Thursday, July 31, 2008

of dosas and butterflies

Here we have RR and L and two fluttery friends ~ we all met at the
Conservatory of Flowers out in Golden Gate Park. It was great to see
the Morbidmama again and always nice to be with the Blogmaid.
The Blogmaid took these two featured photos (and 75 others) and
would like me to use them all, but I told her that my readers have
short attention spans.
This is the famous photo op in front of the Conservatory. We went
walking through the tunnel and then on Dinosaur Lane. The girls ran
and skipped and we three women meandered and chatted quietly.
A pleasant afternoon ~ how lucky we are to have this park.
Earlier Husbando and I had a fabulous lunch at the new Udupi Palace at
1007 Valencia (22nd). Check out this mammoth paper dosa which we
dipped in assorted sauces. We ordered too much food because we
didn't know, but still it only came to $22. The vegetable curry was also
quite wonderful, just spicy enough for my gentle taste buds.

This is South Indian cooking and you need to go with a big appetite
and a willingness to try new flavors. It's vegetarian, but I mean that
in a good way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

life, she be funny sometimes

My dear friend Ginger is returning to California and will look for
a new home up in the Sacramento area ~ this is my official
blogger welcome to her. We have known each other for more than
30 years and at the beginning of our friendship, I thought I would
be the one to move around and experience life in various places.
Instead I have lived in the same small home in Bernal Heights
and she has lived in Boston, Charlotte (North Carolina) and
Manhattan, Kansas. (Maybe I've forgotten one or two stops
along the way.) I've always loved visiting her in these different
places because we go exploring and have some adventures, but
she really belongs in California and her cheerful "honey, I'm
home" telephone call last night was most welcome. California
does get into your blood, or so I've been told.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

long time no bag in hallway

Next week Carpinteria for Ms. Commano. The usual and maybe
unusual feelings for me of apprehension and excitement because I'll
be going alone and staying in this coast side town down there by
Santa Barbara. Finally it's The Great Italian Reunion and I'll see
French Bulldog Ginger, Boise, Joey, Adriana and her two sweet
daughters who live in Florence. I'll get to know myself a little bit
better and do some thinking and writing (and don't the two go
hand-in-hand?) with lots of walking, reading and staring along the
way. My friend Michael (tech expert who fixes this blog on an all
too regular basis) lives down there in Goleta and we'll drink too
much coffee and complain about the local not-great food. Plus I
hope to see my old college friend Hoan (Joan, we were so clever
with names back then) for some more walks. She's the famous
bird expert/writer that I've mentioned before. By the way, you
need to know that Ginger's nickname is Chickenhead ~ it's another
ancient story also from our College Daze. Boulder, Colorado,
if you must know. And you must...

I'm taking Ken and will stop next Wednesday night in King City.
It's tradition (and a bad one).

Monday, July 28, 2008

surprise! I liked it...

I'm not big on baby movies and I didn't expect to like Juno, but
after about 1/2 hour I really started to enjoy this. There were
some unexpected twists/turns and Juno's parents are so unusual
that they make the movie just by being on screen. I thought
Jennifer Garner was quite wonderful too. I had a Kleenex® handy,
but didn't really need it. Yes, go ahead, rent it...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

long time no table

We haven't entertained for eons because I become such a nit picky
perfectionist ~ but last night we celebrated our friend Neti's
with her daughter and partner and Mr./Ms. Blogmaid. Of course
once the guests arrived (with the usual parking discussions) I
relaxed and had a fine time. The inside of the house is presentable,
the outside still under the black veil of now-how-much-longer?

Note to self: when one has a rather new red toned dining room
carpet, one might want to rethink coconut cake as a dessert item.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

an impressive candidate

Sorry, I don't know how to remove this red line, so don't feel
you have to buy this shirt in order to read this blog. Actually,
it lacks imagination ~ both the shirt and this post. Isn't it nice
to have such an elegant representative for America again? I
love seeing Obama step off the planes and shake hands with
world leaders and face enthusiastic crowds. Such a change
from Bush and the "my lord, did he say that? Groan..."

