Wednesday, June 22, 2022

AIDS memorial quilt

I was able to visit AIDS memorial quilt exhibit recently on display in Golden Gate Park. I had made the attempt to see them last year, but got a bit turned around and wound up participating in another commemorative event in the AIDS Memorial Grove (also in GGP) instead. Like last year, this year I also participated in the reading of the names of those whom we've lost to AIDS/HIV related issues. At the end of my reading, I added one more name: Gerry, my favorite uncle. 

The day I viewed the panels was a bit overcast and misty--sort of adding to the somberness of the event. Fortunately, there were wee tissue boxes placed at each panel grouping; I certainly helped myself to more than one while touring the quilt. 

Not all was sad, however. So many of the panels showed lives lived with such joy and, sometimes, downright silliness. I really liked two of the panels that were, basically, just well-worn pairs of Levi's 501s---one pair with a blue bandana sewn into a pocket. It brought the vitality of the wearers back to life if even for a moment. I could imagine these men in decades past getting their groove on, as it were, and that made me smile. 

Seeing so many diverse and creative panels inspired me to want to create a panel to honor my Uncle Gerry. Not knowing where to start, I asked my Uncle Jim, Gerry's brother, if he could sort of help me brainstorm ideas. He agreed and we're to meet this Friday for lunch and a chin-wag. I'm looking forward to it. Gerry died when I was a teenager, so I can't say that I knew him as I might have known him now: adult to adult. But what I did know, I loved. To have some of the fuzzy bits colored in by my Uncle Jim, and, hopefully, by my Aunt Nancy (Gerry was married before he came out in the late 1960s) would be most helpful. 


Here are a few snaps from the day--



Setting up the exhibit--





Note those jeans!


Saturday, June 4, 2022

Semi-surprise visit from the in-laws

OK, the trip was sort of planned, but seemingly somewhat hastily. I didn't know when the MIL and her hubs were coming until about a week before their arrival. When I asked how long my MIL and her hubs would be staying--a week?--longer?, I believe my husband said something to the effect of: I don't know. Does it really matter? Um, yeah?! The whole exchange made me feel uncomfortable and I came to the conclusion that you really can't get between a child and its mother. (Not like that's what I was doing, anyway.)

Although I have been with my husband since 2008, I don't really know either my mother-in-law or her hubs very well. They visited us when we lived abroad, but that only makes for two trips  within the past 12 years. And we've visited them only twice where they live in the eastern United States. 

Each visit from them saw me working--it's the same this time 'round as well, so I have really only ever been a sort of part-time player in their travel plans and that suits me fine. I find their personalities to be a bit challenging (and maybe they find mine similarly so...?). Both my MIL and her husband have been diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum; spending time with them can be a bit fatiguing.There tends to be  a lot of 'monologuing' on subjects that only interest the speaker. Additionally, the MIL will kind of talk over people (read: me, her child, her husband) to further her point. She'll also speak over her husband in order to complete whatever it may be that he is trying to say himself as his speech can be somewhat slowed by  medication he is taking. He is well understood by all, but I imagine this is an old habit that they share between themselves and it's clear that she is doing it in the service of helping. 

***

While I felt somewhat unsettled by the news that my husband's mom & her hubs were coming to stay, it is my husband who is, of course, having to do the heavy lifting here. He's rented a car for the duration and has already taken Mom and hubs on a scenic drive down HWY 1 to various spots of interest, shown them a bit around Golden Gate Park--the Japanese Tea Garden being of top interest, and he will most likely book a ferry trip to Sausalito for lunch along the waterfront this upcoming week. This amount of 'outside activity' is the most my hubs has undertaken since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. I know he's stressed about simply having to BE in public, but, at the same time, he would like to ensure that his mother and her husband have a good time during their stay.  So far, so good, but I think my husband will need to take a holiday after this holiday, if you know what I mean.


 Old Growth Redwoods-from their trip down HWY 1


Friday, May 20, 2022

Dear M'liss

Melissa and me


Sitting here thinking of what to write and the first thing that comes to mind is GODDAMMIT. All the curse words and GODDAMMIT.

This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Then again hearing the news on Sunday did not come as a complete shock. Well, yes and no. Life kept throwing my old pal curve balls and it would seem that she had finally had enough.

Melissa and I met back in the early 90s at a busy brunch spot called Lynn and Lu's near Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. I liked her immediately. Not only was she beautiful, she was super smart, had a great sense of humor, and was very good at her job. She could handle a really large section on the back patio in the blazing sun on a slammingly busy weekend day without hardly seeming to break a sweat. I think I asked her once how she managed to keep everything in her head and she showed me the back of her ticket book. She had a system. There written down were all of her table nos. with attendant markings that only she understood. With that system she easily tracked which guests had already received their orders and which guests had yet to. It was pretty clever. But that was Melissa: Clever. She was clever, smart, funny and beautiful.

