Tuesday, August 30, 2005

the very best table

mission bay
Originally uploaded by the omster.
On those rare days when I'm off
and the sun is shining, we like to
buy sandwiches at the working person's
deli on Cesar Chavez and head for
Mission Bay to study the big ships
and to stare at the water. There
was only one other person, a man
fishing on the pier, and a bunch
of laughing sea gulls. It was so
peaceful - a pre-vacation vacation.
Someday this whole area will be
covered with condos and chic
restaurants and our little
graffiti covered concrete
table from today will be gone.

Monday, August 29, 2005

a beautiful overcoat

We saw ACT's The Overcoat yesterday afternoon and I
wanted a little time to think about the play before I write
about it here.  It is glorious, perfect. Based on the short
story by Nikolai Gogol, the 20 or so dancers do NOT
SPEAK A WORD. It is all pantomime and exceedingly
detailed dancing choreographed to the haunting and
dramatic music of Dmitri Shostakovich.

The story is bleak, yet funny. Our hero is Everyman
and he is universally understood, despite or because
of his wordless universe.

As the Salon Mistress often notes, I am a writer who
practices brevity and this production is under two
hours - one too long intermission between two 40
minute acts. Treat yourselves!
(Through Sept. 25th - www.act-sf.org)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

today I was happy


James Wright

As the plump squirrel scampers
Across the roof of the corncrib,
The moon suddenly stands up in the darkness,
And I see that it is impossible to die.
Each moment of time is a mountain.
An eagle rejoices in the oak trees of heaven,
This is what I wanted.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

another trip - no bus or train

On Wednesday my husband and I are flying to
Utica for a big family gathering and wedding.
I myself prefer small gatherings, another person
and myself...or just myself, but that's for another
posting at another time.

I like to travel with one poetry book and one "I'm
hooked" fiction book and some old New Yorkers.
I have not selected the fiction, but I am taking
Risking Everything -110 Poems of Love and
edited by Roger Housden. Some of
our favorites in here: Cummings, Collins, Neruda,
Oliver and Rilke. Tomorrow I'll treat us to a
short poem by James Wright.

Now you need to read a touching farewell
piece by The Great Plotnik - delightful.
The Great Plotnik

Friday, August 26, 2005

am I on the wrong track?

At the end of September I'm taking Amtrak from
San Jose to Goleta to spend a few days with my
three dear friends who live down there. I bought
my tickets at the Amtrak station in San Jose last
Tuesday. My friend Michael is visiting this week
and I told him that I thought it was ODD that I have
two tickets - long story (boring). Anyway, he looked
it up online and it seems that I am taking a BUS from
San Jose to San Luis Obispo (SLO). Why didn't the
ticket seller mention this? Why am I taking a BUS when
I bought a train ticket? I feel like I'm dealing with some
government agency here - oh wait, Amtrak is...
Anyway, I told Michael just now that this whole thing is
going to be blog fodder and I'll stick with the hand
that I was dealt. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

i'm gaining on you, Lance

A couple of months ago my husband bought a
perfectly fine stationary bike at the Salvation
Army for $50.00.  My excuse for not using it
(more than twice) is that I get bored too quickly.
So today we splurged on a TV at Best Buy ($73)
and then had to go back for an antenna ($13)
and now it is all set up in the garage and I'm
sure there's nothing I want to watch on daytime
television right now.

However, I do want to report that the Toynase
(spelling?) van up there on Harrison next to Best
Buy does have the Best Cubano sandwich in the
city ($6) and next I'm going to try the Large
Taco ($5) and then for sure I'll bike my little
heart out while watching my soaps. It takes 30
consecutive days to get a good habit going, and
about 10 seconds for the bad ones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

naked ladies

naked ladies
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Think of all the disappointed
folks who search this photo out
by the tag I gave it on Flickr.
Anyway, these gals are in our
back yard and have been with us
for 10 years now. Bill, Ginger
(currently in Kansas) and I spent
a glorious week in a rented house
in Mendocino in 1996. Ginger gave
us a Naked Lady bulb because they
grow wild and don't seem to need
any sunshine. We spent the week
in front of the fire, taking walks
and watching the Braves/Yankees
World Series. Yankees beat the
hated Braves - what a fine week
it was.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

buses, trains, bad food

Today my husband and I took the train to San Jose,
but first had to take two buses (both late, of course) to
get to 4th and Townsend with only 3 minutes to spare to
catch the 10:07am Caltrain. The trip itself was so pleasant
with lots of room to spread out (we each took two seats)
and of course it beats driving and there is a lot to see,
although it seems that the ugliest parts of cities are
right by the train tracks. Interesting, if not beautiful.
The last bullet train is around 9am, but our non-bullet
only took an hour and a half, and we were not in a hurry.

