Creeping Out

The creepy turtle paperweight

My weekend has been extremely glamorous so far. Yesterday, I poured boiling water on the weeds in the driveway, in an attempt to put them out of their misery before I yanked them out of the driveway. It’s harder than you’d think.

While waiting for the water to boil, I tackled the huge box of my grandmother’s junk, kindly hauled to my house personally by my sister Megan (who finally commented on my blog! Yay!). As I dug through the musty paper, I couldn’t help but wonder: how many Jell-O molds* and relish dishes does a girl really need? While pondering the inadvisability of naming a child Otis Clapp (as featured on a medicine bottle – possible slogan: Get the Clapp!), I unwrapped something that seemed to be moving. Eeek! Could something have survived in storage all those years?

But no, it turned out to be the creepy turtle paperweight, as pictured above. Not pictured: the moving head and legs. Apparently other people are not creeped out by the turtle, since research revealed that people have paid $400 to $600 for these at auction. One girl’s creep-out is another girl’s treasure.

Naturally, I had to call my sister to tell her of my run-in with the un-alive, yet overly active turtle. And as usual, she trumped my creepy story with one of her own.

Getting ready to do the dishes, Megan found the sponge hiding coyly in the depths of the sink. On wringing it out, it appeared that the sponge had a quite sizable poop on it. Naturally, she dropped it in horror, and was even more horrified to see the turd moving. On closer examination, it turned out to be a small bat, which flopped its traumatized way under the stove. Later, it emerged and my brother-in-law Rob caught it under a glass and set it outside, to the relief of all concerned.

How’s your weekend going?

*So far, I haven’t come across the Liberty Bell or the lobster, which I love. I have found the star one, which often contained the orange Jell-O with shredded carrots in it, and sometimes the red Jell-O with canned fruit cocktail. The green Jell-O with halved green grapes and ginger ale was generally reserved for the Liberty Bell.

Still Coveting Cool

My sister's gardenMy sister’s garden

For a different reason: yet another of those “unusual” heatwaves. This is Day Four of the latest serving of Hot’n’Heinous Hell.  The kittens are melted by the door gasping for breath, and what little is left of my mind has finally melted away.  Hence the lack of posting in my fancy new blog, and the inability to grasp how the fancy new blog works.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it (and the unfortunately black leather) couch.

Of course, the heatwave arrived in Oakland at the exact same time I arrived back from visiting my brother and sister in the coolness of the redwoods, where – oh, imagine the bliss! – a girl needs a fleece right about cocktail time if she’s planning to continue hanging out in the garden.  Timing really is everything.

It was great to be away for a few days.  My iBook was in the hospital (now restored to health, thank you for asking), so I went computerless, and cell phone reception there is patchy, so I was quite delightfully incommunicada.  Instead of checking emails and voicemails, I went to the farmer’s market with my sister; had lunch by the ocean*; bought six completely delightful and wholly unnecessary glass peacocks with real feather tails for the Christmas tree (yes, in August); walked the dog on my siblings’ property; poked around in bookstores; had my fortune told by a swami in a tie-dyed turban; drank local wine in my sister’s garden while hummingbirds and bees buzzed around; and watched the sun set and the moon rise, accompanied by glittery, diamond-bright stars.  

*If you find you’re hungry while visiting Mendocino, get a hot smoked chicken and Swiss sandwich at the Mendo Deli and eat it outside overlooking the wild, rocky Pacific.  You’ll thank me later.

Coveting Cool


There’s nothing like sneaking out of work in the middle of the week on a sunny summer day. Leaving looming deadlines at my desk and the cats in charge, I ventured to the Oakland Museum of California to check out the soon-ending Birth of the Cool exhibit, showcasing mid-century Southern California art and architecture.

The exhibit turned out to be one big Covet for me.

Pierre Koenig houses…who wouldn’t want to live that fabulous, martini-sipping by the pool lifestyle, overlooking the bright lights of LA?

Paintings by…

John McLaughlin and

Karl Benjamin. Gorgeous, minimalist, vibrant.

I wandered through the galleries, imagining what it would be like to live in such beautiful surroundings, with such beautiful objects. And whether it would be different now as opposed to then. Did the original owners see the sleek beauty the same way we do today?

More and more I wish I lived in the past when everything was so much more aesthetically pleasing.

