Weird Series

October 31, 2015

Again, competing interests here…

It’s both Halloween and, this time, game #4 of the World Series…

Not much to say about that, so will just offer a few shots on the day.

Had lunch downtown with Janet and Jim, and happened to sit outside at Bernardo’s where we had a front row seat to the annual Halloween candy give-away. Here are a few of the hundreds of costumed kids who paraded by:





And a pair of adults (Vicki and Mark):


Our house, minorly spooked up (got a great last minute deal on a pumpkin this afternoon–you might remember a shot I took about a week ago of the fall display at the Davis Food Coop?…. this is that flatish pumpkin that was on the far left):


If you don’t carve them, they’ll last til March…


Peter handled candy duties, Jim and I watched the World Series… I kept score:


This was actually shot last night on the way to the movies, but I thought it was a nice Halloween parting shot:


Hard decision tonight–game #3 of the World Series; Mets, down 2-0 in the best of seven series, but are ahead 5-3 in the 5th inning.

Stay, watch the end of the game….


(That is Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard… seemed a great player, though it was the first I’d ever heard of him.)

….or go to see Bridge of Spies….

bridge of spies

Bridge of Spies won out.

Good movie. Sure it’ll go places…. Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, historical drama/suspense, true story, happy ending.. it’s a no fail combo. Even the Coen Brothers worked on this (whose touches stand out). I was fascinated by what the world looked like when I was a little kid.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sorry for the bail-out blog. Busy day.

Poverty Ridge

October 29, 2015

I’m always just a tiny bit thrilled when we venture across the river into the urban wilds of Sacramento. Not just any part of Sac…it’s gotta be downtown, or better, midtown. Not sure why exactly, but being in somebody else’s downtown just triggers a wee spark of excitement. Even Sac. I guess after 38 years in Davis, I have a bit of the bumpkin in me.

Jim and I had lunch at Magpie’s new location at 16th and P (their cafe/bakery remains at their original spot at R & 14th). Here’s my grilled cheese (with gerkins, fig, pluot served on a wooden cutting board).. a very appealing presentation:


The reason for our trip was to attend a memorial service for a friend of Jim’s–Therese (McDermott) Cantrell. Huge gathering, sad circumstances (she was only 60). Tons of people Jim knew from his old work days. Such a mix of feelings in the crowd.. lots of sorrow and tenderness, but clearly a bunch of people with a billion intersecting story lines. There was just a lot of energy in that room–the energy that comes from big families, overlapping & twisty social circles and long histories.

I even ran into two women I waitressed with back in my Bump’s days (1980-82). They were a pair to be reckoned with then, and still seem so now. Davis locals; they’re a demographic all their own.

Anyway, there’s no question, we’re definitely entering a time when the number of memorial services we attend is going to go up.

The service was at Vizcaya on 21st. While I’ve been in that part of midtown millions of times, I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed the hill. Turns out, the 19th-24th, R-W square is called Poverty Ridge or Poverty Hill, after the poverty-stricken citizens forced to high ground by flood waters probably in the 1800s. The name is ironic now because the area is characterized by some pretty stately mansions.

Here are some shots on a lovely fall day–a couple on the hill itself, the other not so much.




In My Cups

October 28, 2015

About a month and a half ago, I went in for my first-ever acupuncture treatment, recommended, believe it or not, by my Kaiser doctor. She said acupuncture is a good strategy for dealing with the inflammation caused by arthritis and she suggested I see the guy at the local holistic health center.

So I did.

At my initial appointment, I spent the first 20 minutes of the session going over the sad little story of my hip, and Brian, the acupuncturist (whom I’ve heard about for years and years), listened intently and wrote lots of things down. He finally directed me to the table and began examining the ridges and valleys of my hip (some of which shouldn’t have been ridges and valleys) and conclusively determined I have hip dysplasia (something pretty common in dogs, but, as far as I can tell, less common in humans). Hip dysplasia is exactly what it sounds like… an out of alignment hip joint. The bone that usually fits snugly into the socket somehow gets loose. He had a collection of model skeletons in his office he used to demonstrate exactly what happens as the bone slides even slightly out of place.

How does this happen?!

Maybe it’s the result of age, or late-age pregnancy, or too much sitting, or all of the above. Hard to say how long my right hip’s been out of whack, but it’s probably been a minor irregularity for quite a while (I’ve called it a hitch in my git-along for a few years now). Minor until it flared up, which was probably the result of some added trauma, like: dancing like a crazy person for hours in heeled boots (on New Year’s Eve last year), and then maybe walking too many miles, over too many days on relentless up-and-downhill paved surfaces in another pair of heeled boots (over the Jan 3rd weekend in La Jolla), and maybe following that up with some intense hip-stressing exercises at Fitness Garage (on Jan 7th), and capping all that off with a long, New Year’s resolution-style session on the Stairmaster (on Jan 8th)… which totally sent it over the edge and into a riot of spasms. I did not recognize this as a so-called flare-up, and certainly didn’t know what to do with it for months and months. Except try everything under the sun to fix it, once I could sort of walk again.

