Monday, August 7, 2017

Dahlia Garden & other things

The dahlias area back at the garden plot adjacent the Conservatory of Flowers. When I think of dahlias, I tend to think of a big bloom with many, long, thing petals. -sort of the plant version of a sea anemone. This garden reminds me that dahlias come in many shapes and sizes.

Here's a selection of what I saw yesterday--

A highlight of last week was getting to cruise in my buddy's '67 convertible Corvette Stingray. Man, what a beautiful car! And fifty years later, the clock still works. I was impressed with the whole affair.

Anyone digging attention from strangers needs a vintage automobile. So many people waved, smiled, honked & flashed the peace sign (go figure) at my friend while we were out and about sans top. Of course, I wore sunblock for our jaunt.

Cleaning windows last week temporarily transported me back to CH. 1 August is Swiss National Day & these folk down in Belmont were representing! I wonder if they had a huge (unattended) bonfire in their back garden in celebration? ;)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Small world

View from our first gig of the day down the peninsula. 

Yesterday's second client, a charming elderly woman, was located a short drive from San Carlos. We met her in the master bedroom where it would appear she spends a majority of her time contentedly watching TV, taking phone calls, and doing the crossword. I noticed that she moved around her bedroom with only minimal fuss. However, it did not look like she had anything much to do with the rest of her house. The tidy living room was charmingly decorated & looked like it was last sat in about 30 years ago. The dining room, however, was covered in a pile of old boxes---online ordering gone mad?---no where to sit or stand. The kitchen had a bit of life in it, but I suspect that that has more to do with the woman who looked to be the client's granddaughter living in the two rooms that were off-limits to us.

My colleague arrived first on scene & was met at the door by the younger woman who told him which rooms we would not be entering. Those two rooms had their doors closed. That was enough to signal 'do not enter' to me, to be honest. Just in case, a post-it note reading 'no windows' was affixed to each of the doors. Got it. 

Given the sounds emanating from the back of the house, I had assumed that the client and her probable granddaughter were spending time together watching TV. My cleaning buddy and I passed the time as we normally would when no one was within ear shot by talking about his rocky personal life. At some point during our chat, the younger woman popped out of one of the 'no windows' rooms and said, 'Uh, yeah, I don't wanna hear that. I'm on the phone.' I apologized for speaking too loudly & she disappeared back into her lair. I wondered if the other room was being used as some sort of storage unit for all the items that came from the discarded boxes piled up in the dining room. 

In a hushed tone, my colleague continued talking while I alternated between whispering replies and talking in a very low voice. That wasn't going to do either as whatshername came back out & told my buddy (I actually neither saw nor heard her this time) she, again, didn't want to hear it & that she had 'her own problems'. Oopsie. 

When cleaning windows, the order of operations is this: upstairs to downstairs, inside to outside. As this was a ranch-style home, we worked from one end of the house to the other. Just prior to my cleaning the windows of the master bedroom, granddaughter left her room to speak with the client for a few minutes. The one-sided convo went as follows: something about betting at the horse track, something about Las Vegas, something about the Kardashians, something about social media. I heard a few affirmative responses from the client, but not much else. 

As I approached the master bedroom, I heard the younger woman sign off with something like: Well, that's it from me! 

Not wanting to bump into the charmless younger woman in the hallway, I waited until she'd gone back into her room before I made my way back to the client's room. I introduced myself & asked her if I could get started. We chatted while I worked & I found out that she had grown up in San Francisco. 'I'm from San Francisco when it was still a small city'. 

I asked her what high school she'd attended. I hadn't heard of it. 'It's a convalescent hospital now'. 

I then asked where in the city she had grown up. Her parents had purchased a then new house on the block where I now live. I told her my house number and asked her half-jokingly if I lived in her house. It turns out I don't, but I can see her childhood home from my front window. 

Here it is--

She told me that she loved that her house had a separate bathroom & WC. I told her that our place still has that same configuration & that I really like it, too. She also mentioned that she loved the size of the bathtub. Apparently, she used to take baths while talking on the phone. Our house still has the original built-in phone stand along the wall just across from the bathroom, so I could totally see having a soak with the phone dragged in from the hallway.

She reminisced about some of the businesses along the adjacent main road. Most seem to have gone the way of the dodo, but I did recognize the name of one of the bars. It permanently closed just a few years back.

Roofers' hangout back in the 40s & 50s.

She asked if I remembered the old Fox Theatre on Market Street. She drew out the 'a' in a 'long a' sound like my mom does. I don't know the phonetic alphabet, but I'd write what I heard like this: thee-A-ter. I told her I did, but in name only. 'It was a shame when they tore it down'. Having heard what a gem of a cinema the place was, I could only agree. 

Opened in '29. Closed in '63. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Flora in a time of drought.

Lantana, lavender, yarrow...butterfly paradise.

This lovely garden was put in by a water-conscious client of my brother. The client was telling us that the county offers a monetary rebate for those residents who take out their lawns and replace them with drought-resistant plants. I can't recall the dollar amount she received, but I should think it covered the costs of planting this abundance.

It must be noted that of my bro's many clients, this one actually tends her own garden. Nicely done.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Weekend visit with old friends.

It was really sunny outside.

We ladies in the photo all met back in '89 in California. This picture* was taken at a back garden gathering in honor of T. who was recently in town from London. I think the only reason we all do get together, at this point, is because of T., to be honest. Although we don't see each other regularly, we do seem to fall right back into place when we are together. The conversation flowed and lots of laughs were had. What more could one want?

The next day, the same group plus a few more folk met in Golden Gate Park to skate on eight! I may have been the only adult to have a pair of 'old school' wheels. Most of the others wore inline skates. I was too busy skating to even think of taking pictures. I think someone took a video, but I haven't seen it yet.

Post-skate, post-dinner pic.

The whole weekend was action-packed & filled with familiar, friendly faces. I was reminded of how social I once was & how much I miss it, to be frank. It was certainly easier to get together back when we were 'twenty-somethings' then it is now. Pre-proper jobs, pre-families we hardly needed an excuse. House parties back in the 90s were a particular favorite past-time. -don't miss the hangovers tho'.

I have an upcoming opportunity to learn the game of Bridge from a friendly retiree who lives in the vicinity. She's currently 'polling' those of us who are interested to see what days would work best. I'm keen to join in & I hope to both get the hang of the game & meet some nice women to boot!

*That's me with the crooked teeth up front.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eight wheels good.

Back in the 80s, when roller rinks were still en vogue, my friends and I skated away our weekend nights. We'd show up to the rink in our teenie-bopper uniform: tight tops and jeans, hair feathered to the max, eyelids marked with pink and grey eye shadow, and a dab of Jovan musk behind the ear.

The music of the day was rock. We skated to the likes of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Ozzy, Judas Priest, etc. I think Ozzy was actually reserved for ladies' fast skate where we girls would skate like mad around the rink either until the song was over or we rolled off the floor.

I recall once my middle school hosted a skate party at our local rink, Valle Vista, in Hayward, CA. A friend and I were photographed that year for the school year book. My feathered hair was a little bit droopy that day, but I was rocking a lavender London Fog jacket and a jersey with an image of a unicorn on the front, so I was feeling pretty cool. Alas, Valle Vista closed in 2003 & a fire gutted the building in 2008. The year book from '82 is also gone, so there is no photographic evidence to back my assertion of how fly I looked. Instead, I offer you the 2017 version of that girl still skate crazy, if however, a little less suave on wheels.

Already looking rather forlorn...
Me, lacing up for a quick skate around Old Oakland
Remains of Valle Vista

I bought the skates in the photo in Bayswater, London at a joint called London Skate Centre about four years ago. There was a local skating event at a bar (yes, alcohol & skates were a bad combo, thanks for asking) that I had wanted to attend, so with the help of Yelp I found the skate shop. Since 2013, I've worn these skates a total of five times. The last two skate outings took place in Golden Gate Park.

The Church of 8 Wheels, a local skate organization offering roller boogie nights at a church here in town, also puts on a wee spread Sundays in the park. A gaggle of us joined in a few weeks back. I was thrilled to be skating again & in such nice surroundings as the park. There was a sound system playing funky tunes, a host of costumed participants, and those of us in 'civilian' gear. Both inline and quad skaters were welcome. It was a joyous scene, to be sure.

Valle Vista, skate rink extraordinaire of yore, used to host skating competitions. This clip shows the beauty of quad skating. Of course, then as now, I could barely do a fourth of what this young girl was capable of. I'm lucky if I can still skate backwards in a straight line, but darn it, I'm going to keep at it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017



-picked up this lithograph at a charity shop somewhat recently for $45.00. The price felt laughably low, but I'm not complaining. After I took Ora home, I did a little research on the artist. Irving Amen was born in NYC in 1918. He lived a long and productive life, having only died some five years ago. Amen studied and traveled in Europe in the mid-twentieth century. He also taught at the Pratt Institute in Manhattan in the 1960s. He was a master of painting, printmaking, & sculpture.

I've checked out Amen's woodcut art online and it's superlative. I doubt I'll ever run across any of it at the local charity shops. Who spots a unicorn twice? I'll just count my blessings with the lovely Ora.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Windows and visitors

This sweet kitty was keeping me company while I washed windows. She was especially keen to hang around when I opened the windows in order to clean the sills. I had one arm blocking her hasty escape attempts & the other arm stuck out the window in order to clean the muck off. The novelty wore thin fairly quickly.

We cleaned the one-room guest house which I saw was reserved for the, I'm assuming, 'revolving door' au pair who lives there. The children had their own individualized welcome mats at their back bedroom doors. Even the pet had a mat. But the au pair? Nah. Too many must come through.

We have had house guests here from London for the past week. -an old uni friend, her wife & their son. It was great to have them. I even managed to find a box of Tetley tea at a somewhat local market to give them a taste of home. PG Tips are easy to come by, but they don't fancy that brand. Fair enough, I prefer Tetley as well.

I ferried the Londoners up to Twin Peaks for the grand view of SF. I don't think they realized how great the view was going to be. I sort of had to convince my friend to go, her wife was keen for whatever. They all seemed duly impressed once we were up atop the peaks.

Partial view from atop Twin Peaks

The wide boulevard bisecting downtown and beyond is Market St. At its base is the Ferry Building(2). One can sort of make out a sliver of it way off in the background. Market extends up toward Twin Peaks, but the main portion of the commercial bit ends at Eureka Valley aka The Castro. 

Other points of possible interest are: the San Francisco Mint(1), the western span of the Bay Bridge(3), and the somewhat obscured Transamerica building(4).

The mint no longer produces coins for general circulation, but instead focuses on producing commemorative sets. -wonder if they were also responsible for producing this monstrosity? 

Philly Mint coins

The image of the Transamerica Pyramid, or as I called it when I was a child, the 'upside-down ice-cream cone', was used by beloved local writer, Herb Caen, in his column header. Herb's header would look a wee bit different today what with all the massive skyscrapers now being built downtown. The Transamerica probably wouldn't even rate, sadly. 

-had a laugh at the column snippet below. Keane's paintings, whatever one thinks of them, were painted by the wife, as we now know. 

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