30 January 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

Max and I met for lunch in the dining room at the Palace Hotel. We split the arugula Salad and I had this wonderful organic chicken topped with fennel salad, oranges and a light orange sauce (with a few capers thrown in for measure.) We split desert too – something like a cream puff with Bavarian cream, candied cherries on the side. It was all really, really, really nummy. Afterwards I strolled the ferry building shops until it was closer to time to board (picked up some herbs du provence at LuLu and some lapsong souchong tea from the Imperial Tea Court to compare to the Silk Road’s version I recently ordered from Canada (which was on the doorstep when I arrived back from DC last night – around midnight – yahoo!)

Might I say that I’m totally digging on the lapsong souchong tea. Ed and I stayed up until about 2 am sampling the Silk Road’s stuff. It’s absolutely enchanting. (I’m still in search of the perfect glass tea kettle in order to try out the tea flowers that Cassie gave me last weekend.)

Okay… enough about food for awhile (though Crème Violette sounds divine, doesn’t it?)

28 January 2007

Everybody Lives But Us.

I JUST FINISHED READING Son of a Witch. I highlighted a passage from the book that I felt partial to awhile back. To refresh:

A capacity for interiority in the growing adult is threatened by the temptation to squander that capacity ruthlessly, to revel in hollowness. The syndrome especially plagues anyone who lives behind a mask. An Elephant in her disguise as a human princess, a Scarecrow with painted features, a glittering tiara under which to glow and glide in anonymous glamour. A witch’s hat, a Wizard’s showbiz display, a cleric’s store, a scholar’s gown, a soldier’s dress sartorials. A hundred ways to duck the question: how will I live with myself now that I know what I know?

AND SO NOW at the end of the day, is there illumination. Of course. Of course.

I ADORED THE BOOK, more than Wicked. It’s something of a coming of age story that goes beyond coming of age. The backdrop for the first half is our hero, Liir, in a comatose and decrepit state, being played back to life by the lilting and beautiful music of the lovely Candle. The Sisters left him with her to heal and having no healing power and a soft (near invisible) voice, she picked up her instrument and played with her heart (and the feather of a pfenix) the boy back to life and health. This is the context for our stroll back through Liir’s life to the events which brought him there.

(The Sisters worship the Unnamed God- though while they believe the Unnamed God created humans in its likeness, The Superior Maunt believes that people of the great City of Oz has recreated the Unnamed God in their likeness instead. She’s also attributed with this reflection, Wisdom is not the understanding of mystery, she said to herself, not for the first time. Wisdom is accepting that mystery is beyond understanding. That’s what makes it mystery. And for some reason all that makes me think of Edward Abbey… I digress.)

IN THE BEGINNING, orphaned, lost and alone, his mother (Elphaba, the Wicked Witch) having been killed by the callous and cruel visitor (Dorothy), Liir goes in search of any family or semblance of kin he might have left. He’s uncertain of his parentage – he knows Elphaba raised him and is perhaps the closest thing to a mother that he knows, but given her lack of maternal characteristics, Liir felt more a charge in her care than a son to her. Be that as it may. He sets off to the City of Oz in search of the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow (who will later rule Oz for a spell) relays the following:

”The Tin Woodman has left to cultivate the art of caring. He has his work cut out for him, poor sod. The Lion is suffering severe depression; his cowardice was his sole identifying trait, and now he’s pitiably normal. Neither of them can help you much, I’m afraid. You should get yourself out of here while you can. Start over.”

“Start over? I never started the first time. Besides, it’s not getting out that I need to do. It’s getting in.”

SURELY LIIR goes to the darkest places in Oz in search of the allusive family, the allusive belonging. He explores the country, betrays, amends, fails and redeems. He learns to love and be faithful. He slays the dragons even though the blasted demons stole his broom (the only remnants of his connection to his mother) and nearly stole his life (the reason for is desperate and near death state which Candle plays him so vigorously out of.) It is after he is played back to life, however, that he goes battling his real demons. And yes, he slays the dragons so that the skies might once again be safe for the birds to fly and with this, of course, spring can come again – because so many know springtime by the coming of birds!

It is that one quote that I pulled out earlier, however, that is the heart of the matter, the what of the what, the is of the is. The novel is about unmasking the masked so that they may finally live fulfilled and complete – so that they might know themselves and live with themselves and as who they are.

Early on in the book there’s this foreboding line:

”Everyone dies. It’s a question of where and how, that’s all.”

