Drought Drought Damned Pot (and other water intensive crops)


These delicate  fragrant blooms have been running riot for the past couple of months in the drought.   Simultaneously, the article by Jay Famiglietti about California having one year of water remaining has been making the rounds. One of the websites referencing it included a photo of the dust bowl, in line with the usual imagery of cracked earth and dead fish.    Is this going to be Calfornia’s  “Will the Last one out Turn off the Lights?”  moment?    The tipping point may be the on how sour water now coming from taps might be the new normal because shallower reservoir water is being used for consumers to save the colder, deeper water for the salmon run later in the year, or something like that.   Apparently still waters run deep – AND taste better.   This weekend I was on BART.  A guy sitting next to me struck up an animated conversation about something  the two women in the seats in front of us were fiddling with.  “What a great idea…I watch Shark Tank all the time…”   Curious, I joined the conversation.  They women had been at a wine tasting and had what looked like re purposed  handi wipes to use specifically for wine stains.     Anyway, turns out the guy lived in Connecticut and was thinking of moving out here.   I mentioned the drought as something to add to the mix.  “I don’t think that will affect my lifestyle.”    His point of comparison is the east coast winter of 2015…

Ok, THIS Time I Mean It.

“I’m going to start a blog.”    “I’m going to continue a blog.”  “This time I’m not going to quit writing.”    What happened?  Life happened.  But life always happens and, better late than never, I finally get what this means.  This means that if something is meaningful to you, keep going.   Keep going.     I aspire to be a polymath but in truth I’m a dilettante.  Last week I had an insight that might be useful to others of this ilk:  There is a distinction between distraction and interruption.   Go with the distraction and manage the interruption.   Don’t let it run the show.   Distractions are the seedlings of a new idea.

Comfort Food

comfort food

Food is comfort not only to eat but to write about.  A lot of headlines, both global and personal, are hard in the meanest way not hard in a premium ice cream way, that will soften with time.

A few weeks ago I took this photo with my dinosaur like phone of our homemade fried chicken dinner.   The jist was that it’s more comfortable wrapping our collective heads around food than much else that is on the edge of our control.    I was going to go on about how even food is hard to write about.  Every step and every item of this meal is fraught.

I had more specific ideas and impulses on the hard-to-talk-about theme scribbled in the margins of some New York Times articles in my box of “stuff”.  My box of stuff is a square hiking boot box with the latest books, notebooks and loose papers that comprise what I’m working on or thinking about at the moment.   It’s a portable desk I bring to the kitchen table.   I want to start fresh with a new post idea, not a leftover draft photo and scraps of stale scribbles.

The Day the Comedy Died

Robin Williams committed suicide.  I won’t write about it.  Everyone else has.    It feels like a wave crashing hard; the art form of improvisational comedy theater is at an enormous swell, and one of the masters of the form took his own life. 

I won’t write about depression, bi polar depression and how difficult it is to support family and friends with these chronic illnesses and how maybe Robin Williams’ death will not only continue the “national dialogue” about depression and stigma but be a call to action.  

More later. 

Thrift Shop Arbitrage

 A couple of days ago  I was on my version of a walkabout, my brainstorming time fueled by constructive strolling serendipity.  [“Your brainstorms couldn’t water a cactus,”  my husband said a few years ago.  Zing!]  The only certainty is that at some point in the day a cup of coffee, increasingly decaf, will find its way to my hands.  

I had just heard very bad heard news about a very good friend.   She went to the doctor concerning a lingering cough, and, yes, they found a tumor.  It was “the size of a small grapefruit.”   We don’t know anything else yet.

Too shaken now to stay at the kitchen table-office to rework my resume or to entice anyone to an informational interview, “5 minutes and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,”  I took BART to Walnut Creek for some so called cactus watering. 

Walnut Creek is one of the cities on the east side of the Berkeley hills, on the other side of the Caldecott Tunnel, the tunnel that was famously an inferno funnel years ago.  It’s wall tiles were never replaced.  The east side of the hills are out of the fog bank thus offering a sip of sun for your parched pineal gland.  

