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22 archive 11/25-12/24/01, Journal
23 archive 12/25/01-1/24/02, Journal
24 archive 1/25-2/24/02, Journal
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26 archive 3/25-4/24/02, Journal
27 archive 4/25-5/24/02, Journal
28 archive 5/25-6/24/02, Journal
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30 archive 7/25-8/24/02, Journal
31 archive 8/25-9/24/02,Journal
32 archive 9/25-10/24/02, Journal
33 archive 10/25-11/24/02, Journal
34 archive 11/25-12/24/02, Journal
35 archive 12/25/02-1/24/03, Journal
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37 archive 2/25-3/25/03, Journal
38 archive 3/26-4/24/03, Journal
39 archive 4/25-5/24/03, Journal
40 archive 5/25-6-24/03, Journal
41 archive 6/25-7/24/03, Journal
42 archive 7/25-8/24/03, Journal
43 archive 8/25-9/24/03, Journal
44 archive 9/25-10/24/03, Journal
45 archive 10/25-11/24/03, Journal
46 archive 11/25-12/24/03, Journal
47 archive 12/25/03-1/24/04, Journal
48 archive 1/25-2/24/04, Journal
49 archive 2/25-3/24/04, Journal
50 archive 3/25-4/24/04, Journal
51 archive 4/25-5/24/04, Journal
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58 archive 11/25-12/24/04, Journal
59 archive 12/25/04-1/24/05, Journal
60 archive 1/25-2/24/05, Journal 61 archive 2/25-3/24/05, Journal 62 archive 3/25-4/24/05, Journal 63 archive 4/25-5/24/05, Journal 64 archive 5/25-6/24/05, Journal 65 archive 6/25-7/24/05, Journal 66 archive 7/25-8/24/05, Journal 67 archive 8/25-9/24/05, Journal 68 archive 9/25-10/24/05, Journal 69 archive 10/25-11/24/05, Journal 70 archive 11/25-12/24/05, Journal 71 archive 12/25/05-1/24/06, Journal 72 archive 1/25-2/24/06
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FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2002
Today was a lovely quiet day. Because I'd gone to bed close to 3 AM, I didn't wake up until 11 AM. The rest of the day was spent attending to computer and telephone business. It was the 25th of the month--journal archive day--so I took care of that. Then I needed to call Amtrak about my recent experiences on the train.
As I'd said earlier, my ride on the California Zephyr was perfection, even with the delay--for which I will receive $100 voucher, thank you very much. I definitely wanted to let Amtrak know how much I appreciated my sleeping compartment attendant Manuel. That man deserves every commendation in the world. Unfortunately my experience on the train from Dearborn to Chicago was awful. The train they put me on was not at all handicap accessible--no place for me to park my scooter and a small bathroom that didn't even have one handhold for safety--and the conductors were most discourteous. Amtrak needed to know about that too.
During the day I talked to both Eddie and to my mother. By the way, she was delighted to hear that I'll be having dinner tomorrow night at my sister Emily and her husband Gorsha's home south of San Francisco. I'm looking forward to it myself.
Tonight I had dinner with my dear neighbors Katy (Baggs the dog's mother) and her roommate Laura. We went to the Japan Center and had sushi that had to have been made in heaven...not to mention the tempera and miso soup. After dinner we walk/scooted around this most interesting indoor mall, passing by restaurants that had plastic food in the window, stores like this exquisite kimono shop and the illuminated peace statue in the outdoor Peace Plaza between the buildings. Even though we'd eaten a large dinner, we managed to find room for ice cream cones, green tea for them and lychee for me. It was just that kind of a night! Our silliness extended to our getting a picture of the three of us made into stickers in a photo kiosk. I put mine on Ona's control panel--it makes me smile to look at it.
Speaking of making me
smike, how about Katy's
tattoo of Baggs as a gargoyle (designed by Laura) and Laura's
tattoo of a colorful dragonfly! It's going to be so good to
have them as neighbors again. I love these women.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2002
A lovely rainy Saturday in San Francisco. So what did I do? What all red-blooded Americans do on a rainy Saturday--go to Home Depot!
If you know me, you realize what an unusual activity this was, but I had a purpose and it was fun to be with my friends, Linda and Scott. They adore Home Depot and really know their way around, so they were perfect guides for a first-timer like me.
Scott's task was to buy heavy-duty shelving to put up in the condominium storage room. I wanted to find a plant to bring to my sister's house tonight. With Scott's help, I found a lovely purple calla lily and put it in a deep purple vase.
Tonight was very special for me--I was with my sister, her husband and her husband's parents. Not only that, I was treated to a Russian feast that had been created by the four of them. When I say "feast", I'm not exaggerating. As is traditional in Russia, we sat down to a table set with over 12 different homemade salads...and that was before the hot dishes were served! They told me that during such a dinner in Russia, guests normally get up from the table and dance between courses. When asked, Isabella graciously showed me a few Tashkent-style dance moves. I can certainly see why folks like to exercise between courses--it would help to make room for more food!
Gorsha and his parents, Sasha and Isabella, are from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Emily and Gorsha have lived in Moscow, Tashkent, Seattle and Los Angeles in their 12 years together. Last summer they moved close to Palo Alto after Emily took a job in an import-export company run by an old Russian friend of Gorsha's. Three months ago his parents came from Tashkent to live with them. Although Sasha and Isabella are not yet comfortable with English, we were able to have fascinating conversations thanks to Gorsha and Emily acting as translators. It was amazing to hear my sister's ease with the Russian language. I'm looking forward to introducing them to my San Francisco community of friends.
Here's a picture of me
with my sister and brother-in-law. It is quite wonderful to
be living close to a member of my birth family for the first time
in 35 years, but we all know there are many definitions of family.
For instance, Scott and Phil, their creature friends--Kushka the
cat and Havah
the dog--have been like family to me for as long as I've been
coming to San Francisco. I feel deeply grateful for all the
members of my family whether connected by birth, marriage or friendship.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27, 2002
My feeding frenzy continues. Today it was brunch with Scott and Phil at Green's, my favorite San Francisco restaurant. The drive alone is worth going there. If you take Divisadero north across the city as we did, you encounter a beautiful view of the bay as you crest the hill at Broadway. And then Green's location at Fort Mason is pretty durn spectacular with the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands in the distance, and the marina in the foreground with sailboats, tugs and sea lions to make you smile.
All this and I haven't even gotten to the food yet!
Well, it is a vegetarian's idea of heaven--no meat or poultry on the menu--but even Scott and Phil , who are not as dietarily choosy as I, love Green's. Everything is fresh, organically grown and creatively prepared. Besides Green's consistently has the most gentle-spirited servers, like Gregory who it turns out was born in Flint, Michigan and raised in Detroit. Another server came up to say, "It's been months since I've seen you here!" He reminded me of the picture I'd taken and put up on my journal of him and two other fellows folding napkins last spring.
After a leisurely brunch, we drove toward Chrissy Field and Phil kindly got out of the car to take these pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay with Alcatraz and Angel islands. We then drove Phil home--he had a call to make--and Scott and I continued on to Ocean Beach. I just had to say hello to my ocean. On this beautiful day, the beach was filled with people, dogs and even a couple of kite-powered buggies zooming across the sand. The sun shone like liquid silver on the water.
We drove through Golden Gate Park going home. The Dutch windmill, eucalyptus trees, grass like green velvet, even a few cherry blossom and magnolia trees in bloom made me realize that I've not just changed locations in the past week, but seasons as well. Are you beginning to see why San Francisco is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world?
But there's another side to California that is not at all beautiful. It is one of the states that still implements the death penalty. Tuesday morning at 12:01 AM, Stephen Wayne Anderson--a 48 year old man who was convicted of killing Elizabeth Lyman in 1980 and during 21 years on Death Row has become an award-winning poet, graphic artist and playwright whose work has been produced off-Broadway--is scheduled to be executed at San Quentin. There will be a vigil outside the prison gates tomorrow night between 8 PM and 1 AM and I intend to be there.
To read more about Steven Wayne Anderson, his case and appeals, his poetry, a statement by Elizabeth Lyman's family asking that he not be executed, press releases and a list of vigils to be held throughout Northern California, go to Death Penalty Focus on the web. Here is one of Stephen's poems:
I Miss Them All
I miss leaves whispering
softly through the evening haze;
little conversations upon the breeze,
rustling giggles and hush, child, hush.
I miss fresh cut summer
turned wet and vibrant green; ah, yes,
I miss those bugs annoying my nose, my eyes,
my ears: I miss cursing at their taunts.
I miss catching scent
lifted warm on gentlest breeze; and the sound
of distant children playing at dusk,
called for supper but reluctant to go.
I miss the harsh bite
of wood smoke
drifting through the heavy autumn air; and the scent
of dead things burned against obscure horizons,
rising upwards into a thousand sunset colors.
I miss listening to
the sounds of night,
crickets chirping and birds calling each other,
I miss watching life unfold and hearing echoes
continuing through winter's cold.
I miss so much living
behind these walls,
cloistered away from the world beyond: but sometimes
I hear the rain across the roof, and
smell it upon the sidewalks cleaned.
I miss the sensation
of all things purified,
of life free of all its burdens; and I miss
just living for sunsets and the moon
and those things lost, hush...child, hush.
- Stephen Wayne Anderson 25 September 2000
It's unlikely that I will
be able to post a journal entry tomorrow, but please check back
MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2002
It's close to 3 PM and I'm all bundled up in multiple layers of clothing and socks in preparation for tonight's vigil outside of San Quentin. Tonight's temperatures are supposed to drop into the 30s, and I know from past experience that there is no place colder in this whole region than SQ Prison with its harsh winds off the bay. My friend Pam is coming to visit about 4 PM; we'll go to dinner someplace in the neighborhood, visit awhile, and then I'll set off scooting the mile or so to the San Francisco Universalist Unitarian Church for an Interfaith Service prior to the vigil at the prison gates. They say we will car pool from there, so that should take care of my transportation concerns. San Quentin is 25 miles north of the city in San Rafael.
I looked in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning to see what had been written about tonight's planned execution of Steven Wayne Anderson. Not one article. Has it gotten to this? That executing a man is no longer news? Fortunately I turned to the Op-Ed page and there it was: an excellent commentary written by Bell Gale Chevigny, a recipient of the Soros Justice Fellowship, who edited "Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing, A PEN American Center Prize Anthology" (Arcade, 1999). She is professor emeritus of literature at Purchase College, State University of New York. The piece is titled "Poet laureate of America's damned."
You know, even if Stephen Wayne Anderson were a heinous criminal, I'd still be out there protesting his execution. I simply do not believe in the death penalty under any circumstances. But here is a man who so obviously contributes to society, even while locked behind bars. What sense does it make to take his life?
