Not Homecoming

September 30, 2016

T’was a bit of a weird juxtaposition.. I was sitting at Mishka’s in a window seat, drinking coffee, trying to catch up on a whole bunch of back blogs, but instead was just stuck in a very reflective space wondering how Peter was handling his first full week of classes, knowing it was a big day class-wise (four lectures and maybe a breakout discussion or two). I was in a full-on he’s in college now moment, when I heard the sound of a marching band–not unusual in this town–and looked out the window to see the DHS Homecoming parade slowly, but boisterously, rolling by:


That would be the football team, or part of it. I see a baseball teammate hanging off the back of the float–John L–but don’t recognize too many others (well, actually, none!).

Suddenly high school seemed so … yesterday.  Or, more accurately, yesteryear. 

What’s more, Peter wasn’t coming home, as the celebration billed.

I was feeling both weirded out and happy.

Here’s what I am not missing: feeling guilty about not reading the Daily Bulletin and the PTA notices (which I’m still getting in my email, but which I now delete with just a tad too much gusto); having to track or worry about bell schedules, assembly days, testing schedules; obsessing about SchoolLoop; having to worry about things I ought to be volunteering for; thinking about whether all the homework’s getting done; keeping lunch supplies ample; contributing to teacher recognition potlucks; tracking game schedules; volunteering for all the car pools…

I loved it all (minus the guilt of not being a perfect and dutiful parent of a school aged kid) and, yet, now it’s all completely off my list of concerns. Which actually feels unimaginably liberating. Being a parent of a college aged kid has its own issues and demands, but it’s different.

I think maybe I’ve written about this before, but it sure hit home as I watched that parade moving by in slow motion.


Modern Humor

September 29, 2016

After a day of unpacking, decompressing, catching up, and settling in for what could be a long 3-4 week stint at home (can I get a yay!!)… I spend a lovely evening with Janet… talking, drinking wine, yucking it up.

This was on her counter… a card she bought for a colleague.  I thought it was great and could apply to so much…


The Gals

September 28, 2016

For posterity, posting a photo of Dorie and Eppie–sisters–who care for my mom 24/7.


I can’t even begin to count the number of women who’ve been in and out of this job in the past nearly seven years. For the most part, they are saints who take care of the a multitude of tasks, big and small, with patience and pride. Most are originally from the Philippines.

As good as they often are, 24/7 is a hard pill to swallow for most, especially my mom. Sure I’ve written plenty about the friction, compromises, conflicted feelings, awkwardnesses… it’s just hard.

But, it’s nice to see these two smiling.


Post script: I drove home today. Didn’t leave until about 1:00pm, after a nice breakfast and a full game of gin rummy (my winning streak continued!). I called mom when I got to the other side of the Grapevine–always a nice place to take a break and put in a miss you, thinking about you call.  All was good.

About an hour and a half later, just as I’d passed Harris Ranch, I got a call from Dorie, upset. Mom had fired her and she was banished to the driveway. Suffice to say, this left us in a bit of a pickle, as mom can’t be alone. I was hours away, Matt was in line at LAX, about to board a plane for Dublin, Chris was, at that moment, unreachable. I even left a series of panicked phone messages for Betsy. Long story short: the police (yes, mom had called the police) stayed until we’d finally reached Chris, who, thankfully, arrived reasonably soon thereafter; Matt brokered a quick solution with Eppie, who agreed to fill in for her sister and who also able to find another person, Ellen, who could work her weekend shift; and we were back in business. Chris hung around for the evening to keep mom’s spirits up, and filled in a couple of blocks of time over the next four days when Eppie and Ellen had previous commitments; I continued on home; and Matt took off for a week in Ireland.

And that was that. Good team work!



September 27, 2016

In the end, what matters most are the kindnesses. Today, I was moved by a very sweet one.

Mom was ready for an outing. We were going to be seeing temps in Palos Verdes in the high 90s, unheard of. She was feeling much better and wanted to test her wheels.

She dressed for the occasion.. not that she doesn’t always dress for the occasion, but today was particularly fun:


That would be a floor-length striped sundress, complete with a fashion slit. And, also of note, she’s using a walker… that is definitely a new addition to the travel pack. This is important: it’s not only a realization, but an acceptance, of the need for a little help. It is a step in the right direction and opens a lot more independent doors than it closes pride doors. If you know what I mean.

It should be noted: she always dresses more thoughtfully stylishly than I do!  (I am losing the fashion competition, but I might be winning the wrinkle race.) (Grammar question: can you have two adverbs in a row like that?) (My blog, my rules: yes.)

Anyway. We went to the beach. And wow… it was hot, but soft and beautiful:


It was too hot for people to endure the scorching, exposed sand. Brutal.

