Falling Digital Flowers, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:37am

Way back in 1960 my family moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the San Francisco Bay Area. Although I spent my college, grad school and early career years in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and my family’s from the Northeast, I feel quite rooted here.

Over the past 6 decades my home, now often known as “Silicon Valley,” has changed almost beyond recognition. Mostly I would rather it were otherwise. I miss our open spaces, a small town feel, the departed general shabbiness. Mostly. Last weekend, however, I was reminded again to stay open to growth.

Fairly recently PACE Gallery opened an outpost on the former site of a used car lot. They focus, appropriately, on digital art. Last weekend, my sister and I stopped in. I thought you guys might like to see some of this exhibit by TeamLAB, just a little something beautiful for a Saturday morning.

The PACE space consists of a series of dark rooms – necessarily, the art is all light-based. One room of panels featured hopping crows and falling branches.

But this was my favorite. Look at how the little figures move.


And finally my sister and I found ourselves in a room covered in illuminations of moving flowers. Yes, we were covered too. The seasons were supposed to shift. We sat on the floor and watched for 20 minutes. Not sure that we saw autumn per se, but children turned light flower-covered cartwheels, a young man took pictures of a young woman, also flower-covered, and I was reminded of both planetariums and Liberty of London.

Not shabby.

I’d never say that the digital will replace paint and canvas, but I suppose I have to concede that the world, as we know when we pay attention, is not going to hell in a handbasket. Thank goodness for art.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Did Everybody Else Already Know This?

I have a secret to tell you. Or maybe I’m the last to know?

Men’s wallets are better than women’s. At least if you carry a small bag and/or are looking to jettison carrying weight.


I made this astonishing discovery in September. I wanted to bring my Céline bag on the trip to New York Fashion Week, but it’s way smaller than the Bottega Veneta large hobo that I usually carry. So I bought myself a new wallet.


I stuck with BV, but I picked a man’s version. It’s gray, which I love. Neutral but not black. Also works with my brown messenger crossbody.


I wondered, at first, if I could fit everything. AARP. Has anyone ever used their membership? There are enough slots for the cards I actually need. I carry my driver’s license in a separate holder anyway – so much easier for travel.


I worried about change. But, and here’s what made me feel like a genius (or else someone REALLY slow to figure out the obvious), I can put it in the zipper side pocket of my bags! Bingo! Paying with coins is something you have to consider really carefully anyway. I’m always the older woman annoying the younger person behind me at the cashier by counting. Five, thirty, fifty-five, sixty, sixty-two.

Men’s wallets these days don’t ask us to sacrifice style. Quite the contrary. And if I’m going to carry something artistically logo-ed I’d rather be able to pull it out for a flash and then hide it again.

You Can Choose From Wildly Ornamented

No need to go all the way to cobras if you don’t want to. Valentino’s studless accessories are really gorgeous these days.

Or The Subtle But Still Interesting

True, I don’t have as much room for receipts any more, but who needs to carry around every scrap in the universe to reconcile with a credit card bill some day? And probably nobody must have the business card of their tree guy with them at all times.

Jettison, hold.

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The Small Fall Of The San Francisco Bay Area


In the USA, Fall has been usurped. The Northeast rules our iconography, and yet. Sweaters, boots? It’s still in the 70s where I live. Waves of forest red? We’re still growing roses.

I’m here to represent other autumns. We know when the oleander drops.


You see, contrary to popular mythology, California does have a fall. It’s just small. It comes when summer has passed, when the concrete of our driveways cools down. Before winter, when it rains. Or doesn’t rain, so we gather at the dinner table worrying about whether it will rain.

Our light changes.


But we have to pay attention. In summer we close our eyes and walk in the sun. Sometimes it’s too bright to get to the car without dark glasses. In fall, we look around. Even if around just means somewhere up above suburban roofs. The sensibility develops over time.


And down. Not just because pyracantha berries are slippery and lodge themselves enthusiastically in our sneaker treads.


In order to find fall in the grain of light on asphalt, and long shadows cast by leaves.


Not to worry. No plans to secede. When we want to share the national zeitgeist, we head over the hill to Half Moon Bay, an agricultural and fishing town that throws one heck of a pumpkin festival.

My friends, what are the joys of your particular autumn? Alternatively, which of your seasons do you nominate for the National Calendar? I propose Northern California to represent July. Oh, and despite a slight petulance, if you’re in Vermont I support your right to proclaim the forest red. It’s just that I suspect Alabama and Oregon might also have something to say.





