Saturday, January 15, 2022


My school chums and I grew up going down to 'the dairy', a corner market situated on the grounds of an old dairy called Sun Valley, to buy candy just about everyday after class. We usually all had pocket change to spend on sweets. But if one of us didn't, then the rest of us would pitch in a few coins so that no one was left empty-handed. Most candy bars back then were 25 cents a pop and the vast selection of them were displayed on a rack that was at least as tall as us. The usual suspects for purchase were: Abba-Zaba, Rocky Road, Charleston Chew, Snickers, Mounds & Almond Joy, Big Hunk and, although not a bar, M&Ms. 

Abba-Zaba was my all-time favorite candy bar. The bar was white on the outside and sort of beige/nut-colored on the inside. The white bit was both hard and taffy-like and sugary-sweet and the beige bit was creamy and tasted of peanut. Abba-Zaba was a challenge to eat as the chewy part ALWAYS got stuck to your teeth and you would have to dislodge it with both your fingers and tongue before being able to swallow it. Annabelle's, the maker of Abba-Zaba (and Big Hunk and Rock Road), is a local candy factory located about 30 miles from where I grew up. When I think of, say, M&Ms and its global reach, I wonder how a little candy company like Annabelle's could even survive going up against the heavy hitters like Mars, Inc. and Nestlé. But survive they have & those of us who like sticky taffy candy that tastes of peanut are happy campers.

Annabelle's second locale since the 1960s.

Friday, January 7, 2022

What's in a name?

I rarely call my husband by his first name. It's not that I don't care for his name, but rather I like calling him by his various nicknames better. I think he just tolerates the goofy names I have for him, but at least he responds to them.

Since bringing the two cats home a few months' back, I have been inspired to call them all sorts of things besides their actual names. 

From the time I left the linen closet door ajar--
Bart is on the left; Marcel on the right

Marcel is also:

Little Cat
Weasel (long body, usually leads with his nose)

Bart is usually:

Barticus Maximus (he is 15 pounds of muscle)
Big Boy
Weezy (he has a respiratory issue)

Since they rarely respond to anything other than the jingling of a kitty-treat bag, these names are really more for me. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Dec. 1st

In November, I received an invite to attend a viewing of the Aids Quilt on Dec. 1, World Aids Day, at a local church. I have never seen the quilt IRL, as the kids say, and I was rather looking forward to it. In the intervening weeks I had somehow forgotten exactly which venue would be hosting the quilt and wound up instead attending the annual reading of the names of those who have died of AIDS/HIV-related causes. That event also took place on World Aids Day, but at the National Aids Memorial Grove within Golden Gate Park. When I arrived to the park at sunset and saw what was a wall of images of Aids Quilt panels instead of the quilt itself, I figured I had goofed. But the Grove was illuminated in such an alluring way and there were lanterns and candles set along the footpaths and a harpist sat amongst the redwoods playing a Lionel Richie song, so I was keen to stay and experience the evening.

The CEO of the National Aids Memorial Grove, John Cunningham, and a couple of speakers began the event by sharing movingly about the AIDS--then known as 'gay cancer'--epidemic that swept San Francisco and the Bay Area in the mid-80s. Then visitors to the Grove were invited to come up on stage and read names. A handful of attendees very quickly lined up stage right. I hadn't felt comfortable doing so myself--I figured I would cry and bungle it--, but then a woman standing with her partner just next to me walked toward the stage. I turned to her partner and asked, 'Is she going to read?' He told me she was and I said, 'Well, if she can do it, then I can do it.' We smiled at each other before I made my way to the stage through the small crowed that had assembled to listen. 

As I stood waiting my turn, a man from the event organizing committee kindly acknowledged me. He thanked me for going up to read and I told him that I was feeling both sad and nervous at the prospect. He then gave me a warm side hug and said that that was OK. His hug and warm words made me feel less anxious. At the end of my reading I added a name to the list: Gerald 'Scotty' Batz, my beloved Uncle.

