Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Just a quick note here.

Downed barbecues!
Sandy has left us, as far as we can tell. We here in Brewster got off fairly easily. About 7 p.m., the power went out. E, M, and I sat reading by candlelight for a couple of hours. Shortly after J came home around 9:30 or 10, the power was back on, and so, briefly, was the internet, just long enough for J and I to get interested in another episode of Boardwalk Empire, when we lost the cable again. This morning, we had little access to information, gleaning what we could off of our weak Verizon signaled iPhones.

M took me over to get the Honda tuned-up. There's a power line down at the end of the block, requiring careful navigation. We drove around the neighborhood a bit on our return trip and saw lots and lots of sturdy trees down.

E and I are prepping pizza toppings (carmelized onions, roasted eggplant, sherried mushrooms with fresh rosemary, bacon, pomegranate balsamic roasted pears ... stop by if you're in the neighborhood.) The animals are all snuggled up. Nick Lowe is softly crooning at us. I think I am going to get in a quick nap before pizza mode.

But as I sit here, I can see a patch of blue sky to the south.

Not south but east.
Southeast plus highway.
Others did not fare as well, of course. Iris sent me these two shots of her neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Hurricane Sandy is tossing about the leaves outside. It is chilly and grey, but other than windy, it's still calm outside.

Inside, Emily staid home as classes were cancelled at Stonybrook. M has a cold and would have staid home even if the library hadn't closed down. I'm going to guess that looking for work will be slow today since no one is really working today. The wind gusts are getting more intense and a little tornado of brown crackling leaves just blew by. The wind is a crazed sheepdog sending the flock hither and thither.

I put more diatomaceous earth on Cooder and Emmy yesterday. Emmy is not having a good reaction and we are finding clumps of hair around. I am considering giving her a bath to get it off of her. She doesn't seem otherwise unhappy. I think the fleas are going down fighting. Worrisome, still. She's still mostly scampering about in the usual way, and her appetite and drinking are fine, so I suppose it's okay, but this is probably not the best remedy for her.

For awhile, I was the first person up in this house. Lately though, it has been the smell of coffee wafting forth that brings me to consciousness. I'm still processing the last six or seven weeks. I have trouble remembering who I saw and who said what when, as I have seen many people from various cross sections of my life lately.

Well, a little Ezekial raisin bread and hot honey water later, and I think I might be able to get caught up on some shut eye (I wrote "shut up" first). There's that American flag across the street a-wavin' in the wind.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I'm ready to go. Except that my 'plane doesn't leave for another seven hours. But that's okay. Relaxation might just be good for me. I am tempted to go over to Carol's and Jim's and take a nice bath in their excellent tub.

There's construction of a major kind going on outside Michael's and Alicia's house. I just saw a radio controlled mini-steamroller. I am not quite sure about the genesis and usefulness of such a thing. And don't those guys like to drive around on those big things?  We are all in hopes that the construction stops at 3:00 so that we can all nap.

Later that same day.

Nap accomplished, although it was really dozing and relaxing. Even though we are not really hungry, Michael, Alicia, and I are getting a pizza from Arizmendi, because they say it is so good. I also succumbed to a morning bun from La Farine. I did not, for the first time in aeons, have any bread, particularly pain au levain, from Acme Bakery. Well, one can't eat everything. I will have to go back on healthier rations if I want these new jeans to keep fitting me.

On Sunday evening, I was able to keep a date with Bill and Susan. Bill served his homemade pickled green beans which we hella good and which I will have to make for Thanksgiving. We had a great time, talking a bit about our last fifteen or twenty-five years, music (I played them the Prince version of A Case of You), and got caught up.

The views are just drop dead stunning all the time, almost wherever you go. The light here is so different, particularly at sunset with the sun dropping down over the Pacific. Here are a couple of shots from Susan's and Bill's house.

My cell phone could not do it justice, or I was not adept enough with a cell phone camera. Either one. I think you get the general idea.

I'm pretty sure this jockey gets drowned when tide is completely high.