The Winner Of The Blue Nile Mini-Birthstone Pendant, And, Thank You For Your Stories

Cat won the draw for the birthstone pendant. She wrote, “Although my birthstone is peridot, green has never been my color. I would opt for aquamarine to bring a touch of the sea to my decidedly earthbound day-to-day.”

Congrats, Cat! Please ping me at my skyepeale email, with your mailing address, and Blue Nile will send you the necklace. I’ll probably say hi too:).

A few of the other comments on our seasons and times, real and in dreams.

Anita Jenkins wrote: “In Edmonton Alberta Canada where I live, my birth month of May is one of the best times of the year. The leaves are coming out after a long winter, the mosquitoes haven’t arrived yet, we are so thrilled to take off those big coats and boots.”

Kristina wrote: “In January, the holiday season is over, and everything seems to be still and quiet. For tree farmers, this is a dormant season, when we can catch our breath. I do miss the dense fog which used to descend on the valley like a cloud blanket…”

Sally wrote: “I was born in February, on George Washington’s birthday, and love the childhood memories I have of that date. My mom always put cherries and tiny plastic axes on my birthday cupcakes!”

Dede wrote: “The necklace which becomes my talisman that I wear it all the time…My extended vacation in Tuscany at a villa on a hill near Prato has just begun…The sun is warmly shining and I exit the terrace bound for a day by the pool…I am wearing the slimmest of black bikinis and my necklace…The sun beats down and the day already has the earth and fragrance that is Tuscany…However, the slight sparkle from my necklace is the only light I see…Just a simple little necklace designed to make me happy…”

Mary Q. wrote: “I was worn on the Autumn Equinox in September and as a child was enchanted by the idea of the earth reaching equal day and equal night just for me!”

To those who sent me birthday wishes, thank you.

To those told stories of love and loss, I hear you.

It is such a privilege to host you and give you presents.


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Thank You Internet For Growing My Ideas On Friendship, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:16am

I know we often bemoan the state of the Internet. Surely it’s been a home for some of the least civil, most bullying words we’ve ever heard in broad company.

But let’s take a balanced view. That’s how we find our way.

The Internet has also opened up whole new ways of finding and having friends. On the blogosphere we talk mostly about kindred spirits. Whether for surfaces – someone else who loves butterflies! someone else with broad shoulders! someone else who grew up with iced tea spoons! – or depths – you too divorced, lost your temper, lied and felt terrible about it and hoped to be forgiven – we find our pods. Our leaps, our exaltations, as leopards or larks.

But we may also find  friends who differ. I like this.

I’ve talked before about my group of young women friends. We’re extremely scattered, across the UK and the west of the USA. I’m at least 25 years older than everyone else. So our commonality is less straightforward, but no less acute, than friendships of age and place. And it’s been a revelation, negotiating our communication over the years, growing trust, creating a shared language.

For my birthday they sent me this necklace. Inside, their birthstones. My heart, as they say, grew ten sizes that day.

Recently I’ve had heartening interchanges with some other Internet friends too. In these cases, different politics. One former blogger and I got involved in a perfectly polite discussion, she apologized for tone anyway, we chatted privately, and in the end she characterized our opposing views as, “same soldier, different battles.” Which made sense. And which, in the embodied world, we might never have had the space or patience to say to each other.

Another woman and I agreed civilly on Twitter that despite our different positions, we saw each other as friends. In that case I’d say the point of conjunction was the way we both talk. Which seems odd, but works.

There’s another woman who always tells me that she loves my blog posts. I don’t even know her last name.

These are small moments, but they matter to me.

Civility can be easier on-line than in person. I until recently saw these easier interactions as somehow less valuable than the more difficult in-person sort, but I’ve changed my mind. Rather than discount the frictionless relationships we can have online, I now believe they offer a model valuable in its own right. Not Real Life Lite, more like old school pen-pals, if you will. Lessons therein.

If it’s easier to be supportive online – why is it so hard in real life? If it’s easier, conversely, to speak difficult truth online, why so hard in real life? If we learn from difficult stuff surely we can learn from ease? I’m still thinking.

So in the middle of what feels, in the United States, like a long hallway, doors open on either side, people screaming at each other in the small gray rooms as we pass, maybe there are some people walking right next to you. We can agree to keep going until we reach the green outdoors.

Or maybe we can sit down, right here under the fluorescent lights, for tea. Not a revolutionary idea, that, but not all progress requires revolt. I know I’ve got those silver spoons somewhere. I bet you have a tablecloth, and someone else knows how to bake. Someone bring the pakora, someone else the scones, the bao, the Cheetos, even. I’m sure somebody likes Cheetos, and I probably don’t need to argue that.

Pass the whole milk and have a wonderful weekend.


