Driving South

September 22, 2016

I drove south today. As I do.

Pulled into the South Bay before the sun set. This view along the Esplanade is such a sight for sore eyes… literally. After the seven-ish hours along I-5, the last hour of which is that awful LA stop and go traffic, it’s just great to break out of the relentless line of cars and get a look at this:


Always looking for a new way to tell the commute story. Here’s this shot… a  view of the Garmin of mom’s favorite spot along the coast…


Rounding the corner, almost there…







Platinum and China

September 21, 2016


It turns out, one’s 20th anniversary is celebrated with platinum (traditional) or china (modern).

Jim went traditional. Tradition in this case refers both to the material and to the act of making something. And in accordance with tradition, Jim made a thing and he made it with platinum.


Okay… here goes: this metal container thingie is a part harvested from a computer. I believe in its original life, it protected a computer chip of some sort. It now houses a tiny 1-gram sheet of platinum, issued by a particular bank, and a sentiment economically and directly conveyed, as is Jim’s style. I may be the only person on the planet who owns such a thing. And it will join the other hand-crafted tokens that Jim’s made for me over the years, a shelf full of such marital benchmarks, an altar of sentimental treasures.

I love it, and I love him.

I–not quite as hand-crafty–made (sorta) something out of china (figuring that going to China was out of the question right now… though I spent some time thinking about how we could justify such a trip while Peter’s in college…). I found an online site that puts your photo images on every imaginable thing (Zazzle), even china plates, and did this:


It’s a meaningful photo because, one, we’re doing something we love doing together–hiking in Yosemite–and, two, Peter took the picture and it’s pretty good of both of us. It’s about 10-11″ in diameter. I think it’d be cool to serve nuts on a plate like this. Lots of them. Ha ha.


Now.. on to the more significant aspect of the anniversary… twenty years. What I love about this juncture in time, is that Peter’s whole trajectory–from Jim’s and my conversation about whether to have a kid, to launching said kid–takes place within the confines of our 20-year marriage. We’d tried to decide before we got married. Couldn’t, despite six-months of counseling focused on that issue alone, despite countless conversations with friends–both parents and non-parents. We just remained on the fence. Having kids or not having kids wasn’t a deal breaker, we were just both uncertain, we were already 40 and 43, we had successful professions, we had active social lives and prospects for flexibility and travel and who knows what. We also thought maybe a family was a good idea. Unable to conclusively decide, though, wow, we covered a lot of ground in our deliberations, we put the issue aside and got married. Soon after, however, we turned a corner on the matter and in a flash of inspiration decided that yes, we’d try to have a kid.

And pretty much, that has shaped and defined our married life, to date. Pregnancy, Peter through the ages, and, days before our 20th anniversary, Peter’s launch, his departure from the only nest he’s ever known.  Our entire marriage has included Peter. Peter’s now in college and we, too, are starting a new life, of sorts.

It’s cause for reflection and celebration! Amiright?


So… in that regard..

Our schedule has been so dependent lately on events and circumstances largely out of our hands… it has made arranging an anniversary get-away challenging. We’d intended to observe our anniversary in combination with our new found status as empty nesters in a celebratory/reflective way, staring at rolling waves in the distance while nestled into our favorite, crafty Dillon Beach cabin; walking on the dramatic wind-swept shoreline; playing Scrabble by the fire; toasting our good lives over iced tea and wine while dining on our favorite foods prepared in a charming, well-equipped kitchen; OD’ing on movies, Perquacky, expansive, jaw-dropping views and the smell of lilies.

And we will…. just not sure when.

In the meantime, we went to Mulvaney’s on 19th in Sacramento. Truly a culinary event (their tagline is hand-crafted new American cuisine and they use words like locavore to describe their genre).

And for sure it was great..

Best of show was this item:

Ray Yeung’s Farm Heirloom Tomato & Hand Pulled Mozzarella                     $16

                 Basil ~ Capay Olive Oil ~ Balsamic ~ Maldon Salt

We also had a cheese plate with their homemade crackers, a pappardelle with the last of the summer vegetables, an insanely tender chicken smoked out on the patio, and this pear trifle:



That pear trifle was among the most delectable things ever… different than most desserts we tend to order. Cubes of sour cream pound cake soaked in, I think, riesling, mascarpone pear cream, fresh pear, and that leathery sheet of pear on top… for a number of different textures and flavors, in a tiny package. Honestly. Yeow.


Parting shot:  here’s what Jim posted on Facebook:


With the comment:

The couple that Crocs together, rocks together. 


Well… Heck

September 17, 2016

This is leave day. Not sure what to expect, mood-wise. The reality of Peter’s separation has gently become comfortable and normal, having spent four days already in transition mode.  (Well, not to mention eighteen years.)

We were really pleased he wanted to join us for breakfast on this last day, though he was clear it had to be quick one.

I found a place called Richard Walker’s Pancake House on Prospect in the heart of La Jolla Village. By the time we got there the line outside was long and parking completely jammed. Still… we prevailed.

It was worth it for two reasons. One, the menu was impressive and our choices were great. Peter’s eating blueberry pancakes in background, I got a sampler with 1) bacon-embedded, 2) pecan, and 3) banana pancakes. Plus the best corn beef hash I’ve ever eaten (secret for this one is texture).


Jim had this:


Thar’s french toast in them thar fruit. Good enough!

But even better was running into some folks from Davis. I didn’t know Julie (the mom) personally, but recognized her from around town. She was with her daughter Sierra and a friend who was wearing a Davis crew tee-shirt, which tipped me off. Sierra will be at Eleanor Roosevelt College. Hers and Peter’s paths will surely cross from time to time.


We headed way (way) back to where Jim had finally found a parking spot… up in the neighborhoods.

Just my guys….


And took Peter back to campus. Today was official move in day for all UCSD on-campus residents. After a few days of just a handful of Revelle orientation move-ins, it was fun to see the entirety of the operation in full force. Kids, carts, parents in tow… it was quite a scene. It was easy to find someone to take our goodbye shot:


And then off we drove. Just like that. It felt a little numb, a little surreal, mostly because of the build up over the entire last year, and particularly the hyper-awareness of the transition over the past few days.  I suspect the real impact is something that will be felt over time, as time spent in our quiet house becomes the new normal. For now, my overwhelming feeling is sheer excitement for Peter, for his new life, his new home, his new friends and all the experiences soon to fully envelop him.

My heart is full. Yet I know I’m leaving a piece of it behind.


For now.. we just drove away. We started initially on the coastal route so Jim could see the north side of campus, Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Torrey Pines State Park (one of these days we will hike there…), Del Mar…


But we had a long drive, including a plan to stop in and see mom, so we re-joined I-5 and headed north.

Tons of traffic, even on a Saturday. We sat a lot. We did visit mom, though, which was nice. We got to Harris Ranch about 9pm…


And it was about here that some of that protective numbness wore off and the tears came. It’s a little bit shocking, I must say, to be honest-to-goodness separated from our guy. The real story of raising Peter and sending him off to live independently will be a long and full love story. Not summarized or experienced in a car ride.

But I did have tears.





O Day Two

September 16, 2016

Started again with a joint student/parent breakfast, this time on the Revelle Plaza side of Galbraith. Felt a bit more emboldened to capture some shots of the adult-kids…  they’re so on the fringe, right? A few are 17, but most are 18–newly minted–all 300-some embarking on 300-some unique experiences. They’re finding some smidge of a comfort zone, delicately laced into loose networks based on groups formed just the day before–dorm suite mates, orientation teams.  Everyone’s eager to find a connection, they’re open and agreeable, and likely still a little lost. I’d venture that the majority of Revelle kids are serious students, many of whom might fall on the shy side of the spectrum.

But then, who’s not shy?  Most people I know identify as shy. These guys are making their best efforts to join.. because: college. It’s a reset. They know it’s a chance to try out some new personality traits. I just felt for each and every one. Each one’s about to say goodbye to their old life, the only life they’ve known, and walk through a very new door.

Peter’s been enjoying Lion (pronounced Leon, whose name is really Li Hon or something close to that), the young man from China on the right, who’s also a suite mate. He’s one of a few hundred students enrolled at UCSD who came directly from China (a group whose arrival and transition was coordinated by university officials at the Sheraton where all the families were staying, an operation we observed for a few days while also staying there).


You can see they all got Revelle shirts yesterday. (Smile.)

Here’s another of a bunch of Revelle kids and one in particular most already know by sight…


I look at these and just wanna cry for happy. I love that Peter’s on the precipice, about to dive into a whole new life.

How lucky are we all?

Anyway, today’s orientation was shorter, and started with a series of presentations in York Hall.

The first presentation was with representatives from counseling and psychological services (CAPS)–lots of good comments there, including another look at that tandem bike graphic (we get it, we get it) and an audio snippet from an NPR show in which a dad talks about saying goodbye to his college-bound daughter. Holy sh*t, it was a tear jerker and a right-on description of this moment in time.


But then, hey! CAPs was out and a real live professor was in, who talked all about the classroom, the lecture hall, how to buy books, and the gazillions of support services available to student to ensure they master the material. She let us know all lectures are podcast (which also means we–and anyone in the world–can listen to them), and she also told us about these weirdo things called “clickers” that are devices used by students in real time that provide immediate electronic feedback to the professor. Students use these clickers to engage and participate in the lectures.

Well, it’s just a new day.

Turns out, Peter will have this Dr. Christina Johnson for chemistry in his very first quarter, which is great because she’s earned numerous teaching awards and is very well liked by students.


Not only was this reassuring, but it was just great to get kind of a taste of the experience Peter will have. Jim and I both sat there in the giant lecture hall, listened to Dr. Johnson, asked questions.. the real deal. Minus homework. Minus clickers.

After Dr. Johnson, we heard from a panel of students who conducted a lively Q&A all about college life. The questions were bold, the answers direct. And that was also just one more layer of uncertainty to peel back, making us feel like not only is he in good hands but he’s likely to have a boatload of fun and day-to-day experiences that will challenge him (in good ways).


To wrap up the two days, we returned to Stonehenge for a joint lunch (though again, most kids remained in their groups).

Jim and I meandered around campus for about an hour while Peter took care of some business then we all headed out for some sightseeing. Peter and I wanted to show Jim the glider port across the street.


You can see downtown La Jolla in the distance–La Jolla Village–out on that peninsula, which is also where the famed “cove” is. La Jolla Shores is the area just beyond that pier, and is another smaller commercial center.

The trail down to Blacks Beach is somewhere nearby.

The beaches are so pretty..


Then we headed down through La Jolla… so So-Cal….


and to the beautiful La Jolla coast…



Then onto Pacific Beach (La Jolla is now north of us, behind Jim and Peter in this picture)..



The strand and wide beach reminded me of Hermosa and Manhattan. I missed a bet not spending more time at the beach as a student at UCSD. Man… can I have a do over?

We continued south into Mission Beach, looking around, crossing some bridges and finally made our way north again, back to the hotel to chill for a while.

Peter found an Italian restaurant he wanted to try, so we called for reservations and headed out to find it. Much to my pleasant surprise, it was in the Hillcrest neighborhood (near North Beach where my Grandma Celia used to live… I used to visit her when I was a student at UCSD).


Hillcrest is a vibrant, hopping place, and the restaurant, Parma Cucina, was a wonderful and lucky choice–small, great vibe, excellent food.


We returned Peter to his dorm, and another night of separation was under our belt.

O Day One

September 15, 2016

Hey, did I mention Peter spent his first night in the dorms last night? After dinner in San Diego, we drove over to the campus, dropped him off on the backside of Meteor, and off we went to our hotel.

That was weird.

But it’s the beginning.

By this morning, it was already starting to feel like he’s gone, he’s back, he’s gone, he’s back. Even though there was only one gone and one back. So far.

Orientation Day One:


We all met in front of Galbraith Hall to check in for the orientation–Revelle’s fourth and final. The first three took place in June. Peter missed his due to getting sick, and couldn’t attend the other two because we were in Hawaii. This one, scheduled to coincide with move-in day, was designed to accommodate out of town–way out of town–folks for whom two trips to La Jolla was not doable. Therefore, we shared orientation with most of the out of state and international families. Made it all the more interesting.

We checked in, got our respective programs, and parents (maybe the kids, I’m not sure) got these:


Now THAT’S great swag!

They started with breakfast for about 450 folks…. 300 kids, 150 adults.


Tables were set up under the trees at “Stonehenge” one of numerous sculpture gardens around campus…


… on an incredibly pleasant fall morning…


Kids were already sitting in groups of friends they’d met in the dorms the night before:


Nico, Peter, Cole (roommate), Lion (suitemate).

Parents sat with other parents. We sat with a guy from Iran, a couple from Michigan (via India), and a guy from Saratoga (via China). We heard lots of back stories and a range of experiences related to sending kids to college. Warm and wonderful.

There was a large joint welcoming session with brief introductions of the key Revelle administrative folks–provost, and a couple of deans. Then ice breaking antics from the 16 peer leaders.


Kids took off for the rest of the day/night.

After the welcome, parents headed over to another huge lecture hall (York) and had a series of informative sessions. Provost Paul Yu provided a history of Revelle/UCSD and an overview of their academic philosophy. The deans of student affairs and academic advising talked about the many programs in place to support student success. We learned about FERPA (the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), wherein our adult kids are now in charge of their own affairs, including access to grades and medical records. They introduced the tandem bike metaphor where, heretofore, kids have sat in the back of the bike with parents doing the guiding; now they are in front with parents playing a supporting role. We now follow their lead. I thought that was a pretty effective analogy. We learned about overwhelm, pressure, struggle, self-advocacy, drop deadlines, and more.

We got good info on all aspects of resident life… dining dollars, Triton cash, transportation, drinking, security, etc.

All presentations excellent. Then we were shepherded to lunch at the Faculty Club.. yet another building that did not exist when I went to school there.

Here is the iconic campus Sun God, erected in 1984 and the namesake for the annual spring Sun God Festival:


The Faculty Club is adjacent to the statue and is a lovely venue, crawling with professors:


Lunch was nice… again, it was just nice to talk with parents from all over, whose kids’ paths led to UCSD in such a variety of ways. Good perspectives all around and reinforced the universality of the experience of sending a kid off to college.

The afternoon was a whole slew of breakout sessions and included parents from some (maybe all) of the other UCSD colleges. We ambled toward the center of campus through one of many eucalyptus forests…


…and arrived at the Price Center and Center Hall, which is along the so-called Library Walk–a long, broad walkway leading up to the famed Geisel Library. None of this (except the library) was here when I was… it’s all very big, fancy and impressive.


Jim and I attended three sessions: Parent and Family Programs; Professional and Career Development; and Study Abroad. All three excellent. I think the most thought-worthy take away was this graphic:


Hard to read in this slide, but is considered a fairly standard experience by most college students living away for the first time. Good stuff to keep in mind.

They directed us back through the forest and up the hill, back to Galbraith for a student services fair. Took a few photos along the way:

There is a graffiti park…


Here are a couple shots of one of the smaller student centers, this one located between Revelle and Muir:


I liked the way they planted these small trees. I’m sure there are plenty of plant biologists around to consult on such things:



The services fair comprised a few dozen staffed booths with info on things ranging from recreation opportunities to jobs to clubs. Good info, great swag. The kids also showed up for this. The parents and kids did not intermingle; it was clear the students wanted to maintain distance and autonomy.


Jim and I took off. Hung out in the hotel for a while (it was truly an exhausting day.. go figure) and then, in looking for a place to see a movie, came across a place called The LOT.


That La Jolla, I tell ya.

The LOT is a multi-function venue–high end dining, a uber flashy bar and a 7-theater luxury movie house. Everything is designed for maximum impact… it’s a serious feast for the senses. It’s priced way out of student reach so the place is a mix of wealthy society ladies going to the movies and hip young professionals flirting at the bar. That’s all a bit odd, but wow it was fun. We reclined deeply in our plushy reserved seats, perused the menu, and settled in for the new Oliver Stone movie Snowden. You could order full on dinner, or appetizers, or just drinks… all of which they’d bring to your table:


We’d already purchased our popcorn in the lobby (the salt & vinegar). I had pink lemonade and Jim had iced tea.

We’d made dinner reservations, as well, so after the movie (and after a trip to the not-to-be-missed bathroom) we sauntered into the dining room to be seated. It’d have been cool to sit beside one of many roaring fire pits, but they were taken, so we sat in a cavernous but very tasteful dining space–completely open to the outside–and had a really good pizza, a wonderful corn & tortilla soup, and house made doughnuts for dessert.



It was all insanely expensive. You know, but nice.

Then… back to the Sheraton. Just us….Peter no doubt immersed in fabulous and foreign social activities, fully, if tentatively, ensconced in his new home. Just across the street. Kinda weird, but wonderful at the same time.





September 14, 2016

So… the Peterson-Frames are on the road. Two of us are returning to Davis, and one isn’t. We checked into the Sheraton La Jolla–right across from campus–last night after our late start (kid’s gotta get a final round of golf in, right?).

Woke to a stunning, coastal Southern California morning, sun streaming through the window. This is going to be the last time we have to wrestle Peter out of bed for school, so here’s that shot:


And actually, it wasn’t school school… it was move-in day, so after a pricy hotel breakfast, we headed over to Revelle where Peter could check in, get his key and move into his new home.

