Wednesday, March 31, 2010

seder 2010

the leaders
the beautiful Chef P
the wine (sideways and much maligned)
the famous plate filled with bitter herbs, lamb bone, etc.

We had another perfectly delightful Passover dinner last night and
I do believe the food gets better every year. Even the Matzohs tasted
fresh and, of course, the guests and hosts always make it so terrific.
I never tire of hearing about Freedom and all the Jewish symbols and memories. Thank you Great Plotniks for such a special evening.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

it must be spring...

Yesterday we bought 4 new deck chairs at Target and I reported to
the blogmaid this morning that the old tattered ones were picked
up before the sun set last night. SF has this wonderful natural
recycle program, like Chicago and NYC and maybe every large city?
We take bets on how long our throw-aways will remain in front
of the house.

Then today we bought a few plants. It took me years to learn not to
buy more than I wanted to plant. Alas they had sold OUT of Early
Girl tomatoes, the only kind that we can grow. So we'll go back in
a few days and I'll try not to purchase any more flowers. Maybe.

Monday, March 29, 2010

my wiggly friends

Just about a year ago I told you about our compost pile and the
hundreds of worms. The container is way too big for our small
gardening needs and we've offered it to neighbors who refuse
our generosity. (They grow their own...) Husbando refuses to
sit out front of the house with a card table and hand made sign
hoping to sell this really rich earth/food/dirt, so yesterday our
friend Ginger came over and packed up 10 pails (covered, of
course) for her new community garden plot in Pleasanton.
I thought you'd enjoy her your-worms-are-fine email:

You'll be surprised to hear that earthworms have little sense of loyalty and that yours have settled in to their new zip code with a minimum of stress. I don't know if I'd feel the same sense of ease if I'd taken a high speed race in a car trunk, but we're different species aren't we. As night falls, they've snuggled in for the night. Instead of a cup of tea, I gave them a warm water sprinkle and they wriggled in delight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

random sunday thoughts

In bullet form ~ of course:
  • Today is Tut's final day and we are celebrating with a pot luck.
  • We are both loving Breaking Bad, rent it!
  • I had lunch outside in Golden Gate Park yesterday ~ heaven.
  • Almost finished Cutting for Stone by Verghese. A great novel.
  • No more Round Robin until next session. A relief, sort of...
  • My To Do list for April is almost 2 pages. Daunting.
  • We are both looking forward to the Passover celebration Tuesday night.
  • I'm feeling v. proud of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi currently.
  • We are going to Monterey for a vaca break in April. Hooooray.
  • It's Palm Sunday and that used to be a big deal when I was growing up.
OK, on to blueberries and lunch packing and Willie Brown's great
column in the Sunday chronny.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

first things first

Before The Impressionists arrive in May, we have baseball! I tried
to up/download a 2010 Giants' schedule for you, but there were issues.
Well, you can slide over there to the right and click on SF Giants. It
all starts on April 9th - Opening Day. I think our team is pretty good
this year, but I recall saying something like this at the end of March for
the past 15 years. One of my resolutions is to go to more games and I
believe we have a new Muni bus (#10) and I want to give that a test
before the season begins. I'll let you know ~ remember how I loved
Muni for the first week or so when I first took it to the deYoung back
in '08? Hmmmmmm, those days are long gone.

Friday, March 26, 2010

it holds up...

I'm not a huge fan of old movies and I never read a book twice
or watch something 22 times like some folks. Nothing wrong
with it, I'm just more of a "what's new?" kind of woman.

But I wanted to see Nashville again and we did last night. I loved
it in 1975, and although the scene where Keith Carradine sings
to Lilly Tomlin is still enticing, it wasn't quite as powerful
as I remembered. This was one of the first interwoven vignette
films ~ 24 characters in 5 days in the country music capital
of the world. It's a period piece, but still relevant today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

it's time for a change

I am sitting here looking at a bunch of forms that I need to read
and fill out for work. As mentioned before, my contract is up
and I am officially terminated as of March 29th. From all
indications I will be rehired sometime in May at the same job
and for the same amount of money, but until I see that contract,
I'm sort floating in a strange world.

In most respects I'm delighted to have some time off. It looks
like I'll be working 3 or 4 days a week on an "on call" basis.
I've been working on my new To Do list and it includes the
lovely clean-my-office, garden and maybe get dear Ellen
out of the garage where she is tied up. To my readers who
worry about our heroine skipping around and being illogical,
you'll have to get used to it. The author hasn't a clue either, as
we say in the mystery writing world.

Much of the paperwork has to do with Cobra. I'm here to
tell you that the Democrats have done one fine job with this.
I'm eligible for government assistance and the cost will be
affordable to me. I've "done" Cobra before and it was
exorbitant. Not so this time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

little tuna, big tuna, flaco, boochie

...those are the main characters in this fun play we saw last
night at the SF Playhouse on Sutter Street. We are big fans of
this playwright (Stephen Adly Guirgis) who also wrote Jesus
Hopped the A Train and Our Lady of 121st Street. The Den of
Thieves highlights four characters who rob a safe and the
aftermath is lively and unpredictable. Terrific acting, APU.
(As Per Usual)

We met The Great Plotniks and our friend Ginger and her
sister Amy at the play, so it was reunion time and added even
more to the very pleasant evening.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

teacher turns to meth

One of the best things about the Flix® is catching up with TV
series we've missed and never having to worry about commercials.
Breaking Bad is terrific as you've probably heard. Mr. White is
a science teacher who has been diagnosed with cancer and wants
to make a lot of money for his family. He and an inept ex-pupil
stoner dude turn to making meth and it's an extremely fine
example of how good television can be sometimes. Rent it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

the knee update

Today was my 5th appointment and yes, my knees are so much
better after weekly acupuncture. Of course I'll never be pain-free,
but just so I can climb stairs and hills without yelping is a great
relief. A friend wants to stop smoking and Jamie said that the
process can help her, but she has to really want to stop. "No one
really wants to stop," I said. (Lately I've been dozing a bit
during the treatment, that's a very good thing, isn't it?)

Now that I'm no longer a newcomer, I want to recommend:
Jamie Goodman,
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
The Mindful Body
2876 California St.
SF, near Divisadero

Sunday, March 21, 2010

a real work of art

I bought this at the deYoung store yesterday ~ isn't it a great
idea? It's called the Cozy Remote Tidy and it's a heavy black
rubber ~ sort of weighted so it doesn't tip over. Our much-
cursed four remotes used to take up an entire small table,
but not any longer. Cost? $19 and the profit benefits your museum.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

the pier, the memories...

INSIDE OUT (the prompt)

Inside out. Upside down. Backwards. Forwards. Head-over-heels.
Akimbo. Splayed. Searching, searching. This process I go through
everyday during the Round Robin class ~ find something, anything
to write about. Throw the fishing line out into my clogged brain and
maybe, just maybe, I'll get a bite on the hook. A fish, an eel, even a
clump of kelp would work. Toss it again. Stop for coffee and look
out the window. Deep breath. Write.

I used to fish with my father off the pier in San Clemente way before
Richard Nixon spoiled the place. It was a tiny little coastside village
when I was growing up. We'd go down for a week or a month, depending
on lots of things, I guess. I remember one September when I was in
college, I was sitting on the sand getting a tan and reading about the
snow in Boulder, Colorado where I'd be heading in a few days.

Ah, but the fishing. I loved being out there with Daddy, staring at the
ocean and talking a bit. Not much, he was a quiet man and I was a
quiet child. He'd light yet another cigarette and patiently unravel my
tangled line once again. I learned to cast with a rod and reel, but my
best memories are of the simple drop lines from a square wooden
contraption. No fuss, no showing off ~ just drop the line in and hope
for a bite and a fish. Perch, small and perfect. Daddy would clean
them and Mother would dust them with flour and fry them up for
dinner. They tasted like sun and summer and the glorious ocean.

Friday, March 19, 2010

the king will fly away

Here we have RR last Sunday outside the King Tut exhibit at
the deYoung. March 28th is the final Tut day and we will have a
little farewell party in our tiny back office space. My contract is
over and I have learned a lot about both museums and enjoyed
my new friends and the money has been wonderful. So nice to
be able to treat ourselves and not worry. I don't know what the
future brings, but at this stage I know that I have no control
over these things and I'm totally cool with whatever happens.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

finally I get to Emerald City!