Well, Stephen Wayne Anderson was killed at 12:32 AM. What a loss. There were between 250-300 people who stood for hours on a very cold night to say this is not the way to run a society. We listened to anti-death penalty abolitionists, the father of a 21 year-old murder victim, clergy and religious, folk singers and many others who encouraged us not to give up the fight. We heard Stephen's spiritual director read his poems with tears pouring down her face. We stood with our hand raised in a blessing on Stephen as midnight came and went. We listened to the heartbeat of the drum and the wailing cries of a Native American man as we waited for official word of Stephen's death. It was powerful, sad and comforting all at the same time. And I thank Millie for driving me to the vigil, and she and Denise for dealing with Ona my scooter's special needs as we transported her in and out of the car. If I hadn't been so tired that I deleted their picture by mistake, you'd be looking at them now.
I am grateful I was there.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2002
I decided to let myself sleep in until I was tired of sleeping. Would you believe 2:30 PM?! And I only got up then because Eddie called. Guess I was pretty weary. I'm not surprised. I've been on a fast track since I got to San Francisco a week ago--only one week--and the vigil at San Quentin last night really took it out of me. So sleeping in was just what I needed.
Ed had wonderful news. When we'd last gone to Ann Arbor together, he'd discovered a visual magnifying video machine that was being used in the public library. He immediately thought of how it could benefit a woman we know who has been struggling with macular degeneration. He took down the pertinent information and contacted her son with it. Today Ed received an email from the son saying that his mother was now reading and writing again since they'd bought her this machine that Ed had told them about. We never know how a simple act of kindness can change another's life.
After talking to Ed, I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing. Scott and Phil left yesterday to go skiing in Tahoe so Kushka the cat and I were the only ones here. The "girls", Havah and Star, are staying downstairs at Linda's.
At about 5 PM I got up from the chair in the living room where I'd been reading and looked out the window to see the city bathed in a golden glow. I never tire of admiring the different faces of this beautiful city.
Tonight was a special night--dinner with my cousin Stacey. The last time I'd seen her she was in her teens. Now she is a wonderful adult with whom I felt amazingly comfortable. We walked/scooted to the Castro where we had dinner at a delightful Burmese restaurant. We never ran out of things to talk about. Here we are, two cousins of different generations but similar genes. Actually, Stacey closely resembles my mother when she was young. I feel so fortunate to have family out here now.
I just checked my emails for the first time today and was particularly encouraged by two of them. In one, Sulaima expressed great happiness that she had again heard her dear husband Rabih Haddad's voice over the phone, and that she and the children were finally going to be allowed to visit him this weekend in the Chicago prison where he was moved in early January. She has not seen him since January 6.
The second encouraging message was from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Michigan. It reads:
Today we are filing a very important case - the first in the country to challenge the secrecy of immigration proceedings, a policy instituted last September by the INS. We are representing Rep. John Conyers and the Detroit News. A companion case has been filed by the Free Press as well. We will be having a press conference this morning -- a full story is running on National Public Radio.
Also, be aware that the Senate Judiciary Committee meets today to hear testimony on three anti-terrorism bills -- one creating a new crime of "terrorism"; wiretapping; and a search and seizure bill that raises serious fourth amendment issues.
Kary L. Moss, Esq.
ACLU of Michigan
May these lawsuits benefit
Rabih Haddad and the thousands of unnamed men of Arab descent
who are being held in jails and prisons across the US with no
chance of bond and with no charges having been made against them.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2002
I had a long telephone conversation with Sulaima this morning. How can this woman who has every reason in the world to be bitter and hate this country be so compassionate and loving? I can't understand it. I hear her story and it makes me so angry at this country that is forcing her, her children and her husband to live an unending nightmare. She did say at one point, "I keep pinching and pinching myself hoping I'll wake up, and I don't."
But this morning she had had another phone call from Rabih so she was feeling happy. The appalling thing is that the prison authorities now say they have used up their time allowed for phone calls this month. I asked what she meant. "Well", she answered, "they say we're only allowed to talk 15 minutes per month." 15 minutes per month? What is this?! Even her lawyer says he's never heard of such a thing. It's as if they're making up the rules as they go along...and getting away with it.
She told me about what it was like to testify before the House Judiciary Committee at last Thursday's hearing on civil liberties. Apparently all the other speakers had carefully scripted documents that they read from, but Sulaima courageously decided not to write anything ahead of time but to "speak from my heart." Not only that, she said how important it was to speak not only for Rabih her husband but to speak for all the detainees who have no voice. When she finished, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., who had convened the hearing, commended her on her courage and compassion. Her story must have touched everyone in that room; she put a face on what it means to lose our civil liberties.
Unfortunately she'd had to take a plane from Ann Arbor to Washington, DC for the hearing. When I asked, she admitted it was bad. Both coming and going she was singled out with other people who looked Muslim, taken aside and searched from head to toe. One security guard told her to remove her scarf there in front of everyone. I cried, "But that's like making you take off your clothes in public!" She said quietly, "I'm glad someone understands." Anyway, she asked if she could go into a private room before removing her scarf and the guard let it pass. What are we doing to innocent people in the name of "security"?
That was not all. The Saturday she and her daughter went to Chicago to try to visit their husband and father in Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center--unsuccessfully, I might add--they returned home to find a letter informing them that the INS is starting deportation proceedings against Sulaima and three of her four children. Her 8 year-old son, who is an American citizen by birth, would be allowed to stay in the US if he wanted! Very helpful, that. Because Sulaima is a citizen of Kuwait, that is where they would be sent. And if her husband Rabih is deported, as the INS wants to do, he would be sent to Lebanon. Sulaima's hearing before the Immigration judge is scheduled for February 12 and Rabih's for February 19. Her options are to ask for political asylum, leave the country willingly or fight deportation. I hope she fights it.
There was one more piece of information that really got under my skin. Did you know that Rabih has been in solitary confinement since he was first detained on December 14? Not only that, they have recently taken away all his reading material except for his Quran. They will not even allow him to have pictures of his children. Where is this human cruelty coming from?
One would think such a conversation would be depressing, but it wasn't. As angry and disgusted as I felt hearing much of her news, I also felt deep gratitude--gratitude for the privilege of knowing such a woman of courage and compassion, and gratitude that this important challenge has been handed to an individual who is willing to stand firm and speak publically for what she believes in. I recall that Sulaima studied political science in college with the dream of becoming an ambassador like her father. Well, she is an ambassador, not for a particular country but for justice and truth.
Being Wednesday, today was Simply Supper. I scooted over to MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) in the Castro since Scott, who usually gives me a ride, was not yet home from Tahoe. It was another cool sunny day, a beautiful day. Two young women--Maureen and Megan--concurred as they played hackeysack at 18th and Sanchez.
Three blocks from the church--at 18th and Castro--I saw a woman whom I'd noticed last night as Stacey and I walked/scooted near there on our way to dinner. Both times she was sitting on the sidewalk partially covered by a blanket. Today I stopped and asked if she knew about Simply Supper. She didn't. I gave her the directions and times and invited her to come on over. She was one of our first guests to arrive. Her name is Kimberly and she was obviously very hungry. Fortunately today's dinner was delicious, nourishing and there was plenty of it. It made me very happy to see her sitting there for an hour hugging a hot cup of coffee in her hands, taking advantage of the warmth and respect that is served with every tray of food. I hope she comes back.
I arrived home at the same time as Phil. He had just taken the dogs, Havah and Star, for a run in the park. Once upstairs, we sat at the table and shared stories of our last three days. I told them about Monday night's vigil at San Quentin and they told me about their wonderful, very cold day of skiing up at Tahoe. If you can believe it, the temperatures up there were -15º F! And this is sunny California?
Phil then tackled the task I'd given him to figure out a way for me to carry my walker on the back of Ona my scooter. With my new backpack, we needed a new system. Well, I certainly gave this job to the right person. Within half an hour, Phil had designed an easy, effective walker-carrying technique and had taught me how to coach people in setting it up. It's great to have original thinking friends!
Tonight our friend Mark
who lives here in the building had a
bunch of us over for dinner. In honor of my return, he said.
We had not only a lovely meal but a spirited discussion about
Muslim people, their customs and how much we as Americans should
expect them to give up their own ways to "fit in." You
can probably imagine my position on this subject, but it was good
for me to hear other people's opinions, some of which were very
different from my own. At least we were talking openly about such
an important subject. Before September 11, I don't think I'd ever
heard it raised. One of the positive outcomes of that tragedy,
as I see it, is our greater willingness to learn about our Arab
Muslim brothers and sisters, their religion and ways of being
in the world.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2002
Today I swam 24 laps of the freestyle at the Central YMCA, joined a Quaker anti-war demonstration in front of the Federal Building, attended a planning meeting for the International Global Women's Strike Day and ate dinner at an Indian restaurant in the Mission. Ona the scooter and I covered a lot of miles and are both ready for rest and a recharge.
The day started with a wonderful phone conversation with Eddie. He told me about Detroit's 10" of snow covered by freezing rain. Yikes! That is beautiful but very hard to get around in...at least for me. It didn't stop Eddie though; he went to his Thursday job in Dearborn as usual. Hearty Midwesterner!
Here in San Francisco we had another cool sunny day. Easy weather for me to go out and do my thing--my thing being to register for membership at the Central YMCA and start swimming laps. On my way over, I happened upon a small peace demonstration in front of the Federal Building. Of course I stopped and stood (actually sat) with them. This Quaker community demonstrates here every Thursday from noon to 1 PM. I'll join them again.
At 1 PM I scooted two more blocks over to the YMCA. Our friend Linda manages the hotel there and took time to ease the membership process for me, even saving me considerable money by giving me a senior rate. Omar runs the Senior Center and was most welcoming as he handled my registration. I now officially belong!
The Central YMCA is a big old building in the Tenderloin District, having been built in the 1920s. Linda took me on an abbreviated tour of her favorite floor where its former grandeur is quite evident. The pool is old and comfortable; I liked it just fine. Carol, Magoo and Gregory all made me feel like an honored guest. And even though they don't have a disabled lift that works anymore, the special ladder down into the slow lane worked fine for me. I'll tell you another time about what it's like to swim in the slow lane. A real adventure!
After my usual workout--Magoo said my arm rotation was really good--I showered, dressed and got back on the road. The next item on my agenda was to get some food. I scooted about one and a half miles to my favorite Indian restaurant on 16th and Valencia. I was dismayed to find it had a new name and a new owner--do you remember the sweet old Indian man who often wouldn't let me pay for my dinner?--but was happy that it was still serving Indian food. I had such a hankering for samosas, chana masala and sweet lassi. They were delicious.
