Thursday, May 26, 2011

My hands are stained.

And I don't much care. I've just pitted four pounds of cherries.


Paige Wycoff's family has a cherry fetish. Celia lives in Brentwood and calls in the sister wives as soon as Maggiore's opens. The sister wives and their young children make a run for the farm and pick and pick and pick. And eat and eat and eat. This was Celia's second trip to Maggiore's this season.

After several years of hearing about this tradition and Paige sharing some of her precious cherries with me, my mom, kids and I tagged along.

Tip 1: Go during the week. We had the orchard (and ladders) nearly to ourselves.
Tip 2: Bring cash.
Tip 3: Pick fast. It takes a long time to pick cherries.
Tip 4: Get over your fear of heights and climb the ladder. The ripest cherries are up high.
Tip 5: Moderate the amount you eat while picking. It is an hour's drive home, after all.

In the end there were five mothers and 13 kids between us. I think cherries are sought-after because the season is so dang short. The Coral Cherry, the one we were after, has a 10-day season. It was surreal standing amongst so many loaded cherry trees. Paige described it as The Garden of Eden. I have to agree.

We were so efficient that we had time to go to Chan's for You Pick strawberries. As much as I love cherries, the strawberries were even better and unlike any I'd ever had. Warmed by the sun and then popped straight into my mouth, they were the sweetest fruit I've ever had. The kids were amazed at the bounty and quickly gathered the equivalent of a flat.

Celia was kind enough to have us all to dinner at her house (which she so smartly prepared in advance) and then we hoofed it back to our suburb for Elementary School Open House.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Run, run, as fast as you can ...

With 100,000 other people for the 100th running of the Bay to Breakers. That's was our Sunday morning save for the running part.

San Francisco's famed foot race goes from the Bay side of the city to the Breakers (or ocean) side of the city, 12km total. This year a Moroccan male won it in 34:26 and the top female finisher did it in 39:12. We hadn't even crossed the start line by the time the winners had claimed their victories. That's how much of a zoo it was.

The kids were not wild about this family adventure, which began with a 5:45a wake up call. They disliked being hit in the face repeatedly with tortillas en route to the start. They disliked the San Francisco micro-climates that ranged from 60F and sunny to 45F with rain blowing sideways. They found the Porto potties unclean and the 46 hairy naked men they counted along the way inappropriate. Duh! At least they liked the costumes: the butterfly centipede, the gorillas and Ghost Busters, the Alcatraz escapees, the Smurfs, the Royals and the Power Rangers.

The above picture is of Liberty taking a little snooze on Dave's lap on the shuttle from the finish line back to the BART station.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Z's Bat Mitzvah

As I mentioned a few weeks back, Paris' sleep-away-camp friend became Bat Mitzvah. The big to do took place at Temple Isaiah, the Lafayette synagogue of my childhood, which barely resembles the synagogue I remember of the 1970s.

This was a B'nai Mitzvah - two Bat Mitzvah's at one time. The sanctuary is large and it was perhaps 90% filled, testament to the strength of these girls' community.

I'd never been to a B'nai Mitzvah before and did not realize that one set of family and friends generally sits to one side and the other set sits to the other. Oops. Ditto for the luncheon afterwards. It's a good thing that we're friendly folks. We stopped at Border's on the way to the service and our purchases kept The Youngest Pinks from squirming too much in their seats. Paris sat with her friends, not surprisingly, while we sat next to a group of middle schoolers, friends of the other B'nai Mitzvah. The boy next to me, looking uncomfortable in his pressed khakis, starched oxford shirt and stiff shoes, asked a lot of questions. "Can I go to the bathroom in the middle of the service? Do you know where the bathroom is? We really can't text in here?"

Z looked like a little girl that morning -- flats, minimal makeup, a floral dress. This was in huge contrast to how she looked that evening -- absolutely sunning with big makeup and hair and wearing a gorgeous, backless pink and black dress. I really like Z; she doesn't much filter and is fun and funny. Last summer I took her and Eldest Daughter into the city for the SF Pride Parade. The picture here is of Z and her mom.

The luncheon wrapped about 1p to give the decorator and caterer time to prep for the evening celebration, held in the synagogue's social hall. My Bat Mitzvah and luncheon were in that very same location in that very same month 31 years prior. I remember the pale yellow and green tablecloths. This evening everything was hot pink, black and white.

Z's family is very close and Z is very clear that her 15-year-old brother is her bestie. The very first picture is of the two of them. A has Asperger's and their inner circle includes other families with children on the spectrum. It was such a blast seeing the stereotypical young teens, the non-stereotypical young teens and the extended family and friends celebrating Z's simcha by getting down on the dance floor, laughing, eating and drinking. There was no us and them this evening, and likely for any other event for this group. I'm in the green screen adult group photo wearing a classic Armani little black dress and my current favorite Jim Thompson silk scarf.

