Week 26

 June 25, 2017 – SUNDAY

Photos of Halima

There was a clatter: We were awakened predawn by crashing and thrashing. It got us out of bed. I discovered a torn paper shopping bag caught in the opening of the cat door. JM checked in the garage. When he opened the door, Charley came out. Thinking it was Charley who had somehow been tangled in the bag before ripping it off, we returned to bed. I got up shortly afterwards and noticed Halima’s collar on the hall floor. I checked for her in the garage. There on our old Saarinen table she lay crouched. I picked her up. She struggled little. Around her abdomen, the rope-like handle of a brown paper bag. I could not pull it off. I rushed up to the kitchen, grabbed scissors and took Halima and the scissors to the bedroom. JM held his girl and I cut the bag handle loose. She bolted. Several hours later she, still in trauma, walked with her body and tail low to breakfast. Halima is our sweet, gentle, good-natured girl, and it distresses us to see her even a little upset.

Halima slept all morning and far into the afternoon. It seems she got little sleep last night. Who knows how long she had been tangled in the bag as she tried to break herself free. We found the travel gifts we had bought, which had been in the bag, scattered around the living room and beyond. Poor baby. But she, in mid-afternoon, finally seems to have settled down. Cats love bags, small and hidden places. That love of the cave sometimes gets them in trouble.

June 26, 2017 – MONDAY

Photo of bird’s impact tatto

TATTOO: We have put stickers on our picture window, but it appears we need more. While JM was sitting next to the big window, a brightly colored parrot crashed smack dab into the center of it. The stunned bird sat on the porch briefly before flying away. It left behind an ‘impact decal’ (an impression of its body & feathers), something we’ve never seen before. We have done things to lessen bird window deaths. I’m still considering placing a thin net between our columns to prevent future window collisions. The city, except for pigeons, is a dangerous place for birds.

(NOTE: Tuesday. We worried about the colorful bird that hit our window and wondered if it were someone’s escaped pet. A neighbor on the street below us found the stunned bird, posted it on the neighborhood website, found the owner and returned it to them. It seems that the accident of hitting our window saved its life. JM will let the owner know, via website, of the bird’s accident. We suspect it has concussion syndrome.)

June 27, 2017 – TUESDAY

Photo: Halima on silk jacket

Airing: I have more than one bad habit. (“Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.” I wish.) Some bad habits were formed for good reason. Halima is curled up on my silk dress, a dress I wore last night, then hung out over a drawer I pulled out so it might ‘air.’ I am obsessive about smelly clothes, and if I am not putting an item I’ve worn directly into the laundry, I like to ‘air them out’ before returning them to the closet. So my study has last night’s dress ‘airing.’ After an item ‘airs’ I return it to the closet and typically hang it inside-out so that I know it has been worn and is not ‘clean.’ It’s a habit, maybe a neurotic one.

Perhaps I got my obsession with clean clothes and clean-smelling clothes from my mother. Mother used to say that she did not want her house to ‘smell like an old person’s’ house.’ She said that because so many old people’s houses smell bad. After a college roommate visited me in my parent’s home, she commented on the fact that our house smelled good. My friend said lots of people’s houses smelled ‘off,’ but my home smelled good, inviting. I had not noticed the house’s odor — good or bad. It was simply the smell of home.

One male college friend of mine, a very nice handsome boy with clear face and pink cheeks, smelled. Or as my dad said, “No. He stinks, you smell.” (The saying, “I smell, you stink.” ) I thought he stank because he did not shower. A friend of Michael’s too. After we married, I asked JM about that friend’s hygiene habits and his bad smell. (I had wondered how his wife could have endured the smell in the dating of him.) JM said others also had noticed his bad odor, and the consensus was that our friend showered, but that he returned well-worn clothes to his closet without cleaning them. The smell of worn clothes penetrated every item in the closet. It was not his body per se that stunk, but the clothes on it. When our friend dressed in his suit, the stench was particularly strong. Perhaps, hoping to save money, he rarely, if ever, had it cleaned, or it had kept company far too long with the unwashed.

