Thursday, May 31, 2012

HBO does it again

Nicole Kidman and Clive Owens
We both were impressed with Hemingway and Gelhorn, especially all the
history and how they traveled to Spain, Finland, China, Cuba, Poland,
etc., to chase adventure as war time correspondents. Fascinating stuff. We
guessed that Hem was pretty much an alkie misogynist, but still it's not
easy to watch him self-distruct. Martha Gelhorn was his 3rd (of 4 total)
wife and she is an inspiration to all career minded women. The Flix® will
have it soon, I hope, for you non-HBO people.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

flammable indeed

A Behanding in Spokane is playing until June 30th, and even though it's
a bit grisly, it's great fun ~  90 minutes of thrills and tension. Usually
I'm the one to yelp in movies and plays, but last night even Husbando
did the "oh no!" kind of screech. Rod Gnapp is one of our favorite
actors and the playwright Martin McDonagh gave us the wonderful
film In Bruges, so we knew we were in for a treat. We both recommend
this play, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the lost souls

(sometimes I wonder what happened to all the big city crazies who used to
come to Borders to sit for a few hours ~ Buttercup, The Captain and
Tenille, Road Warrior, Perfume Lady, Neck Brace Woman, the Guy With
Carefully Tied String Around His Belongings ~ those who screamed and
cursed and those who never spoke a word. So sad, yet so difficult to
have to deal with on a daily basis.)
All Dharmas Are Marked with Emptiness

I'm talking now about the destitute and the wild-eyed, I'm
talking about the lady who made the head of the Virgin Mary
out of cut up pieces of magazines and broken glass and a
can of carpenter's glue—and then there's the girl I know
who works in the supermarket, who printed an entire anthology
of poems on a single eight-and-a-half-by-eleven sheet of
Xerox paper and folded a hundred copies down to wallet size
and passed them out to anyone who dared look her in the eye.
You know what I mean: there are all those lonely, desperate,
weird minds—yours among them for all I know—and the
Dharma is everywhere, books and words and people thinking,
beat-up notebooks from the dollar store, scribbling the world
into them—a man has a mystery, a woman has an adventure,
the kids are banging rhymes together like tin cans full of
old nails. Where's it all going, this clatter, this wonder,
this rant against anguish? I tell myself to stay calm. I tell
myself to step back and take a breath. I twist and shift in my
tall black chair. I can hear the city coming in through the kitchen's
window-screens. Night birds, crickets in the unseasonable heat,
some might say dead souls keening in their rivers of fire or
choirs of angels out in the eucalyptus trees, but beyond it all you
hear nothing but the deep nothing—or maybe that's the far-off roar
of a motorcycle: If the night is just right, if the moment is perfect,
you know as well as I do that you don't need to tell the difference.

Frank X. Gaspar

Late Rapturous
Autumn House Press

Monday, May 28, 2012

everyone loves our bridge

Shoes represent the GGBridge suicides ~ 1598
75 years of grandeur

Impressive fireworks last night
We could see the tall fireworks from our back window last night, but
the celebration from Crissy Field had to be spectacular. The Golden
Gate Bridge is universally loved and admired for its durability and
amazing beauty. Sorry to put the shoe pic first, but it has to be painful
too, because our bridge is a magnet for suicides. And odd, the jumpers
always face the city when they leap. But yesterday was an all-day
celebration and people from all over came to marvel and enjoy the
75th bridge birthday.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

extended until July 7th

We went to the very civilized 5pm show at The Marsh yesterday to
see Brian Copeland in his show entitled The Waiting Period. This is
a powerful funny/sad one man performance about his depression and
almost-suicide. Things that need to be talked about. Here is a quick
poem I wrote this morning for the Robins:

Prompt: PHOTO #5 (smears of red on glass, it looks like blood, it's eerie)

Suicide is on my mind
this morning as I sit here
looking out at the summer fog ~
not my own death, I quickly add,
but others, too many others

How can it be that while
most people fight, fight, fight to live
for another day, week or month
in hospitals or home sick beds
you want to end it all, just like that?

