Sunday, April 30, 2006

jim & ted

When friend Ginger from Kansas was visiting us almost
two weeks ago, she would read snippets from a poetry
book and we would smile wistfully. Examples:

At the tip of memory's
great funnel-cloud
is the nib of a pen.

All those years I
I had in my pocket.
I spent them

When she left me
I stood out in the thunderstorm,
hoping to be destroyed by lightning.
It missed, first left, then right.

Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser are longtime friends.
We don't know who wrote what in this delightful book
Braided Creek. The words, the poems are all that
matter. It is my staff selection for May and I bought
a copy for myself to read again and again.
Powell's Books - Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison

Saturday, April 29, 2006

yes, ag, it is a grand thing

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly,
acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it
all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is
a grand thing.
Agatha Christie, British Writer

Friday, April 28, 2006

ms. strout is a fave of mine

I loved Amy and Isabelle, so when Elizabeth Strout's
new novel appeared last week I grabbed
Abide With Me
to bring home on our book loan program. See why:
Actually, the child did not resemble either one of her
parents. Not yet. Not now, as she scuffed through
the gravel of the driveway, clutching acorns in her
hand. There was no indication of her father's height
or her mother's fullness. And while in time the minister's
brow and mouth would appear with startling exactness
on the face of his daughter, right now the girl looked
almost part animal, like she came from nowhere, or was
raising herself, living outdoors on roots and nuts: skinny
little limbs, and hair so fine that in the back it stayed
matted in a big snarl, hung in wisps down the front.

Powell's Books - Review-a-Day - Abide with Me: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout, reviewed by The Atlantic Monthly

Thursday, April 27, 2006

the premium rigid search

I would have skipped the movie Everything is Illuminated
because the hero wears those bothersome big glasses
all the way through. But then I read the Doctor's review
Chock Full of Inner Demons and decided that I had to
see it. Smart decision on my part ~ Husbando and I both
loved the movie (he watched it twice) and I wasn't
prepared for the excellent ending. Funny, touching and
sometimes a good way. Filmed in the Ukraine
where I'll probably never visit, so that was an extra treat.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

a labor of honor

her life so far
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I didn't mind working on my day off yesterday, because I have always had great respect for Jane. She was a perfect guest, polite and gracious to everyone, taking her time to talk to each person on a personal level.

Before she started signing, she spoke about how her book came about. She started it when she was 59 and had to tuck her laptop inside her fishing vest when she went to the river with her then-husband, Ted. (Her favorite ex.) She would find a secluded spot and write until the battery died, then go and try to catch a fish before they met up again. Obviously, this husband wasn't supportive about any Jane-centered activities. She felt she had to figure out the first 2/3rds of her life before embarking on the final third.

The crowd was polite and she bravely asked for questions. There were no nasty people yesterday, but we know she does encounter them and she had her body guard and small white fluffy dog to protect her. The dog spent most of the time in her lap, snoozing.

Jane spoke to several of the customers in fluent French and that was a pleasant surprise to me. There were more Barberella (sp?) posters and DVDs than I would have liked to see, but she was sweet about signing them. One woman even brought a tattered copy of Jane's Work Out book, from the 70's, I believe.

Yesterday was very special for me. Thank you, Jane, for all you have done for America, especially women.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

writing begets writing

It doesn't make sense, I know, but I can't think of much
to write about since I'm not doing the daily Round Robin
writing. Thankfully, that starts again next week. I guess
some gear in the brain clicks on to "write" and that
way I don't have to fill the blog with cat photos, or why
I love SF thoughts. I have learned to take my camera
when walking about this strange city, some unexpected
treats are always waiting for us, or so it seems. I'm
looking forward to two days off, but you knew that.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

luv for sale

waiting for you
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Here's one of the kitties we left behind yesterday. Sabina or her brother Greg, I'm not sure which. I'm so proud of the no-kill policy of our SPCA and wonder if our government could ever be so humane.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

shopping for furballs

nice digs!
Originally uploaded by the omster.
After work Bossman and I went to the San Francisco SPCA because he wanted to adopt two cats. I had not been since the remodel, but knew that I'd be impressed with the comfortable cat suites and you can see that they even have videos, toys, cat poles and lovely soft beds. It was great fun for me and Bossman now has
two short haired brothers, 1 1/2 yrs.
old. Here is one of them ~ Tiger or Rascal, but those aren't their real names...yet. What a fine experience to go to a well-run animal shelter and NOT be depressed. A happy new chapter, too, in the life of a Boss!

