mason. The curtain time was 7pm
(which I love) and we were on our way home shortly
after 8:30. But the play? Extremely interesting with
only 4 characters, some biting dialog and an unusual
plot. Yes, I recommend it ~ I'm a huge fan of small
theatre and complicated emotional relationships.
On the stage that is, not in my own life. Too exhausting.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

one fine graph

I like this paragraph from Veronica by Mary Gaitskill.
This takes place when the heroine (Alison) is a
teenager living in San Francisco back in the 70's. friend Lilet and I would meet in a coffee shop
to count our money and have pie or fries. Then
we'd take a late bus to Golden Gate Park and get
high. At night, the park was thick with the smell
of flowers and pot, wrapped in darkness and smells,
hidden, so you could find it only if you knew the
right way in. People sat in clumps or flitted in and
out of the trees with night joy in their faces,
sporting hot-colored hair dye and wearing zebra
prints and pointy-toed boots. Sometimes I'd meet
a boy and we'd  walk so far up in the hills, we could
see the ocean. We'd look up and see the fog race
in across in the sky, then look down and see the
trees, houses, knots of electric lights. I'd feel like
an animal on a pinnacle, ready to leap. We'd kiss
and put our hands down each other's pants.

Friday, November 11, 2005

veteran's day today

It was crowded downtown today ~ lots of people walking
with big stuffed bags and the traffic was horrible. I
took BART, of course, even though it was free parking
in SF. I like my 5:35am BART train with all the young
Hispanic guys in black and white chef pants and a few
workers in overalls carrying their canvas tool bags.
There aren't many executives on this train. I gave $1
to one of the homeless men who says "good morning"
every day and he was surprised and it is easy to feel
better in this city, just by making someone's day a
little easier. Maybe. I followed a young man up Powell
Street and he was smoking a joint, I inhaled deeply and
wondered if I couldn't get a little high...but I didn't.

The woman who wrote
Reading Lolita in Tehran was in
and we had a nice chat and liked each other immediately.
She signed 15 of her 500 books. Then ex-Mayor Willie
Brown bought a few books and when he left he waved
and loudly said, "good-bye everyone", almost like from
the back of a train.  He surely dresses beautifully, but
we already knew that. All in all, an OK Veteran's Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

22 a day

This week I am doing the Round Robin compilation
for Jane's class. That means every day I get 22
emails ~ all 10 minute daily writes and mostly
surprisingly good. Better than good, in most cases.
Some are worthy of publication just as they are.

Since I did this once before, I started out on the
right foot by setting up files and reading each piece
on the same day it comes in. Doing the cutting and
pasting on a daily basis, not at the end of the week
when the whole thing becomes tsunami-like.

There are quite a few gems. The best prompt was the
first one:
YOU ARE COMMITTED. Some funny guy
was talking to himself about being committed to the
whole writing process and admonishing himself for
procrastinating. He ended by saying something like,
"get to work, you malingering fuck".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


...please make that bronze-colored COPPER in the
post below. We culture vultures get overwhelmed.

serenity at the de young

de young garden
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I should have cropped this photo, but if you click on it, you can check out the de Young as you first walk outside. That top thing is part of the bronze overhang from the building. There are a few really fine sculpture pieces out doors here, and I'm always surprised to see trees changing color here in SF. I did NOT hear the mechanical bird screeching used to scare away pigeons. Squab.

The new museum is misleading because it looks small and squat from the outside, but inside it is very open and spacious. Check out the Piazzoni Mural Room and the photography upstairs. There is an aerial photo dated May, 1906 ~ called the Ruination of San Francisco. And,as with our Modern, it has that "drop in and see a few things" feel that I love.

I have a co-worker who also works at the de Young and I discovered him having his coffee break in the beautiful garden. That was an add-on that I didn't expect.
Oh, it's not crowded anymore...go visit!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

tuesdays with fireplace

Last winter I discovered a secret to sanity and happiness
for me. My days off on Tuesdays used to be spent doing all
those necessary errands and not getting enough "me time"
in ~ not sitting, not thinking nor reading, seldom writing.

Now it's almost 6am and the fire in our tiny fireplace is
semi-roaring and it smells delightful. It is cold, rainy and
grey outside and my husband is still sleeping. I have read
and answered 3 e-mails and have a few more to write.

Then I will read. I brought home
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
and of course the
Chronicle is here. Also two New Yorkers
and the
Costco Connection. At some point I will bring in
my mostly-fruit breakfast to eat by the fire. I will stay in
my ugly sweats until my husband suggests we go out to
lunch and then my divine fireplace morning is over until
next week. I am such a lucky woman.

Monday, November 07, 2005

now here's a good idea...

Thanks to my friend Joan (aka Hoan) in Santa Barbara
for giving me the blog post this evening...

