Posts

Showing posts from June, 2009

New Foot Energy...or something

Image
... Robb and I did more walking than usual this weekend. We walked all over the rocks on our tidepooling excursion Saturday morning. On Sunday, we went for a walk in the woods. Both walks involved some tricky balancing on difficult surfaces. On Monday, Robb went to the pool to do his usual workout. He was doing foot exercises, when his foot went into spasm and got stuck, mid-flex. When Robb told me about this, he was laughing about how his toes were stubbornly pointed skyward, and how he could not unbend his ankle. It is, I suppose, perversely funny that the act of exercising his feet causes so much trouble. I'm glad Robb can laugh about this, because there's nothing to be gained by either panicking, getting angry, or deciding to stop walking. The following day, though, he came home from cycling full of energy and excited about how much faster than usual he was able to pedal. Is it the benefit of varied exercise? Who knows? Maybe it just underlines the importance

Fireworks?

Image
... Robb and I both love fireworks, but we're not such huge fans of traffic jams or mobs of people. Robb loses his balance in huge crowds. Can anyone offer any suggestions for fun, somewhat low-key places to spend July 4th in the greater Bay Area?

This Young Couple

Image
... We've been pouring over images that date to the same era as the house we're hoping to buy. Because, you must know, we plan to import vast quantities of adorable-ness through the time machine in the kitchen. That first image made me laugh for about two solid minutes. Robb actually asked me if I was all right, because I was laughing so hard. I would take over our household bread-baking responsibilities if someone would buy me this outfit. Do you think I could lure neighbor-kids over to watch me slather cakes with brown margarine frosting?

Oh Dry Up!

Image
... Do you support the Right to Dry ? Or are laundry lines an affront to polite society? When Robb and I first started seriously house-hunting, one of our rules was "no home owners' associations." I didn't want anyone telling me what kind of garden I could plant, or what sort of front door I was allowed to have. And I particularly didn't want anyone forbidding my use of a laundry line. As an environmentalist, European traveler, and urban pioneer, I love the use of a clothes line. I'm totally flummoxed by the people who are horrified by the humble, thrifty laundry line. Here's a pretty typical article on the subject, containing this bit of hysterical hyperbole: "They're unsightly by most people's standards," said Jeanne Bridgforth, a Realtor with Long & Foster in Richmond. "It gives an atmosphere of decline. You don't sense you're in a well-heeled neighborhood when you see people hanging their laundry out to dr

Of Friends and Slugs

Image
... We had company today at the tidepools! Mark and Katie joined us, as did Jen and Paul. It was a lot of fun, sharing this place with people who had never experienced it before. Having a larger group meant more eyes for spotting interesting creatures. The image above isn't exactly "eyes" but it is the sensory organ of a nudibranch (sea slug). The animal was about five centimeters in length, so you can imagine how tiny these rhinophores (sense organs) are. Katie found this colorful hermissenda crassicornis (that's Latin for "fancy-schmancy sea slug), which was about the size of my pinky nail. It is sliding along the side of the plastic bowl that I bring on tidepooling adventures. I suppose I ought to try to find something that looks a bit more natural, and less like it came from the dollar store. We saw several spawning anemones today, which is something I'd never noticed before. Sometimes these animals reproduce asexually (by splitti

Tidepooling, Anyone?

Image
... Does anyone want to get up early and go tidepooling on Saturday? There's a nice low tide, and we're going to head down to either Fitzgerald Marine Reserve or Pillar Point (these are really the same stretch of coast, just different parking lots.) The low tide is at 8:48am, and after that the tide starts coming in. If you're thinking of joining us, wear waterproof boots with grippy treads. I went tidepooling in Tuesday, because I was so nervous about our bid on the house, and needed to distract myself. For some reason, Robb opted not to leave the house with me at 6am. I'm on vacation this week, and so I'm getting up even earlier than I have to when I go to work. Go figure. He missed out on seeing a wild octopus. (My first!) My vacation has been pretty un-exciting. I've been hauling unwanted possessions to the Goodwill, and giving my dust allergies a good work-out. There's still a lot of official stuff to do before we can close on t

Ride with Us!

Image
... Mark you calendars! The date for the kick-off party for the BORP Revolution has been announced. And we would love for local blog readers to join us for a ride and party at BORP's adaptive cycling center at the Berkeley Aquatic Park. Regular blog readers know how much cycling means to Robb (and me) both in terms of his recovery, and also for his spirit. It was thanks to BORP's cycling program that Robb got back on the road . Every year since then, we've participated in BORP's fundraising ride, the Revolution. Kara and Ellen rode with us one year, and we're hoping to have more friends join us this year. (The ride is September 26th, in wine country.) Please join us at the Aquatic Park on July 18th The ride starts at 10am and the party is at 1pm. You'll get to hang out by the water, gawk at the super-awesome adaptive bikes, and meet the people that this fundraiser benefits.

