Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter and so forth

Easter Sunday was spent doing many odd jobs around the house, with an excursion to Home Town Buffet for breakfast. Several people that I know had the same idea. It is rather pleasant going to a restaurant and finding that you know people that are there – kind of like a get-together.

Other than the breakfast deal, the rest of the day was spent like many others around here, with a couple of loads of laundry before breakfast, then sorting more stuff, and eventually repairing jewelry for the next show. I had hoped to sell on Easter, but rain was forecast, so I blew it off. I truly need to get rid of all the boxes full of things that I have piled in the living room. They are driving me wacky.

I have listened to Allie’s Easter chapel service several times already. It is available online on the Duke University Chapel website, in streaming media. Allie is an alto in the choir, and I have been able to see her when the camera is working just right. The music throughout the service was absolutely beautiful, actually awesome at times, with the choir, brass, tympani, and organ. That is why I have watched and listened to it so often. I wish more people would check it out, especially family members.

Today was another day of about the same thing, except no restaurant breakfast. I like it when I make some headway on jewelry repairs. I have many plastic boxes full yet – purchases made in years past. I’ll be so happy when they are done, even though I generally enjoy the work. It does get frustrating when I can’t find the right stones, however.

Tomorrow will be spent with the seniors, on a shopping trip. I look forward to enjoying lunch with everyone. That is one of the main reasons I go. I am not into shopping that much, but I’ll probably pick up something I need.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Busy Week

This has been a totally busy week. I enjoyed a nice, long bus ride with the seniors on Monday, to Daffodil Hill, on a road several miles outside of Sutter Creek. The day was beautiful, with great weather and scenery, especially along the winding, hilly road from Sutter Creek to Daffodil Hill, in Volcano. There were pretty homes, pastures with livestock, including a couple of wild turkeys, and woods.

Daffodil Hill was a disappointment, in that we had been trying for a couple of years to visit the place, and it has been closed each time. This time we actually went that far, only to have a man on the property put up a closed sign after we got there. There were plenty of flowers, but apparently soggy ground from all the rain in previous days kept us from being allowed beyond the gate. I have read about Daffodil Hill in my garden books, and have seen photos, but I still have not walked the acres and experienced the wonderful blossoms firsthand.

There was a peacock in all his finery, showing off for the two peahens wandering around. They weren’t paying any attention to him at all, but he was quite a sight. At least he gave me something to photograph. I also managed a few flower photos, and the gentleman who had locked us out brought a beautiful daffodil specimen and stuck it in the top of the chain link fence, stating that it was a rare one, with two blossoms at the top of one stem. The blossoms had white petals with pink trumpets.

We continued on to Jackson, to the casino for lunch, then left shortly after that for San Pablo. I arrived home a couple of hours before leaving for the City Council Meeting. The fate of Circle S Mobile Home Park was discussed a bit further, and the Council voted to continue with the Negative Declaration. It was also mentioned that this will be a long process.

I spoke with Mayor Gomes yesterday at the Senior Center, just as I arrived there for lunch. He was on the way out the door and stopped to greet me as I walked in. He told me that he favors the idea of manufactured housing for the site, and will not support shipping everyone off to the planned apartment site on Giant Road beside the railroad tracks. We had a pleasant visit.

I have been busy really cleaning out my bedroom. It has been the site of stored boxes, paintings, and many other items, since I moved in. For the past few months, I have sorted items, planning to sell most of them, so that I’ll be thinned out enough to move when the time comes. This week, I got totally serious about finishing the bedroom job, and as of today, I am about done. The objects which I shall keep have been rearranged in there, for better traffic flow, and more floor space so that I can walk around more easily and not feel as though I am sleeping in a closet full of stuff.

Of course, the living room is a mess now, because I have moved many boxes to that staging area, before putting them in the van at various times to go to markets on Sundays. I am finding, however, that I can talk myself into getting rid of things much more easily that I have in the past. It’s, like, out of here. I have also managed to clean out some of the kitchen cupboards in the past couple of weeks, as there were antiques stored in them, and have also packed up knickknacks that were on the countertops, deciding that I no longer plan to keep them.

