Monday, March 31, 2008

lord love the bureaucrats

I'm glad that The Great Plotnik prepared us for this ACT presentation
last night and he was right on the money. TGP's theater reviews are
the best in the city, in my humble opinion. The Government Inspector
was written in 1836 (Nikolai Gogol) and adapted by Alistair Beaton
for these modern times. It was a long play, but thankfully we had the
7 pm Sunday night curtain, so it all worked out.

Highlights include the delightful Gregory Wallace (above, surrounded
by commoners) and of course we enjoyed seeing Geoff Hoyle and Joan
Mankin (Pickle Family Circus) again. Those of you who know me will
not be surprised to learn that I thought it could have been edited
WAY down as a few scenes were repetitious and we-get-the-point
already on some of the jokes, the first time. But yes, worth seeing
indeed, especially after dinner at Lefty O'Doul's with the first baseball
game of the season at the new yard in DC. Easy and free parking, too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

thanks for asking!

Linda has an interactive blog which I greatly enjoy. For some reason
I commented that my favorite author is Alice Hoffman. I actually
have about 657 faves, but Ms. Hoffman's name popped up and Linda
wanted to know which of her books I would recommend. Turtle
Moon is my all-time "it's too wonderful" novel and when I checked
Alice Hoffman's web site, I find that it's hers too. She is a prolific
writer with an unbelievable imagination. Thanks Linda, thanks Alice!

why divorce is so prevalent in america

This is a recent conversation that took place in a small home in
Bernal Heights, San Francisco, California.

Husband: I have to wash the car.
Wife (reading): Hmmmmm.
Husband: If I don't wash the car you will threaten to take it to
the car wash place.
Wife (putting book down): What? When did I EVER say that?
Husband: about 20 years ago, once, but I remember.
Wife: sigh.

Friday, March 28, 2008

lunch in the financial district

It's funny about lunch spots. Many restaurants have closed due to lack
of business, and then others are so packed you have to reserve far in
advance. Perbacco is a trendy new place (I know that's scary, but the
service is old fashioned friendly) with some extraordinary Italian
cuisine. The middle son treated us to a fine lunch yesterday and I will
say that my pasta with duck ragu was outstanding. We were all happy
with our choices and I wanted dessert, but was too full, alas.

The restaurant is large with warm decor and that buzz of success.
Lot's of interesting people to watch. It's right next door to Tadich's
on California Street and that place was also packed, as always.

It's back to the 6am opening today and a quick lunch at my desk
about 11am. No wonder so many restaurants are hurting.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

from schoolgirl to pensioner

Yesterday on the J streetcar a young woman on her cell phone was
sitting behind me and I swear to god that every other word was
either "like" or "whatever". She talked a mile a minute and I
was both pleased and disappointed when she alighted before me.
Still talking of course.

Last night we watched 3 episodes (1/2 hour each) of the first season
of The Catherine Tate Show and one of her many absolutely delightful
characters is a young American woman who could easily have been
the cell phoner on the J car yesterday. Catherine Tate is a British
comedienne ~ exceedingly clever and witty. Her short sketches include:
new mother, English school girl, elderly woman, administrative
assistant, jumpy housewife and a real estate sales woman. I think
she also will be portraying a man, at least I hope so. Such talent,
treat yourself and rent this DVD!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

get me on the J train

Today, after yoga, I'm meeting my old friend Ken here at Chow
on Church Street. We were hired on the same day by THE OTHER
big box some 16 years ago and are both still in the book business,
after some detours for both of us along the way. I have a vivid
memory of the two of us sitting side-by-side interviewing folks
down in San Mateo. One of those times when we could not stop
laughing, especially when some poor applicant would utter the
words, "I like people". Yes, it loses a lot in translation, but I often
think that people bond forever with those hysterical oh-god-I-
can't-stand-it-another-moment forbidden giggle fests, don't you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

keeping up with the javelinas

Mary in Arizona rescued me again today ~ I have not a thing to
write except to say that I'm tired from closing the big box and I
will be happy for some days off after my 10 to 7 (maybe 9 to 6)
shift as soon as I can lurch out of here. Thanks, Mary! (I do not
know why there are blue lines here and I hope no one is offended)