So why is he slipping in the polls? Is it because I haven't put
the Obama bumper strip on Ken yet? He is not perfect, but
we need Obama to win in November. Let's have a few years
without GOP rule, please. OK, enough politics. Off to work
for some small-scale politics and all those tourists with their
maps and phrase books who hold a handful of coins in the
palm of their hand, just like we do when we travel abroad.

Friday, July 25, 2008

we find more pho

There are three important things that we do on our trips out to
Clement Street:
1) Goodwill shopping
2) Selling books at Green Apple ($27 cash yesterday!)
3) Food ~ this should be #1, actually

I've written several times about pho, that Vietnamese soup with
thinly sliced rare roast beef that is cooked by the time it gets to the
table. Here is a new (for us) place at either 3rd or 4th Avenue on
busy Clement. $6 for the "small" bowl, too much for me. Then we
always have the Vietnamese iced coffee that takes 3 days to drip
and is better, and sweeter, than any dessert.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

elitist blogger goes to the mall!

Yesterday I went to Tanforan Shopping Center in San Bruno. It
was quite an adventure as I don't do malls and I don't spend money
on big screen movies (small popcorn, small Coke® for $8.25!), but
this was a special day with the Blogmaid and RR. We all enjoyed
Kit Kittredge with Stanley Tucci and Joan Cusack and this blonde
child who actually wasn't annoyingly sweet. Oh, also Wally Shawn
was the editor of the Cincinnati Register, seen above. This American
Girl movie takes place in 1934, and revolves around those difficult
days of economic hardship: businesses going under, banks closing,
homes in foreclosure, people losing their jobs. Yes, I did have to
pull a Kleenex® out of my purse for one of two sniffles...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

from behind the veil

I took this photo yesterday ~ today there is sunshine and blue skies,
but it's not obvious from what we used to call the View Window. The
prep work on our tiny house will take longer than we imagined, longer
even than people warned us about. Our perfectionist painter has found
some wood damage and is repairing that along the way. I should say he
has found a lot of wood damage. Last night Husbando and I pow-wowed
and decided another month of trying to be civil to one another and we
know the results will be worth it. Please remind me of this from time to
time, dear will be worth it, yes indeedy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

turn right on divisadero

I so loved The English Patient (book, more than the movie, of
course) that I decided to buy Michael Ondaatje's newest,
entitled Divisadero. He takes us from San Francisco to southern
France with a stop in the casinos of Nevada.

It is very foggy here and the back of the house has a somber
black veil because the 3 year long process of pre-painting prep
work has begun in almost-earnest. I am trying to raise above
the inconvenience of it all and most days I am failing.

Will (from Tiapos) said that when a friend gave him the name
of a contractor he also gave him the business card for a marriage
counselor. That makes perfect sense to me at this stage of upheaval.

Monday, July 21, 2008

back to the seventies

We both loved The Bank Job about a group of small time crooks who
tunnel underground and rob Lloyd's Bank in London. This is based on
fact, with enough British humor and close escapes to keep you glued
to the screen. There is some violence that forced me out of the room,
but I hovered near the door and didn't really miss much. Commano
says, "rent it!", so there. (I realize it's not easy to stay glued to the
screen and also dash out to avoid bloodshed, but I managed it and so
can you.) No Kleenex® needed, alas.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

even the orchestra is...

beautiful. This production is amazing ~ a very small stage, but
so much energy and emotion. We had only seen Cabaret as a
movie (and MANY years ago), so I didn't know what to expect.
Well, it was glorious and the best news is that it will be playing
until September, so you will have plenty of time to contact
the SF Playhouse for reservations. I like the email from Bill
English, the director ~ "remember, this is a play first, a musical
second". Special applause to Brian Yates Sharber, emcee of
the now famous Kit Kat Klub in Berlin (1931).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

congrats to kay ryan!

Our new Poet Laureate and resident of Marin County. I've published
a poem of hers here, about two years ago. I'm sure that influenced
the selection committee. Here is another, from Elephant Rocks.