Jumping up and down with glee!

Image
... We just heard back from our realtor. There were THIRTY OTHER BIDS on the house we wanted, and ours was the only one that the seller is currently considering. We've got a lot of scrambling around to do, but I feel confident enough in this that I'm going to share photos of this adorable little 1925 house. This is the view, upon entering the house. Look left, and you see the living room. The floors are white oak, with walnut trim, the other woodwork is gumwood, which amazingly, nobody decided to paint. We plan to leave the rooms pretty much as is. We'll patch some plaster, and then re-paint to match the existing colors. The living room is a robin's egg blue. The fireplace and chimney will need some work, but we hope to have wood fires. The chimney inspector could not believe how cute the fireplace was. The dining room is green. There are pocket-doors connecting the two rooms. How about all those built-in cabinets? I think most people would ha

Neda

Image
Getty Images I have a friend at the YMCA where I swim several times a week. She’s a 79-year old Persian lady who swims laps bedside me most days. It was a landmark for me about a year ago when I could match her lap-for-lap. Conversation is usually sparse as her English is limited and my Farsi is non-existent. Mostly she practices the niceties like, “Have a good weekend.” Yesterday, though, she had a lot to say and struggled to tell me. “Very, very bad in Iran”, she kept saying. She told me about her family there, the protests... but most of all she wanted me to know about Neda . She wanted me to say the name–– she helped me pronounce it. “Just a girl. They killed her. Nothing. For nothing.” She wanted me to remember. She made me say it again. Neda. Neda. I promise. I won’t forget.

what does (almost) a million dollars buy in San Francisco these days

Image
... Since Robb and I are nervously awaiting word about the house we're hoping to buy and I want to distract myself, I'll share what an "average" almost-million-dollar house in San Francisco looks like, based on this week's real estate listings. It is something like this . That's a little over eight hundred square feet at $1,184 per square feet, and there's no yard. The bathroom is awfully cute. A million bucks will buy you an adorable converted fire station . Plenty of room to house your vast collection of antique pinball machines, should you need a place to put them. I imagine it would be a bitch to heat. This one , also just shy of a million dollars, looks weirdly like a house from the Simpsons. And a few more.... This house is a thousand square feet, and almost a thousand dollars a square foot. This is a semi-detached building, 1,633 square feet, and again, no yard. A million bucks.

a little cottage

Image
... Keep your fingers crossed for us, because we've crunched all the numbers, paid for all the inspections, pondered all the work we'd need to do, and we've submitted a bid on an adorable little cottage in Oakland. This isn't actually the house, but it may as well be. (I'm being weird and superstitious, and not sharing photos until we hear back from the seller.) For some reason, the previous blog post, which reveals the average cost of a house in San Francisco did not show up as a feed for many people. If you click on the title bar of our blog (the ooky photo of Robb's spine), you can read the article. It will appear after this article.

All Your Questions Answered

Image
... Okay kiddies, are you ready to hear what a house in San Francisco costs? Last month, the average price of a single family home in the city of San Francisco was $997,000 That's nine HUNDRED ninety-seven THOUSAND dollars, (or just three thousand dollars less than a million). If you're going in for a standard mortgage, you'll have to come up with a down payment of 20% ... a mere $199,400. Your monthly payment (including taxes, insurance and interest) will be $5,800 And that adds up to $69,600 a year. Over the course of a thirty year mortgage, you'll pay $2,287,400. That's two MILLION, two hundred eighty-seven THOUSAND, and four hundred dollars for that average house. (Sure you could say that the 997 K house ends up costing 2.28 million, but that hardly conveys the immense cost.) I have joked for years that the only house I would ever be able to afford is a cardboard box on the side of the road. And I'm not even sure Robb and I could afford that in

Vote Counting

... So far, the average price for a single family home in San Francisco (as suggested by blog readers) is eight hundred fifty thousand dollars. And, oddly, the median is about the same number. Voters in California guessed on the high end of the scale, and those in the Rust Belt guessed very low, indeed. I'm going to keep voting going through the weekend, and report the actual numbers on Monday, which is coincidentally the day that we're submitting a bid on a lovely little cottage in Oakland. We figure that the only way we could afford to live in San Francisco is if we moored a kayak to a rocky shore and started building house-boat out of toothpicks.

