Sunday at the museum

IMG_4261My friend Debbie was visiting from Boston on Sunday and we met up to go to the newly renovated and expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and being nostalgic, I immediately remembered back in grad school (1995??), standing in line for tickets when the “new” Mario Botta designed SFMOMA building opened up on 3rd street. That opening was also this huge deal at the time and it’s pretty amazing to see this next phase incarnation and also think about how much the city and the world has changed since then. That part of San Francisco –South of Market—was just starting to build up back then and was considered edgy and cool. Now it’s still this hip, happening neighborhood but has since been usurped by other cooler, trendier neighborhoods. It doesn’t really feel that long ago, but 1995 was about the time that Netscape launched and this thing called “the internet” became a part of our lives. Google didn’t come around until 1998. One of the exhibits was about typography and they had an old typewriter on display. I overheard a Dad telling his teenage kid that he wrote his college papers on one of those and you could see the look of confusion/shock on the kid’s face! I too left for college with a typewriter though bought one of the early Mac models (also on display in the same exhibit!) with my hard earned work study funds in my sophomore year. I wonder where we’ll be in twenty years, when my (not yet a part of my life but hopefully soon) kid is in college. I suspect (or at least hope) that there will still be museums and people will still want to explore art up close and personal and not be resigned to experiencing art via the digital versions.Yesterday, in the museum it seemed that probably more than half of the visitors were snapping photos with their smartphones, and too many people seemed more interested in taking selfies than the art. Ah, well—I’m sounding too much like an old curmudgeon now! The good news is that the museum was packed so art still holds a powerful draw! I love exploring museums but hadn’t been to the SFMOMA in quite a while. (Leave it to the motivation of having an out-of-town visitor to inspire one to go do one of the oh-so many cool things there are to do in San Francisco!) Aside from the newly expanded space, they have expanded the collections and it really feels like a different museum. I was also really impressed with the design and the way they’ve brought more of the city views into the building. I’ve included some pictures of my favorite views and pieces.

Coming up roses

IMG_3048Berkeley is awash in flowers right now and in particular, the roses are just spectacular this year. Thank you, rain! On my walks with Bodhi, I’ve been taking photos and of course, stopping to smell the roses too! I really love my neighborhood and this time of year, with the gardens in bloom, sunny skies and the smell of roses and blooming jasmine in the air, it’s just beyond idyllic. I’m feeling very lucky to live there. My own rose bushes are doing pretty well, but honestly, they don’t compare to some of the loveliest specimens around the neighborhood. I’m finding myself a bit envious. I’m not a person who is prone to envy about most things, except when it comes to gardens! Well, enough said—see for yourself. I so wish some tech genius had invented smell-o-vision or some way of allowing you to smell through the computer—you really have to smell some of these roses to get the full effect!

Breathtaking views

I am travelling for work this week, so the weekend has been a bit of a scramble packing, organizing things around the house and dealing with errands. So, it was a lovely break to take a hike with my friend Sophia. Somehow, all these years in the Bay Area, I have never hiked Mt Tam in Marin. I’m not sure why—it’s such an iconic location for the Bay AreaMt Tam View with views of the Pacific, the bay, San Francisco and the entire Bay Area. You can see Mt Tam even from Berkeley and most days on our evening walk, Bodhi and I catch the sun setting over Mt Tam in the distance. I’ve been all over but somehow never made it onto Mt Tam. I love hiking and one of my favorite things about living in the Bay Area is the easy access to outdoors and nature. It’s still amazing to me that minutes from the city, you can be in the middle of nowhere.  I love the fact that I am able to be outside every day, with relatively little effort. I love also that the people who live here feel so connected to nature and that so much effort is made to preserve special places like Mt Tam. Pt Reyes in Marin and Tilden Park, here in Berkeley.  Saturday was as a beautiful day—there was a bit of fog but what would San Francisco be without fog! Even with the fog, the views over the city were amazing. Sophia, who grew up here always laughs at me when I shout about how beautiful some view is and how lucky I am to live here. I do feel that way. I grew up on the east coast, in Connecticut, and went to college in New England too. California was not on my mindset. My first time in California was coming to San Francisco for graduate school interviews. I was quickly hooked. I remember driving through the Berkeley hills and over the Bay Bridge and that was it. I needed to be here. I still feel really lucky and blessed to be able to make my life here.  I am looking forward to sharing this all with my child and introducing him/her to all that is so special about this amazing place. There are now quite a few more hassles about living in the Bay Area than when I lived here first as a graduate student—the cost of living, the traffic, the crowds—but even today, whenever I catch a view of the Golden Gate Bridge coming, or the sunset over the Pacific, or the glistening hills of San Francisco,  I still catch my breath and say to myself, “how lucky am I!”

A Super (un)Super Bowl weekend

FlowerlandThe Bay Area has been in the midst of Super Bowl madness the last few weeks. Downtown San Francisco streets are shut down for the “Super Bowl City” and the horrendous Bay Area traffic is even worse than it’s normally very bad. Not being a football fan or caring about the game, I had a lovely weekend staying put and avoiding crossing into Super Bowl-cisco! Yesterday Bodhi and I did some work in the garden.  My garden is my happy space and I’ve been excited to get back out there, after a rainy January. With all the rain, the ground is nice and soft so perfect for gardening. I’m on weekend two of my latest garden project to put in a new garden bed and plant some fruit trees. My little digger dog loves to be in the thick of things. If only I could train his digging on the right spots! Saturday night I met a friend for a movie, to catch up on the pre-Oscar nominees. On Sunday, I went to the San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm  with my friend Phil for a Dharma talk and a Japanese tea ceremony presentation. I love Green Gulch. It’s a really beautiful and contemplative place. The gardens are gorgeous and peaceful and there’s just a feeling of intense calm when you arrive. As it turned out, this weekend there was a children’s program, so the place was overrun by kids, which was a bit of a surprise and definitely added some noise to the normal quiet zen atmosphere but it turned out to be quite nice.  It reminded me of my childhood church where we had a special children’s sermon. It was amazing to see the little ones in the Zendo listening intently to the Zen priest and taking in his very kid friendly talk on why monsters and fears and worries we all have are nothing to be afraid of. Lessons that even we grown ups can benefit from. I’m glad that I can add Green Gulch as one more kid-friendly and fun place to bring my kids! Over lunch, we took a nice walk and since Green Gulch is just next to Muir Beach, we made our way over to The Pelican Inn, a super cute British style pub, for lunch. While I love Green Gulch, I don’t love the spartan zen food—especially when The Pelican Inn is right there! It was an all around great super bowl weekend!

First signs of Spring!

First Magnolias!

Magnolias! First signs of spring in Berkeley

I was amazed to see on our walk this weekend that the magnolias are starting to coming out! The first signs of spring on January 24th! I feel a bit guilty posting this while friends on the east coast are just starting to dig out of a massive blizzard, but still, this is why I love California!

Sticky Art Lab

Sticky Art LabI had a great time today at my friend Eva’s 4th birthday party. Eva’s party was at Sticky Art Labs which is one of my favorite “fun-for-kids-and-big people-too” places in Berkeley.  Sticky Art Lab is this great place that that has all sorts of craft supplies and scraps materials, where you can go to make fun projects like cork-robots, felt puppets, pipe cleaner mobiles. Eva and I have been to Sticky Art Labs before for their Coffee & Crafts Lab on Saturday morning a while ago, and having not known about the place before, I was enthralled. And, in fact, I will freely admit after our first time there, I was thinking of how quickly I could schedule another play date with Eva for another visit when one of the staff there told me that they have sessions for adults only (!!)—with wine!  I love art and making things, from serious crafts to just fun playing around with materials, I love the chance to be creative and create something new and beautiful. At home, I knit and have started doing some photography. For many, many years, I was very serious about ceramics and I still have a pottery wheel and a small studio in my backyard. The last few years, I’ve been busy with other things and have not had much time for pottery but I am hoping to get back into the throw of things (bad pottery pun!) again. I do miss working with clay. Meanwhile, at the party today, we played with homemade playdough (which as a clay person I loved) and made felt animal puppets. Eva made a butterfly and I made a Bodhi-dog. After the party, Eva and her mom Rachel came over to give Bodhi a walk and head over to our favorite dog park/playground. Eva used to be a little nervous around Bodhi and other dogs but now has become this awesome dogwalker and Bodhi just loves her! Eva is a girl after my own heart—she loves crafting and reading and fairy princesses and butterflies, and is whip smart and super funny, one of my all around favorite little people. I’ve known Eva since she was born, and I’ve known her mom Rachel since grad school. It’s been such a pleasure to be a part of Eva’s growing up and amazing to see her Mom and Dad (Jack), become such awesome parents to Eva. I’m so glad that they are all a part of my life. I also can’t wait until I can bring my own kids to Sticky Lab. Ok—I do realize that will be a while, but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to more crafty playdates with Eva! Happy birthday, Eva!

Quirky Berkeley

Animal Art CarI had the day off for Martin Luther King Day, and Bodhi and I found a break in the rains today to take a long walk at one of favorite dog parks Pt Isabel with our friends Allison and Jack. Check out the cool art car we saw there! When I was younger, in grad school, I was somehow enthralled with the idea of having an art car and since I didn’t have a car, I tried to convince one of my grad school friends with a junker of a car to donate it to the cause, but it was not to be. Berkeley’s one of those places where you see them every now and then and seeing one out and about always makes me smile and feel like I hit the jackpot for the day!

