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…

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Flying

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…

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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,…

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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…

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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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On Gratitude

Gratitude is a word that has come back in vogue with a roar, and what could be more appropriate for Thanksgiving than gratitude? Gratitude comes in many forms.  It can be demonstrated by being a good listener and an empathetic friend, by caring about others.  We also demonstrate gratitude to society and life in general by doing volunteer work and/or giving to charity.  We show our gratitude by respecting others.  And although we are primarily a secular society, gratitude also may be expressed through contemplation or prayer. There are many things in life for which I…

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The Post Office and the PPIE
Abundance Night.

The Post Office and the PPIE

Post offices and exhibitions go hand in hand. Imagine a World’s Fair and Exposition that covered 635 acres, much of it sitting on land that once was covered with water. That is what happened 100 years ago in San Francisco, when the city built the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). This event took place in what is now San Francisco’s Marina District, a stately neighborhood with elegant homes and thriving businesses, popular with singles, young families and seniors, to celebrate both the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s recovery from the great earthquake and fire…

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Office Supplies

A trip to an independent office supplies store is one of the small pleasures in life, especially if you are familiar with San Francisco’s Patrick & Co. Patrick’s was founded in 1873, and not only has it been a city fixture since the late 19th century, it also has remained a family-owned business for over 140 years. The Fox Plaza store, which was so near and handy to where I work and was the perfect place to browse on my lunch hour, closed earlier this year, a loss to the Civic Center neighborhood. That said, there…

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Books About Letters

Letter writing and books seem to go hand in hand. Generally, people who write are readers. And people who love to read often aspire to be writers. Because letter writing is one of the most fundamental ways of writing, there are many genres of books about letters and letter writing. The epistolary novel, a story that unfolds through a series of letters, is not an uncommon device, and dates back to the late 15th century. From Bram Stoker’s classic gothic horror novel, Dracula, first published in 1897, to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,…

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War Letters: Kayla Williams

Letters written and received far from home during wartime have special meaning for people who serve in the armed forces. From the letters on display at the Smithsonian’s Post Office Museum in Washington, D.C., dating from the American Revolution to 2010, to the iconic Sullivan Ballou letter written during the Civil War, featured in the Ken Burns film, The Civil War, produced by PBS, the impact of such letters and their personal and historical significance cannot be overestimated. Kayla Williams is of a new generation of women soldiers, who now make up 15 percent of today’s…

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