Their surprise for me was an outing to the Sausalito Cruising Club, an old barge outfitted as a low-rent bar, and/or the living room of the folks who live on houseboats out in the Bay near Sausalito. So cool. There was a pretty fun band, the Medicine Ball Band. The bandleader, Jack Sturdevant, played the strangest electric guitar I have ever seen. There was the outline of a regular guitar, but it was just a cutout, solid only in from the headstock to the end pin. I was underwhelmed; it was just not loud or present enough for me. And just a little bit weirder was the fact that Jack looked exactly like Walter White in his full Heisenberg phase, particularly the hat. Unfortunately, the Giants game delayed the start of the band, who nonetheless kicked off with a nice jazzy version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Hopkins Street in Berkeley, where I stopped for a pizza slice.
How does it get to be Sunday so suddenly? I do believe my head is slightly a-spin being here.

I just wanted to note this very nice NPR/Fresh Air interview with Sherry Turkle that I listened to when I was in Bay Bridge hell the other evening. Although I didn't get to listen to the whole thing, I still plan to. Here's the link. Sherry's a clinical psychologist who runs a program on technology and the self at MIT. Her book, Alone Together, just came out in paper. The gist of the conversation is how technology is changing the way we construct ourselves and what it might be doing to interpersonal connection.

And then, just by chance, I happened to stumble across this interview with artist Craig Olson. This quote dovetails nicely with the Turkle discussion:

Contemporary conversation, as an open public dialogue, seems most concerned with the exoteric, or “outer” knowledge, public knowledge. It’s all but banished Eros and beauty. In fact, one of its overriding themes has been a belief in transparency, which is about information. It’s about the ability of the receiver to have full access to the information she wants, not just the information the sender is willing to provide. Transparency, in this public context, has come to mean “honesty and openness,” because to be transparent someone must be willing to share information when it’s uncomfortable to do so, whether in the news media, our social lives, or our social-media lives. We, apparently, want to know everything about everyone all the time. This inevitably leads to issues of surveillance, authority, conformity, etc.
As I chronicled in my last post, I was running around quite a bit. I had hoped to get up this morning and go to Yoga Sita in San Francisco, to take a class with my teacher Susannah. However, I had such an anxiety and depression ridden night's sleep, I thought I needed to curl up with Cooder and have down time. I still feel the trace elements of those chemicals of fear and despondency, but the sun is shining, so I will soldier on.

I suppose the big accomplishment of yesterday was getting rid of stuff. I had brought about 12 boxes of books and bric-a-brac from my storage space. As the yard sale at Sara's did not happen (she had to fly to France, quelle dommage), I was planning to sell the books and return the rest to storage. But after a chat with KaHu, I just decided to drop them off at a great recycling center here, Urban Ore. Just to practice letting go. No receipts, no regrets (not so sure about that). So, there went six boxes of excellent books, Mad Men era highball glasses, vintage California pottery succulent planters, and who knows what else. I stopped looking. KaHu convinced me that some younger person would be delighted to find those things. Passing on to the younger generation.

I admit, it still feels funny to have done that, just let it go. But that kind of letting go, may be just what I need to move on, evolve or something. Right now, I am pretty hopeless about the rest of my life. After a dinner last night with old friends where we all discussed our (not too bright) futures, I am still unsettled and sad. Perhaps the hope and change will come in shedding the things that weigh me down (and there are many, both physical and emotional). And maybe a new way will be revealed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


 Cooder is comfortable enough here to think about going out.
Goodness. Yesterday, I had an eye exam at the clinic at UC Berkeley where I have been a patient for probably 30 years. They are busy enough to be open seven days a week. Being on campus is always full of various kinds of memories. I picture myself scurrying over for my eye exam in the morning, toting a big latte from Cafe Roma on the corner of College and Bancroft, upon which I would sip during the course of the exam.

But they dilated my eyes which pretty much blinded me for the rest of the day. Nothing like fully open irises in screaming California sunlight. Better now, though.

