More Random things from Oakland 

“Life finds a way,” Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. 


Looks a lot like a big weed growing out of a crack in the sidewalk that needs to be cut back, doesn’t it? At first glance, yes, but look closely. Those little round things are tomatoes. The first time I saw it, it was a lot smaller and I thought someone had dropped a tomato plant after visiting the community garden down the street. But, no, it is actually growing out of cracks between the sidewalk and the little parking lot belonging to the Buddhist temple. 

I have a feeling that someone is tending this hardy stray. After all we’re in a severe drought and the plant is still green, its fruit starting to ripen. Maybe a temple-goer or one of the gardeners. To whoever is taking care of it, thank you. And to us, a lesson: from whatever unlikely place you find yourself rooted, grow…blossom. Never mind the surroundings. Don’t listen to anyone who says you shouldn’t be there. Just grow. And create whatever you were born to. 

Slow Times in the Checkout Line

Ever run to the pharmacy on your way to work, hoping for a quick in and out? You really need those meds, but you also don’t want to be late for work?  Right??

I usually have pretty good luck when I get there first thing in the morning, and there were only two people in line ahead of me yesterday. At first glance, that seems pretty good…except that out of a row of cash registers, there were only two employees working…at one register…because one was a trainee….and was she ever s l o w.

As I’m standing there, a few more people line up behind me, and we all wait. I start to wonder if I can get back to my car before that thirty minute window expires and the parking garage rate jumps from “free” to “one of your kidneys.”

I could hear some restless grumbles from the people behind (and the two people in front of me…still!), and I think maybe I should speak up, but knew it would come out too snarky.

And then we were all rescued by the older woman two people behind me. Shaking her silver and gray hair, she booms out, “Excuse me, can we get another register opened? The training is too slow! I’m growing older by the minute!” A pause. “There’s things I want to do before I die!”

Amid mumbles of gratitude from the rest of us, another employee showed up! So thank you, dear older woman, I hope you get to finish that list! And I hope it’s a long one too.

Oh, and thank you for making sure I got out of the parking garage with both my kidneys.

The Telephone Pole Gnomes of Oakland

Gnome2

When you walk the streets of Oakland, there are eyes upon you. No, not pick-pockets or pick-up artists. Well, maybe some of those. These eyes, tiny little black eyes, belong to gnomes: the Telephone Pole Gnomes of Oakland.

They first began sprouting in 2012 in the Lake Merritt neighborhood. Found always at the base of telephone poles, nearly all of them face the sidewalk, rather than the street, casting a friendly gaze upon passersby.

No one knows who created them. Or why. It is believed they are a way to add beauty to the city, or maybe just a sense of whimsy. The artist has successfully remained anonymous while growing his (her?) flock and even while fighting to preserve the beloved gnomes from the predation of PG&E.

Gnome1I’ve lived and shopped in this area since before the gnomes’ first appearances, but I must admit I never noticed them until the PG&E controversy arose. Claiming that the little 4-5 inch high wooden portraits – which are fastened to the poles with sturdy screws – were somehow damaging the poles – PG&E was threatening to remove them in early 2013.

Not realizing how much Oaklanders love their gnomes, PG&E was inundated with enough protests that the gnomes were granted a reprieve. Now, there are reportedly more than 2000 gnomes spread throughout the city.

Gnome3 Gnome4

Take a walk, a slow walk, around the city – feel free to pause at one of our ever-growing number of hip bars and restaurants – and, when you pass a telephone pole, be sure to look down. You just might see someone looking back.

For more gnome photos, and some gnome humor, be sure to visit The Fairy Room.

 

 

 

 

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