Reno, Anyone?

Everyone’s talking about March Madness. I don’t follow sports unless a sports thing becomes a news thing and then I’m drawn in. Or unless a sports thing becomes a social thing – then I’m there. That’s what happened  when I went to a March Madness dinner to watch the momentary – it turned out – appearance of Virginia on the March Madness stage. First, they were in – and then – they were out.  And that was that. But we were still there – and the host was white but stoic.  It reminded me of last March and a trip to Reno Nevada – for the final stop of our daughter’s basketball run at Sacramento State. Continue reading

Easy Street

I’m working on a theory. I’m still developing it. My sample size is very small – but my theory bears out inside the sample – my little family. The theory is this: The way people come into the world is the way they live their lives.  What do you think so far?

Let’s take my daughter Katie – sample number one. She rolled in after eight hours of steady measured labor – never letting up – organized and efficient. It’s the same way she does everything – like in high school, she’d plop on the edge of my bed with her calendar and ask if we could shop for her prom dress on the 15th or the 21st? Continue reading

Kindred Spirits

IMG_8888The sudden desire to go to Cafe Jaqueline – the french restaurant in San Francisco – came to me while I was reading the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I was curious. Steve Jobs was – by most accounts – one tough customer. So, when I read Jobs loved it there – I wanted to know why.  In the book, a couple of Jobs’ friends planned a bachelor party for him and it started with a dinner at a very fancy hotel restaurant in San Francisco. It didn’t say which one – or I might check that out too – I’m like that about things I read about. Anyway – they sat down and got cozy and the bread came. And that’s when Jobs announced he didn’t want to be there. He made them get up, walk out and move to a different restaurant – Cafe Jaqueline – which Isaacson described as “the soufflé place that he loved.”

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The Woman in the Brown Dress

So – it’s Mother’s Day. It’s been a good one as they go – punctuated by some time with my kids, some flowers and a vegetable omelette. In a couple of hours we’ll gather ourselves up to go and watch my son play basketball. And as I was thinking about that, my own mom leapt into my thoughts – a certain moment when she surprised all of us with her – well – acumen, I guess, for mothering an athlete.

I can see it in my mind’s eye. It was a Slidell, Louisiana youth football game. My brother Frank – the quarterback – was on the field. We were all in the stands – the whole family. I don’t just see it – actually – I hear it too. The announcer in the white box up above the stands kept repeating it, “Will the woman in the brown dress please get off the field?”  I heard the plea. I frantically looked to where my mom had been sitting. I looked down to the field.

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An Eye Catcher

I don’t know why but some things just catch your eye – speak to you – and make you want to look at them.  For instance –  I like the way palm trees look against a blue sky – or even better – a stormy one.  I like the way a Sierra lake mirrors the trees around its rim. I like the way a nicely decorated room draws you in and makes it hard for you to get out.  I like the way one white hydrangea looks in a vase of roses, the way light dances on the bottom of a pool on a sunny day and the way candlelight flickers across a dinner table.  I like the silent look of a city street at dawn. And I really like an old sign – a neon sign that glows against the night – or just a sign that’s been out braving the elements and surviving – like this one I saw in Salt Lake City. IMG_0035 Continue reading

The Final Drive

The End.  That’s how this story begins.  It begins with the end of the line for our beloved Big Black Car. It’s a Suburban. We never really named the car – maybe we should have. Once, on a camping trip, one of our friends called it the Puff Daddy Mobile but that name didn’t stick. Another friend more aptly called it The Battle Cruiser, but we never did. We sometimes called it the ‘Burban but mostly it was The Big Black Car – or Black Car – for short.


There’s a little bit of a pall over our household. And my daughters at college are feeling the loss too.  We drove the car into the car graveyard. It’s gone – the emblem of our family life -the chariot that drove us up, down, around and across California and beyond during fifteen hectic years while we raised our children. The job of raising those kids may never be over but the need for a massive car to get around seems to be. Continue reading

Coming and Going

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I noticed something this summer.  It’s something I kept hearing from the college kids who returned home for break. Well, besides the footfalls on the front porch which came with much greater frequency when my daughter Margaret – my college freshman – was home. From my perch in my bedroom – I noticed there was a lot more traffic out there on the porch.  It started with the footsteps – quick energetic ones – and then the door bell would ring.  Our bell is a bit old and anemic so if you’re not used to it you’d never know it’s the door bell, but we do.  After the bell, I would see the kids.  And from them I heard a chorus – so happy to be back in Oakland and so excited to get to their favorite places and enjoy their favorite foods – food they’re not finding in their college towns.  In fact One of my Favorite Girls of All Time looked at me when I asked her how much she loves Villanova  – she said, “Well, the food isn’t good.” Continue reading

Girls Gone Hollywood

I have always wanted to swim in the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  It’s the one the artist, David Hockney, was commissioned to paint.  It finally happened for me. I slipped into the water to swim laps and every time I took a breath I looked up to see palm trees or the Hollywood Roosevelt neon on the roof of the hotel.  And when I looked down I would see Hockney’s big long brush strokes on the bottom of the pool.  I might have been in heaven.

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Such A Secret

It’s a story everyone wants to hear. The story about the day they came into the world. Like my mother, I handed those tales down to my children with great regularity.  I brought out the stories on long rides when the road was whizzing by. I molded them into bedtime yarns. I dusted them off and gave them new luster on request. But, I especially brought them out when they had a definite news peg – birthdays – like today.

It was February 28, 1994. It was just before one in the morning. I felt the stirrings and then the pain I easily recognized as labor. We called Jim’s dad who rushed over. We left him with our sleeping two-year-old, Katie. Jim put on his would-be paramedic look and rushed out to the car. I waddled after him. Once again, he flipped on his imaginary lights and siren and we were off, racing to the hospital, while I writhed in pain. Continue reading

Soup’s On

This is a very aggressive cold and flu season.  It’s taking people OUT.  When you get it, it comes on strong and then comes back – with a crazy boomerang affect.  I know – I had it. But while I was in the fight – trying to beat back the flu – I came up with a culinary weapon that I think helped.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I cracked the code on Sick Soup.  You know… the soup that makes you feel better, like it’s helping you get better, when you are lying in bed.  And I made it up, all by myself.  I was forced to when I was faced with a dearth of options one day – in a sick stupor  – foraging the neighborhood for something to eat. Continue reading