PEEPS

After breakfast a thought took over my brain, that no matter who buys this house and the one below (they’re being sold in tandem) they will build another storey and block the light and view.  I can see Mount Tamalpais from the living room window now. I am privileged.  And I am attached to it.  Oh the things we take for granted.  You don’t know what you got…So my worrying mind went.

I don’t know anything about the people who will buy it.  They may be people I like, though I have to admit, that thought seems farfetched.  I don’t even know if I will be able to stay here, despite being a “protected tenant”, i.e., over 60 and a resident more than ten years.

I drove out to 45th Avenue, to work in Barbara and Gene’s garden which, I was relieved to see, looks better than ever, despite the gophers and the whitefly, both of which are major pests.  The weather, gray as expected, was unexpectedly soft and warm, the clouds handcrafted, not the featureless fog with its biting wind. “It kind of feels like the East Coast,” said Sharon, the next door neighbor.  “Humid.  I like it.”

We had just met, but our conversation quickly went places.  I mentioned how I spent this morning fabricating a worry.  “I do that a lot, too,” she said. She asked where I lived, and she said she used to live in Bernal, in the 70’s, and got illegally evicted from two apartments there.  This did nothing for my worry.  “How is it in Bernal these days?

I described the changes.  “It’s everywhere.  It’s just amazing how fast the city is changing.  Now they want to build a stadium out here in the park.  It’s terrible, everything given away for money, how they gave a free ride to the internet companies, now Lee wanting to privatize City College. And this is supposed to be a progressive city.  I think how in 2003 Matt Gonzalez lost being mayor by 2 percentage points.  Can you imagine how different the city would be if he had won?”  Now I can add regret to worry.

There were more appealing subjects.  She asks how the gophers are doing in Barbara and Gene’s yard.  Her son put traps in the gopher tunnels and for a while there were no new mounds, but this morning she saw another.  “I don’t like to kill anything but we had to do something.  My daisies were disappearing.”

I mentioned the whiteflies.  They’re in her yard, too.  I can’t figure out why they’re so bad, on a wide variety of plants, sun and shade, damp spots and dry spots. There’s plenty of ventilation.  Nothing’s overfertilized.  Touch almost any plant and you breathe in a cloud of them. Oddly, despite the plague, the only visible effect is on the potato foliage which is sooty black.

Gardening teaches this: when nature has a mind for something, the best thing is to get out of the way, if at all possible.

I was finished in the garden around 2.  The second in the series of showings of my house was scheduled from 4 to 5. Like Tuesday’s, I planned to avoid it.   I drove to Ocean Beach and ate a cheese sandwich my back against the breakwater. A crow approached and made a pitch for a handout.  Not a piccolo peep.  He kept sidling closer, and I got the feeling that if I lay down and opened my mouth he would pick my teeth clean. He liked the Swiss cheese.  The instant I tossed a second piece seven more birds swooped in and suddenly I was the focus of four white birds (gulls) and four black birds (crows).  Two of the crows began prancing together puffing out their neck feathers and lifting their noses into the air like snooty little lords. Maybe it was their way of saying, see how pretty we are?  Don’t we deserve some cheese? One kept clacking his beak.

Having concluded that the cheese was a repast in the past, the assembly went on to other affairs, and I did likewise, having killed some time but there was more killing to be done.  I went grocery shopping, to the library, bought coffee, but it was still only 4:30 when I parked and looked over the fence.  My door was closed, nobody around.  By the time I got my tools from my pickup and came downstairs there were people peering through the study windows.

“Are you the resident?”

I wanted them to disappear and they did.  More peeps came later and peeped.  No one knocked and asked for admittance.  I acted as though I didn’t see their reflections in my monitor.

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