End of An Era

November 30, 2016

Mad Men ended its seven-season run in May of 2015. Tonight, a little behind, Jim and I watched the final episode in that last season.

This scene was actually incredibly moving… Don finds himself in an encounter group at a Big Sur retreat. He listens to an ordinary guy describing himself as an invisible player in his own life and realizes he’s hearing, in many ways, his own story.  He crosses the room to embrace invisible guy..


Mediation brings epiphany. If we interpreted this correctly, he realizes he’s a damn good ad man and, liberated from his demons, returns to NYC to design the best ad in the history of ads: the Coke commercial. The series ends with the song “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”


I hated the see the 60s come to an end.

Silly as it sounds, I learned an incredible amount about the era I grew up in watching this show. I was really young in the 60s and couldn’t process or appreciate the cultural dynamics of the era.  I experienced the elements of my life as just givens, normal, the only thing I knew–the way parents parented, the way men behaved, civil rights, space exploration, the Vietnam war, smoking, drinking, hippies, rock and roll, mini-skirts, Laugh-in. I truly had visceral reactions to the sets, fashions, foods and definitely the songs that closed each episode. Many flashbacks. It was all so familiar. Looking back on the 60s through this show, seeing so much of my life, I saw how it all fit together, fit the times. The series tied a lot of life as I remembered it together for me.

I’m enormously grateful these people recreated my childhood so painstakingly, so painfully, so accurately. It was a gift to look at it again as an adult and come to understand what it all meant. At least in part. Stylized and dramatized for sure, but still. Wow.



Bricks and Mortar

November 29, 2016

Christmas shopping’s not so bad if you choose your stores wisely. It was basically a three store day: 1) REI–which is just like going to the candy store; 2) the Avid Reader–who doesn’t love an independent book store right in the middle of one’s own downtown? and 3) the Artery–a beautiful artist’s coop (I know you know this).

I damn near got everybody’s everything (not counting the things I got yesterday at Davis’ only downtown toy store, and a few fair-trade things I picked up at the Davis Food Coop).

Shopping made easy and fun.

I am not buying any ornaments this year, but if I were looking for something Christmassy to hang in my window, through which the sun could stream and leave rainbows on my floor, I might buy one of these:


They are glass, just gorgeous, about 6-8″ long, and at the Artery.

I also saw this–certainly nothing I’d buy (it’s $2000!)–and it really had me fooled. I saw the sign, but it didn’t compute. Hint: those are not rags:


As I said, I saw the sign, but it confused me. So I touched it, thinking maybe the ceramics were beneath. Heh. Glad I didn’t break it.

Anyway.. today was the kind of shopping where it’s a joy to meander, ponder and maybe buy. Bricks and mortar may be a dying shopping platform, but so far it’s worked out okay for me: between today’s three stores and yesterday’s two, I practically finished all my Christmas acquisitions. Farmer’s Market on Saturday for the food baskets and a wee bit of online shopping and we can call it good.

Shopping with Downtown Tom

November 28, 2016


Day one of my Christmas shopping… and who should I see out and about, having a good old time harassing shoppers in downtown Davis: Downtown Tom! He must feel pretty emboldened, having survived Thanksgiving and all.

I saw him chase after my friend Gary who was not about to be intimidated by a bird, even a famously nasty one just itching for a fight. Gary maintained his cool and the turkey gave up.


I hear some visitors to downtown have not been as tolerant.. complaints have been filed! 911 has been called!

Davis has made national news on our little turkey issue. Here’s a snip from the UPI:


Aggressive turkeys terrorizing residents of Davis, California

By Daniel Uria   |   Nov. 3, 2016 at 11:35 AM
The city of Davis, Calif., passed an ordinance allowing a trap-and-release program to remove up to 40 aggressive wild turkeys in the area. One turkey, known as “Downtown Tom.” forced several frightened residents to call police for help.

DAVIS, Calif., Nov. 3 (UPI) — A California city has voted to remove and re-locate an increasing number of aggressive turkeys.

One particularly aggressive Turkey, known as “Downtown Tom,” prompted several residents of Davis, Calif., to call local police for help, according to KCRA.

