Tag Archives: Oakland

Fear of the Life Aquatic by Linda Knight Seccaspina

Fear of the Life Aquatic by Linda Knight Seccaspina

Oakland Ferry- San Francisco 1880

Fear of the Life Aquatic by Linda Knight Seccaspina

One hot summer day when I was 6 my mother spoke some wise words while we stood on the edge of the dock at Selby Lake in Quebec. Bernice Ethylene Knight warned me over and over not to stare at the water as she prophesied that I would fall in. While everyone was enjoying their picnic lunch I immediately returned to the edge of that dock to test her theory.

Like a flying duck making a fell swoop into the water I fell in head first. That was the day I nearly drowned and water and “boating” became a fearful enemy. When I turned 60  ten years ago, I felt I should finally throw caution to the wind. 

Oakland, California- July 2012

I walked slowly down the planked path to the dock as the seagulls flew over me with mocking cries. They could smell my fear and taunted me as I approached the dock. I could feel my stomach inching up into my throat and it felt like the church picnic at Haven Isles in the 60’s all over again. Walking across the small plank that was hooked to the dock reminded me of the swinging bridge across the river at that annual picnic at the popular Townships location. If this thing swayed like that Haven Isles bridge Linda was going to be glued to the dock in fear forever.

Seldom late for anything I arrive 37 minutes ahead of schedule to make sure I am on time to possibly die. I call my friend and leave a message that if the ferry starts going down— please pick up my call and not let it go to message.  I decide to stick my identification that I have placed in a plastic bag inside my sports bra so if the boat goes down they can identify my body quickly.

I watch the elderly tourists getting onto the Potomac; fondly known as The Floating White House. The boat was originally called the USCG Cutter Electra in 1934. I watch as they pull anchor and gaze at the waving occupants that I feel might not make it across the bay.

We all proceed on to the ferry like a funeral march, and I glance at the sign that states that if the above alarm goes off to man your stations.  Where actually is my station I ask the steward as he silently motions me to go upstairs to the second deck. Watching from above I see a child below grasping a floater. He too is unsure of his fate and I silently berate myself for not bringing a floater.

We approach Treasure Island and the water begins to get rougher. An elderly man from the old 187th Airbourne assures me everything will be fine and begins to tell me stories from WWII. The fear has now been replaced by similar droning words that I have been told dozens of times by my late grandfather. 

I am amazed at how little that holds up the Bay Bridge and realize that the bridge will fall on us if an earthquake should immediately occur.  I wonder if the captain is slowing down just to scare us as there is most certainly no backed up traffic in these waters.

Attempting to get the perfect shot of the bridge I fall on the slippery deck as the captain increases his speed. Thankfully my nightmare does not occur and Linda does not do a fatal

swan dive over the edge. The passengers are impressed as I lay there and take a picture of the under belly of the Bay Bridge. There is no way I could have gotten this angle standing up.

The captain now assumes his ferry is a speed boat and we bounce off the crests of the waves that make the nearby sailboats heave up and down. I  suddenly question whether I should immediately go in and hit the bar.

I see Pier 39 in the distance and wonder how people swim from that pier to Alcatraz Island everyday. Neighbouring passengers tell me there are dolphins in this part of the bay and I immediately think of Flipper and how he helped drowning people.

Getting off the ferry I am immediately greeted by The Silver Man whose real name is Evan. I notice the large bucket he has for the exiting passengers like myself.  My stomach silently asks what form of payment he wants. I am proud that I faced my fear head on and know that if I ever win a cruise — it is going to the first person that wants it.

Architecture Stories: The Voodoo Madam – Mary Ellen Pleasant

The Lady Who Sang the Blues-Time Travel

We Are No Longer in Gnome Man’s Land — Do You Gnome What I am Saying?

Painting the Memories with Written Word –Linda Knight Seccaspina

We Are No Longer in Gnome Man’s Land — Do You Gnome What I am Saying?

We Are No Longer in Gnome Man’s Land — Do You Gnome What I am Saying?
There’s no place like Gnome; and they are popping up all over Ottawa. 
Finding one could be good luck for you.
Miniature Gnomes, about the size of a loonie, are making themselves at home all throughout Ottawa.
There have been over 400 since last June, according to their creator; who is asking to remain anonymous.
“I try to put one out every day,” they tell CTV News Ottawa.
You could call it Ottawa’s own Gnomey Banksy, but the creator laughs when asked. Read the rest here– click

Thursday January 6th, 2022.

For years I have asked– no begged for someone to do this.. It began in Oakland California when I lived there

To those interested in gnomeourism here is how Oakland did it.


From a posting I did in 2013—

There are now over 2,300 gnomes that now populate the hills and flats of Gnome Mans Land, California (Oakland). Until recently, they had pretty much managed to keep their presence a secret but then word got out in 2013 and there were fears that even Gnomeland Security might get into the act.

Word on the street is this population was descended from a shipment of gnomes bound for Oakland’s famous Fairyland in 1928 and escaped when the delivery truck tipped over.  But really, gnobody gnows where they came from. You can find them at the bases of telephone poles and they gnever gather in groups. They hate low altitudes and heavy traffic, and live off the energy found in the telephone wires.


More than a year ago, a mysterious man wanted to do something nice for his neighbours near Lake Merritt in Gnomelandia. He found some scrap wood from old fences and cut them into wooden blocks 6 inches tall, and painted the mythical creatures on them. Then he anonymously screwed (not nailed) the guerrilla installations to wooden utility poles (never trees), at sidewalk level.

The first batch of about two dozen went up in January, 2012. The artist’s greatest joy is walking the streets of Oakland (“tending herd” as he calls it) to make sure none have been removed.

A woman posted on a Facebook page:

“We need some Gnomes in East Oakland around Eastmont Mall!! Magic is something that can grow.”  Her neighborhood?  When one hears about shootings in Oakland, probably 1/3 are within twenty blocks of her home. And there’s an elementary school there with four telephone poles in front of it, two on its side.  They are getting every gnome [in stock].  She deserves them for believing in magic.”


At Fairyroom.com they figured out that “the gnomes on the streets close to the lake’s edge are wearing pants. But as the streets angle up the hill, the gnomes on the telephone poles change their wardrobe to kilts. The gnomes of Oakland’s higher elevations are plainly Highlanders, a bit of dry humor everyone heartily appreciates.”

Then one day San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones blew their cover. PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) spokesman Jason King said he had never noticed them on their utility poles, although he jogs around the lake. Sticking to the company playbook, he told her a crew would be dispatched to remove them from gnome mans land.

His exact words: “We can’t have anything that would compromise the integrity of our equipment. The concern is that the gnomes could inspire additional people to place things on our property.”

“Save the Lake Merritt Gnomes” Facebook page popped up. Calls poured in. The Twittersphere exploded. Negotiations ensued.

We are holding peace talks for the 2300 gnomes in a secret mushroom patch near the Rose Garden,” said Zac Wald, chief of staff to City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, whose district includes the preponderance of the gnome population. “People love the gnomes, and they are District Three residents.”

At the end of January there was a positive win for the little people:

“We received a great deal of public feedback, so we’re declaring the poles gnome-man’s land. We’re not going to remove them,” PG&E spokesman Jason King said.

I think the gnomes are a sweet reminder that a little magic can go a long way. I’m looking forward to the story spreading beyond Oakland – but for now, the magic remains in Oakland– because– that’s where the Gnomes are. They made my life in Oakland wonderful.

Also read- Remember those mysterious Oakland gnomes? A new batch of coronavirus-inspired characters are popping up

2016 — Almonte, Mississippi Mills, Ontario


Last week gazing at the Mississippi River in Almonte I spotted something. No, it couldn’t be! But it was!


There, all my himself was a lone gnome in the middle of the dam looking for a pirate ship to escape in because of all the Enerdu construction. I don’t blame him! It instantly reminded me of my former hometown of Oakland, California where the gnomes took over the town and became a tourist attraction in 2013. Could the same thing be happening to Almonte!?

Carleton Place Library Gnome

The proof is in the pudding my friends–the Gnomes are afoot!

April 18th 2022

Just another Easter Monday– looking for smiles– some ridiculousness, some insanity to make me smile…and I just got a comment on WordPress– I am smiling, I am giggling…I am thrilled…


9 hr. ago

Just in case you were wondering, I moved from Oakland to the land of my forefathers… Oklahoma…six years ago and have been periodically busy: there are little towns all over Oklahoma with many telephone poles in need of magic too. What’s an algorithmic painter like me supposed to do? Ok Gnomes on Facebook will fill in the rest.


OK Gnomes
April 24, 2016  · 

A beautiful day to visit another Oklahoma town.
OK Gnomes
July 7, 2019  · 

I put gnomes on telephone poles. Originally in Oakland, CA, now, slowly, all over Oklahoma. Why? My way of trying to make the world just a little better

Oakland Ghost Ship Fire–Personal Thoughts



Oakland California warehouse fire- Fox 61 Photo

Steve and I are mourning our former community, and I don’t think we will ever forget the Oakland, California warehouse fire that occurred Friday night. The Oakland Fire Dept fears that dozens may have died ( 24 now) in the massive fire that swept through the Fruitvale area warehouse. We once lived in a former cardboard factory in Oakland where I can tell you that– you don’t need drug abuse to cause a problem when a lot of caring creative and artistic people gather together to listen to music.

People live in Oakland warehouses because it’s the only way to get reasonable square footage in probably the most expensive real estate market in the country. The Fruitvale district where the fire occurred is not the Pearl of the Adriatic, believe me. Trendy parts of Oakland now boast a medium home value of at least $700,000, and it goes up by double digits every single year. The high cost of living is what causes artists to search for inexpensive lofts- and in this instance- unsafe cheap housing.


Photo- Linda Seccaspina-“Everyone Knows a Hillside Johnny

Clearly this building should have been condemned and not open to the public. Makeshift ladders made out of wooden pallets with no fire alarms, sprinklers, smoke alarms and one exit clearly falls into the buildings that are seldom up to code. But, people need to realize that exorbitantly expensive housing will lead people to invent new methods of survival, such as the houses in San Francisco where people literally rent out a box in someone’s living room for a high price.


Photo- Linda SeccaspinaDedicated to my Weekend Protesting Hippie Generation — Nothing Changes Does it?

I know from personal experience that a fire spreads quickly, and usually people have less than a minute to make decisions that will decide whether they live or die.  Also, there was a second deadly element at play when the fire started on the first floor, near the exit and the rave was happening on the second floor. Smoke rises, and in this instance quickly becomes poisoned from the chemicals released when things burn–like artists supplies and salvage decor. I’ve been trapped in a smoke-filled space and you really do feel like death is closing in on you–and that was with an exit I could easily reach. I sadly think that the rave participants in the Oakland fire simply didn’t know there was a fire until it was too late.

I hate to admit this but– Oakland is the kind of place that if you call authorities to report your car getting broken into –or there is a loud party going on–they will be too busy dealing with one or more violent crimes. Sadly, that is just a fact of living in a high-crime area. Prayers for the families who have lost loved ones and we are mourning the Ghost Ship community.

Owner of Oakland warehouse says no one lived in building, daughter says

This video dedicated to the people I miss and love.. somewhat noisy but best neighbours and friends in the world. 

Dedicated to my Weekend Protesting Hippie Generation — Nothing Changes Does it?


All Photos by Linda Seccaspina and dedicated to Kevin Army. In memory of when we covered the OCCUPY protests in 2011 in San Francisco and Oakland.:(


For some strange reason one morning I had instant memories of my teenage years as a weekend hippie. No one in my family was allowed to become a full time one, according to my father; so the weekend had to do.


It began one day in 1966 sitting at the Riviera Cafe with my friends after school, and listening to The Buffalo Springfield’s new song, “For What It’s Worth”. Everybody in that café instantly came together and sang the song at full volume until each note was over. It was a huge turning point in my life about standing up for what I believed in.


I respect everyone’s opinion, as this world would be pretty boring if we all thought the same thing but I have always proudly beaten my own drum. The Byrds were a huge influence on me, and I still remember my father complaining that if he ever saw me wear the same style glasses Roger McGuinn wore that there would be trouble.

Throughout my life, if people said go left, I always went right – and go right I did the next day – to the store to buy those glasses. Of course I was wearing them as soon as I left the store, and who drove down the street but my father, beeping his horn and shaking his fist at me because I had defied him.


He got over it though, just like he got over the bell bottoms as I don’t think he really had a choice. He was horrified when he saw a few people wear the flared pants and told our neighbor that his daughters would only wear those things over his dead body. Of course, that weekend I hauled my 10 year old sister with me on the bus to Montreal, where we each got a pair at Eaton’s department store. I figured if she got a pair he would be only half as mad.


They were made from a heavy backed acrylic fabric and such a gaudy Kelly green that we both looked like Gumby. I have no idea what the backing was but every time I got warm and removed the pants some of the backing became part of my skin.

During the summer, my friends and I took the bus to Montreal and would hand out flowers for peace at the Place Ville Marie plaza every weekend. People would come up to the girl with the flowers in her hair and ask if I was from San Francisco. I would just smile from ear to ear as that was the highest compliment anyone could give me.


Of course more protests came my way, or I somehow fell into them by accident. In 1969 Sir George Williams University (Concordia University) in Montreal was the home of the largest student riot in Canadian history.

Beginning on January 29, over 400 students occupied the university’s computer lab. The occupation was sparked by the university’s mishandling of racism allegations against a professor at the school. Fed up with the administration, the students left the meeting and occupied the university computer lab on the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building.


Most of the occupation was quite peaceful without the involvement of the police, while negotiations with the administration were going on. The lab was not damaged, except for the several million computer punch cards that were sent fluttering to the street below, like confetti.

The occupation continued until February 11 th when negotiations broke down and riot police were called in. Then a fire broke out in the computer lab, forcing the occupiers out of the building. Ninety-seven of them were arrested and my father sighed with relief that I was not one of them.


The computer lab was destroyed, resulting in over $2 million dollars in damage. I was outside the building a good deal of the time with a sign, and when the smoke started pouring out of the windows I started to cheer. Cheer? Oh my!

I told my son this week, that if I was younger I still would be protesting something wherever they needed me. But his mother is old now, and if she gets up in the morning and something doesn’t ache or sound broken, it’s a good day. I can’t remember what happened two hours ago but ask me to sing “For What It’s Worth,” by The Buffalo Springfield from 1966, and I can still remember every word. Nothing really changes does it?

Peace out!


All Photos by Linda Seccaspina
A video by my BFF Kevin Army from Oakland Ca.. Im memory of when we covered the OCCUPY protests in 2011 in San Francisco and Oakland.:(

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Just Another Day in Druggie Paradise


Thursday, February 24th, 2012 

    From the inside looking out 


“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”

Salvador Dalí


“Selling my soul would be a lot easier if I could just find it.”

Nikki SixxThe Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star


“A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.”

Frank ZappaThe Real Frank Zappa Book


“I loved when Bush came out and said, ‘We are losing the war against drugs.’

You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.”
Bill Hicks


“Some of us look for the way in opium and some in God, some of us in whisky and some of us in love. It is all the same way and it leads nowhither.”
W. Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil


“I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.”

M.C. Escher


What do we say? What do we do?

Linda Seccaspina


“Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self esteem.”
Kurt Cobain

Photos by Linda Seccaspina 2012 – San Francisco Chronicle– Berkeleyside

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Why I Will Never Be Lois Lane


It’s Comic Book Day in Carleton Place

images (2)

A darker post about super heroes or not so super heroes.

Nov 8th, 2010

All I wanted to do Friday afternoon was go downtown and take pictures of “real” people speaking their mind about the Mehserle/Grant case at the Oakland City Hall. They had singers, artists, and speakers to hopefully thwart off a possible riot after the sun went down. When I expressed my intentions to Steve I was told to remain at home and stay out of trouble. Seeing that I had viewed the outcome of 56 stray bullets the week before; he thought I had enough violence for the month. Like everyone else I needed some sort of closure. Johannes Mehserle, a BART Transit Officer, had faced a possible 14-year maximum term after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

The BART policeman had responded to trouble on one of the subway platforms and ended up using his gun instead of what he thought was his taser on Oscar Grant. The case against Mehserle had provoked a lot of horrible racial unrest in Oakland.They were supposed to announce the sentencing at noon and then it was delayed. Steve called every thirty minutes to make sure I was not going to do something stupid, as he said. I sat on my computer chair and sulked, and then I sulked some more.  Finally just before 2 pm Mehserle’s verdict was announced–he had been given the minimum possible prison sentence of two years for fatally shooting an unarmed Grant.

I knew trouble was going to hit the fan and all I wanted to do was take the bus and get down there for some pictures. I put on my black hoodie and walked to the bus stop. I waited for 10 minutes and then as the bus approached I just let it go by. First, I cannot lie to anyone, and then a bigger question on my mind was about being able to run if need be. My legs are pitiful and I knew if I was chased by someone spotting my camera I would end up at the mercy of whomever caught me. I am not a superheroe and realized that when I took pictures of local crime.


Photo–SHOOTING 2.13.12

The scene of the Feb. 23 shooting of a BHS senior at the intersection of Market and Lowell near the Oakland-Berkeley border. Photo: Linda Seccaspina -Berkeleyside and San Francisco Chronicle

I walked in the door, the phone was ringing, and it was Steve making sure I was home. I told him I had been taking pictures outside which was no lie. Nothing like taking pictures of spider webs when what I really wanted was to take pictures of citizens protesting injustice.

I was so angry I would never be like my hero Lois Lane. She was one tough as nails reporter who would have gone down there and been in the thick of it. Lois could probably run like the wind unlike myself and seldom needed rescuing. But if she absolutely needed to be saved, Superman would come running at the drop of a hat.

Saturday morning I went to the downtown bowels of Oakland and took pictures the day after the fact. I walked by Burger King and saw ‘The King’ in the window with the words:

“You are the Controller”.

I laughed out loud as I was not “the controller” nor was I Lois Lane. I had no Superman in my life except the one that drove me to take pictures. Walking towards the car I greeted some street people smoking a joint outside Walgreens. I put my camera back in my purse and realized I would forever have to settle being Jimmy Olsen. Not that there is anything wrong with that!


Be thankful that you live in the wonderful town of Carleton Place.. the other side of the fence has too many brutal realities. The average age of drug crime in the bay area  is 15-19 years old.

Just Another Day in Druggie Paradise

Is This the Super Bowl of Sandwiches? Food Porn Alert!


Is This the Super Bowl of Sandwiches? Food Porn Alert!

Today Huffington Post announced the top 10 sandwiches in the United States and coming in at number 5 was Oakland’s own Bakesale Betty’s chicken sandwich. In 2009 I wrote about Bakesale Betty’s on LiveJournal and I dug it up so anyone who had not read it could also have food orgasms along with me.




May 7th, 2009 at 3:42 PM

I got to walk past Bakesale Betty’s on the corner of 51st and Telegraph today. It doesn’t not matter if it’s pouring rain or the winds are hurricane strength; there is always a line up out the door and down the street past the ironing boards and chairs she has out there to eat on.

Bakesale Betty was founded by Alison Barakat in January 2002 and Barakat moved to the Bay Area from Australia in 2000 and cooked at Chez Panisse Cafe for 3 years. There is no menu to speak of, just one giant white poster board that they hand write what’s for ‘eatin’ every day. The staple is the chicken sandwich- that is like no other,  =along with chicken pot pie and of course the desserts.

Let me Entertain you for a moment:

Betty’s Banana Bread
Moist and delicious made with fresh bananas and honey.

Betty’s Brownies
Fudgey and delicious, Betty’s Brownies are classic.

Betty’s Famous Scones
Apricot almond, lemon raisin, and pear ginger scones


Betty’s Ginger Cookies
Spicy and chewy with chunks of crystallized Australian ginger.

Betty’s Lemon Bars
Made with fresh lemons.. A delicious buttery crust is perfect with the tart, lemony…

Betty’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
A buttery cookie with plump, juicy raisins, and walnuts. Often referred to as the best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

Betty’s Vanilla Shortcakes
Tender classic vanilla shortcakes wonderful with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Are you still with me?

When I got home I had to write about this because I have celiac disease and have to get it out of my system. Celiac Disease = no flour, no gluten, and no fun, but I love Betty’s and went there once and ate just the chicken and the coleslaw. It was that profound, and I was ready to get sick over her food.

So, back to today; I am walking down 51st and quickly approaching Betty’s. I see her and one of her co- workers bringing in the supplies through the back door. Boxes and boxes of fresh strawberries, huge bags of flour, and my stomach starts churning and I know I cannot eat it. I try to close my eyes, I walk faster, I increase the speed and then it happens.

Because I am not watching; I bump into a patron sitting at one of the ironing boards. I look down and what do I see but a hot Bakesale Betty’s Chicken sandwich filled with crispy buttermilk-soaked, cayenne pepper-spiced fried chicken. To make it worse a vanilla shortbread with tons of fresh sliced strawberries and a huge dollop of creme fraiche is next to the sandwich. I begin to walk faster now and I am screaming inside and all I want to do is yell,

“Darn you Betty! Darn you for making stuff that everyone loves – and I can’t eat it!”

What can I do?

How can I get this longing for Betty out of my system?

The only possible solution is to write about it and provide video so everyone else can suffer along with me. That seems only fair!

If you are in the area head on down to Bakesale Betty
Tuesday – Saturday
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland.

They’re  at the SE corner of Telegraph and 51st in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. And no, I am not related to anyone there.. such a shame!

Now available on Amazon US and Amazon Canada. Canadians please contact me for books to get cheaper shipping.

Five years later – Still Searching for Christmas in the Rain – Zoomer



Five years later – Still Searching for Christmas in the Rain – Zoomer.