Monday, February 09, 2009


As you may have guessed, this blog is inching towards retirement. The allure of facebook is too strong, social networking seems to be winning the battle. But here's a picture for old time's sake - one of my favorite Galen pics from our trip to Hawaii. Lots more here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

In Memory of Jack Bergin

From the Napa Valley Register:
What do you say about a man who came from humble beginnings, bravely served his country in World War II, was a loving and devoted husband and father, and a successful businessman who conducted his business in the Napa Valley for more than 50 years with honesty, integrity and a respect for hard work?

You say that man was Jack Aitken Bergin. He died peacefully on Nov. 1, 2008, at the age of 94. Jack was born Jan. 15, 1914, in Riverside, where his family was in the grocery business. He attended Riverside Polytechnic High School and Riverside Junior College. He gave up his college career to help support his family during the Great Depression. Jack developed a love of music and starting playing the piano at age six. He began to play piano in an assortment of jazz bands at age 17, occasionally playing backup for such bands as the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. After settling in Northern California, Jack played piano in the Napa Valley Dixieland Jazz Band for many years. True to his musical roots, he gave his last performance for fellow residents at the Berkshire Assisted Living Center two days before he passed away.
Jack was playing piano at a junior college dance in 1936, when he met Rosemarie Merrill. Marie approached Jack to ask, “Will you teach me to play jazz?” He called her the next day and they began dating. They were married in 1939, a marriage that lasted for 69 years.

Too old to enter the regular pilot training program, Jack nonetheless enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and trained as a combat glider pilot, eventually serving in France. In 1946 he joined his flying buddies, Richard Bridgeford, Caesar Bertagna and Clyde Barnett, to start Bridgeford Flying Service at the Napa County Airport. Jack continued in his position as an owner/manager of the business until he was 75. In 1989 Bridgeford Flying Service was sold to local businessmen who asked Jack to stay on as controller, the position from which he retired at age 84.
At various times, Jack belonged to the Masons, the Elks Club, the Rotary Club, the Quiet Birdmen, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Jack loved the outdoors. He enjoyed the distinction, at the time, of becoming the youngest person in California to achieve the Boy Scouts’ prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. He was especially fond of the fishing trips he took with his partners and sons to Loreto, Mexico, landing on dirt runways and sport fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Jack is also fondly remembered for his love of lively intellectual discussions, political or otherwise, often punctuated with his wry sense of humor.

The exemplary way Jack lived his life has been an inspiration to those who worked with him in the business world, as well as to his children and grandchildren. He will be missed, but not forgotten.
Jack is survived by his wife, Rosemarie; his sister, Ruth Ullrich; and his children, Dr. Jack M. Bergin (Paula), Judith Walsh (John), Michael Bergin (Karen) and Patricia Fifield (William); and his grandchildren, Alicia, Greg and Jeanne Bergin, Savannah and Melaina Bergin, Nathan, Joel, Jonathan, Benjamin, Adam, Michael, Cyrena, Daniel and Jaime Fifield, Linda Fifield-Larsen, and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Joseph Fifield.

At Jack’s request, no service will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Queen of the Valley Foundation or Hospice of Napa Valley.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Visit to Meet Graham

I was in North Carolina two weekends ago, meeting Graham for the first time. He belongs to my friends Elese and Christoph, and is one of the best behaved infants I've ever met. Quiet, smiley, easily entertained, and a great sleeper. And, as you can see, a really handsome little guy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kathryn and Will's Wedding

Here are a few pics from a wedding the weekend prior. Similar guest lists, similar remote location. The organization of the event was awesome - it was held at the bride's parent's house, and they appeared to have assigned tasks to everyone, and cooked / organized / built everything themselves. It was a very well-oiled machine.

Kiki and Boudreaux's Wedding

We took a few days off last week and drove up to Washington for Kiki and Boudreaux's wedding. It was a great drive - straight up the middle of California, Oregon, and Washington - and the wedding itself was really fun. We managed to take nearly 500 pictures along the way; these are some of my favorites. We saw Crater Lake, explored Sunriver and Bend, stopped at Mt. Hood and 'The Shining' Hotel, drove along the Columbia River Gorge, passed by Mount St. Helens, and hiked in the foothills of Mt. Ranier.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sunrise in Fire Season

It's just like Los Angeles! A little smoke adds a lot of color to the sunrise.

