carol's kitchen

Wednesday, March 07, 2018



Unable to attend the NPR forum at the Empress on Tuesday, I listened to it on the radio.  I called from the freeway but the connection was bad & I couldn't get on. I wanted to thank Michael Krasny for expressing surprise by the sea of white faces of the audience in the most diverse city in the country.  One doesn’t need to be there to know what he saw, and hope for better answers than: “everyone’s welcome,” and, “we’re open to everyone.”
I call B.S.  
That's not what's happening here, and our leaders should recognize it, speak its name, and do something about it. I wanted to tell the listeners of my favorite radio station how ashamed I feel to live in a segregated city. 

Moreover, what can we say about our Mayor Bob Sampayan, who read prepared answers & announced on the forum, for all the world to hear, that he didn't know the racial demographics of Vallejo, and perhaps worse, thought LHBQ was a race. What does this mean?  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


I made a small dinner party last night and everyone stepped on my oxygen tubes  -- and why shouldn’t they?  I step on them myself.  They trail behind me like a bridal veil as i walk around my place, taking care of business, doing what I do.  The 50 feet of clear plastic tubing gathers in coiled piles in narrow hallways and all over the place, and gets stuck and caught in every place it possibly can.  If there's a hook or a corner, my tube will find it. 

At one point during dinner I noticed Kay’s chair leg sitting directly on the tube and asked her to free it, please.  Then I forgot about it until about 4 hours later when I lay back to sleep in my bed and noticed my heart beating in a noticeable way.  Not pounding but working hard enough for me to notice.  Checked my blood oxygen and found it to be 84, too low, and I wondered why. 

Emergency!  Pulled the cannula out of my nose and stuck it in my mouth; no air.  Then I remembered the chair leg on my tube and realized I’d gotten no oxygen for hours, including while I finished my work in the kitchen after my guests left, and all the time i watched TV in bed.  No wonder I felt so tired.

Jumped up and checked the concentrator; it was working fine and big bubbles broke the surface of the water in the humidifier.  So oxygen was coming out of the machine but not getting through the tube.  Tried to stay calm and proceeded to open each little part to discover where the air was blocked.  I learned that no air was coming through to the water trap, so it had to be the tube.   

No time to inspect, I grabbed a new 50 footer from my supply drawer, and connected one end to the humidifier bottle.  Oxygen flowed through but now I had 100 feet of tubing on the floor in front of me, coiled & curled, and the new one in in so many coils and knots I couldn’t smooth out.  I managed to separate out the old tubing and kicked it away down the stairs, but still needed to straighten out the new tube if I wanted to move.   

It took much too long to untangle the tube, and without getting oxygen, but eventually I won and went back to bed.  My oxygen level was now 97.  I wonder how much damage I did to my organs during the time they were oxygen deprived.  At least my heart had calmed down.

So that's life these days.  Thinking about it now I'm lucky to be alive, because I could have simply fallen asleep and been without oxygen all night.  And dinner was appreciated by all.


Saturday, January 13, 2018


I read the Orcem/VMT full page ad in the paper on Sunday and was relieved to learn that Vallejo won't be polluted or harmed in any way by anything they do thanks to "mitigating measures."

I'm not sure how these "mitigating measures" work. To clarify:  Is it like dropping a stink bomb on Councillor Verda-Aliga's house and planting flowers on my front lawn, then her house won't stink?  Did i get that right?
Furthermore, I keep looking for the 200 people who called Councillor Verda-Aliga on the phone to ask her to vote in favor of the cement factory.  I'm always worried there won't be enough seats for them at City Hall when this important subject is on the agenda, yet, i never see them.  i wonder where they are?'  

And why did Councillor Verda-Aliga keep rubbing her hands together, like Lady MacBeth, during the talk about the cement factory?  What's up with that?

Friday, November 17, 2017


The best thing about the Mad Hatter Parade is I know everybody in it.  I used to think Macy’s million dollar extravaganza, which I watched at home in front of the TV, was pretty good, but I’ve forsaken all that for the joys & pleasures of a small town event, put on by my far-out friends & neighbors in the far-fetched city of Vallejo, known as The Mad Hatter Parade.  