I prefer clothes that I can wash to clothes that have to be dry-cleaned. I like to wear an outer garment only a couple of times before cleaning it, and I trust water and soap more than harsh chemicals for the cleaning of clothes. There are two kinds of dirt, water-soluble and oil-soluble. If a washable item has oil-soluble dirt, rather than wash it in the washer, I take it to the cleaners. However, sometimes the dry cleaner is not able to get out oil-soluble dirt. Our new Miele washing machine is getting out oil-soluble dirt which dry cleaning did not remove. I always feel that water-washed clothes are cleaner – even if they are not. Washed or dry cleaned, closet clothes are stripped of bad odor before they are returned to it. If I smell, no, if I stink, it is not the fault of the clothes.

Our cats like to experience life vicariously. They like new smells (odors). When we bring in new item into the house, they experience the outside world by sleeping on it. And this morning I found Halima experience my excursion to San Francisco, via the dress I wore. The dress, I suspect, has my secure odor, but more, the odor of where I had been. If Halima could not go with me, she did the next best thing, she visited the place through the odors that clung to my garment. To a cat, the world is a garden of odors and unlike my preference, the smellier the better.

June 28, 2017 – WEDNESDAY

Photo: the tire

The Chilling: It was HOT and now it is NOT. When the FOG rolls in, as it has done since the heat wave, it hardly feels like summer. It may feel like summer to those who grew up with it and FOG means summer, but for those of us who grew up in areas of the country sans summer fog, FOG signals some other season, certainly not summer and perhaps no season at all. I welcome the FOG at night and rely on it for deep-sleeping, but I want it gone in the morning and want the day’s temperature to be ‘just right.’ But, the weather, like nature, is not subject to personal whim. Today, after weeks of not biking, we will bike along the bay in the cold, not cool fog.

Peter is walking with a cane. The pain in his back is causing mobility problems. Before the back pain he typically biked 30 miles a day. Richard, a thin friend of JM’s is in the hospital with heart problems. He walks 10 miles a day, or more, yet his body has not responded to his quality exercise. Even thinner Michael T., who engaged in a lot of physically demanding work in his profession, is literally treading lightly, so painful it is for him to walk on worn knees . JM and I wonder what more one can do. Perhaps it is not just what one is doing now that is causing health problems, but what one did in the past, or perhaps it is the genetic dice that played out, or perhaps it is time. Days will wreak havoc on all. Time claims all, and often before Father Time claims us, the calendar, which gradually gave us skills as we grew into adults, now claims what it gave. Our skills, both those of body and mind, are waiting to be harvested by time. We get ripe, we are ‘perfected’ and then we rot. Mother, who lived past 98, said her friends had been stripped away, her life had been stripped to the bone. That stripping has started in our own lives. We see it in our own bodies and minds and in those of our friends. Entropy, all systems winding down, but why do those systems exist in the first place?

We met Peter at the dog park, started biking. Michael called out that he was feeling unsteady and stopped, thinking he was having some kind of ‘episode.’ It was not him or the ground beneath his feet that was unsteady (no shaking of the earth, no quake). It was his bike, or rather his bike tire, the tire he had filled a few minutes before, gone flat. Relieved he was that it was the tire and not his body ‘gone bad.’ Peter rode off after concerned talk of a friend whose cancer seems to be getting worse and hopeful talk of another friend who is recovering from cancer surgery. Peter’s aged parents are chugging along, while his contemporaries (and ours) are struggling with health issues. The body is a marvelous thing, but in many ways more delicate and less enduring than we would wish.

June 29, 2017 – THURSDAY

Photo: ceiling crack

The opening: The ground beneath our feet seems substantial, yet it shifts and heaves up and rips apart. Earth shakes and reconfigures, but endures. We have spent at least $100,000 structurally upgrading our home. There is more to do. The roof rafters need to be tied down to the walls and a new roof plywood diaphragm installed. Even without that being done, our house is better engineered than most in the area. We have prepared the house, or almost completed preparing it for the big, inevitable quake, but nature is large and what we have done can easily be undone. We live a mile from the gigantic Hayward Fault, one of California’s biggest faults. A quake struck shortly after we returned from our trip. I thought it a small, close quake. It was both. The crack in our living room ceiling we had had repaired has appeared again: opened, expanded and lengthened. If repaired, it will return. The earth will shake and move. There is no stopping it.

