Archive for June, 2001

Jun 29 2001

long weekend

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I’m off for a long weekend, visiting my brother and sister in the country. So I won’t be writing again until Monday or Tuesday, though you might be hearing from Rufus. Watch this space!

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Jun 28 2001

Made my day

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My friend Mary-Lou just made my day! She is one of my oldest and dearest friends — we went to high school together and she was my bridesmaid, along with my sister Megan. (Note to brides-to-be: don’t make the mistake I did and have bridesmaids who are cuter than you are.)

Although we don’t call or write that often, our bond is unbreakable, and when we do talk, it’s like we only saw each other yesterday. So what a wonderful surprise to pick up the phone and hear her voice. Half an hour later, my bad mood (caused by our administrative assistant’s enduring incompetence) has completely vanished. Who needs a therapist when you have a really good friend? Someone who knows how stupid you looked in high school (during the 80’s, too!) and still loves you? That’s truly special.

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Jun 28 2001

It goes in threes…

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They say these things come in threes, and the third to join Carroll O’Connor and John Lee Hooker is Jack Lemmon. If there is an after-life, it’s much more entertaining now! However, it does mean that we on the earthly plain are getting seriously short of real movie stars. There aren’t too many left at this point of the old, glamorous Hollywood: Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Paul Newman, Jane Russell, Catherine Deneuve, Sophia Loren, Olivia de Havilland…that’s all I can think of off the top of my head, our remaining links to the elegant past.

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Jun 27 2001

It’s about time…

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Let’s hope NY is just the first of the 50 states to ban the use of cell phones while driving. It’s common sense that you can’t pay attention to the road, your driving, and other drivers as well as your phone conversation, all while going 70 mph. I’m only amazed that it’s been legal this long (but then, I feel the same way about veal). I wonder, though, if it will ever get passed in California. In LA, it’s the norm to chat on your cell phone while driving, preferably while repairing your make-up in the rearview mirror and scoping for celebrities. There may be some resistance there! On the other hand, where my brother and sister live, in Northern California, there are no cell phone towers, hence no signal and no problem.

Personally, I only even carry my cell phone when I’m driving, but only to call AAA in case my car breaks down, which has happened more than once (the perils of owning an old car). Other than that, I never carry it, and it’s only on when I’m calling someone. The thought of being constantly reachable fills me with horror, and I can’t understand why anyone would find that a good thing.

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Jun 26 2001

Patches & pyramids

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Maybe I’m just in a skeptical mood today, but I find it hard to believe that a vanilla-scented patch can really stop the craving for actual deep, dark chocolate. But if nicotine patches can work on the worst craving known to man, why not?

I also find the theory that the ancient Egyptians used kites to build the pyramids pretty ridiculous, too. Wouldn’t Ben Franklin have already figured it out if that were the case?

And finally…I still can’t believe it actually rained here yesterday. That should be unheard-of.

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Jun 23 2001

Glama Day

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It was time to cut off the straggly split ends that were making my hair look like trailer trash, so yesterday I went to visit my hairdresser, Mauro, who practices his art at Elizabeth Arden on Post Street. I have been going to him for several years, and he understands that when I ask for a trim, I do NOT mean “please whack three feet off my hair”. The salon is right across the street from a very fancy bridal salon, so while we catch up on our gossip, we can watch brides-to-be twirling around in tres expensive dresses while they dream about their starry futures.

Mauro is probably one of the few non-gay hairdressers in this town. He’s an adorable party boy from Brazil, who has the best dish and a kaleidoscopic love life. He not only makes my hair look great, he makes me feel fabulous. If I win that $125 million lottery draw tonight, I’m putting him on retainer.

So it’s hardly surprising that I got construction worker attention (“Hey, sexy!!” accompanied with whistles) as I walked home, which gladdened the heart of this girl as she struts toward her 40th decade on earth. Why do girls resent this? Nothing like unbiased flattery to make your day.

Stopped in to see Charles, my friend and jeweler (in that order) on my way home. Hmmm, does having a jeweler sound pretentious? Surely not as bad as saying “my butler” or “my personal shopper”. Charles designed and made over my wedding rings and I buy nearly all my jewelry from him, so doesn’t that make him my jeweler? I guess I should probably admit right here that I have a weakness for jewelry and an incurable carbon addiction. But I only bought a tiny pair of gold hoops this time!

As a further ego booster (like I needed one, you’re thinking), Charles said that I looked “svelte and sassy”, so maybe all that dreary exercise is paying off at last. Went home and finally drank some of that Champagne my co-workers gave me for my birthday. The perfect end to my glama day.