Dear MA -
I loved the pics of the cats in costume. My cats won't even wear collars - they had them off in about 15 minutes.
Easter afternoon the faucet on my kitchen sink exploded in a small geyser. I managed to fix it with a screw driver (memo: buy a wrench)
Then that night, for some reason the javelinas were back and very determined to try and get under the house again through the crawl space. I think it was one of their habitual places for several years - the old man slept at the back and it doesn't look like he used the room I'm sleeping in. They rooted and grunted and banged and ripped the supposedly wild-animal-proof screen partially off it's frame. I rushed out armed with my roller mop (minus the mop part) metal pieces clanging and swatted at them while they very leisurely trotted away up to the road behind the house. Ugly hateful creature! The cats were watching anxiously out the window. Now I have to get the screen repaired or something more sturdy put in its place. I refuse to sleep with javelinas snorting around under my bedroom. Yesterday, I borrowed a saw to cut old boards to repair and amend the design of the crawl space cover.
I'm also buying some chicken wire to surround some plants they gnaw on in passing. I'm desperately trying to grow things in this pile of gravel and they come by and chew them to bits.
Hateful creatures!

Monday, March 24, 2008

our box is still afloat

We all know that the big box is in trouble. Let's face it, folks, the
economy is in turmoil too. Your President's economic "fix-its" do
not seem to be trickling down to us common workers and only the
banks seem to benefit from the credit rate cuts. It's difficult these
days trying to reassure the customers and staff that our big box is
OK, that we won't be locking the doors on Saturday night forever.
I want to be realistic and honest, yet I might be operating in total
denial ~ I've done that before.

In the meantime, business is robust in our store and we all have
so many projects going on right now that we are putting one foot
in front of the other and doing what has to be done. I am now the
Point Person for events and that's a full-time job in itself. Plus
reviews, floor shifts, important lunches with friends and everyday
big box gossip ~ "she has a crush on HIM?" kind of stuff that we
all enjoy even more than the book loan program and other more
traditional corporate benefits.

So, in case you are worried, we are fine. Indeed, it's business-as-usual
with a twist of lemon, please. And Imodium® on the side.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

an early easter


No, these are not OUR eggs, I borrowed them from the
internet. About 10 or so years ago, an innocent young
thing was whining to me about the store being open on
Easter and I had to explain to her (in my own lovable
way) that the entire world is not Christian. Actually,
I sort of like working on Easter.

Lovely lunch yesterday at the New Delhi down on Ellis
Street. Jon G. and I celebrated the birthday of our own
Dancing Jen. Not easy to find a white tablecloth lunch
spot with reasonable prices and fine food, but we did!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

beware ~ this is a cat post!


I'm proud to have a friend who dresses her cats for special events
such as Halloween or the Ides of March or May. They are very patient creatures.

On the left is Josie and the striper (with pink tongue) is named Dorf.

Oooops, what's this? It's my all-time favorite cat costume
used here for some sort of baby abuse.

Friday, March 21, 2008

thank you, ms. lutz

I read the above a year or two ago.
Currently I'm reading Curse of the Spellmans and it's just as
funny as her first novel. The Spellmans are a dysfunctional
family (like there is any other kind?) of private investigators
living and working here in SF, so I know all the locales for
the stake outs, chases and beers at the Philosopher's Club.
The parents and adult children all spy on each other and every
citizen here is under suspicion. Escape reading.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

not green polka dots

Those are good luck green Irish coins made in China. The guests did
not spill a drop (highly unusual) and we can actually use this tablecloth
for the next event. Corned beef, cabbage, little red boiled potatoes and
Mitchell's mint green ice cream pie ~ everything perfect. Some rousing
discussions and election talk, of course. Now I need a long walk up to
Cortland to get out of my sluggish kind o' mood. (Tulips and ranaculous
from Trader Joe's...even prettier today.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

talk about unassuming

This is Roberts on Bryant Street, right across from Trader Joe's, but
don't park in their lot or you'll get a ticket. Anyway, Roberts has the very
best corned beef in SF and actually supplies most of the restaurants and
groceries in the city. We can't believe that we have lived here for so long
and only after The Great Plotnik extolled Roberts' many virtues (including
price) did we give this a try last year. Fabulous product. I like how there
is usually a memorial in the front window to some local unsung Irish
hero complete with family photos and sweet goodbye notes. Husbando
likes the quick service and easy-to-swallow prices. Tonight is our belated
annual St. Patty dinner ~ table photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the new north beach?

