Monday, November 20, 2017

Bison in San Francisco?

Our gals in the park, 2017.
Bison skulls to be ground into fertilizer.
Yes, there are bison in Golden Gate Park, but why? In the 1890s, the buffalo were brought to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for captive breeding purposes. By the 1880s, wild bison were nearly extinct as they had been hunted for hides, meat and export purposes. It was estimated that the number of bison had dwindled to approximately 1000 by 1889. The captive breeding program at Golden Gate Park helped to boost their numbers. Over the ensuing decades, various conservation efforts have brought the North American bison population back into the hundreds of thousands. The breeding program at Golden Gate Park ended some decades ago, and the current bison residing at the paddock are all female. I'm told that they're a calm bunch, but I'm glad to visit them with a fence separating us. 

Here's a picture of the park bison grazing with deer 'al fresco' in 1944. -wonder if my Dad or Uncle remembers visiting them?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Working with wee ones

I subbed as an Assistentin in a German class for younger children this past week. It was my first time working in that capacity & I was both thrilled and nervous at the prospect.

Fortunately, the class was taught by a seasoned teacher who had a fairly tight lesson plan to carry us through the day. My only challenge was when it came to 'game time'. I was slated to play a couple of different games with the children. I should have taken time during the lunch break to read over the games' rules, but hadn't thought to do so until it was too late. One of the games played is, I think, found only in the German language game market (so wholly unfamiliar to me), and the other was a version of Bingo geared toward little'uns. All went fairly well with the first game. I did have to sort of periodically have the kiddies move back into sitting in a circle as they kept scootching toward the board, knees & hands covering the bits we needed to play on. The two boys in the group, both a bit challenged by all the German, vied for who could be Lord of The Games. That was a little tough to manage. Driven by upset, those two devolved into speaking English which I tried to handle with humor: Wie bitte? Ich verstehe dein komisches Deutsch nicht. I finally resorted to trying to calm them both down in English. It went somewhat poorly.

I don't have kids, never baby-sat & am the youngest in my own family. To say that I don't know kids from my elbow is pretty spot on. I did, however, work with teens in German Switzerland for a little over a year before moving back to the states a couple of years ago, so that experience was sort of a good foundation for the Kinder class. I am able to guide the kiddies in book work, be encouraging & be somewhat spontaneous. Spontaneity is key when working with wee ones.

I have one more fill-in gig slated for next week. I hope to be better prepared if given 'game duty' again.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wings and wheels.

California Fritillary

At a gig in South City yesterday, I watched this California Fritillary absolutely gorge itself on Lantana. I have the very same flowering plant on my back patio, but can't get a butterfly to come a-calling to save my life. Having spent time looking through a lamenated pamphlet of California butterfly species while docenting at the Butterfly exhibit, I knew this species to be a type of Fritillary, but didn't think its range extended beyond wild hillsides. South San Francisco is not really known for its natural beauty, to be honest. (Sorry, SSF!)

Autumn in Golden Gate Park

Church of Eight Wheels

After my butterfly gig on Sunday morning, I traipsed over to the unofficial skate rink just down the road, skates in hand, literally ready to roll. The patch of pavement enjoyed by roller boogie types, skate novices & pros, inlineskaters, and the occasional cyclist is usually packed out. Maybe the cool fall temperatures kept some enthusiasts away. There was more than enough room to go around in a circle without worrying about bumping a fellow skater.

Toward the middle of the afternoon, the more able skaters, led by our host (seen in the above shot with yellow, furry leggings & in top hat) perform the dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller video. The grass around the track usually fills up & out come the camera phones. I'm not savvy enough to do the Thriller dance, but am on-hand for a bit of roller boogie shuffle that happens as well. It's a hoot.

After three hours of wheeling like a madwoman around the track with only a few pauses, walking back to my car felt awfully weird. It was like I couldn't plant my feet solidly on the ground. My body must have expected to be up on wheels still.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

SF meander, crepes, city recycling

Palace of Fine Arts, the only set of structures surviving from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo held in San Francisco.

The above photo was shot on a day that I inadvertently locked myself out of the house & was forced to roam the streets of SF. I had taken my car in for a tune-up one morning, and, thinking I'd have the car returned to me in a couple of hours, neglected to take my house keys with me for the day. As it turned out, the car wasn't ready for pick-up until 4.30 in the afternoon. This fact led to my taking a series of bus rides around town, going on a few sweaty walks along the Embarcadero & through the Marina, and taking this shot of one of my favorite spots to visit here in San Francisco.

