Wednesday, August 31, 2011

good mourning

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy

August 20, 2011 - December 31, 2011

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy consists of 37 sculptures from the tomb of John the Fearless (1371–1419), the second duke of Burgundy. His elaborate tomb, once housed at a monastery on the outskirts of Dijon, is now one of the centerpieces of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.

These aren't very tall and a lot of people are misled. Under two feet each. These somber alabaster grieving men (I didn't see any women, but since they are all wearing long white robes, there might be one or two, but probably not because women then weren't exactly important.)

The Legion of Honor does a great job displaying these up in Galleries One and Two. You can get really close and study the delicate details. And what is interesting is how HUSHED the visitors are, almost like a real funeral.

Speaking of which, we are going to a Giants game today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

another pop-up adventure

The 3 chefs on their only day off...
Soft egg delight

Blogspot is acting irritable this morning, so I'll just go with this
one photo of risotto duck confit for now. Last night the Plotties
joined us at the Bernal Supper Club to test the Monday-night-
only pop-up at 18th and Mission. We had a great time and
the food was carefully and exquisitely prepared.

Three SF chefs from Bernal Heights started this in August and
it's a huge success, from word of mouth only. I had a soft farm
egg on millet cake (ahem) and my companions all had the
risotto ~ but first we enjoyed smoked trout and avocado salad.
Peach cobbler for dessert. No coffee was the only draw back,
but I'm sure that will change.

OK, I managed to get the other photos in, so disregard my
opening line. The area is a bit dicey, but the best way for that
to change is for lots of people to descend on it ~ folks not
involved in gangs or drugs. Remember how they cleaned up
Central Park in NYC? Normal (whatever that is) citizens
returned to their beautiful city park, or so they tell me...

Monday, August 29, 2011

a little intrigue

Currently I'm reading The White Lioness after giving up on
Angelology by Trussoni. When I was young I'd force myself to
finish books, even if I didn't like the writing or the plot, but that
is no longer the case, especially with The Green Apple, usually
eager to buy my rejects. So I jumped into a mystery by the Swede
Henning Mankell, this one from 1993. I'm about half way
through and appreciating his masterful story telling. There's
nothing like a cold blooded murder or two to keep one's mind
off baseball.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

what we do for good food

I'm off today and the sun (!) came out in Bernal Heights about
11am. So what did we do? We zipped right out into the heart of the
fog on Clement Street to our favorite Chinese restaurant ~ Taiwan,
at 5th and Clement. Oh yum. And we bought some pork buns to
reheat another time. Now we are suffering through another tight
Giants game, but I did get outside for a little weeding in our
pretty new garden. This year features more spiders and webs
than ever; I'm still feeling that maybe one or two selected my
old comfy museum tee shirt for a new home. Yikes.

I'll try to get a walk in after we win (please) the game.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

unconditional love

Odd, we were just talking about animated films the other night in
Tiapos. Here's another good one ~ My Dog Tulip is based on J.R.
Ackerley's 1956 autobiographical novel. Christopher Plummer is
the voice of the writer who adopts this skittish Alsatian pup and
their close friendship endures for 14 years. Amusing, touching
and totally delightful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

amazon thwarted?

I am pleased to read in our morning Chronny that some Dems are
trying to pass an online sales tax measure that would force Amazon
and other retailers to pay their fair share. Amazon has spent $5 million
funding a referendum to put this on the ballot, hoping that we would
vote it down. Just collect California taxes for god's sake, Amazon,
so I can stop boycotting you. And, by the way, you never answered
my thoughtful email explaining why I won't purchase one tiny
thing from you until I can pay an itty bitty state tax for the good of all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

what I needed to hear

Tonight is our writing group (Tiapos) and the piece we are reading
and commenting on is by K. I've spent a few hours thinking about
what she has to say and, as so often happens, her message resonates.
Trust The Universe. In her case it's about getting the money for
a class (Medical Intuition) she wants to take and the moment
she clicked on the button, checks and money from unexpected
sources came her way. Course fee covered within a week.

So I worry a bit about finances after I go part-time, but I know
in my heart that everything will be fine. I will get unemployment
and we do have the 401(k) to draw from and our house
mortgage is very, very low and everything will be A-OK.
And I remember Plottie's daughter wisely saying that we
have First World problems because we don't have to worry about
clean drinking water or malaria or starvation. Got it.

Life, she be good, all in all. Did I say easy? No, emphatically.
(Sheeeeesh, I forgot Social Security ~ it is a lifesaver and do NOT
let the GOP privatize it. Remember our personal accounts in
2008? Eeeeeek)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

for those of us who want more...