By now it was 5:30 PM, time to scoot over to the Women's Crossroads Center where the International Women's Strike Day planning committee was going to meet. I'd worked with these wonderful women on the same event last year, so it was like coming home to my sisters--Lori, Chandra, Susan and two women I'd not met before, Sharon and Jeanette. I missed Rachel who is in Africa visiting with her family. I was sad to hear that her father had recently died.
The plans are coming nicely for our San Francisco Women's Strike Day. We will be one of close to 100 such events to be held on International Women's Day (March 8) around the globe. The theme this year is Welfare not Warfare. We're planning a three hour march around the city with speakouts, music and poetry to be held at various sites like the Welfare office, Parole Board, Federal Building, McDonald's, State of California building and others. I asked that we include the INS (Immigration and Natrualization Service). I must tell Rabih and Sulaima's story. We are also creating painted cardboard "dollies" of women. I hope to make one of Sulaima to carry on our march.
By 7:30 PM our meeting
was finished and I scooted home to Scott and Phil's. I watched
a little TV with them, enjoyed seeing Havah
relax in front of the fire--her hyperactive companion Star
is back home with her daddies--and am now anxious to finish this
entry so I can go to bed. This well-exercised body of mine is
plenty sleepy, and tomorrow is another big day.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2002
It's now 3 PM and I'm going to put up today's journal entry early. Tonight I'll be out until late with friends and then tomorrow morning I'm being picked up at 7 AM to go to Napa. There will be no time for my usual late night journal writing.
At 5 PM my San Francisco women's group is meeting at a cafe for an early supper before going to Grace Cathedral for a concert by Kitka, a woman's ensemble that sings songs from the Baltic region. The acoustics at the cathedral are exceptional so I'm expecting it to be a lovely performance. Besides it will be wonderful to be with my friends again.
Tomorrow bright and early, Karen C. will pick me up with her friend Karen and we'll drive up to Napa for the Women's Chorus Invitational that I attend yearly. It is put on by the same group of women who organize WoMaMu (Women Making Music) music camp that I've been going to for years. So tomorrow will be an opportunity to see old friends as well as being surrounded by music all day. As you can imagine, I look forward to it. I'll show you pictures of last year's chorus invitational because it's going to be hard for me to put up a journal entry with pictures this year. I'll be getting home late tomorrow night and then Sunday I'm moving into my cottage. To be honest, there's not going to be a lot of time to work at the computer this weekend!
Before I sign off though, I'd like to show you who I was with for lunch today. I had a date with my friend Ken, and when we'd talked back when I was in Michigan, I'd said I wanted to go to his favorite Japanese restaurant for sushi. Well, by now my tummy is on overload with wonderful exotic dishes and all I wanted was a tuna sandwich, dill pickle, chips and an Odwalla juice. And I wanted nothing more than to be back in my own San Francisco neighborhood again.
So Ken and I went over to the family-run deli/organic grocery store where I feel most at home. It was so good to see my friends and to be down the street from where I'll be living as of the day after tomorrow! I've been coming here since I first sublet Steve's apartment in this neighborhood back in October 1997. John, his brothers Peter and George, and his parents are like family to me. And now John is married (as of last June) and I look forward to getting to know his wife, Lena. So here's the picture I took today of Ken and John.
I will probably not be
back online before Sunday night. Have a good weekend!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2002
My mother turned 89 today. She's now lived longer than anyone else in her family. Not only longer but in some ways more happily. These last few years, I've been deeply touched by her choice to be totally content with life as it is. May her contentment continue.
Well, my expectations that this weekend would be full proved accurate. This is the first time I've sat down by myself since Friday afternoon. No complaints, mind, simply stating a fact.
I'll start with today and work my way back.
Today was Moving Day! I am now in the "tiny urban cottage" that my friends Marci and Evan transformed from a dirt-floored, turn-of-the-century shed into an architect's dream (Evan is an architect) in 1999-2000. This is the third winter I've rented it, and I am so aware that I could do none of this without the help of my friends, especially my "brothers", Scott and Phil. When we got to the cottage around 11 AM, Phil took on the task of reorganizing and cleaning the shed (a new shed) so Ona my scooter would have a proper home in which to be recharged every night. Then he and Katy, my neighbor, moved at least six heavy bags of soil away from the spot where I like to sit in the garden, and repositioned the wooden bench just as I like it. While all that was going on, Scott went to Walgreen's to replace a bunch of missing hangers and to get me a 12-pack of toilet paper. After he returned, he unpacked and put away every piece of clothing and all my assorted stuff.
That's what I mean about needing the help of friends!
Once done, we walked/scooted to my neighborhood deli/organic grocery to get their homemade hummous--Scott salivates everytime he thinks of it--spinach pies, blue chips and Odwalla tangerine juice. We met Katy, Laura and Baggs there. Havah, who had been having a blast playing in the garden with her old friend Baggs, soon discovered what a great neighborhood this is when George and Peter slipped her some turkey. "Yum!", she said. The humans' "Yum!" waited until we got back to the garden and ate our lunch outside in the sun.
It is so good to be back.
Yesterday I went up to Napa with the two Karens for the daylong Napa Women's Chorus Invitational. What a beautiful drive! The sun was shining so we were even able to sit outside during lunch. The day was filled with some of my favorite people, like Harmony Grisman, and activities, like singing with Kate Munger and the Threshold Choir. A wonderful part of this event is that every chorus not only performs but also teaches one or two songs to the community, so everyone has plenty of chances to sing. There were moments that will stay with me. One of these was when Mary Buckley taught us the song she wrote soon after September 11. The words are simple: "Imagine a world without war."
The Karens and I returned to the city about 7:30 PM and walk/scooted to the Indian restaurant in Scott and Phil's neighborhood for dinner. I then went back to the condo and got my things ready for today's move. I had intentionally kept most things packed during my twelve days there, so it wasn't that onerous a task. The fellas got home about 11:30 PM and we visited awhile before turning in.
Now I'll go back one more day to Friday.
All I can say is that Friday night was pure magic. The only thing missing was my friend Dorothy who unfortunately became ill and had to stay home. Scott kindly drove me and my scooter to the Italian restaurant near Grace Cathedral where I was to meet my friends. Joyce, Dorothy and I are part of a women's group that gets together monthly; on the 17th, they'll meet here after my potluck brunch. Friday night Joyce and I shared a delicious dinner and caught up with one another's lives since we'd last been together in April. We found that our responses to what's been happening since September 11 are quite similar.
After dinner we walked/scooted over to Grace Cathedral for a concert by the women's vocal ensemble, Kitka. Words are inadequate to describe that concert. First of all, Grace Cathedral, which is modelled on Chartres Cathedral in France, is an exceptional place to hear music of any kind. The acoustics are amazing, the setting magnificent and the spirit of the place meditative. It doesn't hurt that Grace Cathedral draws people from around the world to walk/pray its labyrinths--one inside and the other outside--so a lot of gentle-spirited energy is deposited there.
And Kitka! All I can say is that if you ever get a chance to see and/or hear them, don't miss it. They sing Balkan-inspired songs in a way that transports the listener to other lands and inside others' hearts. They used the space creatively, sometimes singing in front of the audience, and other times from the back and sides. As a woman who sat near us said afterwards, "I tranced out!" I'd love to take a vocal workshop with these women and since they're based in Oakland, maybe I can.
The concert ended earlier than I'd expected, so I had time to scoot across the street into a lovely park while waiting for Scott to pick me up. It was the mildest night since I'd arrived in the city, so I was quite comfortable. This view of Grace Cathedral as seen through an old fountain of classical design certainly helped keep my sense of magic alive.
When we got back to the condo, Phil and I visited while Scott fed the fish. I'm going to miss being with those sweet guys. We'll get together for sure, but it won't be the same as staying with them. They make a fine art of hospitality.
Now it's time for me to
get ready for bed. My first night back in my old bed. I expect
to sleep very well indeed.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2002
I awoke to another beautiful sunny day. The garden drew me outside just as the sun was reaching warm fingers down into its green lushness. May I take you on a tour of my garden? We'll be looking from left to right as I step outside my front door.
At the western border of the garden--looking toward Twin Peaks if you could see over the fence--is a stand of bamboo that I knew as tiny twigs when they were first planted in the spring of 1998. Beside the bamboo is Marci's bathtub resting on its claw feet. It always makes me think of Rousseau's jungle painting...without the naked lady, of course. Along the northern side is my favorite purple flowering Princess bush and the chair I bought to sit out on Steve's balcony next door when I first lived there in October 1996. That is where I sat and read this morning. On the other side of the apple tree is the bench where I often sit in the afternoons, after the sun has made its way over there. In the corner between the bench and the raised strawberry bed is a calla lily in bloom and lemons, still green, on a potted tree that Laura donated to the garden. Behind the strawberry bed is our compost bin with the corner of Laura, Katy and Tim's window peeking above it. In front of the house are tall lavender and rosemary bushes sandwiched between orange day lilies. Another calla lily plant blooms beside the stairs going up to Marci and Evan's second and third floor flat. Next door you can see the house in which I lived for two winters; I was on the third floor in the midst of the juniper bushes. And finally we come full circle to my cottage with the garden reflected in its windows and french doors.
After a delightful morning spent reading in the garden, I came inside and finally caught up with my emails. Since arriving here two weeks ago tomorrow, I've had a time trying to keep up with my correspondence.
This evening Katy, my neighbor and friend, and I went to the Threshold Choir rehearsal in the Haight. It was her first time and she seemed to like it very much. For me it was like coming home to my heart. This is my kind of singing, not for performance but for healing. We even sang a song especially for Rabih, Sulaima and their children. When I told their story to this circle of compassionate women, Sandra Grace suggested we sing Terry Garthwaite's "Passing Time." It was perfect.
On the way home, Katy and I stopped and bought a couple of burritos and took them over to her house to eat. During a stimulating discussion of this post-September 11 world in which we live, I mentioned how cold I was last night in my cottage. Believe it or not, Katy had both a small space heater and an electric blanket that she was not using. She brought them over after dinner and for the first time in three winters, I'm feeling warm as I work at my computer! I've already turned on the electric blanket so my bed will feel toasty when I snuggle under the covers, hopefully very soon. My gosh, does this mean I won't have to wear socks and a turtleneck to bed?
What would one do without
friends to warm your heart and your body?
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2002
A friend who regularly reads my journal says the one thing that stands out for him is the amount of energy I seem to have. Well, after 11 hours away from home today, I'd have to agree.
I left the cottage at noon, stopped briefly to visit with John at our corner deli/grocery, then scooted two and a half blocks down to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. It was Ona the scooter's first ride on BART and she had a little problem getting over the lip of the train's door when it was time to disembark. Other passengers quickly lifted her nose over the trouble spot so we got off OK, but next time I'll steer her in a more head-on direction rather than diagnonally like I did today. We'll get the hang of it.
