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What I SeeJanuary 24, 2007

In my yarn/writing room, my desk sits right in front of the window, which looks out on our street. We live in a culdesac, one street south of MacArthur in East Oakland. MacArthur is a bit rough, but our little street is sweet, with good neighbors and single family houses, and the creek running behind us.

There's an old brown-shingled salmon-colored house across the street, and behind that, on MacArthur, is a church. Over that, I can see the green hill that rises suddenly above our neighborhood. We walk the dogs up there often, and from that hill, you have the BEST view of all of Oakland, Alameda, the bay and across it, from the San Mateo bridge to the Golden Gate, and all of the San Francisco skyline.

Someday I'll write about the racial lines of demarcation that the hill represents. It's mindblowing, really, from where we live in the flats, mostly black and a few hispanic families, to that hill where it goes suddenly and steeply UP for eight or nine blocks. Black families at the bottom, hispanic in the middle, and white at the top. I do not exaggerate. It is freaky and bizarre and scary and sad and astonishing, and is so vastly interesting to me that I'm only touching on it today, and then leaving it behind. Someday I'll do something with the things I think in my head about it, but this blog post isn't the time.

What I AM writing about today is what I see out my window. Arnold, our neighbor across the street, has family over. Arnold is older, and walks slowly, but is more active than I'll ever be. He takes care of the even older couple who live in the shingled house next door to him, and keeps up their lawn. He spends hours every day in his own yard, wearing a blue coverall and a newsboy cap. He has glasses and a small gray beard. He lent us his lawnmower when we moved in when he saw Lala cutting the grass with scissors. Right now he's sweeping the driveway while his nephew, the WORST parallel parker in the history of the universe, washes his car. Two younger kids have run inside -- I've never seen them before but I think they're attached somehow to the nephew.

I've watched my calico cat Adah go in and out of every yard on the block, and she's been trying to get Arnold's attention now for ten minutes, arching her back prettily and turning her paw toward him in the sun. He's busy now with a low camellia bush, sweeping leaves from underneath it and pays her no attention. She'll move on in a moment; she doesn't have time for those who Don't Pet.

Inside, I'm propped in my armchair now, still looking out the window, but now over my shoulder. Harriet is sitting next to me, watching Harriet TV out the window. Miss Idaho is sharing the space with my slippered feet on my footstool and she's wrestling with Clara. There's a lot of growling and not much action. Both appear lazy. I'm drinking green tea after having finished my muffin. This is my day off, and I plan on doing nothing except perhaps some yard work and a run to the beach with the dogs. Oh, maybe a Trader Joe stop.

Arnold just did the smartest thing: he rolled his green waste can out to the sidewalk where he'd swept up all those leaves, then he laid it on its side, opened the top and swept all the stuff in. I always use the rake and try to lift that stuff into the can, which never, ever works. Nice.

Dogs are killing each other! How fun! Harriet's going for Clara's underbelly, since really, that's all she can reach.

I'm going to drink more tea and enjoy my day off. Running every other day lately has given me the unexpected benefit of feeling like a lazy slob on the days that I don't have to, and I love feeling like a lazy slob. Oh, yeah.


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Oh, how you fill me with envy! Have a wonderful day off. It is good to be lazy.

Delurking to tell you I *love* when you talk about our fair city. I'm writing from my office off of Fruitvale.

Your day off sounds delightful! I'm jealous, but awfully happy for you.

I know just what you mean about our racial/economic lines in Oakland. Disconcerting when I'm making visits across those lines in the same day, which doesn't happen very often. Something funny - in my husband's home town/city in Mexico, it's reversed. The richer/whiter folks live in the valley and the poor folks live up the hill.

And you have a wonderful street! Nice you don't have piles of people moving through it on their way to the other side.

Happy Day Off, Rachael! I get a real sense memory of Arnold puttering around his garden. Used to be Greg in my neighborhood.

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your day off like this. It was like being there.

Adah reminded me of my oldest girl kitty, very sweet.

Thanks for the window into your world. Very nice post. I hope you are having a relaxing day off.

Oh, it sounds idyllic! Hope you had a wonderful day off.

Even though every day is an off day since I've been laid off, some are more off than others. I try to go to the gym every other day, so today was an off day for me, too. I probably should have gone today anyway, as it's supposed to be very snowy tomorrow. Well, if it's that bad out, perhaps I'll finally put that Pilates DVD in and do that.

I got this great rec from Deb (chappy's mom) for lovely tea: Adagio Tea. If you'd like, I can send you a $5 certificate off an order. It is seriously the best tea I've ever had, and their "IngenuiTEA pot is fantastic.

thanks for the mini film. i can see arthur.

This was beautiful, an absolute delight to read.

i love this post.
oh, the racial lines... they are so stark here too. E 9th St. clear as day. in new orleans it was so different, because it was block by block, mixed up but still separate. too much to describe for a comment...
enjoy your day off dear!

Lovely! The sense of peace in your writing, dispite the disparity in this world, is wonderful.

I have to work tonight, so not my day off today, but the closest one I'll have for a while-- Off to sit and knit, drink tea, and watch 'DeLovely' after a wonderfully restful night's sleep.

I know what you mean. I went to Cal and so I lived and worked in Berkeley and Oakland for years. I love the community but there were definitely areas of Oakland (piedmont, claremont, lake merrit) that had that old money quality (ie, white).

I work on High Street off Macarthur so I too am familiar with the racial mindboggling of which you speak. After nearly four years in this office I am still amazed by the range of people, racial and socio-economic, that I see regularly.

Thank you for sharing the view out your window with us. I loved reading it. It also reminded me why I like writing and left me puzzling over why I don't find/make time to do more of it myself. :)

Any decisions on the sock o' poo?

Three cheers for days off!

By the way, have you seen your blog's mention in the latest issue of Knitscene? Special issue, Spring 2007, pate 96 (last page, next to the stag chart). They mention yours as a knitting blog that rocks, and I would have to agree.

Rachael. this was beautifully written, so vivid, I was right there with you. You are a gifted writer!

Wonderful, wonderful post. Your descriptions made me feel lazy right along with you. Such a nice post to read in my relaxing after work time....you really enhanced the process. :-)

You do paint a picture! I love it. It's been a while since I've had dueling pets (my cat would randomly attack my black Lab, who would be very amused, both R.I.P.). I do miss it.

I loved this post! The timing was great--I'm interviewing for a job in San Francisco right now, and I've been trolling Craigslist apartment ads, looking at prices, and thinking about how I have NO IDEA what Oakland was like (other than relatively more affordable). Don't suppose you have any tips? :)

And wow, I just rambled a lot and totally deviated from my original intent, which was to say great post! I loved it! :)

I must have been under a rock for some time now because I never realized that you live in the Bay Area. I was born in Vallejo and lived there till 13, when we moved to Marysville (30 minutes north of Sacramento), and then on to Rhode Island at 24. I miss the Bay.

You like cute dogs, right? Check out this sweet Scottie...

Sounds like a lovely day off. Hope you enjoyed every second of it.

hey- your pix at siles are super cute! i am jealous that you had your sweet puppy with you- i have not had a chance to bring sammie over when there is a camera around- i was very sorry to miss all you guys hanging out that afternoon but my services were needed at the hospital

This is so wonderfully written! It made me smile, and how lucky that you have a creek behind you.

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