Sunday, October 30, 2011


It's easy to overlook what's right in front of you, whether it's love, choices, happiness, or something beautiful. As a kid I loved "The Wizard of Oz," which showed up on television once a year. I think I had the whole thing memorized, but every time I saw the last bit, the bit where Dorothy tells the farmhands that she went looking for something that was right there all along, it was as fresh as the first time I glued myself to the television to watch it.

As a jaded adult with lots of $%&# on my mind and the misguided sense that "if only" something would happen, or someone would change their mind, or some of my wrinkles would miraculously smooth out overnight, or whatever, "if only," then my life would be perfect.

But it is perfect. What's really fun is to realize, as Dorothy did, so much is right there for the taking, and all you have to do is take the time to reach out and grab it.

I'm sure the merchant who posted this sign in his window wasn't thinking philosophically, but more practically. Yet it struck me as a good reminder. Much of what makes me happy is so local that I don't have to leave my own mind to find it.

One recent working Tuesday I went for a brief lunchtime walk, taking the elevator down from my office on the 30th floor and heading out toward the San Francisco Embarcadero. Tuesdays are the perfect day for walking by the Ferry Building -- it's Farmers' Market day, and there are always treats for tasting and buying. My particular favorite is the almond brittle sold by one of the nut farmers. So delicious.

Better than the brittle, though, were the views from the pier nearby -- I believe it's Pier 14, which extends out toward the Bay Bridge. Here's a picture -- I don't have any idea who that woman in the picture is, but I hope she was enjoying the beautiful sight as much as I was.

There was Oakland across the bay to the right, and Treasure Island straight ahead.  When I got to the end of the pier and looked back toward the city, I could see why several tourists were snapping pictures of themselves with the same view. Local. How lucky am I.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Leaves Are in the Air

Sometime in early September you have to start watching where you're walking, or you can end up with one of these in your hair.

My pal, Virginia, swatted me on the back the other day while we were ambling and gabbing.


"Yup," she said. "I wanted to squeal but I didn't want to scare you."

"Yeah, I probably would have jumped a mile high," I said, contorting my hand around my back to make sure she had really gotten it. Maybe it was crawling under my shirt. Ugh. Think Charlotte so as not to lose it. Good spider.

Along with fat spiders come the Day of the Dead,  angled sunlight,
pumpkins, and transitional weather.

Soon it will be cooler. A view from my office window gives a sneak preview.

And cooler weather  allows favorite clothes: sweaters, boots, and scarves, all of which are a great friend to women of a certain age, whose necks may be getting crepier by the nanosecond. I am not posting a picture here.

Sometimes I look at the skin on my neck and I wonder what on earth happened. But I think Nora Ephron already wrote about that, and she did it really well. Recently I went to the dermatologist and she actually said, "it's a good thing your face doesn't look like your forearms." I think she was trying to give me a compliment, but if my face looked like my forearms, we would be in the middle of an unspeakable horror movie.

Back to the wardrobe. This weekend I'll pull out and polish my boots, including a pair of old Dehners, made for me when I was an enthusiastic teenaged horseback rider. Money to pay for them came from mucking stalls during horse shows. Twenty-five dollars a day minus expenses, which included my share of the room at Motel 6.

Remarkably those boots used to slip on -- well, maybe not "slip on," but they would end up on my legs after a great deal of pulling and tugging. Getting them off was a two-person vaudeville act, and amazingly not one bone was broken in the process.

In the late 80s I had a cobbler install zippers so I could wear those boots with an army green pleated wool gabardine maxi skirt. There was a snarky administrative secretary named Sandy, who commented that they were "quite a statement."  I didn't care what Sandy thought, since she used enough hairspray to singlehandedly puncture the ozone layer. In retrospect maybe I did care a little, since I can still remember her comment all these years later.

And then last year I took them to the Kensington shoe guy for a once over, and he topped his know-it-all self by arguing that "those boots could never have been used for riding -- the zippers would have been against the saddle." I said, "I know, I had the zippers installed." And then I took my boots off the counter, headed out the door, and said,"I'll find somewhere else to take them, thank you very much."

If you're familiar with the Kensington cobbler, you understand that there is just so much one can put up with before he isn't amusing any more.