I arrived at the YMCA at 1 PM just as I'd planned. I intend to swim from 1-3 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. Everything went smoothly, including having very few other swimmers with which to share the slow lane today. That was sweet. When I'd finished and was getting out of the pool, Jerrell the lifeguard was right there for me with Ona (they move her away from the edge of the pool while I'm swimming).
"How many laps did you swim?", he asked. "24", I answered. "You were an inspiration to someone today", Jerrell continued. Turns out there was a man taking a swimming lesson who's recovering from a stroke and has a paralyzed right side. He asked Jerrell, "Do you think I'll ever swim like that?", pointing at me. Jerrell showed him the scooter I use on dry land. Apparently it gave this man a shock to see that I'm disabled. When I recall that back in June 2000, I couldn't even swim a stroke and now I regularly do 24 laps of the freestyle without stopping, I know that anything is possible.
I had an hour before I was to meet Sharon, a sister member of the Global Women's Strike committee, so I took the opportunity to scoot up Market Street to get cash at an ATM machine and go on to Walgreens to get a bunch of disabled passes for BART. As a person with a disability, I only have to pay $4 per $16 BART pass. Very handy!
On the same street as the YMCA, there was a demonstration by members of the San Francisco Janitor's Local 87. They were protesting their union leaders agreeing to $7.87 per hour in wages. As one of them said to me, "No one can live on that in San Francisco." How true! I was pleased to see signs in many languages--Arabic, Spanish, English and an Asian language (I don't know which one). Very San Francisco.
Down on Market I stopped to listen to an excellent trumpet player who was busking in front of the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market. After taking care of my business, I called Ed on my cell phone. He gets a kick out of my calling when I'm out and about; it's almost as if I'm carrying him along with me. Which I certainly do in my heart.
At 4 PM I met Sharon in front of the Main Library on Larkin Street. We spent the next hour walk/scooting the route we're planning our Global Women's Strike Day march to take on March 8. Our job was to time how long it took between stops. Along the way I saw a wonderful mural on Van Ness that I'd never before noticed. There is a distinct advantage to being on foot or in a scooter instead of in a car.
I was planning to go to a 7:25 PM movie at a theater on Van Ness, so had some time to kill after Sharon left to go home. I went into the bookstore, A Clean Well Lighted Place, and came away with two paperbacks: Arundhati Roy's Power Politics, and A Good Home, a novel by the Canadian writer Bonnie Burnard. My next stop was Max's restaurant at the Opera Plaza where I had soup and french fries.
The movie, "A Beautiful Mind", was excellent. Several friends had recommended I see it, and they were right. I recommend it also. When I got out at 9:30 PM, it was such a mild night that I decided to scoot all the way home instead of taking BART. It was a most pleasant ride. Hats off to Ona!
Once home, I checked my emails. One of them contained a copy of an Associated Press article that my friend Marilyn had seen in the Chicago Tribune online. The title was encouraging--"Wife, children visit detained Muslim leader." But when I read it, I was distressed to learn that yes, they'd been allowed to visit their husband and father for the first time in a month, but were separated from him by bars and heavy plexiglass. As if Rabih Haddad is a dangerous criminal! Oh, I get so angry at how badly these innocent people are being treated by this country's so-called "justice" system.
Well, now I must go to
bed. I am very sleepy.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2002
On nights like this I wonder if I'm starring in a remake of "Auntie Mame"! My cousin Stacey and I met my friend Marcia at the V-Day Soiree at the Women's Building here in the city. It was Stacey's first experience of a women-oriented evening of performance and art. I must say she took to it like a duck to water.
Tonight's program described V-Day as "a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day was founded by Eve Ensler, the creator of the Vagina Monologues, and uses her theatrical drama as the centerpiece of an annual event on or around Valentine's Day. This year, the main event is in San Francisco, and takes place at the Masonic Auditorium on February 12, 2002." I am delighted to report that I will be in there with bells (windchimes) on!
To enter tonight's V-Day Soiree auditorium, one had to walk through a fabric vagina. At that moment I think Stacey realized she was in for something completely different! This evening of "Artistry and Activism" was free, although donations were gratefully accepted. It was packed full of music, comedy, poetry, dance and art. I personally received a tarot reading, the gift of a chocolate, and an abundant supply of pure enjoyment.
There was a wonderful crowd of women and men of every age, including in utero and toddling. San Francisco's own FatChance Bellydance's Third Tribe performed, as well as Women Kickin' It self defense classes. We saw women's beautiful bellies and men get thrown to the ground! And at the end of the evening, a DJ got everyone on their feet, including a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence in the arms of a man who had helped me get through the vagina-entrance, a lovely group of young women, my new friend Ana B (in the pink blouse) dancing with her friend, and Marcia and I boogeying down while Stacey took our picture.
It is now 3 AM and I've
got to take this dancin' body to bed!
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2002
Isn't it always the small moments that stay with you? For me, today had three such moments.
The first occurred during the Quaker peace demonstration I was part of in front of the Federal Building between noon and 1 PM. If you recall, I'd happened upon this small hardy band of Friends on my way to register for swimming at the YMCA last Thursday, and had happily joined them. Well, today's high winds and drizzly conditions made our standing out there a bit more significant. Last week's sun and blue skies had hardly tested our commitment a whit.
About fifteen minutes before 1 PM, a kind-faced young man of color joined our vigil, seemingly right off the street as I'd done last week. He took some leaflets from Barkley and proceeded to put his own twist on the process, calling out to brothers as if he knew them. It sure tickled me to see our group become a little less lily-white and a bit younger. After we'd packed up our signs, he and I got to talking. Turns out Abdi works with one of the women in our group. Not only that, he has a grant to do peace education in people's homes. He asked if I'd be interested in gathering some friends and inviting him to come and lead discussions about the war and such.
So what do you think I said to that? Yep! You're right. I think it's a great idea.
My second moment came shortly after that. I'd had a bit of trouble trying to keep my sign from flapping around in the wind, not to mention getting soggy in the drizzle, so I thought I'd see if I could get it laminated. There was a photo shop across the street that advertised copy machines, so I thought I'd go over and see if they had a laminater as well.
I scooted into the shop, held up my sign and asked, "Could you laminate this?" The Asian-American woman behind the desk nodded her head, pointed to the window and said, "Yes, it can go there." I realized she thought I was asking if I could paste my poster in the window. And when I thought about it, I realized what a great idea that was--to put Gandhi's words in the window that also held a sign with an American flag.
Is that something I could do elsewhere? In the windows of all those stores displaying United We Stand-type stuff, wouldn't it be great to add "For a non-violent person, the whole world is one family" with a drawing of Black, Arab, Latino and White folks holding hands?
My third moment happened in the ladies' locker room after my swim. A woman helped me get the shower chair and place it in a shower stall. She then smiled and said, "I'm 81 years old and still swimming!" We were both partially undressed when she came over a few minutes later and said, "I had cancer and had both breasts removed." She opened her towel to show me the scars. She then said, "I figured you'd understand, but I like to come late in the day so not too many women see me undress."
I was touched that she felt comfortable with me. I do find that having an obvious disability often allows people to feel that I won't judge them harshly. It's a badge of compassion, perhaps.
Speaking of compassion, which means "to suffer with", I received another email today regarding Rabih Haddad. It contained a copy of a letter that Rabih recently sent to Andy Thayer of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism in which he describes the conditions in the prison where he is now being held. It also included Rabih's address and encouraged everyone to write him letters. Even if he doesn't know you, just hearing that you support him means more than we can imagine. His address is:
c/o Metropolitan Correctional
71 W.VAN BUREN STREET
CHICAGO, IL 60605
The email--sent by the Muslim Community of Ann Arbor--also asks that we write/call/fax our senators and representatives explaining Rabih's situation and demanding that they do something to ease his prison conditions. He has not hurt anybody or been charged with any crime, yet he is being treated like a violent criminal.
Rabih's letter follows:
Dear Mr. Thayer,
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful letter of Jan. 22. I do greatly appreciate your interest and efforts for my release. Please extend my regards and gratitude to all members of CCAWR.
I am sorry to say that I was not able to see the protests because the window in my cell is "Whited out" to allow light in but not for me to see anything out. I was able, however, to hear about it from other inmates who own small radios and heard it on the news. I am writing you this letter and don't know when I'll be able to mail it since I still don't have access to stamps. I have filled out a visitor's form, however, which is mailed by the facility here. You'll need to fill it out and mail it back to them.
Allow me to take this opportunity to bring you slightly into my world here at MCC Chicago. I am in a 6' x 9' solitary cell that seems to have been designed for extremely violent or extremely troublesome inmates. The bed is situated in the center of the room with about a foot and a half on either side of it to the wall. The bed is a metal slab with four legs bolted to the floor and fitted on all four corners with special fittings to hold straps if it should become necessary. I have a camera fixed on me right outside my door that has completely deprived me of any kind of privacy since that door has a small window which allows them to check and see if I'm still there around the clock. It's for my safety, they say. I am allowed one 15 minute call to my family every 30 days.
My food is handed to me through a slit in the door 2-1/2" x 12". The same opening is used to put the cuffs on me before the door is opened for any reason. I am allowed 3 showers a week for which I have to be cuffed to walk 10 paces to the shower that has a door similar to my cell's door. I'm only un-cuffed after I'm inside and the door is locked. I also get 1 hour of recreation 5 days a week, and what a joke that is. I am led, cuffed, from my cell to a cage (literally) just down the hall which is the same size as my cell. In it is a homemade stationary bicycle that has no resistance and thus is worthless for exercising. I have to wait until the cage is empty because I cannot be put in there with anyone else, for my own safety, they say. I have made numerous pleas to the warden and others to let me speak with my family once a week, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. I have been under these conditions for the past month and a half, which can drive a person to the extreme limits of his/her mental, emotional, and psychological capabilities.
Where do we draw the line between justice and oppression? Between prosecution and persecution? Is due process supposed to serve society or is society supposed to be enslaved by "due process"? Many people on this side of the fence, I'm sorry to say, have become Pavlovic dogs of sorts when it comes to "due process." I have been treated like the worst criminal you can imagine when I have not even been charged with a crime.
All of this has done nothing but harden my will and strengthened my resolve to overcome and persevere. Your efforts and the efforts of others are like torches of hope that light my way in this deep and dark tunnel that I've entered and I am eternally grateful for that.
Please convey my warmest greetings and thanks to all those who planned, participated or supported your efforts. May God bless you all.
P.S. Please forgive my spelling. I did not realize how dependant I've become on my computer's spell-check until now.
