Showing posts from August, 2009

You're Invited!

... We're hosting a house warming party, and you're invited! Please stop by after 1pm on Sunday September 20th. You can marvel at how cute our little house is, and how much work we have to do. I'm not posting the address until after we move in. I don't want to advertise the emptiness of our little house. Suffice it to say that we're in East Oakland, just off of High Street. Stay tuned for further details.

Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

... I keep half an eye on the "traffic reports" for my blog. It's interesting, in an abstract sort of way, to see where blog readers are coming from . We've got readers in Malaysia? Who knew? Last night, I noticed that the blog was getting a bit of traffic, by way of Rolling Stone magazine . It seems that my behind-the-scenes pictures of the set for that huge Green Day project caught they eye of Rolling Stone. Crazy.

The appeal of red, if you are a hummingbird.

... Two nights ago, I was sitting out behind our new/old house, and a hummingbird flew into the yard. First he checked out the red-topped candle lantern that Robb had found in the garage. Then he investigated the red metal rake I had just bought. Then he took a long look at the red can of fruit soda I was drinking. I had already bought a red hummingbird feeder, but there was no sugar at the house, with which to make syrup. This morning I filled and hung the hummingbird feeder, and the birds found it less than twelve hours later. In fact, we saw our first hummingbird fight. I'm going to have to put up another feeder. (Of course, the birds found the feeder after dusk, so all I got were grainy, blurry, Bigfoot-worthy photographs.) This picture is from April, at the best hummingbird park in Alameda .

New Neighbors, Old Friends

... Today was over 95 degrees, and in case you hadn't guessed, our little 1925 cottage is not air-conditioned. Work was hot and rather miserable. I was on top of a ladder for most of the day, and of course, heat rises. We did hang paper "curtains" on the windows, to cut down on the sun. Greg and Nicole stopped by for a visit, and brought a delicious and ever-so-appreciated picnic lunch. I just hope that I wasn't completely brain-melted from the heat. I think I may have been really stupid during their visit. (Sorry guys!) We hadn't seen those two since just after Robb got out of the hospital. At that time, has was wearing a full-torso stabilizing brace, and may have been using a walker. He was also taking an alarming amount of drugs, and was terribly weak. Things are so much better now. After Nicole and Greg drove off, some more of our neighbors took the opportunity to introduce themselves. This particular family's father grew up on this block, and bo

Our Cat Misses Us

... Robb and I have been spending all of our free time at our new/old house. Linguine does not accompany us. We don't have screens on most of the windows, and we tend to keep the back door open, and I'm worried that she would wander off and get lost. When we get home, it is way past her scheduled dinnertime, and she is obviously very hungry. She's always waiting at the door of our apartment. What's so sweet is that although we feed her before we do anything else, she's not content. She literally cannot eat her food until we engage in what we call the Frenzy of Greeting. Our cat requires serious cuddling, before she can settle down to supper. This was actually confusing at first, because after I fed her, so would stand by her bowl giving me a demanding stare. She wanted something other than what I had given her. She wanted Love. Linguine, it seems, never got the memo about how cats (and in particular semi-feral barn cats) should be aloof and remote in their rela

garden wreckage

... I made myself promise that I would stay focused on the house renovation project, and not just flit from task to unfinished task. But the heat has made me a filthy liar. It is too hot to work on the job that I need to do. I need to be standing on a ladder, re-plastering my ceiling. But when I try to do that, I instantly over-heat. So, I've been working on the back yard, instead. Our back year has a lot of potential. But truthfully, it's also a gigantic mess. I think the woman who owned the house before we did was not able to keep up her yard, and things just sort of fell into disarray. Of course, I love this sort of challenge. And I kind of love kicking things to pieces, so tearing apart the rotting trellis fence was more fun that I should probably admit. I have to get the paint from this fence tested, quickly, because paint chips from this fence cover huge sections of my garden-to-be. The back yard is littered with more dead, fallen branches than you could shake a stic


... Still super-busy with the production of American Idiot , and trying to whip the house into shape. We've still got to finish packing.

Why do all deadlines come at the same time?

... Gracious, we've got a lot going on. We'll tell you all about it, when things slow down.

I think we're going to like it here

... Last night, as he was tidying up, Robb noticed one of our neighbors wearing a tiara while washing her dishes. I think we're going to feel right at home in this neighborhood.

Backyard Nature

... I can already tell that our new home is going to be great for birdwatching. So far, we've seen the usual robins, towhees, scrub jays and pigeons, hummingbirds. We've also seen bushtits, gulls, and turkey vultures. Robb also spotted a Cooper's hawk, which is the bird that hangs out near bird feeders and preys on songbirds. Oh my. While Robb and I were eating our lunch outside today, a momma squirrel and her little baby came trotting across the top our fence and hung out above us in the big bay tree. The young one was a bit wobbly, and its mom (pictured here) kept a close eye on us. This is a rather terrible photograph, but a good reminder to me that this particular squirrel has a torn right ear. Maybe I'll see her again some time.