John Cunningham, CEO of Nat'l Aids Memorial, kicks off the evening

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Work notes.

We're in gutter season right now. There was a monster rain storm around these parts a couple of weeks' back, so there were many more gutters needing emptying and loads of dirty windows needing cleaning than usual. 

We shared cleaning duties last week down in tony Menlo Park with a house cleaner. Fortunately, the property was large enough and we were never in each other's way. Once I and my co-workers moved to the outside of the house I assumed we wouldn't be seeing the cleaner anymore that day. I was wrong as she was then out in the back of the main house picking up dog shit from the large lawn. I have never seen a cleaner also be responsible for cleaning up pet waste. I kind of felt badly for her and hoped that she's being fairly compensated. As she's Latina from abroad I sort of think that she isn't, but I really don't know and wouldn't ever ask. 

Yesterday, we spent the day working in another upscale city called Los Altos just south of Menlo Park along the peninsula. We were to clean the windows inside and out of the house and pressure-wash the grounds and house front. The cleaning was in preparation for today's Thanksgiving festivities. Now that the days are shorter, we finished the job just as the sun was setting and did the packing up in the dark. We've been to this property before, but usually in summertime when pretty much no one is home save for maybe the lady of the house. Yesterday, everyone was home (and, therefore, underfoot). Spoiler alert: teens and young adults don't care that the window cleaners are in house and needing to do their job. Mom had to coax them out of their bedrooms so that we may clean their windows. -not such a big deal, really. 

What was interesting was cleaning the kitchen and adjacent den windows during Thanksgiving prep. I had to move loose yams from around the kitchen sink in order to drape the area and wash the windows just above. The dining room table was already for today's feast. Everything looked lovely. We paid special attention to the sliding glass doors just beyond the table. Hopefully, the glass is sparkling in the sunshine today. 

For the curious, here's a wee map showing the part of the peninsula in which we were working-- 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Dog dropping and cats

I slipped on dog shit twice while working on the same property last week. Once I could maybe understand, but TWICE?! The elderly client on whose gutters we were working does not own a dog, I should add. Not only did I slide on the poo as if it were banana peel, but I had clocked it beforehand while walking across the lawn in the (gated) backyard. My my eyes spied the pile of poo on the grass and then my brain said: AVOID. But did I listen? Nope. Ick. I'd really like to know who lets their dog take a dump in someone's yard and doesn't then clean it up?

The two new house-cats are settling in fairly well. Sometimes they wrestle a bit too hard with one another and then need to be separated, but there is no hissing or growling between them when they do scrap, so that's good. 

As I type, Marcel is entertaining himself with an avocado seed by hitting it across the kitchen floor like PelĂ©. Bart is waiting for either my husband or I to take the feather toy down from the top of the fridge and wave it around dramatically. It's interesting for me as someone who has never owned two cats at once to note how different cats' personalities can be from one feline to the next. While these two each usually have very distinct play habits, both go bonkers for the toy that sort of resembles a mouse tethered to a wand by a long strand of leather cord. 

Exhibit A

Bart will not let the mouse toy go.

Exhibit B

And neither will Marcel!

Both cats have taken to running with the mouse toy, stick pulling along on the floor behind them, from one room to the next. Bart will eventually drop the toy like an offering on a mat in the kitchen. Marcel will usually sit with it under the kitchen table, with no one around, all the while growling. Is there catnip sewn into the toy? We actually don't know. However, I do suspect that in another (outdoor) life, these two could have been champion mousers!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Furry facial hair & autumn work

The top picture is of Bart in all his glory out in the back garden. He's a roll-in-the-dirt champ! Note his wee mustache. :) 

The bottom picture is from a roof and gutter job done last week. The weather was lovely. -bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds & a balmy 67F/19C degrees. 

