I get a call from a co-owner of the three-flat building off Hayes Street. The building is located a half block from the “painted ladies”, the row of Victorians with the skyscrapers in the background, a view of the city that appears on many a postcard and is on the itinerary of every tour bus.   He wants me to do something about the bush in front of the building, thin it, shorten it, take it out…something.  The Hayes Street hill is also on the route of the annual “Bay to Breakers” race, and every year the bush gets peed on by folks whose beer consumption is early and immoderate.  This year  “there weren’t twenty, only about three or so.”  He puts his wife on the phone, who is adamant that something must be done.  She relates how the ground floor tenant (“he works for Homeland Security”) corralled someone in the act (I try to picture it) and force-marched him over to a nearby squad car where the officers rolled their eyes and that was that.

The shrub is a Japanese privet.  It’s a little over three feet high, and with its long history of inept pruning has grown tight and paranoid-looking.  Any normal size American male with a bladder  might find it inadequate for privacy, so would have to descend a step or two, steps that lead to the breezeway gate, the route to the apartment of Mr. Homeland Security.  Now perhaps you are imagining the encounter too.  Zip up while being put in a headlock.

I opine that thinning the shrub would make it look even more ridiculous than it is already, and that taking it out would be difficult.  It has a thick trunk.  The brick planter might get wrecked in the process. I may be exaggerating a little, I may not.

I have to admire the plant, even if affection is not in view.  Other than golden showers, it gets no moisture during the dry season yet cranks out glossy leaves all year long.

Home is where you make it.


The subject line The time has come

The email begins: The time has come to sell all the properties associated with Uribe Properties…The homes will go up for sale very quickly.  Soon the agents will be circling my home, putting a price on it.


Urban legend department: Mark Zuckerberg, or one of his minions, rang the bell of a  house on 21st Street and asked the owner if he wanted to sell his house.  He didn’t, so the minion or maybe it was the mogul offered to write him a check for ten or was it twelve million on the spot.  The owner still hesitated.  So the offer was amended to involve the purchase of a second nearby house which the owner could occupy instead.  The story gets confusing.  There might have been a third house involved in the transaction besides the ten million dollar house and a house that went for “only” three million.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Mark Zuckerberg.


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