Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Voluminous Head-Hole

This past Friday evening I saw my gentleman acupuncturist for the first time in several weeks. It was delightful.

On Saturday, I talked to the music director of the church needing a trumpet for Easter. I asked if he would consider sending me copies of the music in advance, and he said that wouldn’t be a problem.

As for attire, he said his church is extremely casual, with people wearing everything from blue jeans to suits, and very diverse, with homeless people down the pew from rich people, so it sounds like no clothes shopping will be required for this occasion—good news all around.

Later that day I had my mouthpiece extracted from my trumpet at Union Music and did a spot of mattress shopping at McRoskey, culminating in a down payment that would be enough to adopt thirty-four cats from the SPCA (and that’s just one end of the mattress), but then, what would I do with such a large fleet of cats?

A certain Midwest commenter says that if their mattress wore out, they would go straight to the thrift store and snap up the first semen- and booze-stained (those exact words may not have been used) pallet they spied, and they would do so with a light heart and peace of mind because they would posthaste encase it in a plastic protective cover.

However, I believe this same commenter and her gentleman companion own a house, a car, nine or ten computers, a big TV, central air conditioning and a badminton set with one still-usable racquet, all of which I have eschewed, in my high-minded way. Instead, I shall have a McRoskey mattress, full size, in case the nurse needs somewhere to set down the extra bedpan when I’m expiring; by all accounts, this mattress may last that long.

When I first received the telephone answering machine my parents sent me, their old one, the volume control worked perfectly, but it soon—within five minutes—got stuck on the loudest setting, blaring messages to all points. Passing Radio Shack the other day, I remembered that I had gotten my favorite phone there and went in to look at the phones.

They didn’t have any appealing phones, but they did have a little-bitty house brand digital answering machine with a 60-minute total recording time, for about $30, whose volume control goes all the way to silent and which is quite clear-sounding, both my announcement and the messages left by callers.

I asked my mother if she wanted me to send her old answering machine back and she said, “No! That’s the beauty part.” And thus concludes the search for an answering machine, happily.

Tom was away at a second qualifying brevet for Paris-Brest-Paris last weekend, so I spent Saturday evening trumpeting and puttering about. The first brevet was one hundred miles long, I believe he said, and a group of people did it on single-gear bikes, meaning they could not downshift to get up the hills! I very much admire their determination and athleticism, but that seems like a great way to guarantee double knee replacements later in life. This most recent brevet was 300 km, or about 186 miles.

I heard Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on the National Public Radio show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! on Saturday, which was kind of neat. The host said he was the first Supreme Court justice to appear on a radio quiz show, and would probably be the last.

They asked him three questions, one each about David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne. He got all three wrong. One of the panel members consoled him, though he didn’t seem at all chagrined, by saying something like, “This is one of those shows where failing is a mark of distinction. I now feel even more confident about your ability to defend the Constitution knowing you didn’t know the answers to these questions.”

She had a point there. What would it mean if he knew every little thing about Iggy Pop, including that he once ate nothing but sausages for an entire year?

The host asked Justice Breyer, Do you like to be treated formally or like a regular guy. Do you say, ‘I don my robe one voluminous head-hole at a time like anyone else’?”

And, to assuage the concern of the panelist with OCD, the host asked if he has to maintain his robe with adhesive tape or other lint-removal device. Apparently it’s synthetic and doesn’t attract lint.

On Sunday, I made, from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Turkish Spinach and Lentil Soup, which was extremely good—I wish I’d doubled the recipe and frozen some for later—and Transylvanian Eggplant Casserole, which is so-so; it seems to be mostly rice.

I finished Mary Karr’s wonderful book The Liars’ Club and had a satisfying drippy cry over it, ditto when I copied down my favorite paragraph so I could read it again after the book is back at the library. I am going to request her next memoir, Cherry, very soon. She is working on a third: Lit.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ornery Trumpet Grips Mouthpiece, Won't Let Go

Something very thrilling happened this week, which was that, thanks to answering an ad on Craigslist, I played my trumpet in public for the first time in a handful of years, as part of a jazz combo at a café in the Western Addition.

When I talked to Ted on the phone, he said I would be the main soloist and player of melodies. I said that would be fine, and got to work preparing: rehearsing the heads to the songs we would play, improvising, doing some transcribinglearning to play a horn line by listening to the recording, with or without writing it down. I’m working on “Ecaroh.”

I became a bit worried about my lip lasting through the whole evening, as I would have very little recuperation time. I mentioned this to Ted and he said I should feel free to skip a whole song as needed.