What a treat ~ Wicked on St. Pat's Day! I was trying to find a photo
showing all the green, but this will do. I met my friend Patrice at
The Metropol on Sutter and we had too much food, so we walked
down to 8th and Market and spent the afternoon with Glinda, Fiyero,
Boq and Elphaba. I most certainly recommend this fabulous
production ~ my blogmaid friend and RR have seen it twice and
I can understand why. It's long, the first act was about 2 hours and
another hour for the second act, but there is so much energy and
fun that the afternoon flew by. I especially loved the flying monkeys
and the scene when they arrive in Emerald City. It's one of those
plays that is meant for both kids and adults ~ different levels of
humor and sorrow and happiness. Yes, go and go soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a walk at Crissy Field

Who could ever tire of this?
New building with classrooms and a small cafe.
My friend Ginger and I have been walking here for more than 20
years. The natural habitat area is growing by leaps and bounds and
yesterday the sun was out and everyone was delighted to be outside
walking after so much rain this past winter. Since I'm in knee-
protection mode my friend slowed down to accommodate me, so
we had lots of time (and lattes) to discuss everything and everyone.

Husbando joined us for lunch at Eric's and then Ginger headed back
to the East Bay, vowing never to drive again from there to here, if
she could manage that. Two hours yesterday morning due to a
BART snafu. Yikes.

Today is lunch and Wicked with my friend Patrice. I am loving
my extra days off this week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

mondays with livvy

Yesterday was most likely my final outing with Mistress J's pooch. It
has been 4 (or 5?) weeks and we have gradually gotten used to each
other on our Monday afternoon walks. The first time she pulled me
into the Bernal Beast pet store was a real surprise, but by now I know
that she starts thinking about it two or three blocks away. Olivia is
such a gentle dog, so different from our days with the Irish Setter
when every walking moment was filled with tension because, though
not very bright, he did love to growl and confront other dogs, lift
his leg on expensive bikes, try to trip us with his leash, etc. I did find
with Livvy, that I slowed way down for an hour and was able to match
my step to hers. Easy does it, look for the little joys along the way.
Ah yes, smell the flowers.

Finally I had coffee with Mistress J and I'm thrilled to report that
she looks terrific. She's back. We had such a nice chat. Thanks, Jane.

Monday, March 15, 2010

they tempt me too!

OH NO, NOT AGAIN! (the prompt)

Well, I think this is the perfect time and place to discuss exclamation
points, don't you? I am one of those writers who would overuse them,
if given the chance. It's the first thing I do when I go back and reread
an email or a piece of my work. Remove, remove, remove. Not
everything is quite so exciting, Ms. Stein. You are allowed one per
email and that's it. (I was going to use one in that previous sentence,
but now I can't because I gave you the One Rule and I'll probably
need the exclamation point later.)

One of my friends gets emails from her mother and she forwards them
to me and they are packed full of them. Not just the single, but lots of
doubles and triples, which don't tempt me unless I am making fun of
someone or something, but that isn't nice. Here is an example of
her mother's writing:

We landed in London yesterday and had to wait two hours for the bus!!!
We had jet lag last night and your father still snored enough to keep me
awake all night!! Today we are meeting our friends that we met in
Tunisia, remember Edgar and Betty Bumgarden? She's the one who
insists on wearing that stupid red hat and purple scarf!!! I just looked
out the hotel room window and it looks like rain!

My friend isn't exactly close to her brother, but when they email each
other they overuse mom's exclamation points and I think that's rather

I managed to get through this whole write without a serious need to
exclaim. But it wasn't easy...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

for fans of our elusive Ellen

OPEN THE BOX (the prompt)

The daily round robin write, with a nod to that Lord of The Rings
author (you'll see):

There was a package on her front porch when Ellen returned
home from yoga. No UPS or USPS or Fed Ex labels or stamps,
so she guessed that it had been hand delivered. It was bulky
but not heavy, "probably not a bomb," Ellen murmured to
Salmon her big orange cat.

First some coffee. The yoga made her mellow and she had a
busy day of sleuthing ahead, so she boiled the water for her
little Melita® funnel and changed into her detective jeans.
These were comfortable with a waist band that didn't leave
angry red stripes after sitting in her car or following Keith
on foot. She would wear her navy blue blazer for a more
professional look that might be needed when interviewing
hotel clerks, librarians and/or retail workers. Shoes were always a
problem, she'd need to take two pair, but she'd start with the comfy
New Balance® first and throw the Dansko® sandals in her car.