The food was tasty and abundant of course: Mexican and an ice cream bar for the kids and salad, steak, roasted potatoes, Mediterranean veggies and chocolate cake for the adults. No one went home hungry.

Dave was out of town at a golf tournament so it was just me and The Pinks. Liberty, who is nine, wore a fair bit of makeup. Tori went to town on the dance floor. One of the party motivators
was Ben, who we know because he used to date our friend Melissa. He told me that he loves dancing with Tori because she has so much energy and he was excited when he realized we were there. You can see from this picture how much she enjoyed herself.

As time goes by I enjoy these more and more, regardless of how many people I know there. I find happiness in the ritual and in the celebration itself. And of course it's an honor to be included.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Both my mom and my mother-in-law were out of town this year! And so my immediate family was left to our own devices on this Hallmark Holiday.

I've long wanted to go to the Temescal Farmer's Market. Kymi Armour lives near there so we met up with her family and walked / Razored / biked over. The kids had crepes for breakfast and the adults drained our wallets on pig, bread, strawberries, snap peas, grapefruit, avocados, mushrooms, and baby lettuce. Oh yes, and the first cherries of the season. I bought one small bag knowing that in a week or two I'll get "The Call" and go to the secret farm in Brentwood with the Greenbombs to gather as many as we can carry.

The food vendors there are different than our farmer's market -- there is a high-end chocolatier, Vice Chocolates, Blue Bottle Coffee, Donna's Tamales, Scream Sorbet, thin crust pizza and Thai food. There is dog parking, too.

Kymi, Paris and I walked to Bakesale Betty's and learned that The Aussie and The American shutter their doors on Sundays and Mondays. We met back up with the husbands and played a bit of Michael Jackson Wii. I suck. But it was fun in a belly laugh sort of way.

The biggest surprise of the day was how many people we saw that we knew at
our next stop. Fenton's is an institution -- an ice creamery on Piedmont Avenue. Dave's family has gone for generations and I was shocked to meet up with a former client, a synagogue family and an elementary school family, none of us living anywhere near Fenton's!

Late in the afternoon Hayley Inverarity and I saw Water for Elephants. I loved the book and the movie was good entertainment. Some of the cinematography was stunning. I don't think it'll win any awards, though, because neither Robert Pattinson nor Reese Witherspoon reach far.

I leave you with two pictures -- me and Kymi at the market and me and my mom during my first year. My mom was barely old enough to drink in this picture. That's my dog, Leslie's Lord Sampson, the first of two of my childhood Golden Retrievers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Birthday Scavenger Hunt

Someone had a birthday yesterday. It wasn't me.

Let's have a historical look at birthday celebrations in our house. I think about birthdays. I know they are coming. I procrastinate on how to celebrate them, except for the kids' birthday parties, which I plan and execute in great detail. I am pretty good with milestone birthday parties, too, as was evidenced by Dave's 25th birthday party in my Marina apartment, his 30th birthday party at the Meadowood Croquet Lawn, and his 40th birthday party at our house with the bleached blond sommelier.

Actual celebrations on the birthday are not my specialty. But for the someone whose birthday it was yesterday, I was determined to make this one memorable.

That someone was woken up by his three daughters. They unrolled a scroll and deemed it the day of The Birthday Scavenger Hunt, Amazing Race Style. Said Birthday Boy needed to get up pronto and start tracking down the clues.

Stop #1 led him down the street to our neighbors' large, lush garden where he had to wander around looking for something suspect. He found the Mylar helium balloons, birthday gift from his in-laws and his second clue.

Stop #2 took him to our next door neighbors' house. There he did the secret handshake before picking up the decorated golf cart and driving to the local post office where his third clue was waiting outside, thumb tacked to the community bulletin board.

Stop #3 led him to Danville Chocolates in search of the special caramel apple and next clue. This proved a bit more challenging as the woman in the chocolate shop forgot about the special apple and our extended conversation about it the previous day. Dave had to meander around the shop long enough for her to remember that she was expecting a slightly confused forty-something looking for an apple accompanied by a bright orange envelope.

Stop #4 took him to Bryan Denman's office. This was complicated by the fact that Bryan's office moved and thus, the address I put on the clue was incorrect. Additionally, Dave got there before Bryan. In the end this was all good and fine and rectified by a leisurely lunch at The Prickly Pear Cantina with margaritas.

Stop #5 didn't take place until 7pm, when Dave was surprised with three couples joining us for dinner at Esin. Dennis and Margo Donahue even came up from Monterey. Good wine was consumed, including 2000 and 2003 Silver Oaks.

All in all, he was a good sport and had a birthday he won't soon forget. Neither will the people who saw him driving down Diablo Rd. in the decked out golf cart!