Best of the reported protest signs seen at the recent
anti- war demonstration in Washington, D.C.:


Sunday, November 06, 2005

walking, talking, helping

Today we started using walkie talkies at work for the first
time. I was afraid it would be difficult, since there was
some resistance and because I'm not so good with gadgets
that feature wires and knobs, but it worked out just fine.
In fact, I really like them. The biggest benefit is that we don't
page each other anymore, so the store seems quieter.
Also it helps when looking for something ~ just ask and some
kind person will probably say, "I have it here, over in the
corner of the 3rd floor, next to the elevator."

My friend Jane is learning to ask for help because this week she
heads into chemo land. I am sending my agnostic prayers
(thanks Kristin for that always-perfect phrase) her way.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

not TOO cute, thank goodness

I usually try to avoid movies with cute children in them,
but we just saw two in a row which I enthusiastically
Dear Frankie
2) Millions
Available now at Netflix®. Bring Kleenex®.

Friday, November 04, 2005

born to blog

(this is the little piece I took to my writing group last
writer friends suggested that I post it and that works for me as
I can not think of one interesting thing to talk about today.)

Such an ugly word for such a magnificent phenomenon. Blog, blogger,
blogged ~ no way to make that sound enticing. Maybe, like everything
else in the computer world, this process will transform and mutate and
we'll look back and say, "remember when we used to think it was
so cool to BLOG?" And we'll laugh, the way we do now when we
remember how fun and confusing those first emails were.

My blog is already 6 months old. I try to write everyday because I
learned in my writing classes that there is no choice.  A writer writes even
when her ass is falling off. What the blog does for me, is to keep me
always focused on writing. It might be a line or two, it might be
four really long poorly written paragraphs. Or maybe it's just a photo
and two sentences. But I  can say before I fall asleep, "well, I
blogged today". My working life is so hectic and intense that I am
now able to tune out the insanity and switch my mind over to my
interior life and consider what I might post next. Maybe I can even
nab a small thought or observation from my work day and use it
in the blog.

There is great fulfillment in seeing my words "in print". Of course I'm
never really thrilled with what I write, but I did it and it's out there and
people are reading it. "I love your blog", people say to me. Who knew
that those four words could keep me smiling for an entire day?

When I started blogging, I never considered the organizational, record-keeping
part of the whole thing. It's an online diary and I can easily search to find
which restaurant we liked so much back in July. And as our friend Karen
in NYC says, the blog is an online community of writers. We support
each other and make loving comments on each others' blogs.  Of course
I'm hooked on blog-reading too and there are about five that I must read every
day, without fail.

And did I mention that it's F-R-E-E ?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

we gather together

Tonight is Tiapos, our writing group. We are meeting
at Jane's and promptly at 7pm I will herd everyone
together and remind them for the 18 billionth time
that I have to get up at 4am for work. I think we will
be complete tonight, except for Karen, who has that
one foot out the door in NYC.

We know I love the writing group ~ I will never forget
when Jane asked me to join. I couldn't believe it.
Did I cry? Oh, yes, probably. Since then I have
laughed hysterically and cried uncontrollably ~ all
in the same 3 hour time period.

Tonight I'm taking coconut ice cream from Mitchell's.
We all need a treat, especially dear Jane who heads
into chemo a week from today.

I will be tired tomorrow, but it will be worth it.
Kristin calls it my Tiapos Hangover.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

the love affair continues

golden gate
Originally uploaded by the omster.
This photo was actually taken by my oldest stepson last February, so I need to give credit where it is due. The
first time I crossed this bridge I was a little girl and we were on a family trip. Did I fall in love then? I know I wrote about the bridge in that tortured 6 year old child printing.

The next time I visited I was in my last year of college and a friend had moved
to Berkeley. We had drinks at the Claremont Hotel one very clear night and I lost my heart forever. The lights. The hills of this beautiful city and the endless possibilites...I didn't know then that I could never and would never want to live anywhere else.

On Monday night, driving over Portola to Twin Peaks, the view was so spectacular that I felt like I was seeing my city for the first time ever. All those jewel cliches came to mind, but I'll spare you here. I've made a ton of mistakes in my life, but choosing this city was NOT one of them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

highly technical tuesday

OK, this is especially for the Great Plotnik and NYC Karen
who has one foot out the door:


1) go to the Blogger dashboard and select your blog
2) click the settings tab
3) click email
4) add a secret code to your user name in order to
    create the special email address to which you will
    mail your blog entries
5) if you want entries to be published at once, click
    the publish box. If you want them saved, leave
    it blank.
6) click save settings to record your new mail-to-blog
7) when you send an email to the address you created
    the subject line becomes the title (no shit!)
8) the body of the email becomes the blog entry.
TRY IT, you can always delete it from the dashboard.
(I really should be working in Silicon Valley)

Monday, October 31, 2005

halloween in the city

Every year it gets more difficult to know who is in
costume and who is just expressing themself.
We are so accepting here in San Francisco, most
of us, that is. I am fascinated by the contact
lenses in different colors ~ today someone had
pale blue cat eye contacts. Scary. Of course
I should have brought my camera...and didn't.