I Ran Out Naked in the Sun

I ran out naked
in the sun
and who could blame me
who could blame

the day was warm

I ran out naked
in the rain
and who could blame me
who could blame

the storm

I leaned toward sixty
that day almost done
it thundered

I wanted more I
shouted More
and who could blame me
who could blame

had been before

could blame me
that I wanted more

Jane Hirshfield

Come, Thief
Alfred A. Knopf

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

it reads like GREAT fiction

This is an incredible article on the planning and execution of bin
Laden, amazingly well written and detailed. Nicholas Schmidle is
the reporter and you'll find it in the August 8th New Yorker. It
even includes a dog named Cairo. Here is the link ~ can't wait
for the movie!

Monday, August 22, 2011

thirty eight days

Time to start checking off the days until I go back to heavenly part-time
work. I don't know how the red dots got on my little note pad, but
they aren't tears. My contract is up on October 9th, and I'm ready for
a whole bunch of ME time. Actually, it's less than 38 days because
days off do not count, as all of you know full well. Plus, I'm taking
a wee vaca in September ~ more about that later. Make it under 30
days...and whoooooooeeeeeeeeee.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

question answered

Q. Why was this movie made?
A. Unknown

The best parts were the scenes of Berlin and the 456 car chases
and crashes, how else would one know that it's an American
made movie? I like Liam, but he mostly look puzzled during
this film, probably trying to figure out who could write such
drivel. We watched the whole thing, I'm sorry to say.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the word on the street

I saw this on my walk yesterday and came home to Google it. Very
clever, turns out that they are a dog walking service here in Bernal
Heights, specializing in the little guys. Chalk this up to smart and
cheap advertising.

Friday, August 19, 2011

hysterics from the past

(This is one of my favorite Borders memories ~ from July, 2003.
There is nothing like uncontrollable laughter amongst chaos and
I really miss this kind of craziness in my current job.)

One Sunday afternoon, Marie Cilley came to do an author event at
our store. She wrote Sink Reflections and she is known as “The
FlyLady”, for some reason. Marie has a web site and a huge following
of mostly women, who want to be organized and get their housework
done better.

The event was at 2pm and her worshipers started arriving about noon.
They looked like they drove here straight from Iowa. Hefty women, all
white and very chirpy. They commented on the fact that I was wearing
a purple blazer and I later discovered that purple is Marie’s color and
in fact, many in the audience were purple-clad.

We weren’t exactly prepared for her signing. The woman who handles
events was late and we hadn’t put the books out yet. So we had to
scramble and sticker the books with Borders special labels and then
build a display in the third floor event space. We had to take down
a bunch of other books to do this and we all had other projects that we
were working on, so we were not real happy about this interruption.
These were not our regular customers and we wondered if these
women had ever been in our bookstore, or any bookstore, for that matter.

The place was packed! Maybe 100 beefy women were there. Marie
herself is overweight, but certainly pleasant enough.

While we were building the display Kevin M. asked Robb why Marie
is called, “The FlyLady”.

“Because she vomits in her food before she eat it,” was Robb’s
immediate reply.

The three of us could not stop laughing as we built the display. It was
not very professional of us, but it was just too hilarious. One of us
would finally stop laughing and the other two would try and we would
all be in hysterics again.

(in case the reader doesn’t know, flies vomit on their food to keep other
flies away, or so fly experts report)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

his childhood refuge

Today calls for some poignant poetry...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

this used to be ours...

SUBTITLE: When We Had More Money Than Brains

The SF real estate market is now, and probably always has been, a weird
place to invest and make or lose money. Because the city is so small and
dense, property values are way too high, plus there are a lot of foreigners
who invest here because they love the city and compared to London, Paris
or NYC, we are still a bargain.

There are probably no homes underwater here in the city. Perhaps if you
go across a bridge or two, that isn't the case. On the other hand, why would
one want to cross a bridge or two when you live right here?

Back in the 80's we got caught up in the real estate thing. We bought rental
properties in the neighborhood. If we could have "stomached" the landlord
life, we'd probably be wealthy by now. I took a photo this morning of one of
our properties a few blocks east of Casa Verde. It's a duplex with a fabulous
view of the city. Views make up for a lot of basic problems and this property
had a lot, including a structural challenge because the whole thing rested
on one two by four in the basement. ("It's true," Husbando just commented.)

The best thing about this duplex on Mullen Avenue was that our daughter
Nancy lived here for a few months. It was wonderful having her right up
the street and we'd pop in and out of each others lives like some fun urban
sit com. After she left, we rented one of the spaces to a woman who
forgot to pay rent and when we finally evicted her I remember sitting on
the curb while they changed the locks. The immediate neighbors jeered
me as the tearful woman abandoned (!) her adorable cat and shuffled away.
(I had to call Animal Control and by then I was in tears too.)

Because we are animal lovers we allowed pets. One tenant had a
Great Dane, but he didn't seem to be as much of a problem as the
friends of friends of someone who stole all my mother's furniture that
we had stored in the basement there. How stupid was I at the time?

Husbando reminded me just now of the tenant who paid cash and
only cash. We always suspected that he was selling something other
than used clothing or books from his rental unit.

I couldn't wait to unload the properties that we owned. Even though I do
believe in rent control and fair treatment for renters, I know that it takes
a steel heart and lots of emergency money to be landlords. We
didn't have either. I think we made some money when we sold our
properties, but I'll have to check with Husbando to make sure I haven't
put a happy ending on this story. ("We made some money," he assures me.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the right woman for the job

Last night we watched the Gloria Steinem HBO hour. Is it too dramatic
to say she changed my life? Ginger, Susan and I went to hear her
speak once Back In The Day ~ what a treat. We were already radicalized
feminists, so we simply basked in her beauty and banter. What didn't
come across last night was that she could hold her own in any situation
and she was soft-spoken as well as brilliant. I think we probably
guessed that she was tender along with tough, but that wasn't completely
revealed until she started writing about it all later in her life. The world,
my world, is a better place because of Gloria.

Monday, August 15, 2011

walking solves everything

Fog burning off early (7am)
New house on Bernal Hill
Old house, new paint job ~ clever, no?

I so needed two days off in a row to shake a mild depression and
to appreciate my easy life again. Walking does that, fiddling around
with the blog was delightful, and yesterday I also did some weeding in
the garden (in the sun!) while listening to the baseball game. Then
today early I walked up to the hill and after breakfast I hoofed it
over to Mission Street to meet Terri for coffee at the Mission Pie
Shoppe. If I'm not 100%, I'm way over 90% ~ ready for whatever
might come my way. Even work, I can do it!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yesterday I asked the most wonderful Linda ONE SIMPLE
QUESTION and she answered succinctly and quickly.
And here I am with a totally new blog because I had been
so afraid to update it that I had to spend a few hours with
the new templates (well, not new to everyone, ahem) and
lordy, has Blogspot made things easier, or what?

Anyway, what fun I had. How do you like it?

Check out the Leukemia Walk gadget thingy. Please join
us for the Light the Night Walk. Please. More about this
later. Have I told my readers lately that I appreciate you?
I do, oh indeedy I do!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

angels in our midst?

This is so not my kind of book, but my friend Corriander at
Books, Inc. on Van Ness recommended Angelology by Danielle
Trussoni. I've just started it ~ very well written and I might
even love the plot, we'll see. As one reviewer put it, "a better
slice of the Dan Brown pie." (or like that, rough quote)

Here is a bit from the NY Times:
One snowy day near the end of the last millennium, a young nun working in a Hudson Valley convent library discovers a secret correspondence between a former mother superior and the philanthropist Abigail Aldrich Rockefeller. After some further research and with a smitten art historian, Verlaine, at her side, the nun, Sister Evangeline, is drawn into a centuries-old struggle against the Nephilim — a fight in which both of her parents, now dead, were once engaged (hence the visit to the caged monsters). In under two days, she and Verlaine will quest after missing letters, books and an object so precious and singular that it has been commemorated in both angel iconography and the ancient myth of Orpheus. They will also find out what it means to wrestle with angels.

Friday, August 12, 2011

pardon his mess...

Pretty soon I'll have to close my 2002 notebook of daily writes and get back into the now. But first, this is a fun one from September of that year:


No one enjoys eating shell fish more than my husband, Bill. On one of our first
dates he introduced me to lobster at a fancy restaurant in Sacramento. I had
never tasted lobster before and I did like it, but I enjoyed watching him eat more
than I enjoyed my dinner.

When Bill eats lobster or crab that is all he does. There is no conversation or
polite asides. He eats with total and complete abandon using both forks,
the nut cracker, his fingers and most of his face. When we have cracked crab
at home we put newspaper on the table for all the shells. Bill doesn’t like
to be bothered by anything when he is enjoying shell fish.

Last night we went to the Tong Palace on Clement Street. “Oh oh,” I thought
when I saw the two for $25 Lobster special on the menu board. We decided
on the lobster with black bean sauce and when they brought the platter we
stopped all conversation. The meal was delicious.