The pain, the depression overwhelms
yes, we do almost understand misery
still, hang on we say to you, oh do,
because it could get better
tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday next

Please, we beg, avoid the bridge,
the gun, the rope, pills, that fast-moving
train, the suspicious car crashing
furiously into the deadly wall of fate
oh, please, do hang on just for us,
just for one more difficult day

Saturday, May 26, 2012

before computers

I've been spending some of my new free time cleaning and organizing
some of the stuff that I inherited from my parents. This loose leaf
personal financial system is a treasure trove of information and
memories for me. My mother had money, her family owned the
D.L. Clark Company, so of course our home was filled with Clark
Candy Bars, but we all preferred See's Candy, and still do. Growing
up, I never, ever heard mother refer to "my money" and looking back
I have to admire her tremendously for this. My father kept track of
all this stock stuff in his beautiful handwriting and then mother's
scratches appear after he died. Daddy was the first house husband
and we all benefited from having him home with us 24/7.

There are lots of loose envelopes and notes in here as well. My
grandmother's death certificate and will from 1931~ all typed out
and we remember that there were no copy machines then. Oh,
the joy of carbon paper. But I guess what has always surprised me
the most is the generosity of my parents. They loaned thousands
of dollars to their friends and from what I can tell, they weren't
always paid back. This was never part of our dinner table talk, and
I believe money was considered off limits as a topic back then.

(It looks like D.L. Clark was sold to Beatrice Foods in 1967, and I
do not miss those Clark Bars at all.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

ah, the revolution

Posters of the 70's

1968 ~ the War

1968 ~ the reality
There are two excellent exhibits at the Oakland Museum. The first just
concentrates on the year 1968, when we took to the streets in huge
numbers. Opposing Vietnam (that waste of a war), and then finally, it
seems, women and minorities found their voices. The Poster exhibit
is one man's vast collection and includes some of our favorites
including Fuck Housework which Ginger had on display in her garage and
lots of the famous psychedelic music group posters. I highly recommend
both of these shows ~ 1968 is detailed and really quite sad, the posters
are reminders of how much further we have to go. We didn't quite
achieve that Revolution, alas.

After the museum Ginger, Husbando and I lunched at the Joy Luck in
Oakland's Chinatown. Lots of pretty good food and quite inexpensive.
A really fine day and always that puzzle as to why/why/why our
neighboring city looks so unkempt when it has so much to offer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

more tea, anyone?

Glenn Close is so brave to play Albert Nobbs, a man working as a butler in
a swanky Dublin hotel. It's brand new on the Flix® and we both enjoyed it
because Glenn is so brave and one of our other favorites, Janet McTeer, is
also in the movie. Some nice twists and turns to the storyline ~ rent it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

where do they get those names?

I'm not wild about musicals, but this one is a don't miss if you
ever get the chance to see it!
The Naming Of Cats by T. S. Eliot
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the feline report

Kittens in the window

Fluffpuff with perfect white eyeliner

Room service ~ all activity stops in the condos

Godiva eyes the food cart
I don't know how the SPCA names the animals, but I do know that most
new cat owners change the names and still the cats won't respond. As
we know, they each have their own inner name and we humans rarely get it right.
Tomorrow I'll post the famous T. S. Elliot poem, The Naming of Cats.

As predicted, MB had been adopted, I think it meant My Boy. But
now he might be Orange Slush or Nehi or god knows what. Also, a bunch
of kittens have brand new homes, but I stick with the sleepy set when
I visit. I have one problem cat named Tahoe and she is so restless that
I can't get a photo of her interesting face. She won't get adopted if
she doesn't learn to hit the lap for some cuddles and scritches.

Today I work with people. No more need  be said...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Samuel Beckett at ACT

Bill Irwin and Nick Gabriel in Endgame

Anthony Fusco in Play   
Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to two hours of Beckett last night
at ACT, but it was truly a memorable evening. It helps to be sitting
in the second row where we could see every tic and hear every
word of the two plays. Play features a man between his wife and his
mistress (and he still longs for a third woman). They are all in these
cocoons or pots, symbolizing, I guess, the restraints put on us by
our lives or ourselves. A short 22 minute play. Great.

