Perils of Pauline…

So, being 71 and not up for long car rides, I made a flight reservation at the last minute to fly from Oakland to San Diego for our family vacation. I envisioned a relaxing trip, arriving long before the rest (two parents, two little girls, and one au pair) would arrive in the mini-van after an 8 1/2 hour drive.

IMG_0504Sunday started as expected. Helping pack up the mini-van and getting ready to attend the 5-year old granddaughters annual ballet recital. I’m escorting her out to my car and manage to trip off the edge of the driveway and fall into the open mini-van, whacking my head on something very hard. But off we go. And the recital is spectacular with her group portraying the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.

Then I hurry back to my apartment to pass the family cat on to the other grandmother for the week. Shadow doesn’t take well to being shoved into his carrier and takes a hunk out of my hand. Scrambling through the medicine cabinet, I find a bandaid and the neosporin.

A friend drives me to Oakland airport and as I approach the baggage check, I realize my driver’s license is back on my scanner at home…having been scanned for an application the day before.  Yes, you can fly without ID. The baggage check was simple, but then I went through 15 minutes of a VERY personal body pat down. I didn’t even request a private room. I just wanted to make that flight. The woman announced each time that she was about to touch a “private area”, using the back of her hands for those spots.

So I make it just in time to board along with the rest of the “B” passengers…I’m always a “B” no matter how promptly I retrieve my boarding pass the day before. I settle into my aisle seat and prepare to relax for the hour and 20 minute flight to San Diego.

Thirty minutes into the flight, the plane tilts violently 45 degrees to the left and goes into free fall for several seconds. We all thought for sure it was the end! But the pilot levels it out and calmly announces that we were caught in another plane’s wake, one passing us at a right angle. The woman next to be actually saw this plane zoom across our path…an obvious near miss.

french gourmetHaving arrived alive though shaken, I’m picked up by my best friend from childhood. NOW…I’m safe. She takes me to the VRBO in Pacific Beach and I’m ready to collapse. Not yet! The door code doesn’t work and someone else is occupying “our” garage. The manager doesn’t answer nor does the handyman. But my friend takes me to The French Gourmet for dinner. A pris fixe dinner of 3 pates, duck confit, and a chocolate ganache eclair along with a glass of sauvingnon blanc calms my nerves. By now the handyman has called back and given me the correct door code and garage.

I’m barely settled in when the rest of the family arrives, having made record time and a much more relaxed day. Moral of the story…the skyways are not always the best alternative to the freeways.

Tippi Hedren and Hitchcock’s The Birds

The birds posterI can’t visit Bodega Bay without driving a few miles inland to the hamlet of Bodega, most famous for the filming of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

As usual at this time of year, Tippi Hedren, whose haunting face is shown in the background of the iconic movie poster on the left was at The Tides wharf to sign autographs. 2014-08-31 10.03.05Tippi signing

2014-08-31 10.02.27A mannequin of Tippi stands duty at the Bodega Country Store filled with Hitchcock memorabilia.

The walls of the store are covered with artwork, costume sketches, publicity photos from The Birds and from Marnie. An article in the New Yorker chronicles the hidden story behind Hitchcock’s inappropriate advances and retaliation againstTippi and her long-held silence.

I take advantage of a photo op with the man himself, now stuffed and harmless.2014-08-31 10.03.51

The Tides


The Tides restaurant as it appeared in the film. It has since been completely remodeled.

schoolhouse2014-08-31 09.50.15On the left, the schoolhouse as it appeared in the film, site of the memorable scene of the birds chasing the children. I went there several years back on a solitary winter day when suddenly a flock of a hundred or more blackbirds came swarming out of the sky and settled on the tall pines nearby. For a second, I thought I would have to run for my life! But today the schoolhouse in renovated and occupied by a family.

