Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Moving Tyop?

The urge to bumper-stick is probably related to the urge for vanity plates. Today I saw a plate that made me wonder; it's a variant on the "MOMSBMW" sort of thing--a way of claiming your car (and its status). Only this one, on a sand-colored Ford Explorer, said "NANASVU."

Okay. So is that Nana's SUV, and someone got it flipped? Or is it Nana's VU? and what does that mean? Or is Nana simply a fan of Law and Order: SVU? I don't know why this sort of thing grabs hold of my thoughts so comprehensively, but it does. Maybe that was the point.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Joys of Home Ownership

As I noted elsewhere, there are apparently specific benefits to home ownership. Well these days we can certainly use all the benefits we can accrue, and we certainly own lots of homes: the one we live in, the Spouse's first apartment in NYC, in which he has a nice tenant; and my father's house in Massachusetts, in which we have a nice tenant.

So far this year there's been the new furnace, and the possibility of work on the well. And today my nice tenant calls to tell me that the water softener guy was in changing tanks and noticed a leak in one of the heating pipes. So his office called the company that services our furnace and arranged for a service call this afternoon. They were pleased (the furnace people) that I called, just so that they could get someone other than Culligan vetting the visit, but honestly, it seems as though the whole process could go on without me. As long as I send checks.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Things to Like about San Francisco #7

Green Apple Books, on Clement Street, is vast and open late on Friday nights, so that while YG is at Girl Scouts, I can wander through a good used-and-new bookstore. They do segregate genre stuff--mystery and sf in particular--next door in the annex with music and DVDs, but they still have a good selection. It's not as good as The Strand in New York (I was weaned on The Strand; it's where I got my first taste of that lovely used bookstore must smell) but it certainly makes for a good first-place-to-check for reference materials.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Things to Like about San Francisco #6

Driving down Portola into Noe Valley, the view from Clipper Street is amazing: the bay and downtown spread before you, the Bay Bridge. You can't see what's hidden by Twin Peaks behind you: the Golden Gate bridge and the Presidio. But the view from Clipper is about 230 degrees of San Francisco. It's even prettier at night with all the lights on.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Things to Like about San Francisco #5

Where I grew up, houses come in a few colors: brick (red, for preference, but white and brown are also available). Grey (as in granite and shingles). White (as in clapboard). Red (as in barn red). There were occasional oddities--houses painted green or blue. But mostly New England and New York run to conservative paint colors.

We're not in Massachusetts any more. San Francisco runs to pastels; very Mediterranean. But beyond the shell pink and seafoam green and daffodil yellow of many of the houses, there are the houses that are really intense. Goldenrod yellow with melon and teal trim; hot pink with acid green and yellow and black and turquoise trim; forest green with hot orange. On a sunny day the hills shimmer with color. And there are the "what were they thinking" houses--primarily Edwardian houses that lend themselves (or don't) to the painted lady treatment. It certainly wakes you up...

Double Digits

Tomorrow, as I have been multiply reminded, YG attains the big 1-0. I was informed today that I can bring the cupcakes I hadn't even thought of making to her class tomorrow at 1:15. This does not excuse me, of course, from making a birthday cake. And Friday the kid is Scout of the Day, which means we bring snack (cupcakes, of course). And Saturday is her birthday sleepover: cake required, naturally.

I may never bake again.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Things to Like about San Francisco #4

Saturday mornings YG, having recovered from her broken arm, takes ice skating (she is covered with bliss: today was her first class since the break six weeks ago, and she was promoted to the next level starting next month!). The lessons are at Yerba Buena Gardens, an area that comprises the Zeum (a kids' museum), a bowling area, a nice sprawly playground, greenspace for sitting and talking (if it's not that clammy SF weather, as it was today), a carousel, and several small places to get a snack or a quick meal. Sitting inside I can watch the classes (I particularly enjoy the toddlers on skates, practicing falling down. They have so short a distance to the ground that when they topple over it's in slow motion and appears to do no harm at all) or I can lean back in the bleachers and enjoy the cityscape outside the windows. As long as I wrap up warmly, it's a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Things to Like in San Francisco #3

Destination Bakery, two blocks away, makes the best chocolate croissants I have ever eaten. Period. I daren't stop by there too often, for fear of vast weight gain, but...oh, my, they are good.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Five Easy Pieces (or is that Uneasy)

Oh, look! It's a meme! This may be the first time I've ever been tagged for one. I'm, like, so honored.

Chris Barzak was tagged by Ms. Bond for the five weird habits meme. He tagged Maureen McHugh, who tagged me

The first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says "You have been tagged" (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Weird? Surely everything I do is entirely rational. If you're me.

1) Unless I'm sick, I have to be the last one to bed every night. This has more to do with how I defined myself as grown up when I was growing up than anything else, than it has to do with too-much-to-do or anything like that. It's okay if everyone is still awake, but I have to be the last one to physically crawl into bed. Unless I'm sick, in which case all bets are off.

2) I still like to eat black olives off the tips of my fingers. Inner Child, outer child. Just plain child.

3) I'm allowed three games of...whatever the current game is...before I write. Then no more until I've been working for three hours. If I break this rule I am superstitiously persuaded that whatever I write will be crap.

4) I like to eat the crusts only of my bread. Particularly good crusty sourdough or rye. The crustier the better, with maybe a smear of butter or a curl of cheese. Mmmmm.

5) I walk around the house with a shawl on, as if I were my own ancient Lithuanian grannie (except neither of my grannies were Lithuanian). Rather than looking bold and Auntie-Mamish, it makes me look a little like a bag lady. But I'm warm, which is what counts.

