Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cedar Waxwings!

Our holly tree is still full of fruit, this year - the robins that usually come in January didn't eat it all this year. There were plenty of robins in the neighborhood, but perhaps because of our remodeling disruption, they didn't linger in our yard. This morning the tree was alive with action - a flock of beautiful cedar waxwings were downing the red berries with gusto.

I stood close to the door with my binoculars, in awe of their gorgeous feathers and colors. A bird would pluck a berry off, hold it in his mouth for a second, then swallow it whole and pluck another one off a second later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This year, due to all the mess of remodelling, I never got around to cutting back the rose bush. This week, there are more roses than we have ever had. This particular rose is not at our house, however. But I do love the color.

We had a little rain last night, and today the roses were covered with droplets and gleaming in the sun. It all felt so fine this morning, since I had finished the Wed NY Times crossword puzzle in one sitting.

Friday, April 18, 2008


.Photos from the caucus

Barb ran to be a Democratic delegate at the Denver convention this summer. She has always been passionate about politics, and every four years, we watch the convention on television gavel to gavel. She grew up watching it and discussing politics with her mom, so she has a very strong connection to the convention and the democratic process. This year, I encouraged her to GO.. her sister lives in Denver and it couldn't be easier. I found out how she could fill out an application and just run locally for a delegate slot. I became her campaign manager and emailed everyone we know, to get them to show up at the caucus and vote.

Last Sunday was the caucus. We had no idea what the procedure was. You had to show up at a local gym and sign in. If you weren't a Democrat, you could register. All the delegate candidates were standing out front, handing out flyers and shaking hands. After an hour of check-in and hand shaking, the doors were closed and the candidates all had 30 seconds each to speak. Barb came near the end of the line (it was alphabetical). She jumped out of the pack with her energy and speed of delivery. It was fabulous.

It took 90 minutes for them to count the votes, and Barb came in second to the two women who won the two slots for women delegates for Hillary. They seemed very surprised at the large turnout (for which we took the credit). One of the women who won encouraged Barb to run for the delegate-at-large slot. To do that, she'll go to Sacramento in May and the delegates who were elected will vote for her. In the meantime, she is planning to write about the experience, and is trying to get a press pass to the convention as a writer for the local paper.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

F is for Failure?

I see I have fallen behind in my letter postings. Do I get a big F.. for failure to communicate?? Well, maybe that is a bit harsh. F words that come to mind:

freak - I was one, let your freak flag fly, baby!
fall - a colorful season not as nice as spring or summer
friday - my favorite night of the week
foos ball - never played it much, but I love the word "foos"
french - took it for 12 years, can barely converse these days
fee fie foe - I smell the blood of an Englishman

Friday, April 11, 2008


In Europe, we were taken with the tiny Smart cars. I heard Smart Cars were coming the US, and I signed up for one. It finally arrived, and the dealer people started calling me up. Tax week is not the week that you really want to buy a car. We might even wait a while, as our current cars are paid off and we don't really feel like starting up another monthly payment. But we really wanted to test-drive it, so we went down there today at lunchtime.

The car was great, but the folks that worked there weren't so smart. Despite the fact that I had spoken with them three or four times on the phone before showing up, they didn't remember that I was non-committal about buying. They couldn't believe I didn't want to go into the backroom and discuss "financing" (I think I'd rather get all my teeth pulled out).

They had put my name on the very car I had ordered. However, I didn't get to test drive MY car. They had told me on the phone that I had to wait until MY car came in before I came down to test-drive it. Again, not so smart.

We were surprised that it didn't feel as little as it looks. Of course, it was a lot bigger than those tiny little European models. There was plenty of room for the dog in the back.


Silly as this alphabet blogging theme seems, I guess it will keep me posting for a while! E is the letter for my first two names: Eleanore Elizabeth. I have four Es in there, including the problematic final E of Eleanore. It's grandma's name, and she once told me that she had added that final E herself, wanting to control the way that others pronounced her name. She hated the sound of "El-uh-NER", and thought that by placing the E at the end, people must say "El-uh-NOR". Well, that assumes that everyone knows the rule about lengthening a vowel that has an E following it, which is a stretch these days. On my birth certificate, I noticed that the final E is written in different ink than the rest of my names, so I'm guessing that someone corrected it after Grandma saw it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

D is for Downey Street

From 1980 to 1989, all the following people lived at 158 Downey Street in San Francisco. This list of those who lived there and how they were "rated" at the end of the era by a group of the former housemates in 1989.

