One Woman’s Garden


HER NAME IS not Mary, and she’s not “quite contrary” — but boy can her garden grow.

I’m talking about hills resident Nancy Bauer, whose artful eye and whimsical flair have helped her design a most interesting garden. And it’s not even on her own property.

“There was this empty lot here that belonged to my neighbors,” she says, pointing to a strip of land just to the side of her house.

With the neighbor’s permission, Nancy started digging, and planting waxy begonias and decorative sage and all manner of flowers and bushes with one thing in common — their resistance to deer. But while deer seem to ignore the garden (with the help of a repellent called Liquid Fence), humans adore it for the joy that it brings to the neighborhood.

Nestled amongst the baby’s-breath and blue flax are grazing cows and plump pink pigs and other metal sculptures.

“I buy whatever’s cute and comical and in the budget,” Nancy says, referring to the garden art that’s never more than $20. She finds most of it in catalogs, including the cat-shaped birdhouse that’s hanging by a tail from a nearby tree.

It’s a roadside garden that makes neighbors smile. And it reminds us that when life gets too serious, we can always go play in the dirt!

Wake-up call

Hills neighborhoods are getting hit, again, by a rash of break-ins.

The Montclair Safety Improvement Council reports a growing number of car and house burglaries in the past month, especially on these streets: Ascot, Brookside, Burton, Chelsea, Fernwood, Pershing, Moraga, Mountain and Wilton.

Police have been asked to step up patrols again in the hills and are warning all of us to lock our car doors and all house windows and doors — even when we’re at home.

You can find out more information, along with Oakland police alerts, on the Web at www.montclairsic.org. The Web site also has offers on locking mailboxes, which help deter mail theft.

E-mail bag

West Oakland was a colorful melting pot of cultures and languages in the early part of last century. But historians say its history has been largely ignored.

Thanks to Mary Mousalimas for telling me about the efforts of the Ascension Historical Committee of Oakland’s Greek Orthodox Church to piece together life in this bustling, densely populated area prior to 1950.

She says almost every ethnic group was found in West Oakland at that time, including Assyrians, Chinese, Irish, Italians, Lebanese, Chicanos, Japanese, Romani (Gypsies), Greeks, Syrians, Portuguese and Slovenians. Each group had its own culture, language and in many cases, place of worship.

If you have photographs and family history you’d like to share, the Ascension Historical Committee would like to hear from you. Call the group at 510-531-3400.

Frightening display

I encountered a haunted house the other day. Imagine my surprise at seeing a ghost in the middle of a September heat wave.

But Halloween is just five weeks away, and the Terrace is ready. That sweet little coffee and gift shop on Broadway Terrace is showing its dark side — with a scary back room full of ghosts, bats and skeletons.

What makes this haunted house different is that everything is for sale. Dancing spiders, maniacal monsters and mechanical witches on brooms — they’re going like “hot-cakes at a pancake breakfast.”

But be not afraid. There’s enough merchandise to keep the place going — at least until October.

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