I noticed a table of eight Chinese customers watching Bill eat. When they
finished eating and paid their bill, they walked by our table. Each and every
one of them made a comment about how “you really know how to enjoy
food.” It is such a pleasure to watch Bill’s lobster-only concentration and
not a shell goes unturned during this joyful mealtime activity.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

the best part of the game

We arrived early yesterday and enjoyed the sunshine, garlic fries
and chit chat with our friend Ginger. Then the game started
and all hope was lost. Bad pitching, no hitting and an ugly
error and we are out of first place. Hello, Arizona. But hope
springs eternal and we are already looking forward to our next
game on August 31st.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

only two?

Drat. I was hoping that all the GOP State Senators would be recalled
yesterday, but alas, only two Dems won. It's been an interesting
process watching Wisconsin. Like many people I have mixed feelings
about Unions, but after worrying and fighting them for years as a
manager person, I now belong to one. Interesting, no? When I was
at Borders and one of the stores joined a union, it seemed like
suddenly corporate woke up and across the board everyone either
got a raise or our benefits improved. Big picture? Unions benefit
everyone, even if they do protect a few people who aren't exactly
workaholics. Anyway, I guess two is better than none...

Footnote. I grew up in a strong Republican union-bashing family.
When I went away to college I changed and that caused a few
problems for everyone. OK, major upheaval is more like it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

the week of the Duck

We had lunch at Serpentine in Dog Patch,
even though we had reservations at Piccino
Service was slow so the restaurant treated us to this
and to soup, salads ~ very nice!
Friends make life so much better and easier...

Yesterday's lunch was, as always, special because of the Great Duck's
birthday next Friday. We had some only-in-San Francisco-probably
moments to savor: four free bags of granola from Piccino who didn't
honor our reservation because the restaurant is closed on Mondays,
a walk in The Dog to Serpentine (owned by the Slow Club) where
the food was excellent and the service slow, neutske bacon that
didn't appear on the smoked mozarella sandwiches, etc. But the
service staff was so warm and friendly that we all adjusted nicely
and we talked of many things and laughed and enjoyed our time together.

Monday, August 08, 2011

did you hear/see the review?

I might have to hit Books, Inc. this week to check out this new
fiction entitled The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. I heard about
it on NPR this morning and if I write about it in da blog, I'll
be sure to remember because my kind readers will remind me.
The reviewer said that it is an exceedingly original plot and her
enthusiasm infected me greatly. Has anyone read it yet?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

back to Borders (2004)

I need to cleanse my mind of work issues this morning so I can
enjoy my three days off and not have half of me still at Borders.
The big strike at Macy's has my boss very nervous because we
always worry about union activity and we recently changed our
sick day policy and that has a few people upset because they can
no longer just call in sick because the sun is out or it is foggy or
they are hung over. The poor darlings only get 12 sickie and late
days a year. We are so cruel.

On top of this it was the usual week of broken escalators, overflowing
urinals and booksellers who are "clocking Kara" who dicks around all
day instead of working. When I suggest that maybe they would want
to do their own section work and customer service instead of watching
the lazy-ass Kara, they get annoyed and stomp off to clump together
again with their friends and bitch about Mary Ann.

We are short of managers on Mondays and I have to handle all the
pissy little problems myself. There are 6 of us on the Management
Team (do not ask me HOW MUCH I hate that Team term), but some
days there is only me. And Mondays are especially bad because
all the repair people are there from the weekend breakdowns
and I am filled with resentment because I know they make twice as
much as I do because they belong to unions.

So, the power is in me to turn my mind to more pleasant things. I
will walk, go to yoga, write emails, do some daily writing, A good movie
is arriving from Netflix® and my husband and I will have lunch out at
a restaurant every day. He knows I like to sit outside if it is warm
enough and to me that is almost like being on vacation. Already my
real self is coming back into focus.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

let's go out to the garden again

Early Girls are almost here!

First flower after re-mo

Guaranteed to piss off Plotnik

Our excellent new garden is coming along just fine and yesterday
while Husbando was out watering someone called "hello Sir!"
and handed him a bag of avocados from their tree. The International
House of Women is/are an ever-changing, friendly bunch of really
nice neighbors and we often talk about how lucky we have been
with people on both sides of our house over the years.

Houses in SF are attached to each other. No breathing space. And
yet when we think back, only once did we have difficulties. That
guy was a drug dealer and we were there for the arrest and public
handcuffing, so it was all worthwhile. My half assed theory is
that city people know there is no space, so from Day One we
decide to get along with each other. Hmmmm, logical, no?