THIS MIGHT SEEM SIMPLE, but Liir has met an Elephant, disguised as a princess, who only wishes to die as an Elephant and a major part of the drama is Liir making his way back to her, with Candle, to shepherd that transition back to herself, unmask her, so she might die as her true self – unmasked and revealed. Exposed. Where and how is quite important in this instance.

(I loved this part, not relevant.. or maybe completely relevant, I’ve yet to stumble on the connection: In four different hands, applied at four different opportunities, to judge by the aging of the text the wall read ELPHABA LIVES! OZMA LIVES! THE WIZARD LIVES! And then EVERYBODY LIVES BUT US.)

SO HERE IT IS in the culmination, the final moment, in the chapter titled No Place Like It (home, of course):

The colossal might of wickedness, he thought. How we love to locate it massively elsewhere. But so much of it comes down to what each one of us does between breakfast and bedtime.

Remembering Princess Nostoya [the Elephant disguised as a princess] he thought: Sever us from our disguises. Then he flinched, almost in disgust. Was that a prayer?

WHAT A LOVELY ENDING! (That’s not precisely the end, but maybe it should have been.)

23 January 2007

I Linger on Her Thigh

I linger on her thigh a fatal moment. - L. Cohen

I watched the Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man documentary last night and was simply not impressed. But my love for the man wasn’t tarnished. I could be happy being lulled to sleep by his resonant deep voice each night. He doesn’t sing, he preaches. You have the likes of Bono saying things like, he walks up to the edge of the abyss, looks in and laughs. He’s trying to be clever and yet I wonder if he’s ever listened to the man. Cohen doesn’t walk up to the edge of the abyss and laugh. He worships at the edge of the abyss. He goes there and grovels. It’s why he’s so desperately beautiful.

I had such a stellar weekend; it seems like counting pennies to retell it – all these shiny things. Yes they are good. I reconnected with an old friend, Ella, who I haven’t seen in forever and somehow we lost touch and I simply love her. I cannot express how good it was to see her again after all these years. She is the same yet even more beautiful, she is the same yet very different – deeper, calmer, lovely. It was such a prize to see her. She is filled with so much light and it reminds me to be happy just to walk with her. It’s odd. I used to think she was filled with sadness, but now I realize I misunderstood. It was me, I think. Not her. We will see each other again now.

I briefly mentioned a visit up the Coast to a vacation rental community with some friends a few months back. Two of said friends, heretofore shall be named Emma and Nigel, were married in a clandestine ceremony (aka eloped) in November. They were both to come up with Cookie on Saturday night for dinner and a show, an a capella performance I think I referred to previously by a local group called Solstice. (Since I’ve learned this is a very popular name for all women vocal ensembles – include derivations like Soulstice, etc.) Nigel wasn’t able to make it in the end, but without him we had a wonderful time. I made so much food I haven’t had to cook again all week and there’s still more to go – baked ziti with herb roasted chicken, creamy pesto and capillini, rosemary sour dough bread with fresh garlic and rosemary olive oil dipping sauces, a massive salad…. You know, all the heart healthy stuff.

Cookie spent the night. He seems to stay up quite late and thus sleep in quite late. Ed and I were able to run a hoard of errands before he even knew we’d been gone and out to Terra Linda, San Rafael and back. Once he rose we took a promenade around town (he’d never seen it in the daylight before), picked up Honey Vanilla Lavender ice cream at the local parlor and ate while we strolled and then Gaye showed up for an afternoon hike. Ed whisked Cookie back to the City and stopped for a last round at the range (did I mention he loves the shotgun I bought him for the holidays? Come the revolution, those pigeons best watch their tails…)

Those are all the shiny things. It was a stellar weekend. Come Monday I was still content with the right amount of fullness and emptiness – the right balance of together and alone, new and old.

Lately, I’ve just felt like playing. It’s such a great little playground we have here… this planet, this life, this skin, these kisses. Like the man says, I linger on her thigh a fatal moment…

18 January 2007


They joke about the status quo to break the ice. Once the ice is broken I hope they all fall through. (Let’s grow old and die together. Let’s do it now.) - Ani DiFranco

I’m still feeling happy and optimistic – we’re at the first ides, 1/24th of the way into the year and it’s still rock’n the free world. I was walking down Fillmore Street to Union today. It’s a crazy steep hill – they’ve had to turn the side walk into stair steps because the grade is so drastic – you’d probably just slip right down into the bay without the terracing. (It was so stellar, blue, clear way up there on top of the world. You could see Alcatraz clear as a bell and all the way to Canada if you squint.) I was thinking about something and it struck me, there’s a thought to record – a moment that moved me – and I was suddenly wondering about this need to record thought. To prove, maybe, that it happened? To document that I think and feel and sometimes do both at once?