Not that it would surprise any of you, but I have been started to tears many times in the course of driving around. As I mentioned yesterday, just breathtakingly perfect weather. Berkeley and Oakland are so trippy, in the sense that everywhere I look I remember something that happened or that we did while misspending our youths (I didn't stop there). And of course these would be events or moments I hadn't thought of  in years, and might never again. Like when we were living on Fulton Street, Martha, Bill, Louise (back when Mart was a cat person), and Passenger (my beloved kitty of the era) and I. I had quite a collection of bathrobes. We were having a party or something, and we all decided we need to put on bathrobes as a mob (maybe there were 8 or 10 of us) and walk to the liquor store for reinforcement alcohol. We found this hilarious at the time.

What's that?
And then that reminds me that Mart and I introduced Bill to the concepts of pesto and quiche, which became quite different things. Bill used the quiche form as a catchall for whatever was in the kitchen and came up with some quite unusual combinations, the details of which I cannot, mercifully, recall.

Michael has a five CD-player in his car, but I have no idea where it is located nor how to change them, so I have been listening to the Greatest Hits of Tom Pettys and Elton John, Rubber Soul, a compliation of girl singers that I gave him and something else that is probably a soundtrack for days now. I don't think I can sing along to American Girl or I Need to Know or Philadelphia Freedom anymore. Lovely as those things are.

And then there was the possibility of a gig out here, which would have meant a lot of scrambing around, finding a sublet, a car, etc. That does not look at all likely, so I can relax a little bit. There are reasons to want to be here. It feels so comfortable and pleasant and it is such a joy to hang out with my some of my oldest (in life duration, not their personal years) friends. And there's lots of stuff to do and explore. And it is easier to get back to Seattle and visit my friends there, which I have yet to really write about.

Freeway encampment, San Francisco. You can't quite see how many people are living here.

California has different possibilities than New York. And even though I thought I "spoke tech" conversationally, if my meeting yesterday were any indication, I am not as fluent as I thought.

But, for now, I am headed home on Tuesday. Tomorrow, Deb and Manuel come up from Santa Cruz for a hang and a visit, a trip to the storage room for some more spelunking for yard sale candidates, Saturday yard sale and mass kibbitz with the gals. I imagine these plans will shift some.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Yes, I am running around quite a bit. We all expected this, no? The San Francisco Bay Area is in its glory these past few days: foggy mornings, spectacular, warm, cloudless blue skies all day. Quite seductive for this expatriate. California living calls out to me!

So, what have I been up to these past couple of days? Meltdowns, doubts, absence of meaning breakdowns, panic, longing, regret, smiles, reassements, reconsiderations, a fair amount of driving, some gig related meetings, hair do-over, eye exam, cat feeding, storage belonging sortings, more doubts and regrets.

Driving around, I took a couple of shots of places I lived or stayed.

Here's Dwight Way, the first place I ever stayed in Berkeley. Ron Bartunek lived here with Alain Chirot. Pammie, Berta, and I took a champagne flight on Western Airlines ("the o-o-o-nly way to fly"). I had been planning to drive up with Linda Daily in her blue Fiat, but I think her parents wouldn't let her drive. It might have been my first plane flight. We ate oreos with the champagne. I have no memory of getting on or getting off the plane or how we got to the airport or which airport we flew into or who picked us up or dropped us off or how long we stayed or where we slept or what we did except that we bought some tiger print rolling papers and for some reason, we made cinnamon rolls from scratch. I think I still have the recipe.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Cooder is quite comfortable here on Davenport. She did get up to roam around a bit during the night, but she came back to bed when I called her. And managed to find her way back to our room when it was time for a midmorning nap. Perhaps she will be a replacement for that obnoxious elf in those Travelocity ads.

Michael and Alicia have an outdoor cat, Swiper, who is the epitome of survival. She moved onto their porch after the lamented demise of their excellent tabby, Tigger, a couple of years ago. Swiper likes her breakfast at 6:30, and, although I was awake, I momentarily forgot that responsibility. When I remembered, I went out to get her dish. When I returned with a full dish of wet food, she rose up as I bent down and managed to knock the dish clean out of my hand, spilling the wet food all over her food mat. Hopefully, she will be hungry enough to clean it up. I'll at least give her the chance.

