October 2004

Coast

I voted absentee and am going to drive down the coast on November 1st rather than hanging around town for the election.

I’ll take the freeway to Monterey to save time since I’ve been up and down the coast between here and there innumerable times, but then I’ll hug the coast on Highway 1 down to San Simeon since I’ve been farther than twenty miles below Monterey only once—in 1972. The idea is to have plenty of time to do the basic Hurst Castle tour that afternoon so that I can set out first thing the next morning for LA, get to the Huntington Cactus and Succulent Garden right after lunch, and stay in the succulent garden until they kick me out as darkness falls over my squeal, “I brought a flashlight, dude, and I can just let myself out when I’m done. Leggo.”

Here’s a shot some Lithops in the Huntington. There are many tables of these:

Lithops dinteri

I’m taking an extra set of batteries for the camera—and my charger. Ummmmm. Maybe need to get me another one of those little chips that you store the pics on. Better yet, I’ll just carry the computer in since I’m taking it on the trip in this excellent dedicated backpack that Bob gave me.

I mean, bring some bottled water, and what better way could there be to spend election night?

A conservative friend (he calls himself an independent, but we know) wondered whether I was fearful that California would slide off into the Pacific when Bush wins. I assured him that my fear is that in the depths of its despair after the election, California will not simply slide but actually jump into the ocean.

Which is why on Wednesday morning I’ll be hugging, instead of my usual tree, the coast—so as to get some neat pics of swarms of Californians going over the cliffs. I’ll get rich because these pics will sell like hotcakes in Odessa.

Oh, and speaking of cliffs:

coast

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Real

My daily hour in the galleys would be more bearable if I hadn’t noticed that while my back was turned, six-packs went out of fashion in favor of eight-packs. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe the extra two are implants. Ummmm. How do you find out? I mean, you can’t just ask, “Are those real?”

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Helmet

Pride.

Oh yes, there was a bit left. A tiny shred, really, a mere remnant, but it was definitely there and I suppose I was unconsciously clinging to it.

See, I’d finally been worn down. Since I started riding the Segway, every woman I know has been on my case about getting a helmet. And then this Spring and Summer, as my mental state gradually improved and I started radiating more and more approachable vibes, women I didn’t know began accosting me with suggestions involving protecting my head, despite my protests that it was demonstrably my most durable part.

And then even a few men tiptoed carefully around the H-word.

And finally, after I got my legs fixed and the shock wore off, I began experiencing a strange sensation that after some soul-searching I identified as a reappearance of caution.

Yes, now that I again have something to lose, the scale has tipped.

So this afternoon I turned myself in at Noe Valley Cyclery, where the nice guy introduced me to current concepts in head protection as arrayed in an impressive wall display. We quickly decided on the second model from the bottom owing to its cute little visor and then, since I couldn’t match my hair color (there are holes in these helmets!), I just grabbed a white one, only later realizing that I should have got a silver one to match the Segway. It’s not easy being a minuscule minority: a fashion-challenged gay man.

But anyhow, the guy put it on me and then adjusted the complex strappery so that it was both comfortable and snug as he clicked it shut beneath my chin, and I was off down 24th. To my surprise, it remained comfortable as I rode, and so many bicycle riders use them that I didn’t feel at all dorky.

Entirely pleased with myself, I decided to swing by the cheese store while I was down there. By now I’m so accustomed to riding the Segway that it really is pretty much second nature, great arcs ending with graceful dismounts onto curbs as I’m shucking off the pack so I can draw out the cable lock in one smooth, flowing motion. The helmet doesn’t get in the way at all.

It was only after I’d locked the Segway to a parking meter while I chatted with a passing couple that I discovered that the nice cycle-shop guy had assumed, incorrectly, that I knew how to unfasten the helmet.

The good news is that the couple was turning away as I made this discovery and that there was nobody else right there on the sidewalk to watch as I frantically and with total futility clawed at the fastenings and then took my glasses off and after a couple of tries managed to somehow wriggle my head out of the damn thing without dislocating my jaw.

The bad news is that from the dim store interior, Charles was watching through his screen door, and as I entered he gave me a look. No, not a smirk. Oh, I could have dealt with a smirk.

It was pity.

And here’s some Hartford St. flues:

hartford flues

 

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Run

It’s just one piece of good news after another here at Universe Central.

I can’t yet walk up my hill fast enough to work up even moderate panting, and I was fearing that the cause was not atrophy from lack of use of the leg muscles but rather peripheral arterial blockage, which would mean that without more medical procedures (assuming they were even possible) the best I could hope for would be to be able to keep up with normal people while walking.

However, I was so grateful for walking that I felt guilty daring to hope for more, so I put off testing while I tried to regain some leg strength. But yesterday I was about to be late to meet Robin for lunch, and since I’d kinda leaned on her to be on time because of a hidden agenda I had, I felt it would be in real poor taste to get there late myself.

So there I was a short block from the meeting point with like two minutes to go….and broke into an increase-speed-as-much-as-possible-whilst-using-minimal-leg-power trot. And it worked!!!!!!!! I was able to maintain the trot up to the Embarcadero, where I was forced to stop for traffic (thank God) and lack of lung power. I was just gloriously winded, my sides heaving. It was wonderful! Am I moving blood through my legs or what!!

Now I’m gonna get me some real springy running shoes and find a track and start shaving seconds off my mile. That’s how I did it in the late sixties, just went out there unable to run a whole mile at any speed at first, but every day tried to shave a second or two off the time. I’ll just do that again, this time without smoking.

Ummmm. And maybe I’ll start with a block instead of a mile.

Still, I wonder what the record is for sexagenarian milers? I mean, just to have something to shoot for in case it works out that I can’t play tennis again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been prancing around telling everyone, “I can run!” and reactions have been universally favorable. Of course, that’s just locally. I’m sure if I made the same statement before Mr. Ashcroft, the response would be, “Yessss, but you can’t hide.”

Here’s a rooftop I like on Hartford Street:

Hartford St. roof

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Pohas

Time for a pic. Here’s an early morning shot on Market Street:

Market Street

Omigod. I just ate something really fabulous.

A handful of fresh pohas smothered in lemon yogurt.

Yesterday I discovered that the poha jam I’ve been reading about is in fact divine, but I also discovered that to convert ten bucks worth of pohas (at the jam-maker’s discount, yet!) into jam was a long, tedious process that resulted in a miserable three 8oz. jars of jam.

And stupid me, I had invited some neighbors to hang around and watch the end of the process, so of course I had to give them one piping-hot jar, and another jar has to go to Lee James, with whom I’d discussed making the jam out of her pohas. So I’m sitting here looking at one jar for myself.

So when somebody gives you a jar of poha jam, know that they damn well love you. And don’t nobody hold their breath for one from me, neither, because in addition to the above problem, I am in general getting too busy having fun, now that I can walk again, to be spending my days over hot stoves and steaming cauldrons.

Instead, you can just rip a handful of the little darlings out of their husks and eat ’em with lemon yogurt. You won’t be sorry. It’s real easy and real delicious.

Just go to Whole Foods and make a scene until they bring out that case they were saving for themselves. Ignore the price and fill a bag.

Here’s some information about the Poha.)

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