The books are becoming more and more organized. They were scattered through all rooms, but are now just about totally sorted into boxes to sell, with the keepers on the shelves. At one point I had over 1000 listed on Amazon for sale, but I removed 700 or more when the competition became too great and I had to lower the prices to a point where I was losing money. Those books, plus very many more that I couldn’t list on Amazon, have become flea market stock. So far, I have done rather well selling them. I can’t wait until they are gone, so that I can reclaim my living room.

I had thought that I might go to the Palace of the Legion of Honor today to enjoy some art, but somehow I am in this groove, or rut, of trying to get a job done with all the packing of stuff. Another time, I guess.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Severe damage to many buildings yesterday afternoon by a tornado that touched down near where I would have been selling at a flea market if I hadn't decided to cancel...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Did You Know :

Songs going around in your head are called *Earworms* - as per KDFC personnel.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

St. Patrick's Day

In 1982, my daughter, Coral, and I lived in San Antonio and worked together at the River Terrace, an outdoor café on the San Antonio River. We had arrived in San Antonio at Christmas time, in 1981, and had decided to try to build a life together, acquiring an apartment and making friends. Almost immediately, we discovered the River Walk, a wonderful water-oriented thoroughfare below street level, with steps down to the water from many locations along the developed area.

Working on the River Walk was fun and exciting. I would arrive at work early in the morning, and help with hosing down the terrace; setting up tables, chairs, and umbrellas. The sounds of birds, and other morning sounds, reminded me so much of Paris.

Tourists would arrive for breakfast, and for lunch, and it was always interesting to wait on them, exchanging pleasantries. I even met a family that knew my brother in the Air Force, in Kansas, because he had been named Airman of the Quarter three times then, just missing being named Airman of the Year. He was eventually transferred to San Antonio, when I had already moved to the Gulf Coast, and I was able to attend his commissioning as an officer, along with my other daughter Carrie.

I became well acquainted with many establishments along the River Walk, and even obtained a second job at an Italian restaurant across the bridge, Michelina’s. I worked there during the dinner hour. Tourists were generous with tips at both restaurants, and I decided that being a waitress wasn’t a half-bad job, especially when I could be outside enjoying the fresh air and scenery.

There were several hotels on the River, all quite grand, and the newest of them had a section of the River flowing through it. Many were older, historic appearing buildings, and the new edifice had many stories with glass elevators running up and down from the glass-enclosed atrium where the River ran through.

Tour boats cruised along the River, and it was fun to watch them while waiting on customers. There were parades on the River for many occasions, rather than on the streets above, with decorated boats - genuine floats. One of the most celebrated events was St. Patrick’s Day, when the River was dyed green, just like Chicago, and green beer flowed at every café and restaurant. It was so great to participate in the festivities; I can see it now.

I have been back to the River Walk many times since I left the area, and was there at a time when the whole place was buried in snow, a very unusual occurrence. I wish that all of you would have the opportunity to visit this great place. It is one of the locations in this country that I truly love.

Environmental Review

The main topic of the Planning Commission meeting last night was an environmental review and approval of a proposed mitigated negative declaration of what they refer to as the “Circle S” project. Adjacent properties are involved, but the project name is “Circle S”, the name of our mobile home park.

Environmental studies are, of course, of great interest today. The environmental impact of a new subdivision on the property is not as great as the problems caused by present conditions – ancient trailers and trash accumulated on asphalt, with runoff being deposited directly into Wildcat Creek.

According to the multiple-page handout available at the meeting, extensive studies of steelhead in the creek, and removal to upstream or downstream locations is a top priority in creek management. Measures will be taken along the banks to prevent erosion and sedimentation into the stream and to prevent the spill of contaminants in or around the stream.

A biologist will conduct surveys to avoid impacts to raptors and other migratory nesting birds, depending on the construction season. The creek shall also be surveyed for the presence of western pond turtles. Removal of non-native trees in the buffer zone between the development and the creek, after it has been determined that no nesting birds are present, is a plan that is difficult for me to handle. I realize that this is the accepted way to go, now that the Eucalyptus has taken over a great deal of the environment, but there are only two things that keep me from being crazy living in this mobile home. One is the view of Mt. Tamalpais, and the other is the large group of Eucalyptus along the creek with raptors roosting in the tops. I am a tree person, and these are about the only trees I can see from my windows.

A part of the report that was very interesting to me was in regards to the actual excavation on the site. With the possibility that human remains of Native American origin could be discovered, provision has been made for identification by the Native American Heritage Commission, which would provide recommendation for the proper treatment of the remains. Also, an archaeologist will conduct a subsurface investigation to determine the presence of archaeological deposits, and a paleontologist will determine if there are any resources. I wonder what is under here.

There will be numerous studies, as with any construction site, but one problem which will undoubtedly crop up is that the lumber company section of the site was probably contaminated by treated lumber. There was also a gas station at some location on the property. It seems to me that this could be a very lengthy process, although perhaps not quite as much as a property that has permanent construction. There are small buildings here and there, but the mobile homes can just be moved out.

I get nervous thinking of the disruption all of this will cause, but I have no intention of remaining in this mobile home forever.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Show Time

The past three days working at the Marin Civic Center has rather tired me out, but I still plan to go to my writing group tonight.

Business was not great, but at least I did make some money, and also got rid of a few things that take up room in my house. I had fun with my dealer friends, and luckily, some of my friends decided to sell at the show for the first time. That gave me many more hours of hanging out with them, chatting about the jewelry, helping each other with identification, and comparing notes.

The jewelry field is immense and involved, starting with very early pieces, through the Victorian period, then into the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Pieces from the 50’s are also of interest, but much more easily obtained than the earlier objects. Items from the 50’s, and even 60’s, can be very valuable, but not as much so as those from the 20’s to 40’s. The 40’s and 50’s jewelry pieces that are signed by the leading designers of the period, are particularly desirable. It is always wonderful to study these treasures, and check out the brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings that your fellow dealers have displayed. Generally, I am speaking of costume jewelry, with faux stones set in white metal that is rhodium or gold plated, and sterling jewelry from the 40’s that is made to resemble fine jewelry. The rhinestones, clear, or colored, look “real”, and one can find magnificent examples, designed by artists who started in the fine jewelry field.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Little Allie

“I made muffins for you, Uncle Craigie!” Allie was at the counter in the Pennysaver office with her mom, Coral. They had come to visit Craig and me at work, walking to the Pennysaver from the apartment that Craig and I shared. Coral and Allie loved coming to stay with us in the Finger Lakes. They lived almost three hours away, outside Buffalo.

The girls at the office just loved beautiful, adorable Allie, and thought she was so cute when she told her beloved Uncle Craig about the muffins.

One of the times Coral and Allie walked over to the Pennysaver was a totally bad day for all of us. It seemed that they had barely said good-bye, when a woman came rushing in looking for me. A dog bit Allie in the face shortly after they got around the corner from our building, and this woman took them into her house. Poor, tiny Allie was sobbing and her mom was a basket case. I was not any better.

We had to walk to the apartment so that we could get Coral’s car and go to the emergency room, quite a distance from where I lived. Coral drove and I sat in the back beside Allie in her car seat, holding a cloth on her face and trying to comfort her. It just made me sick that my beautiful granddaughter had received such an injury to her face, and that she had to suffer so much.

We were sent from the emergency room to a surgeon in a medical complex nearby, so that he could put sutures in Allie’s face. She was a brave little girl. The dog’s teeth had come down from her forehead, skimming over her eye and basically just about taking a chunk out of her cheek. The doctor did a beautiful job, and even though plastic surgery was suggested as a possibility when she got older, this has not been done. She is still a beautiful girl, a Junior at Duke University. We barely notice the scar on her cheek.

Interesting evening...

Last night’s City Council Meeting was rather an eye opener. The fate of our Mobile Home Park was on the agenda, with an alternate proposition as to relocation of tenants. As I mentioned earlier, the Redevelopment Agency members decided to check out the feasibility of placing manufactured homes on the site, allowing present tenants to rent or purchase them. The Agency has been in contact with manufacturers of the modular homes, checking on prices when purchasing a few hundred of these homes.

A few slides were shown, and some information was given to the public, although many details would have to be ironed out. The Mayor stated that he favors this plan. He has told us personally that he was not all that happy with the idea of relocating us to the apartment site next to the railroad tracks, in the industrial section of the city.

The homes would be a decided improvement over what we now have, and they would be fairly good size, with up to 2800 square feet, and garages. I have checked the websites of the three manufacturers mentioned, and the homes are very attractive.

The interesting note of the evening was that the owner of this Park decided to show up. When the City Manager mentioned that the owner was almost impossible to deal with and the City would probably have to take the property by eminent domain (or whatever), the owner rushed to the podium. He stated to the Council, “I have never been offered a price for my property. I have never heard from you.” I know that the purchase of this Park by the City has been in the works for a few years, and I have had discussions with the former Park Manager along these lines. The Manager told me that his boss was not interested at that time because the city was not willing to pay enough.

The owner continued, “I want fair market value for my property, which is the same that anyone else would want.” It was like he was pleading with everyone, trying to make the audience feel sorry for him. There were a few rumblings in the rows behind me, as people responded under their breath. The residents know what type of landlord he is.

After more exchanges took place, the Park owner told the Mayor, “I want to discuss all of this with the City Council.” The Mayor replied, “You can discuss any time you want to, right in these meetings in front of the public.” The Mayor is an elderly gentleman, but has been in politics for many years and can be a tough guy to confront. He impresses me. The City has been on the Owner’s case for years regarding many code violations, and abysmal conditions. The man is a slum lord – there is no doubt about that. He is a multi-millionaire and an attorney. He certainly doesn’t sound like an attorney. I was not impressed and was chuckling to myself as I was falling asleep last night that he was rather laughable.

I did have the chance to corner him outside as he was leaving the meeting, and asked him why our rent had just gone up, when it has not been a year since the last time it was raised. It was raised last June. He told me he made a mistake, and I should ignore the notice, discuss it with the manager, and wait until June to pay the higher rent.

The City Manager stated that if the manufactured home deal is accepted, those of us who choose to live in them will pay the same rent that we were paying on the date of the meeting, Mar 7. The subject of selling them to those who desire to buy, at a very reduced purchase price, was touched on. There are too many variables at this point to state the price.

If the deal goes through, I might be very tempted to stay here in San Pablo. I have become used to living here, and have many friends and acquaintances that I run into in the stores and on the streets. The climate is great, Spring has sprung (in February and March), and the location of this site is central to everything.

The first modular homes would be placed on the old lumber company site between the two mobile home parks, so that residents could start moving into them, then the two parks would be prepared for the remainder of the homes. I believe the plan calls for 300 homes, in a subdivision setting. Being able to remain here at an affordable price is a big deal. Of course, those who choose to live in the homes would forfeit a settlement, but that is OK. It is the quality of living that counts.

Friday, March 04, 2005


A couple of weeks ago, I ate lunch at the Senior Center with a visitor to our community from Cape Cod. We were having the normal conversation, “Yes, I have been there and I love that area – how long have you lived there?” We talked all around and in and out of the New England thing. I spoke of a favorite photo I took of my youngest as a little tiny kid standing in water so clear that stones sparkled and showed clearly in the picture.

“B” was staying with a friend here for a month, and had decided to come to the Senior Center and check it out. We finally get to the best part of the lunchtime conversation. She is Tribal Chairwoman of a tribe that is part of the Wampanoag. I can not remember the name of the tribe, but she is trying to acquire recognition so that she can do something with the 90 acre reservation that she inherited near New Bedford. "B" did state that she doesn’t really have the energy at her age to do much along those lines, but is interested in finding out at much as she can.

“B” is an educated woman. “The younger members of the family have been able to attend Harvard and MIT for free, but I had to pay my own way through college.” She was a science and phys ed teacher.