So maybe that’s what’s going on… hip dysplasia, exacerbated by a flare-up.

Who knows.

But for sure Brian said the bone is a quarter to a half an inch or so out of place, and nearby ligaments and assorted related tissue are stretched and stressed, which has caused all manner of irritation and inflammation, and a whole cascade of impacts downstream (and upstream and every whichway-stream).

So Brian explains all this and his explanation resonates so strongly I want to scream YES YES YES, this is exactly what I think is going on. Makes perfect sense!

Then come the needles… a whole bunch of needles that he punched through the top layers of my skin. That, I assumed, was the star of the show, and was weird enough, until he started setting fire to alcohol-soaked cotton balls and inserting them into glass (or bamboo) cups, and faster than a flash placed said cups in strategic locations around my hip joint.

The burning cotton ball, as it turns out, sucks all the oxygen out of the cup, so that, if you’re quick enough and place the cup upside-down on a patch of skin, it acts as a powerful suction cup. It latches on and becomes a giant hickey generator, is what it does. The objective is to draw and pull stuff up from beneath the surface of the skin–in my case, the suction is strong enough to realign tissue and bones.

Is that weird!?

The effect was immediate and pronounced, and it truly blew me away. The feeling of the warm glass cup suctioning an area that was so chronically sore from being all misaligned and inflamed was just… I have to say… sublime. When I stood up and moved my leg around, it actually moved freely. It wasn’t like the blind man seeing for the first time, or the deaf guy hearing, but it was significant. And after a frustrating and painful ten-plus months, it seemed momentous. And a HUGE step in the right direction.

Right off the bat, returning the joint to its rightful place goes a long way toward fixing the mess in there. Blood should flow more freely–into, but especially out of, the area. That allows inflammation to disburse and nutrients to get to damaged tissue.  The idea is that after a few treatments (and maybe a few more after that), the joint reestablishes muscle memory and will stay put (helped along by my own muscle strengthening and stretching regimens).

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Hope it has some basis in reality.

I sure didn’t know cupping was a thing, that a whole bunch of celebrities have gotten into it over the last couple of years. That is a bit disappointing to hear. I discovered this when I went online searching for an image to use–because I’m certainly not going to snap a pic while in the middle of a cupping session–and found 1) lots of photos of celebrities with round hickies all over their bodies, and 2) some extremely grotesque photos of creepy, bruised bodies.. apparently the result of cupping gone bad.

So I just don’t know what to think. I’m apparently riding the latest hollywood celebrity alternative woo woo wave, which, as I said, is sort of disallusioning, except that my foray into cupping has represented a huge turning point in the whole sad hip saga. It is the most hopeful thing yet in a string of hopeful things, and may be the thing that saves me from hip replacement surgery.

Here are a couple shots that I found online of the cupping process:



You can Google image cupping to see some of the gross shots.

Photo Spread

October 27, 2015

Peter’s senior portraits arrived. We’ve never done formal photos, so thought what the heck. If not now, when? It’s a little insane what you pay for these things…  I’ll just say somewhere north of $450. Yes, I’m not kidding. For that, you get 1 11×14, 4 8x10s, 10 5x7s, 12 4x5s, and 88 wallets.  Eighty eight. What do you do with those? You also get all kinds of frames and boxes and album thingies, plus a CD.

So wow.

Here’s a sample of the haul:


But here’s the thing: look how old he is! Tuxedo, graduation robe, mortarboard, are we really at this part already? Other parents’ kids who are in pictures like this are all old and mature and leaving home, going to college….  but, Peter… he sure looks all those things, but he’s just a kid, right? He was just in kindergarten, right? Now he’s all posing for photos while leaning casually against brick walls and sitting on grand staircases with an arm draped over a knee.. and looking startlingly manly.

[Mom shakes head back and forth slowly with alternatingly wistful and disbelieving eyes…]


October 26, 2015

I’m sure you doubted me the other day when I said we still had vegetables growing in our yard… so here is proof that  we are still farming tomatoes over here on A Street. In fact, this is the very first harvest of this year’s tomato crop:


They are maybe heirloom cherries.. is there such a thing?  They are fabulous (thus the photo)!

We are still eating last week’s harvest of cantaloupe, and we’re still actually working through chard that was planted last winter.

Maybe this is everyone’s weirdo gardening experience this year?