None of the structures built for the Expo were meant to last, and, indeed, all but the above ones were demolished after the Expo closed. I can't recall why the Palace of Fine Arts was spared the same fate, but I can tell you that the building materials purposely did not withstand the test of time, and the Palace and attendant structures were rebuilt using more robust materials in the 1960s. The grounds of this place are both a favorite wedding spot & a place to have wedding photos shot. Women in white gowns and tuxedoed men are to be seen here pretty much every weekend throughout the spring months. There's a sort of 'fairytale' feel to the place during that time.

Rebekka, making a galette.

Over the weekend, I worked with a dear friend of mine at her crepe stand at a local farmers' market. One of her workers couldn't make it to work, for some reason, so I was able to jump in & help. All in all, it was a mellow day with just enough custom to keep things interesting. We were sandwiched between a ramen joint & a dude selling goat meat tacos, I think. The ramen guy, an American married to a Japanese woman, was super cool, and, as I had just visited Japan in August, we traded stories about what it's like for a gaijin visiting Japan.

Watching Rebekka work can be mesmerizing. When she's slammed, the three griddles are going at once. She's cracking eggs, sprinkling toppings, folding and turning crepes at such a pace that it can all look very complicated. I work the cash box, but she'll have me salt and pepper the galettes when needed. Patrons usually stand in front of her watching, commenting, and, sometimes, taking pictures. It's good fun.

Working with her also reminds me just how many French folk live here, and, of course, how many crepe-happy Americans & Francophiles as well.

The owner of this wheeled cart is out of shot looking through the bins. The woman in the background is performing some sort stretching exercise. 

Current stats show that the Asian population of San Francisco is around 35%. Of that number, approximately 21% are Chinese. A rather visible number of elderly Chinese would appear to be desperately poor. Well, those who scoop recycling out of the city bins in my neighborhood look very poor. I sometimes wonder where they live as this area is not one with any fixed-income housing. Are these recycling collectors living with people who expect them to earn their keep, as it were, in this way? I don't know.

I do know that nearly a third of the Chinese in San Francisco's Chinatown live below the poverty level. Chinese from Hong Kong & the mainland somewhat regularly arrive in San Francisco's Chinatown. It's the 'first stop', if you will, for those of limited means. Those who can afford to, move out of Chinatown. Those who can't afford to move out, simply stay put. Two-thirds of the residents of Chinatown live in SROs, or single room occupany hotels. SROs are not fancy, the rooms measure around 8'x10' and the amenities are usually shared with others living on the same floor. Although SRO rooms were originally intended for single folk to inhabit, as the name would imply, families are often crowded into one room.

It boogles the mind a bit to think that one of SF's most visited tourist areas is, in many respects, a slum.

Monday, October 23, 2017

German Club--small world

Kinda kooky, but I actually had a woman at my German group this month whose children I had gone to school with back in the 70s & 80s!

She hadn't signed up on the online list, so I wasn't expecting her at the Treff. She had come as the guest of a new group member. They were 'early birds' to the event, so I didn't spot them right away. It was only when I began assembling tables for our pow-wow that they waved me over to their spot in the corner, and asked if I were from the German group. Klar doch!

We got straight to chatting and I quickly found out that the woman, originally from East Germany, came over in '61. She fled East Germany on her own. I think, though, that she'd already met her husband before leaving the DDR. How exactly, I didn't quite catch. They married here in America, I'm fairly sure. Her husband was what was then called a Displaced Person, or DP, from Silesia, now Poland. The woman couldn't remember if she had left the DDR before or after the Wall had been built. I should think it must have been before as it was almost impossible to leave East Berlin after the Wall had been erected. I asked her if her children were around my age. Then I asked after her family name. As soon as she said it, I knew immediately who her kids were. They grew up up the street from me. We were all close in age, but not so close that we ever shared a class together. I recall having walked with her daughter to school occasionally. Her kids seemed really clever, and, I now know why, a little bit different. And I don't mean that in a bad way. They just seemed more reserved than the rest of us kids in the neighborhood. Given their parents' personal histories, I could see why that might have been.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wildfires & a walk

A woman and her pony evacuate from Napa, California.

When you have to evacuate & your 'house pet' luckily fits into the back of the car. :)

The fires up north have not yet been fully contained. Rain is forecasted for the end of the week, but it won't be much & it won't be widespread. Over 40 people are reported dead, over 220k acres of land burned & over 6,000 building destroyed.