She packed up the tape recorder and camera and then sat down with
her black coffee to open the box. Salmon climbed up on her lap and
helped by pawing the paper from time to time. The address label was
computer-generated, no hint of anyone's handwriting. As she removed
the plain brown paper, Ellen could see that it was the distinctive teal
blue Tiffany box and inside, neatly arranged by index cards with dates
were photographs, hundreds of photographs. It seemed like the
entire life of her missing sister Laurel, from the time she was a babe
in hospital to just recently when she was at the Noe Valley Library
watching Ellen grumble over the poor selection of fiction choices.

Laurel lives!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

season #5 of Weeds

Sheeeesh, these half hour episodes fly by. We watched two
Weeds last night and we're quickly back into the crazy life of
our gentle drug lord Nancy Botwin and her family, friends,
lover and travels in California and Mexico. The youngest son
is growing up way too fast, and Husbando asked, "are you
sure that's the same kid?" We did that with The Sopranos
too. That part is just like real life.

Friday, March 12, 2010

more about that war

Last night we rented HBO's Into the Storm featuring Brendan
Gleeson as Churchill and my favorite Janet McTeer as Clemmie.
If ever a man was born for leading The Brits to victory, it was
Winston ~ his wife endured it all, but we see how much she
hated the whole thing. To me, the best part was when they
attended the Noel Coward play after Winston was defeated in
his bid to be Prime Minister post-war. A new social order
was emerging and and no room for his old thinking.
From the Flix®.

Nice lunch with Ken at Starbelly ~ sitting outside! Catching
up with sun and chisme.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SF is good to and for vets

Beautiful view...
Part of the huge VA Hospital complex
Battle of the Bulge trail down to Legion of Honor parking area

Yesterday I finally walked the 5 minutes from where I park to take
the easy trail up to the VA Hospital where I had lunch. Not great
food, but terrific prices ~ big sandwich and a Coke® for $4.75.
The whole area is always packed, but the cafeteria is organized
well and I took my lunch outside to enjoy this spectacular view.

Spring is definitely in the air here in Frisco and I so appreciated
the view and I saluted all the vets milling around and vowed to
return here often for a different perspective.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

scalping can be fun?

The blogmaid gave Inglorious Basterds to Husbando, so I had
plenty of time to avoid watching it since we weren't in a hurry
to return it to the Flix®. I knew it was bloody and the whole
WW II horror still gives me nightmares, but I wanted to see
why Christopher Waltz won best supporting actor last Sunday
night. Well, surprise ~ I loved it and I even think I'll watch it
again. Bill was there to tell me when to cover and open my
eyes, so that really helped.

Not only was Christopher Waltz wonderful, I so enjoyed Brad
Pitt with his hillbilly persona. My favorite scene was when the
guy comes out of the tunnel with...well, some of you haven't
seen it, but the sound effects are impressive. It takes place in
occupied France, but I'm sure you knew that. See it!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

a little poem to cheer you

Bitter Pill

A bitter pill
doesn’t need
to be swallowed
to work. Just
reading your name
on the bottle
does the trick.

Kay Ryan

Monday, March 08, 2010

the good olde days

(photo borrowed from the internet)
I was in a "how come I have to work on a beautiful Sunday?" kind
of funk yesterday morning until Mistress Jane wrote that she
liked my daily write. My whole day got better, so here you go:


We've kept a big freezer in our garage since the beginning of time. A
vertical kind, not one of those long horizontal mothers wherein people
find dead bodies in the movies. We also have a second refrigerator
down there where we keep extra cold stuff that we buy at Costco,
plus some fake beer, fruit juice and eggs.

But let's attack the freezer this morning. I wonder if Bill remembers
the days when we had to defrost the freezer? Oh, that was fun ~
everything and then getting out the hair dryer, pots and
pans of scalding hot
water and listening for the big ice chunks to
drop after about an hour or so.
Oh yes, we'd also go in with dull
knives and try to chip away, chip away.
Good lord, what a
waste of a day that was. And a mess, of course.

Yes, we've come a long way with appliances, in many respects. On
other hand, a friend was telling us about her rather new stove
and how
it's computer-based now and the repair bill for something
small was $700. It
brings to mind the new cars and Toyota and
how many of us think the
gas pedal problems are somehow
computer-related and what a hornet's
nest that can be.

