Simple Times And Soaring Spirits


SOMETIMES this big city life gets you down. The traffic, the crowds, the clash of agendas. But then a day comes along that lifts your spirits: a day like the Fourth of July.

It starts in the morning with one of the best hometown parades in the country, in Piedmont. It’s a scene from a simpler time — the streets lined with happy faces and outstretched hands as the children clamor for candy tossed from the floats. And there are the bagpipes, the clowns and the ladies on stilts. As the years go by, the entries just get better.

Throughout the day, there are barbecues — with the grill being the center of activity. Everyone has a recipe, a favorite food to cook over the coals until the juices run clear. Those who don’t grill bring salad and side dishes, on a day when we’re free to eat just what we please.

The nightcap, of course, is the fireworks. Say what you will about the big, booming displays at Jack London Square. I like the “baby boomers” on the other side of the hill.

The town of Moraga has a sweet little fireworks display that’s easy to get to and blanket friendly. And once you’ve watched fireworks while resting on your back, you’ll never go back to standing shoulder to shoulder again.

Vandals and victims

It’s summertime, and restless teens can mean trouble. Tire slashings, mailbox thrashings and even a suspected arson fire at Montera Middle School — these are among the recent crimes that cost taxpayers and homeowners plenty.

Since the suspects are youths, police want parents to keep an eye on their kids and an ear on their conversations. Vandals sometimes brag about their deeds, and it comes back to bite them. If you hear or see any suspicious activity, call the Oakland police at 510-777-3333.

Oakland plays host

Just what is there to do in Oakland? Ask the hundreds of writers and travel promoters who attended a major tourism conference at the City Center Marriott last week.

Of the 100 “surprising” things to see and do in town (according to the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau), there’s the Chabot Space & Science Center, Jack London Square, downtown, Chinatown and even more out there — like the Paramount, Potomac and Preservation Park.

There’s enough to keep you busy from early morn till dark. It’s our job to accentuate the positive; and when it comes right down to it, Oakland has a big list of attractions.

Gone fishin’

They’re not much for frying, but they do a great job of keeping bugs at bay. Alameda County is offering homeowners free mosquito fish for their ponds.

Just one of these swimmers can eat up to 500 mosquitoes a day, finding the bugs most succulent during their tender young larvae stage. Mosquito fish are kind of a dull gray, but you may want to request the albino variety, which has a “pinkish hue” and may look better in your ornamental pond.

Just call the county’s mosquito abatement district at 510-783-7744 to order your fish and find out other ways to prevent West Nile virus from spreading in Oakland.

Freebie alert

Thanks to readers who told me that one of the best ways to sell a car is on craigslist. With no fee and a simple signup, I posted my 2001 Prius on this Web site and had several offers within days. Compare this to the complicated procedure on eBay, where it costs $40 to sell. Sometimes cheaper is better!

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