In Progress

I found a Blog Doctor to diagnose and treat my blog. I’m following the prescriptions and waiting for the results right along with you. The Doctor is so In that he’s working on it this weekend, even as I type. How’s that for above and beyond the call of duty? If only healthcare for humans was as good as it is for blogs…

Since I have no healthcare insurance, I had to resort to the QuickHealth clinic at the Farmacia Something, conveniently located right near the BART station. You sign in and wait, along with the madd(en)ing crowds. Then you go into a teeny room, chat with a kindly doctor from Mexico about politics and the weather while he takes your blood pressure (possibly affected by the political chat) and other vitals. Then you go and wait some more for the prescriptions, perusing the shelves of mysterious panaceas (what’s Volcano Oil used for?) while babies cry and cheerful mariachi music plays. Fifty dollars later, you’re out of there, and on your way to Wal-Mart to get your prescriptions filled.

If it isn’t Wal-Mart, it seems. But the prescriptions are $4 each, so it’s (hopefully) worth the bad karma and soul erosion to go there.

The waiting motif continued at Wal-Mart, once I located the pharmacy in the hangar-sized store. The pharmacy was technically open, but no-one was there, other than a line of irate would-be customers. Coincidentally, the guy ahead of me was wearing a Geddy’s Pub t-shirt – here on vacation. The girls behind me were from Detroit, also on vacation*, so the time was agreeably filled by chatting about both places. Once the pharmacy opened, it took forever for the ancient, harried-looking clerk to dispense with us.

The whole process, from Farmacia to Pharmacy, took most of the day, and left me feeling quite third world. My final stop was at Safeway, where Ray leaned over the cash and said confidentially of a guy leaving the store, “Don’t that look like a prison walk? I can just see him walkin’ around the yard at San Quentin. Mm-mm.”

*Apparently, vacationing in Oakland is hazardous to your health.

No Comment

I know I’ve been frustrating the hell out of you, first with the inability to leave comments, criticism, and words of wisdom, and now the apparent ability to do so but not actually being able to. It’s been frustrating the hell out of Me, too, so that’s when some action had to be taken. And as usual, my thought was to get someone else to do it. In this case, it’s a total necessity, since I am a techtard extraordinaire, and if I even attempted to update Movable Type and export all the old entries, I know I’d manage to make them disappear, and I probably would, too.

Also as usual, I turned to Craigslist for help. I got my house, my car, CD shelves, someone to assemble the CD shelves and screen in the porch all on Craigslist. And it was also extremely efficient in helping dispose of the many items that used to fit in a big loft but didn’t in a small house. I have an entire Craigslist life.

So I’m hoping that soon I’ll have the comments thing fixed, and while I’m at it, a pretty new look. If you have any ideas or opinions about that or anything else, you can tell me at speakall at Don’t hold back, ’cause you know I never do!

Et In Acadia Ego


I met with a gentleman this week who brought his teenaged daughter along for the ride. She waited in reception with our handsome receptionist, CNN, and homework to keep her company while her father and I sat in the conference room and talked about dreary things like shorting and buy/sell disciplines. When we finally emerged, she shook my hand politely and told me that she was studying for school – which starts in two weeks. Two weeks!

When I was a girl, school ended around June 20 or 25, and the next day, we were packed into the car and on our way to Maine. School didn’t start again until (appropriately enough) the day after Labor Day, so we had nearly three months of total freedom. We had such a luxurious feeling of time stretching before us, time we could fill any way we liked: swimming, sailing, painting, visiting friends, going out on our friend’s lobster boat, climbing mountains, tea at Jordan Pond House (you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had their popovers), pool at Geddy’s, buying blueberry coffeecake and chocolate chip cookies from that lady in Southwest Harbor (she sold them out of her kitchen, and if she wasn’t home, you just left the money)…and then there were the Fourth of July Fireworks and Boat Race, the Lab picnic, and the library’s* annual book sale. Life was good.

In those halcyon days, Dad just dropped us off in Bar Harbor or on Sand Beach and came back for us later. He was occupied working in the lab most of the day, but he always found time for us. Of course, his idea of taking us swimming was lying on the beach reading the International Herald Tribune or the New York Times, but he always packed a picnic. Sometimes he even doggy paddled quite grandly, keeping his chin in the air and his eyes open.

