Thursday, April 30, 2009

the Academy of Sciences, up close

Up on the roof, one of the 7 hills of San Francisco.
Lots of growth up here ~ some look like weeds.
Is Claude, the albino alligator, stuffed? He never moves.
Detail from the old Steinhart aquarium.
I like how they did the donor wall ~ our names are missing, however.
I think the miles and miles of fish and sea things are the best part of
the Academy, although we were able to be nose-to-nose with the
penguins because we hit the Academy at 8:30am on Tuesday. I gave
Husbando a membership for xmas and he often goes without me
because I usually work Tuesdays, but it was fun to have the time to
poke around. We finally enjoyed the Morrison Planetarium show, even
though I tend to get motion sickness when they fly through space.

The Academy is a huge success and because da deYoung is right across
the way, I hear lots of complaints about the crowds and lines, etc.
I bet in a year it will settle down and maybe they will limit the number
of school groups. I did, however, just read that they are having new
free days for San Francisco citizens based now on zip codes. Maybe that will help.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

special wednesday add on!

RR loves her new Giants dress and wore it to pre-school today.
We had LOTS of time to shop because the person who carried
the tickets was just a few minutes late. But we forgive and forget
quickly and easily, years of marriage will do that to you.

giants playing poorly

It was indeed a gloriously clear night at The Jewel.
Here is "the baseball group" sans Sally, who for reasons only she knows,
decided to watch the game on her mammoth TV. At least she could
turn it off early. Above we have notthat, The Great Plotnik and our
blogmaid. Note the woman in the pink cap next to the icky Dodger
blue guy. She did her homework during the entire game. We all
loved that. It was cold, the person who had the tickets was late and
the Giants lost ~ now you tell me why we still had a great time. Maybe
it was the jerk behind us (there is always one, or more) who yelled
"Cheeseburger" when the icky Dodgers were in the field. Did he
mean Chad Billingsley, the pitcher, or was he simply hungry?

There were several more strange details to record here. Lots and lots
of empty seats. Peculiar, no? As it grew colder, about 100 seagulls flew
above us, eerie under the white lights because they became ethereal
and almost transparent. No one could photograph them properly, but
that was more fun than watching the Giants drop fly balls and forget
how to steal bases. Oh, and we declined a cup of coffee because it
cost $5...plain old black coffee. Sheeeeeeesh. Parking cost $30, but
we are hiding that fact from Husbando forever.

Tomorrow I'll post about our trip to the Academy of Sciences in GGP.
We were there yesterday at 8:30am and finally "did" the Morrison
Planetarium Redux. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

barcelona on the 32" screen

Yesterday was a bit blustery, but I got in a good nabe walk and
then watched this fun movie as a reward. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
features the architect Gaudi, the dreamy Javier Bardem, Scarlett
Johansson, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz who is sensational
in this Woody Allen comedy. Patricia Clarkson too, she is getting
a lot of work lately and that's a very good thing. (We spent a week
in Barcelona once and it is such a beautiful and interesting city.)

Baseball on TV last night (we won) and in person tonight. I'll
report on that tomorrow. Gloves, scarf, heavy Giants' jacket
and some ugly hat too ~ all in orange and black, of course.

Monday, April 27, 2009

entering a time warp

Nothing seems to change in Bolinas.
Lots of grey haired hippies, but they didn't seem to be in the mood for me to take their photos.
Beautiful sunshine and flowers ~ an easy drive, too.
Our friend Vera's potluck lunch for 13 was a huge success. Her husband, Curt, died last year and I admire her for pulling together a gala Sunday event. The food was all good and that kind of sunshine-with-slight-wind weather made everyone extra hungry. The drive both ways was beautiful, even when I had the CHP guy on my tail for what seemed like a really long time, before I could pull over and let him pass. And not one sign that indicated where Bolinas is, but we had a detailed map from Curt the artist, another gift he gave us all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

where hippies still rule

Imagine, my second Sunday off in a row! We are heading to Bolinas
for a party and I will return with real photos. This one I snagged from
the internet, the oft-photographed Peace Farm in Bolinas. We all
remember that this little town hates visitors and especially the ones
with any sort of discretionary income. I hope we arrive early and can
poke around the downtown and maybe find some decent coffee. I
just read that the maximum time a Bolinas highway sign was left up
was 36 hours, or maybe 36 minutes? In any event, we have a map
and lots of time to say, "oooops, turn around", and like that. And how
did we EVER travel without cell phones?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

who would have thought?

The blogmaid shamed, cajoled and dragged me into joining Facebook®
and now I am here to say thanks and I will quickly list what the
benefits have been for me:
1) finding old friends and acquaintances
2) keeping up (or not) with peoples' lives
3) information ~ yesterday I asked for book suggestions and I received
enough to keep me reading for several months
4) communication ~ on Wednesday one of our museum co-workers
was in a car accident and by nightfall we all knew she was OK,
via Facebook
5) photos and more photos

There is an alumni group for all of the folks who used to work at
the big box and of course it is HUGE and varied. What a pleasure.

Friday, April 24, 2009

friday night in the park

I'm working the closing shift at the de Young tonight. Here is a
photo I borrowed from the museum website to show the big table
and kids doing art projects. (If it were from my camera I would
straighten it.) There will be music (loud) and many guests including
my friend Ken, who will visit and take in the Warhol. I don't "do"
the exhibits the way I thought I would and plan to rectify that soon.
Originally I thought I'd go and gaze at the treasures everyday ~ I don't, alas.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

back to normal weather here

Seems like folks either love or hate that hot weather, but in any
case it never lasts for more than 3 or 4 days, so we move on to
other subjects now. Here we have RR enjoying some beach time
before the fog rolled back in yesterday.

I'm off today ~ a little yoga this morning to add a bit more serenity
to my life. Getting ready for a Giants game next Tuesday night,
how fun will that be? The blogmaid suggested that we avoid sitting
near any blue scumsucking Dodger fans and as usual, she's spot on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

whose blog is this?

An unassuming planter in a Bernal Heights backyard...
Last year The Great Plotnik gave us some bulbs. I plunked them into
a container and promptly forgot to water them because we had the
ladder infestation for months and months on end. Well, look what
popped out yesterday ~ the famous blue iris. TGP blogged about theirs
yesterday, and I will do the same today. Glorious, thanks DD!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

the song of samsung

We spent a lot of yesterday putting our new 32" TV together. Over the
years we have learned that these projects can add a certain strain to
an otherwise perfect marriage, so there were many breaks and "I'll
go water the garden and scream silently at you again", kind of moments.
But we did it and no blood was shed. The picture is fabulous and so
large in our tiny back room that it is almost scary, but not quite.
Melissa Leo has been one of our favorite actors since back in the
days of Homicide on TV. Of course she is fabulous here in Frozen
River which takes place on the Canadian border and I do give it
many stars and a few Kleenex®, but in a good way. It's the story
of smuggling and poverty, but really, in the end the movie is all
about women's friendship. We can't go wrong with that theme.

Monday, April 20, 2009

sunshine and parties

Yesterday was glorious ~ Crissy Field looked like the SoCal beaches of
my youth with kids, blankets, umbrellas, dogs, picnic baskets and a
ton of walkers, runners and bicyclers. Perfect.

Then last night an engagement party for Lucy (above), a co-worker at
MY museum. Fun, such nice people. Interesting to note that everyone
dressed for this occasion ~ no flip flops, torn jeans nor shorts.
And because of this extreme summer weather everyone could sit
outside the Metropol down on Sutter and enjoy drinks and (alas)
cigarettes. More hot weather today, imagine.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

a rare Sunday off

For the past 20 years (or so) I've worked on Sundays and that's
OK with me, it's usually a mellow day. As a result, when I do have
a Sunday off, it seems like an exquisite treat. The streets are so
quiet and there really is a sort a reverential (right word?) hush
all over the world.