The magic of the madness is the work of maestro Frank Malifrando who brings together Vallejo’s most colorful and insane local characters who come out the cracks once a year to strut their stuff down Georgia Street and kick off the holiday season with one big wacky tacky phantasmagorical tea party.    

First off, I smile at the mayor who strides down the street at the head of the parade, waving at his constituents, and he smiles back.  Here comes Adolpho, mistress of audacious grace in his sequined gown and fabulous furs, blowing kisses to the crowd that hoots & hollers as he floats by.  I shout and jump for joy when I see Shannon & Kathy O’Hare, King and Queen of all things fantastic in Vallejo, who swoop in on their fabulous racket-making airborne contraption, with springs & wings & strange moving parts that sing & swing & propel them onward, upward, and away they go.  

I’m impressed with fire breathing dragons & martial arts demonstrations; salsa dancing couples warm my heart, as do the classy old cars like my father used to drive, and laughing firemen and policemen who look like real people when you get close.  I salute the suits from the chamber of commerce.

I love all the fabulous floats with their crazy costumed characters who animate the tea party, but most of all, the thing I love best about the Mad Hatter Parade, I love the high school marching bands.  I search the young earnest faces of boys and girls of every race color & stripe, growing up, taking on the troubles of the world, their lives still in front of them, fervently pursuing their hopes & dreams, banging on drums and tooting trumpets with all their hearts and souls to proclaim good things are coming, oh man, yes they are, yes they are.  The leader tosses his baton high into the sky – and my heart soars with it. 

One year I brought my grandchildren and they loved the Mad Hatter Parade too, especially a mechanical alligator and the lights on the Soma sculpture.   The following year I brought my sisters and brothers-in-law from Florida, who understood what I loved about this parade and got into the spirit of it with me.  What’s not to love about magnificent prancing white Lipizzaner horses with decorated tails & manes?   And the flotilla of lighted boats when night fell, which I enjoyed in my warm home, watching through the window.

But the absolute best part of the Mad Hatter Parade is the crowd, the people, the families who show up, young & old, all colors & kinds, friends & neighbors who pour into Georgia Street, unfold their folding chairs, push up the visors of their baseball caps, slip on their sunglasses & sit back to enjoy the show. Three years in a row, ever since I moved to this town, I’ve come out for the Mad Hatter’s Parade, and I’ve gotta say without any doubt, as great as the parade is, in Vallejo the audience is as good as the show.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017



If I won the $360 million powerball jackpot on Saturday I’d buy the Fettig brothers’ property for however much they want and send them away happy. Then I’d buy me some friendly, bright-eyed politicians, hire Anthony Scaramucci to take care of the good old boys in the back room, and fix up Vallejo’s waterfront the way it should be.'

I’m writing today about the Florence Douglas Senior Center, on Amador Street, where I attended a Brain Training Session last week. Six students, older women, though non older than I, sat around a table in a large room for an hour and a half on Tuesday afternoon, talking, answering questions, enjoying each other’s company. Our teacher was a younger woman who exuded irresistible joy and happiness.

We enjoyed a little snack before starting the work. One woman brought a variety of gourmet cheeses and crackers, and the teacher brought fresh sliced mango and excellent mixed nuts. We settled down and were asked to come up with a word starting with the first letter of our name that tells something about us. The introductions went around the table, starting with me, who chose clever. Loretta was lonely, which made me sad, although the others made me laugh. We were asked to write the names of 10 different green vegetables, which brought about a pleasant conversation. Then we answered a page full of difficult questions, such as where was Abraham Lincoln born, and what’s the northernmost city in the world? I only knew a few answers. The conversation was lively. I felt safe and comfortable with the women, who were as smart as I am — probably smarter.

Time flew. The teacher gave us homework. I’d had a good time, met interesting people, enjoyed some pleasant chit chat, but was skeptical about the work. As far as I could tell my brain was the same.
I returned home and got busy on the patio. I cut down all the dried pea vines, cleaned up the vegetable box, and picked a bunch of red chard for my dinner. I carried a big bag out to the trash, prepped the chard, and sat down to work on my novel. I felt bright, clear and alert, and calm. Happy, too.

