Posts tagged ‘san francisco’

The Day I Didn’t Meet Florence Henderson

So I was on television today, and I have to say it was a lot of fun, though it all got off to kind of an inauspicious start. I arrived at the studio promptly at 2:20, as requested, accompanied by my supportive friend, only to find I wasn’t on the security guard’s List. I wasn’t listed under my name, or my website, or my segment name. The security guard at the desk called the producer while my friend and I watched the 4 televisions in the lobby, hoping we wouldn’t be there long enough to watch the show on which I was scheduled to appear. Time passed. I began cracking jokes about my life on the D-list. Guests arrived and were ushered in through the locked door by a production assistant with a walkie-talkie and an ear piece, and I began to wonder if I should sneak in with another group of guests.

2:30 came and went. I checked in again with the security guard, who had forgotten my name. I called and left a message for the segment producer, knowing he was likely in the studio, far from his office. I overheard the security guard say to someone, “Oh, that person must have slipped in while I was distracted.” Um, security guard? I think it’s your job not to be distracted! But that’s okay, there’s no reason anybody would ever want to slip unnoticed in to a television studio. I mean, I did, but I wasn’t planning to hijack the news like the other guy probably was.

Eventually I got in. The producer was “looking all over” for me – except, you know, in the locked lobby. I was given a quick tour of the stage, shown where I would sit (grateful that I wouldn’t be sitting between the two hosts, like a friend was during her TV gig, who then felt like she was watching a tennis match, unsure where to look). They took my pile of books, concerned that they might put them in the wrong order. “It’s ok if they get mixed up, ” I said, “I can talk about them in any order.” The producer and stage manager looked at me, amazed. I can walk and chew gum, too, but I didn’t offer to do that on the show.

The green room wasn’t green, but mostly my friend and I hung out in the make-up room (thank you, kind make-up person, who did such a nice job of making me look like a better version of me!), chatting with Amy Tiemann and Jamie Woolf (who were on the show talking about their new project) and watching Florence Henderson talk about her new stage show and the tell-all books the Brady kids have written (and no, she never had an affair with Greg). At this point, understand, I wasn’t yet sure I would actually appear on the show, because although I was listed on the show’s website yesterday, I wasn’t on the security guard’s list, nor the producer’s list, and while it was all kind of pleasant to hang out, I was going to be a little sad if I’d prepped and rescheduled the day and bought a new dress only to be asked to go home (well, I wouldn’t really mind too much about the dress).

At 3:20, the production assistant came and said, “OK, you’re on the schedule for 3:30!” So I had a moment to consider getting nervous but seemed to be done with that, and then spent some time cooling my heels (literally! it was freezing) in the back stage area while the stage manager tried to figure out how to clip the microphone onto me (my TV-veteran friends, having given me so much great advice about how to dress and sit, didn’t mention microphone-friendly clothes, but there’s only so much you can do, right?). It involved quantities of tape and me holding the device and trying not to turn it off until I got settled on my stool. I remembered not to cross my legs (thank you, Vicki), to look at the hosts, not the camera (thank you, Ericka, Sophia and Sybil), and I remembered what I wanted to say. That seemed the least of my worries, really, especially once I met the hosts, who could probably get rocks to say interesting things. They are very, very good at their jobs.

And then, four and a half minutes after it started, the segment was all over, and while I could have said lots (and lots!) more about each of these terrific picture books, at least I got to say one good thing about each of them. And then, at the production assistant’s urging, I rummaged through the basket of green room snacks (Goldfish! Lorna Doones! Chocolates!) to bring treats home to my boys. I didn’t meet Florence Henderson, but still: a pretty good afternoon.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the picture books, because they are lovely, and visit Literary Mama for new reading lists every month!

Pigeon Postscript

A number of readers have asked for an update on the pigeon egg, while a number of others have simply marveled at my luck in seeing a pigeon egg, all of us city dwellers having lived a long time with the belief that pigeons spontaneously generate.

So in the beginning were two birds and an egg, and then we observed one bird and an egg, and then — after the UPS man noisily delivered a package — just an egg. It wasn’t getting any less attention after the bird left, honestly, as she had only sat on it for a couple minutes, but it looked pretty forlorn just lying there and the boys worried about it. So we scooped it up and gave it a cozier little home in the backyard, and I told them maybe the pigeon would find it, or maybe another bird would adopt it (or maybe — I didn’t remind them of this possibility — a rat like Templeton would come along and eat it.) It’s been a while now, and there’s no sign of the egg anymore, and the boys have forgotten it for now, but I expect the next time they see a bird’s nest one of them will “Remember the time?”


As the boys and I were driving home from their swim class today, Tony called me. “You’d better come in through the garage,” he said, “A pigeon laid an egg by the front door.”

The boys, listening over the car’s speaker phone, were rapt as the story unfolded. Tony had been heading out to the grocery store when he noticed a pigeon sitting by the door. Looking closer, he saw a second bird. And a small white egg lay between them.

He went to the store. When he came back, one pigeon was huddled behind the planter:

The second pigeon was gone, but a sad little gesture toward a nest was laid next to the egg:

By dinner time, the pigeon had moved next to — but not yet on — the egg:

The boys want to build a nest, or a bird house. They debated the best possible building materials — wood? straw? fabric? — and location — backyard? the sidewalk tree in front of the house? — even though we said we can’t move the egg or the pigeon will abandon it, and she probably wouldn’t welcome our offerings of nesting materials either. I don’t like pigeons, generally; I have called them rats with wings often enough; but this pigeon, sitting here on our front stoop guarding her mislaid egg, foolish though she may be, has inspired all our sympathies. She’s Mama Bird and we’re all kind of rooting for her and her egg.

This story doesn’t seem to be developing like one of my boys’ favorite picture books, Fly High, Fly Low, in which a pair of San Francisco pigeons nest in a hotel sign’s letter B. When the hotel is torn down, construction workers notice the birds frantically circling the B and deposit the letter, nest and all, at a bakery, where the baby pigeons safely hatch and grow up eating cake crumbs. On the contrary, it looks like we are in for a Life Lesson here. Stay tuned…

A Sign of Change!

I had to tear myself away from Inauguration coverage today to work lunch duty at my son’s school, but seeing this sign in person made it all worth it:

What We Found in the Garage

Everybody’s garage holds some mix of trash and treasure; ours is slightly more interesting — to me, at any rate — because it also holds boxes and bags of things saved by Tony’s parents. They didn’t move often, but when they did, apparently, not a lot of weeding or sorting happened first. So cookbooks and ticket stubs and artwork and bills and jewelry and newspaper clippings and silverware all wound up in boxes together, and here we are, years later, still finding surprises.

A large plastic tub of crumpled newspaper. On closer inspection, the crumpled newspaper was protecting small clay objects: Pre-Colombian pottery from Tony’s parents’ art collection. Glad I didn’t toss it into the recycling.

A bag of cat litter. We don’t have a cat. Tony’s parents never had a cat.

2 small Calphalon saucepans (one with a lid!)

The 2 backseat headrests for our Hyundai.

Tony’s 1st and 2nd grade report cards. He did very well.

One large, square copper plate for etching. Unetched.

Tony’s grandfather’s real estate license.

3 silver trays.

A checkbook-sized magnetic Scrabble game (excellent!)

Copies of the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and L’Italia, dated November 23, 1963, reporting on JFK’s assassination.

A wine notebook, with tasting notes from the 1950s and 60s.

Boxes of slides from European travels, circa 1950.

A small cardboard box containing Remington cartridges, apparently from the previous owner of this house. Need to call SFPD for information on disposing of these.

A binder with notes, sketches, and a full proposal for a sculpture titled “Flying Flag” that Tony’s dad submitted to San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency hotel (a hotel that had previously commissioned a sculpture from him).

Tony’s grandmother’s journal for 1938, kept in a leather-bound “Business Yearbook” embossed with her husband’s name. This treasure deserves fuller examination; in the meantime, a brief excerpt:

Thursday, April 21, 1938

[Tony’s mother Nancy was 11; her brother Geoffrey a year younger]

Usual school day. Nancy had a French lesson at 3:10 P.M. Went to Dr. Dillon’s office at 4:30 PM. Geoffrey played at home after school. Nancy has 4 new petticoates — length 38 in., size 14.
Breakfast: orange juice, oatmeal, bacon, toast, milk
Lunch: steak, c. potatoes [creamed?], beans, spinach, rhubarb, milk, cake
Supper: tomato soup, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, jello, cake, milk

We have a long way to go, but we might some day be able to park both cars in the garage. In the meantime, I’m going to be reading Tony’s grandmother’s journal and unearthing more about family life in the 1930s. Stay tuned…


I woke at 3 AM and lay there a moment wondering why before realizing, Ah. All those calls I made to Virginia voters yesterday rubbed off: polls were opening in their state.

I managed to roll back over and sleep for an hour but then woke again, too anxious and excited to sleep any more — I feel like a kid waiting for her parents to wake on Christmas morning.

A friend in Pennsylvania reports that at 6:50 AM he was the 90th person on line to vote. To all my friends in swing states, I wish you patience and hope you have something good to read while you wait on line!

It’s 5:54 AM in California as I write this, and I’m just waiting for my turn to vote for change.

Write to Marry Day (No on 8)

I tried to start a conversation about same-sex marriage with Ben and Eli, but Ben was so surprised to hear that some people don’t believe it should be legal that we got derailed. Eli only wanted to know if he could marry Ben some day. So no great wisdom from the kids on the topic, but here’s what I think in a nutshell: marriage has been around a long time, and it’s a better institution now than it was several hundred years ago (when it was basically a real estate deal) and it’s a better institution now than it was even several generations ago (when it was less a real estate deal but women still had few rights). The more people who can participate in the institution, the stronger it’s going to be. Vote No on Prop 8.

