Monday, October 31, 2005

There goes the neighborhood...

Well, it just never stops around here. I just had the pleasure of seeing three lovely and dramatic mushroom clouds rise outside the kitchen window. Turns out a nearby car rental office with a bunch of propane tanks out back exploded, six times. Nearby means a block and a half away. Worse, the Hertz rental is directly across from a gas station that's a mere 3/4 block away.

All this was enough to have me down three flights of stairs, out on the street and over to Rainbow Grocery's payphone with a naughty toddler and a reticent rabbit in tow faster than you can say "fuck this shit." Couldn't find my cell phone, of course. Huz picked us up, we spent a few minutes trying to decide what to do, and he opted for just taking us back home rather than bringing a rabbit, an infant and a sullen spouse back to the office. I'm sure he then headed down the street to gawk at the fire and pester the cops with dumb questions.

According to the live coverage I'm watching right now, the two blocks surrounding the explosions have been evacuated. Like I said, I'm typing this from a block away. They're also saying that nobody was killed, unbelievably. Not yet, anyway. If I live through this, my husband is in for a well-deserved whuppen. Stay tuned.

postscript-- I lived. 120 firefighters had this thing put out in an hour, before it hit the nearby gas station. With this city's fire history I guess they've got their system down.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Celebrity Crushes

I've been sitting out the blog due to the morbid funque I've fallen into this week. I won't go into detail since it has nothing to do with San Francisco or motherhood, but it goes a little something like this: My husband is a prick.

I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the request of one Dutch of Sweet Juniper. Full responses to the meme in question could probably be extracted from the "XX Things About Me" list that is encrypted somewhere in this blog. I won't give a link, I really don't recommend reading it. But I will indulge in the celebrity crushes list, especially since my husband is a prick.

Celebrity crushes:

1. Stephen Colbert, particularly in his Strangers With Candy incarnation as Mr. Noblet
2. Meaux Rocca, why don't you love me? Well, nevermind.
3. Ted the food consultant from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, ya squinty facial ticker
4-5. The corn fed and Oklahoma-bred dorks in the Briantologist's new photo set
6. The rockabilly guy who owned Slow Bar in Nashville. I forget his name, but he was a total local hero.
7. The Reverend Horton Heat, who I hope is enjoying the royalties from his recent Boston Market deal. Don't blow it all in one place, Mr. Jim.

You'll all be surprised to hear that Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor does nothing for me.

Since we're talking celebrities, allow me to kind of name drop for a moment. As disclosed in my Things list, one of the above mentioned individuals once shamelessly hit on my production manager husband IRL. Well, more like two of them, but The Reverend was in his usual inebriated state and my huz is kind of girly. Advise: Stay off him, Mo. He's a prick, I'm tellin' ya.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sac à dos! Sac à dos!

That's what Dora L'Exploratrice sings when it's time to open her backpack.

Yes, we watched Dora in France. The French version is bilingual in French and English rather than Spanish and English, and we thought it might benefit Cedra. I think my MIL's 46 year old NASA engineer of a boyfriend picked up quite a bit of vocab from Dora, but Cedra couldn't have cared less.

Les Teletubbies, that's another histoire. Yes, I feel your scorn. But I got my hands on eight old VHS tapes of Les Teletubbies from Canadian public television, and thought they'd be fine in moderation. The idea was to watch an episode a few times a week and let her soak up the poetry of the Quebecois twang. The program is so lame/trippy/lame I doubted it would even hold her interest. Forget it, she's obsessed. We limit her weekly Teletubbie time, and she spends a lot of the rest of the time carrying the VHS cases around the house muttering "Cou-cou! La-La!"

So anyway, my pretty asian-print diaper bag has stood up to the last 17 months about as well as I have. I'd been planning to graduate to some kind of toddler bag for awhile, but the perfect specimen had failed to present itself. That is, until I walked through the dollar store on 16th and Mission, the one behind the Walgreens. There, for a mere buck, I found this perfect and probably perfectly illegally imported kid-sized sac à dos, sac à dos featuring Tinky Winky, Dipsy...a convertible Volkswagen, and a windmill. WTF? We love it.


