Tuesday, January 31, 2012

friends who blog

Samovar Tea Lounge atop the Yerba Buena Gardens
Have you met Bev?
Luscious scone with clotted creme and strawberry jam

It was great seeing Bev yesterday and honestly, she looks almost exactly
the same as she did more than 20 (30?) years ago when we met in a
group called Women Entrepreneurs. At that time she published the
Where-To-Guide which is now the name of her blog. Bev has a ton of
energy and travels all over, entertains and keeps up with everyone and
everything. We had tea (hers a white, mine a chai) and scones ~ it was
really delightful being with her. I hate to admit that I now need a
reason to go downtown and I can't think of a better one than to meet
a friend. OK, you can check out our dueling blogs...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Julia and the Blogmaid

I truly love starting my day with an email from our Blogmaid.
Then I write her back and because we are both writers, I believe
that we tell each other things about our daily lives that we would
miss if we were lucky to have coffee together everyday ~ not that
I wouldn't enjoy that, of course. We also cover "the big stuff" like
war, peace, global warming, pumpkins, RR, assorted husbands,
friends, laundry, flossing, the work world, women's rights, base-
ball, computers, step children, high and low finance and Macy's
is having a sale on all Jockey® brand whatevers. Oh, and I use my
daily email to the Blogmaid to warm up my heart and hands and
to get ready for the challenges of the day, including this blog.

This is from her Sunday morning email. Her family spent the
weekend at her parents' home in Rancho Cordova. This is so cool:
 In 1981, when I was 17, I wrote a letter to the screenwriter 
Alvin Sargent. He wrote Ordinary People and a bunch of other
films, but the one I was interested in was his adaptation of
Lillian Hellman's "Julia." I told him I hoped to be a playwright
and screenwriter, and I thought I could learn a lot if I could
read a copy of his script because I was so familiar with the
memoir. He sent me the script then, but in this new letter
he wrote that he was cleaning out his office and found my
letter from 1981. He said he was pretty sure he had sent me a
copy of the script, but wanted to be sure. And he said he
hoped I was happy "writing, or not." He also sent me a copy
of my original letter, which I haven't read too closely yet
because I'm sure I'll cringe. I just googled him -- he's
he's 84 now. I'll send him a thank you note, although
I'm pretty sure I sent one back then, too...

And then,for your amusement:

Let me know how you liked your Plot class. At first I thought
it was a class taught by Plot.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

school day

Here is the Strawberry Creek Design Center in Berkeley where the
East Bay Writing Salon classes meet. Lovely space and a pleasure to
be walking in Berkeley again after taking BART to school. The class
was terrific and I am inspired once again to work on Ellen and her
friends and foes. There were 12 of us in class and the teacher (Elaine)
was well prepared and helpful and I'm happy to say that she liked
my Ellen and her journey to find her sister. I was given lots of advice
that I needed, but more importantly, I was reminded of the joy of
getting to know my heroine better and that Ellen does not have to be
perfect and, in fact, I need to gift her with a major flaw, which I will
do as soon as possible. Then I need about 5 more characters and some
obstacles, a major inciting incident and easy as pie, my novel is done.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

got sling shot?

Who knew that killing pigs could be so satisfying? As usual, I'm a few
years late discovering the Angry Birds iPhone app, but it turns out
that once I figured out some strange concepts like trajectory and
force, I'm pretty damn good at it. An addicting game, of course.

We got Rita home yesterday after many hospital delays and now we
await further instructions. Turns out she has a really nice neighbor
named Joe who helped her up ALL those stairs. Who ever said city
folk are cold and uncaring? She was exhausted, but delighted to be
in her own beautiful little home.

Today I BART to Berkeley to take a Writing Salon class on How To
Plot a Novel. Remember Ellen? I barely do. Christ.

Friday, January 27, 2012

good job, Pinchas!

It had been years since I'd been to the symphony and the memories
were all good ones, even though I used to fall sound asleep in these
great front row Terrace seats that Husbando and I had for so long.
We went on Wednesday nights, but of course I was exhausted from
a long day of retail and then I'd feel tremendous guilt not only for
the money wasted, but the fact that I was sure the musicians could
see me and hate me, with good reason.

