Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shade for sale

Monday, April 23, 2007


The local library, in honor of Poetry Month, has a "Poet Tree" on display. It's a bare branch standing upright in a jar. Underneath is a pile of little, paper leaves on which patrons are encouraged to write a poem, either their own or an excerpt of an old favorite. It was raining last Saturday when I visited, so I lingered long enough to concoct and submit the following bit of silliness (deliberately dreadful):

A poem will surely be brief
and the meter will give everyone grief
When we have just five lines
To make it all rhyme
And hang it all up on a leaf.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


When we first moved into our college apartment, we were shown a unit with a ceiling fan over the second floor loft. When we were assigned our unit, it did not have this fan, but an old (and ugly) light fixture. The summers there were hot by any standard, and a ceiling fan would make our stay there far more comfortable. We agreed to take the place because they assured us they would replace the ugly light fixture with a ceiling fan. They had dozens of apartments in that complex, and they were doing that upgrade gradually, as they got the chance.

The day came and we moved in. There was no fan, so we reminded them that they had promised one. The maintenance guy, Skip, assured us he would get to it. Pretty soon, a box appeared on our doorstep with a note from Skip saying that he'd be back Monday to install it. We hauled it inside and happily awaited Monday.

Monday came and went, and then another, and the box just sat there. We couldn't install it ourselves because it was too high up and we didn't have a ladder. We asked Skip a few times more, but he had gotten busy working on other apartments and other projects. We didn't quite get to the point of marching into the office each and every Monday asking, "So was this the Monday you had in mind?", but it was several months before he finally installed it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

In search of treasure

We went to the Treasure Market at Stanford on Saturday. For the past 50 years, they have reserved one of various large buildings on campus, solicited donations from their Masters of Fine Arts students, and from well-off alumni and neighbors, and sold all sorts of interesting whatnot. If I wanted to drop $900 on a painting, I could certainly fill a large wall with something interesting and different. I didn't buy anything there besides a sandwich at the lunch counter, but it certainly was fun to snoop around pondering where I might put an expensive, fancy painting or doodad. It was high-class, sanctioned junque.

After that, we wandered through a Goodwill store, also in Palo Alto. There was a nice, wonderfully comfortable pair of shoes there for $4 or so. Unfortunately, they were one size too large for me. There were a couple of shirts that might have looked nice on me, had they fit. I was heartened to listen in on some other patrons' conversations in Spanish and understand them, but I didn't buy anything in that store, either.

Coming home from that, I wandered past many heaps of garbage on the curb. During spring, the city will pick up extra trash left on curbs at no extra charge, but only during the designated week. People throw away some unbelievable stuff. A particularly persistent person with a largish truck could easily furnish a house and build a shed with the items discarded by my neighbors each year. Even someone who was more discriminating could still find some good, usable things. I've found dress clothing with the tags on it. That's another whole blog, or several. Suffice it to say that I didn't pick up much on Sunday, just a few scraps of green, shiny granite tile. I think I might like to do a bit of mosaic work someday and I think they would make a handsome addition to a tabletop or stepping stone.

My most exciting discovery was even closer to home, though. I discovered today (though I'm sure it's been available for some time) that the library that is a mile from my house is part of a network of more than forty libraries. I can press a button online and request materials from public and university libraries throughout the state. I asked a librarian about it this evening, and he graciously explained that, if they are available, they send the materials by courier and they will probably arrive in four or five days. I tried a few searches, and even the most esoteric, hard-to-find items on my list were in there somewhere, so I think I will have to try it soon. That is a real treasure, I think, to live a mile from access to almost everything in forty excellent libraries. I found one volume I had all but given up on finding anywhere. I am eager to try it out.