March 26, 2017 – SUNDAY

MISSING:  Photo of bridge

Steel: We drove to San Francisco over steel bridges spanning a steel gray bay covered with steel cold angry sky. Rain was predicted and we’ve had some, but no umbrella needed walking from car to concert and back. Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett performing in San Francisco? Not a total surprise, after all we are in the WEST. A friend gave us the tickets. A treat and better because it was free. We enjoyed the music, but, having forgotten my hearing aids, I could not understand the patter. The audience laughed at the back and forth between the men, but only a word or two did I understand. I’m glad for the hearing I have, but fear my hearing even less. During the concert I thought of the men as children in Oklahoma and Texas playing their guitars – onstage with them tonight – Lovett had three and Gill had five – to occupy their minds on the desolate prairie. I’m not fond of either state’s politics, and having had a bad brother-in-law from Texas and a worse one, much worse, from Oklahoma, I’m inclined to dislike those two states even more because they produced bad men who left pain in their wake. (The politics of those states does the same.)

IMG_1270   Unisex Restroom Sign

Before the music, we waited in line at the ‘unisex’ bathroom. Waiting in the long winding line were dozens of women and only a few men. JM waited with me and as we arrived inside of the restroom, he said, “I don’t think we need to share a stall.” Before getting to our ‘destination,’ we had a pleasant conversation with the woman directly in front of us. She laughed while telling us of how her husband (along with other men) left the line when informed of a men’s only facility. Women are accustomed to the wait; men have not had to deal with that. I said tonight what I’ve said for a long time: “If men had to wait in line to use restrooms as women do, more places would install more toilets because men would not put up with their time being unnecessarily wasted.”

March 27, 2017 – MONDAY

What is within: virus or poem? In the afternoon while attending an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) writing class, I was given the first two lines of a poem to complete:

1) I used to be a _____________

2) But now I am a ___________

and told to create 4 more lines.

I wrote:

  1. I used to BE an Elephant,
  2. But now I AM a Bird
  3. Who sings songs of walking big-footed
  4. Through a watered world.
  5. As Elephant, I would fly.
  6. As Bird, the walking I desire.

Another in-class assignment: recall what one’s younger self projected for the future self.   And I wrote of my 10th grade essay, “My life in 10 years.”

My life, oh my life, the life I want, it is (I had said) to marry a school principal in five years and each year after that bear a child until — a dozen, no more.   I will be wife and mother, exponential mother. What better for a woman to do? What other legacy can a woman leave?

And let me imagine the house in which I will live – a modern house of glass and stone set dead in the middle of a 1,000 acre forest with Oak and Maple and Spruce.

I’ve drawn the plan: Living spaces wrapped around a Greek atrium, a grand kitchen, an unending table around which child 1 through 12 sit in no special order and of no specific gender. Somewhere beyond a nebulous husband.

And my life, how different than I imagined, one lived happily and by choice, without children with specific husband, not a principal, but a writer, a professor.

I’ve lived surrounded by ideas and art (as in my childhood home), pursuing a career (or careers like my mother) instead of popping out assembly-line children (Mother had four.). I like children, but as it turned out, I realized that I had no desire to follow the model of Cheaper by the Dozen. No child is cheap to raise. They take not just money but time, almost infinite time. I mothered my younger sisters and even my parents and came to realize that was entirely enough parenting for a lifetime. Mothering I had done. Parenting I had done. I spent time and money and effort on my biological family before I realized what I needed was a little time for me. The giving thing I’d done and overdone. I still help my sisters, and I give to organizations to help care for other people’s children. I taught in the public schools, taught other people’s children. Again and again I will say, “Teaching is the hardest thing I have ever done. I do not know how an individual can dedicate a lifetime to it. It’s the toughest of occupations!” I know because I worked in public schools and a university for almost a decade (combined). I was glad to encounter the youth, but that encounter somehow lessened my desire to produce my own offspring. I strongly support measures that will make parenting in our society easier and education for our children better, but not because the children / grandchildren are mine, but because they are ours and need all the support we can give.

Orinda Walk

I left my class early to take a friend to a medical appointment. She, thinking herself still young, did not get a shingles vaccine. Unfortunately, the chickenpox virus, not calendar sensitive, delivered shingles. Waiting for her appointment time we walked along a paved path in Orinda (on the other side of our coastal hills) stopping to smell and photograph flowers and flowering trees. Briones, JM and my favorite hiking park in the Bay Area, lies just a few miles away. I want to walk there before the summer’s heat, but walking in the wet season, difficult. Whenever we’ve walked Briones in a wet winter, our boots became thick with inches of clay, making a long hike impossible. We are waiting for soil to be dry enough to move and the temperature to be cool enough to walk. I overheat in hot weather and can only shuffle in mud-caked boots in wet. My, am I particular!