By the way, if anyone can translate "Tianxian" or "bao bao," please clue us in.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And if you all jumped off a cliff...

Yes. Yes, I would.

I am no HTMLer, so this is another blogger template. I know the stepped text on the masthead looks crappy, but I can't make it fit and I give up.

That photograph is actually the "view" off our back balcony, if you want to call a spiral stairway to the hell that is the recycling bins a balcony. We do, and we used to spend a lot of time waving from it back around Easter when the pope was in the news. What's a San Francisco apartment without a view?

The photo is the very first one my huz took after we were the last people ever to get a digital camera.


I don't know why the bicycle is on the pole. I don't even know why the pole is there, there are no obvious power lines. I do know that the ladder wasn't there because they were planning to do any paint touch-ups, though.

I apologize if the blog's aura is now a little depressing. If you find it so, I recommend doing what I do: remind yourself that the $800,000 loft across the alley has the same shitty view. Hahahaha! Suckahs!

Sunday, October 16, 2005



All she needs is Arsenio Hall's fade.

Among the many things in this photo that require an apology, I single out its poor quality. It was early in the morning (for us) and the camera needed new batteries.

I'd like to say that Michael dressed her, but in fact I am responsible. In my defense, she'd worn all of these clothing items previously, just not together, and they looked fine. I'd roused her because we had to take Da to work early, and there was no time to change after I realized how ridiculous she looked. She actually left the house like this.

Friday, October 14, 2005

big city livin'

or "The Dark Side of Karma, reprise."

I think I can safely say that everyone who reads this blog, with one exception, is contemplating or actively plotting a move out of San Francisco, or, having already made the exodus, is sitting smug with their decision. Quitters!

We're staying put, because we have to. But god knows I understand the temptation to just admit defeat and start looking into the logistics of packing up life and hauling it across a bridge, then up or down I-5. Some days the temptation is greater than others.

Our car, the Tax Refund Saab, was booted this morning by the DPT. That means that a big yellow metal lock was placed around a wheel, and we have three days to settle $860 with The City or have the car towed. You may or may not know that we lost another car to SF this year, that one being utterly totalled out in parking tickets. This time the car is worth $2140 more than the sum of the tickets, so we'd better to pay up. You say: "How can you accumulate more than $1600 in parking tickets in about 18 months?" I say: "Better recognize: My huz's ride, The Chicken-hooded Rayko Truck, was also totalled out two weeks ago." Although it only took about $300 in tickets to finish off that one. It was a gem, that vehicle. So, $1900 in tickets. And then I add: "Besides, we live in The Mission."

You can say a lot of nasty things about The Mission, and Dutch has said a few so I'll just refer you to him. But the parking situation is a nightmare for residents, mostly because there are very few permitted parking areas. As you all know, a permit allows you to ignore parking restrictions. Around here, it's all metered retail parking peppered with two short non-permitted streets, and everyone in the city lines up to dump their cars on Natoma and Minna when they're going out of town for a week. So we're constantly racing the $2.50 an hour meters, and usually losing because we're both lazy and absent-minded. I could make other excuses, but they won't hold water either. Truth is, there's not much excuse for us. We don't like cars, and we don't want to be bothered with them or their parking tickets. Apparently we don't like our money, either.

It's at times like this that a suburban two-car garage with a long driveway doesn't sound bad, but I know from experience that we couldn't do it. We were homeowners once. Did you know? We left SF for Portland, where we purchased a 2,500 square foot house with a beautiful yard. Parking was a non-issue, but there were trade-offs. The washing machine broke. It seemed like the landlord should have shown up to fix it. He didn't, because we were the landlords. Same with the dishwasher, the hole that started forming under the sink, the mold that started growing on the roof. According to the neighbors, the yard was supposed to be mowed and maintained. It was beyond us. It seemed like we would have had to mow and clip shrubs every damn week. Like we had nothing better to do? The house and yard never reached West Virginia Jesco the Dancing Outlaw status, but we were getting there. After two years we did the neighborhood a favor and moved back to SF, to a 900 square foot rental apartment where we were relieved to pay $1600 a month to a reassuringly responsible landlord.