Friday, August 05, 2011

out at 34th and golf course

I have been remiss in my art reporting lately. At first I had a little
trouble appreciating this 17th century art out at the Legion of Honor.
The Picasso at the deYoung is whimsical and enchanting, and this
Dutch and Flemish work is not. The artists loved all cloud formations,
it appears, and there is a whole roomful of ships. Everyone loves
the soft little dog in the top photo and you will too. I find that as
I dash in on my breaks and study a piece or two, I am liking the
exhibit more and more. It's here until October 2nd, so come visit.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

totally politically incorrect

I am enjoying Modern Family from the Flix® because these
people are all very real and their situations and problems
amuse me. Jay (Ed O'Neill) is the head of the clan ~ that's
his gay son to the right and his blond daughter and her
family below. Husbando isn't wild about this comedy series,
so I watch a few episodes alone while he does his thing.
What do folks do who have only one TV? Oh, that's right,
there are books and magazines...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

walking before coffee

Twenty years ago I would walk almost every morning before the day
started. Before coffee, newspaper, etc. We were going through
SERIOUS financial problems and walking helped me keep my
emotions in check and allowed me to see the big picture. We all
know that I'm still a huge walking fan, but ever since my first
beloved bright pink iMac computer, I prefer to sit with my coffee,
read emails and Facebook and respond. Early morning seemed
to be the only time I had to write, post in my blog, etc.

I decided on Monday to take a walk before coffee and to do so
on this day off too. Bingo. It works as well now as it did back then,
even though my life is so much easier now. I do want to prepare for
when I go back to part-time in October and I also realize that I'll
need structure when I eventually retire.
Here are my walking thoughts today:

What has changed?
• walking sticks, especially for going up to Bernal Hill
• taking a pair of glasses (sigh)
• carrying my iPhone, for emergencies or photos only!
• thinking about what I'll write later on today

What remains the same:
• hearing the birds after about 10 minutes of walking
• how quiet and peaceful the city is before 7am
• what a truly wonderful world this is, despite it all...
• why am I so damn fortunate?
• argh, those Giants
• the air ~ so fresh, and the trees, flowers, plants smell sweet
• planning the day, week, month (everything will get done)
• the coffee tastes extra luscious when I come home

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

back to the big box

(Borders wasted so much money on these Shopping Services.
I clearly remember that the book she wanted was a Grisham
best-seller on an end cap in plain view.)


Once a month a mystery shopper comes to Borders to check out
our customer service and write a report. Last year I was shopped
and had a 100% score. On Friday, September 6th of this year, I
failed the shop and I've had to hear about it all day. I failed twice.
The most serious problem was that I did not put the book in the
customer’s hand. The lesser offense was that I did not suggest an
extra service to the customer. It sounds strange writing about it,
but it is a Big Deal at Borders.

The fact that I am one of the managers there makes things even
more difficult. Of course I am supposed to be setting a good
example, and usually I do, but I remember this particular Friday
and in my heart I am grateful that the shopper didn’t catch me
snarling or smarting off. I find that I have little patience with
customers on some days when they swarm about me like fruit
flies around a dead banana. I have a big mouth and sometimes
it is all I can do to keep this mouth closed. Experience has
taught me that if I get into a pissing contest with a customer
I always lose. Always. So I swallow my irritation when I’m on
the sales floor.

Sometimes the store feels like I am inside a washing machine.
We are always busy and every customer wants their book NOW.
Not in five minutes, NOW. They think if they say, “I have just a
quick question,” that I will leave the customer I am working with
and help them. Usually the quick question begins with the words,
“I can’t remember the name of the book or the author....”

As a manager I am responsible for helping the staff when they have
questions or problems. Since we have almost 100 employees, it is
a constant stream of phone calls and pages. I can hardly wait for the
Holiday Season.


Monday, August 01, 2011

where was notthat?

Half way point (I think)
Here are a couple of bad iPhone photos from yesterday's
marathon inside Golden Gate Park. There were 25,000 runners
and the 26.2 mile route and the time (it started at 5:30am) made
it almost impossible to drive from our house to the deYoung and
find parking in time for my 8:45 start. There are much better
pics in the chronny this morning and I will say that our gloomy,
foggy weather must have been perfect for the runners, but I
particularly enjoyed the stragglers limping along with their
water bottles, jackets and bad knees.

I appreciate my friend notthat's marathons, especially when his
entire family goes and then imbibes at the In-and-Out Burger place,
but since he wasn't participating in this race, may I say that it's
really inconvenient for folks who have to work on Sunday?

When I think about running, I fondly remember the 10am
start of that race in Florence. Those Italians are so not driven
and of course viva la difference. Or whatever, in which ever
language you might prefer.