Shopping on Mars

Dreams are strange things.

Dreaming Light by RHADS


They can be exhilarating, romantic, horrifying, puzzling, and often, to me, inexplicable. Many people describe recurring dreams that they have when stressed or anxious. You know, showing up naked for an exam you aren’t prepared for, that kind of thing.




My anxiety dreams often involve either driving or swimming. I avoided learning to drive and getting my driver’s license until I was in my 30s. I’ve never really learned to swim and am afraid of water. It’s not just the idea of drowning, but all of the things that might be lurking under the water. I don’t take long baths, and stick to quick showers, avoiding with all my might getting water in my eyes. Don’t worry, I do stay clean!



dunn dunn


I don’t mean to single out sharks. I don’t fear them in particular. There are lots of tiny little toothy things in the water that can nibble on you, too.




The other night, I was having a rather enjoyable dream that I was going on a shopping trip to Mars. The planet Mars. The Red Planet, named after the God of War. Not your usual shopping destination.




Note that I am not one who likes to go out shopping. Online shopping has transformed my life. I rarely have to go into an actual brick and mortar store. I haven’t resorted to having my groceries delivered. Yet. But a trip to a mall is my idea of hell on the planet Earth. I do enjoy perusing small local shops when I travel, but that’s not nerve wracking and annoying like going to THE MALL.


This is NOT my idea of a good time.


But in my dream I was very happy to be going to Mars for my shopping expedition. I was on a space shuttle-like transport that looked a lot like the Swedish subway system. It was clean and quiet and not very crowded. In fact, I was the only passenger. Perfect!


Swedish subway system


I wasn’t wearing a space suit. I guess the whole gravity thing had been figured out. Hey, it’s my dream. I don’t have to wear a space suit and get helmet hair if I don’t want to!


helmet hair 2
Is it?


I’m all for equal opportunity and women as astronauts. Go for it! But can we get Project Runway involved in a more flattering space suit?


I was happily anticipating my arrival on Mars. The shuttle was starting to vibrate as it approached the station. And just as we were about to dock I woke up (groggily) realizing that at 2:40 a.m. we were experiencing a real-life earthquake. It’s California. They happen. This one was 4.4 magnitude. We live on the Hayward fault. The epicenter of this quake was the nearby Claremont Hotel. As far as I am aware, there were no reported injuries or damages.





I pretty quickly went back to sleep after a brief wait for either a bigger jolt to come or aftershocks, but I never got to find out what my shopping experience on Mars would be. What would I be shopping for? I imagine if I were to be shopping on the moon, say, I might find a cheese store. A vegan cheese store at that, since there aren’t any dairies on the moon and I only eat vegan cheese anyway. I’d be like Wallace, when he goes to the moon on A Grand Day Out with Gromit and they picnic on moon cheese. Einstein can fill in for Gromit.



In my mind, I would enjoy my Mars shopping experience because it would be quiet, not crowded, and I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. Except maybe to ride on a Rover. That might be fun.




I found a company online that purports to sell land on Mars, but I don’t need to be a land owner. Mars isn’t anyone’s to sell that I know of!




Another site tells me that 200,000 people have signed up with the company Mars One for a one-way mission to Mars. Should I say 200,000 gullible people?


dressed up


Back to my shopping trip. Who would set up shop on Mars? I don’t want it to be kitschy souvenir stars with key chains and mugs and pencil sharpeners or televisions shaped like space helmets.


JVC Videosphere


No advertising slogans like “Out  of this world deals!” It will all be understated and tasteful. Again, I think I have Mars confused with a Scandinavian country. Only brown and dry.

By Scandinavian, please don’t think IKEA! I mean the expensive, gorgeous housewares and furniture of my dreams. Not DIY particle board furniture and Swedish meatballs.



My Mars shopping experience must include: delicious vegan chocolate, coffee, books, gorgeous ceramics, amazingly comfortable yet flattering shoes, and a kitchen store beyond all kitchen stores. And perhaps a pet supply store. Otherwise it’s not worth the approximate 300 day trip. In my dream, I think it only took about 20 minutes, but still, for me to put on shoes, get to a shuttle, and go into stores, it’s gotta be good.

Chocolate. Luxury Martian chocolate. In the shape of planets and fun little Mars rocks. Dark chocolate. Mmmm.


amore di mona
Amore di Mona luxury vegan chocolate. It’s a thing.


Coffee. Can’t travel without it. The shuttle to Mars will have a barista and coffee bar, naturally.


Coffee bar design by Starbucks (!) for the Swiss Federal Railways. I’m not a big Starbucks fan, but I like the coffee bar.


mars coffee
The coffee bar when you arrive on Mars. (Image: Mapo House.)


Books. If it takes 300 days to get to Mars, I assume it takes the same amount of time to return to Earth. (Maybe I’m wrong. I avoided any courses in physics throughout my academic path.) I am going to need a lot of books! As much as I love Powell’s City of Books (3 stories across an entire city block) in Portland, Oregon, I think my Mars bookstore should be a bit more, I don’t know, sleek? Celestial? Breathtaking? I’m voting for Prologue Bookstore in Singapore to take on the Mars venture.


My favorite bookstore.
Prologue, Singapore.


Ceramics. I am envisioning ceramics along the line of Heath Ceramics (based in Sausalito, California), only made of Mars dust.

heath 4heath 3heath_010610-00016heath-winter


Shoes. Good shoes are so important to health and happiness. I wasn’t born with the shoe obsession my mother and a lot of other women seem to have, but shoes can make or break your day.


Spotted in Oakland, California. Not my car.


I work at an animal shelter and am on my feet all day. My shoes have to be practical and comfortable. I am tired of shoes that make my feet look like clown feet.



If you are bopping around on Mars, you have to have good shoes. I want them to still be cute and petite looking, while not hurting my feet. Currently, I mostly wear Skechers or clogs, which are fine, but give a girl a break. I’m a girly girl at heart. And a vegan. Finding cute, practical, comfortable shoes that are vegan friendly ain’t that easy. Please don’t suggest Crocs.


How many ways can I say NO to this look???


White shoes, not going to work for me.


Cute but not practical for the animal shelter.


I’m leaning right now toward the Mars store being an outlet of Insecta shoes from Brazil. Cute, ecologically minded, vegan. I haven’t tried them on yet to gauge the comfort level, but I am intrigued. They are made from recyled used clothing and plastic bottles.



The one kitschy souvenir idea I am behind–socks with images of Martians, space ships, etc. You have to have the sock wardrobe.

mars socks


Kitchen store. Kitchen gadgets, accessories, and cooking tools–yes! I adore a good kitchen store.


Faraday’s Kitchen Store, Austin, Texas. 


Some people claim that the 190-year old store E. Dehillerin on Rue Coquillière in Paris is the best place on planet Earth for buying cookware. If it’s good enough for Julia Child…There’s also the highly rated Kitchen Bazaar on avenue de Maine in Paris. I’m thinking I should take a little research trip there soon.


E. Dehillerin


Pet supplies. Should I take any of the resident companion animals along on the shopping trip? Einstein gets motion sickness, so he might not appreciate the shuttle trip to Mars. Marble could maybe handle it if I took enough crunchy food along for him. Sara is too old; at 19 she’d rather stay home and get updates in the comfort of her warm bed. For some reason, I see Misty coming along for the trip.

cat in space


Once we get there, I’ve promised her a beautiful blue jeweled collar as a memento of the journey. So, we will need an awesome pet supply store on Mars, too.


Misty looks like a high maintenance diva, but she’s a tough girl.
pet boutique
Pet boutique.
If I try to put this collar on Misty, I am going to need a Martian medic!


space medic
I hope there are medics in space.


I imagine this celestial shopping journey is going to cost a pretty penny or two, so I better get out there and start saving up! But a girl can dream. So I will.

space for girls


I’ll stick to the high road (call me a doormat if you want)

The other day, I was in one of my favorite local markets, Piedmont Grocery, paying way too much for groceries. I realize that in itself is a privilege, a luxury, a splurge, whatever you want to call it. I could have saved money at a big supermarket but I hate big supermarkets generally. Living in a city plagued by food deserts, I know what a privilege it is that I can choose where to shop. If you don’t know what a food desert is, you might not be paying attention to issues of social justice and access to basic resources.


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But that’s beside the point.

As the checker was scanning my items and politely not saying anything about the amount of chocolate in my cart, the courtesy clerk, aka bagger, was pondering how to get my purchases into my tote bags and back into the cart in the best way. He seemed to be putting an inordinate amount of thought into it, and asking me my opinion. As I’ve gotten older, I am much more prone to chatting with the people helping me in stores. I used to shy away from it, but I actually find those conversations easier sometimes than ones with family and friends.


Many of the stores in this area hire those with intellectual disabilities, which is pretty cool. When I was growing up, baggers were called bag boys and were usually teenage boys working for tips, and they always pushed your cart to your car and loaded them in the trunk. My mother had a terrible time when tips were no longer accepted for this job. For years she kept trying to tip the baggers, and when one finally politely told her he’d get fired if he took the tip, she finally got the point and quit trying to give them money.

Anyway, the gentleman bagging my purchases compared packing the bags to playing Tetris.



I used to play Tetris back in the day on my old black and white Mac, usually when I should have been writing my master’s thesis back in the early 1990s.

You can buy one on eBay if you really want one!


I said something about me not being that good at Tetris, and that he was probably a lot better at it than me, when he said something to the effect that he could do Tetris with the groceries really well but if he took too long he’d have angry customers. To which I said, without thinking, “I don’t get angry.” He looked at me in astonishment and asked me if I really never get angry. In the moment and in that situation, I honestly replied that I don’t get angry.

Maybe because it was my day off, or maybe because I started the day having coffee with a dear friend, or maybe because I went to get my flu shot prepared to wait for hours and I only waited about 5 minutes, but waiting to have my groceries nicely packed seemed like a no stress situation in which I could wait a few seconds here and there so as not to the tomatoes smashed.



Yes, I get angry. Angry at the world situation, angry at particular people in power, angry at injustice, angry at animal cruelty. But angry in my day to day life? Not so much. That wasn’t always true. I’ve fumed and sworn at the silliest things.


I got it in my head at one point that I needed to learn to stand up for myself, which was true. But my first foray into that was to send my food back to the kitchen at a restaurant because my veggie enchiladas were in red sauce, and not the green sauce I ordered. I thought I would be being a doormat if I just accepted it and ate it. That’s what one of my companions did; he’d ordered the red sauce and gotten the green on his chicken enchiladas. A simple mistake in our orders. He took it in stride and graciously ate his enchiladas. I like red sauce. I had a hankering for green sauce that day, but I could have eaten the red. I’ve briefly (thank goodness, only briefly) worked in food service, and I know how hard it is, and how picky customers can ruin the day. I also hate to waste food. For about a minute I was proud of myself for sending the plate back, but ever since I’ve felt like a jerk.


So is accepting delays and small mistakes taking the high road or being a doormat? I’ve also fallen into the doormat category. Not as much anymore. In a weird way I’ve achieved a balance between accepting life as it comes and standing up for myself.



There are lots of refrigerator magnets and other stuff that reflect what I am trying to say. Numerous people have written self-help books that may or may not have helped anyone but probably made the author some money.


You want to pass me on the highway to get where you are going a few seconds ahead of me? Fine, go ahead. Training a new cashier at the coffee bar and it might take a little longer? Great, and congratulations and good luck with the new job. I’m not in such a hurry that I have to glare at you and mutter at you under my breath while you are trying to learn on the job. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself, and I don’t want to be the angry customer, the a–hole driver, the person who causes a scene or holds up everyone else while counting my change or arguing with courtesy clerks. And I do live a life of privilege, a fact that I try not to take for granted.


I have more important things to worry about. Like saving the world. Or at least making my little part of it a better place.

My doctoral dissertation, distilled to a memo pad.

Peace and hugs.

Beauty secrets of the vegan stars (or wannabe stars)


I worry about the products I buy and whether they are cruelty-free. Do celebrities, especially the animal-loving ones, pay attention to what they have their staff buy for them? First, I wanted to find out who some of these beautiful vegan celebrities might be; I know many beautiful vegans who aren’t famous, but the world seems to want celebrity to give something credibility. So here are some famous, beautiful vegans. (Note: My definition of beauty includes inner qualities, not just the outer ones.)



Classic beauty Michelle Pfeiffer, age 57 in this photo, credits her youthful glow to her vegan diet.


49-year old vegan Pamela Anderson, often featured scantily clad in PETA campaigns (not my style, but they do garner attention).


Actress Emily Deschanel.


Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus: no longer a couple, but both still vegan as far as I can ascertain, and both still beautiful!


Actor and animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix.


Actor Tobey Maguire.


Actress Jessica Chastain.
Actress Anne Hathaway.
Figure skater Meagan Duhamel.
Actor and activist Peter Dinklage.


Environmentalist and former Vice President Al Gore went vegan in 2014.







Singer Morrissey.


U2 lead singer and humanitarian Bono, with his wife Alison, went vegan in 2016.


Lisa Simpson. Technically a cartoon character, but a pretty smart one.


So how do they maintain this beauty and stick to their vegan ideals? There are cruelty-free products out there; one just has to look. Look for symbols from organizations like the Leaping Bunny or get the Cruelty Cutter app from the Beagle Freedom Project. With the app, you can scan the barcode on a product and find out whether it is cruelty free before you purchase.


The good companies.


Some other good companies.




A good source for information is the Vegan Beauty Review.


This led me to the thought of how I could make my own, since DIY is always more fun than buying something. I often have a bowl of okara, the ground soy beans left from making soy milk (see The milk of human kindness (is non-dairy) in  the refrigerator, and I’ve been trying to find ways to utilize it. I sometimes add it to soups and stews and even baked goods as a protein boost.

Rich in protein, but will it make my skin glow?


In the directions that came with the soy milk maker, there is a recipe for an okara facial mask. The recipe uses honey, which is not a vegan product. I gave it a try, mixing the okara with some agave as a binder instead of honey, and a little Vitamin E oil in place of the various essential oils recommended, since I didn’t have any of those. It actually did make my skin feel soft and smooth after I rinsed it off.


What are some other simple, do at home (with things you probably already have) vegan beauty recipes? One good source is the DIY Home page of the blog Vegans Have Superpowers. I am not volunteeering to do the banana facial mask; just sayin’. If you have things at home like apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, oats, sea salt, baking soda, olive oil, and essential oils, among others, you can make your own skin-care and hair-care products.

The editor of The Vegan Beauty Review, Sunny Subramanian, has a book with co-author Chrystle Fiedler, The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty. I just ordered my copy.



Don’t want to make your own products but want to try some fun and different products from a variety of cruelty-free manufacturers? You can subscribe to the monthly Petit Vour cruelty-free/vegan PV Beauty Box.

Nerd that I am, I also find smart people really sexy. You think being vegan is stupid? Just ask these people.



And then there’s me, kinda cute, kinda smart, and kinda silly, but not doing too badly at age 55. I’ll never be a star, but I do what I can to lead an ethical and compassionate life, and that’s a beautiful thing.


Peace and hugs.

The Alameda Point Antiques Faire, aka “The Flea”

On the first Sunday of every month, rain or shine, crowds make their way to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, or as we fondly call it, “The Flea.” This is not your junky flea market; this is huge, with lots of stuff, ranging from the, yes, junky, to high end antiques. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning, and I count it as exercise. And there are food trucks; who doesn’t love a food truck? If you have time afterward, the town of Alameda is fun to explore, too.


The Alameda Point Antiques Faire, at the sign of the clock.

The entrance fee goes down as the morning goes on; early birds pay more! Your strategy will depend on several things: e.g., how badly do you need coffee and do you want to start at the way far back in the low rent district or start at the front in the high rent district?

There are several coffee purveyors; I usually decide by which has the shorter line.
low rent district 2
In the low rent district, the vendors don’t mess much with fancy displays and there tends to be empty real estate.
low rent district 1
It may be the low rent district, but you can still find some good things!
high rent district
The stalls closer to the entrance, i.e. the high rent district, go to a little more trouble but also charge more.

The food options vary; on this January day there weren’t quite as many trucks to choose from, but you can get “state fair food on a stick”, falafel, pizza, Chinese food, Indian food, Greek food, baked goods, and of course, kettle corn (it’s everywhere).


One of my favorite activities is looking for the “art” (note the quotation marks).


Then there are the specific categories of art, such as clown art. The stuff of my bad dreams.

clown classic
The classic clown portrait.
clown classic unsold
Surprisingly, it didn’t sell. Maybe next month.

Weird sculptural things also make an appearance.


Daryl Hall as Mrs. Santa?

If you have any interest in old family photos and other people’s ancestors, there are always lots of stacks and frames of interesting, usually stern people’s faces. It does make me sad that they end up at the flea market though.


Interesting yard art opportunities abound. Someone purchased both of these and was wheeling them out. I title it The Bear Thinks About Eating The Thinker.

bear eats thinker


For the bookworm, there are children’s book, books that don’t really seem old enough to be at the “antiques faire”, and cookbooks, to name a few.


For the clothes mavens, there are plenty of “vintage” clothing vendors. Birkenstocks are vintage now?


Unfortunately, there is a lot of fur among the clothing items. My animal activist side gets riled up. Maybe I can get my activist friends out protesting with me some Sunday.

animal 3
It’s not fashion, it’s violence! Don’t buy fur!!!

I will allow the purchasing of a tiara or two, however. You can’t have too many of those.


One of my very favorite categories–cat lady (or cat guy) merchandise!

cat hair spray
The vendor informed me that this cat was made to cover a can of hair spray.
Susie kitten
I really was tempted to buy this.
Kitty Wampus
Kitty Wampus proved irresistable; I did buy it.

I am also fascinated by the extremely expensive French road and building signs. I can’t guarantee they are genuine; “faux French” is a thing.

french 4
This one will set you back $265.

Here are a few of the fun things I saw on this January visit:


beam me up scottie
Beam me up, Scotty! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Fargo snowglobe
Who wouldn’t want a Fargo snow globe, complete with bloody snow?
kiss ducks
A complete set of Kiss rubber ducks!
Bob said he wouldn’t object if I bought a troll doll as long as it wasn’t bigger than my head. This one was close, but at $65, I don’t think so!

Transportation theme:


stop light
Fraternity house furnishing?
joe and bowl
A successful purchase; Tibetan bowl for Joe the music teacher.
misty not impressed
Misty is not impressed with my purchases.

Maybe Misty will have a chance to be impressed next month. And maybe I’ll see you at The Flea!


The Alameda Flea Market

Jet lag. Not fun. Why is it so exhausting waiting around airports for delayed flights and then sitting strapped into an airplane seat? I was really glad to be home to see the pets, but I miss Scandinavia! Here are the critters that got me home: Sara, 17 year old brown tabby; Misty, 5 year old Turkish Angora; Einstein, 5 year old terrier mix. All rescues, of course!

IMG_6183 IMG_6192 IMG_6193

Thanks to our awesome pet sitter for taking good care of them.

Sunday we woke up fairly early and realized it was the 1st Sunday of the month, and that means the Alameda Point Antiques Fair, fondly referred to as “the flea”. I so do not need anymore stuff, but it’s always fun to go and I had some unspent money from the Scandinavia trip burning a hole in my pocket.

First things first, as usual for me, coffee and food! I normally drink decaf, but I ended up caffeinated in Europe, and what with the jet lag and all, I thought it was a good idea to get a double cappuccino. Warning–don’t shop under the influence of caffeine!

One of us (me) missed the beautiful strawberries in Norway so I went to the waffle truck and got a lovely waffle with strawberries. Tho other of us missed his usual “American” breakfast ingredients of eggs and cheese, so he went for the breakfast burrito on the taco truck.


One of my favorite things to do is look for the ugliest thing I can find. I usually exclude paintings on black velvet because they would pretty much always win. But there were 2 this time that were so horrifying I gave them a shared prize.

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Of course, I can’t resist used books. In addition to the 1957 illustrated edition of Henrik Ibesen’s Peer Gynt that I had to buy given that we had just been to the Ibsen Museum, I saw quite a few fun books.  Who doesn’t love Nancy Drew? And a moment of nostalgia for the Lad: A Dog books by Albert Payson Terhune. We had them on our book shelves when I was a child and I read (and reread) them all.

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And now it’s Monday, and back to work and the so-called real world. Daydreaming of Norway…