Welcome Graham William Stutts!

Born on June 21, 2008, 11:58 AM. Proud parents Christoph and Elese are back home from the hospital, and all are doing well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We joked the other day at work that there's now a fitness requirement for the Client Services team. Our new GM is a nationally ranked Dragon Boat racer and now, along with her partner, racing outrigger canoes. My boyfriend has been pulled into the sport, and - while not necessarily more enthusiastic about it than our other coworkers - is very, very excited about it. They train three days a week in the SF Bay (and outside the gate) with the SFOCC.

Some basics:
- It's paddling, not rowing. Rowers go backwards, paddlers go forward.
- The outrigger is the thing on the side
- Unlike most kayaks and other small watercraft, outriggers are ocean-going (waves aren't a bad thing)
- It's a fairly popular sport these days - as evidenced in these photos.

These photos are from a Santa Barbara race two weekends ago. It's one of the largest California events. My boyfriend's team won by 1 minute 13 seconds (a huge lead in a 36 minute race), and was then disqualified for ridiculous reasons. Southern California teams train for a year and then race the second year; Northern California teams race their first year. The team was disqualified for having one person that had competed the year prior. Read it another way: 5 members of the team had LESS experience than the other competitors. I think they're less frustrated now, but needless to say, it's going to be a good season.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Puerto Vallarta

Galen and I just got back from Puerto Vallarta. It was my first trip there; his first trip to Mexico. I'm not sure I'll ever go anywhere else - I'm not sure we can top it. We stayed at the Hacienda San Angel, a self-described boutique hotel, with a friend from work and his lovely family. The Hacienda is the first place I've stayed that is actually more beautiful in person than in pictures. The hotel consists of 4 houses that have been completely remodeled and joined into a single area, with multiple pools, marble floors in and out, antiques everywhere, exquisite service, amazing views, and lots of privacy. We barely left the place - it was hard to leave.

On the last day we saw the reception area across the street, which if anything is even more impressive. If you're planning a destination wedding, this is the place.


I bought the Olympus underwater camera for Galen's birthday and the trip. It's awesome - you can use it underwater up to ten feet. The picture quality is great, it's reasonably priced, and smaller than the CanonPower shot. Even if you have a camera (or a few), this is a very worthwhile addition.

Casa Kimberley

We attended an SPCA fundraiser at the (in)famous Casa Kimberley. The house on the left was Elizabeth Taylor's home; Richard Burton bought the place across the street. To avoid the picketing nuns, the unmarried couple built a bridge over the street to connect the houses.

The owner of the hotel we stayed in recently bought the properties. They've been only minimally maintained, and she plans a complete renovation by 2010. It's going to be an amazing spot.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

New House

I'm finally moved in - my apologies for the delayed blogging; the move has eaten all my time. There are a few pictures left to hang, but that's really it. I reduced my overall space by at least 50%, but it's all fitting - barely. I did get rid of a lot of stuff, and it's much more densely arranged.

I had my first gathering for Easter - 8 people total. I think that's the upper limit of what I can fit indoors, but it definitely worked. I'm looking forward to summer days on the deck, enjoying the view.

It does feel like a major change, for the most part a good one. Grocery shopping is a bit more complicated, and I have to get in my car to get most things. But the ferry is a five minute walk away (and seriously, it's hard to beat taking a boat to work), there are oodles of restaurants, it's a great town to walk in, and the library is spectacular. And then there's the view. And the fact that instead of cars backfiring, I only hear birds in the morning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I had a big weekend. I found a new house in Sausalito - I'm signing the lease tomorrow - and had a major hair change. The house is really the bigger deal, of course (I haven't moved in 11 years), but these pictures are more fun to look at. As you can see in the first picture, it's just a bit darker. In full sun, however, it's actually blue. I feel like an animated character.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2007 Stats

I'm on a decline. My New Year's resolution this year is to stop the downward trend on books. I am pleased that, despite declining volume, I've increased my pre-1980 reading, and increased my non-fiction numbers over 2006. Random fact: in the past four years, the date published of my reading shelf averages out to 1996. I'd like to eventually get that number down to 1990.

November, December, January Book Reviews

Somewhere between work, ski season, and the holiday crafting frenzy, I've slipped 3 months behind. Arg! I haven't done tons of reading, but the ones I did make it through were substantial. Here goes...

1. Y The Last Man, V. 9, Brian K. Vaughan et al., Rating: 4.5
Finally, a major plot reveal! After nearly a year of globe trotting, we learn the source of the epidemic. It's a good installment.
2 & 3. Fables, V.8 & 9, Bill Willingham et al., Rating: 4.5
As always, excellent. Beautiful artwork, compelling story.
4. How Doctors Think, Jerome Groopman, Rating: 3.9
This was a nice counterpoint to October's medical read, Better. Both take on the subject of how doctors interact with patients, and how they can learn to give better care. While I think Gawande is a stronger writer, this book is well-written and insightful. If you care about the subject, read both.
5. Ride with Me, Mariah Montana, Ivan Doig, Rating: 2.9
The final installment of Doig's Montana trilogy, Ride with Me is a pale shadow of the previous two books. Stick with English Creek.
6. Intuition, Allegra Goodman, Rating: 1.9
This book was doomed from the beginning. It's a legal thriller, of sorts, packed with sexual harassment, workplace drama, mistaken love affairs, and emotional drama. Goodman clearly understands the office politics of the environment she's describing. It's just that the environment is so boring. Seriously - who wants to read about the day-to-day squabbles of 15 medical researchers? Working with mice? Nice try, but it doesn't work.
7. California History, Harr Wagner and Mark Keppel, Rating: 4.0
I found this book - published in 1927 - at the Napa Library book sale about a year ago. The package itself beautiful - embossed red cloth with blue line drawings, thin glossy paper, dozens of photographs. It looks great on a shelf, with my collection of other orange books (the only color I have a section for - they just look so nice together). The book itself is mixed. It's often charming and sweet, often wrong, and, at times, horribly racist. Native Americans don't fair well at all - there are 2 chapters devoted to their "laziness". I wouldn't give this book to anyone to read, but as a snapshot of the time period, it's great.
8. Severance, Robert Olen Butler, Rating: 2.0
Butler gets a big gold star for a clever idea. This book is a series of essays cataloging the final thoughts of people between beheading and death - roughly two pages per person. The people are interesting (Marie Antoinette, for example), the thoughts intriguing. However. He makes no distinction between people who know that they're going to die and those who don't. I think it's a huge line that must be drawn, and it's a critical error.
9. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck, Rating: 4.8
I really liked this book. It's moving, interesting, full of complex characters, and brings to life a world that's extremely foreign.
10. The Executioner's Song, Norman Mailer, Rating: 3.7
I understand the hype around this book - the research is voluminous, the writing considered and detailed, the character exploration nearly bottomless. Unfortunately for the average reader, it's over 1000 pages long. And you know the conclusion from page 1. It...just...drags....on.
11. The Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perrota, Rating: 3.0
Perrota's Election was genius - the biting humor of the movie owes everything to Perrota's writing. Little Children was inspired, too. This book, unfortunately, is average. It's fine - but nothing more. The anger and wittiness of his previous books is missing. From another writer, this is a decent effort, but from Perrota it's a major disappointment.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I went skiing this weekend - for the first time in fourteen years. It was both better and worse than I expected. I wasn't horrible - by the end of the second day the easy runs were getting a bit boring - nor was I particularly good. On the first run of the second day, I remembered why I hadn't been in so long. I was never great at it, and for that reason never really enjoyed skiing. I think the potential is there to have fun (I was having fun towards the end), but I'm going to have to work hard to get to that point.

On the positive side, Tahoe is gorgeous. And not nearly as cold as I remembered. And watching your friends make crazy jumps is really entertaining.

Here's the result of my worst tumble of the weekend.

Roller Derby

Roller Derby is possibly the best sport, ever. It's fast, easy to follow, and has the potential for serious bodily injury. And it involves costumes.