I'll be walking down at Ocean Beach with Ginger who is BARTing
over from Pleasanton. Then we will have lunch somewhere with
Husbando and tonight is a party for the museum staff. My first.

Falling was written by the woman of Cazalet Chronicle fame,
Elizabeth Jane Howard. It's about an older man and woman (in
their eeeeeeek sixties) who fall in love. I almost put it down
because the man has many slimeball features, but the blogmaid
pushed me into going back and I'm glad I did. Of course it is
based on Ms. Howard's life, she was married to Kingsley Amis
and then she met this strange man whom she calls Henry. It
is a fine novel and I recommend it to my women friends.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

not bad at all

Here is the "after" photo. It took me one double espresso and most of
the afternoon yesterday, but my office now welcomes me. It helped to
listen to Leonard Cohen and also to pretty much know that slipping
papers into a file folder isn't nearly as rewarding as putting them into
the blue recycle-only garbage can. I do love clean flat surfaces.

The rest of the day sped by. Downtown for new glasses (Cobra) and
reading Falling which I will review tomorrow, as I should have finished
it by then. Work today, back on the #33 for some more writerly fodder.

Friday, April 17, 2009

do I really need this 1982 letter?

I was appalled and delighted to see so many examples when I Googled
"messy office" this morning. Today will be my yearly (?) clean-up, and
although my little basement space isn't this bad, it still begs for some
filing, tossing and attention. Because of my writing, I not only keep
my work, but all the lovely and helpful remarks from my Tiapos friends.
And then I have had a few careers and I do keep files filled with non-
sense from those varied and not always 100% successful endeavors.
Recently I updated my résumé (!) and I actually delved back into the
dim/distant pass and was glad I kept some (not all) of that information.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

i am a dolt

Last night we watched Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as they
discussed the tax protesters ~ they had their adorable left wing smirks
on every time the term "tea bagging" was used. Before I went to bed
I checked the Urban Dictionary and now I understand why these
patriots were so upset and of course I'm greatly amused. But because
this blog has thousands of readers under 18, I will let you look this
up for yourself. Or maybe Husbando and I are the only ones who didn't
GET the joke, although looking at the protesters on TV, I betcha they
were just as clueless as we were.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

and now for a professional review...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

like a bird on a wire

I don't go to many musical events, but even if I did, I would have to
say that the Leonard Cohen concert last night at the Paramount
Theatre in Oakland was the best of the best. No opening group, it
started promptly at 8pm and lasted until after 11. He was on stage
the entire time with a group of 3 women and 6 back-up musicians.
I thought the lighting was spectacular and the audience well-behaved
and so, so appreciative.

My love of Leonard is mostly because he is such a poet and an
interesting and still sexy man. His voice was strong, deep and
gravelly, as you know. Here were some of my all-time favorites:
  • Waiting for the Miracle
  • Hallelujah
  • I'm Your Man
  • Tower of Song
  • Take this Waltz
  • Democracy
  • So Long Marianne
  • Famous Blue Raincoat
  • Chelsea Hotel
  • If it be Your Will
  • Bird on a Wire
  • In My Secret Life
  • A Thousand Kisses Deep
  • Closing Time
Indeed I missed a few there. Our seats were terrific.
Beforehand, Dancing Jen and I had fried chicken sandwiches
in Oakland and got caught up on each others' lives. It was a
very, very special evening and I so want to thank Jen for
getting the tickets. It was a night to remember, I'm glowing
even with a certain lack of sleep.

Oh, and the BART business worked out just fine. Perfect.

Monday, April 13, 2009

not your typical Easter movie

One of the great benefits for me of working in both bookstores and
now the museum, is that I am surrounded by knowledgeable film
buffs who recommend movies that I would never ever hear about
otherwise. When I started at the deYoung back in December, Travis
and I trained together and what is that expression? Kittens in the
same litter box? Well, whatever, Travis told me about this film.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters tells the true story of the life
of Yukio Mishima, a famous Japanese writer and military guy
who killed himself in a dramatic manner in 1970. I can't pretend
to understand or see what "real" film critics do, but both Husbando
and I felt that we learned a lot about someone we had never really
known about before. Directed by Paul Schrader.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

here's to Easter...

