Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mountain View in the Rain

Julie inspired this post by blogging about a walk around her neighborhood. And Caryl inspired this photo, which is taken in a style that I've come to view as Caryl's trademark.

On the way to work today I saw the most glorious rainbow. It touched down on both sides and, other than seeing my kids off to school, it's been the highlight of my day.

By 2p my eyes were begging for a break from this monitor and the monotony of a marathon technobabble editing session so I threw on my rain boots and went for a walk down Castro Street. Although the sun was out, it was raining. I window shopped. I picked up pho for Thing 2. I observed men in skinny pants and women in short skirts, black tights and mostly low-heeled boots. It is a rainy day after all. Red, orange and yellow leaves litter the sidewalk. It's surprisingly warm.

The perpetually dirty fish store is getting a new shipment of fish. Perhaps the last ones died from the filth? The tiny grocery on Castro has great produce and foodie products like Ciao Bella Gelato and Acme bread. The cashier wears black fingerless gloves, a vest covered with patches and pins that remind me of the Girl Scouts and jeans. I bought dried apricots.

Vacant is the storefront that used to have architects. In the window of TAP Plastics is a Merry Christmas sign in blue and white. The lobby of my high rise has two Christmas trees with metallic globe ornaments and many white boxes beneath them. I will have to see what it looks like all lit up once the sun sets.

I want to go home and be with my children and husband.

Monday, November 26, 2012

En route to Mexico

Thing 2 is the way I like to see her best: cheek heavy against the pillow, dark brown hair fanned out over the pillow, covers wrapped around her burrito-style. She stirs and slowly opens her eyes. They get big, fast. She says, "It's so beautiful out there!" The curtains and balcony doors in our stateroom are wide open. She sees the sea. Blue. For miles and miles. This is Day 1 of our extended family's Thanksgiving holiday.

It's been more than 20 years since Dave and I have taken a cruise together. Back then we were surrounded by couples our parents' age and older all celebrating milestones. They looked at us like we were crazy and said things like, "You're just on vacation?!"

This cruise, this week, is a little different. There's an American holiday in the middle of it so we're amongst multiple generations of families, our own included. Still, if you average the age of the travelers, we remain on the young side.

The food service is endless and literally around the clock. The plates in the main restaurant, the one with the nonstop 6am to 11pm buffet, are as big as platters. There is an ice cream dispensary at one end of the main pool. On the other side of the pool is counter serving up grilled food and fries from 11a to 11p. The ship has five more dining rooms for formal breakfast, lunches and dinners. There are six more restaurants (Starbucks-style to pizzaria to steakhouse) and eight bars elsewhere on the ship. There is room service.

We've spent our first two days at sea exercising, eating, reading, seeing shows and sitting by the pool. A lap around the deck is 1/3 mile. They are not easy laps to run because of the geriatric blue hairs. Bonus points for them though. The other distraction is the occasional feeling of weightlessness as the boat shifts. My sister-in-law says it's especially strange during yoga. I never got up early enough to find out.

We watched Monday night football poolside. The kids recruited others to play Colors while Dave and I curled up on chaises with the other 49er Faithful. I tried to not to explode from dinner. Italian night.

The youngest Pinks go in and out of the kids' club depending on their level of interest in the activities. On this day they decorated cakes in the galley under the watchful eye of the head pastry chef. We then ate the cakes at dinner. Or attempted to.

Eldest Daughter is having the best time running around with her older cousins. They check in with us from time to time and are making the most of the 1:30a teen curfew. Family dinner is de rigeur. The three of them share the stateroom across the hall from us. They refer to it as The Cage. Finally age has its privileges. Our age.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


That's the title of Ina Garten's new cookbook. In general I find her recipes foolproof. Does all that butter and cream make them foolproof or is the combination of ingredients and technique that does it?Regardless, I go back to them time and time again.

Neeracha, Jill and I stood in line, a long line, to have her sign Foolproof at Williams Sonoma at Stanford. Three hours in that line. Punctuated by interesting conversation with the women behind us and grilled cheese sandwiches from MELT. Good sandwiches, incidentally. Try MELT.

Ina was there long enough to sign 1,000 books. A big poster at the entrance to the store spelled out the rules: No personalization. You can have your picture shot with Ina but she will not pose. After all, she had all those books to get through before heading to her next gig.

At least it was a sunny day, the kind of day people move to California for. Apparently it was cold and foggy the day Thomas Keller was there. I was smart enough to pre-order three books and so it was worth the wait.

Although the day was really about Ina, Neeracha brought me a personalized, signed copy of Charles Phan's new cookbook. Tory and I are on a Vietnamese kick right now so I'm looking forward to digging into this one too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 28

I've been gluten-free for nearly a month now. I do feel better, physically. But it's hard to stick with in an absolute sense when it's not medically necessary. Crises come up in daily life (work deadlines, sick kids, volunteering at local events starting at 6am) and the foods that are readily available are not always gluten-free. The few times I've eaten gluten in these last four months I could tell the difference.

As a co-owner of Triumph Dining, I want to make it easier for people to live a gluten-free lifestyle, be it by choice or medical necessity. And part of that is talking to people about the benefits of living gluten-free and helping gluten-free products gain traction in the market.

As long as I see, and feel, the clear benefits I will stick with this.

Thanks for sharing in my journey.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm not happy for you.

My colleague resigned this week. Resigned is a flowery, sweet word, a PC word. Really, he quit.

We both came to the company a year ago. And I liked him both personally and professionally. He did good work in spite of the pivots and ambiguity inherent in startups such as this one.

He says he is leaving this employer for what he thinks is a better opportunity. And that this opportunity just presented itself. It's his seventh employer in nine years. Read that again. Seventh employer in nine years. He's been out of college nine years. It's hard not to draw any conclusions from that.

I get it. His generation is different than mine. They move around more frequently. And as a broad and mass generalization, they are less transparent about their motives. There is no loyalty, even transparently veiled.

Honestly, I'm not happy he's exiting. And although I told him the truth, that I hoped he would do great things, I'm not going to congratulate him on his big move. He told me that he is surprised that people are not offering him kudos and that his lame duck period is awkward and uncomfortable.

Is it right to expect the people you're leaving behind, the ones you're saddling with additional workload until you are backfilled, to be happy for you when you're only a year into a job and beginning to see results from your efforts?

In my opinion, no. Care to weigh in?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween be gone!

The night before Halloween I realized that I hadn't signed up to bring anything to the youngest Pinks Halloween parties. In fact, I hadn't seen any email on it at all.

When I asked the Pinks about it they told me that their principal had cancelled all Halloween parties this year except for the kindergartners. My inclination is to blame this principal for all the evils in the world but I did not this time. Instead, I queried the school parents who might know more than me.

Sure enough, I was told, the principal decided to follow the school district's guidelines and limit the students to three parties during the academic year. A very involved mommy, one I know and respect, said that the teachers voted to nix Halloween.

From a big picture perspective, I find this surprising and disappointing since Holiday parties are more controversial and Valentine's Day parties are sweet and lovey, which does not exactly match the demeanor of most elementary school children. Valentine's Day is a big Hallmark Holiday in my book. And Halloween has all the decorating and dress up fanfare accompanying it.

Another decision I disagree with.