Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Task Cowers as Blogger Approaches

Our landlord’s two daughters stopped by for a visit recently, taking the opportunity to meet as many of us tenants as they could. They assured me that they have no intention of selling the building, which would always have been a problem, but now would be catastrophic. If something happens to this place, I’d have to move in with roommates or move to another town. I couldn’t afford a studio or one-bedroom apartment at San Francisco’s current astronomical rates, so I was relieved to hear them say this.

One daughter lives in Coalinga, 200 miles south of here, but lately spends three weeks per month with her mother in San Rafael, about 30 minutes north of here, and she will be the one to take over administering the building once her mother is gone; they lost their father a few years ago.

The most exciting thing I had to show them was the backyard of the gentleman next door, who is evidently a hoarder. They took a photograph to show their mother. I happened to pass his garage one day when the door was open, and it was literally full of boxes of stuff—from side to side and top to bottom. All that stuff in the backyard provides excellent habitat for rats, which are prey for raccoons. If you’ve not heard the sound of a raccoon savaging a rat, you’re not missing out. Our landlord’s daughter said she’d be worried about all that stuff being a fire hazard, and I’m sure if the merest spark ever contacts it, the entire block will go up in a giant conflagration. But since the fellow has been living there for decades and no one has burned to a crisp yet, I don’t worry about it, and I don’t have any hard feelings for him. Imagine being compelled to spend so much of your life energy dealing with your giant pile of stuff. 


One day while I was making my bed, I drew my back my arm just as Hammett ran up behind me and his head collided with my elbow with a little thump. He threw himself down on the bed, and, just to show he hadn't lost his oomph, gave me a single chomp on the hand.


At work, I noticed that a colleague famous for the elaborate vegetable smoothies she makes in the kitchen using a handheld blender was looking more svelte. In such a circumstance, I quite often say, “Have you lost weight? You look great,” but when I remember, I leave off the part about looking great, so as not to value one size over another. “You look great now that you’re smaller” is equivalent to “You looked awful when you were bigger” or “If you gain weight again, you’ll be ugly.”

So I said to my co-worker, “Wow, have you lost weight?”, which she interpreted as a compliment, which is fine—I don’t insist that people feel insulted—and she said, “Yes!” and attributed it to her recent project of building an enclosure to put her recycling, compost and garbage bins in. She showed me a photo of the truly handsome wooden structure she had made. I was impressed. As I left the kitchen, she said happily, “I can do anything, right?”


I was shocked when I heard that Ray Magliozzi, one of the Car Talk duo, had died. I often listen to them on weekend mornings and didn’t realize they had stopped recording new shows two years ago. Until Ray died, I had never known which one of them was which, but after looking at their website, listening to a Terry Gross show remembering Ray, and consulting Wikipedia, now I know that the one who didn’t die was kind of the main host, the one who was the first to say “Don’t drive like my brother” at the end of the show, and the one who listed all of the personnel who supposedly help produce the show. Ray was Tom’s sidekick, with the oft-mentioned infectious laugh. In the first photo I saw of them, it was immediately obvious who was who. It was fun seeing the photos, some going decades back, and reading quotes from Ray. My favorite began, “Don’t be afraid of work. Make work afraid of you.”
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