Sonoma Mission

Mission San Francisco Solano
Sonoma, California

Founded July 4, 1823. This Franciscan mission is the northernmost and last of 21 founded in California. Sonoma’s Mexican governor General Mariano Vallejo was is charge of stemming Russian incursion from the north (Fort Ross). Across the street from the mission is a barracks.

Little Bubbles


We all live in little bubbles. Like the aquatic spiders who sit and build bubble nests to serve as floating nurseries for their young, we each create our own little comfortable incubators for our self-fashioned realities. It is part of survival, and it is what allows us to feel sane—we take in what passes for reasonable and just in our self-fashioned reality, and we reject everything that doesn’t fit, or seem “desirable.”

We don’t mean to be insular, bigoted, opinionated, close-minded, or unkind— it’s simply an inescapable fact that humans have only so much capacity for the clamor of ideas and influences that writhe in a seemingly chaotic universe; every individual sets his or her own limit as to how to organize the cells of the inner self: what will be retained within the cell walls and what must be expelled or rejected. This is true of everyone, whether we choose to recognize it or not.

Little Bubble #1

Blooming Boxes: I am a teacher at a high school in Daly City, California. In 1962, folk singer Malvina Reynolds wrote, sang, and made popular a song called “Little Boxes”, which was about hundreds of identical-looking tract homes built in Daly City in the post-war 50s for a burgeoning middle class. Radio and television successfully propagated the mass ideal of a car in every garage, a chicken in every pot, and a manicured lawn in front of every house. They all looked the same, as the lyrics went:

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

(Hear it on You Tube:

Little Boxes

One of my English Department colleagues has devoted years to innovating ways to make learning meaningful for his students. He teaches Film as Literature classes in “The Cave,” a hybrid classroom/student lounge/library whose walls are plastered with fine art and film posters. He has decided to start a “Blooming Boxes” Festival at Westmoor that will be an annual celebration of the diversity of individuals and the importance of communities within and beyond the school. The festival planners (among which I count myself) are inviting students, their families, and the wider community to express themselves through the vehicle of a box, which they will decorate and customize. Families, classes, businesses, and whoever wants to can individualize a box as an artistic expression of who they are. The aim of the project is to let people come out of their “little boxes” and share their cultural and human uniqueness, while also forming community with their diverse neighbors. The boxes they create will be on display at the school during a day-long celebration of culture, food, and music, to be held on campus in the spring of 2014.


BART Ride to Oakland


From Under the Pages

BART ride

The morning windows
all streaked with gray

She takes out her yellow notepad
and begins to write—

The clouds look like sea
but beyond the golf course trees
out the left side
as they relish the still above-earth
there is a pastel pastiche of dawn
all peaches, grays and blues
that looks like a painting

The juxtaposition of yellow paper
and her purple overcoat
against black and gray-uniformed commuters
strikes her —not as odd—

but as expected

No one looks up
from their eye-pods, galaxies,
or blank, shielded stares
into nothingness ——


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San Francisco Bay on the Holidays:

SF Skyline from helm

 Playing Tourist in My Own Backyard

Whou’da’ thunk it would be such a beautiful day in late November on the bay? Heck with black Friday. Black has never been my favorite color. I’d much rather go out in the sun and feel the wind on my face.

SF Ferry Terminal Terminal Bldg & pigeon

A BART ride to the historic Ferry Building. Once the second-busiest transit station in the world outside of Charing Cross Station in London, it now spends most of its time as a trendy shopping center, housing permanent upscale restaurants and shops, as well as a huge Saturday gourmet farmer’s market.

Mushrooms @ ferry bldg

Arriving in Sausalito, my girls and I meet up with our boating friends. As we motor out onto the all but windless water, we enjoy brie, crackers and olives, along with some champagne. It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. Conversation is punctuated by laughs as we glide along the channel, past sunning cormorants, pelicans and a few seals.

It’s a fine day for just being on the water. Not a hint of the normal San Francisco chill. My youngest is offered the helm, and, feeling a bit tentative at first, she quickly adapts to her new status. And then, a steady 4-knot breeze picks up, enough for her to learn how the wind vane and tell-tales work. As we saunter leisurely towards the city skyline, she maintains her heading, reading the wind to avoid luffing the jib.


No hurries, no worries out here on this sparkling blue lake of a bay. Knowing how rough it can be toward the Golden Gate with its treacherous “potato patch” makes us relish the extreme languor of the moment and the day.

Then, noting the sun heading behind the Marin Headlands, my benjamin daughter calls “Ready about?” and then, “Helms alee!” and we gracefully come about and make our way back to the marina.


We enjoy some delicious ice cream at Lappert’s in Sausalito before catching the last ferry back. Night has fallen, and it’s getting chilly. We are greeted by the Ferry Building’s glowing clock tower (the largest mechanical dial clock in the world), and the holiday-lit outlines of the Embarcadero Center high-rises.

IMG_0526 IMG_0525

BARTing it back to Union Square, we are almost crushed by the hordes returning from the tree-lighting ceremony. We hike up to meet my sister and her husband in Chinatown,


and then proceed a few more blocks to North Beach, where we have the best cioppino ever at the quirky Mona Lisa restaurant. A reproduction of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” as well as a topless version of the Mona Lisa are prominent among the confusion of artworks and sculptures lining every inch of the restaurant’s interior.


What better way to spend the holiday than out enjoying some local color in  my own backyard?