Friday, April 21, 2006

don't forget the mad brother...

Over the weekend my friend, Mary, was able to see TWO of these only-in-SF funerals.
I promised her this poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

The Green Street Mortuary Marching Band
marches right down Green Street
and turns into Columbus Avenue
where all the cafe sitters at
the sidewalk cafe tables
sit talking and laughing and
looking right through it
as if it happened every day in
little old wooden North Beach San Francisco
but at the same time feeling thrilled
by the stirring sound of the gallant marching band
as if it were celebrating life and
never heard of death

And right behind it comes the open hearse
with the closed casket and the
big framed picture under glass propped up
showing the patriarch who
has just croaked
And now all seven members of
the Green Street Mortuary Marching Band
with the faded gold braid on their
beat-up captains' hats
raise their bent axes and
start blowing all more or less
together and
out comes this Onward Christian Soldiers like
you heard it once upon a time only
much slower with a dead beat

And now you see all the relatives behind the
closed glass windows of the long black cars and
their faces are all shiny like they
been weeping with washcloths and
all super serious
like as if the bottom has just dropped out of
their private markets and
there's the widow all in weeds, and the sister with the
bent frame and the mad brother who never got through school
and Uncle Louie with the wig and there they all are assembled
together and facing each other maybe for the first time in a long
time but their masks and public faces are all in place as they face
outward behind the traveling corpse up ahead and oompah oom-
pah goes the band very slow with the trombones and the tuba
and the trumpets and the big brass drum and the corpse hears
nothing or everything and it's a glorious autumn day in old
North Beach if only he could have lived to see it Only we
wouldn't have had the band who half an hour later can be seen
straggling back silent along the sidewalks looking like hungover
brokendown Irish bartenders dying for a drink or a last hurrah.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Thursday, April 20, 2006

little big city things

On my walk from BART up Powell Street this morning,
I was thinking about the unexpected pleasures of
city living. The waitress who gives us the best table,
even though we are clearly not wealthy people. This
morning the BART train driver waited for me while I
rushed down the steps to catch the 5:35. (I waved my
thanks and he waved back.) Then the tourist customers
who want to tell me how much they love my City ~
even people who live in London and Paris fall in love
with our magnificent San Francisco. Jim is my good
luck homeless guy and he is always happy to see me
whether I have a dollar for him or not. Of course we all
know that small towns are warm and friendly (and
small in so many ways), but I just think it's extra special
when we can find some sweetness in this urban setting.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

not in my backyard

mickey @ crissy
Originally uploaded by the omster.
What is HE doing here at Crissy Field?
They must have seen us coming because Mickey was deflated in about 2 seconds, right after I cursed and snapped this photo.

After our sunny walk we had lattes and pastries at The Grove on Chestnut, then headed home to clean up and get to Lulu's on Folsom for an elaborate lunch which included those extra special grilled mussels, portobello sandwich and a few million other high calorie treats.
Stuffed and happy, we walked down to Triptych to see a photo show by a guy in my yoga class, then came home to rest a bit. At 4:30 we hit a very crowded Mitchell's for ice cream we didn't need, then took Ginger to the airport.

Now the Giants are blowing the game and I'm feeling a little sad because that's how I always feel when Ginger goes away. But what a lovely weekend and thank you for the sun.

new blog appears!

Notthatlucas has created a delightful photo-filled blog
and I was up early reading it and chuckling at his photos.
Great job, notthat.     But I wish I could leave a comment,
occasionally even maybe a nice one...
Click Here: Check out "Blog"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

one full, fabulous day

crissy walk
Originally uploaded by the omster.
We started walking early and fast down here at Crissy Field. Does anyone ever get tired of this bridge? We had LOTS to talk about, two women who haven't seen each other in six months or more. One stuck in Kansas and one living in the city that she has loved since her first visit when she was in college. (enough with the confusing 3rd person stuff)

Then to Rulli's on Chestnut for gigantic double lattes and pastries. Two each giant lattes, that is. Sitting outside!

