Monthly Archives: February 2016


On Tuesday night, the Stockton City Council voted unanimously to approve a major project to revitalize the city. It’s a huge first step 

Couldn’t be more impressed by the team and collective community that made it happen. And especially proud of the man at the podium, who always impresses me with his words, grit, and unwavering commitment to making the city better. Very hopeful for the momentum moving forward!

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Virginia McLaurin + Advocacy

Like millions of others, the video of gleeful 106 year-old Virginia McLaurin dancing during her meeting with the Obamas in the White House made my Monday.  I watched it multiple times and could not stop smiling with joy. LOVED when the President looks at Mrs. Obama with a look of, “you are painfully awkward and I love you so much,” as she dances and chats with Ms. McLaurin.

Of course, I wondered, who is this sweet centenarian? Is she really 106? What has she experienced in her life?
A quick search brought up a video where she’s tells the interviewer how she does not want to leave her home during a snowstorm, how she just needs a few things, but she can generally take care of herself.  She’s adamant she wants to stay in her own home and hopes she’ll always have control of her mind.  A sentiment shared by almost all seniors, thoughtfully expressed by Ms. McLaurin. Another video of her on the local news, sharing her story of volunteering 40 hours a week at a school for children with developmental disabilities in DC.  She’s glowing with pride and love for her students.

But then, a sad, surprising post on her Facebook page.  Just two years ago, in an apartment blocks from the White House, Ms. McLaurin was sleeping on an air mattress.  Her apartment was infested with bed bugs, the building neglected by its property manager. She could not sleep in her bed.

At 103 years old, her property management company had the nerve to leave her sleeping on the floor, in an apartment overtaken by pests.  This amazing, vivacious woman, who lived through more tumultuous moments in our country’s history than most people alive today, was ignored by the company responsible for maintaining her home. How many seniors, who push through adversity their whole lives, find themselves abandoned, and forgotten by the very people and systems entrusted to care for them?

As I scrolled further, my heart rose as I saw Ms. McLaurin is now back home, her home restored.  A tenants’ rights advocacy group got involved and shared her story with the DC media.  A local fumigation company donated their services to wipe out the infestation, and the tenant rights’ advocate stayed on top of the case to make sure Ms. McLaurin was safe and comfortable during the whole process.

It made me think of President Obama’s start as a community organizer and the power of community and advocates to look out for and lift up those who are neglected.

By the way, it was that same tenants’ rights advocate who pushed to make sure Ms. McLaurin had an opportunity to meet the first black, community organizing president, in the White House this weekend.  Pretty cool.

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Filed under DC, Observations, Seniors

Valentine’s Weekend

It’s kind of nice when Valentine’s Day falls on a three day weekend AND coincides with a high pressure weather system = SUMMER in February.  Also, for all the eye rolling over the holiday (and I’ve definitely been there) it is sweet to see people out and about simply to celebrate a fun, lovey day.

So, it seemed fitting to kick off the holiday weekend with the BressWeddingOfficiantEver. We met up with Dave in the Mission Saturday for burritos and walked to the park to enjoy the sunshine and the view.

It was one of many “can you believe it’s February and we’re sitting on the lawn enjoying this spectacular view and SUNSHINE?” moments this weekend.

My favorite way to get back to Oakland is the ferry and we took the 2:30 boat to Jack London.  While waiting in line, we saw the news of Justice Scalia’s passing.  It was one of those weird BIG NEWS moments. We spent much of the line and boat ride back talking to strangers who were also processing the news and contemplating what it meant for the future.

Silvia and Ava met up with us for dinner in Jack London.  We sat outside and watched the boats on the water; it was beautiful and relaxing.

Sunday morning, I curled up with my Nora Ephron book and read the When Harry Met Sally script.  It was SO fun to read the script and pick up things I’ve missed after a zillion movie viewings.  I always got that Harry was pretty curmudgeonly, but his all out despair is much more potent in the script.  And, watching the movie, mentally, it always seemed like they were in a relationshipish thing from their lunch post-Shakespeare & Co., but reading it, it was clear how much they dance around their feelings.  Finally, it is strange to read it and realize how much older I am than when I first saw the movie. By the time they meet up again in the bookstore, Sally is my age.  She always seemed so old!

Anyway, it was a treat to read with coffee and a cheese biscuit in bed (thanks, David :)).  Feeling super rom-com sappy, I re-watched my favorite episode of the Mindy Project (Season Finale, Season 2) and to balance it all out, we watched David’s favorite Valentine’s Day episode from the Simpsons.

Later that afternoon, we walked up to the Claremont for fancy Valentine’s drinks.  The Fairmont re-model is almost complete and the always beautiful hotel looks exceptionally stunning. The view from the hotel and the sunset over the Bay was amazing, the drinks were crisp and refreshing, but I think my favorite part was walking through the hills, admiring all the spectacular houses.

And we ended the holiday with burritos at Gordos :)

The prospect of being able to go to the beach, in February, on a Monday was too tempting to pass up.  When we saw weather prediction of 70 degrees at Half Moon Bay, we packed a picnic and  drove out to the 92.

Traffic was fierce-it took nearly an hour to get out of the downtown-but it didn’t matter once we got to the sand. Crystal Cove is my all-time favorite beach, but those WAVES at Half Moon Bay! Such a memorizing, high drama show.

