Saturday, December 20, 2014

Welcome to New York, Darling Daughter.

With big eyes and a death grip on my arm, Thing 1 was uncharacteristically quiet. After all, we were in her first New York taxi, in rush hour traffic no less, en route from the airport into the city. Why it is called rush hour will continue to remain a mystery since there is a lot less movement in bumper-to-bumper traffic occasionally punctuated by an expletive and accompanied by a slamming on of the brakes.

Welcome to New York City, my darling daughter.

Ninety minutes later we were deposited at The Plaza hotel on Central Park South. It was lovely, just lovely. Old world elegance at its best. The bellman took our bags and we located our antique-filled room with its own balcony and lounge chairs. Mosaic tiles in shades of gold and white greeted us in the bathroom, which had a separate shower (with gold rainfall fixture plus a handheld) and deep tub. The toiletries were Caudalie, which David Lebovitz just blogged about, and the vanity was solid white marble.

The bathroom reminded me of the Fairy Tale Suite at the Disneyland Hotel, which I stayed in during a business trip a few years ago. All it was missing was the  cloyingly sweet voice coming out of the mirror-disguised entertainment system.

Given the choice, my child would have elected to hole up in our room all weekend, it was that beautiful. However, we were in New York, not Bakersfield, and so we freshened up and walked out through the revolving door in the hotel lobby, the lobby with no less than four mile-high Christmas trees sparking enough to give Tiffany, just down the street, some serious competition.

How did Thing 1 and I end up at The Plaza a few weeks before Christmas? Here's the truth: there is nothing like having two people you are close to newly diagnosed with cancer to prompt you to go big at the Cancer Support Community annual gala. And so Thing 1 and I did a long weekend in the city of all cities during the Christmas season, her choice and a very good one.

The first thing you see when exiting the Plaza is the Apple Computer logo. It is seemingly suspended in the air in a 32 foot tall glass cube. The store proper is subterranean. It's also open 7x24 in case you're having a technology crisis. Just to the right of that was our first stop: FAO Schwartz. It's organized like a high-end department store, by brand or category: The Jungle, Life Sized Stuffed Animals, Natural History, FAO Schweetz, Natural History, Muppets. Knowing it was barely a block from our new home, we only spent an hour there and I promised we'd come back. We spent the rest of the evening window shopping and returned to the hotel in time to have a late dinner in the Todd English food hall. 

Assisted by the night-time cold medicine she needed as she was fighting a miserable head cold, Thing 1 fell into a deep sleep in the fluffy white bed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

She is twelve.

And when you are 12 to 16 you seek out places that have appeared in your favorite TV shows. Do you recognize this location? Clue: It's in New York City on West 63th Street by the Lincoln Center. I did not. And I have not seen the TV show that this facade is in. It's Gossip Girl. The Empire Hotel was Chuck's first purchase as a baby mogul. What that means I have no idea. But it was on Thing 1's list to do in New York and so we went. Fortunately it was across the street from The Smith, an American brasserie that Matt and Kim took us to, and so we had a good lunch there.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Touring Tesla

Clean. That's how I would describe the Tesla factory. Thus far there is only one place that Teslas are manufactured and it's in Fremont, California, about 25 miles from our home.

Part of the draw of touring this factory is that it's not open to the public, as was the Ferrari Factory in Marinello, Italy, which I dragged my family to the museo portion of.

Prior to taking the tour you sign away your life on a three-page NDA. This is the first sign that Tesla is a tech company, not a car manufacturer. If you actually read the NDA then you know that you are subject to being hung and then shot if you so much as pull your cell phone or camera out during the 45-minute tour. Tesla paid $42M for 5.2M square feet in this former NUMMI factory, which is a steal given the price of Bay Area real estate.

Most of what I saw I cannot write about due to that NDA. However, I can share with you that I felt this eerie sense of deja vu while there. Only when I was back in my Prius, which I liked a whole lot more before experiencing the Tesla 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, did I realize that it felt like I'd been in Tony Stark's Iron Man workshop, ala Marvel Comics.

Unlike most of the men and women who work in auto manufacturing, Tesla employees are not part of UAW. This has been covered extensively in the press. Hopefully Tesla continues to pay its people a living Bay Area wage so that the workforce can remain unrepresented.