The night before the show, a lifetime first occurred: I got my mouthpiece stuck in the horn and could not get it out, thanks to having dropped the horn several inches onto the carpet. I don’t think I’ve ever dropped it before, either.

I tried everything I could think of to get it out without damaging anything, including my back, and finally called my friend Alix in Guerneville, who plays trombone. She said I needed a mouthpiece-puller, that standard implement of the middle-school band director. The next day, I called Union Music, and they said that if I brought my horn over, they would extract the mouthpiece for me.

Fortunately, my trumpet fits in its gig bag (though not in the hard case) with the mouthpiece still in it. And fortunately, that was the mouthpiece I meant to use at the café (a good old Bach 7C).

I was scared the day of the show, and watched the waves of anxiety rise and fall. I noted thoughts such as, “Uh oh, you’re scared—that means it’s going to be a disaster.” I know for a fact that one isn’t true, because I am frequently beset by stage fright, and usually it ends up going just fine, though strong and persistent fear—dry mouth, shaking knees—can indeed have a disastrous effect on performance.

I remembered that as long as I physically survived the experience, that was really all that mattered and that the point isn’t to prove I’m an awesome trumpet player but to provide pleasure to the listeners—even one note that was beautiful or made someone happy would be enough. It is also true to say that I’m playing for my own pleasure, and if someone else enjoys it, that’s a bonus.

To avoiding jinxing it, however, the only person I told beforehand was Tom, who came with me.

The rhythm section, none of whom I met until the night of the show, proved to be quite good. I was quite nervous when I started, and my second note of the evening was a nice loud wrong note, which didn’t help my anxiety level.

But a couple of tunes later, I played, if I may say so myself, an absolutely gorgeous rendition of “Black Orpheus,” both the head and the solo. During my solo, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and with the beauty of the minor key, and nearly cried. Afterwards, I got an enthusiastic compliment from Ted, and from then on, all was well and I felt very comfy.

However, it was clear the little lip muscles were not going to make it for several hours of this, so it was very lucky that a guy walked up and said it was great to hear us playing and that he is in a group that sometimes plays at the same place.

We asked what he plays and when he said saxophone, we said, “Great! Run home and get it!” So he did, and then we had two horns for the rest of the evening, providing some periods of rest, and all in all, it was a very great thing.

The last time I had performed was probably at a church on Easter, and before that as part of a brass quintet in another church, and before that, an earlier Easter. (Though an atheist, I do love an Easter church service.)

Today I saw an ad on Craigslist looking for trumpets for Easter. The ad said respondents must be able to read in concert key, meaning to transpose up a step on the spot, as the trumpet is a B-flat instrument, meaning that when I see a C on the page and play the note I call a C, it sounds to the rest of the world like a B-flat.

Between you and me, I’m not a world-class transposer, nor do I have Easter clothes. But I said to myself, “Life is short,” and answered the ad. Lo and behold, the church’s music director wrote back and said he had already left me a message after getting my name from a trombone-playing friend of mine! Talk about synchronicity.

Trumpeting on Easter once again—yay!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Twelve-Hour Dal

Mattress shopping continues apace. I uncovered a highly pertinent fact, which is that you can’t put a rubber or European Sleep Works mattress on the floor, where we hippies like to put them, without fear of mold, which pretty much means: McRoskey, or continue to risk one’s very life on a Tempur-Pedic, so I went to McRoskey last Saturday. They have only four firmnesses (three if you’re going to omit box springs), making the choice much less of a strain.

My lady acupuncturist doesn’t think there’s anything to fear with the Tempur-Pedic. She has friends who have them and like them. But I already am beset by allergies, so I’d rather not take the chance.

I furthermore think it will be a twin size. Besides the fact that no one wants to be in a relationship with me, I don’t have time for such an undertaking. I was making a schedule for how I’d spend my days if I didn’t have to work; i.e., when I retire, twenty years from now, give or take. At first I thought I’d like to do a little volunteer work, but it turns out I’m not going to have time for that, so I certainly am not going to have time to have a partner, unless said operative will do all the cooking, laundry and cleaning.

Having a bed larger than a twin is tantamount to having a guest bedroom, which is silly given the size of my apartment. I sleep clinging to the very edge of my full-sized mattress, anyway. Having a twin-sized mattress also means I will be able to have my keyboard (i.e., piano) out all the time, which is currently impossible.

Sleep Train will exchange your mattress or take it back within 90 days, but I’ve noticed they get a bit terse when discussing returns, so I have decided to return the Tempur-Pedic and see the money back in my checking account before buying the McRoskey, regarding which I can find nothing but raves online.