Honestly, sometimes Valencia Street seems like the center of SF! Of
course it's currently a mess with street construction, so it's best to
walk here. The photo above is the new City College of San Francisco,
Mission District campus. As a result, the rest of the street is filled
with coffee shops and students in gleeful and outlandish garb. Plus a
large sprinkling of the original residents who also do not dress in
navy blue business suits ~ thank goodness. Small theaters, unusual
restaurants and tons of activity. You do not, however, want to walk
here without a cell phone attached to your ear ~ people would stare.

Monday, March 17, 2008

another winner from HBO

It's not easy building a country. The new John Adams mini-series is, of
course, spectacular. I love all the attention to minute details and if our
high school history teachers aren't thanking their lucky stars, they
should be. What a colorful way to teach about the founding of America.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

baseball is life

Michael Keaton is a playwright and a Red Sox fan living in NYC.
There is a scene or two, while people are watching the '86 World
Series, that reminded me of our disaster-ridden Game 6 with
those so-called Angels. My blood still boils. The Blogmaid was
with us and I would hide outside on the back deck and watch
through the window. Oh, the agony. The pain. Good thing we
Giants fans don't have to suffer that World Series silliness too
often. The film? Enjoyable, if you're a baseball fan.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

elegant downtown lunch!

Of course you know that I usually schlep my lunch and eat at my desk
while reading Publisher's Weekly or boring emails. But every now and
then, I treat myself to a big ol' bowl of roasted duck noodle soup here
at the King of Thai at 420 Geary Street. And this is what I did yesterday
because I was celebrating some rare wonderful financial news and the
fact that I wanted a treat. Flat noodles, please, cash only. Yum.

Friday, March 14, 2008

four around the kitchen table

Our writing group met here last night because Mistress Jane is in a
busy funk work time. There were only four of us and because everyone
is so knowledgeable about my 4am get-up time, it was a wham-bam
kind of meeting, but still exceedingly worthwhile. Here in a nutshell:
  • Will's 8th and final day of his trip across the country. We were in snow in Wyoming and then into Nevada. I loved his sentence about time being so elastic on a trip like that, stretching and stretching and then (all of a sudden) home. But, of course, being Will, much better using his incomparable words.
  • The Great Plotnik is writing about his life as a musician ~ working weekends at weddings and bar mitzvahs. And work it was ~ all the schlepping of instruments, etc. All the driving in SoCal, back and forth to gigs. Fascinating stuff.
  • I wrote about my mother being the money manager when I was growing up. Me not appreciating her until I got a taste of adulthood.
  • Eric gave us a prose/poem piece about the Bengal tiger. Fabulous, from the mouth of the tiger. And who knew there were less than 500 of these magnificent creatures?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the train to enlightenment

We actually enjoyed this film last night, better than either of us
expected because it was so different and didn't spell things out to
the viewer as though we had limited IQs. And there were no car
explosions, but lots of quirky little surprises. The ending was
especially satisfying.

Why I'm not a book reviewer. Yesterday I neglected to mention that
the whole premise of Who's Your City? is that people think of money,
friends and family as the key ingredients to HAPPINESS, but often
where we live is just as important.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

another chauvinistic post

This book is getting a lot of press lately. I'm normally not drawn to
books with the name of the author larger than the title, but in this
case I have been reading it while walking around the store or waiting
for the carpet cleaner to finish. He has lots of interesting statistics
about various cities and of course San Francisco is #1 on many lists
despite higher than high prices. (Interesting to note at this time that
property values did not drop here during the latest mortgage crisis.)

One thing I've been thinking about is when an ex-SF friend of mine said
to me, "the dumbest thing I ever did was to move away from The City,
it's impossible to get back".

Things I won't take for granted about SF this week:
  • the ocean
  • ethnic restaurants
  • hills and L C cars
  • clean, clear air
  • public transportation (with gas almost $4 a gallon)
  • diverse and mostly happy citizens
  • theaters and museums
  • our still quaint little neighborhoods
OK, enough flag waving. Now I'll mention the guy who
wanted to talk to me for "just a minute" after I locked the
store at 2am Tuesday morning. I laughed and said, "you
have to be kidding me, I'm exhausted!" and to his credit
he smiled and wished me a good evening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

this is not a robin

You will have to pay close attention this morning because I am a little
foggy due to a late night. The carpet cleaner must have read my blog
because he didn't bring his esposa and he did all four floors himself.
He was quite thorough and as a result I didn't get home until after
2am. But I am fine, I really am.