I’m often frustrated because I don’t feel the stories in me, I don’t hear them, they don’t come out in some bounding explosive narrative that can’t be turned away from and erupt like a pipebomb, wiping out everything in such-and-such a radius. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to kill us all in one devastating sweep of profundity. I want to write but I don’t feel my story. I do write, but I don’t mean like that. I mean my fiction, my inner facts. But what’s true is that I do have these stories, but the ones that come all easy – they don’t count, you see. Unless it’s squeezing blood from a stone and all painful and oozy, it just doesn’t count. It’s not real unless it hurts. What bullshit is that? When really, I delight myself often with the stuff that comes light as the breeze.

There he was
Sleeping soundly
After killing giants all day
And there I was
Throwing stones that never hit the mark.

I love that and it doesn’t even hurt.

16 January 2007


I think Chris Baty is fabulous (do we think he’s single, age appropriate and in the market?) I totally love his idea of the Adventure Log 2007 aka TYWWBTBFSTT (The Year We Will Be Trying Big Fun Scary Things Together.) I’m so there! That’s my kind of fun. Hold my hand, let’s jump! I don’t like, however, that people announce the big fun scary things before they do them. I think the rule should be that you only get to talk about them while you’re doing them or, in the example of base jumping, after you’ve done them. To me, adventure is the thing of action, not the thing of identifying the potential later action.

If I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, for example, I would sign up to take John Pomp’s valentine’s day glass blowing class for couples. (Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!?!!!) But I don’t.. /sigh. I don’t think it’s scary, but it does sound like big fun.

Yesterday I took my (relatively) new neighbor, Jaye, on a hike to Phoenix Lake. She and her husband have lived here several months and have yet to avail themselves of the mountain. I hope the trek made the mountain more accessible and less a mystery. It was nice to chat with her – cultivate a friendship. There’s not a big deep big click there, but I imagine, overtime, that might be possible.. there’s a little click. That’s good enough for a new circle in the ever widening eccentricity of circles that to me is community.

I’m so madly different than I was even five years ago.

13 January 2007

Wild Cat

Bunny, Rose, Ed, G and I all went to see The Good Shepherd last night. What’s the casting of Angelina Jolie? That was weird. I liked the movie, however. Matt Damon was indeed stellar and I like the kid who played his adult son. We went to a six-something show and were home before ten, leaving an evening of concerted bundling beneath blankets and robes as the temperatures plummeted in these parts. The thermostat, which was turned to nothing before slumber, didn’t stop the heater from cranking out as the interior temperatures were below 40 and the thermostat doesn’t go lower than that. That’s some crazy shit.

Despite myself and the icicles dripping off the still flowering (though sad and frozen) potato vine, I rose at 7:30 and pulled on layers and layers and layers, grabbed the yoga mat and trekked the few blocks to the women’s gym for an early Saturday morning class with Kaye. After bending and twisting and stretching and yanking my body here, there and ways it ain’t suppose to go, I was sufficiently warmed and even took the Honey Bee out for a stroll. Pools of standing water were frozen and icicles dripped from the outdoor fire-sprinklers on the patios of the units at School Park Plaza.

LB called at 11:30 suggesting a hike. I told her she was crazy and high and that perhaps at 1 pm, but anything sooner was just out of the question, even with these layers piled on like they are. So we’ll be heading out within the hour yet, but I’m holing up in the warmth until the last possible moment.

I’m worried about the birds. Have others been following the story of the dying birds in Australia?

Yesterday afternoon, instead of the regular pilgrimage to Bon Tempe that seems to have become routine, we took the dogs to Deer Park on the old stand by that I call the Long Loop. On the Buckeye trail (which joins a fire road with a switch back trail by way of narrow and exposed ridge trail, the same one which my mother tripped on – leading to a fall and the fateful broken wrist a few years back) I spied something unusual on the hillside above us, near a spot that forms a natural stone alter of sorts. Succulents will grow out of the black rock there which in the wetter season is decorated with some kind of orange lichon-looking stuff. It’s a favorite sunning spot for the western fence lizards and lots of wild flowers blossom about the place in early spring. There are two stones on the bank of the downward slope side of the trail – perfect for perching and enjoying the sun as well as a stellar vista of rolling hills and valley. Anyways, above this spot, about twenty yards up the hill, I pointed out something I hadn’t seen before but I couldn’t make out what it was.