Leah - longest tenant, 1st business at home, tact queen, 1st computerized phone bill/list, 1st punk hairdo, appliance queen
Barb - fart queen, roho queen (rolling hostess), DJ queen, 1st spouse who moved in
Grant - wife queen, tipped the balance to more males than females
Tedd - teen queen, most intense, phone queen, 1st microwave owner, angry queen
Eric - faerie queen, 1st tv/vcr owner, most houseguests, 1st wall-to-wall carpet
William - string been queen, garden queen
Teresa - clean queen, most tranformed, 1st fart queen, 1st dust buster owner, 1st house stereo owner, queen of the lump sums
Doug - tallest, straight queen, 1st subletter, least funny comedian
Rhodes - least stuff in shortest amount of time, greyhound bus locker award
Gene - most stuff and phone calls in the shortest amount of time
Danalan - house dork, most names, 1st ex-lover to move in
James Bergeron - slept with most roommates and guests, sex queen, 1st to live in the basement
Charlie - art slob moderne, shrink wrap queen, 1st vacuum cleaner owner, 1st coffeemaker owner, mirror queen, burp queen, 1st art studio in house, trend queen, 1st sixth housemate, strangest shoes
Betsy - invisible, most girlfriends, 1st to paint room, best stuff
Gus - best cook, chef queen, 1st male companion, coffee queen
Michael - in and out prize, caused most girls' tears, 1st car owner, 1st separate phone line, best pot, money fret queen, shoplifter queen (tied)
Martin - best xmas present-giver, photo queen
Connie - fret queen, toast queen, tenant power queen
Hilary - migraine queen, cry queen, 1st to volunterily move out, most nerdy boyfriends
Sue Bishop - anti-stereo queen, 1st one kicked out
Nilos Nevertheless - bat, wierdest food, s&m queen
Laura Mae - space queen, most not present for someone who was here, 1st beard
David Dalechek - smoker queen, most depressed queen
Bob Amey - most things in storage
Steven Diverde

Breeze - hump queen, size queen
Dreams - 1st cat kicked out (see Michael)
Monroe - most talkative cat
Nelson - pee queen

Special awards:
Big Man of the Record Collection - Barb
Big Man of the Handsaw - Eric
Big Man of the Toilet Bowl - Teresa
Big Man of the Front & Back Doors - Barb
Big Man of the Kitchen - Teresa
Big Man of the Fireplace - Connie
Big Man of the Basement - Charlie
Big Man of the Landlord - Connie
Big Man of the Water Filter - Leah
Big Man of the Food Bill/phone bill - Leah, formerly Teresa

Weirdest Guest nominees: Australian woman (told Connie "your nipples are hard"), Danalan, Mike Mayo, Janet (Hilary's friend who slept with James)
Best costume on a guest: Jorge, Gay Freedom Day 1983
Honorable mention - Fred Oberg (most house items donated)
Broken toilet award: unknown
Best neighbor award: Roosevelt & Nate (how you bof?), Matthew
Worst neighbor award: Bitch, Red man
Wives awards: Teresa & Leah
Best kept secret: The Secret Thing

Monday, April 07, 2008


Cheating my alphabet a little bit for a combo of letters: CD. I probably own more CDs than I ever owned records, or "vinyl" as we call them now to distinguish them by material rather than purpose - a "back formation", linguistically speaking. We had plenty of 78s in the house when I was little. I remember when we got a Hi-Fi for the living room, and on that Hi-Fi we played comedy albums, Broadway show tune compilations, Bob Dylan, Bennie Goodman, the Turtles and so forth all the way up to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. You could stack the 45s on there, from the Chipmunks to Elvis, and a new one dropped down when one finished.

The first album I remember spending my allowance on was Creedance Clearwater Revival. I never thought there was much point to buying albums, because you could hear it all for free on the radio. But when I loved a song, I had to figure out the lyrics, jotting them down by the radio, or spring for the record and hope the lyrics were written inside the album cover.

When the market started shifting to CD format, I was really angry. I felt cheated that I was going to have to buy my favorites all over again. But by then, I had moved a lot and the albums were starting to get ragged. Some were warped and all were scratched. The ads assured us that CDs were PERMANENT and that we'd never have to replace them. Now I am trying to find the time to strip all the music off of my collection and get it all digitized. In the meantime, my CDs are in a box under the bed! Only the very favorites have been dropped into iTunes and get played in the kitchen off of my iPod.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

B is for barbershop

I don't know how it came to be that this type of music became my obsession. As a child I loved folk music and rock and roll, I enjoyed classical and jazz. I sang in the church choir and sang along with the Mamas and the Papas and the Limelighters. In high school I equally loved marching bands and Inna Gadda Da Vida, baby. Harmony is the thing that pulled my heartstrings the most. CSNY and bluegrass singers. Madrigals and Dylan with Joan Baez. Put four voices together and it's more than twice the power of two.

For the past 23 years I have spent most of my discretionary funds and a great deal of time learning how to sing this artform, how to carry the melody without carrying the quartet, how to blend in a chorus, how to perform with joy and excitement.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A letter to myself

There is a theory that if we have a theme, we shall be inspired to do more art or writing. Let's test that theory this month. The theme is LETTERS (Written letters, typography, photos of signs, who knows?) Shall we start at the beginning? With the Letter A.

A is for apple. I come from apple country - western New York, where the macintosh reigns supreme. When the leaves got colorful and the temperature started to drop, we'd go out to Frost's Orchard on the O-At-Ka Trail on a sunny crisp Saturday and pick up a few bushels. They always had the cider press working. The funky smell and texture of the apple pulp, laying on the ground like brown felt. The ice-cold intense tang of the newly squeezed cider. The skin of the apples bright red and green, the surface cold and smooth as a marble.

I remember reading on the red bed in the kitchen and eating the macs as I read, feeling rich with apples, you could eat all you wanted. I always ate the whole thing, including the core. The seeds were nutty and a little bitter, bringing the whole thing into balance. The sweet, the sour, the bitter, the apple.