Why did John Malkovich Cross the Road?

I am actually asking.

I saw him enter the crosswalk in front of me on Sunday. I said, "Hello John Malkovich" and waved and smiled. He looked up, waved and smiled. Went on his way.

And I thought, wow—

I wonder what's going through his head right now?

He looked like this. But with a smile.


Our New Electron Farm

• share.solarcity.com/ranchodeluxe • 

I have been aching to go solar since we bought our charming old Victorian two decades ago. We closed on our purchase on Earth Day—(what better way to celebrate the earth than owning a piece of it?)—and started right in on the process of bringing it into the 21st century.

I searched for and found a solar energy company to work with. They were excited: we have THE PERFECT roof for solar... south-facing, tons of sun, big enough etc. We were excited: we could finance the loan for the exact price of our monthly electricity bill. But it was not to happen; the roof was TOO OLD! 

This house, built in 1895, has had 5 roofs. And they are all on top of each other. The bolts that hold the panels on could not hold it securely through the thickness of the asphalt layers. 

So we sat around and waited until the roof got too old. It was a daunting process. We had some roof inspectors tell us it could cost $40,000 because of all the angles and gables, not to mention lack of access for demolition. We had others tell us the roof would be good for another 15-30 years. Meanwhile electric cars hit the market...and we could not access the dream. 

On a lark I started talking to a SolarCity  guy at a Home Depot a few years back. When I explained our sad situation, he said "let us take a look." Their program looked great...they guarantee the roof and will do maintenance on it 4-ever. We went through all the steps again, only for them to tell us the pitch of the roof was 1° steeper than they could handle. Bahhh. 

But one night Sungevity cold-called my husband and said "41°? No problem!" They also had the brilliant idea of a partial re-roof. Brilliant! We could just replace the section of the roof under the solar panels! (Why hadn't we thought of that before?) But Sungevity works as a broker for local contractors, and we lost momentum on the part where we needed to hire an engineer ourselves. (Or shall I say, our$elve$.)

Then one day this wonderful person showed up on our doorstep, talking a mile a minute and putting us at ease, and we came to realize he was the Solar City FIXER. Rob said, "Well, if they can do pitched roofs back East, we can figure out how to do them here!" Solar City used their own contractors for the partial re-roof, AND they paid for half of it! Rob saw us through every twist and turn, from the financing through the dozens of inspections to the roof removal and rebuild to the installation. The demolition was no problem at all. Their staff was strong, professional, and careful. 

We couldn't turn on the system for three months... there were issues with some old wiring and permits not being closed. But Rob and the team kept at it, working with PG&E and city inspectors until all obstacles were removed.

After 19 years, three companies, and months and months of red tape... WE FLIPPED THE SWITCH! Thank you Rob! Thank you Solar City!

Scenes from Solar-izing:

Having your roof scraped off feels kind of apocalyptic. But in a cathartic way.
They carried the old roof away a cubic yard at a time, leaving no mess.

Setting up the new NEST smart thermostat

Santa's elves bringing us some shiny new SOLAR PANELS for Christmas!

What a beautiful scene! Thank you Solar City!

We are now eager "Solar City Ambassadors!!" With this referral you'll get your first month of electricity for FREE: share.solarcity.com/ranchodeluxe.


I Am Woman, Hear Me...Cry?

In preparation for Hillary Clinton's landslide win on election day, I choreographed "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy for my Zumba class. In searching for this feminist anthem on iTunes, I flashed back to my first rock concert (with my divorced-and-discovering-her-power mom), and then stumbled on this generation's version.
When you compare the lyrics to Jordin Sparks' (yes, highly dance-able) "empowering female anthem" from 2011 to those from the song that hit #1 on the Billboard pop charts in 1972, it's easy to see how today's women could have voted for an unapologetic misogynist.
97d4fec718348d76f1ba5e05b10b49e8Her lyricsIt ain't easy walkin' in stilettos/But somebody gotta do it; It's so rigorous
Doing what I do / Always on point / Always on cue; Don't need to talk / I speak with actions / I've perfected the laws of attraction / I'm the whole package plus satisfaction, bespeak the traps of perfection that today's young women find themselves in, always under someone's gaze, someone's judgment, with no deep self-connection. Trump's women—wives, daughters, hangers-on—are to a one shaped like Barbie, with hair-commercial locks, dresses over smooth bellies and teetering high heels. You get the feeling they'd better look like that or they're fired.
helen-reddy-jan-1978-home-2Reddy's lyrics "from the olden days" spoke of connection ("standing toe-to-toe") with other women, of wisdom, pain, and strength, and the incredible, generous heart of mothers and lovers, ready to "spread my loving arms across the land." Also, it politely acknowledged the impossible struggle women have with politics and with men, "With a long, long way to go/Until I make my brother understand." It is women seeing women from the inside.
Today, many women are crying. Our hardworking but unfuckable heroine was smeared by lying Russian trolls and a candidate who made bullying cool (for some), tapping into the vast community of voters who are suspicious of women (and anyone different from themselves).

