Tuesday, May 29, 2007


This is the worst of the damage to the sunflower seedlings. I'm not sure which are worse, the earwigs or the slugs. I am catching a few of each in my beer saucers every night, but I guess more keep coming. Earwigs? They can’t do much damage!, you say. That’s what I thought, until I came out slug hunting one night with my flashlight and found a giant one crouched right on top of a seedling, gnawing. The seedlings are persevering, but I think it’s still touch and go. They’ve lost some pretty major appendages and they’re not growing new ones fast enough.

I went back to Walgreens the other day to pick up another large bottle of Miller High Life, my death poison. A friend from yoga saw me carrying it around the store while I was looking for deodorant for my pubescent boys.
“You look kind of funny with that,” she said bluntly.
“What, oh this?” I waved it toward her. “This is my afternoon drink.”
Then I told her it was really for my slugs. And my earwigs.
“Oh, earwigs,” she said sadly. “They ate my whole garden in southern Oregon.”
Tonight I went out there and didn’t see a single slug. I did see one earwig, but he scurried into his little earwig den. They’re probably all in there now, drinking my Miller High Life from little earwig steins, singing earwig songs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I Love My Bike

I got a new bike for my birthday. It makes me feel fearless. I used to be afraid of riding on the city streets, but now I am growing more comfortable with each new route I take. Today my friend Nancy took me on a new ride, down along the beach, through Golden Gate Park, up through the Inner Sunset and across Forest Hill and back home. Thank you, Nancy! I have come a long way.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We tell ourselves stories about our own lives to become who we are.

In an article in the Science Times this week, Benedict Carey describes how psychologists see a connection between the way we tell our own life stories, and how we live our lives. People with more life problems describe episodes from their life that are colored with a dark detail—each scene seems to end with a disappointment. People who have fewer problems and are more engaged with the world tend to retell events with a theme of redemption.

But our stories can change with time: “…the tone, the lessons, even the facts in a life story can all shift in the changing light of a person’s mood, its major notes turning minor, its depths appearing shallow.”

Moreover, what perspective we storytellers take in recounting previous experiences—first person or third person—determines how we learn from the experience and what course we take in the future.

“Seeing oneself as acting in a movie or a play is not merely fantasy or indulgence; it is fundamental to how people work out who it is they are, and may become.”

“This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It)”, Benedict Carey, The New York Times, Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh say, can you see,...

My son, along with the 75 other members of his middle school band, is playing the national anthem before the Giants' game tonight in AT&T Park. A whole bunch of family will be there! The photo is from two years ago, when we went to cheer the band, but tonight is his turn.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mother On Fire

I'm a fan of Sandra Tsing Loh. The first thing I read was her review of a book called "The Mommy Wars." In the review, she coins the term "afflufemza" to describe the malaise she feels on reading books where "the problems of affluence are recast as the struggles of feminism." Then I read her hilarious "Scandalously Informal Guide to Los Angeles Schools" on her website, www.sandratsingloh.com. If you think the public school snarl is discouraging here in the Bay Area, read about the situation in L.A. Last night, my sister and I went to see her one-woman show, "Mother On Fire," at the Women's Building. It's mostly about her search for a kindergarten for her daughter, and how she realizes the process is turning her into someone she doesn't like or recognize. She has some revelations along the way, including "Darwinism was a theory that our family just couldn't afford." (Because the parochial schools she checked out, especially the ones that taught Creationism, were a relative bargain.) The audience of mostly white, probably middle to upper class parents laughed along with her, and at ourselves. What a relief to hear our not-so-secret fears and prejudices spoken out loud, and to laugh at them.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Brand New Sprout

This post is in honor of Owen Richard, born yesterday. He will join all the growing going on at the farm in Yolo County.

Friday, May 18, 2007


By now you've probably heard about the wreck of the 19th-century ship, the King Philip, visible for a time in 1984, and again this year on Ocean Beach. Already since the article in the Chronicle and the feature on NPR, the stern has sunk back in to the sand and only the bow is visible. Actually it is the sand that is moving, riding in on the waves and depositing itself once again on the beach. The sand travels in and out, slowly moving south. They say the bow will be visible for only a few more days until it, too, will be buried again.

I love how a piece of our past can rise up unexpectedly. We know it's there, but we don't think about it until some external force or trigger brings it up to us, to trip over. And then it will eventually sink back down again into the sands.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fertile Ground

These are my beleaguered sunflower seedlings. You can see my anti-cat, anti-bird protection net around them. I have placed saucers of beer out for slugs and earwigs to drown in. I have ventured out in the night with flashlight to pluck slugs and mash them against the edge of a broken flowerpot. Still I am not sure the sunflowers will make it. Chris recommends a dose of nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. He is the master gardener of our estate, so I will follow his advice.

Sometimes I think it is foolishly optimistic to grow sunflowers in our cold, foggy, wind-blown San Francisco neighborhood. But I know it's possible. Hey, we've even grown tomatoes out here, and they tasted pretty good, too. Even though they were no bigger than golf balls. But growing tomatoes, and sunflowers, requires engaging in a battle against the forces of mammals, insects, mollusks, and weather. You will be hearing more about this battle. And no, I will not be writing only about the dang garden.