March 28, 2017 – TUESDAY

Berkeley Cafe

Esoteric and beyond: I attend OLLI classes with learned classmates. They may be learned, but sometimes they are arrogant, a little tight-assed. The OLLI class teachers generally are impressive. In a class yesterday, students (retirement age and beyond) corrected in front of the entire group the teacher for misreading a word. That seemed a bit petty. No one is perfect every minute of every day. I’m well informed across a wide range of topics, but in familiar areas (and I could know more) even when I really know something, I sometimes misstate. I’ve learned a lot over a lifetime but have forgotten more than I now know. Sometime a fact is momentarily forgotten, and sometimes I know it is gone forever.

Earlier in the week, I glanced over my reading list for my Jorge Luis Borges class. Because one of his poems is a favorite, I selected the class. The reading list made me laugh out loud. JM inquired why I was laughing so heartily. “It’s the reading list!” And I showed it to him:

Suggested Reading of Prose Essays:

  • Fenollosa, The Chinese Written Character As a Medium for Poetry;
  • Pound, A Retrospect, Treaties on Metre;
  • Lorca, Theory and Function of the Denude’
  • Stein, Narration: Lecture 2;
  • Williams, Introduction to the Wedge;
  • Olson,
    • Projective Verse,
    • Human Universe,
    • Equal, That Is, to the Real Itself,
    • Proprioception,
    • Projective Verse
    • Call me Ishmael;
  • Duncan, Towards an Open Universe,
  • Levertov, Some Notes on organic Form;
  • Baraka, Expressive Language;
  • Snyder, Poetry and the Primitive.

Other Recommendations:

  • Descartes, Meditations;
  • The Origin and History of Consciousness, Neumann;
  • Carl Jung, The books on Alchemy…
  • Moby Dick by Melville;
  • The Interpretation of Dreams by Freud……………………

I’m familiar with some of the authors, a few of their broad concepts, but I’ve read virtually no book on the list! — NOR do I know anyone who has read all the books. One of my nieces read Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams. JM has read Moby Dick, a tome if there ever was one, and at a poetry ‘salon’ he read/enacted the M. Dick chapter, ‘The Terribleness of White.’ He concluded the reading by stabbing a loaf of Wonder Bread. I think I was supposed to read Moby in college, but did not. It was daunting then and remains so today. So I laugh and laugh at the reading list, the reading list for a class that spans a mere five weeks.

I reviewed my notes today. The professor read (and projected large) ‘The Circular Ruins.’ I think it a short story, but seemed rather more musing and images in words. While reading, the professor broke off periodically to expound on the age of universe, the earth and its peoples; biology; astrology; myth; sacred texts; dreaming; language; ‘memory theaters’….

‘The narrator is the ultimate truth-teller,” he said and said more and faster than I could record. “We exist in each other’s dreams. We need one another to create reality…. We exist in others and through others…. We are making the world together.” Okay. Interesting. And the short story, more poem than short story with several memorable images and phrases including, “A mere appearance — dreamt by another.”

March 29, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Play Off  Season Ticket Holder Gift

Be Gone! Yesterday we learned that the Oakland Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas, and JM got his Oakland A’s Baseball tickets. Both of us said, “Better to keep the Athletics than the Raiders, who have ‘screwed’ the city and its fans repeatedly.” Las Vegas, like Oakland and Los Angeles, will likely learn that the Davis family has no loyalty to anyone but themselves. They make promises, sign legal agreements, but manage to ignore their legal obligations, leaving others to pick up their debts. Is that behavior seen as a successful business model in the U.S.? It seems so. “Goodbye Raiders. We are glad to see you go!” We are sorry the Golden State Warriors are leaving Oakland. Oakland fans supported them through difficult years. Now successful, they leave Oakland for San Francisco. Again, no loyalty, no gratitude.

A bike ride along the bay. Hazy and pollution hung low over San Francisco and the water. We were late for the ride because traffic had stopped on the expressway. Garmin routed us off of the interstate and over city streets and Peter waited for us for a half an hour.

Before we reached the mid-point of our ride, a woman called from behind to notify me she was about to pass. I thanked her. She seemed older than me. I have an ample butt, but hers significantly more ample than mine. She passed and I thought, “That old woman with a fat arse can out ride me! She is leaving me in the dust!” Appearance is frequently deceptive. JM and Peter announced that the courteous biker was a well-known writer, someone I had met. JM and I had had dinner at her home decades ago. I guess we still owe her an invitation.

