Archive for the ‘mad about SF’ Category

Welcome, Shlomo

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A photo of a Northern Mockingbird, and one of Shlomo's mishpocheh (brethren)

Last week activity at mad maison slowed a little because I was on a business trip to Plano, Texas. While I could write an entire post (perhaps even a few) about the differences between the Greater Dallas area and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area (and why I’m grateful to live in the latter), today’s post is about the new neighbor who greeted me upon my return to mad maison. Our new neighbor didn’t announce himself until after night fell. Once it was dark, he sang his song all night long. Yes, loyal mad maison readers, Shlomo (which is Hebrew for peaceful) is a bird (and yes, irony was present when we named him). After a little bit of research it was clear that Shlomo is a Northern Mockingbird. It seems that when male mockingbirds are without a mate, they sing throughout the night to attract one. While Shlomo hasn’t prevented the residents of mad maison (human or feline) from falling asleep, it’s our hope that he finds a date soon. Of course, Shlomo is one of those small reminders of the differences between New York and the Bay Area. For all of the articles I read about the Peregrine Falcons in Manhattan, I didn’t see many non-pigeon birds in New York City. And of course, avian sightings were even less likely before April or May. But here in temperate San Francisco, with plenty of hills and trees for friends of the forest to make themselves home, Shlomo is welcome.

Holiday Revelations & Resolutions

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

While running some mad-oriented errands on the commercial strip of Diamond St. in Glen Park, I stepped out of my vehicle recently to discover an odd bit of adornment on the parking meters that I hadn’t seen before. We’ve already been struggling with the red & yellow-topped restricted meters all over SF in the never-ending search for parking….isn’t that quite enough, already? Now we have another restriction to worry about?

On closer inspection, I realized that it was a red ribbon wrapped around the meter pole to suggest a candy cane. Oh, that’s a relief, I thought to myself. I’m glad I’m not one of those jaded New Yorkers or anything.

In other mad-related developments, we’re inching ever closer to our goal of completing the upstairs bedroom. Our latest task consisted of drilling holes all over the room to allow the magical “Big Wally’s” caulk to work its charm. It does have the unique effect of suggesting a game of “connect the dots” run terribly awry, or an interstellar constellation. It (almost) makes us regretful that we’ll have to cover it up as we paint.

We’re holding steadfast in our belief that the new year & the new decade will see vast improvements in our humble home, and in our lives. We’re feeling eager & enthusiastic about the future, and we hope everyone reading this feels the same.

Happy Holidays to our dedicated readership, or, better yet, Happy Whatever-You-Wantakah.

another madcap parking designation in Glen Park.

another zany parking designation in Glen Park.

I can see clearly now. . .

Monday, November 16th, 2009

When you spend your entire life in one region and you’re presented with the idiosyncrasies of other regions, you’re sometimes caught off-guard. While I had lived in various parts of California before I moved to New York in 2004, I lived in California exclusively. There were two of these issues that affected me more than the others. I’ve already spoken about the summer weather (and particularly the humidity). The other one, I’m a little ashamed to admit, is a particularly virulent case of New York city hard water. While I had seen the occasional dishwasher detergent commercial that alluded to it, I had never experienced it for myself. Then, when I moved to New York, over the years, I noticed our drinking glasses started to look, well, disgusting. We had a dishwasher–which didn’t help. We purchased products like rinse aid, jet dry, etc. . .none of them helped. We even brought the hard water stains back to California with us. We were on the verge of purchasing new glasses (which would have cut into our wallpaper removal gel budget), when I turned to my old friend, the internet. And then I discovered a potential fix. That bottle of white vinegar hiding under the sink.

Neither the internet nor the vinegar disappointed me. mad is happy to report that our continued wallpaper removal efforts will not be stalled. After a little soaking, and a little scrubbing, we’re happy to report that we have glasses that look like glasses again. Perhaps they’ll even stay this way now that we’re here in the Golden State.

