Historic chair

IMG_8311Isn’t this a lovely chair? I can’t remember anything about it, except that it was historic in some way. It was from the Revolutionary War museum in Philadelphia, which is a good museum.

I do sort of wonder where we went wrong. If you think about it, it was less than 100 years after the Revolutionary War that the Civil War happened. It seems there were huge cracks in the whole enterprise from the very beginning.

This is a lazy way of going about this question. Consider it an opening thought, then. Consider, also, that I studied American history in 1976-7, when things seemed to be on the right track. I would bet people who are studying it now are spending a bit more time on the dark side.

It does make you wonder, though. Where the hell did we go wrong? Or is it just what happens — things are ok and then they fall apart?

It was odd, though, to go to a museum which spent a lot of time talking about how immigrants are important in these times when immigrants are being rounded up and dropped over the border.

All right. Gotta go.

March for our lives


I did not go to the march, and I absolutely should have gone to the march, but instead I helped my friend A lift the canoe he is building off the framework and flip it over and then shave down the gluey bits on the inside.

And that was something else I should have done, so I’m glad that I did that.

Then we sat in their back yard, which is lovely, and pondered what the world is coming to, or really just this country. Nothing good, was the conclusion. And then we had avocado toast for lunch, which was delicious.

After that, I went to the grocery store, and now I’m sitting on the couch. The cat was sitting happily next to me, but I got up to make some tea and that ruined everything. Maybe she’ll come back, but there seems to be something extremely interesting behind the television, so she is investigating that at the moment. She’s busy, but she fits me in when she can.

I suppose I could iron. Maybe I’ll get up and do that in a bit. At the moment I’m reading the Boys in the Boat, which is interesting.

K and I are going with A and A to see Death of Stalin, tonight, and eating Mexican food first. And then I am going to bed, which has lovely, clean sheets on.

I should mention that every muscle in my body is sore from my new program of weight-lifting and circuit training 6  days/week. I’m sure it will eventually result in fitness, but at the moment it’s just making me feel like I’m 80 years old, creaky and exhausted.

And that’s about it.


I’m back!


Well, as predicted, we had a wonderful time.

N has a great apartment in a great part of town. We like her girlfriend. We like her dog. We like her housemate. We like her friends. I worried that we were taking up too much of her time, but she did get a bit of work in here and there. Dinner with her friends was so much fun, and then we went back to their apartment to play trivia, also so much fun.

We stayed in a little air bnb a block away, which was perfect. We could sleep there, and spread out crap around, and be back at their apartment in 10 minutes.

Also, Philadelphia is really nice. I don’t think I ever knew this. Museums, stuff to do, stuff to eat, perfectly adequate transit, affordable. It’s an old city, too. I don’t know why, but I really love that there was a gas station, a park, and a school all within a block of them, plus two garages, a vegan donut shop, a regular coffee shop, two chaat places, a book store, a dive bar, a pizza restaurant, a nursery where they picked up their CSA and lots of restaurants.

And now we are home, and I am scrambling to catch up. That’s ok. I sort of like to scramble.



For someone who travels not infrequently, I really hate to travel. I’m getting ready for a long weekend trip to Philadelphia to visit N, who’s in school there, and all I can think about are all the birds I would like to see in my back yard, and how I really do need to straighten out the basement, and even how there are certain things I would live to knock off my list at work. Plus, the idea of imagining what I might need to wear for 5 days in a foreign climate seems very daunting. And Cora! Someone’s feeing her, but she’d going to be so lonely! She likes having us around.

However, I am exciting to see N, her girlfriend A and their dog Chalupa. We’re going to take all her friends out for dinner one night, which I am very excited about. And museums and parks with Chalupa — I really am very excited to be going, even in spite of the horrors of packing.

Which I really should do, since we’re leaving shortly after midnight tomorrow morning, so it would be good to get to bed.

Lazy weekend


By Peter Massas – Drake Harlequin Duck, Barnegat, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9736138

It’s been rainy and cold, which is great since we are in the depths of a terrible drought. Of course, the word always is that any rain never helps (until, magically, you’ve got too much, and then you can be simultaneously in a drought and a flood), but it still is great to finally have some weather. Plus, while it may not solve the drought, it seems to me that at least for a weekend we are not going backward.