Husbando scampered out for Chinese chicken salad for us and then Ginger and I walked over to The Great Plotniks for a perfectly splendid afternoon in the sun with Dougo, Barb, Mistress Jane and Jackie Pie. We talked of many things and laughed in all the right and wrong places. Outside, in the sun!

Back home and then to dinner at Delfina's on 18th Street. Steak, halibut and duck with sauerkraut and kumquats.
Very special. Great, friendly service.

Now we are watching the Giants and talking about our most perfect day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

a quick hello-goodbye

My friend, my rock, my heart (Ginger) is visiting us for
just two days. She lives in The Little Apple (Manhattan,
Kansas) but is a City Woman still in her soul. We have
known each other for 30 years and I think she knows
every horrid and every admirable thing that I've ever
done. And probably vice versa.

We shall be laughing/crying/walking/talking for two days
and commano will get short shrift, I fear. Well, maybe
a photo or, NO RAIN today. Sunshine!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

easter sunday

lilly season
Originally uploaded by the omster.
These are from our garden. It's about the only flower that I can grow successfully because they don't require that I give them any attention or food or worry. And god knows they are getting enough water this year.

"It never rains after April 15th in San Francisco". I heard that when I first moved here and usually it's true. But it is raining again this morning. Oh, more tedious gloomy weather...more irritable customers putting their wet umbrellas down on the books. Poor people who had planned outdooor events today and even worse news for all the homes sliding down the hills all over California.

Giants lost last night, good thing I didn't stay up to watch.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

thwarted and still 6-3

I guess I missed a good Giants vs. Scumsucking Dodgers
game last night, it was postponed until past my bed time.
Dang. I love to watch baseball after a hard day at work
because I can still noodle around on msBook and even
read a book or magazine. This year the rain has followed
our Giants around, but we still keep winning. So let's
hope for tonight
and tomorrow night ~ we are the ESPN
game o' the week with a most perfect 5pm start. Now
I need to think about getting to work....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

veddy french

Usually I take my little boring brown bag lunch, but today
I met my writing friend Jeff (who has a corporate job
downtown) at this delightful French restaurant. Mary
(also a writer) introduced me to this place and now it's
where Michael and I have Christmas breakfast. So you
can see it has a history, and sometimes an attitude, but
that's OK by me.
Cafe de la Presse Frnch Restaurant and Cafe

We talked about writing and how hard it is, one of those
habits that's impossible to acquire easily. Nothing like
cigarettes or booze, that's for sure. Jeff is working on a
book and I am, hmmmm. Today my boss said the title
for my book, if I were to ever do such a courageous
thing, might be
Memoirs of a Geisha in Retail.

Tonight is my writing group (Tiapos) and I'm just taking
an old 200 word piece from 2003. But I think they'll like
it because it's different and after many months I actually
thought it was a bit above average.

My croque monsieur was way above average.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

another simple truth

Our car Ken the Toyota is still in hospital, so I walked to/fro
yoga this morning and thought about this subject for ol'
commano...and a poem that sort of fits.

Several weeks ago a friend surprised me because he
absorbed something from the movie
The Weatherman
that already changed his life. When the father (Michael
Caine) tells his weatherman son (Nicolas Cage) this:
"usually in life, the most difficult action is the correct
one to take". I have paraphrased badly here, I'm sure,
but you get the gist. So often I have taken the easy way
out of a situation or hoped that a problem would go
away on its own, when I needed to step up to the plate and
do what I had to do...even if that was a far cry from what
I wanted to do. I am grateful to my friend for sharing
his thoughts (and some new actions) about this discovery.

Now here is a poem that I've sent to people when they
have needed it:


by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice --

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do --

determined to save

the only life that you could save.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the book, the poem, the day

My current favorite book of poetry is New and Selected
by Mary Oliver. I bought it on 09/13/04 for $6
at Bart's Books in Ojai. Isn't is odd that we are never given
any sort of premonition when we wake up, that this will
be a special day? An extraordinary day, in fact.

This is the day that I ran into my college friend Ginger,
after decades of losing track of one another. It would have
been a fine day anyway, because my friend Michael and
I were going to have coffee at the French Bulldog in
Summerland and then head to Ojai for lunch and a bit
of sightseeing. But there she was, looking pretty much
like the very same Ginger from years gone by. "Excuse
me, did you go to the University of Colorado?" I asked.
The rest is happy history and now I have two Ginger
friends in my life. Oh, most fortunate me!