And $1600 a year to the DPT for the privilege of parking our cars on the street in our own neighborhood and having them towed three times a year, evidently. Is this better than spending 12 hours a month of our leisure time pushing a lawnmower? Dunno. Dunno.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pumpkin Lover


We cut her hair last week. A mere two inches was enough to take out the curls. I'm thinking end of December before they grow back.

Monday, October 10, 2005

View from the dark side of Karma

Michael was busting ass for San Francisco's Open Studios yesterday, and my mother-in-law took Sabra for an overnight festival of repetitive flower watering, kitty-cat watching, and probably meditating on celtic knots and scouting for crop circles.

So I had a rare day to myself and I settled in on the Karlanda to knit up the ubiquitous five-hour baby sweater for my friend JuJu's new baby, Nico. I thought I'd put the television to use, since we pay $88 a month for expanded cable so we can watch the French news for 30 minutes a day, then always forget to watch it. I was determined to find something in English that doesn't call itself "The Weather Channel" or "Noggin'." Potential answer: Discovery Health Channel, featuring the program "Born With Two Heads."

Snag: A satellite mishap resulting in no sound and a screen that looks like a tossed box of Triscuits, but damn if I'm going to change the channel when the subject line reads "Born With Two Heads." Speshly after I got up and moved all the crap off the cable box and pushed the remote's "up" button 109 times to get there.

Insult to injury: Still no picture as the subject line eventually changes to "Face-Eating Tumor" and later to "I Am My Own Twin." Damn, and damn!

Fine, I apologize to the mother of god and to the Lourdes chamber of commerce for Saturday's post. (beats chest twice) Mea culpa, dang. Just make it stop.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lourdes. You know, Esther's daughter?

Okay, that's a dumb title. Esther is a euphemism for Madonna; props to you if you weren't aware.

Welcome to France retrospectives, installment I.

I'd never been to Lourdes, the Catholic pilgrimage site that's about two hours from my MIL's village. Now I may be more or less agnostic, but I think I do have a healthy enough respect for sincere religious belief. Well, that may not be entirely true. I think I often look upon the religious activities of others with somewhat of a voyeuristic eye, and enjoy the spectacle. Particularly if those religions involve a generous amount of ceremonial camp. Few things are as enthralling and befuddling as contemplating religious rapture from a safe distance, be it snake handling or some crazy middle-aged woman bursting into reverent tears as she crosses the threshold of THE Temple in Salt Lake City. So I went into Lourdes perhaps not with an open mind, but with high expectations.

Sadly, I must say that Lourdes may be the ass-tackiest scene I've ever laid eyes upon, and keep in mind that my hereditary stomping grounds are a mere few hours from Branson, Missouri.

No this isn't the entrance to Disney World. Well, yes it pretty much is.

A bit of preparatory geography: The village of Lourdes proper gives way to a long row of tourist trap shops that make Chinatown or Solveng or, god forbid (Apartment Number One) Gatlinburg, look classe. Saintly snowglobes, five foot glow in the dark rosaries, that kind of thing. This cack-trap runs right up to a footbridge, and on the other side of the bridge begins the last half-mile (edit: okay, more like a quarter-mile) leg of the pilgrimage route to the Lourdes Cathedral and grotto. If you're lucky you may see a devout Argentinian cowboy, complete with hat, boots and belt buckle, crawling toward the grotto on his hands and knees. Otherwise you'll probably see a lot of young Italian nurses in modified nuns' habits flirting loudly with the be-sportcoated official Lourdes ushers, both groups there to help the sick hobble through the Stations of the Cross.

As for us, we got to Lourdes late on a tourist season evening with intentions of an overnight stay, but with no hotel reservations. After hours of pavement pounding followed by a mediocre dinner, and still suffering from enough jet-lag to make 10:30 p.m. feel like high noon, we headed for the cathedral in hopes that the area would be only lightly touristed and the lines for the holy water spidget (my MIL had promised to bring her therapist a vial) would be short.

