Andrew Lacenere and I met two years ago on a sail in September of 2015. During the many sailing trips that followed, Andrew and I dreamed into existence what would become Ocean SF. Then, in July… More
On Friday, I got the big guns out, after my daughter who recently had knee surgery refused to eat anything but, donuts and candy. My chicken noodle soup could not compete, so I had to get creative.
I made her favorite soup (recipe to follow), which she enjoyed for two seconds, and then went back to the pounds of candy delivered by friends. Being desperate to get her to eat something more nutritious I made her favorite pizza.
Making pizza is fast and easy, but you do have to stay close to the kitchen, and keep an eye on it as it cooks. I had enough dough for two, so while they were baking I made her a white lasagna (recipe to follow).
Note: The oven must be well preheated and very hot.
Pizza dough (Whole Foods)
3 tablespoons tomato sauce (any kind)
1/2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 ounces fresh mozzarella (small balls)
4 to 5 basil leaves
- Let dough rest for half an hour in a warm place. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Rollout dough with extra flour on stone. Place a pizza stone (or cookie sheet, but grease with olive oil) to warm in the oven.
- Roll dough with a rolling pin into a circle. Spread the sauce using the back of a spoon evenly across the surface, stopping approximately 1/2 inch from the edges.
- Cut each ball in half and place evenly and gently on the sauce.
- Place onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.
- Add fresh basil.
Make as many as you have time for, as these disappear magically. They can also be eaten cold, or reheated with excellent results.
There is something to be said for down time. It’s not often a person is handed the gift of time. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning eating ice cream, red vines, and peanut butter cups while watching Pirates of the Caribbean with my daughter.
I’m typically productivity minded. The only time I relax is with friends at dinner, or at the Yacht Club, or on boats. It’s difficult to multitask on a boat. When I’m home, I time phone calls with chores. I have a set schedule. I feel I have no time to waste. Somewhere along the way, I learned not to relax.
These last days, while caring for my daughter, I’ve trimmed my roses, weeded my flower beds, cleaned out cabinets, finished my taxes, and reorganized my coffee cups, and cooked and cooked.
But for hours and hours, I’ve spent time with my daughter. I’ve also spent a good deal of time with Jeff, Dan and Chris, my neighbors andlate husband’s golf foursome, who have been a constant in our lives.
Last night, Jeff brought us dinner, and Chris stopped by, earlier Dan was here with donuts, and his daughter.
I love my neighborhood, and the kind and supportive people who live around us. Guardian angels all.
Love and blessings.
I knew there was a problem when I went to bed on Sunday night. I saw the report on my iPad that there was a small fire in Napa. The wind was howling outside, and I could hear my beautiful Birch trees hitting my house and windows.
The wind was also tapping the blinds against the windows down the hall. Even though, it was a warm night, I walked around the house closing all the windows.
I remembered, my market umbrella was up, and I went outside to close it. Later, as the winds picked up further, I went back into the darkness and pulled the entire umbrella out of the table and left it on the patio.
By morning, smoke was in the air, and my pool was full of branches. However, I had other things to worry about because my daughter was having knee surgery the next day.
I called the surgeon and asked if I could pick up the prescriptions that day, so I wouldn’t have to leave my daughter after the surgery. Without her Dad around, and no reliable family to help, I have to plan ahead.
In the morning, I ran all the errands, and got gas, and went home to get everything I could done before the next day.
My wooded acre of land was a mess, but the winds were still dropping branches and I had other things that took precedence. My business partner was in LA with our Sales Director in meetings for Ocean SF, and I was either on the phone with them, or texting them and our pattern maker, who had been evacuated from her home in Irvine.
In the end, our neighbor Dan, had made a list of everything Siena needed, and showed up the next day with her favorite foods and drinks. During surgery he waited with her at the hospital, while I went to the pharmacy, and picked up her perscriptions.
Meanwhile, around me Northern California is literally burning down. Beautiful Calistoga a place of tremendous beauty and tranquility, has been reduced to ash and rubble.
This has been the theme of the last year or so, and I have become a master at focusing with military precision on one thing no matter what else is going on around me. It’s possible, I inherited this quality from my father, a decorated war veteran, but it’s something I wish I didn’t need.
My daughter has been slow to recover, she’s not bounced back as expected. She has been in a great deal of pain, so much so that I’ve been on the phone with her surgical nurse off and on for days. We’ve had to try several strategies to help her, and maybe today will be the day she turns the corner.
I lie next to her at night, and let her squeeze my hand. While she sleeps, I secretly check the Internet for the status of the fires.I close my eyes and pray for recovery of my daughter, the fire victims, the brave emergency response teams, and myself.
The second surgery to repair her ACL is planned for November. Initially, the date was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I moved it. On Thanksgiving, God willing, we will be sitting in our cabin in Truckee watching the snow fall.
Love and blessings to all.
After a stressful day of knee surgery and a rocky recovery, I went to bed early with my daughter and patient.
After the Napa fire had shifted late yesterday afternoon, the smoke cleared, but this morning the smoke was back and thicker than ever before. Everything smells of smoke now.