P.S.2 I forgot to mention
the waves of cockroaches that invade the cell at night and crawl
all over everything, including me.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2002
Here I am again, starting my journal-writing at 12:30 AM after a very full day. I'll just give you a brief rundown of my activites and then put up some really pretty pictures (if I do say so myself).
I had a lovely lunch at the RinCon Center downtown with my dear friend and faithful journal reader, Rima. After lunch I scooted over to the Embarcadero and out onto the fishing wharf I love. That's where I took the pictures I'll show you in a few minutes. I then took BART home, but instead of actually going home, I scooted up the 24th Street hill into Noe Valley. I needed a haircut badly. Since my favorite haircutter, Lily, couldn't take me for an hour, I had time for a little shopping. An apple streusel cake for Russ's birthday brunch on Sunday, and a red lowcut jersey shirt and a pair of red socks for me. Got to get ready for Tuesday's benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues"! After my cut--short and feathery the way I like it--I scooted home, made a couple phone calls, checked emails, and then enjoyed a nice visit with Jeff, who stopped in after a meeting in the Castro. Ate a bite of supper and got on the road again, this time to go to the ballet. Hit a real snafu trying to meet up with Scott and my cousin Stacey--I was at the wrong entrance--but we finally connected just in time for the start of the second dance, the hour-long Jerome Robbin's "Dances At A Gathering" inspired by Chopin's piano compositions. The piece was marred for everyone within five rows of our disabled seats by a photographer standing right behind me who took hundreds of photos using the loudest camera known to humanity. In the middle of the dance one man even got up from his seat and angrily told the photographer to stop disturbing everyone. At intermission, we were told by the ushers to call and complain to the ballet publicity department as it was their photographer. I'll call for sure. All that was forgotten when we saw the final dance--Jerome Robbin's "Glass Pieces" based on music by Philip Glass. Amazing!!! The audience was screaming with delight at the end. It was worth all the snafus and irritations that led up to it. I'd go see it again in a flash.
Now was that a long enough paragraph? My whole day in one stream-of-conscious flow of words!
Now for the photos. Here's the Bay Bridge as seen though the palm trees on the Embarcadero at Mission Street. After crossing the street, I scooted north in front of the Ferry Building, past Pier One and Two, and turned in at the entrance to the wharf. That is a favorite skateboarding spot. The wharf itself is constructed of wooden planks that make for a bumpy scooter ride, but it's well worth it in beautiful views. Looking back to the north, one sees Coit Tower rising above Telegraph Hill. At the end of the wharf is the bay with Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge and ferries going to Sausalito and Larkspur. Walking (or scooting) back to the street one is treated to a stunning cityscape with the Trans Am building at its center. On the other side of the Embarcadero I saw this view of the Ferry Building, and folks enjoying a sunny Friday afternoon lunch at the park.
And now that it is 1:20
AM, the finest view I can imagine is me tucked into my warm bed.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2002
What a joy to have a sister. I can't get over it. Yes, I've had two sisters for over 56 years, but it wasn't until I arrived in San Francisco on January 22 that I discovered what it felt like to have an adult sister living nearby. The last time I lived anywhere near Carolyn or Emily was before I married in 1966. That was a long time ago. And I not only have the joy of living close to my "little" sister, but her husband Gorsha is equally wonderful.
Today Emily, Gorsha and I had a date to attend the First Annual Visionary Art, Music and Video Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts. Before even thinking about going inside, Emily and Gorsha were drawn to explore this glorious bit of San Francisco history.
The Palace of Fine Arts is the sole remaining structure from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. According to the online history I read, "At that time San Francisco was honoring the discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the completion of the Panama Canal; it was also celebrating its own resurrection after the shattering earthquake and fire of 1906." The Palace of Fine Arts is one of San Francisco's favorite attractions for locals as well as visitors to the city.
Emily and Gorsha looked particularly handsome in this setting....not to mention the wonders seen overhead and in every direction your eyes turned. Breathtaking!
We finally tore ourselves away from feasting on the beauty outside and entered the festival. There was something for everyone. For me the greatest delight was introducing everyone I met to "my sister and brother-in-law." I still can't get over being able to say those words aloud.
The people I met were Sarah West, an exceptionally gifted singer who weds spirit and musical technique in ways I've never before experienced. I purchased her CD, "Sanctuary", which practically tranced me out while listening to it on the CD Walkman at her table. Then there was Jeanette from whom I bought a pair of iridescent purple beaded earrings. My final encounter was with Tatanya. Emily was mesmerized by the beaded barretts at her booth, while I was drawn to her offer to paint temporary tattoos in henna.
Henna tattoos (mehndi) are an ancient form of skin art common in India, the Middle East and Africa. It has recently become popular in Western countries. For years I've seen henna tattooing at women's festivals, but have never before experienced it myself. I decided today was the day. So I told Tatanya how much I was willing to pay, asked her to paint my left palm, and then left her free to paint whatever patterns came to mind. All I asked was that her work reflect my gratitude to my hand for all its hard work. She painted for close to a half hour and said as she finished, "This is what I saw in your hand."
The tattoo is expected
to last about 3 weeks and will become reddish-brown in color.
The palms of the hand and soles of the feet are considered the
best places to paint for deep, long-lasting color. What you see
in my picture is the henna-pigmented mud that is intended to stain
my hand. I am to leave the mud on until tomorrow. To protect it,
Tatanya wrapped my palm in cotton swatches and easy-to-remove
adhesive tape. My bandaged
hand made eating dinner with Emily and Gorsha somewhat challenging,
not to mention what it's like to try to type! Ah, what one does
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2002
I guess anyone who regularly reads my journal will not be surprised to hear this--I finally came to the end of my energy cycle this afternoon. I can just see you nodding your collective heads and saying, "It's about time!"
Actually I was at a wonderful birthday brunch for my friend Russ when my body said enough already. We'd enjoyed delicious food and interesting conversation. I'd arrived in queenly style riding in a chair carried by Tim and Scott (these steep stairs have no railing to hang onto). I'd admired Clint's orchids and later sat outside in the sun with friends. But eventually a GI upset let me know it was time to go home and chill out...which I've done since 4 PM this afternoon.
I'm feeling fine now but
realize I need to restore myself by having at least one full day
and night with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Tomorrow will
be that day. If I need more time than that, I'll take it. Except
for one thing. I'll be at Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues"
on Tuesday night no matter what!
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2002
Now I feel like I'm really back. A quiet unscheduled day was just what I needed to feel at home again in my garden cottage and my San Francisco neighborhood.
I slept until noon, got dressed and went outside into the garden. I sat and read for a couple of hours in the deliciously warm sun. As always, my daily phone call with Eddie nourished me.
About 3 PM I got Ona out of the shed/scooter garage and headed up 24th Street into Noe Valley. I had a couple of errands to do, the first being to buy my friend Pat a card and present to celebrate her upcoming graduation from massage school on Sunday. I won't say what I got her because she regularly reads my journal, but I think she'll like it. The post office was next on my list. Talk about crowded! The line was outside the door. I guess Valentine's Day is a big deal.
After getting Pat's present sent off, I scooted over to Real Foods to pick up some groceries. Next stop was my favorite florist, Mia's on Church at 27th. I wouldn't really feel right until I had fresh flowers in my cottage. Rather than cut flowers, I decided on a basket of primrose plants that Emily artistically put together for me. I was delighted to run into Kerry who works there too. I am determined not to miss seeing her perform Irish and Scottish fiddle this year. Here's a picture I took of Kerry last winter.
After unloading my flowers and groceries at the cottage, I scooted down to my friendly neighborhood organic deli/grocery to get a quart of Odwalla tangerine juice. Now I knew I was back! Antonio was there with his mother Antonia. I've known Antonia since she was a student at the girl's high school at the corner and working part time at John's store. I saw her pregnant and then with the little baby, Antonio. Of course, now he's such a big boy he even pets dogs like Hokle and manages to throw them their turkey treats.
While Antonia, Antonio, Peter and I were hanging out in front of the store, Doug, another neighbor, came home from work and stopped to chat for awhile. Doug is the gifted photographer who has been chronicling our Mission neighborhood for decades. His pictures actually go back to the days of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead back in the 1960s. I guess he has hundreds of thousands of San Francisco photos by now, some of which he has kindly shared with me. After awhile Liz joined us on her way home from work. Soon she and Doug went to their house next door to start getting dinner. I bought my tangerine juice and scooted home myself.
What a terrific day!
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2002
Happy Chinese New Year! The year of the Horse. Ed and I are both horses, the animal described as happy, outgoing and popular. Should be quite different from last year, the year of the Snake. Yes, we'd have to say the snake certainly shed its skin last year, change and more change. I suspect this year will be more straight forward; what you see is what you get.
Today I'd like to take you on a one-minute tour of the "tiny urban cottage" that I rent here in San Francisco. As you enter from the garden through the french doors, directly in front of you is the kitchen. To your left is the bathroom, and to the right, the rest of the cottage. If you walk up the one step into the living room area, off to your left is the L-shaped built-in couch. Under the cushions are storage bins just like on a boat. Keep walking up to the bed, turn around and this is what you will see. The computer table is right next to the bed.
It's now after midnight and I have recently returned home from the San Francisco V-Day 2002 benefit performance of the "Vagina Monologues". What an amazing experience! The mammoth Masonic Auditorium was completley sold out. They actually made a half a million dollars tonight, all of which will go to 24 local and 2 national organizations that work to prevent violence against women. 10% of all money made at the 800 Vagina Monologue performances across the globe will go to the women of Afghanistan.
You know I felt like I was going to a prom. I even took a shower, washed my hair and got all dressed up in my new red finery before Scott--my sweet friend--picked Dorothy and me up at 6:45 PM and drove us to the auditorium. Believe me, I wasn't the only one who was excited! Smiles and red outfits were everywhere you looked. And they actually did have a V-Day Prom Photo opportunity that I took advantage of. Pretty cool with Ona my scooter and I parked in front of a giant fabric vulva sculpture. Sorry I don't have a scanner or I'd give you a peek. Even the exterior of the Masonic was gussied up for tonight's big event, and a painted car parked out front let everyone know they were in the right place.
After enjoying people- and bra-ball-watching in the lobby, Dorothy and I got settled in our seats, which were excellent. The show itself is impossible to describe. With Eve Ensler, the writer and director, as MC, and women like Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Allison, Rita Moreno, Julia Butterfly Hill, Ronnie Gilbert, Jill Eikenberry, Kathleen Chalfant, San Francisco Treasurer Susan Leal, California State Senator Jackie Speier, Lynn Whitfield and others performing different vignettes, we went from belly laughs to tears and back several times. It you haven't seen it, it's hard to describe; if you have, I don't have to tell you a thing. At the finale, folks were on their feet singing and dancing along with Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir.
