Someone likes the heat but it’s not me

After a moderate start (temperature-wise), August has started to heat up. I shouldn’t complain as the temps will only get into the lower 90s and it’s not supposed to last long but I don’t do well in the heat. However, my strange plant seems to love it.

Sunday, August 14th

The mother plant is now up to my shoulder – approximately five feet tall.

Monday, August 15

Over the weekend they started to bend over as if getting ready to strike.

And then this morning:

Tuesday, August 16th

The first blossoms.

Side view

Update at 4:30: Well, it got to almost 100 miserable degrees here and isn’t cooling down any time soon. Supposedly tomorrow a bit of a cool down but we’ll see!

The cacophony of joy

If you were lucky your school experience included band practice. Ah, the joy of walking into a room full of ten year olds all playing newly rented instruments enthusiastically though very badly as the teacher struggles to gain control. I can still see my band teacher’s face. Kids can tell when teachers are enjoying themselves and Mr. H, despite his exasperated sighs (he also taught drama), delighted in the chaos and clatter of the brass, the off-key tooting of woodwinds, the premature banging of cymbals but … above all else … the seductive fantasy that if we just tried hard enough and kept at it by the end of the year we would be making beautiful music together.

I can’t remember what instrument I abused back then. Probably the clarinet. I’d already given up on the piano because, after five years of weekly lessons, I still hadn’t mastered the Hanon Studies and my teacher was old school. If you couldn’t master the Hanon Studies, you didn’t deserve to enjoy playing the piano. She was Russian and only stood about four feet tall but … it was four feet of grizzle.

From Bing Images

PEarlier this year I volunteered to help a non-profit (MUST) whose mission is to bring music programs to elementary and preschool kids. Introducing music as early as possible in a child’s life has many benefits for both the child and society but the pandemic closed most of these organizations down. Now they are trying to reemerge. My suggestion was to post interviews of their staff beginning with their charismatic founder, Meg Madden. Beyond that, I have not a clue. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile Penito and child are still growing. The mother is three feet tall and comes up to my waist! (yes, I’m all legs)

No flowers yet though.

Bring love instead of stones #Tagore

What a week this has been. There’s so much craziness going on in the world that I’m happy to have a garden to escape to, even if the drought has killed so many of my plants. Luckily, Penito and child seem to thrive in this climate.

Wednesday, August 3
Close up

Granted, this odd plant is not the ideal subject for a close up but boy, is it growing fast.

Thursday, August 4
Close up of the baby! I love how it bends toward the mother. Who says plants don’t have feelings!
Saturday, August 6th

It seems unlikely, but I’m hoping for a glimpse of sanity next week. Just a glimmer, a speck, something.

Return of the Drimia Maritima

Almost two years ago, this strange plant arose in the garden. We’d just had freakish lightning storms in the Bay Area which produced little rain but caused hundreds of wildfires. And, I just gotten word that my mother was dying.

August 2020

At first I couldn’t imagine where it came from. Outer space? Then I remembered that years earlier, when Mother lived with us, my husband came home from the hardware store with a bulb that he’d proudly paid fifteen dollars for. He didn’t know what it was or how to grow it, of course, but had been intrigued by the size. Mother turned to me and said: ” Well, they saw him coming.” He planted it in the backyard and forgot about it. But Mother didn’t. It went on her list of reasons why he should never shop alone.

The stalk grew and grew until it blossomed magnificently and I had to quit calling it the “Penis Plant.”

Last year the foliage emerged but no blossoms.

August 2021 Foliage only.

The foliage stayed green for a couple of months and then died just before Christmas.

I didn’t know what to expect this year but, sure enough, after an unusual lightning storm hit this area, look who showed up again.

July 31, 2022 – this time with a child?
Mother and baby?

It was wonderful to wake up to the sound of rain. Wonderful to go into the backyard to see this unusual plant arise again. Now I just have to resist the urge to read the news.

Drink more vodka #ThursdayDoors

Apparently it will help you stay fit!

Yes, I really do follow liquor trucks around all day hoping something good will fall off!

I found a few legitimate doors from our trip to Santa Catalina Island. Below is the main entrance to the Casino.

The mural above the entrance. As I mentioned before, the Casino (built in 1929) is now a museum.
Another mural in the entrance. I imagine when it was new the colors were more vivid.
The ticket booth. During the day you can take a tour and in the evening you can see a movie in the theater. Otherwise it’s off limits.
Here’s a reminder of what the Casino looks like on approach. On the ground level there’s a store where you can buy or rent snorkeling equipment or arrange to go on a snorkeling adventure.

Check out other doors at Dan Anton’s ThursdayDoors extravaganza.

And the winning obituaries are …

Every Sunday I start the day by reading the obits of notable people who have passed. I started this peculiar habit one Sunday morning after I spotted the obit of a lovely man who was the partner of someone I once worked with. I’d heard through the grapevine he had AIDS but the last time I’d seen him, he seemed in such a jolly mood that I allowed myself to believe the disease wouldn’t take him. The obit, lovingly written his partner, actually made me smile. The best obits will make you smile or at least, make you wonder how such a splendid person could have existed in this dysfunctional world.

