WHEN YOU take one day at a time, things can get pretty interesting. Like today, for instance: I left the house in my Toyota Prius and came back on an electric bike. None of this was planned, which explains why I was riding up Shepherd Canyon Road with my purse flapping and sandals on my feet.

How did this happen? It started when I pulled into Downtown Toyota for a quick oil change and realized it was time for my 30,000 mile service. Suddenly without wheels, I remembered the electric bike Montclair’s Wheels of Justice, i.e., Justice Baxter, had offered to lend me. But would it take me to the top of Montclair? Would I get my fall sweater all sweaty? And would my fashionable footwear hold up on this torturous climb?

The heck with it. I got on the bike and headed for the paved pathway behind McCaulous. Through a canopy of oaks, with the filtered sun warming the way, I crunched fall leaves with my tires. I was a school girl again, riding home on my bike with the bell and the little rack on the back. Coming out on Saroni, I started my ascent to the top.

The little electric battery kicked in — helping me pedal. A sweat bead appeared, and then another, as I rounded the corner to Skyline Boulevard. Straight up Manzanita, I looked at my watch as I pulled up to the house. Seventeen minutes door to door! It was like my own personal Tour de France, without the heavy breathing.

I’m going to put this bike through the ringer in the next few weeks — and if I still like it, I may buy one. In the meantime, if you see someone riding up the mountain in pedal pushers and sandals, give me a wave and a toot.

DOG LOOK-A-LIKES: If you look like your dog, it’s probably no accident. Hills anthropologist Gini Graham Scott says her research proves people are drawn to dogs who are similar in personality and temperament. Often, there’s an uncanny resemblance, as well. So if you look like your pooch and are proud of it, fire off a photo to Scott at 6114 La Salle Ave., Oakland, CA 94611.

The Web site is http://www.doyoulooklikeyourdog.com. Check it out just for the funny photos that folks have sent in.

This dog-owner connection is so ripe with possibilities, Scott is even working on a pilot for a reality TV show. Like Letterman’s stupid pet tricks, this show will have dogs and their owners dancing, doing duets — and a whole bunch of other zany behaviors. If your animal instincts tell you to, start training now.

E-MAIL BAG: More feedback coming in from the Friends of Montclair Village on how to improve our Montclair business district. Hills resident Cindi Goodsell says “I wish we pulled together more as a community and had parades — just like they do in Piedmont for the Fourth of July. I’d love to participate in harvest festivals, concerts/movies in Montclair Park, etc.”

Stuart MacKenzie writes: “Despite being a small village, the merchants are overwhelmingly realty and bank related.” He wants to see more diversity in the kind of shops, along with sprucing up the appearance with more flowers, trees and lights.

Doug Mosher cites the lack of evening draws as a problem. “We almost always pass by Montclair for evening dining and entertainment,” he says, wishing there were something like a movie house or theater in the Village.

Debra Mattson would just like to see more park benches for people to sit on, with nicer flower planters on the sidewalks and hanging from streetlights.

Erik Rausch agrees, feeling there are few open spaces in the Village proper — for relaxing and reading the paper.

And finally, there’s the response that one reader had in my column last week, wishing there were a Montclair store that sold magazines and newspapers. The owner of the Book Tree called with this response: “I’ve been selling magazines and books for close to 20 years,” says Joe Sullivan, who admits his efforts have been hurt by the demise of Cal West, a longtime Oakland magazine distributor. But, Sullivan says, he still carries everything from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times and USA Today — along with, of course, the Montclarion.

TO CATCH A THIEF: The following story chronicles the problems of big city living. Reader M. Brady says she’s hot on the trail of a newspaper thief. Her husband reportedly caught the well-to-do female suspect red-handed the other morning, as she leaned out of her luxury sedan to grab their paper.

Apparently without shame, the woman did this in front of her two kids, muttering something about it being a free paper and driving off. Brady says she and her husband got the license number and are on the lookout. As for the suspect, she seems able to afford that nice car — thanks to the money she saves on subscriptions.


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