We discussed other tribes in New England, including the one that started Fox Woods Casino in Connecticut. She is very familiar with that group, and has the books written about the subject. "B" did state that she has file boxes full of information on her own tribe, and hopes to compile it in some manner in the future.

It has been quite some time since I spoke with someone that is so interesting. The strange thing is that she reminds me very much of my sister Jamie; her voice, appearance, mannerisms. I told her that, and she seemed pleased. I saw her a couple of times after that, before she returned to Cape Cod.

I was standing in line at Walgreen’s, and "B" called my name – she was in line a few people back. I also saw her at the Senior Center once again. She was leaving, and I was arriving, on a nasty, rainy Saturday afternoon. At least I have her business card, with an email address, so that I can keep in touch.


Tuesday, a group of Russians studying dentistry joined us for lunch at the Senior Center. They seemed to have a good time, and obviously enjoy hanging out with each other. The men outnumbered the women 4 to 1, but it was nice to see the fresh, fairly young faces. Our mayor was with the group for a bit. I wonder what wonderful parts of San Pablo they were touring. That’s a joke, but actually there are some pretty places here, including our own City Hall area, next door (across a footbridge over Wildcat Creek) to the Senior Center.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Random Thoughts

We keep quarters here at home for Park residents to use for the laundromat. There is an almost constant parade of people to the door to make use of this service. Last week a very young mom and her beautiful little girl came up the steps to the porch and knocked at the sliding glass doors. Neither one of them seem to speak much English.

The curious cats, the ones that are not fraidy cats, appeared at the door to check out the little girl. She was saying gato and sliding the door, trying to walk into the room. Her mom slid the door so that it was only open a crack, and waited for the change. This week, when they returned, the gatos were trying to get close to her again, and I asked her mother if it was ok for her to come inside. She stood near the door, and three of the guys stayed close to her. Chip even stood up to her and could reach her face. I had to push him back so she wouldn’t totally freak out. When I let her back out the door, she waved goodbye to the kitties. She is just so sweet. I wonder if she will want to come in next time.


Chris and Becky took me out to dinner Saturday night for my birthday. We went to the Macaroni Grill and had a great meal. I had several phone calls earlier in the day, from offspring and two sisters, and received flowers from Allie, Lissa and James. All in all, it was a great day.


I was back at the Redevelopment Agency at City Hall today. I had heard that a notice had been delivered to Mobile Home Park residents, and I didn’t get one. I spoke with Sonia again (I really like that girl), and she stated that she had hand delivered the notices, along with Kelsey and a couple of other guys, but ran out just before they were done, and our trailer must have been one that was missed. She made copies for me and for a few of my neighbors, then we had another nice visit.

It seems that the Agency is considering an alternative to the existing proposed market-rate housing at the Circle S project site, namely replacing the existing mobile home units with manufactured homes on permanent foundations. This plan will be presented to the City Council Monday night. I definitely plan to be at the meeting.


Jamie, my sister, called me Tuesday from Sayre, PA : "I survived!" She had undergone surgery for a hip replacement a few hours earlier and said she felt fine. I don't think she felt so fine the following day.

Famous People

I guess the Academy Awards show was responsible for my reminiscing about famous people I have met or spent time with. The tribute to Tony Randall brought back a delightful evening spent in his presence while running a fund raising event for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He was such a remarkable man, very organized and completely at ease with people he had never met before. It was almost hard to imagine that he was a very famous person, because he was so friendly and unassuming; totally down-to-earth. I was working with him personally, as I was very involved with the proceedings of the evening. I was a paid employee, and also a volunteer, for the orchestra. There were many very well-known local people of prominence manning the phone bank in the lobby of Kleinhan’s Music Hall, and the whole evening was one of the happy memories in my life.

While I was living in Buffalo, and involved in the music scene, I met many world famous people who came to perform either with the Buffalo Philharmonic, or in concerts alone, and I spoke with them before the program started. Many were in the classical music world, but some were popular music artists. Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Itzhak Perlman, Carol Lawrence, so many personalities that they all blend into a swirl of wonderful musical memories. I was even invited to attend a party with the members of Carol Lawrence’s band, but decided against that. I wasn’t sure of what I would be getting myself into.