On the way home, we met up with Janou and Max in San Carlos for….more burritos! So, so grateful for Janou’s visits to California.

Thankfully, the rain has returned and we’re back to slightly more normal February weather.  And the weekend is only two days away :)

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2016 Election + Resolutions

Lately, finding myself drawn to poltical essays from the 90s-early 2000s.  Loved reading AQ’s perspective on the Clinton years and was fascinated by Joan Didion’s election coverage from 80s and 90s in Political Fictions.  Recently, while reading The Most of Nora Ephron, I found odd comfort in her essays from the Bush (II) years.  There’s something reassuring about living in the present and reading the wise concerns these women shared 10-30 years ago, knowing that ultimately, things ended up kind of sort of ok.  Hideous problems and challenges continue, but we go on.

This whole 2016 election circus is scary and fascinating-for both Democrats and Republicans.  Talking to friends from both parties inevitably leads to a comment like, “seriously though, if (— from my political party —) wins the primary instead of (—) it will be disaster.”  There’s a LOT of disasters looming in this election.  Some hyperbolic, though, after Justice Scalia’s death and Donald Trump’s terrifying anger during Saturday’s debate, this is an unquestionably significant election.

I keep thinking about these essays from the past, and the very valid concerns raised by the authors, and yet somehow despite past disasters, we go on.  It makes me think of the central message in Karl Pillmer’s book-the importance of the long view; thinking of individual events in terms of their place in a larger context.

Taking this long view, it was fascinating to read Nora Ephron’s 2008 New Year’s Resolutions.  Her list is an important snapshot into that not so long ago time. Recommend reading it, but to summarize, here’s her list (with my updates in bold):

1) End the war in Iraq-significantly drawn down. Thanks, Obama.

2) Make sure a Democrat is elected president.-done! Thanks, Obama.

3) Convince George W. Bush of the threat of global warming.-not done, Obama has made poltical progress on climate change.

4) Close the prison at Guantanamo.-grrr. Not done.

5) Get William Kristol fired from the NYT-no longer writes for NYT

6) Kill Osama bin Laden.-done! Thanks, Obama.

7) Decide whether she would rather impeach Dick Cheney or Clarence Thomas.-ehhh….

8) Start a universal health care program.-not totally universal (grrr SCOTUS and 20+ Republican governors), but sort of done!  Thanks, Obama.

9) Get the United States government to fund an endowment to lend money, interest-free, to anyone who wants to go to college, and to re-finance (also interest-free) the college loans of all the adults who are walking around saddled by interest payments on their tuition debt.-URGENT and NEEDED in 2016.

10) Cook a timballo-had to Google a timballo.

Wish that Nora Ephron was still alive today to see the progress, but thankfully, she got to see a lot of it happen.

Still SO much progress needed on many fronts, but looking at this list, it is astounding how life has improved over the last 8 years, thanks to this president.  As I get overwhelmed and frustrated by ALL the primary candidates, it is tempting to think…does it really matter that much?

And on the one hand, taking the long view, this is an amazing country, and I have faith in its resilience.  However, considering how the country tumbled in the 2000s and then reemerged with strength under President Obama, I realize it SO matters.  It matters very much.

We’ve really come too far to let any candidate take us back. 

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Sunday in Healdsburg

Ever since we moved back to California, I’ve been wanting to check out Healdsburg. I visited it a few months before moving, as part of a work retreat, and was in awe of the gorgeous scenery. It’s not a terribly long drive from our apartment, but it’s a pretty traffic clogged route, so it requires some commitment for a day trip.

With the Super Bowl in Santa Clara on Sunday, I was hopeful the usual wine country crowds might be preoccupied, so we decided to venture up to Sonoma on Sunday morning. 

It was a good day to go.  The sun was out, it was warm, and verrrrrry quiet in downtown Healdsburg.  The downtown is full of tasting rooms and little restaurants that sit around a pretty park.  On Saturday, while walking around Jack London Square, I stopped by Oakland Crush to ask for recommendations for a day in Healdsburg.  The very nice owner recommended three places: Shed, David Family Vineyards, and Medloc Ames

Shed is exactly the kind of place I want to roll my eyes at (artisanal rakes and garden supplies, pour over coffee bar) but it’s all so tasteful and beautifully displayed, I totally loved it.  There is something about the big windows and breezy feel that frees it from the judgy, over-the-topness that overwhelms at other “curated” purveyors of “bespoke” goods. 

We followed the Oakland Crush Agenda, which led us to Davis Family Vineyards on the Russian River.

This wine was GOOD.  The tasting was quite generous and everything was delicious.  It was nice and quiet and it was fun to learn about a family run winery.

On our way to lunch, we walked by beautiful Barndiva.  It too fancy for us, but I had to take a photo to remember for someday.

Beignets at the Parish Cafe sounded too good not try try, and we sat out on their pretty yellow porch and enjoyed lunch before heading up the 101 to Medloc Ames.  


Medloc Ames is AWESOME.  The tasting room is in the Alexander Valley, and driving down the sunny valley road from the freeway feels like a real escape.  The tasting is on the patio of the bar looking out at the valley. AND they pair cheese with each tasting and the wine is delicous.
We listened to the first quarter of the game on the drive and enjoyed the rest of the Super Bowl at home.  Hope to do some more exploring in Healdsburg soon!


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