Friday, December 31, 2010

it's a wrap

Not my favorite year. I guess there were some good things ~ the work,
the marriage and my wonderful friends. But losing Michael and
worrying about Mistress Jane's breast cancer make me feel heavy
and grey. Really, the highlight was probably the World Series win
and that's more than I could say if I lived in Philadelphia.

Tonight is our traditional standing rib roast with garlic mashed
potatoes. Bette Midler is on HBO. One of her preview lines:
"thirty years ago my audience was on drugs, now you're all
on prescription medications." Funny stuff, which we need.

Already 10 years ago was the Millennium. Peter Jennings in
his tuxedo. I still miss him. Time for a nap. 2011 will be better,
or not. Thanks for reading...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

how many have you read?

The New York Times

December 1, 2010

The 10 Best Books of 2010


By Jonathan Franzen.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.

The author of “The Corrections” is back, not quite a decade later, with an even richer and deeper work — a vividly realized narrative set during the Bush years, when the creedal legacy of “personal liberties” assumed new and sometimes ominous proportions. Franzen captures this through the tribulations of a Midwestern family, the ­Berglunds, whose successes, failures and appetite for self-invention reflect the larger story of millennial America.

By Ann Beattie.
Scribner, $30.

As these 48 stories published in The New Yorker from 1974 through 2006 demonstrate, Beattie, even as she chronicled and satirized her post-1960s generation, also became its defining voice. She punctures her characters’ pretensions and jadedness with an economy and effortless dialogue that writers have been trying to emulate for three decades, though few, if any, have matched her seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool.

By Emma Donoghue.
Little, Brown & Company, $24.99.

Donoghue has created one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction: an ebullient child narrator, held captive with his mother in an 11-by-11-foot room, through whom we encounter the blurry, often complicated space between closeness and autonomy. In a narrative at once delicate and vigorous — rich in psychological, sociological and political meaning — Donoghue reveals how joy and terror often dwell side by side.

By William Trevor.
Viking, $35.

Gathering work from Trevor’s previous four collections, this volume shows why his deceptively spare fiction has haunted and moved readers for generations. Set mainly in Ireland and England, Trevor’s tales are eloquent even in their silences, documenting the way the present is consumed by the past, the way ancient patterns shape the future. Neither modernist nor antique, his stories are timeless.

By Jennifer Egan.
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95.

Time is the “goon squad” in this virtuosic rock ’n’ roll novel about a cynical record producer and the people who intersect his world. Ranging across some 40 years and inhabiting 13 different characters, each with his own story and perspective, Egan makes these disparate parts cohere into an artful whole, irradiated by a Proustian feel for loss, regret and the ravages of love.


APOLLO’S ANGELS: A History of Ballet
By Jennifer Homans.
Random House, $35.

Here is the only truly definitive history of classical ballet. Spanning more than four centuries, from the French Renaissance to American and Soviet stages during the cold war, Homans shows how the art has been central to the social and cultural identity of nations. She meticulously reconstructs entire eras, describing the evolution of ballet technique while coaxing long-lost dances back to life. And she raises a crucial question: In the 21st century, can ballet survive?

By Stacy Schiff.
Little, Brown & Company, $29.99.

With her signature blend of wit, intelligence and superb prose, Schiff strips away 2,000 years of prejudices and propaganda in her elegant reimagining of the Egyptian queen who, even in her own day, was mythologized and misrepresented.

By Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Scribner, $30.

Mukherjee’s magisterial “biography” of the most dreaded of modern afflictions. He excavates the deep history of the “war” on cancer, weaving haunting tales of his own clinical experience with sharp sketches of the sometimes heroic, sometimes misguided scientists who have preceded him in the fight.

FINISHING THE HAT: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, ­Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
By Stephen Sondheim.
Alfred A. Knopf, $39.95.

The theater’s pre-eminent living songwriter offers a master class in how to write a musical, covering some of the greatest shows, from “West Side Story”  to “Sweeney Todd.” Sondheim’s analysis of his and others’ lyrics is insightful and candid, and his anecdotes are telling and often very funny.

THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson.
Random House, $30.

Wilkerson, a former national correspondent for The Times, has written a masterly and engrossing account of the Great Migration, in which six million African-Americans abandoned the South between 1915 and 1970. The book centers on the journeys of three black migrants, each representing a different decade and a different destination.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the coin is tossed

We have been Joseph Gordon-Levitt fans ever since he was a
boy star on 3rd Rock From the Sun. However this movie is
not one that either of us liked very much. Uncertainty is
actually two stories ~ a couple toss a coin and we see how
their 4th of July turns out. Heads is a gangster thriller chase,
Tails is a day with her family. Both are avoidable.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a walk in the burbs

A scene in Pleasanton ~ just for the Blogmaid to enlarge and appreciate.

Ginger felt that this cul de sac was the coup de gras. (sp?)

Yesterday was v. special. First coffee and pumpkin bread in front of
Ginger's toasty fireplace, then lunch in downtown Pleasanton (every
restaurant is always busy there, and pretty damn good, too) and
then our walk around the nabes with constant chatter and evaluation
of the yard decor. Being nice (rare) we decided that these colorful
works of art probably look a lot better at night with excessive
lights under the cover of darkness. Other than our critiquing, we
discussed everything and everyone and had a grand old time.

I came home to Husbando who announced that we had been
invited to The Great Plotniks for dinner. Hoooooray, I love those
surprises. More wonderful friends and food (crab!) and so nice
to be with their children and extra special grand dot, Isabella.
Yes, they all knew it was our wedding anniversary, so we
had a very special celebration around their big, friendly table.

These are the kinds of days that I'd like to put inside a snow
globe (with non-harsh weather) to carry with me during
difficult times. Put it on my work desk, take it to hospitals
and memorial services, bring it out when insomnia batters
me around. A gentle light too, for dark times. (Maybe this
blog will be almost as effective ~ already I'm able to read
about the happy 2005 xmas walk with Michael without tears.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

enough is enough

San Francisco makes compost from the trees we leave on the
sidewalk and we are ready to add ours to the mix. I'm glad the
economy is recovering, but this is such a materialistic time of
year and even though we've cut waaaaaaaay back, we still
end up spending a bit foolishly. If I weren't an agnostic, I'd
be even more cash-register resentful, I'm sure.

Today, after the tree dismantling, I'm going to take BART out
for a Girl Walk, coffee, food, laughter, tears and conversation
with my dear friend Ginger. I need this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

of movies and family

Oh, boy, this is some movie! I just wrote the Blogmaid that if
I could see it again immediately I would have, and I'm not one
to read books twice or see a movie more than once. The King's
is simply fabulous and I was lost in England before
World War Two. Laughter and tears, BYOKleenex®.

Then we drove slowly to the East Bay. The rain was not too
bad and folks were actually driving with some sanity. We
had a fine dinner with John and Kathy and our new grand
dog Daisy who is in training, but a sweetheart. An
exceedingly nice day, just the way we like it. Oh, the
food was delicious too. And yes, I work today and we
will be B-U-S-Y.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry movie season!

Merry Christmas to all. Thank you for reading my blog. It's
your gift to me. Whenever I think maybe it should die a
natural death, I receive a comment that encourages me to
keep up the daily words.

Now. 44 Inch Chest. We watched this last night after our
delicious roasted crab dinner. Ian McShane, Tom Wilkinson
and a few other unusual British gangsters gather together
to help their friend Colin recover from his heartbreak after
his wife leaves him for another man. Very funny stuff. We
encourage you to use the subtitles as this is a little hard
to understand without them. Damn English.

9am this morning ~ The King's Speech. Have a wonderful
day with family and friends!