Endgame on the other hand, is 90 minutes of the oh so talented Bill
Irwin who is constrained in a chair, plus he is blind and miserable. It's
constant rat-a-tat-tat dialogue about life, death, the world ~ you
know, the big topics. And yet there is humor in between the sorrow.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

a good summer read

I always wanted one sister, never two. Here we have three Weird
Sisters, a father who quotes Shakespeare at every opportunity and a
mom battling cancer.  It's written in a very unusual style ~ always
from the "we and our" point of view, no matter which sister is
being written about. The sisters are all grown women now, home
together for the first time in years and they are less than perfect
family members or human beings, which makes them lovable to
us, of course. The author, Eleanor Brown, is the youngest of three
sisters and we assume she knows whereof she speaks. Although I
wanted to shush the professor father often, I did enjoy the novel
and how different/alike each sister is. Nice ending, too!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

the shirt off his back

The last day of 2008 I woke
wearing the same blue shirt I wore
driving down through the pines
to hear Carlos Santana,
the hills a pale brown near Vallejo
where Bill Graham's helicopter crashed
in the power lines over the marshland.
The shirt hung on a shovel near Big Sur
smelling of almonds and sulfur
where I sat one morning reading Chuang Tzu
trying to understand about the Tao.
I wore it to feed Amy's chickens
and wrapped its loose arms
around my wife, who was smoking
outside by the mailbox, having swallowed
a fragment of glass in her coffee
the Advice Nurse said was most likely harmless,
trusting the colon's pulses to pass it
moment by moment.
We drove back north through Golden Gate Park
where an alligator once escaped
into the pond just off Lincoln Drive
and where Michael Bloomfield OD'd in his car
near the hall of flowers
and the Grateful Dead played for free.
We'd like to see them come back again,
the way Mickey Rourke showed up
at the Academy Awards interview
for his role as a broken-down wrestler
walking the two roads of grief and hilarity,
the cat's eye ring on his finger,
his silver tooth, his rat-goatee
and wraparound shades,
weeping into his water glass
mourning his dead Chihuahua:
I swear I'd give him the shirt off my back.

Joseph Millar

Blue Rust
Carnegie Mellon University Press

Friday, May 18, 2012

flix night in frisco

Of course this wasn't nearly as great as the book, but it is worth seeing
just to remind us of how things used to be, and it really wasn't all
that long ago. Viola Davis is outstanding while most of the white women
in Jackson, Mississippi are truly pathetic in their 50's ignorance and
bigotry. Certainly worth renting The Help with some Kleenex® by your side.

Adam Gopnik wrote an article in the New Yorker about how every
40 years we want to relive and examine the past. Mad Men is a good example.
He said 40 years from now people will say, "look, they had lattes
at 10am!" He argues that Mad Men isn't all that great of a storyline
without the details and lifestyle of the past. I disagree, or do I?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

still loving DOWNTOWN

Spacious ING coffee shop

New heart in Union Square
Of course I enjoy the Big City more because I can take either Muni
or BART. Traffic is worse than NYC, I'm guessing. They serve Peet's
at the ING coffee shop and would give me some financial advice if I
wanted that with my latte. I've been saving with ING for probably 7
years or so, it's one of the marvels that really works for me in this online age.

I did some smart shopping at Macy's, my old hangout when I worked
at the Big Box. Then I visited my eye doc who gave me the thumbs
up as we studied my eyes through his very cool computer. Many
diseases are first noticed inside the eye and I always learn a thing
or two from him. For instance, there are some studies suggesting that
high cholesterol and macular (sp?) degeneration are connected.
Maybe. In any event, no new glasses needed. Yes!

Did I tell you that the fog is back? Such fun peeling off all the heavy
clothes to try on summer frocks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

social skills refreshed


We haven't entertained for too long, so last night we had some delightful
friends over to enjoy poached salmon, boiled potatoes and sugar
snap peas. Lots of good talk and laughs and a very special lime pie
from the Great Ducknik Plotnik. It's hard to believe that we used to
pull this off when we were both working, but we did, and a lot more
frequently than we do now. Still, it's a pleasure to have the whole day
to putter and cook and anticipate the evening. And now to put the
"good" dishes away and reinstate our little piles of tidy/messy
everyday Stein living.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

generation K moves in

Ikuko is pensive

Petra ponders her future

MB is his name

Always ~  clean aprons for the volunteers

Just 3 of the many new kitties

Maybe Denby? Inky? Castor? Pollux?