Sometimes guests would get the two of us confused or think we were related. We used to joke that diners got us mixed up because we were the only two white people who worked at Lynn and Lu's at the time. I found folks' inability to tell us apart flattering. 

Them: Are you two sisters? Me: No, but thank you. 

Them: Which one of you is Lynn; which one of you is Lu? Me: Neither

Them: Hi, Melissa! Me: Oh, she's actually off today. 


Lynn and Lu's crew relaxing at Melissa's pad.

Me and M'liss circa 1996, ice rink at Union Square, SF
Melissa (red coat) could ice-skate and I could not, I might add.




You will be forever loved and forever missed. x

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Car-free JFK

At the start of the pandemic in Spring of 2020, some select roads here in town were designated as Slow Streets (SS). This meant that anyone visiting these newly crowned Slow Streets could walk, jog, bike, scoot, etc. using both the sidewalk/pavement and the roadway in order to do so a safe distance from others. Motorists who encountered SS signage and barricades were encouraged to 'go around'. In addition to Slow Streets across the city being set up to discourage through-traffic & give wary folk breathing room, 1.5 miles of JFK Blvd in Golden Gate Park was also given a similar status. Even better than discouraging through-traffic, this stretch of road has been blocked off to vehicular traffic, save for a Golden Gate Park (GGP) shuttle bus taking visitors from one end of the park to the other, for the past two years. 

The partial shut-down of JFK Blvd is NOT entirely new. For at least the past 40 years, every Sunday sees this very same closure. (Reader, the Sunday JFK closure is a HIT!) According to a recent city-wide poll, at least 70 percent of the populace want the 24/7 JFK closure (aka: car-free JFK) to extend beyond the pandemic.

Unfortunately, not everybody has been happy with advent of car-free JFK. People have complained that this road closure has resulted in too many parking spaces being lost. But let me tell you: The park still has 3,900 FREE parking spots even with 1.5 miles of road being blocked off. I think many folk are simply bent out of shape because they want convenience. They want Golden Gate Park to be their own personal cut-through when attempting to drive to the other side of town. They want to park right in front of where ever they are going, but, honestly, the park is so well visited nowadays that it is nearly impossible to find what I like to call 'rock star parking'. And I know that this next bit will sound trite, but it's true: GGP is a park, not a car park! 

Some months ago, our mayor introduced legislation to make car-free JFK (remember, it's only a portion of the road) permanent. Three of our eleven city supervisors immediately came out in support of the mayor's proposal. Two came out against and the rest were on the fence. Grassroots groups like Walk SF and Kid Safe SF decided to campaign in support of the new legislation. And I became a volunteer for Walk SF in order to get the word out to park goers that this lovely car-free oasis was actually not permanent and was slated to go away once the pandemic had ended. 

'It's not a done deal?!' If I had a nickel for every time I heard this response from a car-free JFK user...  

Park visitors were dumbfounded that keeping a stretch of road free from car traffic was even up for debate.  

We volunteers, armed with clip boards and placards, asked park goers to, please, call their supervisors and urge them to vote in support of a car-free JFK. We also asked them to sign postcards either addressed to their supervisor, or, if they did not live in town, to the mayor, London Breed. Over the course of a few months we amassed 10,000 postcards in support of the mayor's legislation and delivered them to City Hall.

The Conservatory of Flowers located on car-free JFK

Polar Bear against climate change


A group of cyclists on a pub crawl signing postcards in support of car-free JFK



Above: I drew a somewhat sloppy yellow line along the portion of JFK Drive that is *car-free.

It's just 1.5 miles of Pedestrian Paradise. In most of the rest of the park, motorists have free reign. The streets flanking the park, Lincoln and Fulton, are lined with non-metered parking spots as well. 

The vote on car-free JFK was held on April 26. Public comment began at 11a and concluded at 8p. I can imagine that the this hours-long commenting process was one for the record books. I gave my comment in person at the start of public commenting and then sat and listened to others have their say until around 1.45p. There was meant to be a recess at 1.30p, but it never came. There were so many others waiting either on the telephone or sat in the chamber waiting to express themselves that the supervisors decided to push through sans break until the bitter end. Fortunately, the legislation passed 7-4 and we were victorious! 











Monday, March 28, 2022

Televised assault

It seemed as if the film selection for this season's award shows was a bit skimpy as the same nominations and winners appeared to have swept various award shows both here and abroad. This meant that watching the Oscars last evening felt like a Bafta, Critics' Choice, etc. re-do save for one unexpected blow. 

