your Miraloma Life … online – December 2006

  • Teresita Traffic Calming Update
  • Annual Holiday Party
  • www.miralomapark.org
  • Keep in Touch with Crime
  • Garbage Cans
  • Legal Ease
  • Starting a Neighborhood Watch
  • Urgent Call to Seniors (and other helpful neighbors)
  • Life in the Big City
  • Goodby to Stan Andersen
    The Big Bat – A News Poem
    A Lotta Otters – A News Poem
  • Après le Déluge
  • Hark, the Island Angel Sings
  • Year-end Planning For College Students
  • The People’s Watchdog Needs You!

Teresita Traffic Calming Update

by Gary Noguera

The MTA (traffic department) met with the Miraloma Park Improvement Club (MPIC) board recently to explain their final draft proposal for “traffic calming”. Much work has been done by the community, MTA, and the MIPC Board to get this project to the stage where it is now. It’s almost here! As it stands, many creative design elements have been incorporated into the final proposal. They include, Channelizing islands, Choker islands, Median islands, Curb extensions, Speed cushions (rubber humps in the street), and potentially a Stationary radar speed indicator. A pedestrian safety island is planned for the Bella Vista intersection, based on the input from the residents at that spot. Some of the islands will have native plants or trees planted in them that will further beautify our neighborhood. A suggestion was made that some of the islands can have implanted tiles. It may be possible to receive a beautification grant from the city to design, make and install such improvements.

The overall impact of the plan is to make Teresita less favorable to those who speed along the street, by having the MTA impose “obstacles” that will cause the speeders to have to slow down out of necessity. If the final plan is approved by the MTA board and funding is received then one of the next steps will be a community meeting at the MPIC clubhouse where the MTA will present the plan to all interested. Then there will be polling of the residents on Teresita directly impacted by the new structures. To get the proposed changes done, each RESIDENCE (not resident) directly nearby one of the street engineering changes will get to vote on the change. Each of us needs to be flexible when it comes time to voting next year, and to keep the big picture in mind. The overall good of the community will need those polled to cast a yes vote in order to have the project succeed. Each zone will require a 50% + one yes vote to move the project ahead in that zone. MPIC will hold a community meeting in January or February so the final plan can be presented, and details about voting be explained.

 

Annual Holiday Party

Sunday, December 3, 5 to 8 PM

Once again it is time to fire-up the oven and get out your favorite recipe to prepare for the MPIC Holiday Party and Bake-Off. This has always been the highlight of the year, as neighbors join together to share the warmth of the fire, the tastes of many wonderful dishes, and the merriment of the entertainment. Music will be provided by the very talented Laura Lee Brown and Company. An encore appearance was requested after they performed so well at last year’s party. Also, to the delight of young and old, Boswick Turnstyle, Jr., clown extraordinaire and veteran of Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus, will perform his holiday magic from 6 to 7 PM. Time to Renew Your Membership Please read the insert from Miraloma Improvement Club’s President Phil Laird in the issue. He details some of the important reasons why you should renew your membership or join if you haven’t before. Please fill out the membership form and send it and your check made out to the Miraloma Park Improvement Club in the enclosed envelope. Thank you.

 

www.miralomapark.org

Thanks to Ron and Aaron Proctor, the Miraloma Life Improvement Club website has been completely remodeled and improved. You can still find old issues of the newsletter, important neighborhood events, access the design guidelines and rent the clubhouse on line. Most importantly, the discussion board is now free of spam and spamsters and is for your exclusive use. There are so many issues which are better suited to dialog on the website that we hope you will keep the lines busy and help make our neighborhood closer knit and the safest, most caring and beautiful in the city.

 

Keep in Touch with Crime

Get on Captain Chignell’s Email List Captain Paul Chignell gives us the always important information that in an emergency call 911. For non-urgent police matters, call 553-0123. Or if there is a community issue that is vexing, that hasn’t been addressed over a period of time and needs significant work, call him at the station, 404-4000 or email him at Paul_Chignell@ci.sf.ca.us. Captain Chignell also sends the community emails of significant arrests and community issues occurring in the area. It is fascinating, almost like listening to the police dispatcher. If you want to be on that email list, let him know via his email address. You will be informed of the rate and types of crime and how to protect yourself from such happenings.

 

Garbage Cans

Many Miraloma Park Residents have complained about neighbors leaving garbage cans out on the streets or sidewalks all week. The three cans shown below were photographed on Thurday afternoon after a Tuesday morning pickup. We all have garages and MPIC urges neighbors to put away their cans and keep the neighborhood looking tidy, cared for and beautiful. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

Legal Ease

by Steven Solomon

Q: It’s the holiday season, & I’m SO inspired this year, I want to change my name to “Santa Smith.” How do I do it, & how many sleigh bells will it cost?

A: Holy Prancer! You’re in luck! The courts have self-help forms (the NC series) that enable anyone to petition to change their name (or gender, if that’s your preference). In San Francisco, the cost for a name-change is $335. Did you know dept: With most any product or service comes problems & disputes between a business & consumer. Lucky for us, there ARE alternatives to the legal system – voluntary mediation. The Bureau of Auto Repair runs a program to mediate car repair & smog check disputes. Local bar associations have programs for attorney fee disputes. The CA Dept. Of Consumer Affairs runs mediation for disputes with firearms teachers, funeral directors, locksmiths, security guards, & home furnishing companies. A MUCH speedier & less costly process that WORKS! Steve Solomon is an 18 year resident of Miraloma Park. His law office is located on West Portal where he continutes to represent consumers and business groups in a variety of legal issues.

 

Starting a Neighborhood Watch

by Rich Walker

 Realizing that they provide some extra “feet on the street” to help to deter or report crime by walking their dogs throughout the neighborhood, members of the Canine Community of Sunnyside Park (CCSP) recently sponsored a Neighborhood Watch planning meeting, in conjunction with SAFE (a community crime prevention program) and Friends of Sunnyside Park (FOSP). Members of CCSP and FOSP met with a SAFE representative to learn how to start block-by-block Neighborhood Watches, as well as maintain a contact list for the broader Miraloma and Sunnyside neighborhoods.

Although Miraloma Park is a safe neighborhood, there are occasional incidents of theft and graffiti. An excellent way to reduce crime is for neighbors to get acquainted and to work together toward the goal of making their neighborhood safer. The SAFE program assists in organizing neighborhood watch groups, as well as providing free crime prevention information and materials. The SAFE team has found that the Neighborhood Watch programs works best on a block-specific basis.

The FOSP and CCSP members in attendance discussed how they might organize for their own blocks, with residents of Teresita, Foerster, Bella Vista, and Stillings represented. If you’re interested in having a Neighborhood Watch program on your block, you’ll need to enlist two block captains who, in turn, invite the residents on the block to an initial planning meeting, at which a SAFE representative provides an overview of the program. Over the course of about six months, the Neighborhood Watch captains host four meetings with the block residents. These meetings will cover a personal safety presentation, a discussion led by one of the local police officers, Operation I.D. (etching an identification number on valuables), and crime prevention projects. You can find more information and specific instructions on starting a Neighborhood Watch on your block at SAFE’s website at http://www.sfsafe.org/.

 

Urgent Call to Seniors (and other helpful neighbors)

by Karen Hensley

 Remember the thrill of reading your first book and how the world opened up so many new opportunities to explore? Now is your chance to give that gift to a youngster right here in our own neighborhood. Miraloma Elementary School, 175 Omar Way, is looking for a few good tutors. It is a weekly commitment for the school year and beyond. You will help inspire a young mind and feel better about yourself in the process, by reliving your own childhood memories and bringing them to life again!

The coordinator of this program is Stacy Moore (415-824-6189). She works with Principal Ron Machado doing the initial interview for this program. You didn’t think this was a lifetime chance without strings, did you? The next step is an orientation with the San Francisco School Volunteers. A rather small price to pay for a great reward, right?

It is your time to become a local laureate. Get yourself out of the house and onto wonderful new relationships. There is no better feeling than helping someone. This fervor will be magnified many times over when your talents bolster a child’s future. It’s a terrific way to be involved in our community. If you have been wondering what you can do to make a difference, this is it; you can unleash a child’s destiny. Call now.

 

Life in the Big City

How a coyote came to be familiar with Greek myth and philosophy I don’t dare speculate, but judging from the following peroration, bubble-gummed to my garbage can lid’s well-licked underside, there must have been a way. I cannot presume to respond to Sr. Coyote’s kind offer, but must leave that to my readers. Happy Holidays to all.— Ed The gummy black stuff affixing my previous missive, dear Editor, was a special surprise for you in appreciation for your steadfast services—prime dumpster pudding scraped from the nethermost regions of the Tower Market’s largest parking lot box. It cost me considerable trouble—a scratched snout and a twisted foreleg—to obtain such a delicacy for you, a luscious sauce leached from a trout tail hung until well aged, with a robust veneer of grape-flavored ooze leavened with exquisitely moldy banana peel. I would have thought this to have been a fascinating and memorable scent for such a discerning nose as I presumed yours to be, but as in so many of my assessments of the unpredictable human creature, I somehow missed the mark. Sophisticated and informed though your minds may be, your palates are woefully unrefined, with no appreciation of the transcendent beauties of the truly malodorous. Yes, you may occasionally rise to the level of a gorgonzola cheese or a smoked herring, but of deliciously complex scents and flavors such as even your dogs appreciate, you have no clue. I intended that perfume to transform you, dear Editor, for at least one day, into a luminous paragon of olfactory delight, followed and adored like a Pied Piper of canids, but you chose to use your rubber gloves. This time, I leave you something perhaps more suited to your taste. Harsh, indeed, is the lot of the thoughtful coyote.

Speaking of harsh, no sooner had those querulous squirrels taken their demonstrations elsewhere (no doubt to plague one of my poor relations in the Presidio or down at Fort Funston), than a new and ingenious blight took aim at my much abused mountain. Have you ever had a nightmare in which a dozen screeching winged busybodies descended out of nowhere and hectored you without relent in four languages at once? Harpies, I mused immediately—what sin have I committed to deserve them?—but never fear, they’ll go poof and drift away in the wind as soon as I awake. Then, I awoke—but they were still there! I swear by the teeth and tail of the Primordial Coyote, there is nothing less aptly named than a “flock” of parrots—it is in truth a “torment” of parrots, the latest invaders to ravage the pristine silence of our lovely mount. Why would you countenance such creatures in your homes, much less turn them loose to harass the rest of nature’s children trying to go in peace about their business? Ah, the human, ever inscrutable, inevitably the source of any cosmic imbalance the rest of us sweet innocents are forced to endure.

Twice daily, coming and going, these accursed feathered polyglots spread their too colorful wings above my head and snap at me in English, Spanish, Cantonese, and tongues even I haven’t bothered to identify much less learn. They will brook no retort, no sensible exchange, but merely shriek louder imprecations no matter how cogently I reason with them. In fact, they sound like nothing so much as politicians in the last week of an election, shouting each other down without the remotest sense or civility—a babble of vituperations fit only to roil the placid atmosphere. Plato was right: we ought to have not this “democratic” squabbling but an enlightened Philosopher King to rule over us, someone whose wisdom is deep enough to appreciate a quiet snooze or meditative feed. Someone who, if he or she won’t shut up altogether, will at least maintain judicious silence, and say something constructive when opening the snout. As much as it will disrupt my routine, dear friends, I volunteer, and stand ready to serve if called upon. My first act would be to budget for and hire a public official to re-train these wretched birds, whose cries of “Creepy snot head” and “Nasty flea bag” then would soon be transformed into “If it please your Eminence.”

Ever your servant and, if you will have me, your most benevolent master—

W. Coyote, Esq.

 

Goodby to Stan Andersen

by Joanne Whitney, editor Miraloma Life

Our good friend and Miraloma Park neighbor, Stan Andersen died November 5 after a long illness. Stan was born in Utah and was a proud decendent of the Original Danish immigrants of the Bear River Valley. Stan leaves his loving wife Irene and devoted children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as many caring students, friends and relatives.

Stan’s first career was as a newpaperman, beginning in Utah and continuing as night copy editor for the Hearst Examiner in San Francisco.

Stan, became a Fulbright Scholar and then chairman of the Humanities Department at San Francisco State University until shortly before his retirement. He was a lecturer at the Fromm Institution of Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco after that as well as a contributing editor to the West Portal Monthly.  Stan was a true Rennaisance man. He was a first lieutenant in the United States Army Air Corp, and lead navigator flying 35 missions over Germany and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Stan traveled the world widely, spoke Finnish, spoke and wrote in Danish, was an Opera Lover, a Giants Fan, a craftsman, a Welsh Corgi lover, an avid gardener and a supporter of the Chinese Historical Society of America.

Miraloma Life was lucky to have Stan contribute his news poems to the paper on a regular basis. They dealt with everyday effects plucked from the headlines of the Chronicle and other news sources. They dug behind the story as only an eloquent group of verses can do and revealed the heart of the matter.

You may remember The Saving of Buddha, The Cloned Sheep:Dolly, Bishop Ignatius Wang, Two Legs of Stone: Saddam Hussein, Last Voyage, Central Valley, Life Cycle: Spiral Jetty., Meditation on Mars, The Hero: Emperor Qin Shihuang and so many others.

Stan’s family requests that those desiring can make memorial donations to Ebenezer Lutheran Church or to the Dialysis Unit of the Davies Campus of California Pacific Medical Center.

I found it hard to pick one poem by which to remember Stan so I chose two, one that was controversial and oh so essential San Francisco and the other that was just delightful.

 

The Big Bat – A News Poem

by Stan Andersen
Bonds up,
Ho hum, walk him again,
A rookie pitcher’s
Pleasure, So he grooves one in

Just right__
Low inside
Out of reach
Unless he twists
And swings

Fast enough.
But this time
Is such a time,
The twist like a spring
Uncoiling connects:

Baarry! Baarry!

 

A Lotta Otters – A News Poem

by Stan Andersen

Not so many as
Last year’s record high
Plying kelp beds
Along the coast diving
For sea urchins

But plenty of others
To delight everyone
Coming by to see
Masterful swimming
Belly or back.

Used to be hundreds
Of thousands, truly
A lotta otters
(Excuse the pun)
Till we banned the hunters;

Thank God we no longer
See furry strips and
Chunks of slaughtered
Otters cleverly sewn
Into fancy clothing
But at the right places
We still see
Lively otters swimming.

 

Après le Déluge

After night rainstorms
a bright morning,
canary cheering
as I make breakfast
special, soft-boiled eggs
thick bacon and a banger
spitting in the toaster oven.

The Chronicle’s faint ink
scent takes over
when the bacon’s spent.
Sunlight butters life
and happiness rains.
Except the comics
are missing and too late
for a second delivery.

Here’s an article on health
and how it can be mine
simply by smiling.
Later I’ll swipe the comics
from the corner diner (smile).
Now I lift the bare plate
and unaware flip
the tea strainer
upside down
onto the rug.

Shit! Screw smile, sink
to hands and knees and
tease soggy grains
from deepgreen fibers
into a pile that falls
exactly in the pistil
of a musk-red rose.
The first carpet rose
I’ve seen ever
in this field.
Oh all right, smile—
I yield.

Copyright ©2006 by Daniel Liberthson

 

Hark, the Island Angel Sings

by Geoffrey Coffey

Here at the dawn of the holidays, a heavenly light shines 800 feet above San Francisco Bay. Closer inspection reveals six strings of bright white bulbs hung from a 30-foot pole atop the peak of Angel Island, a tree-shaped beacon lit for the Yuletide season. The architects of this symbolic arbor may have meant to invoke the traditional Christmas conifer or star of Bethlehem, but the display could as easily commemorate the oak woodland communities that survive here despite the infernal meddling of mankind.

In the ice age, when sea level was several hundred feet lower, San Francisco Bay was a dry, oak-studded river valley. The Sacramento and San Joaquin deltas ran through the Golden Gate and across the coastal plain to the ocean somewhere beyond the Farallons. One century or another, geologic forces thrust up this small hillock. The ice-age glaciers melted, and rising oceans rendered the valley a bay, the knoll an island.

Thus separated from the mainland for the last 8,000 years, these distinctive mountain groves of Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) provide a window into California’s past. The woodlands cover Angel Island’s north- and east-facing hills, where the sun is less strong and the water more plentiful. Thick limbs of hoary trees, gnarled biceps of the earth, rise from the slope in twisted postures, holding up a canopy that shelters innumerable birds and a vigorous population of shade-tolerant plants growing below, bright inspirations for gardeners in sun-challenged yards.

December in the oak woodlands brings hundreds of baby ferns growing from the spores of last year, greening the steep wet rock faces. Among more common varieties like goldback (Pentagramma triangularis), coastal woodfern (Dryopteris arguta), and sword fern (Polystichnum munitum), Angel Island contains California maidenhair fern (Adiantum jordanii), a horticulturally valuable species. The maidenhair creeps along moist embankments and rock crevices, with fronds deeply lobed by stout fan-shaped segments like the leaves of a ginkgo tree. Small enough never to overwhelm in the garden, but big enough to draw compliments, this fern easily transforms a “problem corner” into a “primitive specimen garden.”

The hillside gooseberry (Ribes californicum var. californicum), a three-foot sprawling thorn bush, gives incredible fuchsia-like flowers that mature into bird-pleasing fruit. Peeking out from the partial shade of woodland openings, it provides important habitat for nesting hummingbirds. It also makes an effective “green fence” in the garden, both attractive to its owner and impassable by neighborhood dogs and children.

Scattered among the oaks, and gaining in number where woodland becomes chaparral, the toyon or Christmas berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia) wins the award for holiday cheer. Every December it produces stunning bunches of bright red edible berries held against lush green foliage, like yuletide garlands hanging from trees growing 10 to 20 feet tall. Biblical interpreters, take note: this genus, with its single species, is named in Greek for “different apple.”

In the years between early European arrivals and California state park designation in 1963, Angel Island has hosted a few bad apples and many “exotic invasives” including cattle from Spain, eucalyptus from Australia, and soldiers from the U.S. Army. Gun batteries and garrisons took root here in 1863 after fears of a Confederate invasion during the civil war; the fortifications later proved useful as staging grounds for regiments shipping out to kill Apache, Sioux, Modoc, and other Indians of the American West. Troops passed through here en route to the Spanish-American War and to World Wars I and II, while malarial soldiers returning from the Philippines were quarantined here at the turn of the 20th century. Between 1910 and 1940, an immigration station saw hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Japanese who crossed the Pacific only to get interred here for weeks, months, or even years at a time, awaiting their slim chances to thwart the Chinese Exclusion Act by producing evidence of an American forebear.

Today’s sport sailors on the bay relish the stiff southwesterlies through Raccoon Straight, the narrow channel separating Angel Island from Tiburon, but few can still spin the tale of the HMS Raccoon, a 26-gun British sloop-of-war that put aground here for repairs one week in March 1814. For their part, those old English sea-dogs likely knew nothing about Juan Manuel de Ayala, the Spanish lieutenant who anchored here to map the bay in August 1775, and for whom the island’s most sheltered cove is named. Smart money would bet that Ayala learned little and cared less about the Hookooeko, the local group of Miwok whose shell mounds (at least four on Angel Island) testify to their hunting and fishing expeditions here by boat 3,000 years before the white man.

But the Hookooeko could certainly have told us about O’-ye the Coyote-Man, who planted these oaks when he created the world from a tule mat and peopled it with a handful of feathers. A walk through these oak woodlands can recall that peace of a former time. To keep the old stories alive – and return to the place where we started, thus to know it again for the first time – is perhaps the greatest holiday wish of all.

Miraloma Park author Geoffrey Coffey is the founder of the Madroño landscape design studio (www.madrono.org), a principal of Bay Natives nursery (www.baynatives.com), and a freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications (www.geoffreycoffey.com/writer.html).

 

Year-end Planning For College Students

by Amporn Leininger, College and Financial Aid Specialist

All colleges have specific priority dates for submitting financial aid forms. In many cases, this date will be before your income taxes can be completed. Since the income component of financial aid forms primarily require 2006 tax information, estimating 2006 income, rather than submitting the form(s) after your taxes are complete is necessary in many cases. Financial aid forms submitted late may put institutional grants as well as some federal aid in jeopardy. If a student is applying to schools with multiple deadlines, the form should be completed by the earliest deadline of all schools to which the student will apply. It is recommended that the forms be sent during the first week of January for prospective freshman. Since the CSS Profile can be transmitted after October 1, they can be submitted as soon as all the infor-mation is complete. Returning students may have a later filing date than an entering freshman. When in doubt with when the college’s deadline is, contact its financial aid office.

Each year, Congress authorizes various changes to the federal student aid delivery system, aid programs, and the federal need analysis formula. Among the most notable changes are:

·Stafford loan limits are now $3,500 for first year students, $4,500 for second year students and remain $5,500 for third and fourth year students.

·Graduate Stafford loans have increased to $20,500.

·The assessment on dependent student assets is reduced from 35% to 20%.

·The value of a family-owned business with 100 or fewer full-time employees is no longer considered a financial aid resource.

·A student will only be able to list four colleges (instead of six) on the FAFSA with each submission.

·Students in the military for other than training purposes are now considered independent.

 

 

The People’s Watchdog Needs You!

The San Francisco Civil Grand Jury needs intelligent, informed, curious San Francisco residents/US citizens over 18 years old to serve a year’s term, starting July 1, 2007. If you are passionate about clean government and willing to spend 10 or more hours a week, you’ll learn a lot, meet interesting people and make a contribution to your community.

Jurors are selected randomly from a pool of minimally qualified applicants. More information and applications: 400 McAllister, Room 008 (lower level), 415-551-3605 or online at http://www.sfgov.org/site/courts_page.asp?id-3680.

Applications are due April 9, 2007.