Sunday, June 4, 2023

Litter and loiter

I don't know if I mentioned recently becoming a part of a local beach clean-up crew. Since May I've participated in just two clean-ups and have really enjoyed it. What?! Enjoying picking up litter?! Well, no, I don't enjoy why we are out there bags and pickers in hand, but I do really enjoy getting to meet other like-minded folk who wish to keep the coastline tidy. 

This morning saw about 25 participants, young and not-so-young, raring to go. In groups of three, we spent approximately two hours scouring the seawall, attendant promenade and parking area for bits of trash, big and small. The bin bags we carried with us are fairly compact, so a few of us needed to return to our initial meeting spot at a nearby cafe for a fresh one. My haul o' junk was about a bag and a half. 

Here are a couple of shots from the day--

Kitted out and ready to go.


I know I've mentioned Steve Jobs and his Palo Alto digs once before on here. My brother's business partner, Greg, had Jobs as a client nearly 30 years ago. To his recollection, Jobs was an a-hole (quelle surprise!). And after a wee disagreement between them, Jobs dispensed with Greg's services. Although Jobs' house (I am told his widow still lives there) is no longer one we service, the house directly across the way is one we do visit at least once yearly. Each time I go it's a bit like Groundhog Day (the film with Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray) in that I never remember that Jobs lived across the street, so I'm constantly perplexed as to why there are well-dressed visitors seemingly casing the place. Visitors to the Jobs home usually begin on the opposite side of the road where we are working, slowing moving back and forth all the while looking toward where the Apple computer inventor once lived. Then they progress to standing in the middle of the road (it's not a busy one) and finally graduating to walking up and down the sidewalk directly out front of the Jobs compound. Confused, I always wonder why folk are casing the joint and/or I think, oh, is the house across the street for sale? There's never a 'for sale' sign posted in the yard, mind you. Then I'll say to my brother and Greg: I think there are tourists looking at the house across the street. What's up with that? And Greg will remind me that Jobs once lived in that house, so the visitors are probably people who are, I guess, paying their respects to man behind the MAC. Just a reminder: The house across the way from us is a private residence and not a museum, so I'm not quite sure what visitors are expecting. 

To save you time and energy, should you care, I'm posting a pic of the home for you here. It's a bit of a let-down, to be honest, because when Jobs was still alive, he had a row of fruit trees planted to help obscure the front of his home from lookie-loos. Looks like they are still doing their job! 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Simply the best.

A nasty cold currently has me down for the count. I'd planned to spend my day off visiting a relative in hospital and taking a Pilates class. Instead I've been sitting in the same arm chair for the better part of the afternoon. UGH. 

I know that resting is part and parcel of being on the mend, but it's hard for me to 'take it easy' as I feel like I'm wasting time. Recovering from being ill isn't a time waste, of course, but it's hard not to play that tape in my head. Anyone else feel this way? I imagine I'm not alone here. 

I just read in the paper that Tina Turner has died at age 83. Logically, we know that everyone will die at some point, but, like with Prince, I sort of can't believe she's gone. Silly, I know. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to re-post an old title from 2013 for your perusal. It's not really about Tina, per se, but given her passing is somewhat apropos. I was living in Zurich at the time and Ms. Turner was, as the link's title states, my neighbor (sort of). My husband and I were visiting Küsnacht, where Tina lived with her husband, and we walked by a very large and imposing gated property along the lake. The entry gate was kitted out with multiple cameras facing the main road and gold-leafed signage along the top of the wrought iron gate. No other property along the water had such a grand entrance. It's was Tina's.

Tina Turner was my neighbor.

Küsnacht, Kanton Zürich, home of Ms. Turner

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Never say never...?

I did go back to my Dad's house one last time before everything was taken away to be either disposed of or sold. The impetus for this visit was that my sister had mentioned Dad having worn a neck chain and she was hoping to have it. I couldn't quite remember if he had or hadn't worn a chain, but was willing to go and sniff around. 

No neck chain or any other jewelry of any kind could be found possibly having belonged to Dad on premises. What I did find, however, tucked behind near shedloads of never opened Christmas bauble boxes and wee Nutcrackers were a couple of 'tropical delights' in the master bedroom closet--

I painted these two pieces in art class when I was about 15 years old. -hadn't remembered giving them to Dad--nor did I much remember having done them, but as I've signed the bottom right corner, apparently, I did! I really wanted to become an artist back then. Dad told me that artists don't make any money and that I should become a bus driver or mail carrier instead. No offense to anyone who performs either of these jobs, but neither seemed terribly fulfilling. 

