Monday, April 29, 2013

I hate shopping.

Buying? Now that I'm great at.

Cars. Shoes. Gifts. I am a pretty savvy online shopper. Catalogs and Daily Candy are my friends. I've had my credit card number memorized for years. I can shop anywhere, anytime.

The only time and place I happily shop is while on vacation. I bought 17 pair of shoes on a trip to Italy. In my own defense, only 13 were for me. And six of those I still wear, almost a decade later.

I have so much respect for those of you who can spend all day shopping. I do a few hours here and there with Neeracha and my eyeballs are bruised. In fact, I'd rather she or a personal shopper just pick out my clothes for me.

A few years ago I took Paris and Liberty to THE MALL in search of spring and summer clothing for them. They love to shop: to browse the aisles, to try on pretty things, to accessorize, to debate the right shoes for the outfit, to try on more pretty things. I would rather have a Brazilian on sunburned skin.

But I went, because this is what Good Mothers do. I lasted three hours. They had a blast. We went to Abercrombie, where I said several times, "Even though you have beautiful legs, your father would kill me if I bought you shorts that short." We went to Pumpkin Patch, where each outfit was cuter than the next and where Paris didn't even look at her size. We went to Claire's, where they both bought accessories with their own money. We went to Wet Seal, which has really cheap, trashy clothes that fortunately Paris did not fit in. We went to Justice, which had some suitable things mixed in amongst the Britney-Spears-style-junk. And we went to Hollister.

I was exhausted when we came home. Fortunately our next door neighbors had invited us to dinner so I got a Baby Andrew fix and felt much better after that and a good burger.

Summer will soon turn to fall. And shopping season is here again. I'm bracing myself.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cousin Love - LA Style

Although it was improbable given the physical miles between us, I grew up very close to my first cousins on my father's side of the family. Jennifer Klevatt Bentley is four years my senior and has a wicked sense of humor likely gained from years of being pushed around by her opinionated, strong-willed siblings. Jodi Klevatt Gladstone and I share a love of sewing. David Klevatt was in law school in Chicago while I was doing my undergrad in Madison, thus he become my safety net when drama arose.

I looked up to my cousins, much the way The Pinks look up to their Calabasas cousins.

The summer of my 16th year was when my cousins dressed me up for my first New York City bar hopping experience. During Thanksgiving of my 20th year two friends and I stayed in Jen's apartment (she left town and also left behind the car and keys) and shot the 1986 equivalent of Selfies all around Chicago. There may have been some wine coolers involved in that; why else would we pose on the outside viewing deck of the then-Sears Tower on a day too foggy to see anything?!

David and I visited the bears at Denali together, took a dunk at Chena Hot Springs and cruised around Prince William Sound in a Zodiak . He also cooked for me -- I had dreams about his linguine with clam sauce for years. He also took me to some Italian restaurant in Chicago and did a standing back flip right there in the dining room, for a reason that must have been a dare.

Jodi took me to the beach at Narragansett and also made me the Great Expectations quilt when I was pregnant with Liberty and Victoria.

Fast forward 20 years. Jodi practices law in Providence. David practices law in Chicago. And Jen is enjoying some time at home with her two sweet sons in LA after many grueling years in the the entertainment industry.

We met up with the whole entourage last weekend to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Jen's eldest son, Kevin The years disappeared and the next generation of cousins picked up where our generation left off. The next generation is pictured at right, ages 11 to 17.

The last time this same group was together was at Jen's wedding, 15 years ago. At that time Jodi's youngest, Caleb, was two and very attached to his lovey, a cartoon character doll named Ben. Ben was intentionally excluded from the formal family picture and in that picture Caleb is wailing hysterically in response. Today Caleb is a high school senior. Dave brilliantly found and procured a Ben doll so we could recreate this photo, to the merriment of all involved.

Liberty and Jen's youngest, Jacob, also age 11, bonded over their shared diminutive stature. Look closely at the picture below; they could easily be mistaken as twins. For Paris the highlight of the weekend was realizing that her towering height of 5'2" made her (much!) taller than all the other women in our clan. In heels she was positively Amazonian. Sadly, it also meant her feet were larger than Jen's. Jen's shoe collection rivals my own.

The Pinks and I drove halfway down Thursday night. We spent the night at the Harris Ranch Inn, which Liberty aptly summed up by saying, "If cows had sensitive noses they'd be barfing right now." The property has gorgeous, manicured, flowering grounds, which are complete waste because the stench coming off of the surrounding cattle grazing land, is vile. (Sidebar: How come no one mentions the cow smell on The Pioneer Woman's Oklahoma Cattle Ranch?!)

Friday morning, after a call to the schools declaring that The Pinks were sick with Spring  fever, we met the cousins for an attack on Magic Mountain. There we broke into two groups: thrill seekers and non-thrill-seekers. Once again I held my own on the roller coasters.

After a quick dip in the hotel pool we joined up with the rest of the extended family for Friday night dinner. The Bar Mitzvah boy did a beautiful job Saturday morning and his interpretation of his portion brought us all to tears. After the service we ate and danced and ate more, as is traditional. My aunt and uncle, who I have been close to since we all lived in San Francisco during my post-college years, were in their element surrounded by their mischpucha. And then we went back to Jen's house and ate more. The kids, led by the 26-year-old bassoonist who just married Jodi's eldest, Alexa, launched an aggressive Nerf gun war. And of course we ate more Sunday morning before hitting the road.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This is Shannon.

We work together at PG&E. She's helping her parents out in the Village Goose booth at the Treasure Island Flea Market. And here she's helping Liberty create a piece of custom art for her room.

If I wasn't in the office when Shannon told me about her parents' business I would have been jumping up and down screaming. It's so me. I already collect letterpress tiles. And her parents make it easy for people to turn them into personalized art.

I'd always wanted to go to the Treasure Island Flea Market and a free Saturday plus the discovery of this business meant for me was the impetus. I dragged Liberty, Paris along.

The Market itself was well worth the trip. There were about a dozen food trucks so we had grass-fed beef and pulled-pork sliders for lunch. The vendors were about half traditional flea market and half interesting art and jewelry. This being the Bay Area, home of the Giants loyal, there was no shortage of Giants-wear, especially as it's baseball season. The coolest thing I saw was Giants t-shirts with a Day of the Dead, sugar skull style face. I will buy one next time. Or maybe I'll just order online. They were that cool.

The market is the last weekend of every month. People today told me that in the summer it's twice as big as it is in the winter. I'm already planning a trip back.

We spent a long time at Exit Plan B, a booth selling letter art photography signs, and with Emily Ireland, whose hand-painted Toms we really wanted.

The view of the city from Treasure Island is the best view I've ever seen. If waterfront homes ever come on the market Dave and I will need our very own Plan B.