The Subject is Trees

October 25, 2015

Still hitting the 80s hereabouts. Makes it a little confusing for trees ready to lose their leaves, but a few are giving it the old college try:


The above was shot across the street. A quick scan of my photo archive from last year suggests fall arrived more or less on time in 2014. This year, not so much.

Walking downtown for breakfast, noticed a sign on the heritage elm near the corner of Third and C. This tree is 109 years old and is definitely feeling its age. The drought is not helping.



(Rob Cain, nice guy, is the city arborist, whose job is probably pretty stressful these days.)

Finally, in other city tree news, after a few years of nudging–some of it gentle, some of it tending more toward desperate–the City’s arborist (same Rob Cain) and the Street Tree Commission have, at last, agreed that our neighbor’s Modesto ash has reached the end of its useful life. It is now, as of the commission’s meeting last Thursday, slated for removal. Its departure will give our sycamore some room to grow and spread out a bit, which is a good thing. And I can finally sleep anxiety-free during those fierce north winds knowing that thing’s not going to come crashing down on our bedroom roof.

Here’s the dead tree in question (on the right):


Here is an illustration of the tangle that will be eliminated once the ash comes out and our sycamore can fill toward the north (and straighten up a bit):


We still have a giant redwood two doors up, just to the north of the ash, to sort of worry about (if you’re me and fear falling trees), but the arborist assures us this one’s solidly rooted. Tall, and within reach of our house, yes, but not a reasonable threat. Medium relaxed about this.


I don’t know much about botany, but I think I know enough to know that it’s usual to have Meyer lemons (winter), magnolias and narcissus (spring) and tomatoes, melon, peppers and eggplant (summer, fall) all coming to the same blooming party.

A small corner of our front yard, if you look carefully, has all this going on:


Three Cheers

October 23, 2015

Ya know…   sometimes it’s just the small things… like the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you stop at the store on your way home for milk and you end up just so grateful to be living where you’re living.

I’m not kidding. I was second in line, waiting to place my few items on the conveyor and I glanced at the magazine rack–the place where you ordinarily catch up on the cheesiest of hollywood gossip or where you’re likely to feel shamed for your flawed and aging body, or amused-slash-repulsed by some grotesquely exaggerated (non)fact of human indignity (she did what with a hockey puck?).  Instead…


The closest they come to provocative headlines is that one, “Strange But True,” which is on the cover of National Geographic… so I think it’s safe. (At least until Rupert Murdoch gets control of the editorial board. Big, fat sigh.)

The Coop’s impulse-buy magazine rack is a gentle, constructive, shock-free zone. Thanks Coop magazine buyers. We appreciate you.

Feeling all warm and un-cynical–a nice way to feel–I headed out to my car, past their lovely fall display…


Here’s a close up of the display’s big daddy…


Way to stick with your branding, guys! A sign of a very heads up marketing staff.

As I do about half the time, I left my bag in my car… so here’s a shot of my cartful of groceries that I’ll transfer to a canvas bag. Mostly it’s a shot of a human scale, garden-filled parking lot, situated in a quiet, tree-lined, downtown neighborhood. If you have to shop….


And finally… a parting shot as I return the cart…


I guess I can call this a typical non-work day, since I’m, um, now working three days a week: a long workout and yoga session this morning; followed by a 90-minute massage to fix that stubbornly displaced hip; a pair-o-errands because ya gotta; a stop at Mishka’s for a cafe au lait, croissant and a bit of reading on the patio; the above trip to the coop; and dinner/movie with the husb in a bit.

I pretty much think that’s why I’m happy. There’s a lot of life to love in Davis.

The Ruins

October 22, 2015

So my friend [from kindergarten] Sarah and her husband Gabe had this really good idea: Build a cool little performance venue on their property in the foothills, make a bunch of great desserts, whip together a batch of hot apple cider (spiked according to taste), invite a couple of super talented folk artists, gather a whole lot of friends on a warm-enough fall evening…. and… perfection. Obviously.

Sarah and Gabe built this structure… a three-sided space about the size of a paddle tennis court–stacked rocks that look like an ancient ruin. They strung lights and placed candles in glass tubes all over the place. There’s a fire pit. There’s a dramatic crack (intentional). There’s room for chairs, plus tables that hold the delectables. The whole thing is surrounded by trees, sky, stars and magic. And, they call it, “The Ruins.”

Here is a picture of Kelley Mcrae and her partner Matt Castelein, playing at the Ruins:


And because it’s hard to see the singers, I’ll post this one from their website:


Their website’s got some music videos…worth a listen. They earned another fan (or forty) tonight.

It was just a really fun evening. Started by meeting Susan and Jim for dinner outside of Auburn at that place you see on the billboards: Dingus McGee’s Roadhouse (who knew?). Lovely setting. This is our table out back:


And this one’s a shot from the porch as you exit the restaurant…


Nice way to spend a Thursday night.