Which is exciting, but you know what else our guy did right before he checked out a shopping cart?  He registered to vote! Once turning 18, he could have registered online, but that hadn’t yet happened. Do these Revelle people know their students? They set up a station for just this purpose which was so convenient, he just did it. So pleased!!

Then the shopping cart part…


^^ That’s Peter balancing golf clubs atop his piles of bedding, towels, a lamp and other essentials. Jim’s wheeling the clothes. We are heading over to Meteor.


Oh… and then we learned they don’t have elevators in “The Fleet” buildings. So we carried all this stuff up to the third floor. Peter’s room is the middle room of those shown on the third floor.

Fun fact: the six buildings that comprise The Fleet (besides Meteor, they include Challenger, Beagle, Discovery, Atlantis and Galathea) were the first dorms built on the UCSD campus back in the early 60s. The very first! They are not modern, they are not well featured, but they do have a particular charm. (Not really.) They’re vintage. (Not really.) They’re old. They’re small. I found them to be a bit smelly. But, the good news, Peter’s moving into a college dormitory (!) and his living situations can only get better from here.


The other Revelle dorms include Argo, Blake…


And three Keeling apartment buildings (with ocean views and very nice rooftop gardens). The apartments are for second year students only.


A LOT of students live in this very compact community. It is going to be incredibly fun. They also have a newly renovated, very modern dining hall/restaurant (called 64 Degrees, referring to the average daily temperature), a store and a bunch of other useful stuff…


Here’s Peter’s room (it looks directly at 64 Degrees and the quad area in the center of the residential community):


It’s a double that’s been outfitted for three people and has a bunk bed and a loft bed. Peter’s got the loft.

Any Revelle kid who drew the loft… well… the space is tiny, but no complaints… he’s planning on making it work, all 6′ of him.


Here are Jim and Peter setting up his new laptop:


His clothes all fit into the wardrobe, though a good half of the space is taken up with his golf clubs! Priorities, people.

Each Fleet suite has five double rooms (three of which have been converted to triples) for a total of thirteen residents per suite. The rooms share a common area.


There is also a bathroom with two stalls, two showers, two sinks, ten cubbies and ten towel hangers (they have to get creative with the three extra guys in the suite).

Not sure who’s to blame on this one…


Can only conclude that, while among the best and brightest, Revelle students are science-focused and may need editors for their writing…

Got Peter all moved in, then the three of us went down to La Jolla Shores for a wonderful lunch at Piatti. Peter was eager to get back however to meet (in person) Cole, one of his roommates who was also moving in today.  Jim and I dropped him off and we took off to explore a bit.

Drove to the top of Mt. Soledad to see check out a Veterans’ Memorial with an incredible 360 degree view of the entire region:


North to La Jolla:


South to San Diego, Coronado, Mission Bay, etc:


East to the Laguna Mountains:


^^ That’s I-5 below.

Peter said yes to a dinner out with Jim and me (yay!), so after a few hours we picked him up and headed south to check out Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego (“Rising from the 16 square-blocks are Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers that stand side by side, housing more than 100 of the city’s finest restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and retails shops.”)


We chose a place called Rockin’ Baja Lobster. We were in total agreement: best chips ever. Here’s what else we ate:


Yum yum. We had such a good time.

Big day for our new college guy!!








September 13, 2016

Peter got up at 5:00am to go play golf with his friend Ray (who, by the way, returned last night after two weeks in Spain, and was, likely, jet-lagged). They were excited to play Haggin Oaks in Sac, a course designed by a famous golf course designer. You’d think that was the big ticket event of the day. It wasn’t.

Today was also go to college day. Big deal, yes. But, there was still time to get in one more round before we hit the road.

He got back around 11:30 and talked and talked about the course, how he did on every single hole (shot an 89 on the day), how cool it was to play on an Alister MacKenzie course, various of his shots, etc.

Then he started to gather the things he thought he might need at school this year. A lot more stuff than he’d originally thought.

We took off about 1:30, bound for La Jolla.

And, here he is, walking out the door and on his way to a new, fancy chapter in his young life:


I’d like to say this was the final exit.. but it wasn’t. He returned twice–once for extra shoes and once for some forgotten electronics.

I’m still gonna call this the beautiful and symbolic passage from one stage of life to another.