Given that the US doesn't allow much profane language on broadcast television, I had thought that the audio on my TV were faulty. Chris Rock had come on stage to present an award for Best Documentary and I hit FF on the remote control to skip to the name being read as I don't particularly care for Chris Rock's humor. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way. Pressing play at what I thought was a good moment in the broadcast, I was treated to many seconds of visuals with no sound. I lip read what looked to be an angry exchange between Rock and Oscar nominee, Will Smith. I hadn't quite seen the slap to Rock's face, so it took me a beat to realise that this back and forth wasn't a 'bit'; it was an assault. 

Australian television isn't afraid of a little coarse language, so I later watched the whole interaction courtesy of Twitter between the two men and it wasn't pretty. What confounds me is that we cut the audio but not the visuals? One could see that Will Smith had flipped his lid. Even more disturbing is that he was allowed to return to his seat after slapping the dickens out of someone. This type of behavior is, by the way, illegal in California. And, SPOILER!, Smith was then awarded an Oscar and allowed to give (a rather bizarre) speech. Absolutely nuts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Bathroom renewed









The first image shows the 'original' bathroom (sans 1960s shower doors) of the house when we moved in last year. I write, 'original' because the bathroom is clearly a mix of designs & fixtures from various decades past. 

When trying to decide how to update the bathroom, we went back and forth on whether or not my hubs and I should retain anything from the current iteration. We were also keen to see if we were capable of doing any of the work ourselves. After ripping out the glass shower doors and taking down old towels racks and a light fixture, we realized that we weren't really able to do much more and decided to leave the bathroom alone until finding a suitable builder. We had wanted to keep the original tile work, but both the floor and wall tiles were a bit too scratched and chipped to retain. In the end, we opted to replace everything in the bathroom but the toilet.


Where the tub stood.


New tub and tile.

All new save for the loo.




The last to be installed is a hinged glass shower partition along the tub. We opted not to put up a shower curtain as the room is small enough without sort of cutting off more of it with  fabric. 

This small job was the first of its kind we've had done. And it was not straightforward as I suspect many jobs of this sort aren't. There were a few false starts what with product delays and a few changes to the plans to come down the pike. Additionally, some of the floor tiles were massively askew and a few were noticeably chipped. The man whom we hired was able to come back today and re-work the work, as it were. What began at the beginning of January will now finally be finished in March. I'm just glad that the end is in sight. Thank goodness we've a small bath downstairs. I'm wondering how folks who have this sort of work done with only one bath on premises get through it. I'll be glad to be back in upstairs bath & can only imagine that it will feel as if I'm on vacation when first using in its new and improved form!

 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Art Spiegelman's Maus banned by Tenn. Board of Education


Maus I and II; Maus auf Deutsch


I can't remember the first time I got turned on to Art Spiegelman's graphic novel, Maus. I was an adult when Maus was first was published. Had I been a pupil, then I'm confident that my school district here in the SF Bay Area would have included the text in its curriculum. -not so, had I been attending a school in Tennessee, it would seem. 

Hey, you, Tennessee Board of Education: It's about the Holocaust! And I'm sure Amazon thanks you as well in that U.S. sales of Maus are now shooting through the roof given the renewed interest.

Comics used to be the problem. Now it's graphic novels that are being attacked for potentially poisoning the minds of our youth. Far be it for a book to educate kids about the horrors of the Third Reich! 

Tenn. Board of Ed. wants 'age appropriate' texts to be used in teaching about the the Holocaust. Um, what? Maus was being taught in Jr. High level classes. Kids are typically 13 years old in 8th grade and not babies. 

Tennessee parents and the Board of Ed. would seem to be focused in on some 'distasteful' sections in the book and not talking about the real issue: The Holocaust. They seem want some kind of sanitized version of the annihilation of millions of people to present to students.

In Maus, Spiegelman chronicles finding his mother dead in the bath after her having committed suicide some years after surviving the camps. The Board of Ed. took issue with this depiction as it showed an image of a 'nude' woman. There's nothing sexual about showing a woman dead in the bath. She's naked, she's in the bath. Breasts will probably be exposed when one is in the bath. If I could roll my eyes any harder at this ridiculousness they'd probably become stuck in the back of my head. 

I'm not sure what the Tennessee Board of Ed. and parents want. Is there a Walt Disney* version of the Holocaust? The folks behind the book banning aren't Nazis, but they sure are making white supremacists happy with this nonsense 


*Disney was an anti-Semite.


AIDS memorial quilt

I was able to visit AIDS memorial quilt exhibit recently on display in Golden Gate Park. I had made the attempt to see them last year, but g...