Living with Stripes

In tigers, zebras,
and other striped creatures,
any casual posture
plays one beautiful set of lines
against another:
herringbones and arrows
appear and disappear;
chevrons widen and narrow.
Miniature themes and counter points
occur in the flexing and extending
of the smaller joints.
How can they stand to drink,
when lapping further complicates
the way the water duplicates their lines?
Knowing how their heads will zigzag out,
I wonder if they dread to start sometimes.

Kay Ryan

Friday, July 18, 2008

people pumping gas

Thanks to the Blogmaid for sending this photo when she discovered
that I get tired of the every nightem's TV news with gas pumpers. I
mean, we GET THE POINT, OK? Her eldest daughter, Claire, took
this picture and I'm sure we'll both be sued.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

miles of san leandro

Here, I know you've been waiting and waiting. I somehow fixed the
blog and I can now post photos again. (I really should be working down
in Silicon Valley.) Miles belongs to my friend Meriel, isn't he a love?

lunch with miles

After I stretched and chanted yesterday, I took the
BART from our cool and foggy city out to San Leandro
to have lunch with two old friends ~ Mary and Meriel.
Of course shaggy Miles took center stage. It was nice
and sunny out there, no surprise, we city dwellers are
used to this phenomenon. The weather reporters always
say, "hot inland, cool marine layer in San Francisco
and along the coast". Day after's the reason
most of us have two (max) summer outfits and one pair
of sandals. I had a delightful time catching up with
my women friends and munching on salad and chocolate
cake. And a chance to wear sandals!

I read in today's chronny that SF is the "most walkable"
city, followed closely by NY and Boston. Even more so
now with gas so expensive. (If I see one more person
pumping gas on TV I will scream.) But first, I think
I had better take a long walk up a steep hill...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

author correction

A writer should certainly write about dreams and animal death
and any combination thereof ~ so healing and helpful. Just don't
inflict it/them on the innocent reader. There, I can go to yoga
now with a free mind. Ommmmm shanti.

provide a living wage

I almost forgot the two basic don't-you-dare-write-about
rules from my first writing course with the Salon Mistress:
1) dreams (only interesting to the actual dreamer, even
though I try to look alert when Husbando tells me his)
2) the death of a pet ~ avoid at all costs

But, just to finish up ~ Uncle Ju did not suffer, I found him
dead behind the sofa. This blogger, however, did suffer.

I'm reading Obamanomics by John R. Talbott, trying to be
enthusiastic about the next (I hope) president. And this
helps! The subtitle is How Bottom-up Economic Prosperity
Will Replace Trickle-down Economics. We have one really
wealthy friend and he is terrified of Obama and "socialism".
I say that he has been coddled too long.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

missing uncle junior

Last night the Blogmaid emailed me this photo of our very special
orange boy. We had him for 3 years ~ lordy, how I miss him. Below is
a daily write from 2002. I have another piece from the day he died.
Maybe tomorrow I'll treat you to that.

He was already 10 years old when we got him from the vet more
than two years ago. He had been staying in a cage and he was
very fat and very afraid. No one wanted him, so the former owner
offered $5,000 to whoever would take him. It was purely
on our part. There was no instant feeling of attraction,
our eyes did
not lock and he hissed at me every time he saw me, from his cage.
I really
didn’t like him much, but who can resist all that money?
Pork Chop had died several weeks before and Tosca howled every
Never mind that she never liked Ms. Chop, she just didn’t want
to be alone.
Alas, I have known people like that. So I dragged Ginger
home. He weighed about 16 pounds and he peed
on the vet's assistant
and in his carry cage. We renamed him Uncle Junior because
dear friend is named Ginger and Husbando loves that character on
The Sopranos.
Husbando hates all cats, but seemed to warm to Ju.
Maybe because he hid
away for about 3 weeks. He would only come
out of the lower bookcases
for chicken livers if we were not in the
room. At night I closed the door in the
back room so he could use
the litter box and eat. I left him toys and he would
play with them
and use the scratch box. Gradually he emerged for longer
of time and now he is a real lap cat and likes to cuddle with Tosca.

