|The bathroom is alive with the sound of music at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I hear my five-year-old daughter’s voice coming from the bathroom attached to our master bedroom. The house is dark and she is standing in front of a mirror singing “My Favorite Things” as if she were Julie Andrews herself. I assume she has chosen this spot for the acoustics. She seems oblivious to the fact that the rest of us are still sleeping. [Read More...]|
|Dana’s husband Dave and her seventeen-year-old daughter Torey had invited a group of Dana’s friends, mostly other moms, to choose what we wanted from her closet. Lovely, sweet, fashion-loving Dana had died eight weeks earlier after fighting cancer for thirteen years.Her living room had been transformed into a boutique. Two rolling racks of hanging clothes stood by the window that overlooked the creek in their canyon backyard. One couch held piles of the rock-and-roll t-shirts Dana collected – Green Day, The Cure, Nirvana, The Ramones and about fifty more. The other couch had handbags lined up from end to end and another row lined the floor. Behind the couches, there must have been 100 pairs of shoes and boots. [Read More...]|
|Before the fresh start to the New Year started going a bit stale, I got a jump on things during the lull between Christmas and January 1. With no more presents to wrap, holiday feasts to prepare, and most of my clients out of town, I had plenty of time. Most of it I spent hiking in the glorious crisp weather we had following the deluges that brought green to the parched hills and a brief fantasy that our drought might be over. (It isn’t, but what’s the point of New Year’s if not hoping for things that will soon fail to materialize?) [Read More...]|
|He stands at the parking lot exit of the Safeway on the sidewalk. His brown hands shake continuously as he holds a simple cardboard sign that reads “HELP.” I’ve seen him there for about six months, not every day, but almost every other. He dresses well, in never-dirty presentable clothes. Sometimes his eyes are bloodshot, and sometimes the whites of his eyes set off deep brown orbs that look like they’ve seen a lot in their 60-plus years.
He stands across the street from my office sometimes for hours at a time, an empty or partially filled water bottle at his feet, maybe a small bag of groceries given to him by a generous passerby. Moved by his one word plea to help, I started giving him a dollar or two when I would see him. [Read More...]
|Janine Kovac, our fantastic program coordinator, has a wonderful piece airing on KQED Perspectives this week. To listen to it, click here. Or you can just read it below:So by the time I turned 19 and ticked off my 150th Waltz of Flowers, I’d had enough of “The Nutcracker.”Visions of sugarplums made me want to jab my eyes out with candy canes. I would have rather listened to Salvation Army bells ringing outside Macy’s than to Tchaikovsky’s Christmas-shopping soundtrack playing inside Macy’s.
Retired at the impossibly old age of 30, I figured I’d never have to listen to “The Nutcracker” again, especially if I did all my Christmas shopping online.
But “The Nutcracker” is like the Mafia; you never really get out.
It’s 8:00 am on a Saturday morning. “The Nutcracker” rehearsal. My husband is getting fitted for his cavalier costume. Our daughter is in the battle scene. Our four-year-old twin boys are in my Little Angel rehearsal. I’m still ready to jab my eyes out with candy canes, but evidently my parenting involves perpetuating the cycle of torture. [Read More...]
|Compiled by Marianne Lonsdale|
|Here’s Part Two of our favorite reads of 2014. This eclectic list includes literary fiction, memoir, short story collections, and a children’s book. We have a tie for books receiving the most votes (a young adult book and a novel). Add your favorites and thoughts in the comments below!|
|Favorites of Joanne Hartman|
|The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is hefty, almost 800-pages, but I couldn’t put it down as I was magically transported, along with main character Theo, to New York City, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam. I think that Stephen King said it best in his review in The New York Times: “The Goldfinch is a triumph with a brave theme running through it: art may addict, but art also saves us . . . Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction. That said, don’t drop it on your foot.”|
|Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart is a sweetly tender memoir about the immigrant experience, coming-of-age, and becoming a writer. I loved his novel Super Sad True Love Story so was curious to discover more about this smart and witty author with the impossible-to-spell last name. [Read More...]|
|Compiled by Marianne Lonsdale
In addition to writing, our members are avid readers. Here’s a list of some of our favorite reads during 2014. (Stay tuned for Part Two of our favorites, which will post soon – what book do you think showed up as the favorite of three of our members?)
Favorites of Vicki DeArmon
A dystopian novel that sidesteps the usual horror and despair of the genre as it follows a troop of roving Shakespearean actors and symphony musicians who put art above survival in a world stripped of the amenities of 21st century life. Shortlisted for the National Book Award. Beautifully told.
Captivating with its distinct joyful voice, it follows a Zimbabwean girl from her life among her band of friends – young toughs whose play incorporates the political upheaval around them – to her immigration to America and the alienation that follows.
|It all started in 1996 with a 7-inch ceramic plate that read “Cookies for Santa” along the rim. My older sister Padrin had been the one to spot the advertisement for it in the Thanksgiving newspaper late that afternoon.
“Jo-Ann Fabrics is giving away a free gift to the first 100 shoppers tomorrow,” Padrin had announced to no one in particular.
I don’t know if she said it excitedly or just as a passing observation. What matters was that just 10 hours later, my mom, my sister, and I were standing in a line of about 15 people outside the Jo-Ann Fabric store in Edina at 6am as a store employee handed us each a 7-inch “Cookies for Santa” ceramic plate. [Read More...]
With Black Friday approaching, there is a familiar sense of panic. One, I am always so busy with work this time of year that Christmas gift shopping is the last thing on my mind. Two, I am the worst gift buyer for the people I love. I admit it, I suck. Just ask my husband about the brown suede coat debacle of 2006. “It’s brown… and it’s suede… when have you ever seen me wear anything brown… or suede?” Uggh.
Now I rely on tools such as the Amazon Wish List to guide my gift buying. Ever since my son was able to log on to a computer and talk about what he wants for Christmas, I would happily reply, “Add it to the Wish List!” Now, I realize that I created a 12-year-old monster. Whenever he receives a non-sanctioned, unlisted gift from us, there is a lot of confusion on his part as to why the clear divergence from his wishes and the implication that his parents aren’t that bright. Uggh.
This year, I am determined to find a meaningful Christmas gift for him, something that he will fondly remember when he is an adult. [Read More...]
|Ranked-choice voting to choose Oakland’s mayor debuted in 2010. I was initially sold because this method eliminates the need for run-off elections, and in theory opens the field to a more diverse slate of candidates. Second elections often have low voter turn-out and cost a bundle. But when none of my choices landed in the top three in 2010 I doubted the method. Voters choose up to three candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, he or she is elected. But if there’s no majority, then an elimination process begins. The candidate who received the fewest first-ranked votes is eliminated. Next, each vote cast for that candidate is transferred to the voter’s next-ranked choice. This continues until one candidate receives a majority. The math is tough to follow. [Read More...]|