The San Jose train station is right across from the HP
Pavilion (an unattractive monstrosity) and we walked
about 7 blocks to the heart of downtown. I was amazed
to see people in actual summer clothes without coats
or heavy sweaters and we were able to eat lunch
outside and be perfectly comfortable.  Since we are
San Francisco food snobs, we were not impressed with
the wilted lettuce salad or cardboard sandwich, and
the prices were high even though San Jose doesn't
have the $8.75 hourly minimum wage law that SF does.

It was a good mini-adventure, however. San Jose is
clean and quiet and sunny and sane.  I was glad to
get home to just the opposite.

Monday, August 22, 2005

farewell ruth, david, nate, claire

...Brenda, Maya, George, Rico and the entire extended
family of 6 Feet Under. I just wept through the final
episode and feel like some of my closest friends are
gone forever. Even though the program would often
irritate me (they surely did whine sometimes), the
writing was superb and the acting phenomenal. I
loved how every program would start with a death
and some of those were shocking and unforgettable.
Now I need to get used to life without the Fishers
and it's not going to be easy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

imagine - two gingers!

Today I had a delightful lunch with my other Ginger
friend who lives in Santa Barbara.  We talked about
Italy, friendship, fog/relentless fog, her 3 dogs, her
snake dress, movies, 6 Feet Under, the Orange Man
in Goleta, writing and even (gulp) money. Then I
went to see two of her dogs who were sleeping in
The Great White van but bounced up excitedly
when Ginger unlocked the door. (I know, you need
photos, and you'll get them in October.)

I am taking the Amtrak to visit her and my other two
friends in SB at the end of September and we are
making plans about what to do and see.  Lots of
dog walks and we are going to work on a writing
project - a long hike Ginger and her husband Ern
took a few years ago.  She has a journal, she must
find the journal....

How fortunate I am - friends make my life so rich.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

mr. ferlinghetti

The beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, lives here in
San Francisco and this is a lovely quote from him:
Poetry is the sound of summer in the rain
and of people laughing behind closed shutters
down a narrow street.

Friday, August 19, 2005

my city

There is a dilapidated powder blue car parked in
just the right amount of space in front of our
house. It allows us to park there by our front
door, using half of our driveway. Parking and
housing prices are the two main topics of
conversation in San Francisco.  This silent
agreement between our neighbor and ourselves
is a major accomplishment.

The blue car never moves - it was probably
created back in the 50's. Once in a while our
neighbor will open up the hood or climb under
his car, but we've yet to hear the motor turn over.
This is as it should be.

Today I walked outside and there was a young
woman sitting on the sidewalk with lots of
paint tubes and brushes surrounding her.
"What are you painting?", I asked.
"The Hudson", she answered with a smile.
"Oh."  (Me being dumbfounded.)
"Is it yours?" she asked.
"No, it belongs to the neighbor", I said
and pointed.
I had to look down and see her work and it
looked ever so much better than the old car
that never moves. I love this city.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

aqua fresca

Today's writing prompt:
I have been thinking about this all day while
I counted money for the bank deposit, dealt
with a couple of unhappy customers, called
corporate to find out why the computers
and the phones were all dead, picked up my
project at Kinko's and talked to my fellow
managers about a new hire.
I so appreciate having something other than
work to think about when I'm working.
However, I still have no idea what I will write
about - would you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

back in the game

Suddenly the Giants are playing extremely well and
I'm back to the breathing with every strike. There is
really nothing quite as exciting as a well-pitched,
tight game that we win. The kind of game where
I have to watch from the other room because it's
too scary to be too close to.  On the other hand,
the A's have crumbled way before I thought they
would, they usually save that for September.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

walking on goldsworthy

de young floor
Originally uploaded by the omster.
You will have to click to
enlarge this photo of the
new "faultline floor" here
at the entrance to the new
De Young Museum in Golden
Gate Park. Those lines run
up and through the stone
slabs...like a real fault-
line. Andy Goldsworthy
brought all of this from
Yorkshire: stones, slabs?
How? It's beautiful, but
easy to overlook. Sorry,
you can't really see the
entrance doors here...