Accordingly, I have just ordered an air mattress and foot pump for the interim period, for a reasonable sum. I’ll probably sell it on Craigslist when I’m done with it, assuming Hammett hasn’t finished it off. Yes, I can very much picture myself sinking inexorably to the carpet in the middle of the night amid a loud hissing sound while Hammett smiles in innocent kitten pleasure.

Once I have my keyboard out, I can get back to trying to find a stand which is a bit lower or a seat which is a bit higher. If Dr. Neve could see the relationship of my hands to the surface of the keys, she would disapprove. That’s the same Dr. Neve who said of musical performance, “It’s OK to be scared. It’s just not OK to act scared.”

I lately bought an Art Blakey record (see link that starts with “Go here”) for the Horace Silver tune “Nica’s Dream,” but there is another tune of his on it, “Ecaroh,” (that’s “Horace” backwards) which made every part of my body twitch independently.

I called Tom up and played the first part for him, and wished I hadn’t so recently called my mother to tell her what my lady acupuncturist thinks about coconut oil so I could have played the beginning of “Ecaroh” for her instead.

Last weekend I tried a couple of new recipes: Dal, from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, which came out great, and a recipe for spinach fettuccine with arugula and tomatoes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which was awful: labor-intensive, lacking in flavor, and downright gritty, I suppose from the arugula, which took ages to clean as it was.

However, reheated in coconut oil and mixed with a liberal amount of grated parmesan, it’s pretty good, as are most things, unless they’re sweet, in which case fry them in coconut oil and coat with chocolate sauce.

I had been under the impression that I hate arugula, but it turns out it has a lovely, nutty flavor; therefore, it’s cilantro that I hate.

Afterwards, I couldn’t help reflecting that I had spent, including shopping, twelve hours to produce about five cups of dal, but I guess there’s no going back now to the pot-of-beans-and-pot-of-grains-for-the-week approach.

I’ve been fretting some about who will care for Hammett when I’m out of town, which is just upon me, only about eight weeks away. Tom would be happy to do it and cared for Thelonious for years without incident, but Hammett is zippier than Thelonious. Just yesterday I took some recycling out and came back to find his front half sticking eagerly out of a window I thought he couldn’t get to.

I decided I would feel most at peace with professional cat care. Friends recommended someone they have been very happy with, but to come to my neighborhood, she charges $27 a visit, probably because she has to hire a car and driver, since parking is out of the question, so I called Mission Pet Hospital and they recommended a woman they love who charges a bit less.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hard-Drinking Employee Needed

Quite some time ago, I wrote that I was thinking of being friends with someone and then decided not to be (or if not, that’s what I should have written), which has caused our frequent meetings to be awkward. For a while, we said hello and nothing more, which was OK, but then one day I forgot that we usually said hello and so didn’t (it’s amazing how easily one can forget what, these days), and then we never said hello again, and it was uncomfortable.

She had made a good effort to mend fences after doing something that wasn’t necessarily bad, but had startled me unpleasantly, and so I felt kind of not so good about being the party most responsible for the mildly strained mood that has prevailed for some months.

Finally, last week I asked her if she had a few minutes, which she did, and I told her that I’m sorry for how awkward things have been, and that while I think we probably would not have success with a one-on-one friendship, I am all in favor of having a civil, even cordial, relationship in the current context, and also that I appreciate all she did to try to make things better.

I also apologized in particular for the day I forgot it was our custom to say hello; I said I was sorry that I didn’t have all my brain cells pointing in the same direction at the same time.

She was very warm and gracious—she said she understood what I meant about the brain cells—and I know things will feel easier in the future.

My meditation teacher talks about being “the witness for the prosecution”—focusing on what people have done wrong and how they, or we, should be condemned. It’s so easy to do. Many an engrossing ten-minute block can be whiled away thinking about someone else’s shortcomings (I can usually get through mine in a minute or two; of course, I have the most practice thinking about mine), but nothing worthwhile comes of it.

It doesn’t really feel good during, it doesn’t feel good after, and establishing unhealthy thought patterns brings many ill effects, including harmful words that slip out before one knows it. I don’t want to be the person who can so readily list what is wrong with others. I don’t want to be the person who can’t forgive, so I am glad, finally, to have cleansed my conscience at least in this particular regard, and I look forward to smiling and saying hello to this person next time I see her.

It would be great if everyone I knew met my every qualification, but better still if I can exercise the forgiveness muscle often enough that it can be employed when needed.