It started as soon as we hit the footbridge. This isn't all that unusual; any sight of outdoor water has Cedra quacking like a duck. Quacking brings immediate attention from passersby, and the attention encourages her until she's worked up into a delirious rapture of show-offedness. Well, she shot off that footbridge and down the pilgrimage route like a little wobbly-legged bull out of a pen, yammering at high decibals as she went. After about 50 feet she turned to make sure we were following her, lost her balance a little and had to bend over and put her hands on the ground to steady herself.

Anyone who knows a 15-month-old knows that they are creatures of repetition. After she'd added putting her hands on the ground to the routine once, she had to stop and do it about every ten feet. All the way to the cathedral. A half mile (quarter mile!). Shriek, raise hands into the air, toddle ten feet, stop, place hands on ground, repeat. Fine, except my mother-in-law, god blesser, is a nutty bonafied specimen of California flake. She started making observations about the earth surrounding holy sites having special "vibrations." Cedra was surely stooping over to feel them.

I didn't tell her that I'd seen Cedra do exactly the same thing along the length of 24th street between Noe and Sanchez while we waited for Michael to get a SuperCuts haircut.

By the time we made it to the cathedral and Cedra started climbing the steps, my MIL was misty-eyed. Sabra climbed most of the way, then came back down, then climbed them again. Allow me to pause here and quote the BabyCenter (shame) newsletter I received shortly after our return:

Physical Development, Your 17-Month-Old

"Your toddler has probably never met a staircase she didn't like.
By now she may be able to climb up a set of stairs, turn around at
the top and sit, then scoot her way back down again..."

Spirit-filled Cedra, climbing the steps of the Lourdes Cathedral. It must have been 11 p.m.

But nevermind that. Cedra was having a religious experience, and my MIL was having one by proxy. She snatched Cedra up and carried her behind the grotto, to solemnly contemplate the hundreds of votive candles left by the faithful. The following night, we followed the official procession and she took Sabra back to add two more candles to the multitude. One for Cedra, one for her crazy self.

Cedra's whole religious trance was just damn funny. Nothing else, as far as I was concerned. I'm glad my mother-in-law was able to get something deeper out of it, but it just wasn't happening for me. However, I did expect more out of the official procession. It was a normal Thursday, no religious holiday, but there must have been three thousand people carrying candles and chanting. It should have at the very least been a little touching. But it struck me as shamefully vulgar, like a big tacky Jesus bumper sticker or a Tulsa mega-church with an electric guitar and drum set behind the pulpit.

Before we left, we bought Cedra a little wooden rosary--actually, we had to buy it because she snatched it off a display and took off down the street with it-- and a little stuffed sheep with a mechanical "baaaaaaaa" that was the scourge of the rest of the trip. Penance for my attitude, probably.

"In the truck, Mary."

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Anyone want to knit along wimmee? Here's my project for Halloween: Cedra-hair helmets for the whole family!

To achieve appropriate color and texture, I prescribe cheap acrylic Lion Brand Homespun yarn, dark brown in color. After binding off and weaving the loose ends, rub in one scrambled egg and a few spoonfuls of yoghurt, then shit your pants.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The wavin' wheat sure smells sweet

If anyone with the patience of Job is still reading, my excuse is an impromptu crisis trip to Oh-klahoma, my home and native land. And for all the internet access I've got here, I might as well be in the middle of nulle-part in southwest France. Except there I'd be eating state fair quality produce purchased for centimes, instead of my grandma's pot roast with Lipton onion soup gravy. And Cedra wouldn't have had a playdate this weekend with a distant 15 month old cousin named "Dub," or be expecting a visit this evening from an invariably-sports-jersey-clad two-year-old family friend known as "Cay-Dog." Which is no worse than the official "Cayden," if you ask me.

I swear I'll spend more time on the clavier after we're back in SF Wednesday.