I love this book of poetry because it is pre-marked by
a woman with a 415 area code. Sometimes I feel like
calling her up, her name and phone number are on the
front page. There is a poem with a line "Oh, you never
saw such a garden!" and tucked in between those two
pages Ms. 415 left me a pressed flower. It traveled
from the Bay Area to Ojai and back again to stay.
Don't you just know that she was a perfect first owner
for my poetry book? Here is a poem that we both love:

      The Sun

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone ~
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance ~
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love ~
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed ~
or have you too
turned from this world ~

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Mary Oliver

Monday, April 10, 2006

with an Italian theme!

flowers @ macy's
Originally uploaded by the omster.
This is the week of Macy's flower show and here is one of the sweet displays. I guess when they heard I was planning the trip to Italy in 2007, they decided to plan their yearly extravaganza around that. How thoughtful.

I love the way the store smells with all these fresh flowers and it seems like the clerks (errrr, associates) are in a better frame of mind...or maybe I am. It surprises me every year to discover the number of people who are a block away from Macy's and don't go in to enjoy il
fiores.(I'm not taking my Italian class until October, so that might be incorrect.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

want to paint that fire hydrant?

I'm amazed at the number of tourists in town now for the
Earthquake anniversary! It's something I didn't really
expect, I thought it would be one of our quaint little SF
events, but it seems to be a Big Deal nationwide. I'm
guessing these are history buffs, or maybe just folks
who used to live here. Check out this web site:
San Francisco Rising: Events

Saturday, April 08, 2006

read all about it

When I send entries using Flickr (below), I can't get the link
for my faithful readers and this is all so interesting that
I thought you'd like it here in orange. And yes, Ms. K is
correct, some shacks still exist, 100 years later.

Western Neighborhoods Project - 1906 Earthquake Refugee Shacks

beats an empty trailer

1906 refugee shack
Originally uploaded by the omster.
We are gearing up here for the 100th anniversary of that big earthquake. Yesterday I went to see this little cottage that is on display (free) down on Market Street, where O'Farrell ends. They built more than 5,000 of these basic one room shacks and put them in parks across the city. Our own little Precita Park held a bunch of them. Of course when the government wanted to remove the shacks a year later, many people still didn't have a place to go.
The similarities to New Orleans are obvious. Read about these shacks:
Western Neighborhoods Project - 1906 Earthquake Refugee Shacks at

Friday, April 07, 2006

back to yesterday

sun&small boats
Originally uploaded by the omster.
Gees, I got so many nice comments that I'm going to keep talking about Opening Day. They have these new "big glove" rubber boats and people are floating around and calling their friends on the ever present cell phone. Pretty soon they won't let us in this little jewel of a ballpark without a flip. Even I, luddite of the decade, called Kristin ~ but's that a tradition and those are holy. Only one call, honest.

So after the huge ovation/hooting and stomping for Barry, this good looking man who recently had his teeth whitened approached me and he had a microphone. Right behind him was a TV camera and Mr. Brite Smile asked me how I felt about Barry and they wanted me to be on TV with my exceedingly original thoughts. I said, "oh no, I'm too shy to be on TV" and they both rushed off to find someone who had consumed the $7.75 beer and wanted to be a star.

I do love Opening Day, right down to all the clerks at the Safeway on 3rd Street wearing orange and black Giantswear. Too cool, there is a certain electricity....

Thursday, April 06, 2006

stop the chop

Originally uploaded by the omster.
Our SRO tickets were $15 each and we stood for quite some time right behind home plate. The ceremony was very nice and of course we all hooted and whistled for poor tormented Barry, to make up for the abuse he'll take when the team is out of town. We had Polish hot dogs with sauerkraut and as you know by now we beat the so-called Braves by a final score of 6 to 4. The sun did come out and when we walked around the park I was amazed at the number of people NOT paying any attention to the game. And they probably even had seats! Muni was running on time and all in all, it was a mighty fine Opening Day!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

dusty in a good way

"London looked all right, Helen thought. The pavements
were dusty ~ but dusty in the way, say, that a cat's
coat is dusty, when it has lain for hours in the sun."