“Yes, this is almost embarrassing. I am trying to get into my office on G Street in Davis and I have this huge turkey surrounding my car, circling me and I don’t know what to do,” one caller said. “I don’t want to run it over but I can’t stay in my car all morning, is there any advice you can give me?”

The Davis City Council voted 4-1 in favor of a more than $20,000 trap-and-release program in response to the presence of up to 40 aggressive wild turkeys, the Davis Enterprise reported.

“We can either proactively be a part of the solution…or we can have it come back to us when people have taken (the issue) into their own hands or someone seriously gets hurt,” Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson said.

The ordinance allows for lethal removal of the turkeys, including Downtown Tom, who managed to escape capture by wildlife officials.

The city also placed signs in the downtown area giving residents tips for dealing with the aggressive fowl.

“Be the dominant species, essentially,” City Wildlife Resource Specialist John McNerney said, summarizing the advice. “Don’t let it intimidate you, which can be difficult for some folks.”



November 27, 2016

Reflecting on the emotions of yesterday’s departures.


It felt so normal to see him, so comfortable to be a three-person family again for a WHOLE EIGHT AND HALF DAYS. In so many ways, he was just exactly the same… still hit foam dice with spatulas around the kitchen, still destroyed small squares of styrofoam that served as tees for his practice swings on the back porch, still ran out at 10:30 at night hoping the driving range at Muni would be lighted…still raided the pantry of cookies and cereal… still resisted efforts to get him out of bed in a timely way. He was still sweet, still affectionate, still relentless with his explanations and musings about physics.

AND, he is different. A little bit more his own person. A little bit more stepping up. Maybe even a little bit more affectionate and doting.

Some small examples:

  • He’s got a private life and no need to share all the details. Things happen that we just don’t even know about. And he doesn’t seem to see a need to tell us. He seems utterly comfortable in his own skin, with his own choices, but not defiantly so.
  • He’s got Frank Sinatra on his iTunes and knows a lot of the words from some of his oldest (cheesiest?) standards.
  • He jumped up to clear tables and be helpful.. a tad more than usual (which was not that much before).
  • He asked about people and seemed to really care about the answers.
  • He’s trying more food and seems a lot more willing to be adult-y.
  • He’s got very strong opinions and can both back them up and back down if a better perspective is presented. None of this is new, but it looks even better on him now.
  • He just spent a full day and overnight with Uncles Matt and Michael, on their turf, on their clock. I think it went just fine. I know they went out to dinner and a movie (Allied) last night and that he enjoyed it .. but we’re still waiting for stories . For now, he’s got work to do now that he’s back in La Jolla and if he gets some time, will call us later and fill us in, you know, if he’s got time. First things first… studying! So there’s THAT.

I am touched and I am proud of him. He is evolving right before our eyes… like he’s always done, but this time, with the distance, the changes seem more notable. Nothing out of the ordinary, but gratifying nonetheless. Transitions and change are so dependable.

So, as he and Matt walked out of the parking garage and disappeared out of sight yesterday afternoon, and Jim and I prepared to take off for our long drive… it just felt emotional.  It’s okay to be leaving in different directions, easy especially, because I’m returning to pick him up in two weeks, but it’s just another small reminder that life is in a new phase, that Peter is a budding adult on his way to a life we’ve prepared him well to live. It’s good, but requires some deep breathing. Teeny tears are still welling up.



I hate to leave her. Anymore, time with her family is all she wants and yet that cannot happen all the time. She is lonely and frustrated and it shows up in the most uncomfortable ways. I wish she were happier and more content, but her frustrations seem to dominate her days.

She is so thankful when we are around.

It makes it hard to leave. She doesn’t make it hard to leave–she is always just thankful we were there–but it’s awful to walk down the walk and look back and see her there, unhappy to be left with the caregivers she just cannot tolerate.

I try not to look back; it just breaks my heart.


It’s hard not to juxtapose the two departures. It’s hard not to wonder what life will look like down the path, say 25 or 30 years from now when Peter’s coming back to see us.

That’s about all I can bear to write about that.