I slept pretty well, considering it is another new place. Cooder and the down pillows I lugged along with me helped with that. I had some strange dreams, one that had a villian who vacillated between being Aidan Quinn and Jack Palance. Then again, Goldie Hawn was in my dream the night before. Is it The Festival of Star Dreams?

Tolt River, Washington, 10/13/12
I'm still, but nearly finished with, reading Logan Pearsall Smith's Unforgotten Years. I was sidetracked by a New York Review of Books reprint, The Mangan Inheritance. 'Tis my goal to finish it and mail it back to Brooklyn this week, although I will be there next week. Anything I can do to reduce the amount of junk I am carrying around, still. At any rate, Mr. Smith continues to delight and amuse. And given how long ago this was written, because at heart, Mr. Smith is a 19th century guy, I was dismayed to find this a traditional American cast of thought, rather than recent xenophobia.

"Americans who go to live abroad are sometimes troubled by the word "expatriation"; they give much anxious thought to the question as to whether it is expedient, and above all whether it is right, for them to change their skies. An Englishman or other European who settles in America incurs no kind of moral blame, either in the land he has deserted or in his new-adopted home; he is supposed to have had his reasons, and it is taken for granted that they are good ones. But to desert America is somehow regarded as a kind of treachery, as if America were more than a country, were a sort of cause, and its Stars and Stripes the banner of a crusading army which it is dishonorable to desert. But is this sound doctrine? Philosophy was invented after all by Ionian expatriates, Christianity developed by the Jews who left Jerusalem; the duty of any inhabitant of any country is moreover surely his duty to his own spirit; in a world which seems to be growing darker every year, he must seek the light wherever it happens to be shining. His talent, if he has any, must be planted in the soil and under the skies most favorable to it. Perhaps it is only such exiles and refugees, in an age where nationalism grows yearly more savage, who will keep the life of the spirit still alive."

Snoqualmie River, Washington, 10/13/12.


Landed here in Oakland, landed in more than one sense. I am getting settled into Michael and Alicia's house with Cooder, who is remarkably comfortable for a place she has never been before. After being in a studio apartment for a month, and only seeing me, except for when Terry came in last night, she is quite sanguine about having space, sprawled out on the carpet under the dining room table, or strolling about. Cooder was born in Berkeley and left in 1999.

I teared up, seeing California from the airplane window. I haven't been to the homeland in two years. Seeing the sunset over the ocean made was surprisingly emotional. I think of myself as such a New Yorker now, that I didn't expect to be moved.

Tonight, I will leave this brief. It's almost 10 and I have yet to unpack and get comfy in bed. Time to reorient again.

Bremerton bakery.
Here's where you can read about pink champagne cake.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Well, here's a little mid-week check-in.

Plans are made for departure to Oakland on Sunday as the gig officially ends on Friday. Quelle dommage. Perhaps the employment trend will continue when I make it back to the Right Coast. I will be checking in on some long-distance work originating in the Bay Area. It would be so helpful to have even a small amount of income.

Wish me luck in my attempts to empty out my storage space in Berkeley. I will need all the help and good wishes I can get. As it turns out, my yard sale maven friend, CW, was already considering a yard sale for the 20th of October and if that happens I might be able to place some items there. Serendipity? Coincidence? Harmonic convergence?

I am still stunned that it is October. Really. My head thinks it is about February or maybe May. Then again, I don't really want to review this year.

There are many things to like about Seattle. It feels so small and easy to get around, although there are lots of cars and freeways here, and I am fairly certain traffic gets snarly and slow. And perhaps it is more boring in some of the outer parts; Belltown is close to Downtown and the office area is lively with workers during the day.