While in Maine, we lived in the same cottage across the road from the lab. The biggest danger in those days was crossing the two lane highway to get to the lab or the tiny general store or post office in Salisbury Cove. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can tour the very cottage** we lived in, many summers ago.

My last visit there was in the mid 1990’s with my father and sister. Unsurprisingly, the door wasn’t locked (we never locked it, either – in fact, I’m not sure it had a lock), and we walked right in. It was exactly the same, and had the same sweet, familiar smell of resiny pine boards warmed in the sun, surrounded by fragrant balsam firs. Our heights were still pencilled on the wood beside the door in the kitchen.

Dad was still the tallest.

*How I adored that library! I can’t count how many hours I spent in its dusty embrace. I wish they still stamped library books and had those little cards in the cute pockets. Since we came back every summer and/or were affiliated with the lab, we were able to take out as many books as year-round patrons, a benefit I always appreciated.

**Looks like the kitchen has been fancied up a bit, but the living room and bedrooms look he same.

Piece of Cake

I wonder what it is about me that makes my neighbors take culinary pity on me? In my old place, the fabulous P was always dropping by with wonderful things like muffins, tiny brownies, and gingerbread that she had made. These little bites of heaven were generally small enough to be pretty much guilt-free (and after all, every girl deserves some indulgence) but hot out of the oven, draped prettily in a fresh tea towel. They were edible hugs.

Yesterday, I was talking to my boss on the phone when B approached me with a piece of chocolate cake. (I should probably mention here that I have a habit of pacing while on the phone, so I usually go outside and walk up and down the sidewalk while chatting.) Needless to say, cake took precedence over work, so I put Boss on hold to take the cake. It was on a paper plate with pink and red hearts on it, and covered with plastic wrap, thoughtfully held up in a tent-like manner by toothpicks to keep it off the icing. I haven’t tasted it yet, but it looks good. Both B and C(ake) are so sweet!

Sometimes neighbors can be great. And/or amusing. My old friend came back for another withdrawal from the First Bank of Suzy the other night, knocking on the door at 1 am with a request for $20 to get him to the City and back for his janitorial job, for which he was already late. A much more plausible tale, but he only got $15, since that’s all I had at the time. After the usual declarations of affection, he took off into the night. I wonder how long it will take for him to pay me back. I feel more confident that he will this time, since he may well want to get another loan. And my rates are so reasonable.

Freaky Friday

Well, you’d never know I’d swept up in the laundry room (which doubles as the kittens’ salle de bain) this morning, thanks to the dashing litterbox stylings of the Beautiful June Bug. While June was doing that, the (now slightly less) Adorable Audrey Grey was knocking over one of the pair of conga drums in the livingroom, happily watching it loudly bounce while I struggled vainly to keep up my end of a phone conversation about venture capital with a guy in New York.

Guess who was having a better morning?

When I emerged from the bowels of the Montgomery BART station, I was greeted by the flawless blue sky and a guy carrying a sign that said, “PRISON IS SLAVERY/EMPLOYEES ARE KKK” on it. As I passed him, he said “I’m an American Muslim! We should all be fighting against terror!” I’m no expert, but given that around 40% of the prison population is African-American*, and that the budget for improving San Quentin’s Death Row(!) is projected to be more than $40 million over the original cost, there’s something seriously wrong. Oh, and after they spend all that money on Death Row, it may well be overpopulated within 3 years. And this in the only state without a budget as of July 1, and one with a $15 billion shortfall.

On my way home, there was a woman with a spectacularly loud and undisciplined pair of kids who cheerfully shared their ear-piercing displeasure with life in general and the train in particular. Although it was all in Spanish, we all got the general idea. They were so loud that the guy who had passed out on (or possibly in) his collection of overstuffed garbage bags actually woke up from his stupor and stared at them balefully. A guy who was lucky enough to exit the train at West Oakland, the first stop on the wrong side of the Bay, leaned in and said “They outta throw you off this train, you kids so loud” to wild applause.

Two stops later, I practically ran off the train. It was only three stops from the office, but if it was any further, I would have just gotten off and waited for the next one. On the bright side, it did make the bus ride with the Malt Liquor Guys (one on each side of me, accessorized with an open can discreetly robed in brown paper) and the Crazy Old Lady (rocking back and forth and repeating “I gotta go to the doctor – get my BRAIN checked out” over and over again) a positive joy.

*According to CNN, more than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms.