Getting Ready to Get Ready

November 23, 2014

I have this long but manageable list of stuff to get done before family shows up on Tuesday. I’d spread it out over a few days, which made it even more manageable. I had this one item–shelve books–because it was just flippin time to cull and organize our entire book inventory.. and to shelve those that were gathering in stacks all over the place.

That turned into a two-day project–I’m going to guess about 14 hours or so. It was one of those projects that had hidden tendrils, and so not only did books get dealt with, but so did a whole lot of other related things: artwork got hung, games and puzzles got sorted, a couple drawers got cleaned out. And I got ruthless on the knick knack stuff.  I also did an aggressive sweep through the video and music collections.

Packed up even more books today to donate, and a couple bags of shelf junk, too. And remind me why I ever, EVER save shells and rocks?  Good lord. Those are all getting scattered in the back yard somewhere, somehow. Maybe in an interesting way, maybe not.

Anyway, no more shelf and bookcase stories for a while.

Oh, but I will show you this one bookcase… it’s sorta the non-fiction portion of the program (though not the only non-fiction in the house)… mostly here we have: travel, hiking, mountain adventure stuff; books about California, the region and Davis; political books, social, cultural & economic commentaries; biographies; reference books; gardening books, and finally big giant coffee table books (because we don’t actually have a coffee table).


I thought this was interesting about the overall collection: the authors whose books we have the most of are:

– Neal Stephenson who writes science and historical fiction books, as well as books about math, philosophy and cryptography.. you know, among other things (10)

– John McPhee who writes all about geology (among other things, but it’s the geology books we have so many of) (8)

– Anne LaMott who’s just a great, funny and inspiring member of the human community (7)

You can probably figure out which of us reads which authors.

Anyway… that’s really it for books for awhile. And bric-a-brac.

The real photos of the day though are some default fall stuff… sky, leaves… and stunning at that. Sky on way to brunch this morning:


Central Park sycamore leaf drop on the way home:


Starting tomorrow, really getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Out With the Old

November 22, 2014

I love afternoons like this. I really love them. I understand that there is more to life than purging and organizing, i do…but give me a rainy day, some very messy bookcases in serious need of de-cluttering, and books stacked all over the house crying to be shelved, and oh my but the sorting section of my brain begins to convulse.

About noon, I took this before photo.


Then got to work.

The first thing I did was throw this out.


Have you ever seen anything so weird? I’ve been holding onto this “tree” for about eight years and I guess today I reached my limit. It was an award presented to Davis Community Network for some work we’d done to benefit nonprofits. I honestly cannot remember the organization that gave us the award, nor exactly what it was for. I’d gone back to Washington, D.C. to receive it on DCN’s behalf, believe it or not, in conjunction with a conference that made sense to attend, and carefully carried it back with nary a scratch. It’s heavy, made of some kind of plaster, and quite fragile. And it is ugly as all get out. DCN no longer has an office in which to display such a thing and I think nobody will be the wiser.

I only regret tossing what is without a doubt the best White Elephant gift a person could ever hope to have… but can’t see holding onto it for that one chance to unload it.

Here’s another thing that was easy to unload:


No idea how or why I ended up with this book in the first place, but now, after all that’s come out about the once-lovable Bill Cosby, I certainly don’t want it. Creepy, huh?

Here are some other book oddities:

After pulling every book off every shelf in the house (not counting the shelves in Peter’s room, which I’d culled last year, nor Jim’s office shelves which I’d never dare touch), cleaning them all and sorting by genre, I found that I had:

– Three copies of Pema Chodren’s “When Things Fall Apart,” which seems kind of ironic.. or maybe desperate? Dunno, but it cracked me up.

– Two copies of Noam Chomsky’s “What Uncle Sam Really Wants,” which I find weird since I can’t remember even knowing about, much less acquiring, this book.

– Three copies of “Catcher in the Rye,” which is okay by me, but good as it is, I only need one.

– Two copies of “Three Cups of Tea,” which I know exactly how that happened because I remember buying my second copy while in an airport in Kathmandu, but now I have a great gift to give to somebody, except now I also want to get Jon Krakauer’s rebuttal to that whole story (“Three Cups of Deceit”), because it sounds like he’s got a bone to pick with the way the story was represented and I’d like to hear his version, and would like to add that to the other great Jon Krakauer books I have. Which are all now together in a section that includes other adventure mountain books. We all have a dedicated shelf for that, right? I am so organized.

By 6:30 I was done with most of the project and had re-loaded this bookcase:


Looks great! I can’t take my eyes off it.

Jim helped me hang three of the pictures that had just been gathering dust on the bookshelves for years. This is a big deal because Jim absolutely despairs of this picture-hanging process. I sure don’t know why, I’m a total team player, non demanding, non critical (I swear), but man, black cloud over his head the whole time. Still, I’m thrilled to get those up at long last.


I still have stacks of books to dust and load into another three cases (two in the living room, one in my office), but the hard part’s over– deciding which genres go where and making sure there is enough room for them all.  I will finish that tomorrow.

And.. after all this, there were about a hundred books that didn’t make the cut… so we’ll donate them to the Davis Food Coop which is coordinating a book drive for STEAC.

Win win.