A Bodega treasure–Terrapin Creek Cafe

terrapin-creek-cafe-bodega-bayI had just checked in to the Bodega Bay Inn (that’s another story for another time) and had only a little over an hour to get some dinner before I settled in to watch the final race in the Indy Series. I thought I would be relegated to a bag of Fritos and bean dip  from a convenience store, but, taking a chance, I walked across the parking lot to an unassuming blue clapboard building that housed the Terrapin Creek Cafe. The host and owner said they were fully booked but if I could be in and out in an hour that he could seat me. Perfect!

terrapin_creek_interiorThe interior glowed with the casual elegance and colors of southern France and I chose a table with a view of the small, open, and quietly streamlined kitchen. My efficient and knowledgeable fifty-something (my apologies if you were much younger!) waiter was warmly attentive. Such a blessing when one is dining solo. The menu offered a tempting array of local and international cuisine at reasonable prices.


I started with the roasted beet and mixed green salad, made crunchy and delicious with chopped whole unsalted almonds, instead of the usual slivered variety. A glass of sauvignon blanc added a refreshing touch.


duck anotherAnd then the entree of Liberty Farms Duck Breast served with Black Forbidden Rice, English Peas, Roasted Baby Carrots, Spinach, and Duck Jus. I am one of those Duckophiles that eats as much duck as humanly possible on my trips to France (eleven trips in the past 13 years) and I can say without hesitation that this duck surpassed any that I’ve eaten either in Paris or in Dordogne, the duck capital of France. The breast was tender and moist, cooked to perfection, with a crispy, salty strip of skin on each slice. The Black Forbidden rice with its delightful crunchiness, dotted with tender scallions, carrots, and spinach, and drenched in just the right amount of duck jus was an incredible accompaniment.

I had just enough time to squeeze in a delicious dessert of almond cake topped with a berry compote and lemon creme before heading back to my room.

terrapin ownersThe owners state on their website that they “are expanding the notion of comfort food to include dining that is delicious, affordable, and responsible.” I must add one word, in French. SUPERBE!


Sam’s Anchor Cafe ~ Tiburon ~ 1963 and 51 years later

Sams 1963

Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon in 1963

2014-03-07 14.05.12A typical Sunday morning at Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon, CA in 1963 was marked by hard drinking by rowdy college and twenty-something crowd.

In 2014 on a Sunday, you find families filling the deck and enjoying the great view across San Francisco Bay to the City.


Mary Lou 1963

1963. My best friend from childhood. A flock of empty Ramos Fizz glasses (hey…don’t the raw eggs in them count as breakfast!)

Karen 1963

This photo was taken in La Jolla but that’s me in 1963.

We were best friends from the 4th grade on and in 1963 roommates in an off-campus apartment at UC Berkeley. Every Sunday morning we headed off to Sam’s with a couple of friends in the back seat of my Morris Minor and downed more Ramos fizzes than was prudent.

Amazing that we survived. Must have had more than one guardian angel looking over us. No one gave a thought to driving under the influence. Figured no harm could come our way if we were back on the road by one p.m. What can I say? We were both nineteen and stupid. All our friends drank with the help of the ubiquitous fake ID’s available on campus.

2014-03-07 14.04.23So here we are in March of 2014. Alive, well, and still best friends. I went on to a Ph.D., a 40-year career as a therapist, a union leader, the mother of two, grandmother of four, and, of course an author. My BBF went on to a fabulous career in catering, head of special events at the San Diego Convention center, a leadership position in the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), and also a mother of two and grandmother of two. We turned into church-going, upstanding members of the community. This is a reverse cautionary tale for mothers who are worried what their college-aged children are up to, that they’ll never amount to anything! Of course, we both came to terms later in life with the risks we took around alcohol and we both have experienced the devastating effects of addiction within our own families. So certainly nothing to be flip about! Thank God for the gift of recovery.


Memories of Honfleur


This gallery contains 18 photos.

