Saturday, September 11, 2010

We were WAY too close that that explosion/fire yesterday. Our town borders San Bruno, where it all happened. From our back yard we could see a huge plume of black smoke and could smell the fire. Sirens going off all over town. People standing in the street to look and wonder.

It's one of those events that makes you realize how lucky you are, and how quickly it can all be taken away.

The Bay Area has mobilized, as it does in times of trial. People lined up to donate food and clothes. Blood banks booked solid. The shelter was busy taking care of displaced animals, injured wildlife, and frantic pet owners. THere had already been a half-dozen tear-filled reunions between pets and people. Sadly, more coming in all day. Our overflow was taken by shelters in neighboring counties. Kennels lined up in hallways and offices. We've moved some of our adoptable animals to other locations so we can keep people's pets in-house. Our amazing volunteers have stepped up to put in extra hours feeding and caring. Others have opened their homes as foster houses.

I hugged Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) a bit tighter today and thought how devastated I'd be if anything happened to her.

As long as I had her and Husband, I'd be OK. But far too many of our friends and neighbors have lost it all.

I can still smell residual smoke in the air. i can tell by my coughing that my allergies and bronchitis (have I mentioned I have bronchitis?) have been affected. There was a light dust of ash this morning. The backyard cats were more skittish than usual.

We watched the news last night until the anchors ran out of things to say. After hours of non-stop coverage of a disaster having some yobbo say "this is obviously a serious situation" is actually darkly funny. My brother is a local fire chief so I knew he was in the thick of things. He and his guys are all fine, thankfully. And thankfully far fewer fatalities than there could have been.

Today was a bit unreal. People were more considerate of each other. Drivers a bit nicer. I noticed more people talking on the streets, comparing notes, checking in. All my shelter friends greeted each other with "everyone you know OK?" and took the time to reassure or commiserate.

That's the only good thing about bad things.

Hug your loves a bit closer for me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

4-Chord Wonders

Catching up on cool things around the Inter webs...

The amazing Axis of Awesome with the Four Chord Song. I'm not cool enough to get all the references, but it is hilarious. (NSFW.)
Death and the Plants

I can't grow anything. Gray hair, yes. Plants, no. If I try, it will die a sad and tragic death.

I have friends (Finny, this means you) who can grow anything. They get the idea "I'd like to own a peach orchard" and trees magically start blooming in their back yards. Perfect rounds of ripe fruit, glistening with dew like in the pages of a Japanese catalog, will hang tantalizingly from the branches. And animated bluebirds will chirp happily and land on her fingers.

I will buy a plant and it will die in the car on the way home.

The only thing I have ever successfully managed to not murder is cactus. Which is strangely appropriate.

We have a couple of wildly phallic cacti in our front yard that I am just childish enough to giggle about when I see them. There are a few on the kitchen counter above the sink. But other than that our indoor greenery consists of a bamboo tree that I tried to prune and turned into a bamboo stalk. And the other plant is something else. No clue what it is. It's been here since the Hoover administration so it's origin is shrouded in the mists of time.

The house we rent comes with a gardener, so we fortunately never have to deal with mowing the lawn or pruning the roses. There are a few bare spots in the dirt which I've tried to fill with various bits of greenery or ground cover only to end up with brown, striggly plants that looks crisp enough to break with an actual "snap."

Now being a thoroughly modern woman, I do have excuses. First off, the neighborhood cats look upon our house as home base so they feel perfectly justified in digging up, peeing on, and generally killing off anything in the yard. That's one of the reasons why I put cactus out front. When I tried planting basil we decided we didn't actually want to use it because there was cat poo all over the planter. The freaky thing is that we've actually seen the cats sleeping in the planters with the cactus. It doesn't seem to bother them.

The other excuse is that we don't actually have soil in our yard. We have concrete. At one point the ground cover in our front yard died completely and it made our yard look like we lived in the sole crack house on the block. So I finally got fed up and decided to replant. I couldn't dig it up. The mix of ancient dirt and natural clay was so rock-hard that I actually had to sit there with a hammer and chisel (no, I am not kidding) and break up clods. Took me fucking forever. Several months, actually. I was never once able to use a shovel, a trowel, or any other normal gardening implement. Nope. Me and stone tools.

Once I got it all broken up I dutifully added fresh soil and fertilizer and various other nutrients before planting the new ground cover. And it's the one and only thing (thankfully) that has ever stuck around. Huzzah! We don't look abandoned! But knowing what's required does not inspire me to do it all round the house. I'm just not that interested.

So hats off to all of you who toil and sweat in the yard and then sit back with the butter running off your chin as you eat your fresh corn. Your hard work deserves all the yummy and beautiful things you grow. But for me, well I don't actually enjoy feeling like I'm on a Georgia chain gang. So I'll just buy my crops and envy you your freshness.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I've commented before on the oddness of names. They fascinate me. The labels we carry into life. For good or for bad they help define our personalities. The can affect how people perceive us even before we've met them. And yet so many parents seem to think only of the sound and not of the burden a bad name can create.

One of my fellow volunteers just showed me photos of her new granddaughter. Not doing babies I commented non-commitally about the wrinkled pink creature she was oohing over. And, of course, I asked what her name is.


Really? It's 2010 and you've named your daughter after Miss Iowa 1934?

Luella has two older brothers. Spencer and Morgan. Typical 21st century Hollywood-wannabe "cool" name. They'll fit right in with all the Madisons and Codys in their school. And given their names, you'd think Luella would have ended up as Brittany or Shea. But no, she's a Luella.

Now those of you who know me will be surprised I didn't immediately blurt out "god lord, why?" when I heard the name. Luckily, I didn't have to. As soon as grandma told me her name she instantly added "horrible, isn't it?" Well, yeah. I gotta be honest. I think it's horrible. No offense to any Luellas out there. But really, in today's society, it's a name that doesn't need to be given to anyone.

I asked grandma if Luella was a family name. She said no, with a laugh. And she says she and her husband honestly expect her daughter and son-in-law to either change it or start calling her by her middle name.

Which is, matching with Spencer and Morgan, Clio.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Radio, Radio

If it's Tuesday it must be radio night.

Join me from 6-9 pm (Pacific) on KZSU for At the Cafe Bohemian. Not sure what I'm going to play tonight. I might do a "women of the world" focus.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Art and Whine

Every Labor Day weekend our town hosts an Art & Wine Festival. It's huge. One of the largest in the Bay Area. And, oh joy!, it's about three blocks from where we live.

We celebrate this occasion by staying as far away as possible from downtown. We go without food because getting to the grocery store would be a nightmare. We plan our away trips with care as we know there will be no parking in front of our house when we get back. And even though we are three whole blocks from fun central, we get groups of loud drunk people walking in front of our house and freaking out the cats.

All the neighborhood feral cats have been hiding in the relative sanctuary of our back yard all weekend. It looks like a cat apocalypse out there. Bodies everywhere. (Peacefully sleeping, of course, not dead.) But at least a half dozen of them sprawled like the Battle of Gettysburg on the concrete, under the bushes, by the chairs. There are a few in the front yard, but the sidewalks are too full of people with too much wine in them and too little taste. People carrying handmade wicker bird cages and ugly ceramic flower pots. People wearing hand-painted baseball caps with dandelions on them. People eating funnel cakes and sporting farmer's tans.

Luckily it's over. It's only a two day event and tomorrow our street will go back to being relatively quiet. There will be far fewer people in an alcoholic stupor parking in our driveway. But the neighborhood cats will still be here. Just less freaked out.