Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a view from california

i look out my window each morning and see this, or a version of this, every day. the changing pattern of fog, light, sun and clouds alerts me to the possibilities life allows, if i take the time to drink it in. after the distillation of the power of family over christmas, as in pleasures and tensions fully absorbed, it calms me to regard this view. it's a great, good fortune to so love where one lives, oh baby.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

what to do now?

one of my dearest friends called to say the little boy i've know since he was six has had a recurrence of colon cancer, the one he fought two years ago at the age of 26. c showed bravery unheard of, certainly of a magnitude i have never witnessed, as he endured chemo, radiation, surgery and extra chemo to boost his chances of survival. c never once complained. he married the girl who caught his eye his first day at college, and married her the month he finished his last chemo. he inhabits an old soul, did before this damnably unfair illness intruded on his life. in its aftermath, he expended mammoth intellectual energy and achieved enormous accomplishment in his work, gaining recognition and promotion entirely earned. he is not my child, but my heart aches today in a way i had no idea it could for another's. it is the terror of parents, our deepest recognition, the unspoken truth that we would throw ourselves under a train to save our children. instead, we will stand up, stand in, let them know they can trust us to be strong for them. oh god. and we weep alone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

we have a japanese maple tree outside the kitchen window, planted by the previous owners of this house over twenty years ago. it's a funny one. green all year, way into the fall, then finally in december, the leaves suddenly turn yellow, orange, red. two weeks later, they fall, and in three days, it's over. what to make of this?? a friend of mine suggested on thursday i take a picture, the tree glowing against the bluest sky. i didn't. today, saturday, the leaves are all scattered, and the tree is bare.

Friday, December 18, 2009

my baby

t just turned 27, my dearest little baby. he was due at the end of november 1982, but i knew better. rereading jane austen's novels that fall, i had a thought that he might arrive on her birthday, december 16...and then he did. the stormy afternoon when we went to mt. zion hospital, we settled into the birthing room, attended by our midwife. it felt safe, with doctors at the ready should we need them. after several hours, determined to forgo drugs to kill the labor pains, i managed to ease t into the world. i exulted in his safe delivery, and gratefully sent him to the nursery after cuddling him and admiring him, so i could get a decent night's sleep. i had a toddler at home, and when morning came, he would come to the hospital, we would pack our things and go home. it was such a great feeling, knowing exactly what to do. i looked into his eyes, and instantly recognized him as part of "my" clan. our older child, m, had looked exactly like my husband's father, so this was a first.

t was a love of a child, affectionate and sweet, and how we delighted in him. he developed a wry sense of humor, gently sending me up through his adolescence (mom...i've become your drug of choice!). smart, athletic, warm and affectionate. then, when he was 16 or so, he began to differentiate, and boy was that hard on us. i suppose it was necessary, that such a closely attached boy would absolutely need to break away from his mother, but it was so hard on me, in particular.

he has become his own man, one i never expected, whom i observe and regard with shock, dismay, admiration and profound love. i'm proud of him, and deeply satisfied to be able to participate in his life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

every year at christmas, and also at birthdays, pressure of my own making builds. it has to do with presents, of course, and finally i decided that if i hit it with someone every 5 years, i'd count that a success. but this year! well, suffice to say, i found a terrific, fun gift to give my friends at MOMA online. it's a silicone pig pot cover, for microwaving and more. it cost next to nothing, and it's a big, big wow. i mean, looking for something to cover microwaving containers has been a huge dilemma for me for YEARS. don't want to use plastic wrap, for the pcb's that'll kill us. waxed paper slips off as the turntable rotates. lids don't fit properly, or no lids at all, and food spatters. well, don't want to burden you with the minutia of my pathetic mind, but i have to say, this pig cover is going to make everyone happy. and then i'll be happy. score for the next 5 years.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

on hating politics

climate talks in copenhagen, wrangling over senate votes on healthcare bills, iran, afghanistan, george schultz telling a local reporter it was a mistake to bail out the banks? hard news exhausts me. i hold a painfully moderate position, and then i listen to my more extreme friends and family. if only i could adopt a firm position, and free myself of this conviction that i don't know enough about the variables to have an informed opinion! perhaps it's a sign i'm not capable of seeing through the murkiness to the essential realities? despite the worst news, i confidently think all will work out somehow. my friends point out that things don't always work out, look at the roman empire, look at the paralysis of europe, look at the effects of loose immigration.