I did not climb the roof, but instead stayed on the ground in order to corral the mass of pine needles and eucalyptus leaves my colleague had blown down. We collected at least 8 tall bin bags of plant debris. I should also note that this client is a regular and has his gutters & roof cleaned annually. Imagine if he did not!

Speaking of cleaning, we were doing a job down near the Stanford campus the other day & the lady of house approaches me to tell me that the cleaners are arriving soon (and how much longer would I be upstairs?). I told her that I would be finished in about 30 minutes. "Great. You can just work around each other;" she said as her hand sort of made a circular motion in the air. When clients say that, what they mean is: The cleaners will do their job and you will accommodate them. I tried to move out of the women's way as they vacuumed and dusted around where I was set up at a series of windows along the wall of the open-floor-plan living/dining area. I needed to go outside for a moment, and upon return, I sort of had to hopscotch my way back to the windows as most of the floor from the front door onward had just been mopped. This happens regularly when "working around" cleaners unless the house is MASSIVE and we disparate bands of workers are rooms away from one another. I get why clients do this; they don't want workers in their home nearly every darn day of the week. Neither would I, I suppose. -better to get home and window cleaning (and electrical and landscaping jobs and lord knows what all else) over with in one day, if possible. It can feel especially uncomfortable, though, to have to work with strangers in the same room as we are still grappling with Covid. I wear a mask when others are present, but my glasses fog up quite quickly thus making it kind of hard to see what I'm doing.

Work selfie...workie? This was taken at the aforementioned gutter job. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Cat tale

I was already slated to adopt a kitty from a local shelter when I came across Bart running around the mean streets of Bernal Heights. I hadn't meant to keep Bart--I had a new kitty coming home to me soon after all--but finding his owner proved more difficult than I thought it would be. 

I noticed Bart, the pretty gray and white adult cat you can see in below images, dodging car traffic and fending off dogs along a busy commercial corridor here in town. Bart was yowling and hissing and doing a sort of crab walk, fur standing on end, while two dogs were being held in place by their owner. The dog owner sort of looked amused which pissed me off. When the dogs were finally yanked away down the sidewalk, Bart decided to run out into traffic prompting a passerby to yell out, 'Look out, cat!' Then I hopped into the street in order to act as Bart's crossing guard, holding up the palm of my hand to a motorist coming toward us while Bart scurried to the other side of the street.

I wondered who would let their kitty out near such a busy thoroughfare. Maybe he'd escaped from a home unnoticed? He wore no collar and the bridge of his nose with crossed with old scratch marks presumably from tussles with other neighborhood cats. He was friendly, rubbing up against my legs and purring, so I bent down a gave him a few cuddles before deciding to take him to a vet to have him inspected for an ID chip. I got him into my car with little fanfare and drove him to the only vet I could find that would see him short notice. It turned out that Bart was chipped, but the ID no. attached to the chip not registered to anyone, unfortunately. Not wanting to release him back into the area where I first found him, I took Bart home from the vet and made him comfortable with kitty treats, a few toys, a scratching post, and a cat box--all the things that were meant for the cat I was soon to adopt, actually. Bart took to his new situation very well, so I was sure he'd have to have been an indoor cat at some point. But what about now? Where were his people?

My husband and I decided to create a 'Found Cat' post for the 'Cats' section of a local social media platform. Our post received some attention, but no owner stepped forward to claim our new house guest. The next weekend we went back to the neighborhood where Bart was found roaming and I asked around local businesses if they'd recognized Bart. Nobody did.

As you can read, we named him, 'Bart', short for 'Schnurrbart' as he has a wee mustache. I'd still be amenable to returning him to his rightful owners, but, at this point, I'd really rather not as my husband and I have become very attached to him.

Bart and newly adopted kitty playing with ball and ribbon. (Bart is mostly watching new kitty doing all the playing.)

Bart regarding new kitty's paw.



My school chums and I grew up going down to 'the dairy', a corner market situated on the grounds of an old dairy called Sun Valley, ...