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A Privy on the Corner of the Street

I was singing to myself “I have found the way to San Jose, now just let me…get away, far away…” when I slammed on the brakes.  Whoa!  It is a good thing the traffic light turned red right at that moment, because I got a chance to take a picture of this from the car:   A toilet right on the corner of the street.  Are any of you old enough to remember Jack Parr?  He was fired for saying WC on the air.  Why?  Because WC is an abbreviation for a term that people on the other side of the world use for “toilet” which was a word one just did not say on either side of the Atlantic.  Where I grew up, the euphemism was Privy.  One just did not say the word toilet.  Lenny Bruce would have had a field day with this one, except that he is alleged to have died on the toilet. So maybe not.  Anyway, if you look at the sign it doesn’t say “Restroom” which is what we usually put on the sign to refer to the room the toilet is in.  It says, “Toilet.”

I am sure that Jack Parr is rolling over in his grave.  I would be too, except that I am not dead yet.  I will be MIA for a while, though.  Going camping, what did you expect?  Please do not forget me.  I will let you know when I get back.

Can you name this object?

There it is, right outdoors.  I had to look it up on Google to make sure it was what it said it was as opposed to being so-called Modern Art.  You know, like a sculpture?

  1. Yes, Alex. Well I like the multiple meanings of that word, and it seemed appropriate when describing the display of something we are not used to seeing displayed on a street corner. Besides, I like archaic words.

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No unemployment around here.

There were buildings going up everywhere as I drove from San Jose to a neighboring town called Milpitas.  I been in a long meeting, and was hungry and wanted to eat at the Sweet Tomatoes Buffet, one of which was very near the toilet pictured above.  No, thank you.  I just wanted to get out of San Jose and eat anywhere else.  It is hard to tell where San Jose ends and other towns begin, but my GPS said if I kept driving 8 more miles I would come to another Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, in Milpitas.

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Walls made of mirrors.

This is corporate headquarters of a global high tech firm called Western Digital, famous for their hard drives, among other things.  On a cloudy day this building looks like mud, but with the golden hills of autumn  reflected by those gorgeous windows, and all those trees, it actually looks quite nice.

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No, I did not get home before dark

It was still daylight when I took this picture, so all the red you see would be brake lights.  But as some of the cars do not have brake lights showing, that means they are inching forward.  The space between me and the car ahead of me means I had better put down my camera AGAIN and inch forward too, before horns start honking, but as his lights are still red I had better not inch too fast or too far.

Do you like the great big yellow toy on the right side of the road?

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Collage of pictures I took from the car in and near San Jose

I made this collage with the PicsArt app on my Note 8 phone.  It has a good camera, but all these photos are taken through a very dirty windshield while I was stopped in traffic.  All except the one of my GPS, into which the sun is glaring.

My Garmin and my backup camera are the car’s best friends.

The only times I have ever been to San Jose before were work-related and the commute was about 40 minutes from my home in the East Bay, maybe an hour in peak traffic.  This photo I took of my GPS (while I was stopped in traffic, of course) shows by the yellow squares which road not to take.  I took the fastest way instead,and still didn't get home for 3 hours.

  1. I remember how bad the traffic used to be when I drove from Pleasanton to Fremont to do a book fair for a week every year. I can’t remember which was worse — coming or going. The worst was when I injured myself while setting up and had to drive myself to an urgent care center in great pain trying to find my way around. I’m not even sure they had GPS then.

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Written by Ann Hartley

The whiskered cat is a lucet, a mediaeval tool still in use today to hand weave I-cord, which you see coming out of the hole in kitty's head in my profile photo.  I hand carved this lucet a) to see if I could, b) because I needed a lucet, and c) because I didn't see any cute cat lucets for sale online.  I weathered it a bit (is "distressed" the correct term?) because  that seems to be the trend these days, and because it is probably going to get banged up anyway.

I like to camp and as my late husband's motto was "If you have seen one tree, you have seen them all!" and he has been gone ten years now I have gone on a camping frenzy of late.  Love it!  One of my challenges is to find ways to take my interests camping with me.

Cats:  Why do I list cats as an interest but not have one?  Because I am nomadic and even when I am not camping, I have trips to take from my summer residence to the winter one, and then there is spring, and my favorite season fall.  Can't expect cats to put up with all of that moving around.  Not getting up at 5:30 to feed something just because it meows, either.  But I can draw and paint them, carve them in wood, and weave them in tapestry.   That and I am blessed to have friends with cats.  The cats, of course, know I belong to them and those other people are just their caretakers.  Right?

Camping:  I cannot take golf with me camping either, but all of my other interests I can.  I can take a lucet, a small tapestry loom, tools for drawing,  painting, and carving, and live plants if I'm not crossing state lines.  All that and I can still fit in a comfy pillow, fresh sheets, and a double sleeping bag.

This is the first year that I have taken beet kvass and kombucha with me on a camping trip and it worked fine.  My favorite picnic lunch is home-made sprouted grain bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, sauerkraut, kvass, and kombucha with nuts and chocolate for dessert.  Of course I take a sub-zero ice chest and when I come out of the forest my first stop is for a double-double cheeseburger with caramelized onions.  Yep.

Plants:  Unlike cats, plants are pretty easy going about the travel.  I just take cuttings, and where legal, of course, transport them with me.  Almost all the plants I like are fast-growing nutritious edibles that come from cuttings or regenerate from scraps, so I am constantly experimenting with and learning about these little green guys.

Fermentation:  Fermentation is not only and age-old and effective way of preserving food for safe consumption, but it adds nutritional value.  So I take diverse kinds of fermented food on trips and it grows along the way and keeps and if it doesn't get eaten right away there will be more of it for later.   I also like to take pictures of and write about different kinds of food that I have fermented, so I won't enumerate them all here.

Weaving and other arts:  There isn't a wholesome art form that I've met that I didn't like, but I have some training in drawing, painting, and fabric arts, and have just recently decided to learn something about woodcarving because I have recently taken an interest in weaving and needed some custom tools, which I've found to be fun and easy to make.  For years I avoided weaving in part because it looked very expensive, but then I discovered repurposed fabric yarn, particularly "tarn" which is twine made from old t-shirts and the like.

Golf:  I read 19th century writer Sarah Cleghorn's prize winning poem "The golf links lie so near the mill / That almost every day / The laboring children can look out / And see the men at play" back when I was a starving college student and resolved never to play golf and ended up living near a luxurious golf course for 30 years without ever playing.  But we grow and change.  When I was a kid the other kids loved to play marbles but I didn't have any, so a 6-year old friend loaned me hers and told me to go play for "keepsies" and win and give hers back and keep the rest.    What if I lose, I asked her.  I was terrified.  She said she was willing to take a chance.  I didn't believe in myself then, but she believed in me.   Pretty soon I had lots of marbles.  The friend who taught me to play golf was in his 90's when I met him and he told me before we even started that if I learned to play I would soon be making money.  He believed in me.  Hey, I don't make a lot, just enough to cover my entry fees, balls, tees,  and a new club every year or two.  But now I love to play golf and as there is a positive correlation between golfing and longevity, I plan to play it for a long time.   I had the best of teachers.

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  1. Great photos for making me glad I don’t have to drive to the Bay area. We always hit terrible traffic on 101 just driving from Carmel Valley or Templeton to Hollister for an annual book fair we did there. When we had to go farther north, the last few miles before San Jose were always terrible — even back in 1995.

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