Yesterday was a 2pm matinee for the blue-haired set and my
friend Jennie treated me to a wonderful afternoon. It was mostly
Mozart (like the good old days, Susan) and Pinchas Zukerman did
the conducting and he also played the violin and viola. The best
to me was the Symphony No. 40 in G minor which sounded so
pleasantly familiar that when it was all over, I really did feel like
everything is right with the world and though daunting at times,
life is pretty good. Oh, I was completely wide-awake throughout.

Today, if everything works out, Husbando and I pick Rita up from
the hospital and take her home. This will be the best medicine
and her sis flies in from St. Louis tonight so she'll be in good hands.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

great food fun!

Last night we so enjoyed Food Stories at the Z Space on Florida. So
easy for us as it is almost in our nabe and parking was a cinch. The
Word for Word concept is so very clever and this program was no
exception. First ~ Sorry Fugu by T.C. Boyle about a chef and a food
critic, then Enough by Alice McDermott, centering on family and
pleasure and this sent us home to clean out the ice cream cartons with
smiles on our faces. There are six ultra talented actors in both stories
and they play all parts and really, it's delicious. Until Feb. 5th - hurry!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

keeping things in perspective

Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting ~
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

One of my goals of this full-time personhood thing is to read
more poetry, aloud if possible. I so appreciate Mary Oliver and
all she has given us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

updates on friends

I went to a Borders party on Sunday night and caught up with
the news. I was able to walk to/fro because the gathering was about
3 blocks away from Casa Verde at the BBQ joint which was busy!
My 8 years at the Big Box were so intense for all of us that today
when I read my old daily writes during that time I marvel at how
serious I was and how in god's name did I manage on so little sleep?
Everything was a BIG deal and there was a crisis-a-day, or maybe
two. But close we became, we book-loving workers who fought and
made up and laughed until tears streamed down our weary faces.
(And sometimes in front of customers ~ oooooops.)

My friend Michael taught me much and one of his frequent generous
acts was to always visit friends in the hospital. Our friend Rita is
recovering from surgery and yesterday I spent some time with her
at St. Francis Hospital. She asked for mystery books to keep her
mind busy and I gathered some old ones from here for tomorrow's
visit: Sherlock Holmes, Josephine Tey and Raymond Chandler.
I'll go book shopping for some more modern ones later this week.
Rita is hoping to go to rehab very soon and she looked quite good and
her spirit is strong and all in all, things are positive.

Dreams die. Elizabeth sold her bed & breakfast on the River
Nile in Aswan, Egypt. The political situation there is so unstable
and soon we shall meet for coffee here in SF and I'll get some
more details. She reports that her place sold within a week, so I'm
guessing that the real estate situation there is pretty damn good.

Monday, January 23, 2012

what I'm reading currently

This novel’s bright, spirited heroine, Madeleine, is an English
major at Brown University who, in the heyday of semiotics
and deconstruction, is writing her honors thesis on “the
marriage plot” — that is, the traditional mating dance, as
performed in the novels of Jane Austen, George Eliot and Henry

This novel is basically a story of young love and my the twenty
somethings can whine. I thought Middlesex was a lot more interesting.
The first paragraph up there was borrowed from the NY Times.
I found Maddie to be a bit pompous and boring, but I persevere
because Eugenides is a fine writer and who am I to diss a plot
or a character?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I was so busy having fun last night at Husbando's birthday
celebration that I neglected to take any photos. As you can tell
from the elegant tablecloth, we had cracked crab again, his
all-time favorite food (even if he had to roast it himself) along
with a salad and then the Blum's crunch cake from Japantown.
Really I could write an entire paragraph on how lucky we are
to have such delightful friends, but I'll save it for a rainier day.
Suffice it to say, we are the MOST fortunate people on earth.

Big football game today and I'm working out at the deYoung and
that's OK. I'll be home for the ending which will probably be
exciting again.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

passover anyone?

One reviewer called Nora's Will a Jewish Mexican suicide comedy
and that works for me. Nora arranges a lavish Passover dinner
for after her death, bringing together her ex-husband, son,
friends, the Rabbi and his devoted assistant who used to be a
Catholic. I loved that it was so understated and for us it was fun
to be back in Mexico City. Nora, remains a mystery even after her death.