Friday, December 24, 2010

a surprise in the mail

Cure Leukemia

This lovely ornament was enclosed in a holiday card from my
new friend, Pam, who took such wonderful care of Michael for
those intense six months while he was in and out of Cottage
Hospital in Santa Barbara. They have been devoted friends
since high school and when I start to grieve, I remember that
Pam's pain is so much deeper than mine, and covers so many
more years and memories. Our Christmas tree is complete
now, I think it was just waiting for this final, special touch.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a sample here, a sample there

One of the many things I love about my LindaKindle® is
that I can sample books. I've mentioned this before, but
perhaps you weren't paying attention. Currently I'm reading
a REAL book entitled The Spare Room by Helen Garner
and I'm sampling Fannie Flagg's new novel I Still Dream
About You, as well as this Solar by Ian McEwan on my LK.
I have never forgotten Ian's incredible Saturday, have you?

There's a good chance that instead of purchasing Pedro and
pissing off Husbando, I'll click on the Amazon "Buy Now"
button for both of these sample novels. So easy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

lunch at Lefty's

The Blogmaid and RR and...
Sophie(pie) and Jeanmarie
Jeanmarie is one of my ex-bosses (from Borders) and she and the
Blogmaid and I meet every holiday season, or at least we try to.
Yesterday the girls were a bit shy with each other, but they warmed
up at the end. We 3 wise women had some nice and fun conversation
and then went to Macy's where I fell in love with a kitty named
Pedro. That window is deadly, stay away unless your wallet and
home need a new challenge. Blogmaid, did you get a photo of
Pedro? I didn't dare. A really fine downtown day, thanks to all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

discovering Cairo

This is a very sweet movie, almost a travelogue, and one that
was most welcome after a busy yesterday at the deYoung.
Patricia Clarkson (Juliette) meets Alexander Siddig (Tareq)
who shows her around the city while she awaits the arrival
of her husband. Cairo Time is a quiet movie with a lot of
depth as these two try to deal with their unexpected mutual
attraction. And Cairo itself? Busy, beautiful, intriguing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

it keeps happening...

Can you believe this is Kingston, the nephew of Dancing Jen?
He's a little boy already. I love/love/love this photo because
not only is he such a doll, he is with two of my favorite people
from my Borders days: Jay on the left and Corry (aka Corriander)
on the right. Too wonderful.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

today's daily write


This could be a historical day, one that has been long-delayed. Today
(maybe) the Senate will repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy for
men and women in the armed services. What has taken so long?

We do everything so slowly here. It seems like it took forever to
integrate the military back in the 50's (I think). And then to allow
women to serve alongside men was not an easy task. There are
always the right wing, conservative white men with their old
fashioned arguments that don't hold water, beer, wine or tea.

Is this retroactive? What happens to all of those who have been
fired and can't collect benefits nor use the wonderful V.A. Medical
Centers? I need to check this out when I read the chronny this
morning. Not that their coverage is so terrific, maybe I'll go online.

In any event, I feel positive about today's vote. We left wingers
get impatient with Obama, but things are slowly getting done.
Fingers crossed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

love and marriage

The Kids Are All Right disproves my often-thought theory that
marriage has to be easier for lesbians because they don't have
to contend with the Mars Venus business. Wrong, according to
this excellent movie. Long term relationships are simply not
easy ~ rewarding, yes, but so many land mines along the way.

We both loved the very natural feel to this film, especially
the at-home scenes with Annette Bening and Juliette Moore.
Mark Ruffalo is the sperm donor father and he is such an
interesting character that I'm sure he was based on some
person known only to the writer. The kids are not just all
right, they are fabulous too. Rent it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RR photo redo

We should add .patient

an even better list!



RR conquers reading and writing and more. Thanks for the
happy photos this morning, Blogmaid.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

san francisco vignette

Husbando was walking on 24th Street in Noe Valley and a
young man (high school age) was selling wreaths. Fund-raising.
They smile, nod and then...

Boy - would you like to buy a Christmas wreath?
Husbando - I'm Jewish
Boy - so am I

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the truth be told

(Mistress Jane liked my Round Robin piece from yesterday,
so I thought I would share it with you faithful readers.)


• gospel
• sticky
• questionable
• biased
• changeable
• final
• shifting
• irrefutable
• open to argument
• based on fact
• fiction
• twisted
• convoluted
• laughable
• historical
• hysterical
• ignored
• a joke
• agonizing
• media driven
• corporate b.s.
• unobtainable
• confusing
• off-putting
• reassuring
• frightening
• a lie

Monday, December 13, 2010

pronounced Schick

There is a small new exhibit out at the Legion of Honor that
you might enjoy. Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was born in
Poland and came to America in 1940, becoming the leading
anti-Nazi artist here. The above piece is from his illustrations
for The Canterbury Tales ~ he worked in miniature like
the monastic scribes of the Middle Ages. Interesting and
colorful, I was impressed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

girl friend reunion stories

A group of 15-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they had only $6.00 among them and Jimmy Johnson, the cute boy in Social Studies, lived on that street.

10 years later, the group of 25-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, the restaurant offered free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute guys.

10 years later, the group of 35-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and, if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.

10 years later, the group of 45-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big and the waiters had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later, the group of 55-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, the restaurant had windows that opened (in case of hot flashes), and fish is good for cholesterol.

10 years later, the group of 65-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the lighting was good and the restaurant had an early bird special.

10 years later, the group of 75-years-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was not too spicy and the restaurant was handicapped-accessible.

10 years later, the group of 85-years-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.

(this is from a friend's email ~ usually I hate all these ageist jokes, but this made me smile)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

just like LY

Here is our bonsai tree looking suspiciously like last year's model.
I'm five days earlier than usual and I deserve a huge pat on the
back for buying, hauling and decorating this while Husbando
went to yoga and ran assorted holiday errands yesterday.

Today's Round Robin prompt is: Lime Green and Charcoal Grey.
I'd better get out my color wheel and start typing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

the pen and the pizza

Twelve of us gathered last night for our annual Tiapos writing
party and we had such a wonderful time. So much humor
and so much talent. The topic was sort of Thanksgiving and
Christmas, but none of us obey rules too well, so the fact that
Susie Parker brought photos of her parents and I wrote about
the Giants didn't bother anyone at all. Thanks to the Great
Plotniks for hosting us again, we can me a bit messy. We
didn't really need five (5 !) pizza pies, but they were delicious.

As you all know, the gift of laughter seems so much sweeter
after tragedy. It's all part of this crazy, colorful quilt of life.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

today's daily write

Photo #14 (golden glow kind of photo in, I presume, Jane's kitchen.
Simple beauty ~ the best kind). Photo by Jane Underwood.

There is a book here that I've had for years, it's out of print now.
"Plain and Simple Journal" by Sue Bender contains small and
thoughtful quotes, centered around the Amish life. The
illustrations are also simple: a pitch fork, a bird, a bright quilt,
a broom, etc. Mostly black and white sketches, except for
the delightful quilts. These quilts represent the author's search
to find a pattern in her life that had become too busy. Here is
a sample of one small thought on one white page:

Lists engulf us -
creating the
illusion that our
lives are full.

I pick up this book when I need to slow down and rest my mind. When
I'm worried about work, money, writing, not writing, friends, holidays,
family, busy and busier.

Order calms. That is one whole page. It makes such perfect sense. I'm
calmer writing up in our peaceful living room than I am down here in
this messy office. I'm thinking of re-doing my office in January.
Making it more of a retreat than a drop-it-off-and-sort-it-out-later
kind of space.

I will end with this, with thanks to Ms. Bender:

There is an old
me, a new me, an
imperfect me, and
the beginning of
a new acceptance
of all the me's.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

another holiday sorrow

Bless you, Elizabeth Edwards, for sharing your all too short life
with us. For the inspiration, humor, intelligence and just plain
old fashioned class. Your death yesterday leaves all of your
admirers feeling very, very sad. We so appreciate your courage.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

alice is one tough cookie

Kidnapped, chained to the bed, waiting for her father to pay
the ransom. The Disappearance of Alice Creed is British, so
right there we know it's better than your standard fare American
kidnapping movie. There are lots of twists and turns here, but
Alice (Gemma Arterton) is smart and strong and just the
kind of young woman we can all admire. We both enjoyed
this on the edges of our chair and sofa...

