Friday, May 27, 2011

The More Things Change

So, perhaps you remember the saga of the 5am horn honker. If not, let me refresh your memory.

Sigh. The car horn is back, this time at 4:15 in the morning. Not every morning, mind you, but frequent enough mornings that I'm starting to wake up startled even earlier than that, simply anticipating. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn't, but it almost doesn't matter. I'm already awake, even if nothing has jolted me there but my own restlessness.

For what it's worth, I've already confronted the driver -- in the gentlest possible way -- and asked him please not to honk his horn so early. He was apologetic, but clearly mystified. Why wouldn't you take the quickest route toward your objective? And don't people just go back to sleep after 8 seconds of a horn anyway. Sheesh, it's only 8 seconds.

I know there aren't so many blog readers out there anymore, and those that hang on tend to lean on vehicles more artful, more economical, and more likely to involve meringue or porcini mushrooms. But if you're out there -- maybe even in the middle of the night, trying to find some solace in this crazy, nearly falling-apart world of ours -- I'm curious about your next course of action, if you were in my shoes.

Feel free to enter strategies, wisdom, empathic stories, hilarious jokes, warrented insults, therapeutic mantras, or new ways of looking at this particular conundrum here. First person who helps me sleep through the night wins.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Have you seen this cat?

If you have, I'm secretly hoping you won't say a word.

He's now safely harbored with our next-door neighbors after living four straight days in the space between the roof of our addition and our second-floor deck. He wouldn't let anyone come near enough to rescue, at least until a thunderstorm that left him feeling terrified and more than a little damp. After the storm passed, I went upstairs, coaxed him onto our deck, let him rub up against my calf for a while, then picked him up and carried him inside as each of his front paws found one of my shoulders.

Within two minutes I'd broken out in hives.

Next-door neighbors to the rescue. They came equipped with a cat carrier, food, and a willingness to foster for as long as it took.

It took about an hour. After that point, they were in love. By the next morning, the cat was napping against the stomach of one of their young daughters. The day after that, they took him to the vet and discovered no disease, no microchip. By day three, he had a name -- Bird -- after the creature they assumed he'd chased up a tree to land on our roof in the first place.

So we'll all work collectively to do the right thing: Spreading the word on the block, alerting shelters, putting up fliers. But we'll also hope that no one answers the call -- that there's not a sweet little girl somewhere pining for her lost cat -- because Bird has found a home where he can sit in a front window, looking out on the world. It's the same home that will soon say good-bye to beloved Zelda the mutt, who is now rejecting food and having trouble walking. It's nice to think of new life filling the gap of that sweet, old, grumpus of a life, and that the girls might have an animal that lets them near him in the way Zelda never would.

So you know when I put up my fliers I'll be doing so sparingly, and it's really not my fault if the tape doesn't hold, because I don't control the humidity after all, and they just don't make tape the way they used to.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Eavesdropping on the World

Last night we happened into one of those wonderful bits of kismet: An impromptu performance in a tiny municipal building, once a boarded-up haven for derelicts and taggers. It was formerly owned by the Department of Forestry and is now being renovated into possibly a gallery, possibly the headquarters for our local Chamber of Commerce . By now there may be other ideas. Things change pretty fast around here.

In the meantime, the building is being reclaimed by creative types who admire its acoustics or stripped-down aesthetics, or maybe just its queer location, between two patches of green space separated by four (unnecessary) lanes of traffic.

Because I didn't have a camera, I lifted these photos to give you a general idea of what the space looks like from the outside. The important thing, though, was what the world looked like from the inside.

For just over an hour we sat in that room looking out that picture window as one guy played an ambient laptop composition, and another offered an earnest acoustic set -- just a boy, his guitar, and an urgent, mellifluous voice that soared straight up to the rafters.

The music itself was certainly amazing, but more amazing still was the way the entire world was framed within that window. We literally watched it go by for a while. Not in the indifferent, even protective sense that we usually do: All that noise, all that traffic, bleeding together into one chaotic mass so we can contain and ideally ignore it. But in a way that froze every detail and made it count.

Look! There's a man with a blue umbrella.

Look! A city bus, with at least a dozen people inside, stone-faced and sad.

Look! A pick-up truck hauling an old striped couch.

Look! Lightening in the distance.

Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles.

A man doing push-ups in the park.

Not one, but two, fantastic malamutes.

A woman with a plastic grocery bag as a hat, rummaging through the contents of her handbag.

The whole experience made me realize how much better things would be if every tedious moment of our lives had a soundtrack. Maybe one a little bit like this, which was played with gusto after I vainly asked it to be.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sign of the Times

Sometimes you don't realize how much you take something for granted until it's about to leave you. Case in point? Our local dollar store. Unlike the wave of similar models opening shop around the neighborhood, this one was independently owned -- by a nice Middle Eastern guy who always offered a warm greeting and never tried to

We counted on them for staples like bungee cords, tissue paper, and shower-curtain liners. Every once in a while we'd come across a great pair of cheap sunglasses or set of Asian dishware. Now they're packing it in, liquidating the whole inventory for 30% off (they do the math in their heads at the register, and sometimes it's closer to 20%, but who can really quibble over a dime?)

I went in yesterday to stock up on a few things and express my sympathy to the owner.

"Yes, what can you do?" he said. "The neighborhood is changing. It's very hard."

He's right. The neighborhood is changing. Yesterday a hipster in a white jean jacket walked past me from west of where we live (I was comforted when he wasn't past checking out some furniture someone left in the alley for the trash man). A renovated sports bar has opened two doors down from the store. And probably most consequential, the national Family Dollar chain has a targeted expansion plan for neighborhoods like ours.

Still, business isn't coming in droves to this frenetic stretch of Fullerton. My best guess is the storefront will stay empty for a long time, probably replaced by a cell-phone shop. We have a situation that's too late for a dollar store and too early for a boutiquey cafe. It makes you wonder what this means for economic development, and what kind of forecasting (or audacious gambling) a business will have to do before it can take up residence there and be successful. If they're legit and independently owned, it's a fair guess we'll be supporting them.