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Jun 22 2001

Lights out

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The world is a little poorer today for the loss of a great actor and a great musician. Yesterday, we lost both Carroll O’Connor, best known as Archie Bunker on “All in the Family”, at the age of 76, and octogenarian blues legend John Lee Hooker.

“All in the Family” was a ground-breaking show, tackling themes never before handled on television, including rape and miscarriage. It’s probably difficult for those too young to remember when the show first aired how very controversial and shocking it was at that time, though it did eventually become a legend: witness Archie’s signature armchair being on permanent display at the Smithsonian Museum. O’Connor was a stage actor for 20 years before he was chosen to play Archie, and personally, I loved his warm, charming performance in the romantic comedy “Return to Me”, playing Minnie Driver’s adoring grandfather.

John Lee Hooker was one of 11 children born to a poor sharecropper in Mississippi 83 years ago. By 14, he was on the road performing, and he soon became a legend. In 1961, the Rolling Stones opened for him, and he also appeared with Bob Dylan the same year. His music is part of the foundations of rock & roll, and his influence can be heard in musicians as diverse as Bruce Springsteen and ZZ Top. No-one has his distinctive growl and voice, and it never lost its raw edge. I think John Lee himself said it best. “You know, I may not be too good at writing things down, but when it comes to creating a song from here”–pointing to his heart–“and here”–then to his head–“nobody can beat me.”

You will both be missed, but you will live on in your art and in your fans’ memories.

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Jun 21 2001

Summer solstice

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It’s the longest day of the year. So it’s all downhill from here, folks! The days will keep getting shorter until we’re going to work in the dark and going home in the dark, too. Isn’t that a happy thought? Happy summer solstice!

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Jun 21 2001

Bravo for life’s little ironies

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I love it that my firm just won Microsoft as a client, when Apple was already an existing client. And to make it even more amusing, Apple gave Microsoft an excEt reference for us!

It’s perfect that I will work on both accounts, since I have a PC with Microsoft software at work and an Apple Imac at home.

Even in my computers, there’s a separation between work (non-fun) annd real/home life (fun). This makes complete sense for a complete Gemini! And there’s nothing like a touch of irony to spice up an otherwise dull day.

And PS to all you Mac-haters out there…up until I bought my Imac a year or so ago, I had only used PC and didn’t know any better. But the breathtaking simplicity of setting it up, the complete lack of crashes, freezes and other problems that are common to PC users, and the amazing range of things it can do without special software, and OK, I admit it, its total cuteness, won me over immediately. Try it and you’ll be a convert, too. Or at least try it before you knock it again.

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Jun 20 2001

Off!

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Although I usually assume that I am right in practically any situation, it’s always nice to have this belief reinforced by scientific fact. Ever since I was a little girl, mosquitoes have enjoyed my blood with the fervidness of an oenophile given a rare bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild in the Mojave Desert. My parents used to say, “If the mosquito children are good, they get Suzy for dessert.” This problem still plagues me, and now I know why: mosquitoes, like many men, can’t resist blondes! We may not have more fun, but we are more irresistible to blood sucking insects.

There seem to be more mosquitoes in San Francisco in the past couple of years than there were before. Hardly any houses or apartments in the city have window screens, since there’s a myth that there are no bugs here. It’s the same kind of thinking that has led to little or no insulation or reasonable heating in houses and apartments. Our apartment has no insulation and laughable baseboard heaters in the livingroom and bedroom, which we never use because they a) use up a ton of power and produce little heat; and 2) make everything smell like hot dust.

Getting back to the mosquito problem, I am very glad to see that a spider has been patiently building and re-building her web in the corner of our bedroom window over the past week or two. The window opens from both the top and the bottom, which is very useful when you have curious cats. So the web is undisturbed by us, and I hope she catches as many of those blonde-loving mosquitoes as she can eat!

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Jun 19 2001

Dem bones

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I certainly think that we newcomers to this shore have been horribly unfair and cruel to the Native Americans. However, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests to learn who Kennewick Man really is and how he got here. It’s a very important scientific discovery, and I would think Americans of all ethnicities would like to know more about someone who may be our ancestor. Surely after we have learned all we can from these bones, they can be returned to the earth with respect and thanks? Maybe I’m prejudiced in this case because I am a) of European descent; and b) the daughter of a scientist, but the fact that these bones were even found is a gift that shouldn’t be ignored.