I'm no Mary Cassatt and never will be, but seeing these old art class assignments after three decades makes me want to pick up a brush again. Who knows? Maybe I will. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

One of the last in line.

My father's cousin, Bill, is dying of pancreatic cancer. He may have a few weeks left or a few days. Armed with this knowledge, I made a date to see him over this past weekend. Bill had been a member of a drinkers' club, for lack of a better term, for over 30 years, in a nearby city called Brisbane before he moved a few years ago up to Reno, the biggest little gambling city in Nevada. I met him Saturday at his old club for what will probably be our last visit together. Bill was sat at a table drinking a whiskey & water with some pals when I arrived. Spread out in front of him were papers, a pen, and a small notebook--his betting gear. He and the others had been hanging out most of the afternoon betting on the horses. It was the Kentucky Derby and none of their picks came up winners. At one end of the room was a spread of food in take-away containers on a card table that I assumed was for Bill, but turned out it was leftovers left out from a Cinco de Mayo party the club had thrown the night before. 

Bill and my pops were born the same year, 1940, eight months apart. Like many working-class folks of that era, their families not only lived in the same district, Bernal Heights, but many of them on the same block. When Bill was a teenager, he told me, he was such a wallflower that he never much socialized with anyone outside the family. Many evenings were spent at his grandparents' (my paternal great-grandparents) house just up the road from where he lived with his Mom, Dad and sisters. Mormor Ana and Morfar Axel, Swedish immigrants, who had arrived in SF in the 1870s, were fond of card games with pay checks as bets on the line--well, more Ana than Axel I've been told--as well as liking the drink. Bill's sister, cousin D, used to tell me stories about how when she was little Ana would send her to the corner market for cigarettes and whiskey. D would also then recite snippets of the Swedish lullabies Ana used to sing her and the other grandchildren. I never tired of hearing D sing the songs even though I understood not one jot!

In October 2002, my Dad took Bill out to dinner for his birthday. The story I then heard about that fateful night was this: Dad hadn't felt well at the table and excused himself to use the restroom. Bill was concerned as my father had turned very pale and seemed unsteady on his feet. He got up to follow my Dad only to be able to catch him in an embrace when he fell and subsequently died of a cardiac arrest en route to the facilities. Bill made mention of this story during our visit together. To say that this was the shittiest birthday ever for Bill is probably an understatement.

There were two women standing at the table with Bill when I arrived late afternoon. They already appeared to be three sheets to the wind. One was another old-timer like Bill and one seemed to be about my age. I had brought with me a couple of old family photos for Bill to see. One was of Bill's mother and grandmother circa 1918 and one was of nearly all the Swedes sitting on the stoop of my paternal grandparents' place ca.1945. Bill and my Dad, the youngest children in the photo, were down front in the shot. The barfly who seemed to be about my age pointed to a woman in the picture and asked if she were me. I mentioned that the photo was taken in 1945, she mumbled some kind of apology and then made her way to the bar.

In addition to me and an old friend of Bill's from junior high school, one of his nieces showed up with her husband in tow. I remembered both of them from the Swedish Family Picnic when I was a teen. In 1993, the niece and hubs decided to move away to a city called Fresno and stopped attending the family picnic. It's pretty remarkable that kids are adept at figuring out who to avoid and who to embrace, for the most part. Even at a young age, I knew that these relatives were not welcoming and I did not interact with them. I suppose what I mean to say is that they were righteous bible-thumpers and held others in the family at arms' length. 

What struck me about our visit with Bill was how deftly the niece inserted her religious and political views into the conversation. It quickly became apparent that I was sitting with an anti-vax, 'freedumb'-loving racist who was clearly re-writting family history to suit her own needs. She inexplicably brought up the Black Panthers, her having home-schooled her kids in order to teach them 'real world history', 'real science' and 'real English'. I thought it best to have no comment on her sharing. 

At the end of my visit with Bill, I mentioned how I wish my Dad could have been there and gave him a hug. He didn't quite respond but told me he'd be at the club the following day betting on the horses again, if anyone would like to come by. I smiled and wished him a good trip back to Reno.