Eighty-Four Year Old Wallpaper, And Why We Aren't Saving It

... Remember how we had to get all loose paint scraped off in order to get our mortgage? Our poor house actually looks worse after the paint scraping than it did before. This is the back bedroom. We think we'll be using this as our bedroom even though it is the smaller of the two rooms. It has a delicious view of a huge camellia bush, whereas the larger bedroom has a view of the neighbor's house. (Notice the lovely wood in the hallway. Robb tore out carpet that covered all that, yesterday. He's been laying down on the carpet when he needs to rest. Clearly, we need to bring over our air mattress.) Do you see the weird texture on the ceiling? Unless I'm mistaken this ceiling was never actually finished. What you're seeing is the "scratch coat" of plaster over the lath. This should have had another smooth coat of plaster applied over this coat. More on this later. When I've told people that the first task Robb and I will be tackling in the house


... Before my accident I did many jobs in theatre. All of them required me to be either very active or downright physical. Since then, I've done physical therapy and laid down. A lot. I'll never forget how great it felt to experience the weightlessness of water when I started working out in a pool. I was a real accomplishment when I was able to swim a lap for the first time. Flash forward a year and a half later and I'm regularly asked at the pool, "How long do you swim?" Right now the answer is 50 minutes. I've been thinking of our upcoming BORP fundraising ride and struggled with the choice between the 25-mile route and the 50. I know the 25 is easily do-able, on a good day. But I can't always count on having a "good day." That's why we finally settled on the 25. It irks me a little, though, to not increase this landmark number over the previous year. I have other landmarks, though. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I put i


... Robb and I were over at the house again yesterday, and discovered that someone reached through the broken window in the laundry room and stole my beautiful telescoping pruning shears and a folding lawn chair. Bastards. This puts a bit of a dent into our move-in-gradually plans. We met one of our sets of next-door neighbors, two very nice women and their five-year-old daughter. They told us that the neighbor on the other side is a carnitas vendor, which explains (sort of) why the back yard always seems to smell like fried chicken.

Of Course!

... I things finally slow down a tiny bit at work, and I get sick with a tedious cold. I swear, this always happens. We got the keys to the house, and instead of jumping up and down with excitement, I just thanked Meredith (our realtor) and shuffled back to my spot on the couch. Bleh.

Reviving Neglected Gardens

... Robb and I spent an agreeable afternoon, in the back garden of our new home. More accurately, I hacked at all the overgrown tangles, and Robb hooked what he could in the crook of his cane, and dragged the detritus to our gigantic compost pile. We have a lot of work to do. And I couldn't be happier. Was I dead asleep on the couch, back at our apartment, at 8:30 this evening. Will my neck and shoulders be sore tomorrow? Will it all be worth it? Do you have to ask?

Things we won't miss: the laundry edition

... Our apartment building has twelve units, and when they are all occupied, an average of eighteen people live here. We all share one laundry room, with one washing machine, and one dryer . Overall, we have wonderful neighbors, who look out for each other. I'll never forget the time that I was making felted catnip mice for Christmas presents. I knit up little mouse-bodies, and asked the neighbors if they minded me felting them in the dryer. I asked permission, because I intended to sew round pebbles inside the mouse-pelts to keep them from closing up on themselves when they felted, and I didn't want anyone to freak out because I was running rocks through the wash. Amazingly, everyone was amenable to my cockamamie scheme. With twenty people sharing one set of machines, there's no squeamishness about handling each other's clothes. If a neighbor's wash is sitting in the dryer, and you are next in line, you just take their dry clothes out of the dryer and set the

Animal Husbandry?

... Yes, I know this is a sheep, and not a goat. I don't have any goat portraits to share. Saturday morning, I was at work painting one final coat of sealer on the stage floor. I came home, ate some of the beautiful biscuits that Robb made, and headed out to Annie's Annuals for free class about raising urban chickens. Annie's is one of my favorite places. It's a nursery with a twist. They have a very whimsical visual sensibility, and they stock an impressive selection of California native plants. There are always hummingbirds zooming around. Yesterdays' class was surrounded by dozens of fluttering orange butterflies. I don't know if it says more about me or the instructor, but I really didn't learn a whole lot that I didn't already know about raising chickens at this class. I've been reading online, and paying attention to what my sister tells me about her hens. I don't feel even remotely prepared to care for backyard livestock, yet. I

Things we won't miss

... Even before the sale of the house went through, Robb and I had been making a list of all the things we wouldn't miss about living in our apartment. I think the thing we'll miss the least is having a kitchen that only one person can fit into at a time, and that only has four square feet of counter space. We'll miss our wonderful neighbors, and the views of the Berkeley hills, and seeing nest-building cormorants flying outside our living room window with long sticks trailing from their beaks. But we won't miss that kitchen!