There are new reports of wildfires ignited in Santa Cruz, about 60 miles south along the coast. The fires there are less virulent than those up north. Small consolation to those living there, to be sure.

It turns out my co-worker's beau hasn't been up north fighting fires as he'd claimed. He's been holed up in his flat doing drugs. Oopsie. What a weird-ass lie to tell your partner. Was this his way of letting her know he's not a suitable partner or father to their soon-to-be-born child? I feel for her.

It was unseasonably warm the other night. I took a walk along the beach. There were a lot of us beachcombers out sans jackets, sans shoes walking along the strand line.

It was nearing sunset when I made my way to the bus stop. --took this shot before departing.

Ocean Beach

I rode the bus up to 9th Ave. & got off near the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park. They've a permanent Keith Haring scupture out front. When I think of Haring I think of the AIDS epidemic & Silence=Death & all that. But looking at this piece makes me feel a bit happy.

Walking past the Haring piece en route to another bus stop, the sky turns dusky. I'm standing at the bus shelter & this is the view---

DeYoung Museum & Palm Trees

Friday, October 13, 2017

Asking for it?

Reading first-hand accounts by women who were preyed upon by Weinstein has sparked some memories of my own.

I have never had a massive dude bar my exit from a room while jerking off into a potted plant, but I have had strangers jerk off in my general direction. This always happened out-of-doors & I could always get away. Once, when I was 30, it even happened while I was jogging around a lake. Dude was in the bushes going at it & I happened to glance toward the sound of him. He looked oddly possessed, half-dressed with his dick in his hand. It was freaky. I kept running, my face betraying none of the disgust & anger I felt. -figured that he was looking for some sort of outburst, so I denied him that.

Some not-so-fond memories--

Wearing a bathsuit at the pool. 'You don't look fourteen!', say adult men, poolside, staring at my chest. I felt like crawling into a hole & disappearing.

A bespectacled, newly hired manager called Tucker Nunn kisses me on the cheek after a short chat about work. The restaurant isn't yet open & no one else is around. I am 17 & this is my first real job. The kiss was unexpected, felt icky & I certainly wasn't 'asking for it'.  Later on, I tell a trusted male manager what happened. The next day, a red-faced Tucker comes marching up to me as says, 'How dare you go behind my back and tell the other bosses!' Um, so it was my fault?

I'm 18 & working in a retail shop. A co-worker spends most of our shared shifts following me around the clothing racks, trying to get me to go out with him & trying to touch me. I say 'no' a gazillion times. He might be deaf cos he keeps on with it. I eventually tell my female boss. The guy is shit-canned for that & basically doing dick-all while at work.

Two years later, I'm traveling through Germany with a couple of friends. We're in Berlin. It's just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember hardly anything from the trip aside from visiting a club called Klo (slang for 'toilet' in German) & taking a taxi ride. We put our luggage in the trunk--turns out to be a mistake--and are driven to the train station. At some point during the cab trip, the driver turns to me, saying something, and puts his hand on my knee. I shrug his hand away. He does it again, I remove his hand a second time. I am glad to not be alone with him in the car & wonder how much bolder he would have been had I been a solo passenger. There's further negotiation with him at the train station. He won't release our bags from the trunk until we pay him more money than he's owed. We give him the extra Marks, get our bags & beat feet.

I have a job at an ice-cream parlor. The owner, Jesse, grabs my boob. It's Halloween & the staff have been encouraged to dress up. My co-worker is a black cat & I am a peasant. The costume is a bit drab and the furthest thing from sexy, not like it should matter. My bosom, never very ample to begin with, is only slightly amplified by the sort of no-frills corduroy bustier I am wearing. I guess this is why Jesse suddenly grabs my boob like it's an old-timey car horn. 'Eee-oooh!' The squeeze hurts my chest. I register upset. Jesse says, 'I thought they were fake!' (Really? If I were to have stuffed my bra, then why would I have stuffed it to such an unremarkable size?) I suppose my boss could have just asked. Or better yet, stayed schtum & kept his grubby paws to himself.

Tit grabs, crotch grabs, butt grabs. There's been a lot of that sort of thing since puberty hit, but none since turning 45. Attention from men, both good and bad, seems to fall off a cliff when we women hit a certain age. Peri-menopausal years are a bit like donning a cloak of invisibility. If it spares me having to see one more furious masterbator in the park, then I guess I'm good with it.

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