I realized that somehow, my brain had been trained. It had gotten a workout while I was having a good time in that room with those women in the Senior Center, and the teacher who made it feel like fun. Now I’m looking forward to next time. Five bucks per class, two Tuesdays a month. A deal.
I want to praise the Florence Douglas Senior Center on Amador Street. Next time I’ll go early and have the Meals on Wheels lunch, which is served in the next room, with a live jazz band entertaining the diners. Pass the Jell-O and deal me in.

Friday, June 02, 2017


I’m done.   If I was younger and not handicapped I’d sell my house and run.  I’m happy now that I wasn’t appointed to the Arts Commission, because I would have to resign.  Bring on Mario’s morbid monuments – I couldn’t care less.  This is my last letter to the editor, my last criticism or praise for anything Vallejo.  My love for this place is over.  I won’t shop here or spend my money in local businesses. After what I saw in the eyes of Verda-Aliga last night I realized Vallejo means nothing more to me now than an address for my mail.


Thursday, May 11, 2017


I’m a sore loser; I admit it so let’s get that settled right now.  Don’t expect me to be happy about the fact that the mayor and city council of Vallejo, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to appoint me to the Arts & Culture Commission.
Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.  Politics is a game, isn’t it?  When I first moved to Vallejo I ran for the beautification board and was not elected.  Council-member Robert McConnell explained it was because no one knew me then.  That made sense.   I didn’t feel betrayed.  Now, however, they know me pretty well.  What's the reason this time? 
Was it something I said?  Did I mention I helped create, write, get placed into the general plan, argued and wrote letters for this newly created Arts and Culture Commission?   It was my baby.
But there are worse things.  And now that I’m off the hook of having to comply with official acts and ordinances that would necessarily quiet my otherwise outspoken opinions, I don’t need to play by the rules.  I can climb back up my band wagon and speak my mind, say what I think like I used to do when I wrote a column for the now defunct VIB (rip) and made some people mad.
My love for public art has been seriously cultivated over many years - as an observer all over the world.  I’ve stared at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Pyramids in Egypt, The Taj Mahal in India, The Fountains of Trevi in Rome, and the sculpture strewn all over New York City.  Now I look at an object on the ground in front of our Ferry Building, and ask myself how this can happen. 
When I moved to Vallejo in July 2014, into a condo at Mariner’s Landing, with a wonderful view of the river and Mare Island, I couldn’t help notice the blight called Independence Park along the water in front of my house.  I wrote a petition to the city to fix up that park.  Another baby of mine.  A thousand people signed.  It’s a story that has come to include memories of Osby Davis that make me smile – yes! --  and visions of giant bronze heroic monuments that give me nightmares. 
Another example of things gone wrong: Sacramento Street corner of Georgia.  My quarrel here is not with the artist but with the deciders who agreed to allow that picture to get painted on that wall.  The stilted coloring book style is cold and simplistic; it’s too big for the space, and not suitable for the heart of downtown Vallejo.  It says nothing about our city and who we are.  Where is the soul?
Ditto about the so called art painted on utility boxes along the waterfront and scattered around other downtown corners of our city.  Who let them do that?  Is this kindergarten?  The drawings pinned to my refrigerator are better and more interesting than that stuff.  If I was a visitor stepping off the ferry, seeing Vallejo for the first time, and was greeted by that cutsy stuff on utility boxes directly across the street from our debarcadero, I’d not be impressed.  I wouldn’t think the people here think much of themselves.  I wouldn’t be moved to check out their art galleries.
I wouldn’t want to go to the dentist either, another choice offered to ferry riders on said debarcadero.  I love the dentist inside; he made two nice crowns for me recently, but he’s in the wrong place.   That’s not what we want on our beautiful waterfront. 
Public Art is not my only obsession in Vallejo.  Another important item I also wanted to work on as a commissioner was to bring the diverse cultures in Vallejo together through the arts. I never understood why all the art & cultural events in Vallejo are attended by white people only.  I began to inquire why more black artists didn’t take part, and I uncovered some interesting answers.  And I’m glad to see that rabbi larry is asking the same questions.  Is it a Jewish thing?  I may not be a commissioner but I can still help them to achieve this necessary coming together our city needs.

Here’s a special shout out to Councilman McConnell for not appointing me to the Arts Commission that I helped create and that I consider my baby.  I’m not the first mother to have her baby taken away from her.  Now Pharoah’s children are looking after it and doing a good job, I hope.  In any case, I’ll be watching them, you can be sure.