Summer Coming

Our closest neighbors are a colony of wild parrots.  Actually, the city is dotted with several of these colonies -- yet one more point to add to the quirky, rebellious urbanity that is San Francisco.  Only here would thousands of tropical birds mate and multiply and stake their claim on a city park.  I can imagine the initial turf war between the parrots and the pigeons, these flamboyantly feathered friends dropping in on their drab, dirty cousins and declaring: This is San Francisco, bitches.  Step aside.   The parrots hunt -- as parrots do, I suppose -- at dawn and at dusk: rising like a ... [READ MORE]

Goodbye, Hello

  On a Monday morning not long ago, I had trouble waking up.  I missed my usual morning workout, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the temperature shot up past 70 degrees that afternoon, so I dropped everything I had planned for the 90 minutes the kids attend After School Care and bolted for the Embarcadero the minute I left work. The promenade was alive with sun-seekers, nannies and mommies with strollers, dogs, all moving at different speeds.  I set my sights on Mission Creek. There is a playground near the ballpark, a blink-and-you'll miss it little fenced-in spot ... [READ MORE]

A Chance Encounter with a Dragon

We wear red for the Lunar New Year.  LittleMan's class stages a parade in the school gymnasium.  It is a wise system: the littlest children wear the dragon, so it cannot frighten them.  (LittleMan is too tall, so he follows and bangs a tambourine.) All weekend long the firecrackers snap and pop on the streets near our apartment, Grant Avenue being just a few blocks up the hill.  There are random outbreaks of live music.  We do not go to the parade itself (Mommy is slightly agoraphobic like that), but the city is alive with it, this midwinter celebration of beginnings and endings and good ... [READ MORE]

Holly Jolly (and How)

There is one thing my children Will Not Do. (There are 10,001 things my children Will Not Do.  But anyway.) There is one thing my children Will Not Do that my husband and I desperately wish they would, and that is Pose for the Damn Christmas Card, Dammit! Every year it's the same thing.  We gussy them up and we go to the hotel lobby or the majestic downtown office building with the epic tree or the off-the-hook elves-in-classic-cars display and we let them run around a bit. The photo session commences: We cajole.  We plead.  We clap and dance around and wave our hands over our ... [READ MORE]

A Planet With Two Suns

Tatooine is a planet with two suns.  It's always hot there.  And dry.   - LittleMan, on Indian Summer Our apartment gets freakishly hot this time of year.  It's a long space, with south-facing windows along one side (no cross-current), and when the sun hangs low in the autumn sky it feels like it's sitting right on our deck, beaming straight into the livingroom.  I love the light -- LOVE it -- but with so many outward signs of the changing seasons (longer shadows, shorter days) the warmth feels...stubborn, somehow, like Nature dragging her feet, and it can make me impatient: I'm ready to ... [READ MORE]

My Kingdom, and a Half-Bath

  "I saw a slug on my walk this morning, LittleMan.  Do you think he knows Jabba the Hutt?" "Don't be silly, Mommy!  There are no big slugs like Jabba the Hutt in this neighborhood.  Jabba lives on Tatooine.  We live on a planet called San Francisco." Oh, LittleMan, you have no idea: Long long ago, in a far away galaxy, there was a tiny, shiny planet called San Francisco.  Known throughout space as the last refuge of liberals, vegans, hippies, gays, and tech junkies, for the first decades of the new Millennium, the Planet San Francisco had been encased in a shimmering housing ... [READ MORE]

Hot Town, Summer in the City

Life is one big learning process, and one thing I am learning this month is that random school holidays are often the enemy of the working parent.  It's funny, actually, because as an educator myself I have always loved school holidays and considered them a terrific perk of the profession.  But now that I have a son in "real school" I am realizing that: 1) there are an inordinate number of school holidays; 2) all schools have different holiday calendars; and, of course, 3) the rest of the world keeps on turnin' -- meaning deadlines still need to be met, phone calls answered, dollars raised, ... [READ MORE]