June 30, 2017 – FRIDAY

Photo of Santa Fe & St & Innsbrook

UP-KEEP: George is working in the yard. I’m working in one of our studies. Paper, paper everywhere. I sort. I look for information. I need paper, a specific paper, a site survey to help design the replacement hill retaining wall and I cannot find it. As I look I run across an article on Hohensalzburg Fortress (said to be Europe’s best preserved and biggest castle), Salzburg, Austria.   JM & I visited Salzburg a few years ago, and the castle. It is a town of music (Mozart lived there & there is his annual festival), but the physical city, except for a few places, we did not warm to. We loved Innsbruk but found Salzburg wanting. JM & I like to walk, especially in old cities. Innsbruk ‘felt right’ and Salzburg not. I’ve decided that overall I’m not a fan of the ‘Renaissance’ architecture and art as I was conditioned to be. I prefer walkable Medieval cities and the period’s flat colorful art. After graduating in architecture, if one had asked me my preference, I almost certainly would have said, Renaissance architecture /art and that it was of ‘higher’ quality than Medieval. What my head tells me I should like better, I do not. Overall I like Medieval better. And, here in the US, I find I like the Southwestern ‘vibe’ better than that of virtually that of any other area of the country. Why? I like the ‘feel!’

I read the Salzburg article that talks of the castle, local attractions, the Alps in the distance and then threw it away. I’ve been there, done that (lost my new hat at the castle) and was glad to have visited the city, but, except for the music and the cemetery, the city did not win my heart.   Love is a peculiar thing and like beauty “is in the eye of the beholder.”

July 1, 2017 – SATURDAY

Photo: of market

What could possibly be wrong with him?” :  We played poker with Berkeley friends, foodies one and all. The host is a fabulous cook, who combines exotic ingredients in unique combinations, providing his guests with literally once in a lifetime experience. Tonight did not disappoint. His soup, as good a soup as I have ever eaten, his own creation made with roasted tomatillos, onions, corn, tomatoes combined with chicken broth, shrimp. It was a meal in itself. He also had fresh tortillas, plus carnitas and mushrooms and cabbage for filling them for a Mexican-themed meal. Amazingly good. He’s cooked for local trendy restaurants and overseen the kitchen of a Berkeley food establishment, so is no stranger to the making of quality meals, but at home he develops dishes so challenging that few restaurants would include them on their menu.   A meal at his home is always an adventure, something new or a twist on something old. The other players, when hosting, make exquisite meals, and they, unlike me, know their wines and their ‘whiskey.” One friend at the table is making her exit from the poker group and Berkeley, having just sold her 2-bedroom Berkeley bungalow for a few dollars shy of $1,000,000. She has houses and property in the Central Valley, the other California, and will return cash-in-had to her childhood community. She will miss the local food scene and is considering the growing of this or that exotic vegetable on her property, something that would appeal to the Berkeley set.

We talked little of politics, but talked much of food, of the selling of the home sale and about our Grand Lake neighborhood farmers market. The Berkeley foodies consider our farmers market to be the best farmers market in the East Bay, and, in spite of their own good markets and stores catering to their taste / or caring quality foods and produce, they shop at our farmers. Our market, they said, should be treasured and maintained for if management of the market were to be changed, the market would not be nearly as good because our market’s management group is the best in the business. If anyone understands food and markets they do. That is why our departing friend, when she heard that a neighbor is trying to oust AIM as market managers asked, “What could possibly be wrong with him?” What could be wrong indeed? Besides his personality quirks, one thing could be wrong. He likely has no clue about really good food and he has almost certainly never eaten a meal as good or as exotic as we ate tonight. The would-be destroyer of the market, his desire has little to do with the quality of the market, but much to do with his desire to exert power, or in this age of Trump, I should say, his desire to bully others and to control for the sake of control.

And the winnings tonight, Peter’s idea, will all be given to charity. Peter the cook, the big winner will select the charity. I’ll put my money on it going to a local food bank or Meals on Wheels or the like.