Note: The necklace link is not monetized. I never monetize a Saturday post. Them’s the rules.

The Key Motif Of 2016, And Maybe 2017

In these days where fashion welcomes, nay proliferates, all kinds of silhouettes, we find ourselves designating “It” items to replace absent mandates. The It bag, those shoes, or, occasionally, that “motif.” Do you remember a couple of years ago – bird prints everywhere?

This year, I’m noticing butterflies. Which pleases me to no end. As a fan of the actual creatures, I’m happy to see them figured in home and on persons.

I know some people are scared of them. I get it. They are bugs. They do have scary legs. But the symbolism is lovely. In China it means young love that never dies. Let us not forget the old really annoying song, “Elusive Butterfly of Love,” in my memory fraught with pre-teen and pre-love angst.

And there’s always reality; butterflies are pollinators, they look like stained glass, and remind us of the almost infinite variety of nature.

The Butterfly Home

I have five of these glass guys, I like to experiment with random arrangements. As for the Mackenzie Childs guest towels, were they linen they’d be on their way to me .

Your Butterfly Wardrobe

If money were no object I’d wear Valentino’s “butterflied” denim barn jacket for the rest of my time on this earth. Even Alexander McQueen’s line, notable for elevating the skull to high fashion, has joined in.

How About Butterfly Jewelry?

Jewelry is probably the most traditional way to get your fix. I will never forget a pair of earrings I didn’t buy. Made from four diamonds, marquise for the forewings, a pair of pears for the rear. So, so, beautiful. Betsey Johnson wants to make it up to me.

Or, Perhaps My Favorite Icons, Butterfly Shoes And Bags

You can find your butterflies gaudy or severe. I love those Sophia Webster shoes. Wouldn’t they be great for the holidays? Still, Valentino wins this round, with embroideries appliqued again on denim. Sigh.

Finally, in the let’s not spend a thousand dollars on a whim category, we have McQueen’s t-shirt, Johnny Was’s tunic, and this pretty inexpensive top (it can be hard to find inexpensive butterfly prints that aren’t tacky but I think I like this one).

And I just remembered the scientific term. Lepidoptera. There you have it.

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Shopbop 25% Sale On All Kinds Of Stuff Starts Today

Hi guys. Shopbop, an online retailer that specializes in not-cheap but not-always-too-much modern-but-not-neessarily-cutting-edge will be running a sale for the next three days. 25% if you buy up to $500, 30% off if you haven’t gotten around to fall wardrobe updates and want to dive in deep. Code is MAINEVENT16, I suppose because this is the site’s main sale event of the year.

There are a few brands and items not included, but the sale runs pretty broadly.

I know I’d wear this sweatshirt 2-3 times/week, because a) sweatshirt b) randomly distributed embroidered stars. If only they had it in a Medium. Lucky you Larges.


And Shopbop is good for denim, sneakers, ankle boots, bags, jackets – all that It Girl In New York Who Just Happened To Wander In From Minnesota look that has defined 2016. With the embellishments and lush textures of 2017. A few pieces of type work pretty darn well to modernize our I Do Love Nordstrom And I’m No Longer A Girl Suburban Casual too. Onward.

Take the discount off the prices shown in this widget. (Can you tell I’m in need of some cognac shoes?)

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Are Birthstones Only For The Birthday Girl? And Is Your Birth Stone The Only One You Get With Meaning?

After all the posts about my birthday, you guys deserve a present.

When Blue Nile got in touch with me about another giveaway recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I confess, Part One involved something for me.

As you may know, I rely on chandelier earrings to elevate my Extreme Casual. As you may also know, most days I wear this necklace, two diamond solitaires dangling from one chain. The second stone, invisible in this photo, is round.

Diamond Ring, Diamond Necklace, With Sparkle

I love the necklace, it has sentimental value and occupies my favorite casual luxury space. But it doesn’t go with these chandeliers.


I knew a big necklace of any sort wouldn’t work for me. But a teeny disc, with a center stone, that could be nice. Behold Blue Nile’s Mini Birthstone charm. In amethyst. It comes in your birthstone of choice.


One detail. My birthday was September. Am I not required to sapphire? Impunity! Claim your talisman! In crystal lore amethysts promote patience and ward off intoxication.

Besides, purple compliments the chandeliers.


This is a very small pendant, but the circle stands out against a v-neck. (No, the earring’s large circle of rutilated quartz didn’t turn orange overnight, it’s an artifact of light and my insistence on monochromatic skin in these jewelry shots. Blame my waning vanity.)


And now we’re giving away a similar necklace, maybe to you. Choose your own teeny stone for the center. Either your birthstone, or one with meaning to you. Alternatively, pick a color, we all understand the power of aesthetics.