Egg wreath in Pumpkinville
RR concentrates on winning the egg race
Chance, Jessie, Evie and RR hop to it
Girls love games, bunnies, parties, baskets, chocolate,
springtime and Easter

Thanks for the great photos, blogmaid! Today I'm working out at
the Legion of Honor and look forward once again to having lunch
over there at the end of San Francisco ~ admiring the bay, bridge
and hills. I think back to when I worked at B&N and some young
thing was whining because the store was open on Easter Sunday.
"The whole world isn't Christian, Silly One", I said. Honestly, I
don't think she had ever considered that before.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

good book news!

Delacorte to Release Collection of Unpublished Vonnegut Stories

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/10/2009

Kurt Vonnegut’s longtime publisher, Delacorte Press, has announced it will issue 14 never-before published short stories by the author, who died in 2007, in a new collection, Look at the Birdie, slated for publication in November 2009. Donald C. Farber, co-executor of Vonnegut’s estate, brokered the world rights deal.

The publication of Look at the Birdie coincides with Delacorte’s reissuing of 15 Vonnegut backlist titles in packages featuring artwork Vonnegut created. Shortly before Look at the Birdie goes on sale, Delacorte will release new editions of The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Slaughterhouse Five and Galápagos, and the house will publish additional titles over the following months. Other original forthcoming titles will include a second collection of Vonnegut’s unpublished writings as well as a book of letters sent to and from the author over the course of his life. Delacorte has also acquired a follow-up memoir by Vonnegut’s son, pediatrician Mark Vonnegut, author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity (1975).

Look at the Birdie will include original Vonnegut illustrations and a foreword by Sidney Offit, a longtime Vonnegut confidant and the current curator of the George Polk Awards in Journalism. Bantam Dell publisher and editor-in-chief Nita Taublib and editor Kerri Buckley put the collection together. Taublib said, “Considered independently, these are 14 exceptionally intricate short pieces by an author whose voice we miss immensely. Taken together, they give the reader a clear sense of Kurt Vonnegut’s development into one of the most beloved and original American writers of all time.”

Friday, April 10, 2009

cutting to the basics

Thanks again to Dancing Jen for this very refreshing photo. And
also to Mr. Z for the writing tip below, which I really need to
remember and practice.

Walk Around. This isn’t purely a tech tip, but boy is it important to me while writing. Writing takes a lot of mental energy, and it helps enormously to get up and get the blood flowing at regular intervals. Many of the most revered writers who ever lived followed this as a best practice. Nabokov wrote most of his many novels standing at a lectern, handwriting. Hemingway did this too, including a lot of pacing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

twelve plus elijah

Passover is a lot of work ~ thanks Ms. and Mr. Plotnik!
Maniechevitz wine, the passover plate, Haggadah books and a yamaka

Every year gets even better at the GREAT Plotniks' passover dinner.
Last night we had a surprise visit from Elliot/Elijah, who now lives in
North Carolina and has been with us for the past two celebrations.
There was so much good food (beef brisket had the starring role) and
by now we feel like we know Pippa, Steve and Lois too.

I had a thought while reading about the unleavened bread last night.
No, it wasn't gratitude that the stores actually had matzohs this year,
I contemplated how so many Jews (husbando included) are genuinely
concerned with freedom and human rights around the world. Perhaps
this has to do with the yearly reading of the plight of their people
escaping slavery so long ago and being admonished time and time
again that if one group of people is enslaved, no one is free. No one.

A truly delightful evening, thanks again to the hosts.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the truth in black & white

An almost full house last night for Tracey Scott Wilson's The
Story, an excellent play featuring 3 black reporters, 1 white
trust fund baby newspaper guy and the murder of a white man.
The SF Playhouse and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre partnered
on this West Coast premiere production of a riveting familiar-
sounding story about truth, morality and ambition. We left
feeling drained (in a good way) and asked each other if/who
had more to ponder here ~ African Americans or whites. So
much to think about. Go see this play!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

inside the Old Mint

I finally got inside this building at 5th and Mission yesterday for the
San Francisco: Faces of the City exhibition of 140 portraits of the
famous and not-so. Fun to walk around those old rooms and look
at a the portraits. Some were excellent, especially Di Fi's. Others
were less than average, but it was enjoyable for me to be in this
building that I've admired for many, many years.