Well, of all things, this big old cat is an absolute clown and keeps
us amused
with his antics. He is very messy and the place mats
under the cat plates
are always covered with food. He eats any
plant or flower that he can find
and he knocks things over when
he walks on the mantle. He is the complete
opposite of a fastidious
cat. We had to buy covered cat boxes because
he sprayed the walls.
The $5,000 never materialized, but we do get free vet care for the
And my love for him grew and he lost weight and Ju Boy
figured out that if he
amused me, he could stay here forever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

not funny, woody

I know, a few too many boring non-reviews of films lately, but
this blog also serves as a diary (of sorts) for Husbando and
myself, so bear with me. Cassandra's Dream is the name of a
little sail boat owned by two brothers who live in London. I
expected some humor since this is a Woody Allen movie, but
it is a tragedy with lots of important themes like guilt and
redemption, etc. Heavy. I think I'm glad we watched this
because Tom Wilkinson is in every movie, and also this is
the second Colin Farrell movie this week. But I don't really
give this my coveted "rent this now!" recommendation.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

growing up Iranian

I'm never quite sure that I'm going to appreciate/enjoy these
kinds of graphic novel type of movies, but this is a delight. Our
shero and her family live in Tehran and she is so incredibly honest
about her own shortcomings and she loves her family so much,
that you might even need to grab your Kleenex® box. For sure
you will once again thank your lucky stars that we live in a country
where freedom is a basic human right. Rent or buy Persepolis today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

no kleenex® needed

OK, put this in your queue right now! In Bruges is a surprisingly
funny movie, considering all the violence. Of course Ray Fiennes
and Collin Firth can do no wrong, and I don't ever remember
watching a film set in Bruges, so that part was a treat. It is
fast-moving and suitable for both men and sensitive women.

Friday, July 11, 2008

moon over wildfire

Ginger (currently living in and leaving Kansas) sent me this cool link
for a daily photo from Nasa. This was July 9th ~ Santa Barbara at
night. Amazing world we live in. Now I'm off to work, my week begins.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

mary, barry and bad food

I want to finish with the Barry Hannah quotes today. Here
is the original email from Mary in Arizona, and I thank
her sincerely for this. She always writes that her favorite
posts on commano involve SF restaurants and food ~ she
misses the diversity and our emphasis on quality. From Mary:

You folks all know how much I complain about Cochise County being a culinary wasteland. I just couldn't find adequate words to describe why this is so important to me. But the great modern southern writer, Barry Hannah in his book "Yonder Stands Your Orphan" says it all.

"The bad restaurant would stay when only zombies prevailed. It served food for the dead, tired fishermen and humble tourists worsened the minute they sat down and had the bad water. Thousands like it at state lines, watering holes in the great western deserts, from Oregon and Idaho to Maine. .......... Their owners said, "We just couldn't help it, we were food people. We never said good food people." The bad restaurant even had bad-food loungers and loiterers, hard to shake when they got a good imitation of you going. . .. .. The restaurant had its RESTAURANT sign. It's mimicking of the dining life .. . . .. each dish served in contempt of what used to be human. Rations for an unannounced war. Because as grandfather said, "When you eat well, you are eating memory." But, here for a few cents less you could eat no life at all. You could eat as much history as just ended in the kitchen cooked in spite at great speed by an inmate of dead dreams."
Well - maybe just a bit much! A bit too mythic ----- But you know how we southerners value good food.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

of flutes and sand fleas

I feel privileged to know Will in our writing group. Currently he and
his wife are in P-Town, as they are every summer. They drive back
and forth (in June and October) from/to SF, and he writes the most
amazingly colorful travel journals and we all love his "stuff" is
so much more than stuff. Will is a published poet and he also plays
the flute. The photo above is not Will, by the way.