Plus the “it’s OK as it is” muscle, which really makes a huge difference. Here I must quote the Third Zen Patriarch:

“The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction,
however, and heaven and earth are
set infinitely apart.”

It is so true. I am practicing saying that such-and-such is OK as it is. OK as it is, and maybe even deserving of gratitude.

In another case of estrangement (I know you are startled I could have two) which has caused me much anguish over a much longer period, the other week, I found myself affirming that it was OK as it is, and further, offering thanks for a situation which may turn out to be the grindstone that removes parts of my personality that aren’t doing me much good, anyway.

It has certainly occasioned much reflection on where I went wrong, which I think is fruitful to an extent and then not, when it becomes self-flagellation. After I offered the thanks, very spontaneously I felt true remorse for a remark I had made that, in retrospect, was unkind and critical, so I think finally letting go of “This cannot be” is a good thing.

It also occurred to me that getting some practice in enormous losses is a fine thing, because sooner or later, we will lose everything, including ourselves.

I now have an answering machine because my parents sent me their old one. That’s the only way to get a decent answering machine now: your parents have to send you one.

It actually is also a tad murky, so I conclude that some digital machines just don’t work well on a DSL line, but I think it will do the job satisfactorily, until Hammett knocks it onto the floor.

I spoke to P. recently on the phone. He said this:

“I’d like to get a job with a stipend.”

“Like what?”


“You can get a job being an alcoholic and they’ll give you a stipend?”

“It’s possible.”

I realized later that since he is a (sober) alcoholic, he meant he would like someone to pay him just for being himself. That’s funny—that’s the job I want, too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our Smallest Citizens Are Revolting!

Hammett demonstrating implacability.

Last weekend I saw Zodiac and Norbit. Zodiac was good, drenched, surprisingly, in sadness more than anything else. Norbit afforded a mild bit of amusement. On Sunday, the weather was gorgeous, so I rode my bike out to the beach, and then made my father’s two-bean vegan chili, which is very quick and came out great, and baked tofu to put in sandwiches. I sent my little second cousin Lucas in Michigan a birthday card and $20.

There seemed to be many more little kids in Golden Gate Park than I remembered from Sundays past, a large early-spring crop of toddlers in their cheery outfits, helmeted, sailing along on tiny bikes and scooters. It was delightful. I attribute this to the velorution: every day there are more people riding bikes in San Francisco, which probably makes new parents feel it will be safe for their children to learn to ride.

I’ve been working with what Ezra Bayda calls in one of his books on Buddhism a menu of practices, choosing a special focus for each day. One of his is non-manifestation of negative emotions, internally or externally. A good one could be to focus on right speech: Is what I’m about to say true? Is it kind? Is it helpful and/or necessary? Avoiding unkind speech would eliminate about four percent of what I say, and eschewing unnecessary speech would take care of another 95 percent.

Setting out to do a certain practice all day usually means remembering to do it only once or twice, but, as he says, that’s more than not remembering at all.

The point is not to seek perfection, and certainly not to assign oneself a passing or failing grade at the end of the day, but simply to increase awareness.

It actually does make a difference now and then. I open my mouth to gripe about a third party who is not present, and then remember that today’s practice is not to do that, or maybe that it was yesterday’s practice, but I’ll go ahead and refrain anyway. The reward is in the experience of choosing my actions deliberately rather than being driven hither and thither by impulse, and also in not having to look back and say, “Rats, I did it again.”

Before I went to the movies on Saturday, I went to European Sleep Works, in Berkeley, where I told the saleslady that I had only about an hour for this visit, and so probably wouldn’t be able to make a choice that day. She said it usually takes just 45 minutes to choose a mattress, out of their 28 choices! That’s 14 styles/firmnesses, with or without an added topper.

I felt rushed, so it’s hard to be sure, but I didn’t think their mattresses were that comfortable. Some are bouncy and you feel like you’re on top of them, more held at arm’s length than embraced. Delivery to San Francisco costs $70 and they will not refund your money, but only give you a store credit.

I decided I would just buy some non-flannel sheets for the Tempur-Pedic and stick with that, but then I read a pile of anecdotes online about people who blame their Tempur-Pedics for rashes, headaches and the like, so the latest plan is to visit McRoskey and then, if necessary, to go back to European Sleep Works for an extended visit.

Smoke-related angst has arisen again in my apartment building. Several times a week, late at night, I am lying in my bed when a cloud of cigarette smoke rolls in the window nearest my face, not coming from any of the known sources, but obviously from nearby.