A San Francisco Real Estate Game

Image
... Let's play a fun guessing game. I'll tell you a few definitions, and then you, loyal blog readers can do some guessing. First definition: Single family home. A dwelling that is neither a condo, nor divided up into multiple apartments. A house. Second definition: Average price. If you add up the total dollar amount of all sales, and then divide that number by the number of sales, you've got the average price. (Average price is not the same as median price.) Okay, then....is everyone ready to play? What would you guess the average price is, right now, for a single family home in San Francisco? If you try to find this out by Googling, you are CHEATING. I want people to make a random guess. We'll give you a little hint: We are not considering buying a house in San Francisco. Jello model of San Francisco by artist Liz Hickok .

For Real?

Image
... As you can see, we're not the only ones trying to take advantage of the dip in the price of real estate. Prices are down, and sales are up. You should see some of the sorry houses on the market (at least in our modest price range). The sweet older two story house, where you could stand on the ground floor and look through the gigantic hole in the second floor up and see the sky through the hole in the roof. The house that smelled so badly of animal waste and vomit that both the realtor and I almost threw up. The houses whose back yards abut the freeway. The beautiful baby Victorian, located directly under the BART tracks. The houses in neighborhoods you wouldn't want to drive through. The house whose bottom floor was ankle-deep in standing water. The moldy houses. The sloping houses. All of the "what the hell where they thinking?" houses. Pretty much every house we're looking at is a foreclosure (where the bank has seized the property) or a sho

Click for the Cluck

Image
... If you missed seeing my sister's urban hens on tv last night, here's the link to ABC Nightline . It's a totally charming little video, really worth watching. (Just ignore the obligatory advertisement at the beginning.)

Tune in Tonight to ABC Nightline

Image
... My excellent sister and her flock of urban chickens will be featured on ABC Nightline tonight. If you miss it, you should be able to watch online in a day or two.

Up Close with Nature

Image
... As usual, Robb and I were out cycling on the San Francisco Bay Trail today, and usual, I was asking the people with binoculars of they had seen any interesting birds. A nice older couple gave us the heads-up that some kind of alcid was bobbing around in the water. I follow the online discussions of birders in the East Bay, so I know that these birds had been seen in this area for the past week or so. The problem is that they seemed to be ill or stressed. While Robb and I do spot the occasional murre , floating around in the surf, these birds typically spend their time out at sea, diving after fish, and "swimming" underwater using their wings as flippers. We are always surprised to see a murre. This fellow was swimming right off the trail. I went down to the waters edge to shoot a few photos, and after a few minutes he swam right up to me, and started to "haul out" of the water. While is was delightful to be so close to a wild bird, I knew that I

Home Renovation as Pornography

... Although I haven't wanted to say much about it, because nothing is settled, Robb and I have been quietly house-hunting. Home prices have dropped, and interest rates are low, and for the first time ever, we can actually do more than fantasize about buying a modest little home. Which brings me to the subject of the renovation blogs, that I've been obsessively reading. Robb and I are looking at houses built before 1950, and with what we have to spend, we're probably looking at a "fixer." (This is a big issue, actually. Robb who has helped build two houses with hand tools, can no longer do carpentry. And I never learned.) I'm coming to realize that there's a weird parallel between home renovation/decoration and pornography. There's the pure fantasy aspect of both. Both offer a distilled moment of perfection, devoid of tedium, hard work, or headaches. Both have a hyper-groomed aesthetic. The freakishly polished inhuman bodies presented in p

Can you really hear the clicking of kitting needles?

Image
... I've always thought that was a bit of a cliche. Linguine is, as always, being super-helpful. I'm knitting something that is going to be a gift, so I can't show photos, quite yet. One of these years, I'll find some fabric for our couch, and Ashley will do the upholstery job that I paid her for two years ago. I've been on a money-saving kick of late, and the cost of twelve yards of upholstery fabric is terrifying. So, until then, we have a slightly 'eighties-looking black couch. A Year Ago Tide Pooling Two Years Ago Annie Modesitt and Inspiration Three Years Ago Our Longest Trip Thus Far ...

More Adventures from the Bonehead Fiber Studio

Image
... I'm almost always working on some kind of textile project, usually knitting, but there's the occasional quilting that happens as well. I almost never follow someone else's pattern or directions. I get a strong image of the finished project, I read up on technique, and I just sort of go for it. This method gets me in a Lot Of Trouble . Back in 2005, Robb and I took a vacation on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. It was a wonderful trip. We explored the island and snorkeled. We ate all sorts of insane tropical fruits that we bought at roadside stands. We went kayaking. (The misadventures of that outing are a story for another time) We marveled at the flora. And the fauna. And we brought home some really awesome quilting fabric. Hawaii has a very interesting textile history , particularly in terms of the islands' unique form of applique quilting . (I bought a one pillow-cover in this style, which was a bit of a splurge.) The fabrics I

Snail Pipe

Image
... After a long break, Robb went cycling again today. Here's the photo he brought home. That's a tipped-over concrete curb, and an un-used pipe sleeve. Nice.