Friday, April 10, 2020

APRIL 7, 2020: Beautiful Garden, Rainy Walk, No Politics

BAUMBLOG APRIL 7, 2020: Beautiful Garden, Rainy Walk, No Politics

I was going to talk about the necessity of activism and the possibility of... anyhow... I'm a bit gobsmacked by Bernie's withdrawal from the campaign, and I've already bummed out my friend and booker Lesley this morning, so let's just do the garden and a walk today!

Please notice the clematis has THREE flowers! The beautiful woman is Marisol. She comes from Puebla, Mexico. When I first saw her, she was in an antique store, all separate tiles laid out on a counter so you could see the image. I fell in love. Puebla is very famous for its tiles.

So I bought the tiles, schlepped them around Mexico, packed them carefully (each tile in its own bubblewrap), carried them on the plane, and THEN had to find someone to put the whole thing together!
Eventually Rin, handywoman extraordinaire, entered my life. She was excited by the challenge and said she would charge me a flat fee rather than an hourly rate, since she'd never done anything like it before. Many many hours and several youtube instructional videos later, she had it all together and found the wood material for the frame. I so wanted that frame to be same blue as in the tiles. And she found the right color and painted it and it was AWFUL. I am a person with very strong aesthetic feelings but not much ability
to imagine how things will actually LOOK when they're finished. The tiles were just OVERWHELMED by all that solid blue around them. But Rin knew exactly how to paint and stain it so that just a little blue peeked through. Of course I couldn't hold Rin to her original modest fee after all that work. Without Rin, Marisol would still be in bubble-wrapped squares in a cardboard box -- instead of sitting in my garden next to the clematis. THANK YOU RIN!

I decided to take a walk to visit my friends Mary and Cathy, who live in Bernal Heights. That meant walking through the Mission, which I have been loathe to do because it's so much more crowded than my 'hood, and therefore more difficult to social distance. But on Monday, it was RAINING (but not THAT hard) so I figured very few people would be out walking. And my pups are Poodles, which comes from the German word for "puddle," and they just LOVE getting wet! Here are two shiny wet dogs.


Sorry. I've been having internet problems. When I was up for blogging, the internet was down. When the internet was up, I was down in the dumps. Very difficult for me to get my head around Bernie's exit from the Presidential campaign.

On DEMOCRACY NOW this morning, Naomi Klein, who was a big supporter of his, talked about how his campaign connected so many people to each other and introduced so many ideas into the mainstream political discourse -- socialized medicine, free college -- that were deemed ridiculous before.

Look on the bright side, look on the bright side. Keep going....


So I decided to walk to Mary and Cathy's, so I could ring their doorbell, stand back six feet when they answered, and just say, "Hi! I happened to be in the neighborhood, so I decided to drop by!" Which was a totally ridiculous thing to do and say, since it took me an hour to get there in the rain. Anyhow, the idea tickled me.
The first thing I saw of note was this:I venture to say that that this is perhaps the first photo you have seen of a half-eaten apple resting in the naked branches of a tree. Admit it! And probably the last. Why did I snap this photo? Is this a metaphor for something? Can someone help me with this?

Left: The building blocks of our wonderful frivolous Victorian architectural adornment. I don't think I've ever seen this before in raw wood, for the simple reason that no one does this kind of work anymore. It looks so righteous and sturdy to me. Like: Of COURSE houses must be decorated like this!

I'm not sure I LIKE this paint job, but I RESPECT this paint job. I love it when you look at a house and you know for sure that the owners have chosen the colors for THEIR gratification rather than to look nice to their neighbors.

Except when I did it. It was long ago, 1997. When I was living in New York City. I had sublet my flat, and I would come back to SF every summer and stay at the house of my friend Kay, who went back east for several weeks every summer.
I desperately needed to paint my little working-class Edwardian (not nearly as elaborate as a Victorian). At this time, I was enamored of a scarf I had with many bright, beautiful colors. It really was a lovely scarf. In my opinion. I wanted to have my house painted in those colors. My friend Dory was visiting me at the time, and she thought that was a great idea. She DID warn me, "I have terrible judgment for these kinds of things and when I paint my own house, I never choose the colors myself. My mother does it for me." Oh, dear Dory, so modest about her abilities. Over the protests of the housepainter, I chose the colors of the scarf.

Now, the housepainter is supposed to do a little sample area with all the colors, and then you look at it and decide if it's really what you want. Well, I wasn't living in the house then, and rather than phone me and wait for me to come over -- they DID have telephones back then, even if you couldn't carry them around with you -- he just went ahead and painted the whole thing, front and back.


Well. As they say, you don't know what you don't know. Although Dory clearly DID know what she didn't know, but I ignored her caveat. The thing is, a color on a little scarf is an entirely different color when it's on the outside wall of a building where a gigantic amount of light illuminates it.

(Sorry, I have no photos of the Paint Job That Devoured Cleveland. I was too embarrassed to record it. Plus, not only did we not carry around phones then, we also didn't take pictures of everything.)

I stood there in shock. Alone. Dory didn't stay long enough to witness the fruit of our catastrophic color choices. MY catastrophic.... I absolutely hated it. People walked by, looked up, shook their heads and hurried on, as if they'd seen something they wanted to forget as soon as possible. I went through the house to look at the back -- a solid blob of atomic orange. My next door neighbors had just finished restoring their house to the level where we all referred to it as the Crystal Palace. It was beautiful. They had just painted the outside in tasteful shades of cream and dark green. And NOW, when they sat in their elegant breakfast nook, they gazed out on a vibrant appetite-destroying wall of ATOMIC ORANGE. (This color doesn't come close but still, would you want a wall even THAT color next door?)

The phone in the house rang. I picked it up.
"Terry?" It was Gay of the Crystal Palace.
"Gay, I'm so sorry, I..."
"Have you seen it, Terry?"
'Yes, Gay, and it's so awful. I apologize..."
"I mean, have you really LOOKED AT IT, Terry?" (Actually, Gay was very genteel. She never spoke in capitals. But I could sense the horror underneath.)

Then my neighbor on the other side called me, and congratulated me for lowering his property value by at least ten thousand dollars. And that was in 1997 when $10,000 was real money!

Anyhow, I realized that probably everyone on the block wanted to tar and feather me. It would have been different if had liked the colors. But I agreed with them! I felt a deep sense of shame. Shame! I had hardly every FELT shame before! Maybe never. It is a terrible feeling. And I understood a great principle that I had never understood before:

It is more important to have good relations with one's neighbors
than to express one's personality through the paint job of one's home.

I had the whole house repainted and asked Gay choose the colors. My house ended up complementing HER house very nicely.

And yet I still love it when other people take the risk and do it.

ONWARD! My gosh, so far only a half-eaten apple and one quirky house!!

How many hundreds (thousands?) of times have I walked by this house and never seen this man? Maybe he was only out in public because it was raining and he thought no one would come along. He mumbled, "I know I look like a wild man, but I know how to build things." He assured me many times that he knew exactly what people thought about his appearance and that he knew how to build things.

"This is my workshop! This is my workshop!" And, there, in the crowded workshop were three beautiful pristine vintage motorcycles that he had restored.

"I also restored a grand piano!" I believe him.

Down Cesar Chavez Boulevard, past Chicken John's campaign ad, struggling to be seen through the red paint. Chicken John ran for mayor a while back. He had this painted to advertise his campaign, and also the "self-hurt book" he authored. I've never met Chicken John. Why did they cover up half his sign? That's not right! I LOVED his sign! I still love what's left. How many people advertise themselves as failing? Ya gotta respect that!

And finally arriving at Mary's. Mary and Cathy came to the door, after I phoned both of them and banged on the door. They were taking a nap. So then I was finally able to say, "I happened to be in the neighborhood, so I thought I'd drop by." And Mary assured me she would remember this for the rest of her life. That's Mer on the right, Cathy, her delightful new girlfriend on the right -- except I don't think they call themselves girlfriends. But it seems to be working.
Mary has decorated her fence rather awesomely:
And now, back home through the Mission

Precita Eyes has done gorgeous murals throughout the city. This is their home.
The Mission is famous for its murals. This is a tiny tiny taste

These people below really made an effort to cheer me up!
You heard it here first, Bloggelinis:
A rabbit's favorite dance style is HIP HOP!!

Now, be honest. Was I just nattering away about trivia or was this interesting? I mean, a paint job and a tile picture... Let's end with a photo of a VERY BAD POODLE:

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