To help narrow your choices, here’s an index of mineral implication and birthdate assignments. Hey, I’m a Northern Californian, it comes with the territory. I don’t actually believe in this stuff, but as ideas enhance the world’s mystery I don’t close my ears all the way.

Stones (And Some Jewelry Bits And Bobs From Blue Nile And Elsewhere) For Birthdays, Or Meanings. Many, Many Meanings.

January ||  Garnet (rectangle pendant) || Passion, Intimacy

February || Amethyst  (cocktail ring) || Patience, Temperance, Stilling The Mind

March || Aquamarine (raw gem earrings) || Releasing Fear, Mental Clarity

April || Diamond  (mini-studs) || Faithfulness, the Richness of Self (I quite love this)

May || Emerald (diamond and emerald necklace in case you wonder what almost $1,000,000 in gemstones might look like, used) || Emeralds placed on the heart bring emotional balance. Well OK then.

June || Pearl (way too early to think about this but cute Christmas earrings, no?), Alexandrite || Pearls for Integrity and Loyalty

July || Ruby (dragon bracelet with ruby eyes) || Supports your emotions, Devotion, Happiness

August || Peridot (Elizabeth Locke pendant – have loved her stuff for ages), Spinel || Peridot for the Heart Chakra brings Unconditional Love, Happiness and Light

September || Sapphire (teeny stacking ring) || Personal Expression, Release Of Pain

October || Opal, Tourmaline  (necklace by Pippa Small) || Opals are for protection and loyalty, but can be seen as bad luck. Tourmaline is here to help us on our path to new dimensions. OK then.

November || Topaz, Citrine  (drop earrings) || Citrine for Success, Clear Thinking, Topaz for Protection from Greed

December || Tanzanite, Turquoise (necklace on sale) || Turquoise for Healing and Balancing

And now for your present. Leave a comment here letting me know you’re in, and what you’d like – your birthstone? Do you like your birthdate? Its stone? Or something else? If something else, tell us a story about why. I always love your stories.

I’ll draw for the winner on Monday next week. To Blue Nile, thank you so much. You are a pleasure to work with.


Links may generate commissions. Here are various links for gemstone meanings: Energy Muse, Sunny Ray, and yes, the American Gem Society.

Introducing “Dearly Beloved: Millennial Mother Love,” The Series, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:30am

I want you to meet someone.

Privilege buddies, meet Sarah Finnie Robinson. Sarah, meet Privilege.

Why the introduction you may wonder? This week Sarah started a blog series at the Huffington Post. She calls it, Dearly Beloved: Millennial Mother Love. I will let her explain in her first post. By the way, she is writing to her three grown children.

Hi kids,

I’ve decided to launch a blog series for you. Before you cringe, consider this: You are all grown up and gainfully employed, married even, and living in cities all over the country, busy doing all sorts of wonderful things in the world. But I am still your mother, and I don’t get to see you enough, and I want to be sure you know about certain stuff. Like news, weather, health, recommended reading, etiquette, housekeeping, food, shoes, climate change, vitamins, etc etc etc. Why? Because I love you.

A few more excerpts. From the same post,

Cooking tip: always make a little extra salad and fridge it for later. Yes to lemon balsamic dressing, yes to garlic bits. Pulverize this in those Cuisinarts you have sitting in their original packaging on top of your fridges and glop it into soups and sauces of all sorts; or chop and fill omelettes, tacos.

Why come home this weekend? I have a ton of basil ready to be harvested in the garden, so we’ll be having pesto clinic! Plus I’d love to see you.

And this, from the 2nd in the series so far.

Cooking tip: by now we all know what a floater is. It’s something extra-special added to a quantity of liquid. Did you know you can use floaters in soups and stews? Float a pool of balsamic on chili or cioppino; a globule of honey, cinnamon, minced ginger, and dash of salt on hot cereal. When you feel a bad cold coming on, float dark rum in your tea. (Years ago I was invited by Nick and his college friends to a bar in Manhattan in the form of a log-cabin—improbable as this sounds, I think I have it right—near Grand Central station—where they plied ever-accommodating Mom with a cocktail floater or two and then challenged me to several rounds of darts.)

Gratitude. Thanks for texting me a photo of your minor injuries asking if they’re infected, I love that.

I’m hard-pressed to articulate why I find Sarah’s series so charming. The voice? Yes. The mix of topics? Yes. The dare of drunken darts? Surely. But in all I think it’s just Sarah coming through, her intelligent relationship with her grown children so fully felt. Also funny and surprising. She always did have that leaping sort of mind, you know what I mean?