Anyway, this is a photo of a Vermillion, sent to us by Mary in Arizona.
The point, however, if there is one, is that this is the final week of our
round robin writing class and I am delighted about that. I can imagine
that Mistress Jane is ecstatic too, not to receive 30 emails every day
filled with words on top of more words. Whining and laughing, poetry
and horror. For me, the well is dry and I can't tell you how nice it will
be not to have to write for 10 minutes every day.

So when does the next class start?

Monday, March 10, 2008

solo esposa trabajo?

Well, look at this happy man! Every 3 to 6 months we get the carpets
cleaned at the big box and I am the designated point person, meaning
I get to stay until 1:30am. I will work a very short day tomorrow and
then my weekend. Our carpet cleaners are a man and his wife and this
machine. What I find not-so-amusing is that she does all the work and
he sort of follows her around and smiles at me. In my poor Spanish I
try to say things like, "isn't it YOUR turn to drag the machine around?"
but I don't think either of them is interested in my tired old feminism.
The one sure thing I can predict is that tomorrow one of our customers
(probably at 9am) will spill an entire cup of coffee on the newly cleaned
carpets. Yes, my life as a retail manager is glamorous indeed.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

yawn and why did I do that?

Eeek, I forgot how difficult these first few mornings after the
time change can be.

Husbando walked out after 10 minutes, but last night I wasted
2 hours watching car crashes in The Bourne Ultimatum.



Saturday, March 08, 2008

the hand of time

This is my public service announcement ~ a reminder to set your
clocks one hour ahead tonight before you go to bed. I love to
save the daylight, so it's OK by me. I borrowed this cool hand
clock from the internet. Inside the little circles it reads, "time
passes", etc. Like we didn't know that already...

Friday, March 07, 2008

morning at the museum

There is a brand new exhibit at the Legion of Honor, through May 25th.

Maybe 200 pieces by the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz ~
quite amazing. This is Susan Sontag, her friend/lover who died
of cancer in 2004. I found the personal photos of Susan and
Annie's family to be the most interesting, I'd seen most of the
staged celebrity photos before, so I wanted the upclose and
personal. I wanted to read every comment Annie wrote about
her friends and their trips all over the world. The museum was
nice and lonely when we were there, so we didn't have to poke
strangers with our elbows in order to see every photo. When we
returned home I unearthed their book Women to enjoy once again.
I will warn you that there are some haunting and difficult shots
of people right before and after death, Susan for one.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

the baroness du Missy Toad

Yes, it's the River Nile!
Hooray ~ I did receive a lovely email from Elizabeth (above, standing
on her roof looking out at her Nile) and I know you'll enjoy this:

Many of my friends have encouraged me over the past 4 years to keep a diary of my experiences surrounding the purchase and building of a house in Egypt. I am more of the oral tradition and probably just too lazy to write.
My land is about 5 miles south of Aswan. It is called Missy Toad in the Nubian language...since there is no written Nubian I can not check the spelling or true meaning...which means either all eyes or watching eyes. I call myself the Baroness du Missy Toad. land is less than 10 minutes by taxi, 45 minute walk or 20 minute boat trip from down town Aswan (population of Aswan about 500,000). Aswan Governate runs from Edfu (just south of Luxor to Abu Simbel at the Sudan border,) general population 1.5million.
I am the first tourist to ever visit the village and definitely the first single woman to ever buy land. I have heard that there is an American man somewhere in the Aswan area who has bought a flat. There a few German women married to Nubian men who live in nearby villages.
Since i am the first foreign woman to attempt to buy land it took 1 year for my lawyer and the Gov't to figure out the details...I am now the owner of the land with the rights of inheritance to my heirs.
My property is 500 feet from the Nile and I have recently purchased a garden at the foot of my land which is 10 feet from the Nile. My land is 4000 sq. feet the house and guest rooms will be 2500 sq feet...lot of garden space...hard to picture garden space in all that granite. The Nile front garden is 1500 sq feet.You can swim here , the water is remarkably clear and clean.
I designed the house and drew the plans although i have an engineer who okayed the plans structurally. Why i thought i could design a house, i don't know but i guess it has to do with the simplicity of the village and the fact that the crafts people there just do it, after 5000 years i guess they don't doubt their abilities.
I communicate with the builders by speaking limited arabic (I'm not so bad), drawing in the dirt and sign language. A couple of my Nubian friends who are involved in the tourist trade speak some english so that helps.
The picture of me looking out at the river nile is from the roof of my house. The process semed easy at the beginning but the longer I am there the more I see how clannish and tribal it is. i am lucky to have met so many beautiful nubians and egyptians. The people of Aswan are so very kind.
to be continued.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