In the early morning I went outside to skim the 20 pounds or more of redwood branches out of my pool from the high winds the day before. The sky is grey, but the sun filtered through the dark smoke turned orange.
I filled in a few cracks in my skimmer, ran my pump, and added some shock and clarifier to return the pool to clarity after clearing out all the debris. This literally took hours, but it’s calming to be in rythym with the water, the net and the redwood needles and branches. It takes patience and skill to retrieve the small particles from the bottom of the pool with a brush and a net.
Then, I worked on my taxes. In between, I ran up and down the stairs, caring for my daughter, talked on the phone with an old friend in New York, and made homemade chicken noodle soup.
The sky is still thick with smoke, but I feel like my own personal skies have cleared. It’s easier to get things done now.
After months of grief where I had to force myself to get the mundane done, things come easily now, even the things I dislike doing the most are quicklycompleted.
I feel like the winds of change have shifted, and the dark cloud that has hung over me for so long has lifted.
Love and blessings to all.
When my kids were small, it was in fashion to parent in a way that brought out the brilliance in every child while honoring their unique talents. For me, growing up the opposite was true. I hid my brilliance, my light, my authenticity, or whatever you wish to call it.
My relatives didn’t sit in their rooms reading Chekhov or Dostoyevsky for fun. My relatives were boisterous and charismatic. They could tell jokes, and they didn’t want to work for Lobbists and change the world.
As a kid, I felt it was important to fit in and not draw too much attention to myself. There was a definite “we” in my family, a party line, and a host of secrets to go along with it.
When I graduated from college, my mother told me that she was surprised that I had graduated. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think I was smart enough. I can’t blame her, as I skipped most of my high school classes to hide out painting in the art room, or to read novels in the library.
My mother encouraged me to get an M.R.S. degree and was astonished when I abruptly broke up with my long term college boyfriend a few months shy of college graduation.
I didn’t get married until my mother started calling my cat her grand-cat. But once I did marry and have children, I quit my lucrative career, and hid my intellect again. Looking back, I can’t believe I did this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I fell in love with my family.
Now that I am on my own again, I love staying up all night reading philosophy, or learning anything new. I love working and starting companies and nonprofits that can change the world.
My children are so much like me that this truly is the new normal. I encourage each of them to shine as brightly as they can. There are no secrets. The children tell everyone my embarrassing stories, and they take countless photos of me, eating, or sleeping, or driving, and post them on Snapchat.
I don’t care.
I am as much as I possibly can be, my truest, brightest, most authentic self.
Love and blessings.
As I take care of my daughter after knee surgery, I remember an incident when a close family member of mine came to my home after I had surgery.
I have a rare lung disease, and am now in remission, but for a time I was not. And this family member stole all of the pain medication I needed to help me recover from having my neck cut open and parts of my lungs removed.
On my second day in recovery, my close relative left me with one pill out of thirty.
When I called her, and asked if she had taken my drugs after visiting, she insisted it was my 17 year old babysitter, who had taken them, and not her.
No one can ever say that I’ve not been forgiving. I trusted and believed my close relative and distanced myself from my beloved babysitter.
Later, I saw the truth, but I still forgave and allowed this harmful person in my life.
“Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal.’
Love and blessings to all.
“The river will take whatever goes with it.”
I thought to myself this morning, after a nightmare, and before my daughter’s knee surgery to repair her miniscus and ACL injuries from a recent soccer collision.
“Be determined,” I tell myself in light of this.
Then, “be still, let God, be strong, wise, and calm.”
As a last resort, “be like water that doesn’t resist, but accepts what comes and continues on.”
Predictably, this does the trick.
I keep thinking at some point all of this will get easier. It does not.
The night before, I read everything there was to read on knee surgery. My sailing friend warned me of the pain she felt when she had a similar surgery done, but it wasn’t mentioned in my pre-op interviews. It was glossed over to say the very least. I’m sure she’s not surprised. How to warn a person of this?
The fires turned our beautiful Moraga neighborhood a dreary grey. Walnut Creek, looked much the same. The surgery proved more complicated than at first appeared, both her interior and exterior miniscus was severely damaged, putting the hope of the simultaneous ACL surgery, and recovery, out of the question.
As usual we had much support, our neighbor, Dan, was with us for the entire day. Other friends arrived after, at the hospital, and then more at home. Siena’s sweet, and sunny nature attracts so many people, love and support.
I’m not going to lie, it was pure hell to see her in pain and crying. They had to give her three additional doses of morphine, and a second nerve block, before the pain was under control,and she stopped crying.
Of course, I was crying too. She couldn’t see me because I was cradling her head in the hospital bed as she screamed. I kept thinking it felt similar to having a baby; the pain, but also the relief that it was over, and she was going to be alright.
Later, she watched movies with a group of friends in her room. Our home is full of flowers, candy, balloons, and cards. My lovely daughter is asleep now.
The smoke from the Napa fire has mostly cleared, and all is well. I’m sitting peacefully with my dog, as everyone sleeps.
Love and blessings to all.