Friday, January 20, 2012

a rainy, spicy day

We had lunch here at Marnee Thai yesterday and it was delicious and
reasonable. Our friend Steve met us and his friend grew up in Bangkok
and she did all the ordering, so we just sat back and ate too much
and drank unusual Thai tea and talked. This restaurant is located on
9th Avenue, between Irving and Lincoln Way.

The rain has finally arrived, but it is gentle still. Post-prandial I went
up to Neti's for some easy computer work. Returned home about
4pm to get ready for the Tiapos writing group where we are all
inspired to tow the line and avoid the non-writing chit chat that
we tend to drift into ~ pleasant but we are often up too late for
our own good. Home by 9:30, so it worked!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

journalism at its best

Last night we saw the final episode #3 of the HBO documentary
Paradise Lost that tells the story of injustice in West Memphis, a
very small town in Arkansas. Eighteen years ago three 8-year old
boys were murdered and three 14-year old boys were arrested
and have been in jail all these years. Because a few people cared,
because journalists still dig and work and push into dark corners,
a movement to Free the West Memphis 3 developed. I won't spoil
this by telling you how it ends (not that you couldn't Google it),
but it made us both say, "thank god for HBO." Great work.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

delicious ~ rent it!

The Guard is on everyone's "Best of 2011" movie lists, so now we
can add the long-awaited seal of approval from Casa Verde. Don
Cheadle (who can do no wrong ever) is an FBI agent who forms
an unlikely friendship with Brendan Gleeson, a local cop in a
small Irish town. Lots of action and comedy and intrigue.

Finally winter is coming to SF. I'm sitting in front of the fireplace
looking forward to a day off and a long walk before the rain arrives.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

back to pathetica

Did you say January?
Mudd pie and 4 forks
The Great Plotniks treated us to lunch at Nick's yesterday for
Husbando's birthday which approaches rapidly. It's a good thing
they made a reservation because the place was packed and we
enjoyed a sunny corner booth table and waaaaaaaaaay too much
food. Everyone had crab of some kind except for me ~ I had to
have a cheeseburger because it's tradition. The food was much
better than I remembered from past visits and it was great being
together and catching up on all sorts of news and goings on.

Then I worked for four hours last night at a two museum event
and it really didn't seem like work as the time sped by. Nice day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

the Pickles remembered

Oh, such talent. Lorenzo Pisoni ran away from the circus when he
was in his teens. His parents (Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider) founded
Pickle Family Circus here in SF back in the 1970's. This is a wonderfully
warm and thought-provoking story ~ basically it's about a son and
his father and all that might entail, except this dad is very, very
unusual and this son adores him, despite it all. Humor Abuse is one
extremely physical and emotional 80 minute act at ACT ~ enjoy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

tea, football, observations

I was invited to a birthday tea party at the Crown & Crumpet for
a delightful young woman whom I met at the Legion of Honor. She
works in the exhibit end of things and her friends all dressed UP
for this event (so did I, so there!) and I can't tell you how
impressed I was with all these young women. Really, I was the
only one with my cell phone out because the Blogmaid was
sending me texts re the 49ers win. We aren't really football fans,
but it was sort of special to be in the playoffs and we won.
The Crown & Crumpet is in Ghiardelli Square and it was filled with
tourists, mostly Asian. The two girls above were probably 16 or so and
in that too cute Japanese little girl full costume that turned heads and
made me wish I had the nerve to shoot them face front.

Before and after this afternoon tea I was helping my friend Neti set
up her new computer. Bless the Apple Store ~ Neti bought the one-on-
one giving her 52 training sessions for $99.00. And thanks to the
Blogmaid for all of her help. So far, so good...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

oh, my...

We just can't ever go wrong with a Man Booker Prize Winner
and this one is no exception. It's a slim book and if I were on
vacation I'd read it in one sitting, which is the way it should be
done. I don't recommend an e-reader for this because the soft
paper and feel of the book are part of the pleasure. Julian Barnes
is such a fine, fine writer. Here is an excerpt:

But I think I have an instinct for survival, for self-preservation.
Perhaps this is what Veronica called cowardice and I called
being peaceable.

