Archive for the ‘san francisco rain’ Category

Window Gusting.

The rain seemed to start several stories below.  If I saw it, ever, it just floated in place.  Neither rising nor falling.  Rain drops hoovering on invisible wings.

So after I emerged from the elevator and stood at that glass double doors, I was always shocked.  Sometimes amazed at the dreariness of the water pooling on the well-curbed, black garbage bag mountain.  Other times, relieved by the aggressive bluster and solid curtains, snaking down the middle of 23rd street.

That is not how it is here.  But then, I am rarely far from ground level in San Francisco.  I can tell when the rain is out there.  It does not surprise me.  But the rain is not as insistent here, either.  It is a tad less pushy.  A bit more polite as it ruins my morning dog walk route.  And even on the most overcast, horrible looking mornings, the sun will emerge by lunchtime, drying the sidewalks, completely.

I am not really talking about the rain.  Nor am I trying my hand at allusion.

You got to understand that THE FEARS are not a condition that fit on you and, then, suddenly, you are in them.  Rather THE FEARS are a state of absence.

Regret?  Not regret.

Not melancholy, either.

Something more fierce than sadness.  Something that just sort of hoovers there, right out of reach, on invisible wings.


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Old Timey Fire Alarm

Press for Bell

I know everyone is simply dying to hear more about my daily morning commute. Not a lot has happened, since it was the end of the month and it was raining.

The rain keeps the drug addicts, can collectors, and other assorted homeless nogoodniks turtled up in door jams and other pockets of low hanging shelter. And the end of the month means everyone is out of gobermint money and holed up waiting on their checks.

Though, I did sit next to a guy in acid washed jeans and big scuffed up biker boots, carrying a wooden walking stick/cane. He was on an Obama Phone talking to his doc’s answering machine.

He was announcing that he really needed to be seen today and if he could not get an appointment, he was just going to sit in the waiting room until he could be seen. “Thanks Doctor. And God Bless you,” he said and snapped the Obama Phone closed with a grunted, “sheeeeet.”

As this guy was getting off the bus he struck up a conversation with another guy. This other guy was younger and scruffier and carrying what looked like a stand up bass case strapped to his back. I am sure there was no instrument in there based on the lumpiness of the proportions.

These two started talking about how bad these damn Muni drivers are anymore. Jerking back and forth. “The other day, this little ole lady almost took a knee cuz the way the bus driver was drivin’.”

These guys were walking a few yards behind me as we crossed the streets. I overheard the conversation without even having to try.

“I never take the bus. Well, I did but then I got off methadone.”
“You mean you got back on Hearon.”
(chuckles) “Naw man.”
“I am trying to see the doc to get a refill on the oxys. You can’t just take that bottle in and get them to call. You need to see the doc each time.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So I gotta see the doc today. Get that refilled.”
“Uh huh. I am headed down to the methadone clinic.”
“Back on, huh?”
“Sure. Unless you get them oxys!’
The sound of their wheezy chuckles followed me as I turned heel at the corner.

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Build Me, You Shall.

This past weekend, LEGO created a 12 foot tall Santa Yoda. The monstrous Lego creature was being assembled near the Union Square Ice rink. We went to see it twice. Once on Friday night when it was just getting started and then again on Sunday afternoon when it was nearly done.

They had set up Lego Stations, where kids could build a block that would be pounded into the massive Yoda structure. The one little girl who hand delivered her green brick to the Lego Ladies was beaming with joy. We did not stick around to watch it built to completion, mainly because I did not really care and in part because it was raining.

I should qualify that statement. I did want to see it because I am a huge fan of big Lego constructions. I am still sad that I never got to the LegoLand park down in Southern California. Maybe someday, I will get in there.

Legos combine a few of my favorite things. First, they are infinitely cool. They just are. No one can deny it. NO ONE.

Second, they are most kids’ first model kits. The awesome, wordless directions allow every skill level to create an exact replica of the box model.

Third, they are completely interchangeable. The ability to scope the depths of your imagination is endless. Sets combine seamlessly, the more Legos you have in your Lego bucket the bigger everything becomes.

Fourth, Legos blow apart with no damage to the toy. I remember building the most amazing spaceships and other vehicles only to mercilessly smash them into walls, door frames, or each other. Everything blew apart with zero damage. Perfect.

Strangely, I never had many Legos. I remember getting a couple big sets here and there – like the Lego Space Alpha-1 Rocket Base. Which I got from Toys R Us, I think. I remember the night I got the set perfectly because it was one of the nights that I came very close to accidentally pooping my pants.

I hated to use public restrooms when I was a kid. So I would hold it. And hold it. And sometimes, I couldn’t. In fact, for a while every time I went to Richmond Mall, I would need to be rushed home. It was a location laxative.  But those stories, well, maybe, I will tell you about them, sometime.

Anyway. The Melnicks had all the Legos. Thousands of them. In a brown wicker suitcase-like thing. When we would play Legos, that suitcase would usually get dumped across the bedroom floor. I can still hear the noise of all those Legos scattering across the wooden floor. Aaron and Lenny shared a big bedroom for most of our childhood. And I can still see the view from the floor. The edge of the bed and the piles of clothes.