How ’bout some pics…

One from ten years ago.. not the best of P (age 8), but a great one of mom (age 77) in more robust, twinkly, glowing days..


I like this one.. just because it’s unposed and real-life. Mom loves her bedroom. Her bedroom is her beloved sanctuary, even though she spends very little time in it–she is not a hang-out-in-the-bedroom type. And she loves these yellow PJs. I think it’s a cute shot:

IMG_0491 2.jpg

Don’t mention you saw this photo, please. But I love it… our, leggy, 6′ man child…


Reverse Commute

November 26, 2016

Checked out of the Crowne Plaza, swung through PV to say a quick buh bye to mom, then took Peter to Legends in Huntington Beach. He’s going to spend the next day with Matt and Michael.

Matt was out but returning soon, so we hung out and waited.. This was the first time any of us had seen Legends in full swing, since they opened in July. The place looks just GREAT–handsome, professional, well-cared for–even if it is a sports bar. The place was full, but not wall-to-wall packed like we’ve seen the Long Beach Legends.  It was noisy and sportsy.. not our scene, but a great vibe.



Wish we’d thought to get lunch. This is the bar menu (happy hour, late night… all of it looked pretty appetizing!).


Michael was also there, working on setting up the Christmas tree… it was nice to see him, too, if briefly.


This is the entry foyer, a round room–very attractive–that is surfer-themed.

We transferred Peter’s stuff from our car to Matt’s and took off. I was unexpectedly emotional about this… but recovered quickly. I’m thrilled Peter’s getting some alone uncle/s time. Jim and I think this may be the first time he’s stayed with family without us around.

Even though it was only Saturday, the 405 and 5 were both very holiday-traffic-impacted. Add the rain and it was a difficult and long commute (9 1/2 hours from HB to Davis… at least two hours longer than it should have taken).  There was a dusting of snow on some of the higher peaks along the Grapevine:


Other than that.. largely uneventful.


The drive is always a bit tedious. When I’m by myself, the journey is the story… it’s about ticking off of a series of roadside milestones (Stockton, Santa Nella, Harris Ranch, Bakersfield turnoff, Leval Road, Grapevine), knowing where I should be when, and then the concomitant arrival time re-calculations and adjustments. That’s what I do, …constantly… usually for hours on end. Keeps me busy and engaged.

And singing. I sing whatever lyrics I know of whatever song comes up on random shuffle.. I do love that part, though five or seven or nine hours of singing gets wearying after awhile. I can usually pick up NPR for the legs before the Grapevine and after the final big bend in the road that takes you into Stockton (or the reverse, when driving southbound, of course). Books have been good, but I never plan enough in advance for that. Last great one was the whole of Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants. Hilarious. 

When Jim and/or Peter are along, it’s a whole ‘nuther ballgame. Jim does so much of the driving, I actually lose myself in Facebook or Spider, or internet rabbit holes. I may not even be aware of milestones…  “Have we passed Harris Ranch yet?” (And funnily, Jim was not even sure when I asked that question tonight; he clearly is not as travel-OCD as I am.)

I’d love to figure out one day how many times I’ve made this trip since moving to Davis nearly 39 years ago. Many hundreds, at least.

Happy Day After

November 25, 2016

Breakfast out (don’t ask me how I could possibly order something called Cap’n Crunch French Toast and eat every last bite.. but I did), lots of Gin Rummy and a lovely walk at the beach:



Not in that order.

We sat on a bench and watched people run in the sand below. We watched dolphins swim and jump in the breaking surf. And we saw more than a few weight lifter types walk shirtless and proud along the Esplanade (it was pec-tacular… these gymrats just want a little pec-cognition for all their effort).

Thanksgiving 2016

November 24, 2016

Log another Thanksgiving in Palos Verdes with Grandma. You gather the generations and it’s hard not to be overcome with the march of time–a growing and evolving family, beginnings and endings. And middles.

It’s not like every moment is one for the memory books… there is also chaos, ill-timed dishes, forgotten ingredients, awkwardly spoken toasts, eye-rolling frustrations, short tempers… but not too much of any of that. We know it’s a time and a day to be treasured.