As we drew closer to the spot, Peter guessed a bird, a stone, a log. I asserted I suspected it was a cat. First I proposed a common house cat, then perhaps a wild bob cat, but as we moved closer and given its size, maybe even a mountain lion cub? It had to have been near thirty pounds – quite large for a bob cat. I took a few pictures and when I was able to really zoom in on the pictures it seemed quite evident it was a bob cat, though up close and personal, in real life, it was easy to mistake it for a puma. It was ginormous! (Also upon further inspection, it was hissing at us.. heh. Good thing the Honey Bee didn’t hear and take on that challenge.) It made for quite a bit of excitement on the trail. We moved further down the switch back and were able to look up and fortuitously see it leap and pounce on its prey. That was cool. I’d post a few pictures but they really didn’t turn out that well.

10 January 2007


Live to the point of tears. - Albert Camus

09 January 2007

Where'd You Get Those Boobs?

The only thing standing between me and greatness is me. - Woody Allen

Every day we must point out the lucky things that happen that make this the most wonderful and luckiest of all years. The year started out quite grand with Pelosi being sworn in as Speaker of the House and the fortunate events have continued. The sun rose again this morning, despite so many decries that the End is near. The wild lavenders continue to bloom in the kill zone of my driveway median, despite the encroaching cold (it’s supposed to go into single digits later this week! Absurd!)

There is a man who lives down the street who has always struck me as odd. I’ve never liked him. He makes me feel uncomfortable and he’s a bit touched, a bit off. This morning Ed saw him and when he returned with the Honey Bee following their morning sojourn he said, “you know that kind of odd guy that you don’t care for? He had boobs today.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “do you mean man boobs?”
“Oh no, definitely not man boobs.” He replies, “But also not boobs that make physiologic sense with his body.”
“What do you mean?” I press again.
“Well,” he continues, “they were more like big giggly saggy sixty year old woman boobs that hang rather low.” He explains as he gesticulates with his hands, as though he’s cupping low hanging boobs in his hands and wobbling them about.
“Weird,” I respond. “I don’t like that guy.”
“He was on the other side of the street and further up, other wise I would have asked him where he got the boobs.” He said flatly and then left for work.

08 January 2007

I Squander That

It’s like, at the end, there’s this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? - Richard Bach

Saturday Ms Cassie came for a stroll and in the evening Cookie arrived (quite late) to spend the night following a celebration for Hannah’s fortieth birthday. It was a great soirée – a potluck, eighties music, dancing, periodic turning up of the lights for words or song or what have you. It was an absolutely lovely event.

I’ve always erroneously believed a homophone was actually a homonym - me and my errant ways. It’s perfectly shameful!

In the afternoon, G drove out for another hike around Bon Tempe and I scurried home for a hot tub before an hour and a half massage with the magical Lomi Tati. I arrived home at 6 and I was like jelly. I skipped dinner (bad girl, no donut) and ate a whole package of Boursin fine herb and garlic cheese on cracked pepper water crackers. It was totally decadent.

Like Bach said, I gave my life to become to person I am. Is it worth what I paid? Or do I need to give my life to become something I value more? I think it was worth it to give my life to become what I became. And now it’s worth it to become something different. I’m merely having a difficult time reconciling some competing sets of values. I guess I know, intellectually, that art and politics, social change – they’re not really competing - indeed they can be incredibly complementary. The time I want to give them in my life and how I feel about them, however, is in competition – or maybe simply at odds.

I’m incredibly blessed and yet sometimes I squander that with my angst.

05 January 2007

The Fun's Just Started

The world keeps ending but new people too dumb to know it keep showing up as if the fun’s just started. - John Updike

I’ve recently discovered Eddie Izzard and I love him. Maybe this is like my discovery of the reality TV show, Survivor. Everyone rolls their eyes, and I can actually hear them thinking “that’s so last millennium.” I suppose the result of not having a television is that I’ll never be a hip trend setter in the glamorous world of pop culture. If you don’t know what’s happening until it comes out on DVD, it’s hard to even feign being bleeding edge about such things.

I do in fact feel a great deal of optimism about the aught seven. It’s going to be a good year.

It’s been a terrific day. I woke to morning coffee – soft and lazy, blog reading, internet perusing like some people read the newspaper (but without the crinkly pages or newsprint on my fingertips.) LB called and asked if I wanted to hike today, so I took a shower, did a few loads of laundry, emptied and filled the dishwasher and dressed for a sojourn with the Honey Bee. It was a brilliant crisp blue perfect day. I took my camera but I wasn’t inspired to take pictures. After all was hiked and done I walked to the post office (tubes on the way, Alison!) and then to the bank and then home. Secret loves these little tool about town things. She walks about like she owns the place, little captain of her band of grrrrrrl gang.