Still… we sat, talked (argued a bit), hydrated … and took in the view:



Then, we headed to Trader Joe’s to get some flowers. We loaded our cart with multiple, colorful bunches and went straight to the checkout–no shopping, no taste samples, no coffee. There, Michael, the longtime cashier whose dreads are now gray, remarked on our selections and asked if I had a favorite. (At this point, I have to mention that yesterday, I was at TJ’s picking up a few things and got into a long conversation with Michael. He knew I was in town to spend time with mom and especially to support her as she recovered from a long hospital stay.)

I root around in my brain’s limited flower archive and come up with lily. Michael excuses himself, leaving us alone at the check out counter for an awkward minute, and returns with a large bunch of lilies–the really sweet-smelling kind often adorning our Dillon Beach cottage. He says, “This is for you, on me, for all you do for your mom.” Then, turning to my mom, says, “We are so glad to see you back!”

I’m pretty stunned, but also so delighted and moved. It was a perfect gesture.


Here’s our cart, including the lilies:


Kindnesses. Right?






Tonight was the media event of the political season. After more hype than I can ever recall for a political debate (honestly, clocks permanently located in the lower third, excitedly counting down to the moment the debate starts… a week away; promotion ads worthy of a boxing championship; unending, repetitive analysis of what each candidate would say and do… thank you media, who thrive on record breaking audiences, who will keep that playing field as even as possible through false equivalencies, and whose goal it is to keep us panting on the edge of our seats, eyes glued to their coverage), we had our first face-off between the two major party candidates for president of the United States.


Cutting to the chase, it was an embarrassing display of ignorance and ridiculously rude, immature behavior on the part of Trump, but an immensely satisfying knock out delivered by the ever-prepared, if calculated, Hillary. After a few weeks of growing despair as the gap narrowed to a statistical and improbable tie, and wondering what was going to become of our threadbare democracy if Trump should pull out a win–which suddenly seemed a real and horrifying possibility–the victory was sweet.

But man…  the weeks leading up have been brutal!

I have been watching Trump’s momentum build in stunned horror. I actually cried in frustration, feeling hopelessly defeated, as I drove down to PV last week, feeling like this country is on its way to electing the most unqualified, ill-suited person ever to serve as president. A man entirely committed to self service against a woman who’s committed her entire life to public service. A man who says, among a firehose of other unforgivable things, “I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy — I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?” 

Crass, vulgar and utterly classless.

And until the debate tonight, mind boggling as it is, Trump had all the mo.

Well… tonight I could breathe again. Her qualifications for the office were in full display — command of facts, experience, temperament, a role model for our kids. He just thrashed, sniffed, bullied, lied and couldn’t go a full two minutes on any policy question, lacking depth and understanding of anything. He just yelled and blustered his way through 90 minutes. And then, afterward, after completely embarrassing himself and the republican party, complained the mic didn’t work, and threatened to bring to the next debate a discussion of Hillary’s husband’s infidelities decades ago (he of the multiple affairs, marriages and demeaning beauty pageants).

At least that was my reaction. Will see how the polls go. I’m definitely on the edge of my seat for that.


Super Sunday

September 25, 2016

Mom and I went to the beach…


(Mom’s getting her fair share of selfies.)

We played cards…


(Cards with sea shells!)

And we had a nice dinner. A well-seasoned Trader Joe’s marinated pork tenderloin…


… that came out so well!


(I could work on presentation, but it was very tasty.)

Me and P

September 24, 2016

Didn’t expect to spend the day with Peter in San Diego. Peter had planned to attend a massive UCSD beach party and I thought I’d be heading back up to PV right after breakfast. But timing, I think, resulted in Peter missing that all important window for being in the right place at the right time with the right people and by the time we were having breakfast down in Pacific Beach, he felt like he’d missed the boat on the party.

Which meant he had a whole day to do some San Diego exploring. With me.

Very lucky me.

Started with breakfast here, at the Broken Yolk on Garnet, one of Pacific Beach’s main commercial drags:


Then decided to drive out to Coronado Island…


… and check out the famed Hotel Del Coronado..



It sits adjacent to a beautiful beach:


Peter and I ended up walking a long way along the beach walk… the sun was intense. It looks like a lot of people get married at the Hotel Del, at adjacent hotels, and on the sand.. we saw lots of wedding paraphernalia.

After an hour or two of walking around, we made our way south along Hwy 75 until it ended, just a few miles north of the Mexican border, then headed back north on I-5, toward Balboa Park to explore that a bit.

We missed the turnoff and found ourselves just north of the park and back in the Hillcrest neighborhood. I realized we were fairly close to North Park, where Grandma Celia used to live. I asked Peter if he’d indulge me as I tried to find her old place… he was game. We made our way east along University Avenue and I reckoned my way to her old apartment. I knew she lived north of University and as soon as I saw all the state names, I knew it was Ohio. I had a pretty good sense of which block the apartment was on, having visited her numerous times, and I’m willing to bet this was it:


I didn’t know that in the intervening 40 years, North Park had become one of the hippest neighborhoods of San Diego!