If I look out the window, I can’t see or hear anyone who might be smoking. It is not preceded by any detectable sound, like a door or window opening.

I asked Tom where he thought it could be coming from and he said, “Look downward.” Below my apartment is that of the building manager, who does indeed smoke, but not in her apartment—I see her smoking out front fairly often—and if she were to open her window and stick her head out in order to smoke, I would both hear it and be able to see it.

So I puzzled over Tom’s advice as if it were a Zen koan: Look downward, look downward; whatever could it mean?

A few day ago, I went out to the trash area and realized that IF I were a smoker who happened to get off work at 11 p.m. and IF I didn’t necessarily want to stand out front at midnight and risk being mugged, I might find an alley that runs the length of the building to be a congenial place to smoke.

At one end of the alley is a door to the backyard. The door has an open grating in it instead of a window. One could stand right inside that door and smoke without being seen from the windows above. An official investigation is now in progress.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pesto Mayo Pizza*

*Italian phrase meaning “Call my doctor; I think I have a blockage!”

Lousy item that no one should buy: AT&T Digital Answering Machine #1738.

This is the crappy answering machine I ordered and have now returned, briefly a companion to my so-so new phone. My outgoing message sounded garbled; ditto the incoming messages. Fortunately, so few people call and leave messages that I was still able to tell one from another even if the caller didn’t say, “This is your mother.”

My mother says she’ll send me the answering machine she is no longer using; plus, Lisa M. vouches for her venerable AT&T 1717. I have warned her not to drop it—perhaps even to nestle it gently in a Plexiglas case—and am engaged in a heart-stopping search for one to buy. There’s one on eBay—oh, no longer there! This store has it—oh, not actually; it’s back-ordered, with no date of arrival listed. Here’s one, but used, with someone else’s cooties on it.

Apparently some answering machines don’t work properly if the phone line is a DSL line, which mine is. I guess everyone who has DSL is also supposed to have a cell phone with voice mail. Maybe the 1738 worked poorly for that reason, and maybe the 1717, if I could even have found one, would similarly have been unsatisfactory.

Lisa M. also raved about a Northwestern Bell phone she has, so I have ordered a cheapo phone of that brand. Maybe it will be better than the one I have now, which I will then take to the thrift store.

At three or so weeks, my feelings about the Tempur-Pedic are these: It’s very comfortable to sleep on. It’s way too hot. It smells funny and I’m afraid it’s going to give Hammett, who spends much of each night between it and the covers, cancer.

I went recently to see my old acupuncturist, Kelly. As when I was seeing her regularly many years ago, I fell sound asleep after the needles were in.

I asked if she had a mattress recommendation and she said that she and several of her friends are very pleased with their mattresses from European Sleep Works, in Berkeley.

It will be great when shopping season is over and I can get back to going to the movies.

That day may never come, however, as I have stumbled into an engulfing new addiction: listening to music samples at Amazon. Because I hardly ever watch TV and because for years I listened only to one hard-rock radio station, there is much in this realm I have missed.

I had never heard a note of Queensryche or Marilyn Manson, for instance, until today! The former remind me a bit of Whitesnake and are rather operatic. They are billed as a blend of heavy metal and progressive rock.

Korn sound quite like the latter, particularly in the vocal department. I nearly selected for purchase the best of Marilyn Manson, as some of the clips I heard were catchy, but decided for now that the overall sound is too murky, though I appreciated the very heavy bass sound.

Next I was off to hear Britney Spears’s “Oops I Did it Again,” at long last, but that was not available. In fact, the CDs on which it appears are no longer available, which was surprising.

Kelly also suggested I read Michael Pollan’s recent essay in the New York Times, available online. He’s the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. He sums up his advice at the very beginning: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” “food” being that which your great-grandmother would recognize as such.

I decided to proceed accordingly. The trick will be to advance in this direction while still retaining permission to eat whatever I want, because as soon as something is forbidden, it becomes a binge food.

The other, even more important, trick is not to turn this into a diet: If I eat fewer Tings, which my great-grandmother wouldn’t have known from Adam, I’ll lose weight and then everyone will love me! The idea that being smaller is the same as being more lovable is deeply rooted in my psyche, along with a few other strange ideas that don’t bear up under scrutiny but still hold sway.

