Archive for the 'san francisco' Category

the language of flowers, by vanessa diffenbaugh

All of Northern California was a botanical garden, with wildflowers springing up between busy freeways and chamomile thriving in sidewalk cracks.

adventure time: landscaping crew

Because this is San Francisco, a person can rent goats from her local non-profit to clear out her overgrown back garden.

Meet Bic, aka White Lightning, a gentle and friendly fellow.

Bic’s eyeliner game is strong.

His daughter Precious has but a single, dire nemesis: the goat glaring at back her from her reflection.

To all others she is the smilingest of goats.

Mama goat Emma was slow to warm up, but now leans against me and demands scritches.

Emma is topologically unfeasible.

I love them with every particle of my being.

adventure time: neighborhood walks

Everyone’s adventures are appropriately downscaled right now, but our neighborhood is a half mile south-east of where it used to be, and we’re exploring fresh walks. We are now only a couple of blocks away from the beautiful Alemany Farm, with its orchards and running brook and frog pond:

Just up the hill to the west of us are the Harry Street Stairs:

Which lead through fairy meadows:

To the Miguel Street Mural.

Grocery shopping right now feels stressful and unhappy, but walking around the neighborhood at Golden Hour feels like a treat. Everyone is respectful and keeps their distance. We smile and nod at one another, and say: “Stay safe.”

well, that escalated quickly

Last Thursday, Jeremy asked what it would take for us to decide to cancel or postpone our planned trip to Australia. On Monday, we rescheduled our flights. Yesterday, the public schools and our kids’ school all closed. In grocery stores, people are calm and brave, Londoners during the blitz. Online, we take turns being scared and comforting one another.

I’m sitting on my back deck drinking coffee with Jeremy. The gardens are full of birdsong. Hummingbirds are having fierce air battles over the shrubbery. And now I know why the pair of crows I’ve been trying to befriend have been so preoccupied. They’re building a nest.

that feeling when you live in an house

It feels like all four of us have let out a collective breath. The kids were champions during the long wait to move in, and instantly happier after the move. They assembled their own IKEA beds. We have dinner at the dinner table, like dinner-having people. During a brief spat earlier, the big kid said: “Fine. I’ll go to my room,” and she did, and it was glorious.

Children can have little a personal space, as a treat.

sixteen years and one month

…is how long we lived in the apartment on Eugenia Avenue. On Monday we moved again, into a house half a mile up the road. The neighborhood is called College Hill. No one has ever heard of it. I say it’s still part of Bernal Heights, but the kids insist it’s Glen Park.

It’s two years since we bought this place. It was a very sweet Queen Anne with just a little deferred maintenance (termites, wood-boring beetles, asbestos, a mummified cat in the walls), waiting for a naive tech couple to come along and pour their life savings into it. There are a lotta construction photos, if that’s your jam. Our architect and general contractor are both local, women-owned businesses, and they did such a good job, I can’t even tell you, you would fall off your horse. My Fireclay tiles, let me show you them.

Tonight’s our second night here. I’m hoping to make friends with the crows, but they were distracted today with yelling at a redtail hawk. There’s a toyon full of hummingbirds. Our neighbor Lucinda brought around a basket of Meyer lemons from her tree with a note that said: “Welcome home.”

initiated, by amanda yates garcia

…there is no escape and nowhere to run. There is no outside capitalism anymore. Capitalism has contacted all of our tribes.

know my name, by chanel miller

You cannot write out of someone else’s dark place; you can only write out of your own.

o happy day

A lazy morning in bed with cups of tea and books and Alice cat, followed by Rebels Within and lattes at Craftsman & Wolves. (Two dogs came in: “Wolves! Truth in advertising.”)

To the house, where Jeremy expressed glee over the extremely solarpunk radiant floor and hot water heating system, while I sat on the stairs daydreaming, only for our starchitect Bonnie to show up unexpectedly for a look around. We all agreed that it is turning out to be a very cute house indeed.

To the barn, for a lazy amble on Bentley. Freya my war mare has a new family, and family photos were being taken in the golden hour. Freya, fat and happy, was striking warlike poses. “This is my person. This is my dog.” God bless the war mares and starchitects and wolves and craftsmen and rebels, every one.

an unexpectedly lovely weekend

Yesterday after my riding lesson, Jeremy, Claire and I went out to Devil’s Teeth Bakery for the special breakfast sandwich (scrambled egg, avocado and bacon on a fresh biscuit). On the way back we visited the new house for some daydreaming. Liz lured me out to the dyke march. I arrived to find her twirling in the intersection at Valencia and 18th. We danced and chanted all the way to the Castro. It was a perfect San Francisco summer evening.

Today after my riding lesson, all four of us went to El Metate for fish tacos, and then to Bay Natives to buy eggs and admire the chickens and goats. We walked to the end of Heron’s Head and saw a sea lion frolicking in the bay. We stopped on Cortland for iced coffee, rainbow macarons and groceries, and when we got home I found a parking spot right on the corner. Now my feet are up and my heart is full of peace.

california in the spring

Can a place be too pretty?

Our experts weigh in.

the green flash

Almost a year after I thought it might, my accidental sabbatical has come to a definitive end. This morning, Laura and I rode Gemini and Bentley around a Horse Park almost violently green from the winter rains. I went to therapy for my weekly ugly-cry, spent the afternoon folding laundry, then dragged J and J to the beach to watch the sunset.

The sea had carved the sand into a cliff three or four stories high. We stood at the brink, inadequately dressed against an Alaskan wind. Just as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon, its light turned a pale celadon. I’ve never seen the green flash before! Conditions have to be perfect. Julia was blinking and missed it. I told her she is young and will have lots more chances.

It’s hard to sum up this long career hiatus in any narratively pleasing way. I wrote less than I thought I would, and did a lot more political organizing than I’d ever imagined. One business venture has yet to bear fruit, but the other two are the most beautiful and gifted startups ever to occupy San Francisco office space. I made some amazing new friends and grew closer to some old ones. I think my kids are doing pretty okay? I continue to love my mister more than I love sunbeams, or meadows, or tea.

Tomorrow’s big adventure is to get up early and take BART to work!

watershed

Honestly though this was a devastatingly hard year, politically, professionally, and personally; and it was the fifth such year in a row. Breaking my leg was the least of it.

It was too blustery to ride today, but too sunny to stay inside, so Jeremy and I went for a walk in Heron’s Head Park.

It’s the site of a never-completed shipping terminal, next to the decommissioned Hunter’s Point Power Station, not far from where Islais Creek, our local watershed, meets the Bay. Back in the 90s, citizen activists spearheaded wetlands restoration and now it’s a sparkling salt marsh, a magnet for pelicans and sandpipers. There’s an eco center with a living roof.

We walked and talked for a long time, and then dropped by Bay Natives nursery and bought some eggs still warm from the nest. Reclaimed Industrial Landscape is one of my top three aesthetics, and my hope for the new year is that the same transformation can happen in my cold dead heart.

proposed staycation-jaunts

ETA: success!

long overdue catchup

Goodness, it has been a while, hasn’t it? We had a pretty good summer. We went to Los Angeles and saw the Bladerunner building and a spaceship.

We went to Portland and saw some waterfalls.

Oz, obvs.

Then Alain and Ross came to visit, and I dragged them over half of Northern California. Santa Cruz, Monterey, Muir Woods, Yosemite, Calistoga. They were thoroughly good sports about it.


All this and we saw Ray of Light’s Jesus Christ Superstar, the Berkeley Rep’s Angels in America, Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy in concert. I’m so lucky I did all those trips and went to all those shows, because the Monday after the boys went home, I had to do an emergency dismount from this gorgeous and wholly blameless fellow:

Suffice to say that for once I did not stick the landing. Now I have an ankle full of titanium and I’m on crutches till Thanksgiving. Still, though. Worth it.

from “a bloody business”

Every day I wake up and find myself on a planet of barely-sapient chimpanzees, so, you know. I’m already dealing with a lot. Sasquatch has been on my mind, probably because we took the girls camping in the redwoods over July 4th. There seem to be a couple of things going on with our friend the Bigfoot. One is America’s class dynamic: the hoaxers, those clever rural con men, trying to get one over on gullible city folk like me.

The other is bears. The Sasquatch sightings in the Pacific Northwest that aren’t obviously faked, coincide with the distribution of grizzlies. In this age of a video camera in every jacket pocket, we’ve learned that bears with sore front paws will walk on their hind legs.

