January 22, 2017 – SUNDAY

Storm Drain Grate                                                                                  

Rain Off:  The gardeners have come and gone — gone just before rain descended.   Rain covers the Bay area, water runs down gutters, to storm sewers, into the Bay and out to sea. We wish more water would soak deep into the earth, raising the water table that pumping during drought has decimated. But the over-full ocean takes up the fresh water rivers delivered to sea. California, not yet fully quenched, welcomes the rain it has, as its people simultaneously hope it will stop and not stop, desiring both sun and rain. But in spite of rain seeming too much of a good thing, we know we need the water. There are aquifers to be replenished, trees to be saved (100 million of our trees have died and many are drought-weakened) and reservoirs to be filled. Even after this wet, wet season, much of our state remains in drought. We have been deprived. We want to be made whole. So we hold our collective breath as salmon and redwood seem to have been given a reprieve. Our 5,000 year-drought has made us, beyond a doubt, experience what Global Warming is doing, and is likely to continue to do this planet.

And now because of the water, I will take a bath, without feeling the degree of guilt I felt over the past several years. Still I understand the preciousness of fresh water and its uncertainty.

On this rainy day, comfort food: Mother’s Macaroni and Cheese. Perhaps a peasant dish, but if made with good cheese – an expensive dish, one that fine restaurants could easily serve at a price reflecting the cost of the ingredients.

January 23, 2017 – MONDAY


March on:  I often read our papers at the dining room table with pen in hand to circle, underline and make comment as I read. Today I read a Financial Times writer’s comments on her walking in Washington’s Woman’s March. I could not restrain myself from marking with pen. Just as the writer, when I learned of the march, I said to myself, “I’m in!” I was glad for a local march — saved a trip cross-country. If there had not been local marches, I likely would have gone to Washington, DC and, in spite of the cold, been there with her. The writer noted the clever signs carried by Washington marchers. Many I saw here in Oakland were clever, very clever too. The marches were reassuring. It was good to learn that others across the nation are upset about what a Trump presidency will bring as I am. The DC marcher said 20% of those who marched were men. Here in Oakland the number of men seemed double that.

Saturday night I looked at television news to see the marches, but I have not been able to look at television news since the election. I cannot stand to see Trump’s visage, although I do see his frightful image in the newspapers I read. I am, for the first time in my adult life, frightened by a US president. I have never lived with constant fear before and his actions since taking the oath have only reinforced my fear and dread.

January 24, 2017 – TUESDAY

Hear me, hear me:  Early in the morning I went to see Dr. Brenda Cole, my audiologist, to get a state-of-the-art hearing aid for my right ear. I got one for my left ear late last year because, while I was attending a Giants’ game, one fell out and needed replacement.

Last summer after I left the ballpark, I discovered my hearing aid was missing. I went back to AT & T Park and asked at the gate if I might re-enter to look for my $3,000 hearing aid. I was given a flat “NO!” I repeated my request to the guard. His response, “If the cleaners find it, they will take it to ‘Lost and Found.’ Call during office hours and ask if it was found.” I showed the guard my other hearing aid so that he might see how small it was, how difficult it would be to see if one were not looking for it and requested again that I be allowed to return to my seat to look for it, especially because of the cost. “NO!” he responded again. We left the park and walked several blocks. I thought, “This is an American with Disabilities Act issue.” Michael returned with me to the park. I spoke to another guard saying that I needed to look for my hearing aid and it was an ADA issue. He responded more positively, but would not let me return to my seat to look. He supposedly sent someone to my seat to look for the hearing aid. I was not confident that someone was actually sent to look for my hearing aid and I still don’t understand why I was not allowed to return to my seat to check for the tiny $3,000 unit, but I was not. JM said I should have told him my cousin used to play for the Giants. He did, but unless I was he, I doubt if the guard would have let me in.