Monday, August 15, 2005

jen is in Paris

Notre Dame Gargoyles III
Originally uploaded by omj.
Today we were discussing
a man sleeping on the 4th
floor of our store. We
all had guesses as to
which of our sleepers it
was: guy in the jean
jacket? the stalker? Mr.
Smell Bad? But Jen gets
to go to museums and to
Notre Dame to look at
these gargoyles that I
found on Flickr.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

another billy collins poem

This is from the New Yorker, 7/25/05


I thought of you today
when I stopped before an equestrian statue
in the middle of a public square

you who had once instructed me
in the way of equestrian statues.

A horse rearing up with two legs raised,
you told me, meant the rider had died in battle.

If only one leg was lifted,
the man had elsewhere succumbed to his wounds;

and if four legs were touching the ground,
as they were in this case --
bronze hooves affixed to a stone base --
it meant that the man on the horse,

this one staring intently
over the closed movie theatre across the street,
had died of a cause other than war.

In the shadow of the statue,
I wondered about the others

who had simply walked through life
without a horse, a saddle, or a sword --

pedestrians who could no longer
place one foot in front of the other.

I pictured statues of the sickly
recumbent on their cold stone beds,
the suicide toeing the marble edge,

statues of accident victims covering their eyes,
the murdered covering their wounds,
the drowned silently treading the air.

And there was I,
up on a rosy-gray block of granite
near a cluster of shade trees in the local park,
my name and dates pressed into a plaque,

down on my knees, eyes lifted,
praying to the passing clouds,
forever begging for just one more day.

Billy Collins

Saturday, August 13, 2005

the New Yorker

One day soon I will be copying another Billy Collins poem
that was in a recent New Yorker.  My husband marked
it and said, "for your blog?" and he will often comment
on a short story, poem or article that he particularly likes
and doesn't want me to miss.  That is one of the things
that we have in common, we both love the New Yorker.

I grew up in a Life Magazine household, but when I had
orthodontia work done in high school, the dentist's office
kept this exotic (to me) magazine in the waiting room.
As soon as I graduated from college I subscribed and
have loved the magazine ever since. The covers, too,
of course, are outstanding.  I'll never forget the one
after 9/11 - just a big solid totally black cover.

My love for the city of New York was probably
influenced by the magazine, too.  I'll type up the poem
for the blog tomorrow - it's a good one.

Friday, August 12, 2005

we love secrets

Here's a nifty little community blog where
people tell their secrets in a safe and
(maybe) anonymous way. I don't know if
I have the necessary art talent, but like most
of the world, I do have my share of secrets.
So have a look-see and enjoy...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

in a writing mood

Tonight is Tiapos (my writing group) and I have a
small first draft piece about our upcoming trip to
Utica, NY, for our grand daughter's wedding. I
tried to make it a little amusing, even though I
am not looking forward to this huge celebration
with family members from all over the globe.
But I'm sure it will be fine...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm hooked

I started two books worth reading a few weeks ago,
but I can't seem to get into them, so I borrowed
a copy of
The Broker by John Grisham. What fun!
Bruce Almighty recommended this as his August
Staff Selection and I wondered if the original great
story teller Grisham had returned, and it seems as
though he has.  I believe he got a bit lazy or dried
up or whatever for a few of his books there in between
the original "big hits" and the last ten or so average
(or less) novels.  But this is a superb story - fast moving,
with just the right amount of tension that builds from
the very first page. So, back to Italy...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

always amending

In the tomato recipe below, you'll want to cut
the big guys into nice wedges and the little
cherry size stay as they are.  Best to wash them
all too - like, der...

tomatoes a la plotnik

There are 3 glorious things about August:

1) blueberries
2) tomatoes
3) naked ladies (the pink wild flowers -
       photo to follow one day soon)