What a profound gift Eve
Ensler has given our world in not only creating the Vagina Monologues
but undergirding it with the V-Day ethos and commitment to stop
violence against women and girls. As she says, "Imagine a
world without violence and make it come true."
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2002
Visitors to this city often view San Francisco as a sophisticated Disneyworld. Perhaps in some ways it is, that is if you stay on the path outlined by Fodor's. But a real San Francisco exists and it can be found in the neighborhoods. My neighborhood, for instance, gave me two opportunities today to come face-to-face with life in its most real form.
The first was at Simply Supper, the free dinner served upstairs at MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) in the Castro where I take tickets and greet folks every Wednesday afternoon. For an hour and a half on this damp chilly day, there was a steady flow of men and women coming inside to get warm, nourishing, delicious food. Everyone shows up: homeless men with their world of bags on their backs, tattooed multi-pierced dreadlocked groups of young men and women who want to sit together, white-haired elders who would rather spend their precious social security checks on something besides a restaurant dinner, spaced out men and a few women who can barely keep their eyes open and their heads from falling into their food, European-American African-American Asian-American Latino, straight gay transgender lesbian bi-sexual, musicians house painters construction workers college students. The variety of people who walk through that door would quickly demolish most folks' stereotypic ideas about who eats in such a place. It's impossible to distinguish volunteers from guests; in many cases they are one and the same. Actually it's at Simply Supper that I get my most helpful computer advice from Guy who defines the word geek.
My second non-theme park experience occurred this evening at the New College on Valencia where about three hundred people crowded into the auditorium to hear a panel of progressive writers introduce AlterNet.org's new book, After 9/11: Solutions for a Saner World. What a privilege to hear such people as Jim Hightower, Tamim Ansary, Michelle Chihara, Lee Hubbard, Stephen Zunes and Don Hazen. These are the people who kept me sane after September 11 with their essays and opinions that I read almost every day on AlterNet.org. I don't know how I could have survived those dark days without them. And now I have in my grateful hand a hardcopy book of articles and perspectives that inform, support, challenge and inspire me to keep on keepin' on. Good old San Francisco where we progressive-types actually are the majority, or at least a vocal enough segment of the population not to feel as marginalized (post September 11) as we do in other parts of the country.
So, as you can see, there
is real life in San Francisco if you know where to find
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002
Another chock-full day. I took BART to the Civic Center and scooted through the Thursday open-air market on my way to the Federal Building. By the way, the magnificent dome you see in that picture is of San Francisco's City Hall. An opulent palace for a mayor who wears $5000 suits.
Our weekly peace demonstration was particularly encouraging. Many thumbs-up and head-nods from drivers of taxicabs and cars who passed by, as well as positive responses from people walking by. Our experience on this busy sidewalk in front of the Federal Building affirms my longheld belief that the public opinion polls quoted in the mainstream press and media are not entirely accurate. I think a lot of people are uneasy with Bush's war on terrorism and Ashcroft's war on civil liberties. Time will tell how long they'll remain silent. Of course, in San Francisco even the backs of traffic signals and power boxes speak their mind!
After the demo, I scooted over to the YMCA to swim my usual 24 laps of the freestyle. I love this place. Not only is the building located in the heart of the Tenderloin and wonderfully old-fashioned, but the staff is so friendly and helpful. Today I was greeted at the front desk by Kelly, Eidan and Albert before I took the elevator down to the pool. There Carol and Gregory spotted me getting off the elevator so I didn't run right into the water when I made the turn into the pool area. There is little tolerance for error on my part, especially with the slight elevation at the door that forces me to gear up a bit. Actually, I later ran into Darrell, who takes care of maintanence, and when I mentioned the problem to him, he promised to have a ramp constructed there for me by next Tuesday. That's what I mean about wonderful people.
Since I had our weekly Global Women's Strike committee meeting at 6 PM, I chose to scoot over to the Castro for dinner before the meeting. As I scooted up Market toward Church Street I could see afternoon fog settling over the houses up on the hills in the distance. It was mysteriously beautiful. I ended up at an excellent Thai restaurant where I ordered vegetarian spring rolls and Pad Thai noodles with shrimp and tofu. Yummy...and I have enough left over for another meal.
You know, any street you choose to travel in this city has interesting houses to look at. I took 17th Street over toward Valencia where the Crossroads Women's Center is located. On the way I encountered a lavender house painted with faux-stones and an historic house marked "1874". But my favorite image of the day occurred on Valencia as I scooted by a auto repair garage. There a dog was devouring what his owner called "Morris's valentine."
Our meeting was productive and fun. These women are quite wonderful. Chandra and I plan to attend the launch of a brand new anti-war free national newspaper called War Times over in West Oakland on Saturday. We figure it will be the perfect place to distribute our Global Women's Strike flyers. For me, it has special meaning. While still in Michigan, I'd received an email announcing the birth of War Times. I'd been excited to see that it was coming out of San Francisco and had hoped somehow to hook up with the people responsible for it. Saturday will give me that opportunity.
By the time I arrived home about 8:30 PM, I was ready to hang up my wheels. It had been a big day. But my adventures were not over yet. I'd forgotten my key to the back gate. I tried calling both Marci and Evan upstairs, and Katy downstairs. No answer. So I left messages on their machines saying to call me at the deli up the street when they got home, and I scooted up there to wait. Well, my friends at the deli, Peter and Joe, weren't ready to give up so easily. They went down to that very high wooden stockade fence and, although I wasn't there to see it, apparently Joe lifted Peter over the fence so he could unlock it from the inside. Circus magic as far as I'm concerned! Magic for which I am deeply grateful.
It is now midnight and
I am happy this journal entry is done so I can go to beddy-bye.
See you tomorrow.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2002
I love unplanned adventures. Tonight Phil and I went out to a sushi bar after he, Scott, Stacey and I had gone to the ballet. I'd had a late lunch/early dinner at 4 PM and found myself thinking about food during one of the dances. Scott said it was because they'd used a fake apple, but I think it was because that particular dance didn't capture my interest. Anyway, Phil was ready to pick up on my idea to go out later for sushi, Stacey had other plans and Scott wasn't really interested. So Stacey got a cab outside the ballet, and Phil and I dropped Scott off at home. We then found a sushi bar on Church Street that was still open. We started with a bowl of miso soup and then ordered Spider rolls (fried softshell crabs and avocado), barbequed raw eel, red tuna, California rolls (crab and avocado), a slightly sweet cooked egg sushi and shrimp sushi. All of it was utterly delicious.
Otherwise this was a day of rest and relaxation. I slept late and then curled up on the couch with a pillow behind me and an afghan over my lap as I continued reading Bonnie Burnard's excellent novel, A Good House. I had my daily phone call with Eddie; how that nourishes me! About 3 PM, I scooted three blocks down to the Mission Street Walgreen's to pick up a few things. On the way I took one picture of my street and another of a row of houses on 22nd Street. After Walgreen's, I stopped at our corner deli for a tuna salad sandwich, a dill pickle and an Odwalla juice (Mango Tango). When I returned home I had about a half hour on the computer before my friend Jeff came over to visit. When he left it was time for me to take off too. Again it took only 30 minutes door-to-door from here to the Opera House. A piece of cake.
When I returned
home after the sushi adventure I found my custom-made shoes
had arrived. I'd ordered them at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
and am delighted with how they look and feel. They're so comfortable
it's almost like going barefoot. I'd had a dream one night last
week that when these shoes had arrived, I'd found them to be as
big as Ed's size 13 shoes. I'm happy to report that that dream
was not prophetic!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2002
What an exciting week to be a progressive-thinking anti-war activist in San Francisco! After Wednesday night's panel discussion and launch of AlterNet.org's new book, After 9/11: Solutions for a Saner World, today there was the gathering of a who's-who of activists at the launch of a new bimonthly free newspaper called "War Times."
Wow! Do I ever feel encouraged and energized. This movement--what Jim Hightower calls The Democracy Movement--is more extensive, coordinated and active than I realized. It's like I've been a single fish struggling upstream with a few hardy cohorts, and all of a sudden I come to a large body of water filled with thousands of fish swimming in the same direction as my small group. I can take a deep breath and let the energy of the group carry me along. Whew! What a relief. Of course that doesn't mean I stop working, it's just that it takes less energy when one feels supported and less alone in the effort.
Today's launch was held at the Mandela Community Center in West Oakland, a former warehouse under the expressway. I'd guess 300-400 people made their way through that center today, listening to speeches, fundraising pitches, joining small group discussions and picking up packets of the pilot issue of War Times to distribute locally. I picked up 100 copies to put around at the coffeehouses in my neighborhood. The paper is very well done--its mission to shed the light of truth during these times of war has a solid start in this first issue.
As always, I needed to share what was happening with my online community of friends and activists, so I just sent out the following email to at least 200 people:
This week saw the launching of two national publications dedicated to telling the truth about Bush's war on terrorism and Ashcroft's war on civil liberties: AlterNet.org's book "After 9/11:Solutions for a Sane World", and a new bi-monthly free newspaper called "War Times." The launches were celebrated here in the Bay Area, and happily, I was able to attend them both.
What excitement and enthusiasm! At least 300 folks crowded into the New College's auditorium in San Francisco's Mission District on Wednesday night to listen to a panel of contributors to AlterNet's book. The most famous and entertaining was Jim Hightower, but we were also privileged to hear Tamim Ansary, the Afghan native whose email circled the globe before the US started bombing his country, Michelle Chihara, whose parents and grandparents suffered the US internment of Japanese during WWII, Stephen Zunes, a university professor of Middle Eastern History and politics, and Lee Hubbard, an analyst of the African-American community's response to September 11. The book is excellent and can be bought online by going to http://www.alternet.org/911book/
Today (Saturday) "War Times" packed another 300-400 people into the Mandela Center in West Oakland for speeches, fundraising, small group discussions and the distribution of packets and packets of pilot issues ready to hit the streets. They reported extraordinary interest all over the country, so hopefully you'll soon be seeing copies of "War Times" in your neighborhoods, coffeehouses, universities and bookstores.
If you want the staff here in San Francisco to send you copies of this pilot issue of War Times, simply email them at: email@example.com or write to: EBC/War Times, 1230 Market Street, PMB 409, San Francisco, CA 94102. You can call (510)869-5156 to leave a message.
What War Times needs now is money and lots of it to continue to put out this free tabloid, which is bi-lingually printed in Spanish. They are asking for one time donations or monthly sustainers. I encourage everyone who can do so to support this, our only national anti-war hardcopy newspaper that is committed to present truth during these times of war.
