Towse: views from the hill

November 5, 2009

Let me introduce The Giulio Verne

Filed under: photographs,politics — Tags: , , — Towse @ 1:20 am


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We’ve been watching the Giulio Verne for the last few days as it slowly moves along the waterfront toward Potrero Point.

The TransBay Cable (a 53-mile long, 400 MW high voltage DC transmission line connecting the PG&E substation in Pittsburg with one down at Potrero Point in San Francisco) is becoming a reality.

Soon the spewing Unit#3 at Potrero Point will shut down. Unit#3 has the honor of being San Francisco’s #1 source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. Take a bow, Unit#3.

When the cable is functioning, next spring, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) will allow San Francisco to close down Unit#3. The three peaker plants at Potrero Point must remain available, however, until such time as San Francisco has replacement alternative power generation in place.

October 12, 2009

Hill homes

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 5:48 pm

The PhotoShop wizard who was visiting from Up North last weekend gave me a quick walk through some features I didn’t know how to use. Crystal Ball sez: I see a deep time sink in your future.


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AFTER (with an artsy finish):

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[Update: A more contrasty & saturated version per Don’s suggestion]

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December 27, 2008

A philosophy of life

Filed under: life,shopshopshop — Tags: , , — Towse @ 2:49 am

Had a nice long, ranging chat with Hermon Baker when I stopped in at Yone Beads on Union on my way back from the library and further places afield. (Complete list of stops and purchases on the day after Christmas: Cost Plus: nothing. Even at 75% off there was nothing there I needed, but seems I needed a couple small, blank canvases and a sketchbook (all on sale — total price <$10) at Artist & Craftsman Supply on Columbus.)

Baker and I talked about life and warm beds, the weather and the tiger sculpture that’s allegedly over on the Greenwich Steps. I need to go over and see if I can find it. One of his earlier customers hadn’t been able to. We wondered whether it had already been removed.

We talked about the year ending and his negative view of “top ten” lists for the year. Life is not a competition, he said. We shouldn’t be ranking this or that as on or off the top ten list for the year. Winners or losers. Top ten or not. Don’t.

I left the shop with two beautiful beads I will find some use for and something to think about.

December 24, 2008

Has it been that long?

Filed under: life,people,photographs,video — Tags: , — Towse @ 6:37 am

I have a framed John Byrne Cooke photograph of Mimi Fariña on the wall to the right of the front door. She’s standing at the top of the hill, at Union and Montgomery, goofing off with Debbie Green. I like the picture because it shows the waterfront behind them as it was back when the picture was taken, in 1966, and because it shows Mimi Fariña full of life.

It took me years after I first stumbled on the image on the Web to decide that his price was worth it and to contact Cooke and arrange to swop him $$$ for a print.

I’m still glad I did.

Depending on my mood, the photograph makes me smile, or tear up.


The YouTube video is from 1975. Has it really been that long?

I guess it has.

yes I loved you dearly
and if you’re offering me diamonds and rust
I’ve already paid

December 22, 2008

The days grow longer.

Filed under: life,nonprofits — Tags: , — Towse @ 5:47 pm

Thanks be.

Sunshiney day outside with rain expected off and on through the weekend. Clear skies now, though. Lunch at the Bankers’ Club to enjoy the views.

First, though we need to walk down to North Beach Citizens and drop off three bags of warm clothes. I rummaged through our closet. How many warm pullovers and sweaters can you wear at one time? We have more than enough and it’s been so chill recently.

December 21, 2008

The King and Queen

Filed under: architecture,life — Tags: — Towse @ 8:57 pm

Yesterday, while I was up in the kitchen picking bones out of a pot full of what would become chicken and vegetable soup for supper, his nibs was down in front picking up leaf debris. I could hear him talking with someone just below my window. I heard a hearty laugh. His nibs came up the stairs. The door opened. “Sal? Sal? We have visitors.”

Coming in the door behind him were two people I’d never seen before. Introductions made. Hands shaken. The man laughed again, a warm, hearty laugh.

I always told the niblets that they should keep their room/house clean because you never know when the Queen might drop by for tea.

This was one of those times.

The man and woman were the architects who’d designed the building we live in. The man had lived in the two lower floors for several years after he finished the building and sold the upper three floors — our place.

His nibs gave them the grand tour: the remodeled bathrooms, the solar setup on the deck, the new floors, and the cupboards in the paper-strewn office. We discussed the work that we’d been through to fix leaks caused by construction flaws and how we wouldn’t know until a couple more heavy storms blew through whether all the leaks were fixed.

We told them how much we enjoyed what they’d designed and the way the windows were placed in such a way they seemed to frame the views. The windows. Thank you for the windows. And the glass doors. And the deck. And for picking this piece of dirt and building a place where his nibs can see boats from any level. We stood up on the deck and pointed out buildings that were being rehabbed and remodeled. The neighborhood hadn’t been so upscale back twenty years ago when they built this place, they said.

“Did you know the hill became the Telegraph Hill Historic District (with all sorts of restrictions on what you could or could not do) the year after this place was finished? We always wondered if this place triggered the designation.”

They said they had had no problems with buying the property and building the place. The other buildings on the path were rundown rental apartments for the most part. The neighbors were happy to see something being built on the lot.

Things had changed inside our place, they said, above and beyond the cupboards and bathrooms. The frosted glass doors to the kitchen had been added by the owner prior to the owner we bought the place from. The dining room walls, now plaster, had been redwood. (Question to ponder: Is the redwood still there beneath the plaster layer? Could we restore it?) [Update: We checked some books with pictures as the place existed in 1989, three years after it was finished, and the walls were plastered at that point. Perhaps they were misremembering?]

I was glad the place was pretty much clean, aside from debris and misarranged furniture due to tree decorating. Today we will finish the tree, lay down an afghan and a throw in lieu of a tree skirt, relocate the chairs to their holiday locations, and start cleaning/clearing/picking up for the family Christmas gathering. The older niblet and his husband show up Christmas Eve for our traditional dinner at House of Prime Rib on Van Ness. The remaining sibs and their offspring arrive late morning on Christmas for the opening of presents and consuming of brunch buffet.

Raining now. Perfect weather for staying inside and staging for Christmas.

November 29, 2008

Just hanging in the sun.

Filed under: life,photographs — Tags: , — Towse @ 12:49 am

Sun peeking out from behind the grey for a few minutes. (And the grey has since drifted back into place.)

Sitting in my chair, which faces the bay. Reading a library book. Back from a walk down to the Ferry Building for bread from Acme and coppa di testa from Boccalone. Down to the Ferry Building and back up the steps, all 223 of them, but who’s counting?

Concentrating on the words before me (Elizabeth Berg: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation). In the background I can hear the parrots — not chattering, not arguing, not squawking, as they usually do. Susurration. Murmuration. Low. Affectionate.

I get up out of my seat to see what they’re up to.

Just hanging in the sun. [Click on the picture for a closeup look. They blend into the cypress in the smaller view.]


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July 27, 2008

Neighborhood dinner

Filed under: food,life — Tags: , , — Towse @ 6:59 pm

And so it came to pass that we had our second annual neighborhood progressive dinner last night.

As usual, I skipped town — after offering my minimal help in designing the flyer and settling on dates (dinner scheduled for a week and a day after we got back) — and left the delivery of invites, acceptance of RSVPs, and scheduling to my charming co-conspirator, co-host and next-door neighbor.

We got back from Africa and I sent a note: Is dinner still on? Did we get enough RSVPs? Indeed it was. Indeed we did.

Some last minute re-shuffling of venues and a dinner we had. First stop, Napier Lane for kickoff and appetizers. Next stop our lane (and the charming next-door neighbors’) for appetizers. Then upstairs next-door for salads. Then here for tapas (goat-cheese-stuffed Anaheim peppers, chicken piccata empanadas, beef and pepita sauce empanadas from me and vegetable frittata from a Napier neighbor). Then back next door and yet another floor up for dessert and coffee.

Neighbors included a couple who is putting their San Francisco life on hold and heading to Malaysia for a few years, a neighbor I’d never met but whose apartment I’d wandered through on one of our open house Sundays a couple months back, a neighbor who has left her job to go back to school for a post-graduate degree, the neighbors who have the colossal re-model just uphill from us, others, and the chocolate guy.

The chocolate guy lives on Napier Filbert but, because his life is still in boxes, decided he couldn’t host and in lieu brought the desserts for the final gathering on the top floor next door. He had chocolate bars


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and two types of chocolate gelato (chocolate/cardamom ym!) and I went home the happy owner of a bag of chocolate nibs from his latest tonnage. My assignment: think up new ways of using chocolate nibs.

“add to salads” is already a known use.

I finally put the bag away this morning. I’d been nibbling out of hand during and after breakfast, over reading the Sunday papers. Nibbling out of hand is good enough for me.

Say, Timothy. Why not just sell nibs as a straight-to-the-vein snack for chocolate lovers who don’t want to wade through all the other ingredients needed to make a chocolate bar?

Tcho — the chocolate guy’s chocolate — is that good. Tcho is a San Francisco company, working out of Pier 17.

Buy online! but only if you think milk chocolate is not worth the paper it’s wrapped in and dark chocolate with chocolate content > 70% is the way to go.

May 7, 2008


Filed under: life,photographs — Tags: , , — Towse @ 3:04 am


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Black birds (not “wild parrots of Telegraph Hill” although this *is* their tree if you believe what the politicos would have you to believe).

Where are the parrots? Ou sont les parrots?

April 14, 2008

View from the Hill

Filed under: art,life — Tags: , — Towse @ 5:54 am

In today’s Chron … a view from the Hill


The text was influenced by the mystery I’m allegedly working on. (Nothing about people with telescopes and/or wheelchairs. Honest!)

Update: Updated link to Madonna strip. Previous link was 404.

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