This is the story of a man in his sixties looking back to his school
years when a mysterious package is delivered to him...

Friday, January 13, 2012

beware, baseball post!

Finally, time for some real news. Yesterday Ginger and I went to
The Jewel to pick up our tickets for Spring Training in Arizona.
Man, how we have missed THE GAME. All of it ~ the trivia, the
noise, the silliness, the overpaid players and the orange and
black accessories worn by everyone worth their salt on those
deadly and delicious garlic fries.

We will see three games in three days and of course my MsBook will
travel with us. Leaving Thursday, March 29th. Scottsdale, Surprise
and Peoria ~ Arizona here we come. Too soon to pack?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

here a star

I borrowed these stars from the Hubble people, with thanks. The
other morning I was doing my half-assed yoga stretches in our
back room and spied a hard cover Emily Dickinson book. Had it
ever even been opened? So then and there I vowed to use my new
status as a full-time person to get to know this woman who lived
and died in the same house in Massachusetts, the woman who
loved a married man and is still one of the greatest of all American
poets. Emily was born in 1830 and died in 1886 ~ another star
extinguished way too early. She did, however, leave us with more
than 1,500 poems and since it's still early in my day, I'll start here:

Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,

Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

permission granted

Here she is, by popular demand ~ the beautiful Blond Bombshell.
I actually asked her if I could post this photo and now I'll tell you
a bit about Karen. I met her when I first joined Tiapos, the writing
group extraordinaire, back in 2003. Over the years we've learned a
lot about each other because our writing is often exceedingly personal.
She lives out by the ocean, hails from Philadelphia, possesses a zen
like calm (unless she's pissed off about something) and has a fabulous
sense of humor. Karen has been published many times, including the
one she edited pictured above. You might remember that we hosted a
book signing for Felicia and Karen at Borders Union Square. It was a
huge and crowded success and I notice that it is still available on

Oh, yes, I probably should mention that Karen is one of the best
writers ever and when she is absent from Tiapos the group seems a
bit flat. How fortunate I am to know her so well and I had no idea
that she reads this blog. I am flattered!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Access Day

Do all museums do this? A special free day for people with disabilities
and their community takes advantage of this, as well they should.
Carefully scheduled docent tours, every wheel chair and walker out
and available, free disabled-only parking and of course the best
part is that the visitors can take their time and really appreciate the
art without able bodied people standing in front of them. Plus it's
a time for the handicapped to treat their family, friends and care-
givers to the world of art.

Two of us worked the Pissarro store yesterday at the Legion of Honor.
So pleasant. Customers were grateful and happy to spend some money.
I'm always intrigued by the blind people who soak up the lectures and
the ambiance of the museum. Only a few near collisions of wheel chairs
and the entire building resounded with "Thank you!" Such a fine day.

Monday, January 09, 2012

lots of fun!

I'm not one to enjoy or even care about old black and white movies,
but The Artist was terrific and something you need to see on the
big screen, as we did last Saturday with $16 worth of popcorn and
Coke®. We were lucky that the audience was nice and quiet too,
because that's part of the fun, the silence and the music. Once in
awhile a few well-placed sounds from the film, to enhance the
moment and even startle us for a second. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

until next december

Husbando and I have twice splurged on the big movie screen
experience these past two Saturdays. If we didn't treat ourselves
to popcorn and Coke® it wouldn't be that expensive. Not only
do we insist on popcorn, we don't share well and need our own
individual containers. So it adds up, but that's OK, once a year.

Last week we saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Gary Oldman,
pictured above. Also in unforgettable roles: Colin Firth, Benedict
(Sherlock!) Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Tom Hardy. Riveting and
a tiny confusing so we are going to rent the original from the Flix®
and gorge ourselves on plot and details.

This agency is called "Circus" because it is located at Cambridge
Circus in London. Ah, those Brits...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

don't bother

You well remember that I loved this book, but One Day as
a movie is just not very good. Anne Hathaway's British accent
isn't too bad, but the screen play just zips from year to year
and the viewer doesn't quite get the intensity of the friendship
or lovership or whatever. The chemistry isn't there and I was
pleased when it ended and I could jump back to L.A. with
Detective Bosch who continues to drive around and miss all
those traffic jams.