after awhile, i retreat to buying christmas presents, and happily immersing myself in the pleasures of the marketplace. say, i'm getting a new mobile phone! plus, there's always the new york times xword, which as the week wears on gets more demanding. just what i'm needing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


yes, i'm talking about the hoary yet irresistible ballet extravaganza that every ballet company in america whips into shape at christmas.

last year, i took my 10-year old "little sister" (big bros/big sisters) b to the michael smuin-choreographed san francisco production. i hadn't been in years, but it was gorgeous, traditional enough to suit the crowd, and the orchestra was superb. today, we went to a local production in a nearby town, and what different fun that turned out to be. well, naturally one notices immediately the barbarity of using a recording, the thunderous dancing, the tiredness of shoestring costumes, the relentless mediocrity of the stage sets. BUT, the ballet was so unadorned that b easily grasped the "story line" in a way she did not last year. she could see how some dancers struggled to keep their balance, and how some danced more gracefully. she remembered some of the stage sets from last year, and we had a rousing conversation about the differences we had noticed, good and bad. plus, the sheer fun of seeing all these little dancers from local ballet schools gave us a thrill.

next year, however, we agreed it's back to the opera house.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

a good thing about old friends

i had lunch in sausalito today with my friend C, whom i've known since our boys were at the same school, one of those "independent" schools that goes to 8th grade. i don't see her often, so while catching up we indulged ourselves in what might conceivably be called in polite company, well there's no way around it, bragging. however, first we agreed that since we'd both been witnesses to each other's hell at times while raising these boys, we could make an exception about that particular social prohibition. nice deal, huh?

her boys are stunning young adults, the kind we all hope for and secretly assume we'll have. and um, well, so are mine. that was a joke. no, no, it wasn't.

a happy time was had.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

baby it's cold outside

san francisco's daily temperature, year round, is nearly always between 55-65 degrees f. this morning's 28 and this afternoon's 41 has been a shock to my system and to that of everyone i've talked to. what wusses we are! still, i suppose the chill is nothing like the one in tiger's house?

yesterday i shopped downtown at union square, and specifically went into neiman marcus because of the two black cashmere turtleneck sweaters for my sons' girlfriends. why? have you heard of "cyber monday"? neither had i, but the new "black friday" (after thanksgiving) which takes place only online has apparently been awarded its very own special, cute name, according to the new york times. so that monday, i straight away looked online and discovered it was TRUE! bargains everywhere! i returned the two sweaters i'd already bought at j.crew for $158, because neimans' were $100 each that day. no shipping. when they arrived, they'd been wrapped together, so i just took those babies downtown and got them each separately and beautifully re-wrapped. so worth the trip, my work is done.

Friday, December 4, 2009

tiger, tiger

tiger woods, drawing back from the public, has drawn a line of demarcation the media can't brush away. i hope. i cringe from knowing the details of whatever he's been involved in, and i think he's correct in making clear those details are his family's business only.

i wonder if it's possible for anyone to stand their ground against the insatiable media hunger for shocking, lascivious news? queen victoria purportedly once said that people can do whatever they like, but not outside where it will scare the horses.

i silently cheer for him and his wife to keep it private. sadly, i expect to be disappointed.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

i'll begin

living in san francisco with my husband, our dog and our cat, and nearby our 20-something sons is the starting point, and the reference point. i confess that my american point of view has the limitations and the potential advantages of being so rooted, my outlook informed by this, my questions framed by it.

i hope to bring something of my american life to this writing, and to open discussions with those who are interested.

this morning, the golden gate bridge is flooded with a cold fog, foghorns are sounding, and it's gray beautiful. i drive across the bridge every day, and have done for many years. i look at it anew every single time, morning, afternoon or evening. someday i'll figure out how to put a picture of it in here so you can see.