Endings: Finding a New Future
Dandelion, 55 Potrero Ave. closed Fall 2016

Endings: Finding a New Future

2016 was a year of endings. Mostly, we think of beginnings as we approach a new year, but it is equally important to examine those things that now lie only in the past. Often, they reflect our values, contribute to our history, and reflect our sense of personal self. Some endings are self-evident. Farewell to the integrity and quiet dignity of President Obama and his beautiful family. Farewell to the talented, too numerous to name, musicians, actors, artists, journalists, intellectuals and loved ones lost in 2016, who, through their extraordinary contributions, made our lives richer and…


A Post-Truth World

Actions throughout the world, as reported in the daily news, are disturbing. War, famine, violence, aggression and poverty are ongoing staples in the news cycle. Unfortunately, a significant new victim has emerged in recent times:  the truth. We now live in a post-truth world, at least in the political sense. Most of us grew up, I believe, with the admonition by our parents and teachers to always tell the truth. The truth would always win out, and things would go worse for us should we be caught in a lie. Perhaps the fear of being caught…



Joy is not a word that comes readily to mind when one thinks of flying. An airplane flight often involves getting up at the crack of dawn, waiting in long lines, struggling with luggage, flight delays, missed connections, and even unscheduled landings. Arrival at the final destination might be hours behind schedule, leaving the traveler overcome with jet lag. Bumpy air, lost baggage, intrusive conversations by fellow travelers, and other indignities are also among the hazards of air travel. The thought of crashing is high on people’s lists of things most feared in life. But for…


Call Me Grammy

As a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s, I grew up knowing three of my grandparents, my maternal grandmother and grandfather and my paternal grandmother.  While my paternal grandfather passed away when my father was still a toddler, I also was fortunate to grow up having a living great grandmother and three great aunts on that side of the family. But here’s the rub. None of them lived near me.  My parents, who met in San Francisco during World War II, chose to live in the Bay Area, with only one paternal family member in proximity,…


Magical Mailboxes

It’s here again already - National Letter Writing Day is Sunday, Oct. 9. And what a pleasure it is when a real letter arrives in the mailbox. A letter separate and distinct from the usual junk mail that flows through the mail stream, which is now exponentially increased by the proliferation of election-related ads and flyers. Decades past, if one had a mailbox at the post office, the front of the box might have been made of glass, especially if the post office was very old. These mailboxes often included a combination lock, though usually a…


On Being a Grandparent

Just over a month ago, my life took a new turn. I became a grandparent, an event long hoped for, though it wasn’t something I readily admitted, even to myself. It certainly was not something to be taken for granted. In fact, my grandson’s eminent arrival caused me a bit of trepidation. He would live so far away, how would he even get to know me? What if he didn’t take to me? Would he cry if I held him? How would being a grandparent affect the activities that otherwise keep me busy and engaged in…

Postcards from Manhattan
Postcards. Washington Square, Union Square and The Strand bookstore, New York, New York.

Postcards from Manhattan

Rarely do I travel 3,000 + miles for a weekend, but I did so recently, and the experience and rewards were great. While staying in New York, it seemed appropriate to visit some sites and share some postcards with Social Correspondence. Postcard # 1 Dear Francine, It seems that we have developed a fine new tradition, catching up with one another while taking walks, and how fortunate it is for me to benefit from your knowledge of the many treasures tucked away or hidden in plain sight in Central Park. What an amazing place for your…

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Onegin Ballet

The San Francisco Ballet has concluded its repertory season, ending on a high note, even for this world-famous ballet company, with the magnificent production of the Onegin ballet. The story, based on the poem Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, with libretto by John Cranko, is performed to the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky. References to letters are significant to the drama. The Onegin ballet enacts the story of Tatiana, a young woman living in rural Russia, and her love for Onegin, the worldly, elegant friend of her sister Olga’s fiancé, Lensky. In the opening act and scene,…


The Benefits of Gratitude

Perhaps one of the most prolific writers of thank you notes that I have known is the late Marjorie Stern. She was a master of expressing gratitude through letters. Born in 1915, Marjorie was a do-gooder, a lover of fine books and Asian art, and most importantly, an activist. The great granddaughter of San Francisco’s first reform rabbi, Marjorie knew how to get things done. One of her most cherished, long-held dreams was to build a modern, new Main Library in San Francisco. This dream came to fruition 20 years ago, but in order to make…


Love Letters from Wisconsin Lumber Camps

By Catherine Roberts Life in the Wisconsin lumber camps in the 1920s, revealed through letters written to my Aunt Lois from 1924 – 1925, was not easy. The letters, preserved for nearly a century in a Milady of Quality Chocolate Covered Brazil Nuts box, tell a story about the everyday news and concerns of this long-ago way of life Aunt Lois, of course, was young and pretty, but not all of the letters addressed to her are love letters. One letter, postmarked January 14, 1924, is from a lumber camp outside Hannibal, Wisconsin. My aunt must…

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