Of course, I already eat mostly food and plenty of plants. The “not too much” may or may not come in this lifetime. The opportunity is to reduce consumption of packaged foods, which I think is best done by enlarging my repertoire of tasty dishes, an area where there is unlimited room for expansion, since my diet is highly repetitious. To that end, I have selected four new cookbooks at Amazon, one tofu, one greens, one grains and beans, and Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

I have it on good authority that one of my six readers, taking to heart my advice on how to prevent salads from being low-fat, was observed slathering a store-bought pizza with mayonnaise and then pesto before baking it.

Having a pizza instead is a very good way to avoid a low-fat salad. Apparently the result was pleasing, which I well believe.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cat Stripped of Civil Rights in Humiliating Afternoon Raid

This is Ham guarding his Top Cat sisal-covered scratching post, which he totally uses, and whose crisp, elegant silhouette makes the rest of my apartment seem shabby and outdated.

It bothers me to use “whose” for an inanimate item, but the correct word does not seem to exist; I guess it would be “whiches.”

Gloria, whose unusually long feet were sticking out of the car window.

The robot, whiches intimidating pointer indicated the direction of the lavatory.

Unlike Thelonious, Hammett does not claw the corners of my mattress nor the sides of the upholstered chair. Of course, he is unlike Thelonious in many ways—I had assumed some things Thelonious did were things cats did, but in fact they were just things she did.

Hammett, most emphatically unlike Thelonious, doesn’t mind being cradled feet up like a baby. He is extremely alert, as you can see in this picture. When I leave for work, instead of seeming not to notice, like certain other cats, he stares right into my eyes as if he fears he’ll never see me again. He likes me to blow him a kiss as I close the door. At least, I think he likes that.

He definitely likes to put his toys into crevices and then try, usually in vain, to extract them. Sometimes he drops one of his balls into a shoe and then fishes it out. I have several of his toys in a cardboard shoe box. When I open it, he chooses the toy he wants and plucks it out with his mouth.

To the end of her days, Thelonious thought any rhythmically moving object needed attacking, even if it was my hand—Hammett is quite a gentleman in this regard—and so I would put her in the glass-doored closet when doing my shoulder exercises, where she sat on the other side of the glass in a perfectly placid manner.

When Hammett must be detained in the closet or bathroom—if I’m opening the door to the trash area, for instance, through which he is eager to exit—he gets panicked after about four minutes and starts to meow frantically: “Help! I’ve been stuffed in a small room by insurgents! Do something!”

Two Friday evenings ago, Lisa M. and I saw Music and Lyrics, which was pleasant. The following day, I went to visit a friend near Portola and Laguna Honda for some horn-related exertions in her wonderful music room. Then I went to On the Run to buy some walking shoes. They do a strange thing there, not seen for a decade or two: They measure your feet.

They also have you walk back and forth and assess the shape of your foot and arch, and then fetch the shoes that may work. I bought a pair of New Balance men’s 816s (the 816 on the back looks a little like BIG) and the whole thing took 15 minutes.

Sunday of that weekend, Tom and I went to David and Lisa’s to watch the Oscars. Lisa had made many wonderful refreshments, including a mushroom-barley salad that was really great.

By then, it was seeming that my new shoes were somewhat oversized. So much for having had my feet measured. All that did, I guess, was make it so I thought I didn’t have to determine for myself whether the shoes fit or not.

I asked Tom what he thought. He thought they were just fine, which is what he thinks of everything. I tried to feel that way, too, but finally concluded the shoes were definitely too big. On the Run readily exchanged them, and let that be a lesson to me.

This past weekend I went to see my friend Carol Joy in Novato on Saturday. We saw Breach, and both liked it. In the evening, I went to see the jazz combo Consorcio at Caffe Trieste, the new one at Market and Gough.

Sunday was a big cooking day: kidney beans, brown rice, butter cookies with chopped pecans, chard soup, and pasta sauce. I froze the latter in one-serving amounts for future use.

I have been eating a lot of salads lately, using Rainbow’s labor-saving salad mix and adding tomatoes, carrots and avocado, along with my proprietary dressing, which is made out of extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, onion powder, two grinds of black pepper, Dijon mustard and half a clove of garlic.

With determined effort—the use of plenty of olive oil and plenty of avocado—it is possible to eliminate the displeasing tendency of salads to be low in fat.

I’ve been tootling on the trumpet lately, and using the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson CD of Pablo Neruda poems as a sonic placeholder between warming up and the rest of my practice, during which interval I also usually do my stretches.

It means, “You may not be hearing the trumpet right this second, but I’m not yet done making noise.” Her music is good for this; using Megadeth for the same reason might backfire, causing those within earshot to think, “Will this misery never cease?”