As for who I'm tagging...Um...Jonquil, Emma Bull, Sharyn November (because her answers are bound to be incendiary), Nineweaving and my lovely editor Anna, who will no doubt ignore the whole thing. As Maureen says, No Karma Applies.

Things to Like About SF #2

Back east, even in times when water was scarce, things stayed pretty green. In the height of August the trees and grass might crisp a bit, but certainly in the spring New England rivals the deep, lush green of its namesake (okay, I've not yet been to Ireland, so by my lights Great Britain--particularly Wales--is pretty damned emerald). Hereabouts, the landscape is generally sere; you get so used to the hills being a pale brown that when the winter rains begin and everything turns green it's startling and magical. The speed with which this happens is amazing: one day, everything is paper-bag brown; the next day the hills and parks are a lush, velvety green, as if the land itself is so grateful for water that it has to give something back. It's definitely a thing to like.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Things I Like About San Francisco #1

Okay, we've lived here three years, and I still have a love-hate thing going with my new city. This is more about me than the city: living here is (for me) a bit like wearing a dress that is too small or too tight--people tell me what a great dress it is, but that doesn't make it fit any better.

Still, we own a house here, my kids are in school here, we're not going anywhere soon. So, in the interest of accentuating the positive, I'm going to try to keep a list of things I like about living here, and see if I can come up with one a day until I reach 100.

Today's Thing? When you're driving through the streets you'll see signs pointing to the nearest Public Library. As a fan of public libraries and as a writer, I'm very much in favor of letting everyone know where to find them.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

One Way to Solve a Problem

I have been trying to get Sarcasm Girl to do as much of her homework downstairs, away from her computer, as possible. Why? Who among us is not prey to the siren call of the internet? There's a reason her Mama does a lot of her work in coffee shops that don't have WiFi. Still, the kid likes to have music while she works, which is a reasonable request. Today, on my way out the door to buy weatherstripping (I know, my life is an unparallelled round of joy, in't it?) I suggested that she use her Christmas money to buy herself an iPod. I have made this suggestion several times, but today it lodged. Much jumping up and down and chortling. I go out and buy her an iPod Nano (2 gig...the kid's not made of money) for which I will be instantly reimbursed. Spouse calls just after I've made the purchase and points out that Emphatic Girl, reasonably or otherwise, is going to feel very deprived that everyone (meaning Spouse and SG) has an iPod except her. I point out that she has some Christmas money too, and could afford an iPod Shuffle. Again: Oh, joy! Rapture! So I have to go back to the bemused man and buy another iPod.

It's damned near miraculous. SG finished her Modern World homework without a murmur, sitting downstairs at the dining room table; she's now doing a biology lab report. YG did a chore when she was asked, without demur. If I'd known this would be the effect of technology I'd have had them issued MP3 players at birth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oooo, Shiny

Finally getting to the NY Times Arts and Leisure section, I noticed a full page ad for a Roundabout Theatre production of Threepenny Opera with Alan Cumming as MacHeath, Ana Gasteyer as Mrs. Peachum, Jim Dale (presumably as Mr. P), Nellie McKay as Polly Peachum, and Cyndi Lauper as Jenny Diver (replacing Edie Falco). It could be heaven or it could be hell, but I'd sure love to see it.

Bad Vampire, No Biscuit

I love musical theatre. I adore the work of Stephen Sondheim--even when I think it doesn't work, I want to hear what he's doing. I don't care for the sort of overwrought faux Opera that a lot of musicals in the last few decades have become--part of what I loved about Hairspray was that it wasn't Phantom. Andrew Lloyd Webber--not my thing. And while I'm fond of The Lion King and thought the staging was impeccable, when you take away the staging you've got a Disney movie on the hoof (and I find most of Elton John's music pleasant wallpaper). I'm also not a fan of Anne Rice's Lestat novels; fought my way through Interview with the Vampire and decided that life was far too short.

This all goes to explain why, when I saw the first posters for Lestat, with Elton John's music and Anne Rice's characters, all I could think was that I'd probably rather have root canal. So I wasn't surprised, but did get a little schadenfreudian (?) thrill, to read the SF Chronicle's review: The vampire Lestat has settled in San Francisco. And he's singing in a new musical. Quick! Someone fetch the garlic and a wooden stake!. I suppose it's inevitable that the review concludes by saying that the show "sucks."

Meanwhile, the Chronicle's Leah Garchik included a bit of Anne Rice's bio in her column today:
Among the program's biographical notes about Rice, which I'm told came from her: "Each beloved character iridescently animated and virtually manifested before our eyes witnesses their creator's experience in triumph and in sorrow and in searching for some semblance of Happy Peace. ... Anne Rice gives herself -- her life in full -- as a gift to the world in every spellbinding chapter, every carefully turned page, every meaningful word. Mere footprints of a life lived in art."

Thanks. That makes it all so clear.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Pleasant Absence of Noise

For about the last month, the garage door opener has been getting increasingly creaky. Half the time it wouldn't open, or required jiggering. The thing was probably installed in 1985; when you opened the garage door the whole house thundered and shook. So finally we called the repairman, who diagnosed a burned out clutch. Had to replace the engine. $422 including tax. So this morning he came and did the work, and we have a new garage door opener and...Wow. Like, it's almost noiseless. Until now, when someone came home with the car, everyone else in house knew it because of the thunder of the garage door opener; now we'll be able to sneak up on each other. Is this a good thing? I dunno. But the absence of noise is splendid.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Did You Know

That today is National Chocolate Covered Cherry day?