I also was an usher at Studio Arena Theater, and Shea’s Center for the Performing Arts, a huge movie palace which was totally refurbished while I was living in Buffalo. It is a magnificent edifice, and is used for opera, ballet, and concerts.

At Studio Arena, I saw a play with Peter Falk in the lead role. It was rather shocking at the time, as he showed his bare butt while hanging out a window. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I can’t remember the name of the play. I took an enrichment program group of kids to see the theater and stage set for the play, but luckily they didn’t see the play itself.

When I was a junior high school student, I met Gary Crosby after a concert at the Officer’s Club at Sampson Air Force Base. I attended the concert along with a couple of girlfriends. One of them was the daughter of a Lieutenant Colonel, and lived on the base. We were talking to Gary in the hall and acquired his autograph. I walked on cloud nine for quite a while after that and I was giddy.

After I graduated from high school and worked in my home town for a while, I went to New York City to work. I saw Rock Hudson shopping in the fabulous store where I worked, in the fishing department, near the rods and reels. I wasn’t supposed to be there, as I worked in the offices upstairs, but my little buddy in that department called and gave me the heads-up about Rock’s presence. That was a definite no-no, but I took a chance anyway. Rock Hudson was very tall, by the way.

I had been living alone in Manhattan, but eventually moved in with a girl from Lithuania who was a model. I had been working with her roommate, but that girl decided to move back home to Ohio, and Skira needed someone to help with the rent. She was rather a party girl, and through her I met many interesting people who owned their own companies, or were involved in the arts. We met the owners of Puerto Rican Rums, who had offices at 666 Broadway, and became real buddies, going to parties. As a result of our friendship, we were invited to a press party introducing the daiquiri. At that party, we met a woman who was the food columnist for Parade Magazine and established a lasting friendship. She, Skira, and I would meet for lunch at interesting restaurants. The brothers who owned Goya Macaroni Products were also our friends and we spent hours with them, riding around the city and enjoying New York.

After I left New York City, I started raising a family, therefore I was no longer out in the world meeting all of these interesting people. I have come close, but not quite. While living in Texas, I had a close friend who was buddies with Willie Nelson, and I was invited to a Christmas party that became a jam session at Willie’s place, but I was at another party and chose to remain there. I have always regretted that decision.

Since I have been in California, I can only say that I was having lunch at Neiman Marcus when Sharon Stone appeared, walking past my table, then standing near-by for quite a while, waiting for her table.

When I take Amtrak back and forth between here and the East Coast, I always meet very interesting men and women. I have shared a breakfast table with two different published authors. The first writer I met, Dr. Gray Brechin, wrote Farewell Promised Land: Waking From the California Dream, and Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin. He was taking the train to the East Coast, and would travel from there to Norway to work on another book. We had a fine time having breakfast together, and ran into each other a few times before our trip was over.

On the next trip that I took, on a train between Chicago and Washington, D.C., I had breakfast with Lenore McComas Coberly, author of The Handywoman Stories. She was born and raised in West Virginia, which we were traveling through, and her stories are snippets of life in the mountains and valleys of that area. The purpose of her train travel was to appear in several cities for readings from her newly published book. It was a coincidence that I shared a meal with these writers, as the Dining Car Steward seats the passengers.

I have also spent hours on two different days having involved conversations with Mike Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts, who was on the Amtrak Board of Directors. There were many times in the lounge car in which he and I were sitting alone sharing the scenery, discussing the areas that we were seeing, and talking about Amtrak’s future. Mike told me to have my Greek granddaughter visit him at Northeastern University, where he teaches. That was before she had decided which university she was going to attend. He later sent an article to my son to publish on his conservation website, regarding high speed train travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles. He is a very personable, interesting man. It brought back memories of my involvement in the political scene in Buffalo.

My interest in famous people has always been a part of my life. I do not have the opportunity to meet them now as I did in the past, but the desire is always there.