Here is his email from yesterday about a musical gig ~ typical Will:

Here's the most report I seem to be able to generate at the moment:
The gig was okay, I think. Perhaps it will lead to other things. It was on a beach in Wellfleet, two towns down. Not that great a beach, in my estimation. As has been pointed out to me, I'm very Provincetown-centric, so I'm not inclined to get too excited about the rest of the Cape, though there are a few exceptions to that. Pleasant Bay is way better than pleasant, for example. Anyway: beach: eh. Then we set up. I had to put my chair on my case to keep from sinking into the sand. Then we started playing, at about the time a massive swarm of sand fleas discovered us. They were really hungry. So we cadged a bit of Off! from some fishermen walking by and played some more. We stopped a couple of times to ward off sand fleas, wipe off flutes, and figure out what music we were actually trying to play. Then they had a ceremony we couldn't hear: long, long, long. Then we played a little recessional. Then I wanted to play some more, since the gig was over and we were set up on the beach and what the hell, but the first flute player was not interested. Then we left. A woman who had flown in from some jerkwater town in the Central Valley–Newman? near Modesto?–buttonholed us to let us know that she didn't like the way we were driving. Thanks lady. And the music? So, overall: not so great. If we get paid that would be nice. But I must admit it did make the experience of sitting indoors and playing on Sunday seem fantastic. To play without sand fleas in your nose: like heaven. So maybe there were unexpected benefits. And we did sound good the day after. Day of, not so much, I'd say. But the processional we played was exactly the right length of time. We're talking about doing a gig in Orleans sometime later this summer, so maybe this was a good warm-up.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

some honeyed thoughts

Thank you to whomsoever (ahem) opened a small package of
honey and ruined 4 expensive magazines in our big box cafe
last night. Not quite worthy of customers suck, but I did
want to share that this morning.

Today the Blogmaid and I head to see Frida. This will be fun
as I haven't seen her (Ms. Maid) for months. I see Frida more
than I do the Blogmaid ~ does that seem right to you?

Then thanks to Mary in Arizona for these thoughts from the
post of yesterday. I will not forget Barry's food write, maybe

Loved your blog on Barry Hannah and memory.

Us southern's are raised in a culture foriegn to the idea of 'closure' - but rather enhancement and augmentation of memory no matter how painful: Old ladies snapping beans on the front porch rehashing the details of an event that happened years ago - details, characters, motives shifting and evolving as time goes by. A favorite pastime on long summer evenings.

About Barry Hannah - there is a rumor that years ago he took a particularly annoying writing student for a ride in his car and pulled a gun on him. This was before he 'settled down". Maybe it's just a rumor.

Monday, July 07, 2008

we are what we were

OK, I'm going to stumble all over myself a little here. I was doing
a little research on Barry Hannah because my friend Mary in
Arizona sent me a juicy quote on restaurants (specifically bad
food) that I wanted to use, but I found this and will pick up the
one she sent at a later date. Hannah is from Mississippi ~ I have
not read his work. In any event, Susan and I were talking about
how we were pretty much the same inside as we were 20, 30
or more years ago and so I plunk this down today for her:

Interviewer: Many of the narrators in your latest collection of stories, High Lonesome, seem to reflect on—perhaps even obsess over—things past. What role does memory play in your fiction?

Hannah: It plays an enormous role. Looking back, the obsession usually comes from guilt or incompleteness, and I think that is what haunts my memory—the incompleteness of everything. You wish it had been a story, you wish it had had meaning; sometimes you don’t see any meaning until ten—sometimes even twenty or thirty—years have passed.

But I don’t think that people change severely from when they are eighteen; the obsessions they are carrying around with them now were there before, so that when they look back they are looking at another version of the same thing. But I think that we all want to put things right, put things better. That’s maybe why we write. It should have been this way, it should have had a little more edge, we should have given a little bit more.

Sometimes you don’t want to arrange your memory. I love the pure chaos of it and just the reverie of it for its own sake. I think that is what a writer has: a better memory than most people, or at least a more sensual memory. Language and memory are what it is all about.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

the sunday book report

Well, I gave up on Rushdie's Enchantress of Florence, too fantasy-
filled for the likes of me. The Condition is getting a lot of very
positive reviews and I could tell after reading the first page
that I will be hooked. About a family on the East Coast ~ starts
out in 1976, and then we meet everyone 20 years later. I know,
it's been done, but what the hey...