I should explain, Sarah and I went to college together. We reconnected during the planning for our 25th Reunion, and have stayed (if not in touch then) aware of each other since. She mentioned on Facebook (where I don’t say much but have connected with some college classmates) that she was going to be writing. I was immediately delighted.

You may be too. There are five posts up so far. I don’t know how long she’ll keep going – I hope at least through Christmas. I’d love to hear her take on the holiday season.

Have a wonderful weekend. Life is in fact a privilege.

A Review Of The Auberge du Soleil In Napa Valley, With A Whole Slew Of Photos

My husband really wanted to do something special for my 60th. I dithered, but did not resist. Most of all I wanted to go away with him somewhere new. So we spent the weekend of my birthday at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.

You check in at the top of a hill. The building houses the dining room, the bar, the reception and, hey, sculpture!


But you are well-advised to let yourself go downhill from there.


The rooms are housed in many small buildings. Clusters of rooms, I suppose one might say, or bunches, like grapes, since we’re in Napa. All of them open directly to the out of doors.


The landscaping is gorgeous.


The entire resort, a sculpture garden.


Full of old native trees, Mediterranean plantings, and winding paths.


To be fair, depending on your location and what you like to do, you may also spend some time walking the resort road. Surrounded by olive trees. And, if you are decidedly non-glam me, you will be quite happy in high-waist jeans, tee, Birkenstocks, backpack and hat. Bring a big warm scarf for chilly mornings.

Not to worry, the day warms up and you can spend a few hours by the pool. Or on it. It’s back up the hill near the restaurant/check-in/hub.


I’ll wave to you if I see you. It’s a little noisy at the pool, celebrants at the restaurant do tend to laugh a lot. Hermits like us might prefer to spend time at the spa. Not necessary to spa-ify per se, although I did get a really good massage. The little courtyard is very pretty.


And you can camp in the hot tub, or the warm one, or the cold one for that matter, and gaze at the sky at the temperature of your choice. Sigh.


You can even order room service and eat there, sitting on a bench or probably the tile if you so choose. The sky doesn’t mind.

Probably best to go back up to the hub for food. There are two places, right next to each other, the Restaurant and the Bar & Bistro. The terrace is kind of a scene. International visitors, rehearsal dinner guests, people lining up for the one-Michelin-star food. You may like glamorous hubbub, as I said, we tend toward hermithood. The first night we ate at the bar, inside, where it’s quieter.


The prime beef was amazing. I now eat red meat only once a week. This, my friends, was worth it.


But you can see why people like Auberge’s terrace. We ate breakfast there both mornings. The view is not dramatic, but it’s rich, detailed, and changes with the light and moisture of the day. Serene but not still.


Kudos for the little complimentary pastries. Yum. You can see on the menu, they also offer different breakfasts for different cultures. Nice touch. We humans vary greatly by breakfast.


Way more people like ketchup than you might think.


One night we had dinner in the Restaurant, on the terrace. Food is modern French, I recommend the corn soup. I wore the dress from my own wedding rehearsal dinner, by Christopher Kane, with these Stuart Weitzman shoes. And yes, that is lace and tape, and that is transparent, and no, I regret nothing. Transparent over a slip, to be clear about the actual level of bravado.


My favorite meal, however, might have been the teeny birthday bundt cake that greeted us in our room on arrival.


About that room.


We booked last minute. As a result, the only room available was really fancy with a lot of descriptors. Private Deluxe Garden. Looks regular above, but below you can see the outdoor bathtub and shower. Not regular.


Good place to hang a bathing suit, outdoor showers. And the bathtub a good place to spend a late evening.


But wait that’s not all. Behind the shower wall, a little breakfast nook. I confess, we never used it. But I love the color of the walls, and the woven chairs.


And, I don’t quite know how to say this, there was a full bathroom inside too. Separate shower.


And, just in case, another bathtub. I’m waving at you in the mirror. Hi guys.


Auberge du Soleil is spectacular, and despite the French cuisine, deeply rooted in Napa. It’s a good deal shinier than our usual spot, the Carneros Inn. As I’ve said, Auberge sports a bit of a scene at the bar but you can very easily find peace and quiet if you prefer. Do note that your check-in may be delayed if the person in the room before you is an American Express Platinum member, but do note also that the hotel may do something really nice like pay for your dinner one night in recompense. Such a thoughtful gesture.

And honey, thank you so much. I had a wonderful birthday.

Note: Auberge also owns the Calistoga Ranch, which looks to be more rustic and private, and Solage, which looks to be less stratospheric in price. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to visit one of these, if we can, in future.

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