Breakfast with Elliot

November 21, 2014

I’ve come to love these semi-annual breakfasts with Elliot–once a colleague, now a treasured buddy. We meet in Berkeley, more or less in the middle between Palo Alto and Davis. (That is quite the trio of Northern California college towns.) We’ve found ourselves in something of a rut, but it’s a wonderful rut. Breakfast is always here, Rick and Ann’s over by the Claremont Hotel:


Followed typically by a walk, either through the Berkeley campus, the Berkeley neighborhoods, Tilden park or sometimes the Rose Garden. Lots of shop talk, which is still interesting, and lots of family catch up. More news these days of exercise routines and health issues. And today, a little sharing on a recent AARP article. Gack.

Here are a few shots of campus and surrounds:

South side of campus, entering from Telegraph Ave. This I believe is Sather Rd:


Sproul Hall:


Sather Gate:


Along Euclid, north of campus.


And this was a drive by, along College Avenue, may now be in Oakland:


After Elliot, I was so close to Piedmont Gardens, I’d decided to stop in and visit for a few minutes with Annita. She woke up a little and talked, but she was very hard to understand. Even so, it was nice to see her.

Besoaked and Besodden

November 20, 2014

These are two of my most recent favorite words and describe the day pretty well. I can find neither in the dictionary, however, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough. I’m not beyond making up words, but these seem pretty legit.

Anyway, I’m enjoying a rainy day–especially the part in the cafe with book and coffee and muffin. Had great intentions to plow through a bookshelf purging and reorganization project, but … well … other stuff happened.

So… here are a few rainy day shots: the first one is apparently what it looked like in the seventies when it rained, because the filter I used is called, descriptively, ’70s: 


Does that say seventies to you? To me it says besoaked and besodden.

The next couple are just under-the-umbrella shots… tricky if you’re holding said umbrella and leftover burrito in one hand and shooting with the other. It is raining, even if you can’t tell:




November 20, 2014

Jim’s aunt Annita turned 91 a little over a week ago. She spent her birthday at the Summit Medical Center in Oakland, having been admitted five days earlier because she’d gotten to the point where she was unable to eat or drink and her husband (Jim’s uncle Dean) was struggling to care for her. After about a week, they moved her to Piedmont Gardens, a skilled nursing facility not too far from their home. She’s now in the hospice ward and it looks like that’s where she’ll remain.

Piedmont Gardens is just around the corner from the historic Church of St. Leo the Great, which is where Annita and Dean were married (60 years ago), and where I think all five of their kids (most of them anyway) went to St. Leo’s catholic school.. as did Jim and his two siblings.

These things are hard. Annita lived a long life and I think she would say it was full and rich and happy.  But it’s still sad to see the matriarchs go. It’s sad to see the generation pass on. Jim’s mom (Annita’s sister) died almost 45 years ago–way too early–from cancer, so to see Annita frail and close, is bringing up a lot of sad memories. It’s like she’s taking with her the last part of Jim’s mom.

Annita and Sonia were raised in Brazil, children of a French mom and Brazilian dad, and lived a high life. The short version of the story–I’m definitely glossing over details here–is that on a vacation to California when the sisters were young adults, they met two brothers from Kansas at some kind of officers club and (eventually) married them–Dean and Jim’s dad. Two sisters married two brothers… it made for a lot of very close cousins.

Four of the eight cousins live in or within an hour of the Bay Area. The other four are scattered about, but still close and in touch. Email’s been flying the last three weeks. Jim and I went down today to see Annita and spend some time with Dean. We saw John (who came up from Arcadia) and Marie who drove over from Mountain View.

The good news is they are able to keep her comfortable. She doesn’t really have anything wrong, she’s just old and slowing way, way down. We’re not sure how aware she is; her memory is mostly gone. Most of the time she sleeps; she’s really not even able to eat. I think it will be a quiet passing.

Here are some pictures:

Sonia (left) and Annita (right) in outfits their mom, Vovo, a designer (I’m corrected when I call her a seamstress) made:

In 1930 (age 7):

sonia and annita 2

In 1932 (age 9):

sonia and annita

This one’s from a family reunion in 2001 (age 78):


Christmas 2008 (age 85):


And a couple from a reunion in 2011 (age 88):


And with Uncle Dean, who’s taken very good care of her:


Arty Arboretum

November 18, 2014

Again with the filters.

Fall must be a good time for messing with one’s camera settings, because I’m having all kinds of fun doing it and coming up with images I really like.

This may be my favorite photo of all time.. something about the light really appeals to me.


This uses the HDR setting and is particularly zingy:


This one is just a typical fall arboretum shot.. nothing wrong with that:


I kind of like the grunge effect. I’d unintentionally reversed my perspective and thought it looked interesting as I was walking along:


Then we came upon this art piece….


And upon closer inspection, saw it was a collection of gingko leaves that someone had painstakingly arranged in concentric circles around this bench. So unusual, so nice.


Felt all sickish today… a variety of cold symptoms returned… so didn’t do too much.

My big outing of the day–meeting Jim here for lunch (so what else is new?). It is one of my favorite downtown corners: nice building, nice colors, nice trees, nice views… lots of activity. Comfort food was in order.


Ambled around on a couple of errands, took a few pictures, returned home to wallow and futz with photos. Came up with these for the day:

Third and B, heading west on Third, toward campus:


Along B Street, across from Central Park. Those apartments:


And the ol’ look-down shot, when all else fails: