Suddenly Summer

SUDDENLY IT’S SUMMER, and I’m not prepared. For one thing, I’ve still got my winter body. It’s a body of sugar and carbs that I’ve worked on since Halloween. I don’t shed it until June. Secondly, my house is not ready for sunlight. Bright, streaming sunlight puts every cobweb and dust bunny in a spotlight. It’s not a good look, unless you’re the Munsters.

But there’s one more thing that’s catching me by surprise — a seasonal ritual that yields big fruit, if you work it just right: the garage sale.

My friend Sheila O’Connor is a garage sale expert. She holds over a dozen of these events a year and has these tips. First, tag each item with its estimated retail price. That way, the mark-down shows folks what a bargain they’re getting. Second, lure buyers in with a box of free things right out front.

“Even better,” says O’Connor, is “a box marked ‘free with any purchase.'” And don’t forget to advertise with signs and a free listing on Craigslist under garage sales. “But wait till the morning of the sale or your ad will get lost in the hundreds that are advertised,” she adds.

Finally, if you’re planning a garage sale, give me a call. I’ve used up my bulky-waste pickup day, and I really need to get rid of some stuff.

One man’s trash

Speaking of unwanted items, hills businessman Mort Landsberg has found a way to turn trash into treasure. His organization — Philanthropy By Design — takes things like used hotel carpet and other throw-aways and uses them to help remodel non-profit centers. Since 1987 they’ve helped over one hundred organizations in the Bay Area and saved tons of material from being tossed in the landfills.

“One place that really touched me was a home I did for recovering alcoholics,” Mort says. “It was filthy and when we were done it was beautiful.” After that, the residents took such pride in their home that they asked folks to take off their shoes at the door, he says. For more information on this wonderful charity, check the Web at

Healing touch

In a charming old building that speaks well of Oakland’s past, you can get in touch with more than just history. Massage therapist Pamela Falkowski shows you how to listen to your body.

“We usually pay attention to our bodies only when they break down,” she says. But a massage she offers called the Trager Approach lets you relax while you learn where your body needs attention.

Pam also knows the ancient art of Amma Therapy, which she uses in a deep-tissue massage that moves energy around, to balance it in the body. These techniques take a lot of study, and you can’t find specialists in these methods easily — but Pam is an expert. Also deeply spiritual, she offers her massage services on a sliding scale and can be reached at 510-986-0720.

Tell me why

Why mess with a winner? That once distinctive café called Carrara’s on Broadway’s Auto Row has remodeled. They shouldn’t have. The charm of this restaurant was the space they shared with the neighboring car dealership. I got the biggest kick out of eating and watching the salesmen on the showroom floor. Apparently not everyone shared my enthusiasm and management was getting complaints about the car dealer distractions. A wall went up and now Carrara’s is just like so many other trendy cafés.

You go girl

And finally, the A’s aren’t the only thing we’re rooting for in Oakland right now. La Toya London is heading down the home stretch in the TV mega-hit “American Idol.” Twenty-five years old and beautiful, London is the odds-on favorite to win the competition. And why not? She’s been singing since she was 2, and she even goes by just one name, like Cher. So go, London. Make Oakland proud. But don’t forget to come back home — we need more shining stars like you.


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