Handy Reminders

Posted: June 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: California, City Livin', Drink, Food, Friends and Strangers, Kate's Friends, Little Rhody, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Shopping | 2 Comments »

This weekend, reminders about why I’m happy we live here seemed to be hurled at me willy-nilly.

It was like they were coming out of some Stephen King-like possessed tennis ball tosser. But since they were all feel-good things, I was okay getting pelted by them.

And here’s the thing. It was all good clean family fun. I mean, Friday night we had a great time mostly sober at a preschool fundraiser. And birthday parties for a two- and five-year-old reminded even us grown-ups what fab friends we have here. And this involved no princess dress-up on our parts at all.

But it was three smaller things that reminded me that what we get for living in a godforsakenly expensive, far away from family, often cold in the summertime place, is really quite incredible and unique.

Saturday morning we field tripped to Berkeley Bowl West, the new gargantuan swanky (and green) outpost of the produce and gourmet-grocery nirvana, Berkeley Bowl. The issues with the original store being insufficient parking, narrow aisles, and agro baby-thwackin’ shoppers. Sure the new place addresses those problems—at least we didn’t encounter any baby-thwackers on this visit. But oddly, what wowed me was the mushrooms.


The organic mushroom selection was vast and spectacular. The colors and shapes of these things were as fascinating to stare at as tropical fish in a tank. (And, no, I wasn’t high.)

I mean, look at these? How can you not love them?

And this is just some of them that I could snap real fast with my phone without getting arrested for lurid public acts of mushroom adoration.

People in Wisconsin might be sending their kids to safe, good public schools, and aren’t spending millions on houses that don’t even have garages, but do their stores have mushroom selections like us? I think not.

Now, if I could avoid dry heaving at the even thought of eating a slimy cooked ‘shroom, this would be a benefit of living here that’d affect me more directly. But I’m a giver. I’m just happy that local mushroom lovers have this fungal fantasia at their fingertips.

Right around the corner in Berzerkeley is a hardware store Mark has the hots for. So post-groceries he ran in and the girls and I fawned over, touched, and trembled with delight over an amazing art car.


It was a Toyota station wagon with a big peace sign on the hood, and colorful gewgaws glued onto every non window-or-tire surface—marbles, paperclips, shellacked gourds, toy dinos, mirrors, ceramic mosaic chips, plastic foliage, magic markers, pennies. A hippie-dippie masterpiece, and a pure delight.

Paige cried when the nice lady (who looked very normal—nothing like the dreadlocked hemp-and-carob cookie seller you’d imagine to be the car’s owner) came out, was all friendly, then drove off.

I nearly cried a bit too.

Later, after Audrey’s birthday bash which we enjoyed so much we invited ourselves to stay for dinner, I was in the back yard watering the grass. Kate was intermittently playing and tantrumming in the sandbox Mark recently built. And just when my when-the-hell-is-this-kid’s-bedtime head nearly exploded, a high-pitched male voice call out to me from the next house.

It was Steve, waving a red plastic cup. “Kristen? Salt or no salt?”

I nearly wept with joy.

A few minutes later when his boyfriend passed the margarita to me over the fence, I saw it had a straw with a paper flamingo on it.

“I know,” Matt said, rolling his eyes. “So gay, right?”

And then, bustling out the back door onto the deck, Steve calls out, “So, hooooow is it? It’s a Skinny Girl, you know!”

Now that’s gay. And I just love it.

So, quick review. Exotic mushrooms, hippie art car, and margarita-makin’ gaybors. Where else can I get all this but right here in Bay Area, USA?

Now, don’t get me wrong. This all went down less than two weeks prior to our annual summer pilgrimage east. So you can set your watch to the upcoming posts where I pout and ponder whether a small New England town is the best setting for raising my kids.

Or, at the very least, the best place for me to joyously (and inconspicuously) return to the preppy wardrobe of my youth. I mean, I do have the Burberry flip flops now, so it’d be an easy transition and all.


2 Comments on “Handy Reminders”

  1. 1 Kelle said at 4:59 pm on June 16th, 2009:

    OMG, we lived almost parallel lives this weekend. Everything for me was the same, with the exception that at BBW rather than encountering the ‘awesome’ art car, my ‘awesome’ was Rohan actually wanting to try the tumor like mushrooms. And my gaybor offers were basil and lettuce. Are you living on the other side of our gaybors?!

    I too can not imagine living anywhere else in the US, but I do have a closet desire for the east coast. Shh, don’t tell anyone!

  2. 2 Mary said at 8:42 pm on June 16th, 2009:

    I could just see you trembling with joy over that “drink over the fence by great gay neighbor” exchange. Ha! And the new BB! Must check it out.

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