After this week I know for a fact that the peace and progressive movements--what Jim Hightower calls "The Democracy Movement"--is alive and well! All we need to do is recognize that and do whatever we can to connect our grassroots efforts. This brush fire is aflame all over the globe!
in peace and solidarity
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2002
Here I go again, trying to write about something I wish you could have seen for yourself. Actually, some of you probably did ;~)
Today was my first-of-the-season potluck brunch. I've been hosting these gatherings since November 1996. Usually there is one near the start of my San Francisco stay and another shortly before I migrate back to Michigan. To get on my list all you need do is stand beside me at a crosswalk, sit beside me at a coffeehouse, sit behind me at a concert, offer me a ride home from a workshop, get ice cream where I like to get ice cream, be a friend of a friend, be a member of my family, have been a friend of my train buddy and heart friend Joel, sing with me at a music camp or in a chorus, be a neighbor, rent or sublet me a place to live, be related to or a partner of a friend or family member. Once on my list, you stay there as long as you enjoy meeting new people, like good food and don't mind sitting in a beautiful sunny garden for a few hours a couple of Sundays a year.
I told my friends today that I feel like a spider who entices a splendid array of interesting folks into her carefully constructed web, then delights in watching them create their own strands of connection. Nothing pleases me more than to sit back and watch people I love, meeting and conversing with one another.
Today I saw this happen countless times with a different cast of characters each time. My sister Emily and Marcia. Ken and Marci. My brother-in-law Gorsha and Tom. My cousin Stacey, Phil and Katy. Jamie, Stacey and Erin. Stacey, Marcia and Scott. Even the dogs, Star, Baggs and Havah made strong connections.
As I said, I simply sit back--my sister Emily says "like a queen"--and let people come to me. My cousin Stacey and sister Emily. Gorsha's parents Isabella and Sasha. Dorothy and Jamie (with Star in his arms). My garden neighbors Katy and Laura. At least I sit back for awhile. But as the afternoon wears on I agitate for the singing to begin.
It was last April that we first sang at my brunch. That warm sunny day we sat outside in a circle and asked each person to sing a song that used a particular word. Seems to me we ran through words like sun, moon, river, rain and heart for starters. The next game was to name a musical and go around the circle asking each person to sing a song from that particular show. It sounds scary when I write about it, but the reality was silly and lots of fun. You're probably not surprised to hear that many of my friends are singers.
Today we did things a bit differently. First of all, we went inside about 3 PM. As soon as the sun moved to the far reaches of the garden, it became pretty durn chilly to sit out there. And instead of asking individuals to sing alone, we all sang together. Emily added a new twist to our game by inviting us to choose a new word from each song that we sang. For instance, when we sang "Blue Moon" using the word moon, our next challenge was to find a song that used the word blue, as in "Blue Suede Shoes." As you can tell, Rima, Emily and I really got into it!
I can't let you miss a glimpse of the delicious food that people brought. Actually that picture was taken before most guests had arrived! And I don't want to miss showing you a picture that has two of my dear women friends in it, Sandy and Betty. Then there's Giorgio, the former clown (truly!), who managed to save the styrofoam cup while losing his champagne all over his trousers and the garden pavement stones. And here's Gorsha with his mother Isabella. Finally, if you're curious about whether my sister Emily and I are cut from the same fabric, I offer this view into our unique ways of being in the world.
As I said at the beginning,
the day would have been perfect if all of you could have been
there too, but at least now you can feel as if you were. So what
song uses the word friend?
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2002
After wanting sun more than anything for my brunch yesterday, today I was perfectly content with grey skies and a damp chill to the air. It allowed me to curl up happily on the couch with a hot cup of Bengal Spice tea, cozy afghan pulled over my legs, mellow jazz on the radio and a good book in hand. Just what I needed. Then the Universe continued to care for me this evening by making it impossible for me to get a ride to the Threshold Choir rehearsal. Much as I love singing with Kate and the women, tonight was better spent here at home by myself. The forecast is for rain tomorrow and that's just fine. Unless the storm is unusually severe, I should have no trouble scooting over to the YMCA for my Tuesday swim; I have my trusty red silk teflon-coated poncho to keep me dry. Besides, I always have to giggle at folks who fret over getting caught in the rain after they've just spent an hour getting totally drenched in a pool full of water.
I'm finding if I keep on the go, time passes far too quickly. For instance, I find it hard to believe I'll be migrating back to Michigan just two months from today. My time here in San Francisco is one-third over. I'd best begin to make dates with myself to savor life rather than treating it like some commodity to be bought and sold. Seems to me I wrote and illustrated a koan that says, "The slower I move, the more time I have." Teacher, teach thyself!
And because I was home
tonight I had the rare honor of a visit by Marci and Evan's cat,
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2002
I am proud to say that I didn't wimp out today, even though it rained steadily from sunup (I assume) to sundown (I know for a fact). I simply put on my red teflon-coated silk rain poncho and black felt broad-brimmed hat, hopped on my trusty steed, Ona, and set off for the YMCA for my Tuesday swim. No problem at all. As I wrote yesterday, I was going to get plenty wet in the pool anyway.
Once there I was delighted to see that Darrell had done as he'd promised and made me a wooden ramp so I could more safely make my way into the pool area. It worked perfectly. My 24 laps of the freestyle felt wonderful; I think I might even be getting a bit faster. And although the slow lane was quite peopled, I was able to keep to my pace without having to pass anyone. When I finished, Gail, a lifeguard I met for the first time today, said, "You had a good swim. How many laps did you do?" It was like getting a gold star on my forehead.
As I slowly showered and got dressed in the locker room, I realized that every part of my life is an adventure. Back when things came easily, I'd miss the significance of simple actions like putting on a sock or slipping a turtleneck jersey over my head. So many things were lost because they were automatic. Well, nothing is automatic anymore and I think that's a gift. Mindful dressing can be a spiritual practice.
Not only dressing with difficulty but living by myself with no television allows me times of mindfulness I wouldn't otherwise have. While most Americans were glued to their TVs watching Olympic athletes and lots of commercials, I sat in a candle-lit room looking out the windows at a night-lit garden and listened to the very special NPR (National Public Radio) All-star 80th Birthday Tribute to jazz pianist, composer, educator and broadcaster, Dr. Billy Taylor. It reminded me of the nights before television when my family would gather around the old free-standing wooden radio in the living room and listen to Fibber McGee and Molly, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Amos 'N Andy. There's something magical about letting your ears tell your mind what images to produce, instead of filling your senses with someone else's activities or imaginative ideas.
Am I becoming Retro here?
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2002
What an exquisite day! Yesterday's rain swept away the city's dust and debris leaving it looking freshly washed and sparkling. A perfect day to do errands before going to Simply Supper. On my way I took a few pictures of the beauty around me. The painted house that I call the easter egg house. The vibrant mural painted on the wall outside my favorite Mexican restaurant, Papalote's. Donna at Mia's Florist with the basket of primroses she made for me to give Scott and Phil. Dolores Street looking toward 23rd. The view from Dolores looking down 24th Street.
I had a special treat at Simply Supper. Because Scott and I got there late, Jeff (the director of the program) gave me time to eat my dinner before I took tickets at the door. That meant I got to sit with three of my favorite Simply Supper friends--Guy, Al and Bobby. Guy gave me much needed advice about my overloaded computer. As I'd mentioned before, he is a computer whiz of the highest order. Another treat was seeing Gerry, an old friend whom I'd not seen since I'd gotten back to the city a month ago. Gerry is a friendly fellow originally from Ireland who has been living for the last year under an overpass with, as he puts it, "possoms, raccoons, skunks and pigeons." He seems happy with his life as it is.
Soon after I returned home, Stacey arrived. She, Emily, Gorsha and I had a date to go to the Marsh, an alternative theater a few blocks from my house. Charlie Varon, a humorous and talented actor, was performing an original one-man show that Marci had highly recommended.
It is now 11:30 PM and
I just might get to bed before midnight. That would be great as
tomorrow is shaping up to be a busy day. Our niece, Carolyn, is
coming to town tomorrow night to celebrate her birthday weekend
with me. I'm very much looking forward to her visit.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2002
It sure feels like spring has sprung. Not only was it warm and sunny during the day, but unusually warm tonight as well. I flung the cottage windows open during the day and sat outside in the garden dressed only in a shortsleeve t-shirt and cotton skirt. Even scooting home from my meeting tonight, I only had to add a lightweight cotton jacket for comfort. What a lovely birthday gift for my niece Carolyn as she arrives tonight from New Jersey for a weekend visit!
I got smart this morning and realized the last thing I needed was a full-out busy day, so I gave myself permission to stay home and relax. What a perfect day to pamper myself. I did start out by going to the Valencia Cyclery to have Ona's charger tightened. It's been moving around inside the plastic battery cover of late, making it hard to line up my charger plug. Last night it wouldn't work at all until my neighbor Katy removed the seat and battery cover and lined everything up properly. I couldn't take a chance on that happening when no one was home to help me, so getting it fixed was a priority. Since it required a hex wrench, the bike repair shop seemed the best place to go. And so it was. For $6 labor, Sam did the job with grace and good humor. Nice man.
The cyclery is only three blocks from my cottage so it was an easy scoot. On the way home I went by the Palm Brokers so I could show you what it looks like. This San Francisco institution is just down the street from where I live. I understand it is famous all over Northern California. I took a brief detour up 23rd Street to Dolores so you could see the hill that goes up toward Church Street. But of course, photographs always flatten such terrain. Trust me! It is very steep up there.
And then it was home to sit and contemplate my navel. Well, actually to sit in the garden and read. Ed had told me I could never put up too many pictures of the garden, so I didn't hold back. I hope when you look at these pictures you can smell the flowers, hear the meadow lark singing in full voice on the telephone wire overhead, see the hummingbird whiz past and feel the warm sun on your skin.
Here's a view of my backyard neighbor's house with its newly painted stair structure. We've always giggled at the tall formerly-white earthquake-retrofitted stair structure (I don't know what else to call it) that sticks up in the rear of their elegant Victorian house. But now that it's been painted to go with the house, it no longer looks strange. Of course they may have the last laugh if an earthquake ever hits this neighborhood, but since we're on bedrock we're probably OK here. Even the 1906 earthquake and fire that demolished the central city didn't go past 20th Street.
Among my other pictures was one of the purple Princess flowers. Then there's our next door neighbor Julie's magnolia tree in bloom next to the green palm that dips over our fence. And the white plum blossoms that seem undeterred by the radical pruning of the tree outside Marci and Evan's house (as seen from the rear). Finally, these two blazing white calla lilies, one newly opened and the other starting to dry around the edges.
My favorite part of my garden sit--besides my daily phone call with Eddie--was when Laura and Baggs came out to join me. While Baggs soaked up the sun, Laura and I had a wonderful talk. I feel so incredibly fortunate to live next to these amazing women...and of course, to such a dear (non-barking) doggie.