Walnut Creek [which still has walnut trees and a trickle of a creek if you know where to look] has an American Cancer Society Discovery Shop Thrift Shop.   Second hand stores that exist to raise money for urgent causes rather than being strictly consignment or self proclaimed Retro are more full of actual discoveries and are indeed thrifty. 

On a low shelf at the back of the store I spotted a vintage looking ceramic pitcher in the shape of a rooster. Faux?  Four bucks.  Any sign of maker or country on the bottom was rubbed off.  Italian? French?   Or a knock off?  Cute though; I’m stumped.  Not that I’m making anyone on Antiques Roadshow break a sweat.  Beak is a spout.  Mental fiscal gymnastics.   Good deal?  Yes!  Useful?   Eh.  Resell?  Would I?  Nope.  Do I want it / need it?    Sort of / no.  Should I get it just in case?

Eventually I put the vase back and left.  By the way, someone liquidated their entire Hawaiiana collection.  It was on proud display in the front of the store, so if you’re in the market for a salt and pepper set in the shape of palm trees or slightly better versions of stuff you’d find at Party House for a tropically themed boozefest, like margarita glass garden lights, you know where to go. 

Some people are genius at exploiting the possibilities of simultaneous pricing, leveraging markets, all that.  Until recently there was a thrift shop in Oakland next to a high end foodie complex [upmarket in that tasteful  oh so understated bay area way (sometimes I could do with a soupcon of Fran Drescher)] that had a sign by their book section, “No scanners please.”  I imagined a ninja squadron, ducking behind old school hard wall suitcases and sad lampshades with hand held price readers, shooting at the books price codes to see which they should buy then sell to the used bookstore across the street. That’s a  pokey way to make few bucks.    It must be a labor of love for the eBay armies who do this for real money.

Before I left, scoping out the clothing, pitcher in hand, I considered how to up my mental game of casual arbitrage with bigger ticket items.   I don’t see myself flipping houses but I don’t aspire to be on the ninja squad.   I felt like Miss Virtue, leaving with nothing, not EVEN leaving footprints, taking only memories.    I gotta raise the virtue bar.   Hey look, a cactus flower!   I did it!

The Dewey Eyed Decimal System

This is how new I am to blogging: I continue to choose vague “oh look how clever I am” titles for these posts.   But kudos, and thank you, for being early visitors to this site.   I just now returned from the library, again, this time for a Dummies book on WordPress blogging.   Bells and whistles to follow.

Though I’m an anglophile ever since I discovered Monty Python, the troupe who saved my emotional life when I was in the throes of Junior High School misery, I have that American habit of Self Improvement Through Books.   I always have a revolving stack of library books from three different libraries.  This is the latest offering:


WordPress For Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Two issues of The Economist

DVD of movie The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

DVD of Playing Shakespeare by the Royal Shakespeare Co.

Reduced Shakespeare; The Complete Guide for the Attention Impaired by the Reduced Shakespeare Co.

Why Diets Fail by Avena & Talbott

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Two travel books on New England and the Pacific Northwest

One foodie memoir – Blood Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

So there’s my secret.   Aside from getting serious about blogging, I’ll be financially articulate,  brushed up on my Shakespeare, and able to write breezily or with caustic satire.   I’ll avoid sugar in all of it’s masterful disguises.   I’ll brainstorm on where we should move next all while vicariously living the life of a chef.  And  I will  impersonate Michael Caine in two different styles.

I’m not the only one who takes out several books at a time, right?    Maybe I’m a herder instead of hoarder.

Last of the Summer’s Whine

No.  It’s not the last whine.  Summer still has a ways to go though you wouldn’t know it from the micro climate of thick fog this morning.   I wanted to make a splash yesterday with a *new blog post* after months of inactivity only to find out I didn’t link it to anything.  Crap.   I look forward to blogging, going forward as they say, about my job hunt adventures as one of those long term unemployed older people you hear about in the news.   I look forward to blogging through my pedestrian, as opposed to professional, lens of the post 2007 banking world from having a bleacher seat to the whole thing back in the day.   The blog is mostly an experiment in blogging and in improvisational style finding the form as I go.  If I get followers along the way, fine.   If The Economist or BuzzFeed wants to recruit me, fantastic.