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Jun 18 2001

Real estate madness

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Our neighbor across the hall has her apartment for sale for $489,000. Yup, almost half a million dollars. This just amazes me. Our building has 6 apartments, 2 on each floor. Each has one bedroom and one bathroom, that’s it (though they are pretty big, at 1,200 square feet each). Ours is in the back, is very quiet, and overlooks gardens and trees. Hers is on the front of the building, facing a very busy main artery street, with traffic all day and all night, and still more buildings across the street looking into her windows. Neither of us have parking spaces, and our apartments are the exact same size and same layout. She doesn’t have an en-suite laundry room or anything else that might make hers more valuable than ours as far as I can see. I just don’t get it.

She had an open house yesterday afternoon — very clever, since traffic is slowest on a Sunday afternoon! — and around 12 people showed up in the three hours it was open. I could hear most of them asking about the parking (and not liking the answer) and being horrified by her dark red hallway and mustard yellow walls in the kitchen. I will be interested in seeing how long it takes to sell that place and what price she gets for it. We paid much less than HALF of her asking price when we bought our place 6 years ago. And on the weekends, it’s bird song that wakes me up, not traffic.

By the way…the real estate people do not know their history. They list our building as “Edwardian” when it was built in 1927. Newsflash: Edward VII (the Edward of “Edwardian”) died in 1910. George V, the present Queen’s grandfather, was King in 1927. But you can’t call it “Georgian”, since that refers to George III (whose rule ended in 1820). Maybe it’s high time we finally cut loose from England once and for all and created our own categories. How about “Jazz Age” building? I think that has a suggestion of luxury, elegance and fun about it. “Spacious jazz age apartment” — doesn’t that sound nice?

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Jun 17 2001

Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad !

Just got off the phone from wishing him happy Father’s Day, even though he lives in England, where they don’t have Father’s Day. But after years of living in the US, he is rawther mid-Atlantic.

The picture here shows my Dad with his beloved dog Jesse, while Jesse was still enduring the archaic English torture known as quarantine. I believe that the quarantine is slowly being lifted, which is surely a necessity with the Channel Tunnel. Anyway, I visited Jesse while he was in durance vile, and as you can see from this picture, he didn’t find it all that bad. Dad could visit him as often as he liked and bring Jesse treats and bones to distract him when Dad was leaving. On the day Jesse was released, his joy was so uncontainable that it took 20 minutes before he calmed down enough to allow his collar to be put on. And for the rest of his life, Jesse lived as an English gentleman in leafy Wimbledon. Not bad for an abused, starved stray mutt my sister rescued in Newfoundland!

I see I have digressed from my original topic, though I think Dad wouldn’t mind, because he loved Jesse dearly. Jesse died just a few days before Dad’s second wedding, and he cried all the way to the Victoria Falls for the honeymoon. And in the five years that have passed, he still hasn’t gotten another dog, and I don’t think he ever will.

I am very lucky to have a father who is also my friend. We have many tastes in common and this has led to my being accused of being the favorite. I won’t confirm or deny this, but I will say, we understand each other. Happy Father’s Day, dear friend!

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Jun 16 2001

Nice surprise

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Just got an email from my cousin Les in England, saying he found this site and is enjoying reading it! It was so nice to hear from him. We Peakalls are few and far between, and in the past few years I have been delighted to be in touch with Les (whose branch of the family tree is thriving, thank you, compared to our dwindling twig) and Frank. I think our great or possibly great-great grandfathers were Peakall brothers, but I’m not sure what kind of cousins that makes us. Cousin is good enough for me!

Frank is a real expert on the history of our family and sent me a wonderful chart tracing us from the first Peakall (then Pecalle) to flee Huguenot persecution in France and go to England.

It’s nice to know that I do have some extended family out there. My father’s only sister has passed away and never married, my grandparents are long gone, and my mother is an adopted only child, and we don’t know her family’s story, either. My older sister is the only one of us four “kids” to have children, hence the dwindling twig remark. So any Peakall relatives are especially dear to me. One of these days I’m going to actually meet my English cousins, I promise!

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Jun 15 2001

Brief encounter

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I was out shopping for frivolities when I ran into Rufus. I think the shopping we were doing was indicative of our personalities. I had bought: a guidebook to Italy (thinking of going there for my 40th birthday); wrapping paper; a birthday card for Rufus’ oldest brother Ed. Though come to think of it, he hasn’t sent us an email or note about the exquisite French doll we sent him for his daughter’s first birthday in the first week of May. Grrr. They may go on the “no present” list with the other ingrates.

Anyway, Rufus bought: 2 DVDs (though I admit I’ll watch them, too: “Set it Off” and “Thelma & Louise” — a good double bill, come to think of it); prescription asthma medication, and cigarettes.

There you have it. Personalities in a shopping bag. Or two.