Before, with the hard water stains.

Before, with the hard water stains.

Clear as well, glass, after

Clear as well, glass, after. And yes, that's the same glass.

A small mad success, brought to you by. . .

A small mad success, brought to you by. . .

Stranger Moments

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

In between our renovation projects, large-scale and small-scale, mad likes to occasionally pause to enjoy the sights and sounds of our fair city. Personally, I’ve been noticing a mini-trend of stumbling into the oddest conversations with our fellow San Franciscans. Not that I particularly mind…after all, New York is certainly known to have special tolerance, and even reverence, for loud, colorful characters. Anyway, I’m standing in line in the supermarket recently when a well-dressed woman about 30 years my senior calmly & assertively asks me, “Excuse me…do you know what month this is?” I told her the correct date and she replied, “Oh, thank you….I really thought it was December.” And with that, she quietly continued her shopping experience.

The other day, I’m walking past a cafe in Bernal Heights minding my own business when suddenly a young man who was seemingly wearing a white chef’s jacket blocks my path and urgently asks me, “Hey! Do you know how to spell the word “gumbo”? Is it 1 “m” or 2?” Once again, I’m caught a little off-guard and I blurt out, “Um, I’ve always seen it spelled with one m.” Then he excitedly replies, “Thanks! That’s what I thought!” As I was trying to figure out if this man was preparing a menu, finishing a crossword puzzle, or was just so incredibly enthralled with our English language that he couldn’t help himself…he disappeared. I peeked my head into the cafe, but I didn’t see him. He just somehow dissolved into the sunny afternoon, not unlike the alien in the Predator films. Events like these, coupled with our recent apocalyptic-type rainstorm, have had the effect of feeling like we’ve walked into Bizarro World.

But we love it.

A San Francisco delicacy, apparently

A San Francisco delicacy, apparently

purging madly

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

mad believes in purging. It’s something we grew quite accustomed to living together in a relatively small apartment in New York. Here is San Francisco, purging is an essential skill because the folks who lived here before us did not purge. At all. And while my pops did a great job of clearing the top two levels of our home, the bottom level with the garage is still full of stuff. We’ve already taken five truckloads of stuff to the dump, but mad’s aforementioned late-night car-parking extravaganza inspired us to descend to the garage and do more purging today. The only thing better than purging is guilt-free purging. And the only thing better than guilt-free purging is cost-free purging. When it’s both guilt-free and cost-free we call that purging madly. And today, thanks to the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s recycling center, that’s exactly what we did. We took a bunch of mixed paper (two car loads, in fact) to the recycling center. It was easy, it was free, it was quick, it was madness.

Want to purge madly? Head to the Haight Asbury Recycling Center

Want to purge madly? Head to the Haight Asbury Recycling Center

I hate to gloat. . .

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

I enjoyed seasons when I lived in New York. Fall and Spring are absolutely gorgeous, and winter is beautiful and cozy. I even enjoyed the snow–probably because I never had to shovel a driveway or sidewalk. The one season I never understood was summer, but I was always placated by the fact that it would only last a few months.

For some people, the San Francisco summers are rough. We do have the lowest average summertime temperature of any contiguous American city. For many, summer is supposed to be about wearing shorts and balmy evenings. In San Francisco, summer is about wearing layers and hoping for some afternoon sunshine.

I was born and raised in San Francisco. So for me, moving back to San Francisco in the summer was smart–because immediately there are no regrets. We’ve had one day when the temperature rose above 85 degrees, and by the evening it had dropped to the typical high 50’s-low 60’s. And of course, there was no sticky wet-warm-sponge-like humidity to contend with. This evening I was a little warm–so I opened a window and was immediately greeted by a cool, refreshing breeze. This led me to go to to see what my NY brethren were dealing with. I have compassion. I have empathy. But I am happy to be here.

If you're there, I'm sorry. I'll see you when the leaves change.

If you're there, I'm sorry. I'll see you when the leaves change.