Macy's A Bohemian Garden Flower Show didn't seem as beautiful
as usual and they used a lot of ugly little Disney-type fairies and
horses with wings. But of course it's well worth seeing if you are in
the downtown area. I avoided the big box, visited my eye doctor
and loved being in the heart of the city. Still lots of tourists here.

It's been 2 years today since we went to Italy. Not possible.

Monday, April 06, 2009

gods, half gods, muses, warriors

Argh, at least we were warned by all critics (including the best of
the bunch, The Great Plotnik) that this was a long and tedious
production. Because we sit in the second row and made eye contact
with many of our favorite actors, we stayed through the entire
play. Neither of us care about Greek mythology or Troy or who
carries a grudge in the 8th century. Some of the staging in War
Music was terrific and of course the actors did their damndest,
but the theater was almost empty and I'm pretty sure everyone
at ACT and beyond will be happy when this particular play is over.

The good news. I took the #5 Fulton bus from da deYoung to
Market and Powell ~ about 1/2 hour and filled with tourists
speaking French. I pretended not to understand them...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

les twists e les turns

Tell No One is a thriller mystery of the French variety ~ as though
they aren't puzzling enough. It's complicated and a LOT of fun,
and once again we have Kristin Scott Thomas to admire. In a
nutshell: eight years ago Dr. Beck's wife was murdered and he is
the prime suspect. Then he gets an anonymous email with a
video that shows his wife is alive. Oooooooh, the plot and
subplots are as thick and rich as a French custard. Flix® it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

a great idea, in theory

I remember how pleased I was last year reading about summer road
closures on Saturdays in Golden Gate Park. Well, parking is never
a huge pleasure there for the workers, so that means I'm going to
be taking the bus on weekends now. Of course we know how much
I loved taking the bus last December, but time and experience does
change our outlook, doesn't it? If only all the crazies didn't want
to sit and babble next to me, but they do. More writerly fodder...

Friday, April 03, 2009

pleasant animals help creativity

The darling Linda over there on the right sent me these lined notebooks
that she found in Japantown. Under the Cook? and Cleaning? they both
read, "Please enjoy studying with this notebook. The story of pleasant
animals". There are no animals, other than the front covers, they are
blank. Linda's note tells me to write in these books while Husbando
cooks and cleans. OK, by me. I felt more creative the moment they
arrived in Casa Verde. Thanks, Linda!

Here is a writing tip from yesterday's Facebook (thanks, Mr. Z) ~
Write From the Center Out. This is a tip that can really help eliminate writer’s block. When I used to write a lot of news posts, I would put a quote I got from a source in a blank document, write a piece of analysis above it to frame the quote, and then insert a transition sentence right after the quote. Boom, the news story already had a feel to it and some direction even before its official beginning, with no labor over an earth-shaking lead sentence. Try it.

Yesterday after lunch with ex-boss Ken at American Chow on
Church, I went to Creativity Explored on 16th Street. A very cool
art studio and gallery. Thanks again to Linda for this suggestion.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

first official haircut!

Here we have 5 year old RR with her long, long hair...
The haircut was RR's idea, so no trauma involved.
Doesn't she look beautiful?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

out to our backyard today

It's a lot of work for two people, but we can do it.

Well, this is actually the Fioli Gardens somewhere south of here, but
you get the picture. It's time to weed and plant ~ Husbando did a lot
yesterday while I pranced around the de Young, today is my turn.
I hope I don't find anymore dead mice that are actually rats. Ick.
We are having beautiful spring weather lately and our compost is
the perfect consistency, filled with happy worms. Hand me the trowel,
please, and is it too early for lunch?