It’s always sad to read the obit of someone I knew decades ago and lost touch with. But, at the same time, it allows me to remember them fondly.

Here are examples from obits in today’s paper that are meant to make you smile. Two were written by professionals. See if you can match the sentence to the men being honored (below):

  1. As people walked by, he would greet each one in his high pitched voice with “Hey, mama!’ Or “Hey, young man!”
  2. From his Ted speech: “It isn’t the value or the size of a gift that truly matters. It’s how you hold it in your heart.”
  3. [He] loved cracking jokes and carried around a card in his pocket with the word “JOKE” written on it to emphasize to friends he was just having a fun time.

And the men honored were:

A. Dr. D. Henry Cheu, a surgeon and member of the El Capitan Eating Club whose father was the first person of Chinese descent to graduate from Stanford University. Eating Clubs accepted students who were ineligible for membership in college fraternities for racial or religious reasons, e.g. Asians, Mexicans and Jews.

B. Willie Ellis, a homeless peddler described as “the Beloved Mayor of Lake Merritt.”

Lake Merritt, a man made lake in the center of Oakland. Safe during the day but not after dark!

C. Werner Reich, a holocaust survivor who learned the power of magic in Auschwitz. “Having a deck of cards in Auschwitz was like finding a gorilla in your bathroom.”

Werner Reich’s book

The answers are!

  1. Willie Ellis, the Mayor
  2. Dr. Cheu, the Jokester
  3. Werner Reich, the Magician

Willie made the front page of the Obit section!

Drunken Austen heroines

Okay, I’m just gonna say it. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, you might want to avoid Netflix’s new adaptation. Whoever wrote it decided to have the main character (played by Dakota Johnson) speak directly into the camera. Even with an English accent, she just doesn’t capture the tortured inner life of Anne Elliot. She’s entirely too upbeat and bubbly.

The very demure, oft imposed upon, modest and virtuous Anne Elliot?

For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Boy and girl meet and fall in love
  • Girl is “persuaded” not to accept boy’s proposal (usual reasons: lack of money, social status)
  • Boy goes to sea, makes a fortune and returns

Girl, meanwhile, has been treated as person of little consequence by her vain and silly relatives and, at age twenty-seven, is considered a spinster with few prospects.

For those of you with zero interest in Jane Austen, here’s another mural. This one is of the reservoir near my house.

In her earlier novels, Austen’s protagonists snidely mocked the societal norms that forced women to marry or live a life dependent on the kindness of relatives. But the mocking was never in anger; just frustration. In Persuasion, Austen took the gloves off. Vain and silly characters are no longer also lovable. They’re just vain and silly people who cause pain to others.

As you see, these murals have been set in recessed frames in a brick wall. This one invites the viewer to find five animals. I can only see butterflies and birds.

In the book, when Anne Elliot feels sorry for herself, she takes a long walk. In the movie, she drinks. I’ll have to reread the books because I can’t remember an Austen heroine ever dragging a bottle upstairs to bed and getting snookered. But it has been a while. Do y’all recall any drunken Austen heroines?

And let’s discuss Captain Wentworth, the jilted lover, the man deemed not worthy to marry into the Elliot family. Having returned a wealthy sea captain, why would he ever settle for the aging spinster who’d already rejected him? In the book, he shows little sign of his true feelings. He’s a proper English gentleman. So we agonize with poor Anne. Will he forgive her and see that she is the only woman for him?

In the Netflix adaptation. Sigh. Have you seen Dakota Johnson, friends? Poor Captain Wentworth can’t help drooling all over himself every time he sees her. Stiff upper lip, hurt pride be damned. It’s only a matter of time, misunderstandings, and miscommunications until he finally admits, his goose is cooked.

Supposedly there are fifteen animals hidden in this picture.

But if you’re looking for a lighthearted though predictable romance, set in the beautiful countryside of Southern England, ignore me and enjoy the show!

Summer whimsy

On my walk over to the library, under murky skies, I noticed that all signs of the July Fourth celebrations are gone. Poof, like they never even happened. Many people were at the community center dropping off their kids for one of the various summer programs. I could see the stress on their faces. Will they be happy? Will they be well cared for? I can remember long summers when I had no choice but to put my children into those programs. Whether they wanted to go or not. And that was before all the school shootings.

I also noticed that the utility box across the street from the library is now completely decorated. Above is the front panel. Mr. Fox having a cup of coffee (maybe a latte?) while an owl watches from above. It looks like the artist used the hills separating the town from the Berkeley campus as the backdrop. Pretty nifty.
On the other side is a natty raccoon and his dapper friend. I have no idea why they are on a ladder. What do you think?
Remember the hare? Both he and the raccoon seem to be gathering food in the wild (not that my town is wild) while the fox just walked across the street and bought a coffee at the library cafe.
Across the street, another utility box got the treatment. It looks better than a plain metal box would but I think I prefer the whimsy.

The mural on the library and the whimsical utility boxes are only the first steps in an effort to “artify” the town. I can’t wait to see what they do to the service station! Dinosaurs, perhaps?

Idealized version of the town … on the side of the drug store.