egypt, arizona and javelinas

OK, I invited Elizabeth to comment on Egypt, but I know you are
curious, so this is how much I know. No, she is not Egyptian, she is
Scottish with flaming wonderful long red hair. She fell in LOVE with
Egypt when she traveled there about 6 years ago (?) and has been
visiting ever since. She is learning Arabic. One can't explain love,
but it happens with/to places as well as people. But love it is...

Back to my friend Mary in Arizona. She tells me that these ugly ass
Javelinas are not part of the pig family, they are rodents! I had never
heard of them, but they are a big problem in that area of the world.
Here from one of her delightful emails:

Howdy - This morning - as soon as the sun comes up - I'm out to rake gravel, pull up plastic and attack the Johnson grass roots which have grown grotesquely and thickly under it and are creeping up around the edges. The plastic and gravel are supposed to kill weeds - but they just propagate underneath it and grow around looking for a way out. After I have uncovered them, I laboriously dig them out - put them in bags and dump them in the neighborhood dumpster. In this area of Warren we put the garbage in small dumpsters with animal proof lids so the roving javelinas which plague this area can't get at it. They come out in little tribes every night and roam the neighborhood devouring everything they find tasty and trying some things that they later reject as not so tasty. They devoured all the new growth on one of my pyracanthias - much to my outrage - and haven't been back to eat the rest of it or to taste other bush. They also will attack any pets that come across their path. They have finally given up on trying to get through the screen that I had put over my crawl space. I have a list of plants they supposedly won't eat - but they'll eat any seedlings. This means starting plants in pots and then transferring them to the ground when they reach their javelina-noxious stage of growth - or enclosing the whole planted area in chicken wire - which a neighbor told me irritates their sensitive snouts.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

off we go to egypt!

My friend Elizabeth is building her dream home in Egypt. I love this
kind of courage and I can't wait to visit her when she's all settled in.
She is still lawyering here in SF and we will have coffee soon to catch
up on all the details. All very exciting, don't you agree?

Monday, March 03, 2008

some irish magic

I'm a huge fan of novelist Edna O'Brien (above) who has become
a playwright in the past few years. One of my all time fave plays
is her Triptych (a word, by the way, that I always seem to mis-
pronounce), so last night we went to see Tir Na Nog which just
opened at the Magic. The chronny didn't give it a very good review
today, but we both really enjoyed it because the play was filled with
Irish music and dancing. It's about a small town girl becoming a
woman and although that's been done about 6 million times, this
time it was so Irish and yet so every-woman that yes, commano
indeed recommends this play ~ the acting was quite wonderful too.

Tir Na Nog means "Land of Youth" and when I Googled® it I
discovered a world of pubs, bed and breakfast inns and schools with
that name. Of course in Ireland, but also in the U.S.

It was Press Night at the Magic and folks were getting their packets
and getting out their notebooks and pens ~ you should have been there,
Great Plottie! Easy parking (free) too...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

saturday night at a funeral

Don't we all sleep better after a few hearty laughs? This film was
great fun, macabre in that only-in-England kind of way.

Yesterday I worked on reviews most of the work day, very
little customer contact (dang). The best part was lunch with
Dancing Jen and Jon G., back at Calibri with the sumptuous
chili relleƱo and guacamole.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

"dicey", he said

I had a great lunch yesterday at Tu Lan (sorry for bad photo) with bla
bla Black at this SF institution which everyone except me seems to know
about. It's a crowded Vietnamese joint on Sixth Street at Market and
the food is quite wonderful with entrees about $6.25 a pop and yummy
iced Vietnamese coffee, the kind that takes 3 hours to drip right in
front of you. Bla bla said the area, not the restaurant, was "dicey", but
it didn't scare me since I deal with lots of these marginal people on a
daily basis (at the big box), with and without their meds. Thanks, Bruce,
I needed that lunch and the talk.