Friday, January 06, 2012

more palette cleansing

San Francisco is a very small city, really, for a big city. Yesterday
the Great Plotnik mentioned Macapuno and the Great Notthat
had to Google it. Imagine. Anyway, it appears that I had been at
Mitchell's buying this special creamy coconut treat the very
same day as Doug and/or Barb were buying it too. I remember
one dinner party we gave and Doug could identify where we had
purchased each item. I tell you, we city folks are strange and
picky food-loving fools.

After all the chocolate and peppermint sweets of the season,
what could be better for one's body than coconut ice cream?
Well, some people do other strange and unappetizing things
with and to their digestive tracks this time of year, but I don't
care to discuss it before my freshly squeezed morning orange juice.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

to cleanse my palette

I finished Ms. Egan's Look at Me and have two hardcover treats
on the bedside table which you'll hear about later. So I ordered
an 11 chapter (!) sample of The Drop on Amazon for my LindaKindle®
and of course I was hooked and forced to order this entire fun little
mystery. One amusing thing is that Detective Bosch drives all the
hell over the L.A. area and never seems to get stuck in any of those
traffic jams that the rest of the world complains about. The Great
Plotnik writes about the messy traffic of our south land neighbor
better than anyone else to my knowledge ~ and that's a fact.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

power corrupts ~ a reminder

We read a great review of GBH several months ago and I bought
it for Husbando as a holiday gift because it isn't available to rent
from the Flix®. Four totally entertaining discs in the set and we
have been watching compulsively every damn night since the
Buffalo Four left town. It takes place during the Thatcher-era
and the two lead actors (Robert Lindsay and Michael Palin) are
fantastic. It gets very heavy and then the writer (Alan Bleasdale)
inserts just the right amount of British type farce to turn the
plot from tragedy to humor, then back again. We finished it
last night and are feeling a little empty and unbalanced today.

GBH means a couple of things which we find out in the final
episode. I shan't be a spoiler, or shan I? OK, one of them is
Grievous Bodily Harm. (Yes, I know shan ain't a word.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

one reason to love Facebook

I used to work with Sue Riddle at Borders and she posted this
exquisite piece on Facebook. From the top left: Justin with his
BIG earrings and leather teddy bear, me reading and dozing,
Valerie the romantic, and Andi with his tattoos and two cats.
Such talent. She dedicated it to Shauna who provided us with
dozens and tons of different xmas cookies every year and I
especially miss the peanut butter ones with chocolate topping.
Oh, and Shauna appreciated my addiction to Peeps and
spoiled me constantly with that treat.

Actually I have a few problems with Facebook that I won't go
into here. But for sharing something as wonderful as this,
who can not appreciate it?

Monday, January 02, 2012

the printed page

As promised, here is the photo I selected for the front cover of the
long awaited 2011 edition of this blog. It was taken while sight seeing
at Coit Tower in October. Blog2Print does a great job and now they
will print other blog sites such as Word Press, etc. I'm sorry that they
raised their prices, but that was inevitable, and it's still under $100
for the full-color wonder of it all.

I missed mentioning Blogmaid's birthday yesterday, but she had 4
million good wishes on Facebook and this one didn't end in 5 or
zero, as Plotnik might say. I think all people born on Jan. 1st are
charmed, and she is no exception.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

the art world grieves

I hate to start the New Year on a sad note, but the Big Boss of
the museums died on Friday and he is in my mind and heart.
John Buchanan did so much for the de Young, Legion of Honor
and the city of San Francisco. About 6 months ago we heard that
he had cancer and then pancreas was added to the talk and of
course we knew. Before that he was a daily presence with his lively
walk, big smile and incredible knowledge and energy. Really, he
put our museums on the map.

The obit today says he was a populist. He took some criticism for
not being elite enough. I remember when I went to my first
orientation (King Tut) and Mr. Buchanan said that he felt his
job was to "put butts in the bleachers" and god, I loved that.
That's exactly how I look at art ~ as many people as possible
should enjoy it and get the kids in too. Early.

He was only 58. Another loss, another bright light dimmed.
Rest in peace, Mr. Buchanan, and thank you for enriching
so many lives, mine included. Mine especially.