About 5:15 PM I took off down Valencia to attend my weekly Global Women's Strike committee meeting. March 8 is coming up in a couple of weeks but things seem to pulling together nicely. We even had two new women at the table with us today--Betty from the Green Party and Lisa, an energetic activist who has moved here recently from Santa Cruz. Actually Betty wasn't really new to our group--she'd helped plan last year's event. We just hadn't seen her yet this year.
As I scooted down Valencia on way my home, I thought how much I love the energy and enthusiasm of San Francisco, and especially the Mission District where I live. It's always hopping, especially on warm spring nights like this.
My niece Carolyn called
at 9:15 PM from the Bed & Breakfast where she's staying. It's
so convenient--only three blocks from my house. This is the third
time I've had visitors stay there and they're always pleased with
it. Anyway, she was pooped so was on her way to bed. I told her
to call me when she wakes up. Sure would be special if this weather
could hold for her two-day visit. Think sun.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2002
There are days in your life that you know you'll never forget. Today--my niece Carolyn's birthday--was just such a day. As she said, it was a Midsummer Night's Dream.
We started out early (for me) at 9 AM. After showing her my cottage, Carolyn and I walk/scooted down 24th below Mission Street into the heart of the Latino neighborhood. Carolyn said it reminded her of being in either Costa Rico or Miami. We happened on a wonderful restaurant where we surprised ourselves by demolishing a hueves ranchero breakfast that was made up of three eggs fried in tortillas, rice and refried beans. It was incredibly delicious. Here is Carolyn's birthday portrait.
After breakfast we went next door to Balmy Alley, the one-block alley that boasts some of the Mission's best known murals. I can't show you all of them, but here's a sample: the recently completed women artists mural, a mural in progress, one painted in a graffiti-like style, a red/white/blue snake that obviously represents the U.S. interference in Latin American affairs, the faces of war and suffering surrounded by charms symbolizing transformation, one of the original unrestored murals from 1984, and a political statement showing a tree being eaten by a pedator. As you can see, many of the murals are painted on back fences and garage doors. They all carry strong messages.
Next on our agenda on this beautiful day was to take a ferry ride to Sausalito. We took BART to the Embarcadero, walked over to the ferry dock and only had to wait ten minutes for the next boat. There was a particularly nice crew on this ferry; Bob even took a picture of Carolyn and me with the city in the background. Once in sunny Sausalito, we did a little shopping and then explored hidden streets that climbed past lovely old wooden houses and took us through canapies of cypress and other striking Northern California trees. Ona served me well on these hills, and Carolyn proved to be an indefatigable walker. On our way back to the ferry we sat by the bay and I was able to get another good picture of Carolyn.
We returned home at 5 PM and took a couple of hours to restore ourselves before our evening activities. For me, that meant sitting at the computer downloading and preparing photos for today's journal; for Carolyn, it meant taking a taxi to Haight Asbury and visiting a record shop she'd heard about. That's when our 16 years age difference definitely showed up!
At 7 PM, the folks I'd invited to help us celebrate Carolyn's birthday arrived at my cottage. We walked over to the Mission Cultural Center to attend an art opening of the women's art show, Solo Mujeres. It was packed! Such a wonderful mix of old and young, Latino and other cultures, artists and non-artists. A gentle-spirited man named Rafael kindly took this picture of our gang. Do you recognize Scott, Phil, Laura my neighbor and Stacey my cousin? Carolyn and I were fortunate to meet one of the artists, Eleanor Kent, who creates imaginative battery-operated colored light crocheted necklaces. If you're interested in knowing more about her work or possibly purchasing something, simply email me and I'll connect you.
Well, our evening was not close to being over when we left the Mission Cultural Center about 8:30 PM. It was now time for dinner. We ended up walk/scooting to one of my favorite restaurants, Saigon Saigon. I won't even go into details about what we ate; all I'll say is that it was delicious Vietnamese food.
All the time we were at the restaurant, I kept seeing crowds of people standing in front of a building across the street. Laura said it was a funky little club where neighborhood folks gather to talk, play board games and just hang out. The one time she and Katy went there, they felt like they were in someone's living room. After dinner, we decided to go check it out.
Everyone welcomed us like we were part of the family. You couldn't even get a big toe inside the door it was so packed, but it turned out we didn't need to go inside--the party was coming outside. A friendly fellow with a painted face told us that an old classmate of his from London would soon be putting on a Beijing Opera mini-performance in the parking lot next door. We found the performance area to be a bit wet--this damp foggy night had turned to rain--but Scott and Phil ingeniously used my red silk poncho to keep us all dry. Well, at least I stayed dry...not only there but all the way home!
How can I describe what we experienced tonight in that wet parking lot on Valencia Street? If I say "magic", it's apt to sound trite. But what other word is there? Here was a British student of Beijing Opera and his Chinese master teacher performing in front of car headlights, with Chinese music accompanying them through the car CD player with 30 enthusiastic audience members clapping and cheering every move. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is!
And now, my friends, I
have got to go to bed. Tomorrow is going to come before
I know it. I send one last loving happy birthday to Ed's and my
dear niece Carolyn and wish her many happy returns of the day.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2002
Carolyn, Laura, Stacey and I invited more magic into our lives today by going to the Chinese New Year's parade downtown. The excitement started before we even got there. First it was the clown creating balloon animals for children in front of the BART station at 24th and Mission Streets. Then it was riding in a BART train that had mechanical problems between Civic Center and Powell Street. It meant a few moments of total darkness and finally a very slow stop-and-go entry into the station. A loud cheer went up on this crowded car when the doors actually opened and we could get off. I had visions of being carried on someone's back along the rails!
We walked/scooted up to the entrance of Chinatown on Kearny Street. It was very crowded along Chinatown's notoriously narrow sidewalks, but things opened up when we got to where traffic was blocked off for the street festival. We staked our spot on Kearny just before Columbus Street. Carolyn and Laura went off to get us napkins and something hot to drink--it was already getting chilly--and Stacey and I started eating the tunafish sandwiches we'd bought at my neighborhood deli. As we ate we enjoyed looking at signs of life in the building across from us. There we saw a line of white socks hanging in one window, a child peering out of another, and a grandma sitting outside on the fire escape to watch the parade.
I found myself challenged by an unpleasant encounter with a man who was blocking my view, but Carolyn maturely placed herself as a buffer between us. Fortunately we had a friendly volunteer in our section who took this picture of our group just before the parade began at 5:30 PM. We were close to the end of the parade route but the enthusiasm of everyone around us helped time go fast.
When the parade finally appeared it was not as I'd hoped it would be. For more time than I'd like to admit, all we saw were examples of a country at war. Children marching in military uniforms with plastic rifles proudly resting on their shoulders. High school after high school ROTC units of these youngsters. It made me sad and angry all at the same time. Sad for children who are being taught that the military is a good way to get further education and to get respect, and angry at adults who lead them in this warlike direction.
But finally the real Chinese New Year's parade began.
First we saw a group of small dragons, followed by the first of many long dragons that used a minimum of 12 persons and for the finale, 150 persons! Then it was the first of the floats, floats that I never got tired of looking at. Now, as exquisite as the decorated floats and lights and dragons were, nothing tickled the crowd more than the little kids. Since it is the Year of the Horse, schools used that animal in creative ways. Two of my favorites had the little ones riding painted horses. But not all children had horses--one group was dressed simply in red, another was covered with green leaves and a third looked like dancers with colorful dresses and fans.
There were musicians, a radio station, a group of filipino women and men, marching bands, politicians in convertibles, firefighters, police, street cleaners (one whose machine conked out right in front of us), a motorized MUNI railway car, recyclers, garbage collectors, organ donor advocates, the emperor and his bride, and the New Year's queen and her court.
Of course we saw many horses, but the crowd's favorite animal was definitely the dragon. Occasionally we got a good view of the people creating such magic. We could never get enough of them. Another crowd pleaser were the firecrackers that were set off periodically during the parade. There was even a float that dramatically combined the image of fireworks and the horse.
With all the beautiful costumes, some ancient and others more modern, it was often simply the lights and colors that drew the loudest applause and cheers.
I cannot tell a lie--it was cold standing and sitting out there, even in a crowd of people. San Francisco after dark has a way of making you wish you were inside some warm coffee house or something. The temperatures aren't necessarily that low; it's more the breezy damp that can get under your skin. All of us had come prepared but I must admit when a parade volunteer told us this was the 140th group out of 335 and the parade had already been going almost 3 hours, we just about packed it up! But luckily we stayed because it turned out he was way off. The parade only lasted another 30-45 minutes. And it was worth every minute.
When it was over, folks
cleared out pretty quickly and so did we. It was lots of fun to
walk/scoot down the middle of city streets for a few blocks...like
being part of the parade. Back down on Market Street we stopped
and watched a street
artist create his spray-painted masterpiece. Actually, it
was pretty interesting art. We said goodbye to Stacey at the bus
stop and Carolyn, Laura and I continued on to the BART. We were
home by 10:30 PM. Then Carolyn and I had to say goodbye. Her flight
leaves tomorrow morning at 8 AM. But didn't we have fun!!!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2002
It was all Ed's fault. When we talked on the phone today he said he'd gone to the supermarket to get sushi. That was all I needed to hear to get a taste for sushi. But out here that's a pretty easy taste to satisfy. So I left my beautiful sunny warm garden, and started off on Ona toward the sushi place Phil and I had gone to after the ballet a couple of weeks ago.
I scooted down Valencia about a mile (everyone was out on the streets), turned left on 18th, went past the Women's Building, and came to Dolores Street. When I looked over at Dolores Park and saw the green grassy fields covered with people, I knew I had to go over there and check it out. I'm so glad I did.
Everywhere I looked there were people sunning, dogs running and children playing, not to mention the stunning views of the downtown cityscape. I even got myself a tamarind ice from one of the ice cream vendors and parked up on a flat plaza overlooking the city. Quite idyllic.
After awhile I left the park and turned up Church Street towards Market. I scooted into the restaurant, parked at the bar and happily took care of two orders of sushi--Spider Rolls and California Rolls--a bowl of miso soup and a cup of hot Jasmine tea. Yum!
Tonight my dear neighbor
came over with Baggs and her Mac laptop to let me try it out.
I adore it! She then helped me start backing up my web site files
on my ZipDrive (that I hadn't known how to use). On Thursday we
have a date to go to a computer superstore downtown and look at
the new Mac ibook and possibly purchase one. With Laura as coach,
the transfer shouldn't be a problem. Not only that, she is an
excellent teacher and can get me started in this new--to me--world
of Apple. I am very excited!
©2002 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.