And because cute kids always help the cause, I’m including a picture of Ben at his first wedding, of our friends Brianna and Angie, back in the days when for same-sex couples it was a ceremonial ritual with no legal rights. Some day, I hope he looks back at this picture and smiles at how far our country has come.

Write to Marry Day Tomorrow!

Spread the word! On October 29th, Mombian is hosting a blog carnival to help defeat California’s Proposition 8.

Here’s the info from Mombian:

Please join bloggers around the country and around the world on Wednesday, October 29 to blog in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples and against California’s Proposition 8.

The event will give bloggers a chance to voice their opposition to Prop 8 and highlight what they may have already done, online or off, to stop the measure. The campaign will also educate California voters of the need to “go all the way” down the ballot to vote on the proposition.

Mike Rogers of PageOneQ approached me last week to ask if I’d organize a blog carnival like Blogging for LGBT Families Day, but this time to help generate awareness and action against Prop 8. I readily agreed, and here it is.

To participate, post on your own blog against Prop 8 on or before October 29, 2008, then submit the link to your post by completing the form below. Links to your own videos on YouTube or other video sites are also accepted.

Many of you have already done much to try and stop Prop 8 in California, donating and raising money, blogging, and talking with friends and family. Please share your efforts and post about them for Write to Marry Day, or submit a link to a previous post. This will help us create a comprehensive view of bloggers’ efforts to stop Prop 8.

I urge you to spread the word about this event as widely as possible, on both LGBT and mainstream sites. All bloggers who are against Prop 8 are welcome to contribute posts, regardless of where they live or whether they are LGBT or not.

I will showcase the full list of participants here on October 29.

Not only that, but all participants who leave a valid e-mail address will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to

I’ll be posting a little story here later.

How To Make a Museum Docent Happy

Ben’s 1st grade curriculum includes a terrific focus on the visual arts. It starts in the classroom, where the students’ tables are named for artists (Picasso, Monet, Seurat, etc), and carries on in the weekly 90-minute art studio sessions, where the boys started with full-size self-portraits and have now moved on to still lifes in the style of Matisse. Ben’s always loved to draw, and he’s got art in his genes, so we figured he would eat this all up, but he’s even more excited about art right now than Tony or I could have imagined. He’s bringing home artists’ biographies (there’s a great series published by the Children’s Press of Chicago if you’re looking to encourage your budding artist), he’s drawing elaborate pictures of his future studio, and he’s asked that we put the Metropolitan Museum of Art on our site-seeing list so that when we go to New York City next week, he can visit the Monets.

So when he had a day off from school yesterday, I decided to take him on a scavenger hunt, looking for paintings by Monet, Picasso and Matisse in museums around the city. Since we’d be spending a fair amount of time on the street car, too, I tossed in a couple extra-museum items, like election signs, Halloween decorations and the like. But it was the paintings that really got him going.

First stop, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Enter museum pulled by eager 6 year old tugging on your arm. Get out museum floor plan and hand it to him. Watch as he scans map and then announces, “Matisse. . . 2nd floor! Let’s go!” Watch docent beam.

At the Palace of the Legion of Honor:

Enter museum pulled by eager 6 year old tugging on your arm. Get out museum floor plan and hand it to him. Watch as he scans map and then announces, “Monet… Gallery 19! C’mon!” Docent beams, asks “How old is he?” and nods at the answer; “That’s how old I was,” she says.

And there at the Legion of Honor, inspired by the sight of students with their paints and brushes, copying some of the pieces on display, Ben got out his paper and pencils and got to work:

Turns out, what makes a museum docent happy makes a mama pretty happy, too.


This was a big week for the Grant family, as both boys began new summer programs.

Ben’s attending a language immersion program at the local French-American school in preparation for our trip next month, the first time he’s gone to any kind of class without a parent, or any other kid he knew, or without even visiting the building ahead of time. Typically, he was more concerned about his lunch options than about the whole communication in a foreign language aspect (hmm, I wonder where he gets this from?!) But Tony took him the first day, and Ben quickly found the Lego, so the communication issue was rendered moot: the language of Lego is universal.

Meanwhile, Eli began preschool! After a year away, we’re back at our beloved, rough and tumble co-op, a school recently described in a local paper as the “best educational experience in the Bay Area” (hear that, Stanford?) I took him in and stayed for my work day; later he reported to Tony that he was “half wif Mama, half no Mama.” Today, he did the morning all by himself, and reported to me afterwards, to explain his lack of socks, “Mama, some kids throwed water… and… never mind.” Good boy: handled the water play and isn’t a tattle-tale.

Tony and I are giddy: for the first time in 6 years, 3 months, and 12 days of parenting, we have twelve hours a week of scheduled, reliable childcare.