We would spend a lot of time building things. That is after we picked out and named our little guys. Aaron had a special Lego guy that was always his character. Same little figure with a variation on the same name. Most of our play involved making up stories about the stuff we were building. Creating complicated explanations and histories of the machines. A lot of the play happened in the stories we told about the stuff we were making and a lot less time playing with the finished stuff.

I remember, if Lenny was playing with us, there would, inevitably, be a scuffle over specific rare pieces. The mad grab to get the satellite dish or control panel quickly escalated into “unfair” whining, name calling, and physicality.  There was a long standing competition, an unforgiving familial memory, about who got what and when, which centered on the fairness of “turns” and “sharing ” of limited resources.

Aaron, especially, liked to build things that he wanted to preserve. Special vehicles that tied up all the good, rare pieces. He would announce, half way through the construction, that this space ship was going to be a long lasting one. Which meant that he did not want to smash it. He would keep it near his bed, maybe hidden in the roll top desk, to bring out again and again, whenever we played Legos.

Or he would carry it outside with him. Keeping it near his side at all times. I think now he did more to hoard the special pieces then he did to create a semi-permanent toy for himself. That privileged collection of Legos mocked his brother each time it was brought out or carried to its hiding place.

And when, finally, he decided to demolish it in battle, that was a very special day, indeed. Legendary, actually.


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Today while on our morning walk, my tennis shoe slipped backwards in some slimy gunk. When I looked down to see what the heck I just slid in, hoping that it was not a spray of sidewalk pooh, I saw twelve to fourteen smooshed snails.

It was disgusting. In the space of a few square side walk panels, there were so many black stains, cracked shell pieces, and other sticky spots. It was a total snail massacre! The last few days have been smeared with the fine, sparkling mucus trails of the on-the-move snails in their great summer reproductive migration. Poor horny snails.

I wonder, if maybe, some kid was responsible for the squishing of all those little gastropods. The bright colors blurred as that kid did the furious rain boot stomp. Probably, grossing himself out as he did it. Or maybe, she delighted, in satisfaction, as each shell popped and crunched. Someday, she might relish the spoon crack across the crisp surface of a creme brulee in the same perverse way.

From what I remember the first time I came face to eye stalk with a snail was on the first trip we took to visit my California grammyie and grampa. My grammie took great delight in telling me all about how my cousin, Patrick, who I had never met, loved to eat snails. He would squat down and just grab a handful of shell, then pop that mucus foot creature into his mouth.

When I looked at her funny, she told me there were snails everywhere. She made me look around the patio until I found some oozing along the edge of the flower bed. She might have asked me if I thought that creature was delicious looking. I am pretty sure, I did not.

Which reminds me. A few months ago, I was squirting down the windows off our patio. When I sprayed the back bedroom pane because there was some bird poop dripped down it. As the stream hit the window, with that high clinking sound of ricocheting water, something loudly POPPED. Then something brown shot out and hit me in the shoulder. As I moved to avoid it, it bounced off and hit the bricks at which point it splattered. A snail. It attacked me. From outer space.


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Anyone who knows me, knows John Piche’ loves him some ants.

When I was a kid, I spent hours outside looking at ants, following their wiggly routes around sidewalks and bare patches of yard. Most of the time, I would have a little stick or twig that was good for squishing them. I would pretend they were enemy soldiers and I was shooting at them from space ships, or maybe aeroplanes. Maybe I needed help.

Probably, I needed help.

But that immature activity of killing ants, slowly turned into a more investigate activity. I started with Maurice Maeterlinck’s LIFE OF THE ANT which I bought at the bookstore next to Wax Stax on Lee Road. This was after I bought and devoured THE LIFE OF THE BEE by the same Maeterlinck. I was at that age where science and punk/metal coexisted in a strange ironic duality.

Years later, after ripping through most of the books on the shelves at CHUHPL. I bought and read Eward O. Wilson’s great JOURNEY TO THE ANTS, which changed my whole perspective on ants. Finally, after much bellyaching, I did get a copy of Holldobler & Wilson’s ANTS as a present, which I am about midway through. I abandoned reading it due to the sheer size of the monster and the fact that it was getting beat up.

Anyway, I told you all of that so I could recount the fact that our San Francisco home got invaded this weekend. After a week of nearly constant rain, the little pissy ants – as Mother Piche’ calles them – infested our condo.

I have been told that this should begin to be an annual expectation of mine, since the rainy season drips down and the ants seek higher, drier ground. Still these tiny Formica lasioides guys are annoying. Mainly because they are just specks on the floor, until you get down on your knees to see their weaving movement.

Last year, the streams came crawling in through the kitchen baseboard and around the refrigerator tubes. Noelle took to sealing up the baseboards and other vacant spaces with the speckle and caulk. All the while spraying vinegar wherever she squished a little scout. She was very effective in stemming the tide last year.

So effective, that this year the ant horde came in along the bedroom wall. Even while moaningly sick with a brewing sinus infection, she waged all out war on the microscopic invaders. With the caulk gun and spray bottle in hand, she sealed all the baseboards, while manically taunting the ants as she squished them.

“Your family is dead! All your friends are dead! There is no way for you to get home! DIE DIE DIE!” I was frightened. So frightened that I did not even try to help her. Instead, I scrubbed my bathroom and did the floors. Maybe if we are extra clean for the next week or so, and the rains hold off, those ants will stay outside where they belong.

If only for their own good.

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