"Bookin it" through Oakland

You think you know someone after 19 years. Their little nuances. What makes them tick.

Then someone comes along and turns your relationship on its ear.

Serena Bartlett’s book, “Oakland — the Soul of the City Next Door” — has made me look at my town in a whole new light. She’s keyed into some places I’ve never tried, like Temescal Café and its Wednesday night comedy, with no cover charge. And World Cup Coffee Tamales, a strangely named spot in the Fruitvale where the owner makes her tamales from scratch on the back patio. And Bakesale Betty, a Telegraph-at-51st favorite with its rich lemon bars and tangy rhubarb pie.

OK, so maybe I don’t get out enough. This book makes me want to explore all the clubs and cafés and museums and parks in my city, all over again. It’s a neat little guide to dozens of cool, one-of-a-kind, locally owned businesses in the neighborhoods that make up Oakland.

Bartlett’s urban eco-travel guide captures the spirit of my town and reminds me that my old friend is changing. Lest the relationship get stale, I’d better change too. You can find out more about “Oakland – the Soul of the City Next Door” on the Web at www.grassroutestravel.com.

BARGAIN THEATRE: Fairy tales never get old. Especially if they’re brought to life with a great local cast of actors and musicians. The East Bay Children’s Theatre is putting on a production of “Rumplestilskin” on March 24 and March 31 at the Oakland Museum. Who amongst us hasn’t wished for a little gnome to spin straw into gold? Seeing this play is the next best thing. Tickets are just $7 and can be purchased by calling 510-655-7285.

WATERSHED MOMENT: Happy anniversary to the Friends of Sausal Creek. They’re celebrating 10 years of protecting this pretty little water way that runs from the hills to the bay. Hills resident Wendy Tokuda will emcee a party from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Joaquin Miller Community Center. Everyone is invited for food, drink, live music and a silent auction. For tickets, call 510-501-3672.

E-MAIL BAG: After my piece on mice that make nests under car hoods, Diane Savage wrote to tell about a friend whose car was acting funny: “They opened the hood and there was, not a cute little mouse, but a great big rat!”

She says the bill ended up being a few hundred dollars but the mechanic told her they get at least one rodent repair a day, and some poor sucker had $10,000 in damage. Bet he said more than “rats!”

TURKEY TIME: Wild turkeys are turning up in the hills again. They’ve been seen strutting their stuff along Skyline Boulevard and roosting on a roof on Villanova. Rick Ellis says he saw four of the Thanksgiving favorites land atop a neighbor’s house a few days ago.

“They stayed there for quite a while and then flew over to another roof,” he told me, excited to have seen the wild birds so close. Close enough, I’m guessing, for a birds-eye view.


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