I do find this a bit curious. The last couple of days I have gone to lunch by myself instead of with my team mates, mostly because I want to read and relax. But on more than one occasion, that I was reading by myself at lunch was remarked upon by my servers. Now, I am pretty sure that a person lunching by themselves and reading would be utter invisible to anyone in New York City or even the Bay Area. I guess Bookwormism is not practiced in the same way in these parts.

I do like the Space Needle.

It's a bit nippy in my room and I cannot figure out how to work the thermostat. Must be time to dive under the covers. I could use a long night's sleep.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Kitchen (cursed electric cooking device).

How Cooder (and Emmylou) got fleas might be a mystery, as neither of them has been outside to speak of, or it might be that they picked them up from their canine roommate who goes in and out on a much more regular basis, although I never noticed him having any fleas. But no matter, they both have them.

Auntie Iris took Emmy to the vet for the Frontline/Advantage treatment. I tried to find the less expensive pet store alternative. Only I am in alternative land where alternative really means something. There are two pet stores somewhere close to our corporate housing. The first offered nothing in the chemical flea abatement arena. The second is one of a large and sincere chain called, charmingly, Mud Bay.

Now, I might not have explained how MUCH of a dog place this is. Seattle is dog heaven; dog biscuits are everywhere, accessible water bowls, and dog parks, and compostable or biodegradeable waste bags are everywhere. Park Slope has strollers. Seattle has dogs. If dogs take over the world, this is where the revolution has begun.

Being reasonably egalitarian, cats are included in the pet stores, though not as represented. Then again, cats are not as accessorizable as dogs, being, no matter what their size nudists and probably libertarians. (One of my friends insists they are terrorists, but mostly when it comes to furniture and house plants.)

So, back to Mud Bay on a day that I was feeling frustrated and confused about life. I just wanted to get something to stem this flea business as Cooder was sitting on my head, biting and scratching while I was trying to sleep. And sleep is rare enough (as I begin writing this post at 5:45 on a sleep-in Sunday).

The wispy, waifish, tattooed and pierced sales person of the female persuasion took me to a sparsely populated and decidedly non-pharmaceutical flea abatement area. She persuaded me, in my compromised emotional condition, to buy a natural remedy: diatomaceous earth. I just wanted something and I just wanted out.

Two days later, I had not addressed our problem and even the noise of Cooder scratching and snorkeling for fleas was driving me crazy. I made what preparations I could (the woodhippienymph did not sell me the face mask recommended on the package; turns it it is not good for humans to breathe. I had a silk scarf or two to use, just like Lawrence of Arabia!). The treatment is simple: just sprinkle on and rub into fur. Of course, this requires a bit of feline restraint and that of course means a struggle. None the less, Cooder was treated and ran away.

Cooder enjoying the down pillows that did not come with the place.
Now, the only reason I am chronicling this, besides the fact that it is fun to say diatomaceous earth is that it seemed to work. And hellaquickly. Like within two hours. And all I can say is "who knew"?

It's hard to write during the week. Excuses, excuses.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Some very nice fall color, but the light was too bright.
In case you are wondering, I am okay. I am still adjusting to the many recent changes, but mostly holding my own.

At this point, I am not sure if next week will be my last week on this project. If it is, then this weekend will be spent re-organizing my life so that I can send back the recent acquisitions and unnecessary things to New York, and figuring out what I should continue to travel with. My current plan/desire/intention is to head to Oakland/Berkeley for a few days/a week to empty out a storage space and to see if I can't see some work folks about projects. 

Cooder enjoying some lap time while I watch Homeland.
Meanwhile, work is mostly good. And that might be enough to say about it.

I am more tired these days, but that is to be expected, I suppose. The weather continues to be unnaturally good, although it is getting cooler. 

I've been watching, somewhat obsessively, the first season of Homeland, but I am feeling more like a bath and a book tonight, so I think I will spend the last minutes of the evening in this fashion.

Meanwhile, Emmylou is having quite an adventure in Jackson Heights. For a time this week, she was of the mindset that sleeping on the range was a good idea. Iris was kind enough to share some photodocumentation.