 There will be another cry, coming very soon. And it will not be one of sadness. It will be a roar. 


Muse Madness!

I am usually crazy confident about titling my works, but coming up with a title for my winning work in the 2016 Lake Merritt Flash Mob Play Festival was harder than writing the play itself!

The original title was "Disgruntled Muse." I didn't want an adjective-Muse title, since I just re-named my newsletter (muse-letter?) "Generous Muse." And I have worked hard to have a positive relationship with my muses... want to keep it that way!

I came up with over 50 potential titles, based on the contents and theme of the play... with help from a rhyming dictionary and thesaurus, of course!
  1. A Goose Waits in Oakland
  2. A Kick From a Muse
  3. A Muse and a Goose
  4. A Muse Crosses the Street
  5. A Muse Grows in Oakland
  6. A Plague of Muses
  7. A Push from the Muse
  8. Abused by the Muse
  9. Bossy Muse Blues
  10. Can't Stop the Muses
  11. Choose the Muse
  12. Choosing the Muse
  13. Confused by the Muse
  14. Control your muses
  15. Cuddle the Muse
  16. Dances with Muses
  17. Demands of the Muse
  18. Distressing the Muse
  19. Don't Mess With the Muse
  20. Embracing the Muse
  21. Goose from a Muse
  22. Goosed by the Muse
  23. Juice of the Muse
  24. Kill my muses
  25. Mad at the Muse
  26. Make Way for Muses!
  27. Muse Calling
  28. Muse Madness
  29. Muse Sings the Blues
  30. Muse Trouble
  31. Muse-a-palooza
  32. Muse, Don’t Abuse
  33. Museday Afternoon
  34. Muses Made Me Do It
  35. Not A-mused.
  36. Perfectionist Muse
  37. Persnickety Muse
  38. Plagued by Muses
  39. Provoking the Muses
  40. Refusing the Muse
  41. Seduced by the Muse
  42. Seize the Muse
  43. Shaking the Muse
  44. Sing with the Muse
  45. Slave to the Muse
  46. The Madness of the Muse
  47. The Muse Moves 
  48. The Trouble With Muses
  49. Tighten the Muse
  50. Turn of the Muse
  51. View from the Muse
  52. Voice of the Muse
  53. Wealth of the Muse
Sifting out the negative ones (wanting a more neutral tone for the title), I selected the top six that I thought were memorable, evocative (of a feeling or another cultural reference), and carried the right sort of exciting energy:
  • Be Mused
  • Bossy Muse Blues
  • Choose the Muse
  • Muse Madness
  • Museday Afternoon
  • The Trouble with Muses
And then I set about pestering friends and family. I asked a few dozen writers and other creatives to vote for their favorites. Of course, most of them were much more clever than me, suggesting even more truly wonderful ideas, such as:
  • If you Give a Muse a Muffin 
  • Win Some, Muse Some
  • Muse En ScĂ©ne
  • Blue Suede Muse
  • The M-Spot
  • Afternoon with the Muse
  • BeMuse
  • Beggars can't be Musers (however, in my play, they can...)
  • Dark Side of the Muse (my personal fave)
Ultimately, the poll results were clear. Be Mused (which my aMUSEing husband shouted out a week before I thought of it), won definitively. An equal number of votes were split between The Trouble with Muses and Bossy Muse Blues, with a few clear votes for Muse Madness.

"I don't find this stuff amusing anymore." —Paul Simon, Graceland