The local excitement was that there was a Harlequin Duck at a nearby marina. Because I had nothing else to do, I drove down and walked around in the hail for an hour or so looking for the duck. It was pretty funny, actually. There were birders (we have Golden Gate Raptor Observatory stickers on our cars, and to scuttle about with binoculars or, better, giant scopes on our shoulders). There were also the usual people who hang out at marinas in the rain — 4 middle aged men, for instance, drinking malt liquor in a van with the doors open. They asked me politely what was going on and then said, oh, a duck! I was about to give up and go home (it had stopped hailing, but was still raining) when another birderdrove up, popped up his scope, and asked me if I had seen the duck. He then got a call on his cell phone and yelled out to me, “I just talked to Bob X. It’s on these rocks with some willets!” We got in our cars and drove around to the other side of the waterway and there it was! Sitting on the rocks in the rain in the middle of a bunch of willets.  So that was exciting, and so was the fact that the man’s wife, who had been waiting in the car, turned out to be a woman from my master birding class 2 years ago. We made a plan to go birding together.

We admired the duck for a while and then drove home, after which it took me a solid 3 hours to warm up again.

Today, I cleaned the kitchen, and went for a run down at our marina (north of the duck’s marina) where I looked at the birds but saw only the usual suspects, and now I’m sitting here doing this. I have half a sleeve left on a sweater I’m knitting. I have half of the Immortalists left to finish – which I both like and don’t like. We’re having pizza for dinner, so I don’t have to cook. K is sorting files. I checked in with my mother on my drive down to San Leandro (the best thing about long drives is that they make it easy to call all the people you need to while you’re otherwise occupied.) N is in Mexico on Spring Break and M just moved into a new apartment in Beijing. Laundry is done.

It feels odd and rather pleasant to have a weekend off like this.

It’s a very pretty duck, and I’m glad I went to see it. It’s rare but not unheard of for them to come this far south. It’s sad to see a rare bird who is here completely through some failure of navigation and will never find a mate, etc. This one just came a bit further south than is usual, but will soon head north and lead a happy life. It was great to see him in the middle of a storm, too. “Turbulent northern waters are favored by this strikingly patterned little duck,” says Audubon, so it was nice to see him in the wind and weather and rough water,

I am awfully hungry. Maybe we should have our pizza now —

Oh, and I listened to Five Women, a This American Life episode last night. It was fascinating — it’s the story of Don Hazen, the editor of AlterNet. He had a partner. She was interviewed, as were four women he sexually harassed at AlterNet. The interviewer, a woman named Chana Jaffe Walt, talks to each of them and fascinatingly, what comes up for each of them is some earlier story, with nothing to do with Hazen, of another sexual harassment — maybe each woman’s first awareness of sexual harassment, and then you see how that first experience informs how each woman responds to Hazen’s harassment. His partner views herself as someone who won’t be harassed — she’s too smart and self-confident. Another woman has been led to view herself as too feminist — boys won’t understand her and so she needs to accommodate them (and she does). Another woman views it as just the way the world is. Another won’t give in to it, and she doesn’t, but she also doesn’t get a raise because she won’t, and she views that as a victory.  (I think it both is and is not a victory.) Another woman, the youngest, wants to sue him, but without the cooperation of the others she has no case (before #MeToo), so when she gets a sudden windfall of money, she leaves. I think what’s so fascinating is that, as you listen, you are aware of how each woman is screwed over, in a slightly different way, both by Hazen and really by her own understanding of how the world works, and what sexual harassment is. Though by then end, I think they all see it. I listened to it and thought, wow – that’s messed up. And, how do women even survive in this world? I hope, though, that it is getting better. It is certainly better when you are a 58 year old woman — there is something very freeing about no longer giving a shit, and no longer worrying that one should give a shit, about what men think.  I think that’s the position the too-feminist woman comes to, too, but I can tell you that it takes experience. Or it used to — maybe things are better now.

Thank god. It really is time to order the pizza, now.  I’m starving.