Last night, I dreamed I was standing in my backyard with my late husband. There was a giant snake in the pool, and while he was talking to Animal Control, the snake moved toward me to strike. In the dream there wasa white husky dog and the dog intervened. Suddenly, these images shattered into a million pieces.
I looked at the clock and it was 4:00 a.m.
With nearby Napa Valley on fire, and my daughter, business partner, and best friend Debra in Los Angeles with the Santa Ana fire, and my youngerdaughter about to go into knee surgery, it’s no wonder I’m dreaming of snakes.
I look up the meaning of these images in the darkness. Snakes signify fear, and huskies protection, my late husband in the distance is a common theme in dreams.
As always, I say my prayers. I pray for all of the people affected by the fires and that my daughter’s surgery goes well. I ask that I am able to sleep until 7:30 when my alarm is set.
Miraculously, I do go back to sleep. My eyes open as my alarm goes off.
Love and blessings to all.
I’ve been praying for peace and tranquility for so long that it is a reflex. I do it in the car at the red lights, while brushing my teeth, or even just rushing down the stairs on my way out the door in the morning.
On Friday, Paris came home for the weekend. I picked her up from the airport and when she got in the car, I said, “tell me everything.”
A few days before, I could feel a definite shift. The light was brighter and all of the edges had sharpened as if coming into focus. The colors had softened to blue, white and yellow.
The clouds hung gently over the San Francisco Bay as I exited the Caldecott Tunnel. I could see the view of Treasure Island and San Francisco magically laid out before me. I was on my way to meet my business partner for martinis and oysters at the Clairemont Hotel to celebrate our progress with Ocean SF.
We sat outside in the warm sunshine and looked toward to city. The sky was a perfect cerulean blue, and everything had a freshness like I had never seen before. Andrew, wore a blue and white striped shirt and I could see the reflection of myself in his mirrored sunglasses. It was one of those rare moments in life where you feel perfectly content as if everything lay in front of you, and nothing behind.
I have become an observer in my own life over the past year. I like to watch how things unfold. Truthfully, I am not always calm while doing this, and people close to me have witnessed some of the moments when I am out of sorts with my circumstances, but it’s a practice to allow change and not resist it.
When we got home from the airport, Paris sat on the kitchen counter and talked as I made dinner. She is someone who is excited about ideas and exudes passion as she speaks. She is a whirl of philosophies, personalities, topics and opinions. As I watched her face, I could see she is maturing. Her eyes are a deeper blue, and her smile is a smile beneath a smile, that of a young woman, and no longer of a girl.
Change can be excruciatingly slow. Then, one day you are there.
In my 20’s I was stunned and amazed to be sitting on a train in England wearing a herringbone coat traveling toward my first economics class at the University of London. It took ten months to apply, and work toward that goal, but I eventually arrived, and the long rain soaked days at Oregon State University became just a memory.
When Paris was home, we had a dozen people for dinner. We sat in our formal dining room among friends and candle light, everyone was laughing. It felt as if it had always been this way.
Love and blessings to all.
Occasionally, I will tell my kids how much I disliked being a stay at home mother. And this really upsets them, but what would appear to be a luxury to one person, can be torture to another.
Often, my friends who worked full time will tell me they did what I did, and also worked. However, they did not. I will not go into how I turned myself inside out being the Junior Highschool recycling garbage monitor, teaching literature to sixth graders, or ironing our pillow cases with the lavender water I made from the lavender I grew in my garden, and so on. Because those things are unimportant, but what I did do that was important, was to listen to the hopes and dreams of the generation of children that surrounded me during those years.
When my daughter was being bullied, I would go to school and have lunch with her in the cafeteria. No one noticed because I was there so often people thought I worked there. I did everything from tutoring to weeding the school garden. I even played my violin for my daughter’s classes, most people don’t even know that I play the violin.
I taught embroidery to both girls fifth grade class. We embroidered covered wagons on canvas, during the pioneer history module, but mostly I talked with them while teaching them to sew with a needle and thread. The first year, I met a little boy named Albert, and he would sit on my lap the entire hour I was there. He was one of my favorites.
Working at a paid job has a predictable pace, and most projects a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you can take a break at lunchtime, and eventually go home at night. Motherhood for working and nonworking mothers alike is another matter all together.
Nothing in my life, before or since, took more from me as a person, or was as physically and emotionally demanding as being a stay at home mother.
My house was as clean as a whistle, not some days, but everyday. I often hosted after school pool parties for twenty-five. I made my own play dough and my own pasta from scratch with Italian flour that I bought at a special grocery store in Napa. So, clearly I brought much of this on myself.
Now, I rarely make my bed, and cooking means I grill chicken, and toss it into a salad at 8 p.m. And, I get a second chance to return full time to the work I love.
After the way things turned out, I’m happy I took the time to create a warm, peaceful, and beautiful environment for my family and many friends.
Those days now feel like a dream. It’s as if I was an entirely different person then, however, being excellent at what I did helped to create many happy memories that laid a solid foundation for my children.
After their father died, I told them often that the past predicts the future. And, although it might be hard to believe, they would one day be happy again.
And so it goes.
Love and blessings to all.