Christmas Countdown

Stork ornament 2015I love Christmas. It’s a magical holiday, especially with kids. Over the last few years Christmas has been  bittersweet. I have so many happy childhood memories around Christmas and I love the traditions, but I also miss my parents so much this time of year. It’s  been hard too to be in this “baby-maybe” waiting space, during the holidays, when there is so much attention on family and kids. The last few years, Christmas was fairly low key but this year, I decided not to hold back and instead just let the Christmas spirit move me and boy did it! I’ve had so much fun the last few weeks. The best part was sharing the holidays with so many wonderful friends and reminding myself that family is a bigger than your biological family.

Highlights of my December included: making Advent calendars for Keira and Aidan. Scouting out gifts for the toys for tots drive at my office. Buying my tree from the guys at Delancey Street foundation—they are so nice and really feels good that the cost of the tree is going to a good cause. Decorating my “bird tree” and adding new ornaments from my travels this year, which brings back memory of fun trips this year. A weekend cookie bake-a-thon and decorating an army of gingerbread men. Walks in the neighborhood with Bodhi to check out the lights and decorations and putting up lights and decorations on my own house—we’re not quite at the level of some of my neighbors, but maybe next year! Paper-whites all over the house and the house smelling of Christmas. Hosting a Christmas party at my house and the chance to celebrate with friends. Visiting the Tilden Park merry-go-round all lit up for Christmas;   holiday beer brewing with Judy and Phil. Christmas shopping downtown and checking out the big tree and skating rink at Union Square. An end of the year celebratory blowout dinner in Boston with my work buddies. Festive dinners with various friends and a chance to remember fun times from the past year. And best of all, anticipating a first Christmas with my new nephew Otto, who just turned six months old!  I feel truly blessed with my life and all the people in it.

Although I feel like I’ve already gotten everything I had on my Christmas wish list, there is still one thing on my Dear Santa list—a baby to love. Santa, if you’re listening, maybe you can get together with Mr. Stork and make a Christmas delivery. I’m ready and waiting!

Happy holidays, everyone!  Thanks for being a part of my life and making this year a great year!





A Ghoulish Great Night!


Happy Halloween!

Halloween this year was a blast. After carving our pumpkins and decorating the porch, we started the afternoon with the Halloween Pet Parade at the dog park at Pt. Isabel. Bodhi transformed himself into his alter ego, Super Bodhi, and, in my humble opinion, stole the show. My friend Judy came over for the day and we met up with another friend Allison and her dogs Jack (the shark) and Colonel (the pirate) and joined the other four-legged furries who were graciously humoring their pet parents by wearing all manor of cute and silly costumes. There were lots of Star Wars costumes this year and a few devil dogs and hot dogs (ha ha!) too! After the park, we met up with our friend Phil who had come over to help pass out candy and before the crowds arrived, Super Bodhi led his pack for a  walk to check out the ghoulish and crazy decorations around the neighborhood. He kept us safe from all manner of zombies and skeletons and even a marauding squirrel who had taken down a neighbor’s jack-o’lanterns. Super Bodhi is not  fan of squirrels!  As the sun went down, the trick-or-treaters came out in force. We had loads of trick-or-treaters this year. Last year, I had the near panic of almost running out of candy so I was prepared this year. Lots of Elsa’s, storm troopers, skeletons, jelly fish, and even a few Minions. Holidays like this make me feel so lucky to live in such a great neighborhood. I can’t wait to someday have my own little one to take trick-or-treating. And Super Bodhi is looking forward to having a super sidekick!

Spooky Berkeley!

Halloween is in the air!

Halloween is in the air!

Halloween is in the air and my neighborhood takes Halloween very seriously! Skeletons, zombies,ghosts and witches but also crazy orange blow up pumpkins are everywhere. Cobwebs coat front porches and shrubs. Not to mention the tombstones that have sprouted up on almost every lawn. This has made walks with Bodhi more lively, especially now that its dark when we take our evening walk. Bodhi is not quite sure what to make of it all and has had several close encounters with skeletons and black cats, of the plastic kind. The first few tombstones he saw required an extra sniff, but now they’re a good stand in for a tree! One of the neighborhood teens down the street puts up a haunted house each year and collects donations to the local food bank from visitors. He starts working on it months before and its fun to see this crazy elaborate haunted house take shape in his driveway every year. The kids love it and its become a local tradition. And this being low-key Berkeley, the decorations will stay up for a good long while even after fright night passes. No one seems to care that the ghost hanging from the tree looks a bit droopy and out of place come Valentine’s Day. One of my neighbors lined their entrance path with skeleton head lights last year and when they were still up at Christmas, they gave each skeleton a green or red bow on top. Creative recycling at its best….only in Berkeley!