Dishwashers of the San Francisco Bay

Maybe somebody can help me decipher this. Today, as I rode my trike along the Bay Trail, I stopped to watch a family down on the beach. They were unpacking box after box and bag after bag of stuff from Crate & Barrel... glasses, serving trays, bowls, all of it either glass or silver. It looked like they bought half the store. I thought I was watching the beginning of the strangest picnic ever. I thought a photoshoot was in progress (until somebo0dy pulled out a point-and-shoot camera). Then the two young people rolled up their pants, picked up some wine glasses and waded out into the bay. They dipped the glasses in, returned to the beach and then kept returning to the water until everything had been rinsed, packed up again and returned to the car. The young man of the group was wearing a white yarmulke (but not the older man-- no cover at all) so I'm wondering if it has some connection to the part of the Seder where a vegetable is dipped in saltwater to symbolize the tea



Birthday Fun

... Robb and I don't actually own our little cottage yet, but that didn't stop me from giving him this for his birthday. That's right. Robb is now the proud owner of a sweet little eco-friendly push-mower. And I'm the kind of dork who buys a lawnmower for a birthday gift. In some relationships, a gift like that would be grounds for divorce. Robb and I have never been in charge of a lawn. When I worked at the opera in upstate New York, and lived on the dairy farm, the farmers would cut our grass with their tractors. Neither Robb nor I have any memory of how the grass got cut in Dallas. We were workings eighty hour weeks. For all we know, the landlord hired a goatherd to crop our lawn. The birthday fun didn't end when we rolled the lawnmover into our garage. We also went kayaking on Lake Merritt. If you haven't rented a boat and paddled or sailed around the lake , I highly recommend that you do so. As we were gliding along the cormorants, terns, pelicans a

Garden Dreams

... The persimmons haven't been watered all summer and are dropping their fruit. Saturday was a fairly quiet day. Neither Robb nor I were bursting with energy. (In fact Saturday was my first day off in two weeks.) At my suggestion, we went over to the house, looked at the work that the painters had done * and talked about what we might do with the yard. The backyard is a huge mess, but I am really excited about the challenge. We know that we want to take down the mulberry tree. It's about to fall over, and neither of us actually like mulberries. The berries get in the treads of our shoes, and leave bloody-looking smears everywhere we walk. Once that tree is gone, the yard will open up considerably, and we'll have a more sunlight. The neighbor's apple tree over-hangs a hideously ugly fence. I wonder who owns the fence? We need to get our soil tested, because where the sun beats down on the garage, the soil is full of flaked-off paint. The painters did a commendab

Happy Birthday, Robb!

... Sunday is Robb's birthday. Won't you join me in wishing him the very best.

some birdy lovin'

... ... Happy weekend, everyone.

A photo essay

... Yesterday, my painters and I engaged in a bit of reverse-vandalism. We all met up in front of a punk club in Berkeley (which is credited as being the place where Green Day got its start), and ripped posters off off telephone poles. I was anticipating weird interactions with pedestrians, but nobody so much as blinked. This show plays on a huge set, that it covered in band posters and graffiti. Most of the posters on our set are printed, but we're augmenting those posters with found images. Gaby walks through our gigantic, crowded studio. Allie contemplates our smallest wall. All the walls in this show are forty feet tall. I've been working twelve-hour days. I send my painters home after eight hours, and then Sheri, who is working at another theater during the day joins me for a few hours in the evening.

posters wanted!

lamp posts of philly Originally uploaded by lepetitbleux Hey blog readers! I need your help. Could you go out in the next few days and tear down some show posters, and mail them to me? We're covering the gigantic walls of our upcoming show with this sort of thing, and we would like as many real posters as possible. Also desirable, are graphic stickers, and other cool images on paper that are bold enough to "read" from twenty feet away. Random weird stuff on paper is good, too. Artists, take your images and blow them up on the photocopier, and then mail them to me! The same goes for you, letterboxers. Please mail to Berkeley Repertory Scenic Studios Lisa Lazar, Scenic Artist 2526 Wood Street Oakland CA 94607 (We will be gluing everything to the walls, so please don't send me anything that you want back.)

house news?

... I haven't written a lot about the house-buying situation lately, because I find it difficult to say anything interesting about cursing and nail-biting. Here's the thing. The house was built in 1925, which attentive blog-readers may have noticed, is before 1978. 1978 is the year that the use of lead-containing paint was banned in the United States. We are (hopefully) getting a Federal Housing Administration mortgage, and the FHA assumes that every home built prior to 1978 is painted with lead-based paint. They will not back mortgages for any house, built prior to 1978 that has peeling paint, because it may contain lead paint which may cause a health risk to children. (Oh, and they won't actually test to confirm the presence of absence of lead paint. That's far too logical. Scrape paint, or no mortgage, end of discussion.) Okay so, we're obliged to get the house scraped and primed. You would think that this would be no big deal. After all, isn't Lis