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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Night At Home

Soft grey rain clouds rest over the City tonight, gently wrapping her in a shroud that keeps the crescent moon from shining upon her. Odd. Saint Francis was a man, but San Francisco is surely a woman – sometimes an exciting, sexy, hot woman – vibrant, glowing, teasing the life out of all who are around her - sometimes a woman of grace and elegance, dressed impeccably in a dark woolen suit with splashes of red and gold; sometimes the City is a gaggle of girls, in Catholic school uniforms, riding Muni, their hair pulled back into pony tails, their soft young arms wrapped closely around their waists, their long, smooth, young legs complimented by short, checkered pleated skirts. Sometimes The City is a skanky woman, skinny and drawn, with yellow teeth, yellow skin, and a raspy voice, walking on worn high heels that click-clack a staccato rhythm of fear thinly veiled by bravado. Tonight the City is a content yet tired woman who welcomes the protective and cleansing cloak of rain and the opportunity to rest, just a bit, just a bit.

Out my window I can see over the rooftops and down the hill, see the warm lights of homes, bars, restaurants. Yet in the distance, the lights on Market Street are not quite as bright as usual, and there’s a point at which they completely dim, fade away into the dark, and I can see no further. Yet I know that beyond those lights which disappear in the grey mist, beyond that cloak of rain and clouds, the familiar buildings of downtown San Francisco – City Hall with it’s gold-hued roof, the sharp pyramid of the Bank of America building, the charming ferry building, sitting on the wharf, dwarfed by the tall buildings which flank it on either side - yes those buildings are still there hiding in the dark, waiting for the gray rain to dissipate. The long line of cars that cross the Bay Bridge are still visible, their white headlights wavering in the rain, but the bridge’s suspension arcs no longer twinkle in the night like spider webs drenched in dew – they are lost in the grey clouds.

A fire burns in my fireplace and Van Morrison plays on my stereo – singing of the Healing Game - and I am home, gazing out my window, dining on cheese, cold chicken, a Fuji apple, a Hershey’s chocolate bar and a bottle of syrah.

I am not home much on Friday nights. Usually I am out and about, dining here and there, sipping coffee in some café that features a poetry reading, popping into bars to listen to jazz or, of all the things, betting on horse races – yes the latest craze. Last Friday found me at an Irish bar on Geary Street that holds occasional horse races, the proceeds benefiting an Irish charity abroad. (Hmmm… though I understand The Troubles are over - can you say IRA?)The bar puts together a race program and various bar patrons pay to “own” horses and hire jockeys. Over the course of three hours I lost 10 bucks on eight races. In race six, my horse was in the lead, but fell behind just short of the finish line. The bar plays a CD of various races on a large screen: steeplechases, fast tracks, and market races. The crowd cheers on the horses and as the evening progresses and the beer pours more swiftly, becomes quite heated – yelling profanities at horses that fall behind (yet carry a hefty bet), cheering on the leaders and the break-aways – the horses that pull up with astounding speed from behind – and guffawing – rather loudly and coarsely - if a horse trips or a jockey falls.

But tonight I am home. Watching the rain and mist and dim lights. Listening to Morrison and Coltrane and Thelonius Monk. And even though my place still isn’t quite together (I sit on the blow-up mattress in my living room as my new couch still hasn’t been delivered), I am at peace. This is indeed home, and I am content to be here tonight resting in my roost.

Ah, the rain has stopped. The clouds begin to thin, leaving a loosely woven blanket of grey wrapped around the city. The lights of downtown shimmer threw the mists, and the suspension arcs of the Bay Bridge become faint traces of light against the grey night, just barely perceptible. The City shakes her wet hair, casting a thousand and one drops of water across rooftops and street lights, brick stairways and gritty alleys; drops that scatter like small, tiny kisses and then softly, softly, disappear, leaving just the slightest trace of mystery in the night air.

Now the clouds lift, rising up and moving steadily south as the ocean wind blows gently yet steadily over the Golden Gate and down the Bay. The City rises from her damp, silver couch, dons her glittering jewelry. The lights sparkle and twinkle again along Market Street, the golden dome of City Hall gleams, the lights of the financial district brighten.

The City is breathing, moving, as a woman on the stage, performing the most exquisite dance. I sip the smooth syrah from my wine goblet and smile.

It’s good to be home.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Conversation Overheard While Waiting For The Bus

Today, on my way home from Golden Gate Park (where I graded papers sitting on a bench near the duck pond in the Botanical Gardens, munching on an apple and a piece of chocolate, and occasionally glancing up to watch a toddler who was not only intent on joining the ducks in the pond, but damned near made it, getting far enough in the water to soak his sneakers and the cuffs of his corduroys before his father, who was much chagrined, snatched the boy out of the water, paying no heed to his freckled-faced son’s outraged wails of “Duckeeeeee! Duckeeeeee!” and the frantic kicking of his sturdy little legs – I ask you, what better place to grade papers?), I overheard the snippet of a conversation while waiting for my bus. A young woman in her early twenties, dressed in black tights, a brown skirt, and an orange rag roll sweater (so Eddie Bauer) was waiting for the bus along with her boyfriend, who seemed to be a bit older than her and smoked one of those short, brown cigarettes that smell like allspice and cloves.