I am almost certain that I lost my hearing aid at my seat when I removed my glasses just before we left. After the loss of my $3,000 hearing aid at AT&T Ballpark and not being allowed to return to look for it, I am less of a Giants’ fan and more of an A’s fan than I was. Had the Giants’ staff allowed me to look for my hearing aid, even if I had not found it, that in itself would have made me a bigger Giants’ fan. Most (but not all) of the staff at the A’s Oakland ballpark I have found to be more helpful than those in the SF ballpark, so I suspect that the Oakland A’s staff would have been more helpful if I had lost the hearing aid in the A’s park. Like Paris, many people in San Francisco seem a little rude, a little “I’m better than you because I live here!” Sitting across the bay from SF, Oakland has an ‘inferiority complex’ (in spite of our better weather, beautiful trees, great parks, larger living spaces for the same money, houses with more light, etc.), and possibly because of that, its people often go out of their way to be courteous and helpful.

The loss of my hearing aid resulted in my buying newer, better set. I spread out the purchase over a couple months. Coughing up $6,000 at one time seemed a bit much, so half last December and half now. I am careful with my hearing aids; however, they are easily lost. My ear canals are so tiny that I am unable to wear contour conforming ear-molds to firmly hold speakers in my ears. Instead I must wear small expandable silicone earpiece around each speaker. Those gaskets, which fit into the ear channel along with thin plastic arcs, are what hold the hearing aids in place. They hold the hearing aids less securely than the ear-mold type. Because the hearing aid itself lies behind my ear, it is easily displaced when I remove my glasses, which I am wont to do! I grew up with perfect eyesight. I’ve never adapted to glasses, so my glasses on / glasses off habit. I must be extremely careful with my hearing aids. But careful as I am, they are easily dislodged. My past hearing aids, I literally lost and found dozens of times. It was not until I lost a hearing aid at the Giants Ballpark, that I permanently lost a hearing aid. In an instant, and likely because the Giants’ were not cooperative, gone — $3,000.

I don’t like wearing expensive jewelry because I would regret losing it. My mother offered to give me her $40,000, 3-carat perfect diamond, with lots of gold, ring. She said, it worth only a fraction of what I had given her and my younger sisters, therefore I, of all her daughters, should get it. I said, “NO!” because I would have been afraid to leave the house wearing it and likely would not have worn it much. Instead of taking Mother up on the offer, I suggested that she give it to my older sister, who lives for ‘bling!’ A mistake, but then, my role in the family is to give and not to take.

After completing my hearing aid set, on the way home I heard birds chirping, conversations on the bus and wind as I walked up the hill, things I would not have heard with old set. My new hearing aids ‘communicate’ with one another, are more technologically advanced than the old pair and as a result, my hearing has dramatically improved, but I worry that a hearing aid will fall out, get lost and again I’ll be short 3K. I must not let that fear stand in the way of biking, hiking, camping, traveling. Glasses lost in the past total $1K or more. Because of that I’ve started wearing all of them on chains, but no chain for a hearing aid and no insurance either. Thank goodness I still have my teeth. If I had false teeth, I’d be afraid to open my mouth!

January 25, 2017 – WEDNESDAY


Bike Helmets

The Bike and the Bay:  Glorious weather: cool and bright. Biking today along San Francisco Bay. Who could want for a more beautiful setting, a more beautiful day than today? For well over a decade, Michael rode with his friend Pat once or twice a week. When I retired, I joined them on my new bike. On my first ride with the men, when we reached the World War II, Ford plant in the City of Richmond, California, Pat stopped. He pulled from his pack, glasses and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate my retirement and my joining them. I never pass the old Ford plant without recalling Pat’s gesture. Pat died last year. JM’s biked twice since Pat ‘took ill’ and I only once. What we did with Pat weekly (or more often), we do not do on our own. We rode this morning with Peter, a biking enthusiast who rode, rode for miles before joining us, at what was for him a leisurely pace. So we biked the familiar route along the bay where ducks paddled, egrets hunted, a hawk hovered overhead and sandpipers pecked in unison at the edge of the waves. Peter said we biked 9 miles. No record, but it was not meant to be.

A few years ago in a Swahili class with 18 year olds, I summarized – in Swahili – what I had done the day before, stating that I had biked along the Bay. “No,” the nasty girl in class said, “You rode a stationary bike!” She thought me too old to ride a bike, but ride I did and ride I do. I no longer can start my ride (as my Dad taught me to do) by putting my left foot on the peddle and hurling my right leg over the seat (as if mounting a horse) and peddling off without a wobble, but I still ride strong. — And now, again, to ride often and long.