Amber is tiny and crazed
The kittens have arrived. Many have been in foster homes, learning how
to use the litter box and relate a bit to humans. The only adoption of one
of "my" cats was Florida, all the rest were kitties, preferred by children
of all ages, or so it seems. So I spent most of my morning with my older
friends: Tahoe, Fujiko, Beauregard, Denby, Inky, Windixie, Petra, Castor,
Pollux, Pearl, Sergio, Smokey and MB.

I've decided that one of the reasons the SPCA trains and recruits so many
volunteers (there are 800 of us) is because we are also the logical new
adopters of the older, wiser, calmer cats. Mister orange MB is a new arrival
and I bet he'll have a new home by next week. We'll see.

Monday, May 14, 2012

school kids

I surreptitiously snapped this pic during a break on Saturday. The photos
are all by the founder, Jane, the mess all by the students. It has that
cool creative feel, doesn't it? The Writing Salon in SF is in a loft space
on Alas Poor York Street and I could walk to/fro from Casa Verde. (For a
few decades Husbando and I have not been able to say "York St." without
adding the Shakespeare line.) Tedious, I realize.

Class was terrific. Mostly I learned that I have to get the god damn first
draft done and take it from there.  I presented my vague plot outline and the
teacher and a few students did help me with comments. Am I not brave?
The rest of the day was spent on characters, plot, the usual. All things I
sort of vaguely knew but needed to be reminded of again. It was a VERY
good day and Ellen and I both benefited.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

yellow step roses

Nancy sent me these glorious roses for Mother's Day. As most of you know,
I'm one of those strange women who did not want children. I have never for
one moment regretted that decision, but it took a bit of courage back in the day
to tell people that, so I'd usually say, "but I have four step children," and that
would suffice. Having step children is the best of both worlds ~ a personal
investment in the future, lots of family drama, celebrations galore, and none
of the daily work and stress of the actual raising of children. I always knew
that motherhood is the most difficult job in the world and I do salute all
mothers everyday, but especially today, their day. Good job!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

back to school

I came home from a l-o-n-g day of retail yesterday and revised my plot
outline for the umpteenth time ~ you do remember Ellen, don't you?
Today I'm taking a Writing Salon class on the Mystery Novel and
I'm so looking forward to it. The same teacher (Elaine) that I had in January,
the one who pushed us to read Great Expectations.  When I first started
writing seriously about 10 years ago, I was nervous about reading my
stuff (garbage) in public. No more, not after Tiapos and many classes
and listening to other writers with the same problems and issues. Now
I look forward to being with other writers ~ a friend compared this to
plugging in the computer for a recharge. I need other writers and I can
take a little constructive criticism, along with lots of encouragement, of
course. Get me to the classroom!

Friday, May 11, 2012

orange cats in detail

We've had five cats which is a lot, considering that my husband does not like
them. Uncle Junior came to us by accident (we thought we'd get a LOT of
cash to take him) and he was already about 10 years old and terrified. Even
I didn't fall in love with him for a few weeks. But then, but then...even dear
Husbando finally warmed a bit and would call to me saying things like,
"hey, look at Ju Boy, that big lug," and after awhile we didn't even care
about the money that never arrived. I am pretty sure that most orange cats
are male ~ the one above is typical, but he's not The Uncle. I found these points
online and I agree wholeheartedly:

1. They boost your self-esteem. Unlike any other cat, orange males seem to thrive on the very existence of their family. They also have a tendency to gaze at their humans lovingly.
2. Most cats hate the thought of too much human-time and plan their day accordingly. This is not the case for the orange male, for at times, they seem more like a dog than cat. They love to sit on your lap and are content as long as you are sitting near them and petting their fur.
3. Goofiness is a trait that orange cats are well-known for. It seems like they enjoy hearing their humans laugh. Whether its running around crazily or just acting like a clutz, they love to make sure you are happy.
4. Typical cats could care less when you walk in the door-if anything, it makes them unhappy to know that their independence is now thwarted for the rest of the day. Unlike this typical "I don't care about you" personality, orange cats are enthusiastic to see you at the end of the day. Most likely, they will sprint to the door to greet you.
5. Like most cats, orange cats are litter trained in a blink of an eye (unlike puppies and other pets!).
6. Did I mention that they love to sit on your lap and get attention from you?
7. Because of their extreme friendliness, they will easily fit into the routine of your home-no matter the other pets.
8. And, I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but they love to sit on your lap and get all kinds of attention...
If you are looking for your typical cat that exists in his or her own world, then the orange cat is not for you. However, most complaints about cats are about their selfish attitudes and completely different personalities from dogs. But, if you are looking for a loving, goofy, enthusiastic and attention-thriving cat, go for the orange male.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

wednesday with cats



Castor and Pollux

Pearl and friend

Luxurious cat condo

Inky's eyes are as big as his ears
It was one of those good/bad days for me yesterday at the SPCA.
First I checked the adoption file and I was elated that some of my
favorites have new homes. These include:
  • Chic
  • Puppy Chuck
  • Cubby
  • Macadamia
  • Astrid
  • Madeline
But I missed them as I made my rounds ~ orange cats go first and if
you've ever owned one you know why. I carry a little notebook and
my iPhone and now I'm glad because they quickly fill the empty cat
condos with the never ending supply of felines. It is kitty season and
we have a few on display. In the office there is a recent photo of a
pound with an ugly cage stuffed with kittens ~ the SPCA takes as
many as they have room for. In training we learn that when one cat
is adopted, two lives are saved because another furball is moved up
to a prime adoption location.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

writer, teacher, feminist, mormon...

...and so much more. Have you read Terry Tempest Williams? Last night
Ginger and I went to the City Arts and Lecture event at the Herbst to
hear her speak. Refuge is one of my all time favorite books wherein
she writes of herself, her family and the Great Salk Lake. When she
sent her manuscript in the first time the editor wrote back, "this does
not work on any level," and she rewrote it word by word. You have to
admire her just for that...

Williams is one of the soft spoken very powerful feminists and G and
I plotted to march on Washington at the soonest opportunity. She is the
second cousin twice removed to Mitt Romney and she said, "we both
wish we were further removed from each other."

If you haven't read Refuge, do so. And she has a new book out entitled
When Women Were Birds which I will read one day soon. Did I mention
that she is a strong environmentalist? Yup, quite the woman. Quite.

(I moved the cats to today, feline-fear not.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

another SF walk spot

Neti talking to her daughter

This trail is new (to me)

Lots of kids and balloons
It's been YEARS since I've walked around Lake Merced which is 4.5 miles
and an easy hill-free way to get some fresh air and exercise on a sunny,
beautiful day. After our walk Neti and I had lunch at the Harding Park
Golf Course restaurant ~ my, that place is looking quite sleek and chi
chi these days. The food? Good and reasonable. We'll be back!

Monday, May 07, 2012

poem time!

The Conversation

Though he thought I was asleep in the sun, I was not. I was lucid.
For a long time I watched his ship departing
until the flag at the stern vanished, eaten by the gray horizon.
Then the gulls came, then the stars. I began to live between visions
of reunion and the truth shifting like tides against the dunes.
Under a tent of yaupons I built a hut of driftwood, using sea oats
for a threshold and the emptied halves of mollusk shells for the roof.
Butterflies traversed the shore. When I held the ocean's shell
to my ear we were one
vessel speaking to another vessel
about the rapture of the void.

Christine Garren

The Southern Review
Spring 2012

Sunday, May 06, 2012

comedy, by any name...

I have no idea where we read or heard about Arab Labor, but it is an Israeli TV
series about a Palestinian reporter with an identity problem. Amjad and his
family live in Israel and each half hour episode proves once again that
if we are able to laugh at ourselves, maybe we can solve a few of the serious
world problems. This is surprisingly irreverent and I'm already looking
forward to the episode where the family is invited to a Passover dinner.
It took FOREVER to get this on the Flix®, or maybe they just have the
one copy, but I'm hoping that lots of diverse people get to watch, enjoy
and learn from this.