Some of my favorite pics on the day…

The rosemary came as a plant… nice!


River found a great toy… of course, it’s got wheels!


In spite of the angle, he stayed upright! Athlete in training:


Alexis, about seven months pregnant (Magnolia Claire developing therein) and her grammy Carol:



Here’s one John shot… I love it:


Here are Matty and Peter with turkey…Matt oversaw: Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy… all excellent:




Jim and I did cranberry sauce (with aforementioned rosemary), Harvard beets and green beans… here are the beans with toasted pecans..


It all came together, miraculous as always:



Post dinner peek-a-boo with the great-grandmas:


And some of this, also with the great-grandmas:






And a few group shots for posterity:

Me and brothers:


(Nobody told me my pooch was sticking out all day, jeez!)

Menfolk.. three of them standing on toes:


I like this one of Peter and two uncles:


And this one of us:


And I always like a good turkey dregs shot. Jim was carver…


It should be noted, Jim also made the soup… can’t wait to spend the next couple days eating it!

The 70s

November 23, 2016

I have to say, that’s the first thing I notice down here… the warm air. It is just lovely as all get out.

It’s been a relaxing day… here are some shots:

Our room at the Crowne Plaza, Redondo Beach:


The view from the balcony… nice to have a clear shot of the PV peninsula!


Peter’s still sawing logs as the So Cal sun pours in:


Breakfast at that Pancake House (again, not the IHOP)…always  a wait…but at least it’s pleasant out there. Sun much?


I got the world’s weirdest, but yummiest, veggie omelet… my stand-by order. Those are also my coconut pancakes, and that’s Jim’s iced tea levitating in the background.


Peter got a Dutch Baby. Awesome.


Peter and Jim headed down to a nearby pitch ‘n put. Here’s P on the tee (photo courtesy of Jim):


They came back and Peter took grandma on in Gin (and won 184-78, good job, P):


While Jim did this…


And I blogged. Of course.

The Thanksgiving Commute

November 22, 2016

Peter, Jim and I took off, largely uneventfully, from Davis at a reasonable hour. We hit the usual milestones (literally in this case) at the usual times.

Couple sights from the road…


(I don’t think this had anything to do with California’s recently passed recreational marijuana law!)

And a nice sunset over the coastal range..


As expected, we hit LA at rush hour and things slowed down.

But then, we made a fateful error… we missed the bear-off of the 405 and didn’t realize in time to turn around. Now, sort of stuck in thick traffic of southbound 5, we had Siri give us a new route.. thinking, well… how bad could it be to drive through the heart of downtown LA at the peak of pre-Thanksgiving rush hour traffic?

This bad:


Clever how I got this shot, eh?

Zooming out, not much rosier:


Here are a pair of shots I did actually take myself.. from ground zero:


We were a bit weary and bleary-eyed:


I’ll just add, downtown LA is also a tough place to pull off if all you’re doing is looking for a place to pee… that was about a 45-minute adventure.

Suffice to say… we were late for dinner.


We got into the south bay, made a quick stop for a birthday cake and salad fixins’ (our pre-planned contribution to dinner), and arrived as mom’s famous chicken dish was coming out of the oven (our travel status was at least well communicated along the way).

Chris turned 57 yesterday… so we got to celebrate. Here’s the birthday boy… NOT as surly as he looks here!


Fifty seven, but still has pipes:



After dinner, Peter, Jim and I headed down to the Crown Plaza.. which turned out to be a great place, well located! We won’t experience much of it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.


November 21, 2016


The science and art of making all essential measurements to determine the relative position of points or physical and cultural details above, on, or beneath the surface of the Earth, and to depict them in a usable form, or to establish the position of points or details.

Says Wikipedia, “Basic surveyance has occurred since humans built the first large structures. The prehistoric monument at Stonehenge (c. 2500 BC) was set out by prehistoric surveyors using peg and rope geometry.”
The article goes on to lay out the history of surveying through ancient and modern times. Quite interesting, actually.
Fun surveyor fact… George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau were all surveyors.
I’m married to one:
This is my all time favorite photo of Jim (well, at least in the silhouette category).