January 26, 2017 – THURSDAY

Let it Shine:  Up early. Bath, then to my computer, where on one of my Herman Miller desks (I have three!  One by the Eames’ -in the back bedroom, Two by Bruce Burdick in my study) was sitting the silver Viking ship napkin holder we bought in Stockholm, Sweden. I noted it was heavily tarnished. Instead of getting on with my computer work, I paused, picked up the ship and attempted to clean it. I dipped and dipped in Silver Cleaner and rubbed and rubbed, but the dull, oxidized surface remained. How can I clean this? And then I remember, “Fuller Brush’s ‘Buff and Clean’ pads.” JM worked for Fuller Brush during college summers. He brought ‘Buff and Clean,’ as part of his trousseau, to our marriage. So down the stairs to locate our remaining jar of pads. The few pads left are about dry. They should be after 50 years, but they still work. I buffed and buffed and behold shine, silver shining. ‘They don’t make things like they used to,’ but then there might be some environmental reason that cleaning compounds changed.

January 27, 2017 – FRIDAY

Metaphoric lemon:  I’ve spent far too much time commenting on Facebook. Trump is, to me and virtually all of my friends, a nightmare. Trump lies, he distorts, he bullies, his policies are to be feared, yet the boys from my childhood neighborhood love him and his policies. They live in a world of alternate facts and quote ‘non-facts’ as facts. How to counter that? How to counter the fact that they seem to believe that it is the military and the military alone that has protected and protects our freedoms. So I write and I present ideas, understanding that what I say will not be accepted and ‘actual’ facts will not be believed.

I love tea. Mother used to say to me, “Edith, you think tea cures all.” It may not cure much, but the drinking of it makes me feel better. So this morning I drank British Breakfast tea with lemon. Milk decreases the health benefits of tea; however, lemon enhances them, so today it was lemon. I removed a lemon from the bag. It had a bulge on top. The lower part was wide. There was a crease toward the bottom that, to me, looked like a smirk. The lemon, Trump’s head: small brain; big nasty –I’m better than anyone who has ever lived – smirk-mouth there in my hands. With a Sharpie I drew a black dot on the smirk and created the perfect Trump head, with its anus-mouth. There done! Then I juiced it for a warming cup of tea. I wish Trump were as easily dispensed of.

January 28, 2017 – SATURDAY

Rose Quartz:  We have in our neighborhood a favorite shop, the Rose Quartz. When it first opened, I bought both a rose quartz necklace and ring (created by an artist in Stanton, PA). From that shop, over the past decade, Michael has bought birthday and Christmas gifts for me. We have bought gifts for family and work secretaries there too. The owner has impeccable taste and created much of the shop’s jewelry. The sales clerk, a mature black woman, has always been helpful, encouraging us to buy, but not pushy or overbearing. So, much of my jewelry is from that shop.   When wearing piece from the shop, women have often stopped me on the street to ask where I bought an item. The owner, a white woman, at least 20 years my junior, is ill-tempered, rude and short with her staff and customers alike. Today, on the way back from our Saturday’s farmers market, we stopped by to take a look. The shop is closing. Sure enough I found a beautiful silk kimono, gifts for family and jewelry for myself. Even as we were buying a few final things from her, the owner, sitting behind the counter, was curt to us and barked, in a condescending manner, instructions to her long-employed clerk, a woman well-liked in the community. Our other small neighborhood jewelry shop closed a year or so ago when the owners retired. At that time a daughter of an owner mentioned, in passing, that numerous individuals had complained to them about the brusque manner of the owner of other jewelry shop. We suspect that the Rose Quartz is closing partially because people, unlike us, would not return to the shop after dealing with the prickly owner. Age closed one shop and ill-temper another. So we now have no jewelry shop in the neighborhood. We never had a ‘gold and diamond’ jewelry shop, but I did like our art jewelry shops, because I much prefer ‘art’ pieces to $$$$ jewelry. Tonight its out to dinner at a restaurant in Oakland’s famous Claremont Hotel (advertised as being in Berkeley). I will wear a beautiful silk scarf the Rose Quartz owner made from antique kimonos. I will enjoy the gorgeous scarf; appreciate the talent that went into the making it, while disregarding the temperament of the artist.