Bigfoot, in other words, is a wounded bear. And this is not just a case of mistaken identity. It’s about how lonely we are. How much we long for the other animals to requite our terrible love. How frightened we are at all the death we’ve caused, and how many more extinctions lie in wait.

neuhaus

Last year I had three outstanding piles of paperwork I needed to address: my US citizenship, the buyback on my diesel Volkswagen, and (a stretch goal) qualifying for a mortgage. Yesterday I had to reschedule the VW buyback appointment because my Naturalization Oath Ceremony is scheduled at the same time; and, on March 26, Grant’s birthday, we got the keys for a house half a mile up the road from our beloved micro-apartment.

It’s painfully ugly and has asbestos, termites, foundation problems, and vinyl siding, but by the time we found out what it’s gonna cost and how long it’s gonna take to renovate it, I had already bonded with Neuhaus. Our meet could not have been cuter. Jeremy and I took a months-long break from serious house-hunting after various offers fell through. One Sunday afternoon in March we forced ourselves out to look at five impossible places, just to get back in the habit of looking. One of the impossible places was next door to a place with a deep garden. I said to Jeremy: “I know it’s unfeasible, but I kind of ache for a garden.”

We got home after the fifth impossible place and I said, “Dammit. I forgot one.” Jeremy said: “Do you want to go and look?” “No,” I said. “…Yes.” We got there just as it was closing. I walked through the basement into the garden and my heart lifted. Our offer came in second but the sellers gave us the opportunity to counter and when we did, they let us have the place. We got it on Richard’s birthday.

It was an estate sale. The couple who lived there were San Francisco natives, married for 48 years. She died at home last summer. The place is full of their love, the plywood shelves he built for her with utmost care in his basement wood-shop, the Mamie pink bathroom, achingly fashionable in its day, her roses and calla lilies in the garden. May we somehow deserve this inheritance.

what a weird day

Our mayor Ed Lee died very early this morning. He was shopping at the Safeway on Monterey last night when he had a heart attack. The doctors at SF General were unable to save him. He was a complicated, good man.

We rode out at the Horse Park, bright green after the winter rains. “Where’d all the geese come from?” asked Kristen. “Canada,” I said. A coyote swaggered across our path. The sun shone pinkly through its ears. It had a wise and pointed face.

I’d steeled myself for a loss in the Alabama special election. More fool me. The NAACP robo-called Black voters, and Black pastors set up voter registration booths at church events. America is so deeply in their debt, I even can’t speak of it.

and then a month passed

Alain went home. I was sad. Cait and her family visited! It was fun! We didn’t travel for the eclipse because the kids started school that day. So far school seems to be going okay. It turns out that being a full-time working-out-of-the-home mother of school age children? Is very difficult. Working a few hours a week is much more compatible with actually, you know. Showing up for your own kids.

Julia and I did a wheel class at Pinckney Clay. We’d already done hand building, which I liked fine, but the wheel is magical. It was like riding, or doing yoga. When the clay centered itself, I could feel the rightness of it. You lean into the vortex of the numinous.

I suppose for the sake of completeness I should add that a newish horse at McIntosh launched me into orbit and I landed on my head and neck hard enough to see stars. I went straight from the barn to the doctor: no concussion, no spinal injury. It did a number on my confidence, though. I’m doing lots of yoga and eating healthy and going for lots of calm, positive rides, all of which I should’ve been doing all along. I also had a glorious massage with a dude whose hands were so big he could hold my entire head in his palm. (The offending horse, by the way, turns out to be an utter sweetheart. I can only assume I jabbed him awkwardly with a spur. Just one of those things.)

I’ve been doing another 50 Books by POC challenge. Best discoveries: Deborah A. Miranda, Hilton Als, Sherman Alexie (I know, I know), Frederick Douglass, and Alice Walker (I KNOW.) Right now, I am listening to Walker read her own The Color Purple on audiobook and it’s so good, so funny and wise and wrenching, I look forward to traffic jams. Best rediscoveries: Samantha Irby, Aziz Ansari, Nnedi Okorafor.

The big world continues to burn. I donate, I yell at my representatives, I march in the streets. It’s been filthy hot and today got more and more humid until the sky went black and the light went strange and a thunderstorm broke over the city like the atmosphere bursting into tears.

perspective

Alain’s going home next week and this distresses me, so we climbed Mount Tam about it.

I love that mountain. It’s a magical island above a sea of Karl the Fog. From up there you can see San Francisco as it really is: a city made of dreams.

We also took in the usual suspects: the Japanese Tea Gardens, Cal Academy, De Young, Japantown Mall and SF MOMA. Al had seen most (all?) of these before but it’s always nice to look at things from a different point of view.

The city is a spaceship, and a time machine.