Here’s another one of those neighborhood landmark signs:


(Peter took this picture for me as I drove and applied his own filter… not bad!)

It was more emotional than I expected. I didn’t cry or anything, but I certainly felt sentimental–a combination of thinking fondly about Grandma Celia, seeing her old place and remembering lots of dinners there with her, reminiscing about my two years at UCSD… a time when I was the same age as Peter is now, of course, … and then PETER… starting his college career in the same place. It was just a whole bunch of crazy juxtapositions and felt surreal and insanely time warpy.

Whew. Deep breath.

Mostly… it was just so nice to be with him. Have I said that already?  That kept me feeling pretty tender the whole day.. tender in a very nice way.

Then we dropped into Balboa Park to check that out.  Balboa park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park with about a dozen museums, gardens, trails, and, of course, the Zoo, and, double of course, the Balboa Park Golf Course (where Peter, Bobby and Ray played golf earlier in the week, in the rain, I might add). It’s a very pretty setting spread over hills and canyons and contains some extraordinary architecture. I thought it was very cool. And, surprisingly, I took no pictures.

After driving around and saying things like, “wow, there’s the Air and Space Museum,” or “hey, the San Diego Museum of Art,” or “that’s that famous Botanical Building,” we decided to have a late lunch. Peter thought “a cafe” would be perfect, so searched and settled on the Crest Cafe back in Hillcrest. Here’s a shot of the side of the building and gives you an inkling that it’s going to be something fun:


The weekend brunch crowd had cleared out and besides that guy at the counter, we were the only customers so had the full attention of the waiter, who really gave us great local info and was interested in Peter’s new life in SD.. it was much fun. Here’s a shot of the interior.


And the menu:


Peter got the Mango and Brie Quesadilla and I got the Nutter Grilled Cheese:


I’d floated the idea that we go to the Padre-Giants game, but Peter said his suite mates were going to play poker that evening and he didn’t want to miss it… so we went back..

And that was that. Dropped him at the dorms and LEFT HIM BEHIND AGAIN!

Yay. Boo.







Appliance Delivery

September 23, 2016

Prolly the most cleverly strategic part about saying goodbye to Peter last week was my ability to say, “Have a great few days, honey, I’ll see you next week!” That definitely softened the transition. At least for me.

The plan was to move him in on dorm move-in day with the mini-fridge we’d bought–his pre-arranged contribution to the collective good. But the mini-fridge hadn’t arrive on time, so it required a subsequent visit. Oh darn….Appliance delivery as ruse to see newly departed college kiddo. It just sorta happened that way. Not the initial plan, not anyone’s fault, but sure worked out nicely.

Anyway, I decided to combine that with 1) a visit to mom, and 2) a haircut with Klaes the swedish hair stylist, conveniently located on Ave F in the Riviera Village.

So, last thing first, here’s that:

Klaes is mom’s haircutter and does a great job with her crazy hair, so I decided to try him. This is haircut number three with him.


I love it.

After getting all cut, weaved and coiffed (coif and poof I was glad to remove the following day), I headed down to La Jolla and checked into the Sheraton across the street from campus… sort of becoming a regular thing now. Peter’d finished classes–Monday/Wednesday/Fridays are his big days with four lectures (two math, one chemistry and some kind of cultural humanities class)–and wanted to play catch with Ray for a while, which he did while I settled and chilled. After about an hour, Peter and Cole met me in the parking lot, and hauled the refrigerator up to the elevator-less third floor:


Peter and I then made a Costco and Target run. That seems like a thing in this college transition process. Bought all kinds of important stuff, but mostly it was just so incredibly lovely to hang out with him on our little missions.

He picked out a place for dinner in the Little Italy section of San Diego..so we headed south..


Didn’t even know about that particular downtown neighborhood. I like how San Diego identifies its neighborhoods with giant landmark signs.

At the corner of Cedar and India, we ran into a bunch of Davis folks down for the Giants-Padres game… and not just any Davis folks… John, Annette, Carol and Katherine… all huge blasts from my past. Well.. it was just really awesome to show off my nice, handsome, smarty pants son right in the middle of the intersection there. Had a short conversation–it was extremely fun–then they went off to Petco and we went off to..


…and had a completely fine dinner, though it wasn’t the intimate setting of the Parma Cucina from last week’s Italian dinner in Hillcrest. Peter had his first tiramisu, and his comment, while I can’t remember his exact words, had to do with its lack of sufficient texture. Love that kid.

We walked around after dinner impressed with the high volume of Italian restaurants and enjoyed banners celebrating famous Italians the world over.

Dropped Peter back at his dorm after a failed effort at some gin rummy (due to a faulty deck) and some fun political conversation… and I sort of walked around my room trying to process being a guest in Peter’s world. Loving it and feeling all discombobulated at the same time.

Did I say how much I love that kid?





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.