I heated up some perfect chicken vegetable soup. Have I mentioned what a soup kick I’ve been on since the weather turned? Each week I roast a chicken and after a fabulous feast of that I start deconstructing the bird for all its pieces, the good meat in this pile for the soup, the stuff we don’t like for the Monster Girl, the carcass in a pot with an onion, three chile d’arbole, celery scraps, garlic, parsley, a whole mess of seasoning for a three hour boil and simmer into stock. The house smells brilliant and alive. There’s something about using the whole thing that feels so graceful. When the time comes the next day to add the potatoes, celery, carrots, corn and onion (when I’m feeling frisky a daub of chipotle paste for a kick) it feels wholesome and good. Anyways, that was lunch, a small bowl – a late lunch, around four.

After this I hopped on my mountain bike (which is in bad need of biannual maintenance) and road for a good hour up the back side of the mountain to five corners, from Phoenix Lake, down through Deer Park and then back home. I’ve been rather lazy and I haven’t done this trek in a while (I could tell.) My back (ouch) felt it more than legs or lungs (yes, I’m even optimistic I’ll lose that weight I gained when I stopped smoking frill’n three years now…) So after the last mile or so, which is a lovely coast down hill the whole way, I pulled up to the house, tossed the bike aside, tossed the clothes aside and plopped in the hot tub with a shot of top shelf Captain Morgan’s spiced rum and wallowed in the warmth under a quickly setting sun. Stars illuminated in a deep indigo blue night sky behind the silhouette of the towering redwood trees.

Once the heat had found its way deep to my marrow, revitalizing a kernel of me that felt spent and done, I dressed and LB and I went to my favorite fondue restaurant for a seven oclock reservation from which we just returned, just a shy bit before ten (talk about slow food!) It was awesome (as always.) I just finished folding the laundry of which I spoke earlier and I’m cozied up to the fireplace with a good book, a tall cool glass of blood orange Italian soda and that electric throw (which mom contends will give me cancer, but three cheers for the deadly electric throw! Every home should have several!) You know, if sort of feels like the fun just started….

04 January 2007

What I Have To Say Is This..

I wonder sometimes often if I have anything to say. I mean anything imaginative and creative. I love to read. I enjoy writing, though I lack patience on longer works. When I was a kid I loved to make my sister tell me stories and to this day I press Ed to tell me stories (though I get frustrated that they lack real suspense and exhilarating drama… I’m a rather spoiled listener and think I might just find bliss with my head in the lap of some spinster with a gazillion yarns. NPR picks up where Ed fails me.. heh.)

Poetry. Poetry is bite sized and I can chew on it and feel like I’ve finished something – like a painting or laundry. But it’s not so fulfilling, just like laundry. It gets done, but where’s the transcendence in that? It’s actually a little painful.

I had a dream. I always have dreams – deeply rich, colorful and imaginative. If those stories were more at the surface. Back to the dream. It was great. I was a white man trapped in a black man’s body. The black man was tall, trim, beautiful. He wore yellow rayon Capri-length pants, a silk red and white pin striped shirt and leather sandles. He was a bad man. He wanted to kill the skinny pale white boy with long blond hair and bad skin. But the skinny white boy was inside his head/mind and he didn’t know the white boy I was there. The colorful clothing looked beautiful on the black man, but when I looked in the mirror they looked terrible and clownish on me, the white boy.

So the black man planned to kill me, but being inside him, I was privy to his plans, one step ahead. I didn’t hide from him, I met him at the places of his mission and stayed ahead of the game, foiling his efforts time and again. It was exhausting but somehow exhilarating all the same.

You see, we were the heads of different houses or gangs. Each house was represented by a different colored bell. There were five altogether. A new, very powerful head of house had come to town, with strength and armature to kill us all. We’d only make it if we all, including the new one, united. If I could get the bells in a row, it would bring about a kind of harmony and peace.

And as I was seeing the metaphorical bells line up, I’d let down my guard with the black man and he’d gained the upper hand. Suddenly he was on me, had me by the throat with a knife to my jugular. He was all the more determined for all the constant yet thwarted efforts.

And the dream had a very Coen brothers ending where I (the skinny white boy) am screaming and pleading with the black man, No, stop. I have the gift of sight! I have the gift of sight!

So very few of us have even spoke of our resolves for the coming year.