At the old Ford factory in Richmond, we heard a siren from the refinery warning citizens of a ‘hazardous’ event. Because of Trump recent actions, JM said of the siren, “In the future it won’t be to warn citizens of a potential hazard, but to let them know that the truck will be driving by to pick up their dead.” Trump is doing away with many EPA regulations and Climate Change regulations enacted by his predecessor. When Galileo discovered the earth orbited the sun and not vice versa, his discovery was denied and he was punished for declaring truth to be true. So today, centuries later, science is denied. In the everyday lives of those who live, whether the sun orbits the earth or the earth the sun makes little difference, but denying Climate Change, its causes and its effects is madness. Denial and lack of action will have (& is having) huge consequences on all that inhabit this good earth.

And California Poppies bloom along the path, as does Mustard — which blooms in yellow, purple and white. It is a glorious day to be out of doors. On the public pathway are people of every age, of various physical capacities – even an elderly person walking fast with the aid of his walker – of all races and mixed races. It’s a delight to see the range of humanity on the path, walking, running, skating and biking. It reflects our great America, the Great America that some deny exists. We received an envelope from Trump labeled “Make America Great Again.” I marked it, “Return to Sender.”

Play Off

Trump letter

March 30, 2017 – THURSDAY

Georgia Institute of Technology / Georgia Tech

What learning is: I’ve taken classes at a half dozen colleges / universities but have a degree from only two. I’ve attended many schools because of interest, not because of necessity. My first college (which will remain unnamed) was a narrow religious institution that did its best to keep me from graduating. They were glad to take my money until I was about to graduate from their institution. I was not the kind of person they wanted representing their values. I entered a ‘believer’ and left more than a skeptic. It was a narrow place populated by tight-assed people.

My freshman year my roommate frequently played record albums. My favorite record, the best U.S. college songs, including the Whiffenpoof song – one of my all time favorites: ‘We are poor little lambs who have gone astray’ and I was that; Michigan’s fight song; and Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ Wreck. At the very end of my first year, I placed a speaker in an open window of my room on the top floor of the dorm, turned up the record player as high as it would go, put on the college songs record and placed it on, you guessed it,

“I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech, and a hell of an engineer— A helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer. Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whisky clear. I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.”

That song likely inspired me to get my 2nd degree from – again you guessed it – the Georgia Institute of Technology. But on that early summer day, playing it – audible to the entire campus from my dorm room – was tantamount to asking the institution to throw me out. My roommate hearing it ran up four flights, turned off her record player and yelled at me for doing what I had done. The school did try to expel me that semester – and many others – but had no real grounds to do so. Somehow my playing of the song did not make it to the dean’s ear, but my questioning the existence of a god did. I was supposed to believe in god, and I had at one point. Not following the long list of rules could have gotten me kicked out, but the rule to believe in their god was not one of the school’s rules, so I stayed in spite of the fact they wanted me gone. I chose the school because two friends recommended the college. Mother (who did not approve of the ‘narrow’ school) told me that whatever college I selected was the one from which I must get my degree, so in spite of the nearly constant harassment, I got the degree (which I later burned). If the dean had gotten wind of the fact that I had played for all to hear, “I drink my whiskey clear… and a hell of an engineer,” I would have been thrown out immediately. Obviously my roommate did not turn me in, but my junior-year roommate threatened to turn me in for wearing slacks – which I had worn pulled up over my knees, under my winter coat so they did not show – because I had broken a rule. “What does it matter what I wear under my coat?” I asked that roommate. “No one can tell what I’m wearing!” It mattered to her. My senior-year roommate (whose aunt was Dean of Women at U. of Oregon) and I, during our freshman year, had gone to chapel wearing slips under our winter coats. I now wish I had been worn nothing under my coat, but alas I was a good girl, working on becoming a bad one. Neither booze, nor swearing was allowed on campus and on that campus I had played a swearing song, boasting of drinking. Shame on me! Shame on me! My future husband, attending the same school, sneaked off campus to buy his clear whiskey and his cigars. It was long years after I graduated before I sipped my first whiskey (not fond of most & certainly not clear), puffed my first cigarette (horrible) and danced my first step. The only time I’ve ever wanted to write graffiti was just before I graduated. I had a limited swearing vocabulary because my parents did not swear (or drink, or dance, or smoke, or go to movies), but I did know the world ‘HELL’ and I wanted to spray paint that word in huge letters on the side of the college barn. That place was HELL to me and I still find that single word, along with a few others, expresses my feelings, both denotatively and connotatively, in some situations better than any other.