By now you may have noticed this post has nothing to do with Yorkshire.   You either know what I’m referring to or you don’t.

This time I mean it.

I was at the local library yesterday browsing through past issues of the San Francisco Business Times.  One of the issues talked about the tech jobs boom in SF [no newsflash there] and listed some traits that employers look for regardless of position.   

Blogging is an attribute that employers look for.  Is that a newsflash?  Sort of.   If you can find the sweet spot of spontaneous riffing with enough meaty [or its vegan substitute] content to generate repeat customers, loyal readers, well then, you’ve got something.  Doesn’t everyone blog?  Aren’t blogs sort of  literary selfies?    In any case I’m getting back at it.   If I got paid to write all day – or a few hours in a day – and what I chose to write – unless the topic was freeform as in improvisational theater.  “Potatoes:  Go!”  Riffles have ridges.  

Nor writing press releases on why Thing 2.0 is much better than Thing 1.0 and how it’s far superior to Stuff or Item.   Let’s get this flavor of the millisecond trending!  Feign exclamation points.  !!!    No interest there.

If I got paid to write I’d be happy as a clam.  Age old question:  Are clams really happy?  I think they’d be prone to depression.  They isolate, and literally their head is in the sand.   The phrase should be I am as depressed as a clam.  But I’m not.  What fish is steady as you go?   Flying fish are obviously in the throes of mania.  I like those deep deep deep water  bottomfeeding fish with their own headlamps.  Do they also have little books?  The paper and ink would need to be water soluble.  Or if it had an e-reader well that is a whole different kettle of fish.  Which in itself gets confusing.  My only point is that I am going to restart this blog.   And this time I do indeed mean it.  

Gone Earning

It’s November and as such I’m writing a novel – rather a “novel.”   Every year for the past six or seven years I join the thousands of people who commit to writing a novel every November.    The requirement  for finishing is 50,000 words which strictly speaking is a novella, or a piece of long form journalism.   I’m astounded by prolific writers.   Writing is one thing but rewriting and making a stunning finished project / product repeatedly is quite another.

So what is today’s post about?  It’s about my letting go of improvisational theater and drawing – for a little while.  My biological family has a history of being unfocused creative types.   I’ve been following the family tradition beautifully.   Last week  I found a letter my grandfather had written to an old buddy of his Bill Swanberg [who went on to win a Pulitzer].  He wrote, “I wish I had become a fireman when I had the chance.   Then I would have a pension.”     This was news to me.  I thought it was by choice and ill health that he didn’t leave the apartment in Forest Hills in later years.    He would have gone fishing at Riverhead much more often.  He loved to fish and write.  He cycled in Spain just after college.   He fancied himself a Hemingway.    “Gone Fishing” his tombstone says.

So who do I fancy myself to be?

Look Back Office in Anger

 I woke up today thinking – THIS is the day I start the blog for real.   Feed cat.  Coffee.  Step and Strength class at the gym later.   Or. Not.A few months ago I passed a man in North Berkeley near Saul’s Deli  who looked  like author Michael Lewis.  He of course wrote Liar’s Poker, Money Ball, Boomerang etc etc.  It’s well known that local celebrities Micheal Lewis and Michael “Omnivores Dilemma” Pollan – and Robert Reich and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, to name a few, can be found roaming or noshing in the Gourmet Ghetto, as the neigbhorhood is nicknamed.    I turned around to  look at the man.  He had stopped and was scribbling something in a notebook the size of a matchbook – that is a writer!  I went up to him and did the  usual  blah blah blah love your work spiel, which he was nice about.   I said I used to be in the finance industry and that I had a blog called The Counterparty’s Over Now, and that I hoped for it to be for the Economist.   So there it is.  Full disclosure.  No.  Not full disclosure – when I say I worked in the finance industry I meant, as I mentioned in the first blog written too long ago, that  I worked in the back offices of various big international banks.    This was clerical work indeed.   I’m long down on a list of people in the know to turn to for personal investment advice or how to re-engineer Dodd Frank.    I would include my cat ahead of me on this list.