Today we went to Whole Foods and spent
$20 on tomatoes - all colors, all kinds.
Last year The Great Plotnik gave me this
easy recipe for a BIG bowlfull of splendor:
.lots and lots of tomatoes
.thinly sliced red onion marinated in
   lemon juice and kosher salt (put in later)
.basil leaves, chopped - from your garden
.tablespoon red wine vinegar
.tablespoon balsamic vinegar
.3-4 tablespoons olive oil
.kosher salt
.lemon juice
Let the whole thing stand in the cool and
foggy SF climate - add the red onion
and serve with expensive bread as a salad
or even a main dish. (Taste it first, adjust)

Monday, August 08, 2005

another goodbye

I'll always connect the Millennium with Peter Jennings
who wore a tuxedo and worked from one edge of
the continent to another.  Our anchor of choice
died too young and too soon and even though ABC
had to show a football game tonight, the other news
stations talked about his life.  It turns out he was an
anonymous volunteer at a soup kitchen in NYC,
among other notable accomplishments. He was a
good and compassionate man.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

it's easy not to write

I've been struggling to say something pithy
here in this blog and feeling guilty when I don't
write, or fill-in with photos and poems.  The
first and most important thing I learned when
I started at the Writing Salon 3 years ago is
that I don't have to be in a writing mood to
write.  I just have to write. That's really all
there is to it.  So here's a quote (to fill).

It's easy, after all, not to be writer. Most
people aren't writers, and very little harm
comes to them.
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot

If I wanted to take the easy way out, obviously,
I wouldn't have taken all the writing classes
and filled my house with "How To Write" books.
No pain, no joy, no new group of writing friends
who mean so much to me. Onward.

Friday, August 05, 2005

not for the misbegotten

I'm ashamed to say I had to look that word up, even
though I've seen the play twice. It means
illegitimate birth
or of dubious origin.  As an adopted
child, I was always sensitive to the "illegitimate"
word and am pleased that we live in a time and in
the Bay Area, where I don't hear that word used
about children anymore. It's just plain mean.

But, I did want to write about the moon over there
to our right. Thank you, Michael, for somehow
getting it from the moon web site to my blog. For
one thing, we can now tell for sure if Ryan's
sleep issues coincide with the full moon.  She is
only 21 months old and her father has A Theory
about the full moon and her snooze button.

I do know for sure that our customers get crazier
when the moon is full, so now I can plan ahead
and prepare myself for dealing with those moon
soaked men and women in the weeks ahead.

Oh, you can click under the waxing crescent and get
right into the web site.  How cool is that?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

hear the bells?

SF city hall
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Last Tuesday, our dear
friends Kristin and Bill
were married here at San
Francisco's beautiful
City Hall. Their two
daughters (Claire and Ryan)
were the witnesses and then
they had a festive lunch at
Max's where Ryan (21 months)
played happily with all the
items on the table. It
was a happy day indeed for
everyone (except maybe the

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

back to class

The Salon Mistress just asked me to do some daily
writing (for a week) as a substitute in the Round Robin
class. Perfect timing because I have been using the
term "writer's block" when I really should be saying
"lazy, lazy" and haven't written much of anything
for a week or two.  Commano keeps me interested in
the written word, but it's too easy to copy a poem
or find an intriguing photo, and we all know the whole
reason I have the blog is because I promised to write
every day.  So I'll copy down the daily prompts now
and get back in the saddle.  Hi Ho Silver....

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

at our fingertips!

Imagine spending two minutes and no money and being
able to find any (it seems to me) photo that you want
to see or send or post on your blog, or whatever. There
are many of these free photo sites, but I am so
delighted with Flickr, that I'll be loyal to that one.
Welcome to Flickr!
A few of my photos are in my account there (I email
them in) and then when I need the Trevi Fountain I
just do a search and about 100 photos are waiting
for me to click and enjoy.  The only minor complaint
I have is that some folks like to empty their cameras
and there might be 10 shots of the same building
from the almost-same location.  But I have learned
to quickly scan through those boring photos.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Trevi Fountain - Fontana de Trevi

Trevi Fountain - Fontana de Trevi
Originally uploaded by Vir2005.
I love travel emails
and this year Jen
has been writing from
Italy, the Great Plotnik
from South Africa (and
me from Kansas.) There
is something so personal
and immediate about
the beautiful "I'm
sitting in an internet
cafe in Orvieto" emails
and I'm posting this
photo for Jen, who
recently tossed three
coins in here - just
like she's supposed to.
Keep writing, Jen!
Welcome home G. Plot!