Today my Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine arrived. It featured a piece on – you guessed it – the school’s song.

I love George Tech’s mascot, the ‘ramblin’ wreck.’ I’ve wanted to own a car with a rumble seat since riding one as a child in Congo. I’ll likely never own one, but I went to a school that owns one of the most beautiful rumble-seated cars ever! That, in addition to the song, is another reason I’m glad to be a ‘ramblin’ wreck!’

March 31, 2017 – FRIDAY

Play Off  Ceiling @ Paramount

Illusion: Tonight to Oakland Symphony to listen to my husband’s favorite, Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony.’ I said it a piece for a band because the emphasis was on woodwinds and horns, not on string instruments. Before that two wonderful pieces, one by a Berkeley born woman of Peruvian/Chinese/Jewish descent. I’ve never seen two xylophones being played at the same time, but they were in her piece. We sat next to a woman who traveled from Sunnyvale in the South Bay to hear the orchestra. It was worth her long drive. The symphony plays in the huge, old Paramount Theater, a theater built in 1931 in the height of the movie era. After the damage suffered in 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building was totally refurbished. Numerous specialists worked on the plaster, the painting, its glorious metal work and, of course, its structure. It is a wonderful theater layered with detail. I worked for the City of Oakland and was able to tour all around the building, including above the ceiling, which, from my seat, looks substantial, but from above, it looks as if it is held in place with chicken wires. There are lots of wires so it is sturdy, but what looks substantial is partly illusion and that is appropriate for a theater, a movie house, built for illusion.

After a ‘long-hair’ event we stopped by doughnut shop, with young boys hanging out together — looking like a Ed Hopper’s Nighthawks painting, then home

April 1, 2017 – SATURDAY

Missing:  Photo of s wrestler

Image is all:  We continue to have computer problems. My e-mails are not getting out. This past week, some individuals received e-mails I’d sent out over a year ago. JM helped me download some of my recent photos last night and today. I take photographs every day and try to use photos I take for the day I write about, but sometimes older photos are better and sometimes that day’s photo does not ‘meld’ with the essay. Because of the fact that my computer is bulky, it is taking me hours a week to post my blog. We need a new computer. Our Apple has outlived its lifespan, but we spent our computer money on my birthday camera. Computer still needed, but the time frame of the old has been extended.

I attended a photography class today, the last of three. I think myself dependable, punctual, predictable. This class, like the two before, I was late, late and late. Me, predictable me, predictably late. That’s not me, but me, me late for every meeting of the class:

  • the first I lost track of time reading the paper so left late;
  • the second time Garmin lead me to the address early, but there was not the ‘there there’ where it was supposed to be and I spent long minutes finding the place, the group; and
  • then, this third time was not the charm. I woke early to check if the computer had sent my photo e-mails overnight. It had not. I was delayed spending more time selecting and sending the photos again – my assignment and me both late.   I had been unable to download and get my photos to the teacher for a week. Why did I think that another effort would solve the problem?

As I was walking out the door, JM managed to get a few photos sent, but sent too late to be in the class show. Those delayed photos turned out well. Today’s photography class in reality was a computer class providing an overview on how to download, sort and edit digital images. I learned that in addition to a new computer, I also need new photo software. Having both would make downloading, cataloging and modifying photos easier. It seems I have neither the proper computer / software (equipment) nor the expertise (knowledge) required to do what needs to be done to my photos. I’m ready to learn, but not to buy. Photography can be a costly hobby. I have my birthday camera in hand. Now all I need is a new computer and software! — AND, learning, learning how to use them. We have other expenses.

  • We want to take a trip to the Southwest next month. It was Michael’s time to choose a trip. He’d wanted to go down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon, but the times we wanted were filled. J. Michael will sign up for next year, the Fall of 2018. We prefer hiking and boating in the cooler parts of the year and by signing up now, we can get the cool we want. This year we’ll do the road, not on the water, so in a car not on a raft.
  • More than hobbies, we need to provide for life’s necessities:
    • House (shelter);
    • Heating of House (warmth);
    • Health (food and beverage, medical expenses, exercise & cats); and
    • Other “H’s????” (Haaa Haaa / fun; Hugs / love ….)

After class when leaving the camera shop for home, I noted a life-size cutout of a sumo wrestler and said to an employee, “Too bad that body type is not the ideal here in the U.S.” He, amply formed, did not respond. Full-figured may not be the ideal, but if one looks around, that body type prevails. That sumo man dressed only in his briefs needed nothing save food and camera hung round his neck. Was that an ideal or a warning? Expenses of photography can leave one nearly naked, but who cares, the image is all!