Thursday, May 4, 2023


Well, not really. We were at a job at the beginning of the week down the peninsula in an upscale town called Atherton. The client was out and doors were locked. When the client can't meet us he usually leaves a key under the mat. Not this time. We tried ringing him and he wasn't picking up. Not wanting to waste the day, we looked for an open window on the property. BINGO! There was one open window on the top floor. A 18' ladder was put up and my brother climbed up and in. 

About an hour later the client arrived home and asked, 'How did you get in?!' He wasn't angry just genuinely curious. 'Well, now I know how burglars can get in', he said to no one in particular. Then he said, 'It's not like there's anything to steal'. As of 2021, the median income in Atherton was in excess of $250,000., so I might beg to differ with that assessment. (I also have two words for the reader: generational wealth. Nuff said.)


Back in the 80s my father purchased a set of flatware with three-tined dinner forks. I had never seen eaten with a fork that looked a bit like a trident and was rather enthralled. This set was a  post-divorce purchase replacing a hand-me-down set given to my parents when they first married. The 3-tined fork flatware went with my Dad to his new home with his third wife--my mother's best friend's little sister. [Cue sounds of retching.] 

My father has been dead for 21 years. His widow is approaching her end and has been moved to a convalescent home by her children and the aforementioned sister. Care costs for such a home are extortionate. In order to afford the high monthly fees, it was decided that the home she and my father shared will be rented out. When they purchased the home in 1990, Silicon Valley wasn't the seemingly HUGE deal it is now. So their then rather modest digs are now worth an embarrassing amount of money. My father's widow's family hopes that the rental income will cover the bulk of her current care. 

In order to prep the place for rent, all belongings will be removed next week in order to make way for painters, handymen, and what-have-you. Items of some monetary value will be sold via an estate sale. My sibs and I were invited to go over to the house and take items of Dad's should we wish. We did wish to and went over last weekend. I took the flatware and left my own sort of less exciting four-tined fork flatware in its stead. My bro and I pinched a couple of Dad's old tobacco pipes as well. I think my sister took some cleaning products and that's about it. (She likes to clean...?) There were a few family photos we were keen on as well. Besides that, there was really nothing left in the house connected to Dad. 

The three of us roaming around a big empty house looking for stuff to pilfer sort of made me feel like a criminal. I know we were allowed to be there, but I felt as if we'd broken down the back door and snuck in. It was kind of a weird scene, but I'm glad we were able to retrieve those few things we wanted. 

Baby Dougie aka my pops, ca. 1940. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Head in one's nether regions

  From the bus window yesterday I saw a banner on someone's house that read: 

                                  Ron DeSantis 2024--Make America Florida

Just above that banner hung an Irish flag. Because I live in San Francisco, I couldn't immediately tell if this banner were hung as a joke or not. If not, it's a reminder that Irish folk can also be political dumbasses. 

Speaking of dumbasses, my brother's business partner, Greg, is currently looking for love on various dating websites. He recently met a woman on a site called, 'Plenty of Fish' (har-har). She's roughly his age, 66, and shares a similar outlook on life. What she didn't say was that she's an anti-democratic conspiracy theorist. Uh-oh! 

They went out on only one lunch date. During their meeting, she was apparently incredulous that Greg had not only received a Covid vaccine, but all the available booster shots as well. She's unvaccinated and has already suffered from two bouts of Covid. She also doesn't believe receiving any other vaccines available to those in her age group. Can you say, 'Hello, Shingles'? I think you can!

I think what I found most funny about the whole story was that this woman hails from the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Golden Dawn, the far-right political group to come into being within recent times, was also birthed in Greece, so that fascist group is likely more her speed. 

Greg has strong yet uniformed political opinions and calls himself a Republican, but has benefited from democratically spearheaded efforts like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), financial relief for small businesses during Covid and even a housing non-profit that donated its time and efforts into helping him improve upon his manufactured (read: mobile) home at no cost to himself. Yet, if a drag queen should read to anyone in a public place or if gun purchasing were to become slightly more difficult in the US, then that's a HUGE problem. It's like he can simultaneously 'think of the children!' and not. It's a bewildering mindset that has afflicted many here, unfortunately. (How many mass shooting have occured here in the States since I last posted on blogger? I honestly shudder to think.) 

I will leave you with one of many anti-Florida memes that make me chuckle--

Friday, April 7, 2023

Door meet Donald

Watching this snippet with the sound off made me chortle. Glad the bastard may be getting what's coming to him. 

Litter and loiter

I don't know if I mentioned recently becoming a part of a local beach clean-up crew. Since May I've participated in just two clean-u...