Monday, December 06, 2010

we need a poem on a grey monday

Sunday, December 05, 2010

I don't think so...

We thought this was a comedy. Wrong. Half way through Happy
Tears we decided to turn it off and read instead. After holiday
retail, mourning Michael and drizzly gray days, I do not want
more sorrow-and-sickness movies.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

from Elizabeth's email

...remember our friend who is building the Bed & Breakfast
in Egypt?
I guess I should use facebook but don't think anyone but my family would be interested in this email I sent them.
I got so busy forgot to get back to some of you with the bloody tuesday reference. Once again I sCrewed up, I arrived in Aswan on the first day of a 4 day holiday, nothing open and no one working.
I was invited to lunch on one of the small islands (1st day). It was in the low 90 degrees about 11:30 a.m. I left the hotel and spotted bloody clots on the side walk, went across the street to try and catch the micro bus to a village through which I had to walk to get to the row boat to take me to the island. Finally a bus came along and dropped at the side of the road to the village. As I started to walk down the dusty road I could smell blood, then I saw piles of bloody animal skins along the way. As I walked farther into the village I saw women squatting outside their houses washing the innards of sheep in wash tubs of water...mind you the sun is very bright here do to nearness to equator, so I was pretty darn warm. As I approached the nile to get the row boat I saw lots of women dumping unwanted animal parts into the river and washing the desired innards in the river. A man covered in blood (a Halal butcher) got into the boat with me, it wasn't so much his clothes but his blood soaked bare feet....yuck!
Had lunch in a garden, the meat was boiled beyond recognition, thank the stars I don't eat meat. Coming back from the island the family I was with had brought about 20 plastic bags full of raw meat to distribute among the less fortunate. This is standard practice 3 times a year. This 3 day holiday was all about the old time religion of Abraham sacrificing his son and making some kind of covenant with god.
Here now 14 days and have only accomplished 2 days work, damn this project is taking forever. But the Nile is beautiful as is my house such as it is. Tomorrow is election day throughout Egypt, I am looking forward to viewing the process.
Salam E

Friday, December 03, 2010

our new grand dog

Meet Daisy, the happy puppy over in Kensington. Middle son John
(aka John the Good) and his wife Kathy lost their beloved Nigel a
few months back and after grieving and talking, they found this
lovely Miss Daisy. They report that they had both forgotten how
much different a young, rambunctious dog is compared to an
old, well-trained buddy, but of course they are all adapting just fine.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

fish plates swim away

One of the important things I've re-learned from Michael's death
is that I don't want to leave a mess when I die. He was too weak
and tired after the diagnosis and treatment to do a thing. Now his
friends have to sift through his stuff and it will take some strength
and time to clean it all out. I know he would hate that.

So today we started our project of clean it up and clean it out.
The fun part was sending the elegant fish platter and 9 plates to
daughter Nancy in Illinois. These belonged to Husbando's mother,
the esoteric Esther, aka Terri. Nancy loves to cook and entertain,
plus she has two daughters, so it's a good fit. We enjoyed them
for years, but this is a birthday present that needed to move on.

We took them to a UPS packaging store and you do not want
to know how much it cost to have them professionally
packed. Trust me here. Don't ask, unless by separate email.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

finding ourselves

Last night we didn't exactly enjoy Coraline at the SF Playhouse,
but the cast did a fabulous job, especially the little girl played
by Maya Donato. I don't think she missed a line and she is
only about 12 years old! It's a strange story (book by Neil
Gaiman) that is basically once again that scary transition
time from childhood to becoming an adult, how do I fit into
this world? Big questions like that. Fantasy and horror.
Many in the audience loved Coraline, it just wasn't our cup
of tea or cocoa.