Tonight we are going to a friend's home for dinner.
They live in Twin Peaks and to get from here
(Bernal Heights) to there entails much greater
planning than this so-called President gave to the
whole mess in Iraq. Many streets are closed for
the big celebration in the Castro, and that's the
way we normally go. So, over Clipper to Portola
and don't run over any children or crazies, or
combination thereof.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

a new book, a new blog!

Our writing group friend Karen has her own most
delightful blog now and again I will ask Michael
if he will link it over here on the right for me.
(After he finishes his homework.) I love hearing
about her life in NYC, even to the smallest detail
like how much the taxi cost. And I want to touch
and read her book and say "it's beautiful" while
I well up and fumble for my Kleenex®. So here,
check it out:
One Foot Out the Door

Kristin alerts me that I have coach and couch
confused in The Dead poem by Billy Collins and
I will fix that on my days off. It's not easy to
make corrections on my blog because I email
my posts in. I do this because it feels more like
I'm just writing to a friend and I don't fuss around
with commas and semicolons and sentence
construction. Or, perhaps you already noticed?

Ginger from Santa Barbara was here for a
wedding dinner and I was able to see her twice
and show her just a little bit of my city. She took the
muni, bought tons of soap at Lush and we had
lunch at John's Grill where she used to go with
her husband. I just loved having her visit me and
now I have to check to see if I said soap or soup.

Oh, hahahahaha, Ginger said her hotel was at
Sutter and Goo. Goo? She had to spell it for
me: G-O-U-G-H. "Good times" as we say in an
extremely sarcastic manner at work, but in this
case I mean it exactly as stated.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

isn't it just plain fun?

How nice to see the bad guys getting their
comeuppance this time. Good ol' Scooter Libby
had a little problem telling the truth and
now we can only hope that Rove and maybe
even Cheney will be judged and found
guilty too. And don't we love the very low
approval rating for Dubya lately? Seems
like people across America are wising up.

Friday, October 28, 2005

for my friend Jon G.

...whose mother died three days ago.
I always find this poem soothing, I hope
you do too.

The Dead

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass-bottom boats of
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a coach,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a warm afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them.

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.
Billy Collins

Thursday, October 27, 2005

look for the bright orange awning

We had a fabulous lunch at a new (for us) restaurant
yesterday. It's called
Windows and you'll find it on
Valencia right up there by Duboce. It's South East
Asian food with lots of interesting dishes (I had a
spicy duck with noodles and plump mushrooms).
One of the things we like best in any restaurant is
that the tables aren't too close together and the
service was fast and friendly. Of course it's very
reasonable or we wouldn't have been there.

Interesting that the restaurant was so busy despite
the fact that PG & E has some huge and messy
project going on and parking was nonexistent.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

those great P-genes

Happy Birthday today to the Great Plotnik who, on a bad
night, looks 40. On a good day, more like 36.

I first met the GP at Jane's at one of her delightfully
crowded writing salon parties. He played the accordion (an
instrument I used to hate) and we all had a group sing of
Watsonville, a song he wrote. I remember emailing several
friends the next day about this gorgeous man with his very
engaging manner and his clever, laugh-along song.

Then, imagine my surprise and delight when I attended my
first Tiapos writers' group and there he was!  I've come to
learn that there isn't much the GP can't do: song-writing
(music and words), writing, playing any musical instrument
(it seems) and being one of the best conversationalists
on this planet.

The GP and his G Ducknik travel all over the world and we
can't wait to hear about their amazing experiences. I love
the big world map in their dining room with all the colorful
push pins of the places they've traveled.

One lucky wife and two fabulous children will be helping
the Great Plotnik celebrate today, and we join his many
friends with wishes and thanking him for adding
so much joy to our lives.

(I almost forgot to mention that the Plotniks appreciate
interesting food too, and baseball, movies, theater. LIFE.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

peel...don't polish

How thoughtful I was when I was young to clip and
save thoughts, ideas and articles that I can use
now when I need them most. Today I quote from
Sidney J. Harris, a columnist from Chicago who died
back in 1986:

The personality of  man is not an apple that has to
be polished, but a banana that has to be peeled. And
the reason we remain so far from one another, the
reason we neither communicate nor interact in any
real way, is that most of us spend our lives in polishing
rather than peeling.

Man's lifelong task is simply one, but it is not simple:
to remove the discrepancy between his outer self and
his inner self, to get rid of the "persona" that divides
his authentic self from the world.

Thank you Mr. Harris, and thank you young-self ~ I
can't tell you how much I appreciate these words today,
during this time of change and unrest.