I'm reading a new book, one that has been compared to
Mrs. Dalloway. Sarah Waters is the author of Tipping
The Velvet
and Fingersmith, and now this novel is
getting terrific reviews. It takes place in London in the
1940s and is rich in plot and glorious detail. So rent,
buy or borrow
The Night Watch and you'll love it too,
I betcha. You can read about it here:
Powell's Books - The Night Watch: A Novel by Sarah Waters

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

actual rain-free blue skies

sunshine on bernal!
Originally uploaded by the omster.
I know, it doesn't look like this anymore, the sky is gray and I think it will be raining again soon. I'm glad I have proof that this did exist today.

even the orchestra is beautiful!

from the movie Cabaret (1972)
The rain stopped about 4pm and I was able to walk
for almost two hours. I headed up to Anna's Linens
on Mission Street because it smells like the department
stores of my youth and also I needed to buy another
sheet for the sofa bed. One cannot buy just one sheet
anymore, just a set, but no complaining when the sun
is actually out. Everything was beautiful, even the...

We had an Irish lunch on Guerrero Street (note the irony)
at Liberties, sitting at a table in the front window,
watching unhappy people walking under umbrellas for
the 435th day in a row. Listened to a man bragging
about his sexual prowess and when I finally was able
to turn around and see him I thought, "oh, yuck, how
you lie." But I liked the restaurant, our first time there.

Blood & Wine this afternoon (the movie) and it
was OK, not great, but fine for a rainy afternoon.

I took a photo of a very green Bernal Hill in the sun and
I will post is as soon as I dig out the camera cord, etc.
Tonight is baseball again ~ double hooray.

for wednesday, in purple

On Wednesday of this week, April 5 at two minutes and three seconds
after 1AM, it will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.  This will never happen again in
our lifetime.

(thanks to Havey in SoCal for this bit of info.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

poetry and baseball

A-Rod was in our store today, not in the poetry section,
however. The baseball players always head for the
magazines. Now I'm watching our very first game
of the season (we are playing in San Diego) and looking
forward to 3 days off. Baseball, movies and poetry ~
and maybe even some sun?

This poem is by Stephen Dunn in his book
The Insistence
of Beauty
and I particularly liked the little jab of self-
deprecating humor at the end.


I said to her who takes plants seriously,

Someone gave Love-Lies-Bleeding its name,
who on a different day, differently reminded,
might have called it Love's Sweet Aftermath
or Early Passion, its drooping purple-red
flowering spikes so broadly suggestive.

We had a book open between us.

That someone, I continued, must have been
an authority for the name to have stuck,
Don't you think so? Or perhaps a wit.

Isn't Love-Lies-Bleeding comic,
like midlife crises to those long past them?
The name, I mean, isn't it funny,
like B movies, the dialogue purple
as a giant bruise, all the characters
actually saying out loud what they think?

No, I don't think it's funny, not at all,
she said, and laughed the way I'd seen
good actors do in lieu of what they felt.
It was time to stop talking about it, I was sure.

But I continued on.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

oh, do not ask, "what is it?"

April is National Poetry Month and to that end (ahem)
I'm going to try to explain to myself and to you, just
what it is that I love about an elegant poem. One of
the young uns at work selected T.S. Eliot's
The Waste
Land and Other Poems
for his staff selection. I dug
out my college copy (95รง new) because it was probably
the first poem that I ever really studied. The pages
are filled with backward slanted red notes: "tragic -
petty, meaningless daily lives".  Was that me? Or
was I just writing down what the professor said?

That of course would be for
The Love Song of J.
Alfred Prufrock 
(1917) as is the title of this post. I still
recite these lines when I go to the museums:
"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo." And this is the poem with the
famous "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons".

I think I enjoyed melancholy more then, in fact I know I
The Waste Land (1922) begins:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

My April will be better. The rain WILL stop, baseball
season begins this week and I will bring some cheerier
poems here to celebrate this poetic month.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

RIP Sister Rose

You need to consider going to see Our Lady of 121st
at the SF Playhouse up on Sutter. It's very New
York, very clever (which equals very New York) and
extremely well acted. It has been extended through
April 22nd and it also had a terrific review in the Chron,
but let's not start that again. I guess it's a comedy,
but not really ~ you know what I mean. One of the
best plays we have seen this year.