All in all, it was an interesting tour, one I'd recommend if you have the opportunity.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkeys. And those who eat them.

Like many of you, I sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, and a table of nutritious, beautifully presented savories and sweets that could easily feed our group twice over.

On Tuesday The Pinks and I volunteered at the Monument Crisis Center handing out turkeys to families who might not otherwise have them on Thanksgiving. This was different than most of the volunteer work we do. It wasn't taking care of The Bounty Garden, which grows vegetables that benefit the food bank. It wasn't building homes for people who might not be able to afford them otherwise. It wasn't baking cookies for a community theater performance or washing rubber ducks.

We interacted with the people who will be cooking those turkeys. There were easily 300 people lined up around the block when we arrived. Most expressed their gratitude verbally, some just took their turkey, eyes averted. Some had babies on hips and toddlers by the hand, others wheeled oxygen tanks behind them.

I thought about those people Thursday night.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pre Ski

I'm up at Tahoe with three twins and one more. Each of my twins brought a friend, one of whom is also a twin.

We drove up last night in a rental car, a Chevy Tahoe that we call The Island. It is the largest thing I have ever driven. One of our cars is in the shop because Eldest Daughter was rear-ended in front of the high school two weeks ago. This stuff happens. I could have driven the Volvo but it has 98K miles on it and our tendency is to replace our cars right before they reach 100K miles. There's no sense in rushing that.

Today has been very peaceful. The kids have been in and out of the hot tubs, (In case you wondered how many pool chairs could fit in one, the answer is eight.) in and out of Starbucks and Soupa, and in and out of our condo playing board and card games. I love this age.

It's raining here in the valley and snowing up top. The temperature is dropping and it will be snowing down here any minute. The fall colors are stunning adjacent to the tall green trees up the mountain and the falling snow line. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Dave and Eldest Daughter got a tour of Evanston, Illinois today courtesy of my aunt and uncle. Tomorrow is shopping the Magnificent Mile and Monday is the official Northwestern campus tour. From there they head to Ann Arbor. I find this all horribly unsettling since I basically birthed her yesterday.

My father recently put together a blurb book on the summer of 1987, when our immediate family moved from Alaska to California. The book covers our trip south on the Alaskan Marine Highway and ALCAN. I journaled during this 6-week voyage and went back to my journal to fill in some details for him. Looking back through those entries was a scary thing in so many ways. In retrospect, the trip itself was really dangerous. Second, I was a selfish terror at age 20. The comfort in journaling is the writing, not the re-reading. Funny, though, that I don't feel the same way about this blog. At least yet.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

She doesn't have to work.

While lunching with a male friend a few months ago I became uncomfortable with part of our conversation. It wasn't my friend himself. He is the nicest guy, a family man a few years younger than me who coaches soccer, goes to church, the whole nine yards.

This friend and I formerly worked together and the topic of discussion was a woman we both knew. He works closely with her now and mentioned that she is quite forward-thinking with her creative ideas in the workplace. He attributed this to the fact that she doesn't have to work, meaning that she doesn't have to worry about taking risks.

Would someone ever say this about a man? I doubt it.

People work for so many reasons and not all of them are financial. Both men and women. Eldest Daughter works and her reasons for doing so are not financial. People work because they like the challenge and the recognition. They work because they like the power. People work because they feel guilty about not utilizing their educations or talent. They work because they want to travel on someone else's dime. People work because they don't want to be full-time stay-at-home-parents. They work because they are afraid something will happen to their spouse and they want to be able to provide for their families. People work because of court-orders.

Clearly I've given this a lot of thought.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


One of my cousins died last week. He had a long struggle with demons and it breaks my heart that his young sons will not have the opportunity to know him during better times. 

A family with similar demons used to live across the street from my parents. The husband died from his demons, the wife died after a long battle with cancer and the now-young-adult children had a miserable childhood, in my opinion. 

I like to think that all three of these people are in a better place now, one where they no longer live in pain. 

My children are unsettled by the cousin's death. I am unsettled, too. I am just sad, sad for what could have been. It's a miserable ending to what we all hoped would be a temporary problem, however long as temporary was.