This write makes me want to hold on to both our stove and our
2000 Toyota
with the manual roll-up windows and gas pedal
that doesn't have a mind
of its own.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

big box reflections

I'm still an avid reader of the Borders web site by and for
employees (and hated by management) and that's how I
know that they just endured another round of layoffs. I
still have emotional ties to the big box and reams of daily
writes about my experiences there. Even though the
company limps along, they are shedding their older
employees and trying to exist with mostly part-time
workers who don't get those expensive benefits. When
I first started working there they wanted only FT people
because we would be the most dedicated. How times
change in such a short time (9 years).

My move to the museums was the right thing to do.
At the end of Tut (3/28) my contract will be up, but I
might be asked to stay on for The Impressionists.
We'll see, I don't want to get my hopes up. In the
meantime, we've tucked a lot of money away for the
rainy days and I've made some terrific new friends.
It's been a fabulous experience, so please tell me
why do I still miss the insanity of my Borders life?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

we will not be silent

We are gearing up for International Women's Day on March 8th.
I've been a Feminist for decades and even though I see a lot of
backward sliding, all in all things have improved dramatically.
When I was growing up I never saw a woman bus driver, dentist,
senator, doctor or lawyer. Now there are role models for young
girls and choices galore. Back in the dark days there were 4
choices: housewife (#1), teacher, librarian, secretary. It was
a screwy time and recently one of my round robin partners
(in her 30s, I guess) wrote about how we had spoiled it for her
generation because she had to work at a boring job and she
could be married, raising darling children and having a loving
relationship with a devoted husband. Oh no, that wasn't the
way it worked ~ go watch Revolutionary Road again.

Friday, March 05, 2010

new book awaits!

I popped into Books, Inc. yesterday to give some daffodils to
my friend Ken and to pick up Cutting For Stone which is
finally out in trade paperback. My friend Susan (and lesser
professional reviewers) recommended this novel which is
about orphaned twin brothers born of a secret union.
The author is Abraham Verghese who is a professor at
the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

now let's be honest

Love Ricky Gervais? Me too, but this movie is just plain not
very good. It's about an impossible world where everyone
tells the truth and Ricky discovers how easy and productive
it is to lie. So even with the Netflix, my suggestion to you
is to skip this movie and catch this genius on The Daily Show.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

meet Mr. Patchen

There is a tiny exhibit at the Legion of Honor that impresses
me far more than Cartier. Kenneth Patchen was an artist and
poet (1911 - 1972) and I had never heard of him. I LOVE his
work and I urge you to pop in downstairs, next to the cafe
(you can visit the stores and cafe for free!) and enjoy this
little exhibit. Here is something I wrote down to remember
him by:

Everyman is me, I am his brother. No man is my enemy.
I am Everyman and he is in and of me.

This is my faith, my strength, my deepest hope and my
only belief.
-Kenneth Patchen

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

saved by Mary in Bisbee!

We have had record winter rains and snow and all are looking forward to a wonderful spring with wild flowers. The old timers say that we will see a profusion of wildflowers whose seeds have been waiting to bloom for years. The mountains have been covered in snow all winter. So, inspite of the unusual cold weather, it is quite beautiful. The tourists have started arriving for the great bird migration. Because of the cold weather, the winter birds are still here, the ones who stay here all the time are around, the ones who nest here are beginning to arrive, and the migration has begun with a trickle. Soon all of Cochise county will be filled with bird song. A friend came down from Tucson and wanted to climb the mountain in Old Bisbee where folks have built altars. It was quite arduous, but we made it. A very strange place. When I lived in Old Bisbee, my house was just below that area. and I would occasionally hike up there. There are large permanent grottoes (how did they get the materials up this steep mountain?), but people also leave small mementos and little bits of glass and beads tucked among the rocks. The trees are draped with those Tibetan prayer flags called 'wind horses'. It's a living process. And as a result the area breathes human hope

Monday, March 01, 2010

but not for me...

Husbando and the rest of the audience appreciated Bertolt
Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle far more than I did
last night. My favorite actors were in this play: Rene Augesen,
Anthony Fusco, Rod Gnapp, Gregory Wallace, Jack Willis
and the entire cast was terrific. Plays like this make me
feel really dumb and unsophisticated and I'm ready for a
dose of Big Love tonight. Now THAT I can understand.