“My mom,” the young woman told her companion, “is one of those people who is absolutely sure of her opinion and that she has the ONLY way to think. You know, she tells me that EVERYONE in the porn business, EVERYONE must have been molested and is in the business because they’ve suffered and are DEEPLY, DEEPLY disturbed. But I told her, Mom, really, that’s just not true. Honest – I was never molested and I’m in the porn business and know plenty of people in the business that are NOT messed up. She doesn’t believe me and wants me to go to therapy. Imagine. She’s just nuts”

Sitting on the bus bench, I stared politely over the top of this girl’s head and past her boyfriend at a somewhat scraggly little tree which sheltered at least a dozen finches (who were oddly still and quiet – perhaps as astounded by this girl’s revelation as I), and tried hard not to laugh or snort or guffaw, or appeal to the young woman to stop torturing her mother with proclamations about the porn business, or tell her to seek therapy right away, or plead with her that if she couldn’t at least quit the porn business, could she at least not discuss it in public, at the top of her lungs, whilst sitting on the bus bench next to me for I really don’t need to add to my worries and don’t wish to wake up in a cold sweat at half past two in the morning worrying about some silly girl in an orange rag roll sweater who apparently is in the porn business – though I know not what aspect of the business she’s in. No, I said none of this. I bit my tongue with more force and endeavor than I have ever had to with my daughter or son – I was quite sure I would make it bleed (calloused though it be from other tongue-biting occasions – children will do that to you, you know), but that was not the case. Thankfully, before the girl could continue, the bus pulled up, the doors opened, and we boarded – the young couple moving to the back of the bus, while I stayed near the front, sitting next to a young man dressed in a leather vest and scruffy blue jeans, and sporting two tattoo sleeves (snakes coiling and circling up his arms) and a row of Celtic crosses tattooed across his forehead (I do believe it was permanent tattoo, not a temporary one for the work was quite good). He smiled at me when I sat down, and through crooked yet white teeth said in a cowboy drawl so completely incongruent with his dress, “Afernoon, ma’m.” And although I detest the respectful “ma’m” (it really does make me feel old – who are these young whippersnappers to age me so?), I smiled at him and responded, “Yes, it’s a lovely afternoon, isn’t it?” And it really was, despite the grey clouds overhead and the slight chill in the air.

He smiled back and offered me a peppermint, which I accepted gratefully. I wished I’d had something to offer him in return, but I had nothing in my bag except a few crumbs of chocolate nestled inside the balled-up candy wrapper and a brown apple core rapped in a paper towel.

When the bus rolled up to my stop, I stepped down and onto the curb, turned and waved good-bye to the bus. The young man waved back, and as the bus lumbered by, I saw the porn girl, her nose pressed against the glass of the rear window, grinning at me. I shouldered my bag, walked the three blocks up the hill to my place and called my children, grateful to hear their voices and relieved that neither is in the porn business (though one does have two tattoos).

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Something to Be Proud Of

Congratulations to Al Gore, who along with the UN Panel on Climate Change, won the Nobel Peace Prize today for his work building awareness and understanding of global warming.

Amazing - an intelligent, articulate, passionate individual - and an American too!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


For reasons passing all understanding, I turned on my television this morning to watch the cable news shows. I used to do this quite a lot (mind you – I didn’t rely on these shows as my primary source of news; after all, I am an educated, intelligent woman) – but in the past few months, I've broken my TV addiction (with the notable exception of watching baseball games on occasion).

The news show was broadcasting a LIVE courthouse scene - the media clustered outside with their mics and vans and cameras, oh my! The headline ticking across this scene in the lower part of the TV screen was:

LIVE! BREAKING NEWS: Brittany Spears about to arrive at courthouse.

I don’t know what station I was watching – MSNBC, or CNN, or FOX - (I know it wasn’t a PBS station, nor the BBC, both stations that would not sport such footage, nor spend one jot of time covering Brittany’s travails).

As God as my witness, I vow to renew my commitment – to just say NO TO TV NEWS.

I’d unplug the set completely, but it’s October, for cryin’ out loud – gotta watch the Series!

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ocean Beach Sunset

Yesterday's sunset at Ocean Beach ...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

San Francisco Sunrise

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Shopping at Walgreens (for almost everything a healthy woman needs)

One bottle of Bolla Valpolicella 2005: $7.99

One 4.3 oz tube of Arm &Hammer Advance White, Floride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste with Baking Soda and Peroxide: $4.19

Two tubes of Maybeline Rose Superstay Lip Color: $9.99 each

One 30 caplet box of Estroven Hormone-Balancing Dietary Supplement with Soy and Black Cohosh, plus vitamins B-6, E & Calcium: $14.99

One pack of 3, Durex Extra Sensitive Ribbed Lubricated Condoms: $2.99

One pack of 3, Durex Tropical (assorted colors and luscious flavors) Lubricated Condoms: $3.99

The beet-red blush of the 19 year-old cashier with peach fuzz on his chin: Priceless

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