Great ball game last night with Barry Zito finally pitching a gem
at home. We were both glued to our little back room TV.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

this long scary summer

I could put a photo of a California fire, any California fire, in here
this morning, but by now we've all seen so many of these that
we know exactly what it looks like with the weary firefighters
in their hot, heavy yellow jackets.

My friend Meriel lost her family cabin in the Santa Cruz
mountains ~ her father and grand parents are buried there.
And last night Michael in Goleta emailed me that they have
been told to prepare to evacuate. He said he has read and clipped
articles on what to take and what to leave during an emergency.
Not that he can locate them now that he needs those lists.

Oh what we'd give for a light rain on all of these hot spots.
I am worried.

Friday, July 04, 2008

some thoughts on the 4th

Note the flag in the above photo. Our city is not exactly flag-
filled, but I like this discreet display.
One of the things that I've always loved about city living is that
you can walk on almost any block and see something surprising.
Sometimes it's a glorious floral arrangement in an expensive
vase in a dingy apartment, or often it will be a dog or cat just
lounging on the top of a sofa, waiting for the adored owner to
come home. Waiting and watching and hoping.

This little fire escape on Guerrero Street is so packed full of
beautiful flowers that I'm surprised they had room for the flag.
The key is to take the time to walk and look and appreciate.
Not easy, is it?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

our worms don't grovel

Twelve (or so) years ago Husbando stood and waited (impatiently) in
a long line at Golden Gate Park for this free compost bin. I could ask
him for details, but I believe he still bears a grudge and he thinks that
I got off scott-free just because I had to work that Saturday. We keep
this thing under the deck and pour our garbage and lots of dirt and
garden cuttings in here. It is pure magic...
It is chock full of healthy red worms and rich, dark compost. When I
open the little sliding door, the birds in the nabe set off a racket,
hoping that I'll toss them some protein. I always feel a bit noble
when I'm gardening with the remains of our orange peels, coffee
grounds, banana skins and who-can-remember-what-else?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

a sparrow named pip

This isn't our sparrow, I borrowed this one from the internet and you
can see that it's outside, where it belongs. Last night I was alerted to
yet another "fund raiser" in our cafe. Some druggie trying to get cash
from our customers (good luck), but as I was observing him, I notice
the shoeless guy next to him who had a little all-brown sparrow in his
lap. In the cafe. I asked him to leave and he told me that he sees dogs
in our store. "Just go", I said as I called for The Emperor, my back-up
closer, whom one thief calls Steven Segal. He ushered out both of these
guys while I dealt with some lesser issues and he learned that the bird
was named Pip. I want to remember these work experiences and the
total joy of dealing with so many wackos when I retire.

It was one of those nights. Customers feel oh-so free to tell us why our
store is in financial straits and what we can do to fix it. Usually that
entails giving them our cash register drawers full of cash to "make the
customer happy".

But why do I whine so? I have two days off and the thick July fog will
surely burn off by 4pm today. We have a Ron-free day and all is
right with my world and I hope in Pip's world too.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

we have a long way to go

No, this photo is not here to make my ex-SF friends homesick. Honest.
One day when Husbando and I were taking the J Church streetcar we
parked here at 21st and Church. He said, "do you like that color?" and
I said "yes" and that was that. A rare quick no-chit-chat decision for
our very own home and to that end (ahem) our fix-it painter guy, Ron,
will be making a daily new mess to test my mettle. Behold our new
someday home colors, above.

Ron has already mixed the paint and yesterday Husbando and I took
the large paint chips to mecca and they were perfect! Sage green with
dark green and creme color white-tone trim. Too bad we don't have
the beautiful bay windows, no?

But before then we must endure:
1) plumbing problems ~ kitchen and bathroom
2) wood fix-ups ~ deck, stairs, garage, windows
3) the always unexpected little surprises and delays

Thankfully, the electrical is "a-OK". Ron is an ex-stage designer and
a perfectionist and he cleans up after himself. But still and all...