Here are a few pics from the last event of the season (it will start again in February in March - watch the web site for updates). The final picture is from the half time show. Chronicle folks, that's Beth Steiner in front.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Book Signing

So...the book signing. I signed with Meg, shown, the author of Craft, Inc. She's lovely, and her book is really useful for anyone trying to make money off a hobby. The signing itself wasn't particular successful for either of us, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity. It's fun just to be there and talk to people about crafting.

I definitely recommend checking out the new Chronicle Books Store (1846 Union in San Francisco) - it's well designed, well stocked, and a great place to look for holiday gifts. There are several boxes of labels I'd like to have, and their craft section is growing rapidly.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why I Like Winter

Well, at least that season we call "Winter" in the Bay Area. 60 degrees, clear, bright, and very green. These were taken on two different, equally lovely hikes in Marin. Look closely and you'll see the Farallons in the last picture.

I'd definitely recommend visiting Bon Tempe reservoir in Fairfax (shown in the top photo). You can hike around it and a smaller adjacent reservoir in under two hours. It's lovely and uncrowded - a great morning walk.

New Chronicle Books Store+ Signing

Chronicle just opened their second store, at 1846 Union Street in San Francisco. The Grand Opening party is this Saturday, December 1st. I'm going to be signing, along with a bunch of other cool folks. Stop by if you're in the area!

• 10:30-11:30: Children’s author Bob Barner will read from Dem Bones and will be signing copies of his books

• 1:00-2:00: Peggy Knickerbocker co-author of The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook and Georgeanne Brennan author of A Pig in Provence will be signing copies of their books

• 3:00-4:00: Get crafty with Alicia Bergin, author of the Crochet to Go Deck, and Meg Mateo Ilasco, author of Craft, Inc.

• 5:00-6:00: Artist Rex Ray will be in the store signing copies of Rex Ray Art + Design

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Best Book Ever

This book puts together all my passions (well, at least crafting and celebrity gossip) in one horribly wrong package. Awesome.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

October 2007 Book Reviews

1. Better, Atul Gawande, Rating: 4.3
Like Gawande's previous book Complications, Better is a thoughtful, entertaining, and informative work. Without being pedantic or overly technical, he touches on major issues influencing modern modern medicine and the world at large. I like his mix of personal anecdotes and actual research. This is definitely a book that is worth reading, whether or not you're in medicine.
2. English Creek, Ivan Doig, Rating: 3.7
3. Dancing at the Rascal Fair, Ivan Doig, Rating: 4.2
English Creek is quite good - good enough that I went right out and got the second book in the trilogy. The action in Dancing actually takes place before that of its predecessor, and I enjoyed it much more. It was oddly satisfying to read about people when you already know much of their outcome. The second book also explains the history and populating of the "two medicine country", which adds a lot of depth to the series (in many ways, the land is the subject of the book, more so than the people). I just picked up the third book - full report to come on that next month.
4. Son of a Witch, Gregory Maguire, Rating: 2.2
The long-awaited sequel to Wicked is, like the rest of Maguire's books, a major disappointment. Wicked was clever and mischievous and very funny; this book is scattered, random, and hard to follow. It's also oddly homo-erotic in ways that are just plain odd.
5. The Empanada Brotherhood, John Nichols, Rating: 3.9
While I wasn't carried away by this book, I admire the craft of it. It feels very much like a Hemingway novel, with similar stripped-down language and dialogue-heavy chapters. The Kirkus review states, "The human energy swirling around the empanada stand is full of sound and fury but signifies very little." I think that might actually be the point.
6. The Gravedigger's Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates, Rating: 4.2
I've always considered Oates an "Oprah" writer, melodramatic and girly, slightly lowbrow, without ever reading any of her works. I totally take it back - The Gravedigger's Daughter is strange, dense, filled with fascinating characters, and beautifully written. Considering how prolific she is (a book a year on average), I have nothing but awe for the talent of this writer. I'll definitely read more of her books.


I've spent the last several years celebrating Halloween with some of my favorite people, Zac and Eliza, and their amazing children. Sophie (pink caterpillar), who's edging up on 4, really "got" Halloween this year. She was definitely a little afraid, but after a few houses seemed to grasp the wonder of the occasion. Candy? For me?

I also loved the little brown dog. Not sure of her name, but there was a whole lot of personality in that little girl. I hope she makes it next year.