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Jun 15 2001

It’s always darkest before the Dawn

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I just love Dawn. Her sense of humor and writing style are brilliant and hilarious. Check out the first rant on her new blog. What an entrance!

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Jun 14 2001

Bushwhackin’

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OK, I have gone for a few weeks without bashing our appointed dictator, so I think I can do just a little, don’t you? I bet he is actually suprised by his unpopularity in Europe, despite the fact that his views on practically every issue are diametrically opposed to the Europeans’. He’s probably surprised by all the protests and negative press he’s getting, too. He should have timed his visit better — going to Europe immediately after executing Timothy “Nature of the Beast” McVeigh was an unfortunate choice, since most Europeans disapprove of the death penalty and think we are rather barbaric for continuing to indulge in it.

I’m not planning to go back to England until next May, but expect that when I do, I will have to hear about how the election was rigged and what a dumbass Bush is, etc. It will make a change from the remarks I got during the Clinton era, though. No-one over there could understand why we spent so damn much time and money persecuting Bill over a blowjob, and to be honest, I didn’t, either. I did get tired of being accused of being a prurient Puritan, though, and had to agree with the accusers that it certainly looked that way to an unprejudiced observer. But I think Kenneth Starr, in his unending quest to get every single juicy detail of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair is the real PP here. Probably the only time he has gotten off in YEARS, and if you don’t think he did, read the Starr Report.

I find it interesting that our friends in Europe still adore Clinton. I saw on the news yesterday that he happened to be playing golf near Harrogate in England. A wedding reception was being held at the country club attached to the golf course, and when Bill saw the party and saw that he had been recognized, he went right over and congratulated the delighted bride and groom. Despite the obvious concern of his bodyguards, he also posed for pictures and autographed menus. The entire party (except the bodyguards) was thrilled. By the way…he looked fabulous. Retirement seems to be agreeing with him, and unlike most former presidents, he doesn’t seem to have aged 25 years while in office. The public still loves him. At least Bush will almost certainly not be re-elected, and I hope we as a nation can do better next time.

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Jun 13 2001

Finally….

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…a reason to be glad that my brother is driving my car Josephine instead of me.

Especially now that we can expect at least four more months of “Josephine Days” (sunny and warm enough to have the top down). The national average for gas is now $1.68, but it’s $2.06 a gallon in the Bay Area, an increase of 4 cents a gallon over the past month. And according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s June 13 edition, it’s only going to get worse over the summer months. It’s those Josephine Days. Everyone wants to be on the road.

I knew our gas prices were high — for some reason, I still watch what they are even though it’s all theory for me now — but I didn’t know it was *that* bad. I have to admit that if I still had my car in the city, gas prices wouldn’t make me sell her, and I probably wouldn’t drive less, either. Guess that’s why they can jack up the prices so high — they know we’ll still pay it. That and the horror of Muni.

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Jun 12 2001

French paradox again

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My brother finally called me at 4:00 pm yesterday, after he got back home. It’s amazing how I can never be mad at him when I’m actually talking to him. But he is a number one groover on life, and it’s hard to be grumpy around him.

In yesterday’s mail (which was, amazingly, already there when we got home yesterday) were a couple of clippings from my father. One of them was about how some wine producers in the Rhone valley have gotten together to produce powdered wine, which will be sold in capsules. Studies have shown that two glasses of red wine a day may prevent or reduce the occurrence of heart attacks and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The thing that amazes me is this. We all know that most of the things that are good for you and supposed to stave off heart attacks and other horrible diseases range from the mildly unpleasant to the deeply dreary. I count diet and exercise among the deeply dreary myself, particularly since you can never finish with them — you just have to keep doing it, day after day. I would think that people would welcome the fact that something as delightful as a glass or two of good red wine is actually good for you. And, as Thomas Jefferson put it, wine has the ability to banish care. TJ himself had an enviable wine cellar and lived well into his 80’s, a particularly impressive accomplishment in the early 1800’s. Maybe he already knew that wine was good for you. He knew everything else that was worth knowing.

It amazes me that people would forego the pleasure of drinking wine, from choosing the bottle, admiring the label, enjoying the color and bouquet and drinking it out of a nice glass PLUS the ability to banish care, in favor of a pill. The only thing I can think of is that these gym-obsessed folks are too worried about the sugar content of actual wine to risk drinking it, but would prefer to get the health benefits in pill form. They are missing out on one of the pleasures of life — but they are probably not only used to that, but consider themselves superior because of it. I will laugh at them over a glass of ’82 Bordeaux.

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Jun 11 2001

PS

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My brother still hasn’t called me. I called him around 11 am yesterday morning, before I went out to run some errands, and he said he’d call me right back. Still waiting.

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