A dear friend was browsing through my posts and noticed I hadn’t posted on Honfleur, one of his favorite haunts in France. Mine too. Not only because I had a charming visit there in 2009 but because my great-grandfather Captain … Continue reading

Bodie ~ Best ghost town in California

P1020193Bodie is a ghost town in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, United States, about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. As a bustling gold mining center, Bodie had all the amenities, including a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band, a railroad, miners’ and mechanics’ unions, several daily newspapers, and a jail. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.

P1020210As with other remote mining towns, Bodie had a popular, though clandestinely important, red light district on the north end of town. From this is told the unsubstantiated story of Rosa May, a prostitute who, in the style of Florence Nightingale, came to the aid of the town menfolk when a serious epidemic struck the town at the height of its boom. She is credited with giving life-saving care to many, but was buried outside the cemetery fence.

P1020219The first label of Bodie as a “ghost town” was in 1915.In a time when auto travel was on a rise, many were adventuring into Bodie via automobiles. By 1920, Bodie’s population was recorded by the US Federal Census at a total of 120 people. Despite the decline, Bodie had permanent residents through most of the 20th century, even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932.


Bodie is now an authentic Wild West ghost town. The town was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and in 1962 it became Bodie State Historic Park. A total of 170 buildings remained. Bodie has been named California’s official state gold rush ghost town.

P1020212I even found two of my favorite feathered friends lounging in the bicycle basket of the Bodie ranger.



And I was delighted to see a shepherd and his sheep and sheepdog on the way to this remote corner of California history. Photos are my own. Text thanks to Wikipedia on Bodie


Lavendar Festival in Digne-Les-Bains

IMG_1364One of the many delights of last summer’s six-week stay in France was spending one day in Digne-Les-Bain to watch the Lavender Festival Parade. Block after block of the main street was filled on each side with long tables for the hundreds of parade watchers to sit have a yummy lunch served by local restaurants before the parade began.

With her iced popsicle in hand, my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter cheered for each elaborately decorated float, excitedly pointed out each costumed performer, and clapped and hummed along with each band.


But she held her ears when the Fireman’s Band was too loud.


IMG_1367Even her eleven-month-old younger sister seemed to be having the time of her life watching from her Mimi’s lap.


The highlight of the parade for all of us was the band dressed in traditional costumes that played and “marched” in perfect formation on board BICYCLES!


Mommy, Mimi, & Muffins Travel by TGV

IMG_1228In early July 2013, Mimi, that’s me, the grandma, left on one plane for Oxford for a week-long residential writing course, and Mommy and the Muffins, then one and three and a half, left on another plane for Paris and a stay with dear friends in La Selle sur Le Bied, a lovely rural village southeast of Paris. Joined by Mimi a week later, they all drove to Strasbourg for a ten-day stay, this time with the grandmother of the two girls Mommy tutors back home. The tutoring girls were visiting as well, so it was a fun-filled time, immersed in the warm, welcoming African and French culture of that family. The next destination was to a month-long stay at a home exchange near Aix en Provence in the town of SaintMaximinla-Sainte-Baume, this time traveling by TGV. The high-speed train stops for no one. You don’t get your luggage or one of the children off in time and you can kiss them goodbye. We had literally five minutes (instead of the usual ten since they were running late) to get one grandmother, one mother, two toddlers, two car seats, four large bags, four small bags, and a dual-stroller, onto the train at Strasbourg, having made a mad block-long dash with the whole lot after finding the direct elevator to the track out of order! Then mid-way we had to change trains. If it hadn’t been for a young man from New Hampshire and several French passengers forming a four-man “luggage” brigade, we never would have caught the second train. I can still see Mommy running breathless up and down the quay to where we were to board train number two, pushing the stroller laden with several suitcases at a time. Arriving at the Aix TGV station, we recruited another passel of helpful strangers to help us off. But as you can see from the photo, the preschooler thought her first TGV ride was all very relaxing and great fun.