When I was 18 I went away to college. I never returned home to live even though I had many opportunities. I had to leave two colleges, one closing down unexpectedly, one because I ran out of money. When I finished college I had to choose where to live and the choices didn’t include moving to my parent’s town. When my first wife and I had to return to California from Graduate School, we had to choose between the town where my parent’s lived or hers. We chose hers.
Why didn’t I want to return? Because I didn’t want to be like my parents. When I returned to visit I always remembered why I didn’t want to be like them and moving close to them seemed in my mind to be a recipe for being influenced to be more like them. Be far away and that won’t happen was my thought. And to some degree it was true. I was influenced by other people, other families, by being far away. It really is an important element to many people growing up and into their own unique selves. However, no matter how far away I was, my family was still with me.
At that time, those family traits included alcoholism and a short temper, among other things. And those things stayed with me whether I was 3,000 miles away or right next door. I was still a product of my parents and my upbringing and no amount of distance was going to remove that. What did remove much of it (not all) was hard work. Was being deliberate about wanting to change and doing the work necessary to make that change permanent. That included stopping drinking in 1993 so I wouldn’t travel down the same road my mother did. It included working consciously to reduce my anger, frustration and annoyance with the small things in life that bedeviled my father for most of his life. That sort of change is always conditional. There are things that can make me crazy, but they are few and far between. I don’t think my reputation as an adult now would include having a short temper.
Keeping The Good
But there is another side to this and that is no matter how far you travel, you also won’t completely lose the wonderful parts of your family either. I stayed away but I still had my mother and father’s easy-going ability to befriend anyone and everyone. I still had her sense of humor. I still had my father’s intellectual curiosity about the world. I am glad I carry those things with me, no matter how far away I am.
How far have you traveled from your family, and have you been able to really get away?
Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“They who fly from their own family have far to travel.” – African Proverb
If you don’t think this is true in your family, I humbly suggest you probably don’t know much about your family. In that case, You probably want to look at ‘Family #1’ in the series. That’s about family skeletons.
In my family we have very sweet people and they are all a bit nuts as well. I am completely and utterly thankful for that. My mother was the epitome of the loud-mouth broad. First, she was loud. Second she was really funny. Third, she didn’t give a hoot owl’s ass if someone liked her that way or not. She made fun of pretense and absurd efforts at self-righteousness. She was unabashedly sentimental, crying a river each and every time one of her grown kids returned home. Have them all together at the same time? She was a blubbering mess. She could make friends with the least likely of strangers in the most unlikely of places. I mean, come on, she met her best friend in a grocery store line. And I am proud of that. It’s the thing I love most about my sister’s and myself, that we can, and do, make friends with strangers almost every day. My mother is the reason for that. Do I think some people think that is a bit nutty? Yep. Do I care? Nope.
My mother’s brother, Uncle Bunny (born on Easter), had this dry sense of humor combined with a absurdist’s ability to connect completely disparate things together. He was the founder, for example, of the Marin County Zeppelin Society. It was open to all survivors of lighter than air crashes. Since anyone alive has obviously not died in one of those crashes, it was open to anyone. It really was just an excuse for him and his pals to get together every Saturday for coffee and brunch, but he went so far as to convince the County to put an official emblem up on the board leading into town, alongside the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs. Why did he do that? Because it was funny. It cracked him up and he figured it would make others laugh too. And it did.
My Father meanwhile, didn’t have the same sense of humor as my mother’s side of the family. But he did have something I treasure, and that was his embracing of the new and different in the world. He wasn’t afraid to bring things back from foreign lands for us to wear, use, ride. He brought back from Peru a ‘Ruana’ for each of us. It is an outer wool garment, like a shawl, only thicker and more substantial. We wore those things for all our childhood. He imported 2 Solex Mopeds from Europe for us to ride. They are motorized bikes and once again, we rode them everywhere for years and years. We were the only ones to have either of those things and I thought that was very cool. Those are just two examples of how my father was. He loved to find great design and bring it home. He didn’t care if it was something everyone else had, as a matter of fact, it was much more interesting if no one else had it.
Those are just a few examples of the sweet nuts in my family. Our daughters and my other sister, Jackie, also have that same trait of loving their individuality, easily make friends, and have a great time exploring the new and unique offerings the world has to give.
A few examples from my own life. I once went through a fast food drive-through and was so taken by the beauty of the person’s voice talking to me through the speaker that I got her to come into the software design studio I was working at to do voice-over work. I didn’t have anywhere to display my daughters’ ceramics so I hot glued them to the ceiling in my kitchen (yes, they stayed up). I painted our white picket fence with black splotches so it would match our dalmatian, Oreo. I once did an art project on tan lines. I went to the beach, found people whose tan lines were showing, and asked them if I could photograph them. The vast majority said yes and the resulting art piece, which was those photographs collaged onto a striped beach towel, was in my Master of Fine Art Exhibition at San Jose State University.
Can this sound strange to some people? Yes. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Embracing that heritage has made all the difference in me being a happy and creative person. I know I am always able to find humor and beauty in my life, am always going to be open-minded and curious about the world around me, and can make good friends and keep good friends, no matter where I meet them.
I highly recommend a lot of sweetness and a lot of nuts!
Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman
“Families are like fudge. Mostly sweet with a few nuts.” – anonymous
They sat attentive, leaning forward, interested in what one another had to say. The coffee shop buzzed with noise around them but they were not distracted. I sat in the corner and drew.
The woman facing me had a green sweatshirt on with the logo of ‘New Life Ranch’ on the front. I knew the place well. It was a summer camp in Oklahoma, near the Arkansas border, and my daughters had gone there a number of times. We even went there for family camp twice.
It was the place I took two of the best photographs of my life. Both were of the creek that ran through the camp, early on a fog enshrouded morning. One was just the creek, but the other was of my youngest daughter reaching for a rope swing so she could swing and drop into the creek. We had heard the night before that there would be a sunrise swim in the creek. Chelsea wanted to go so we got up very early and I accompanied her to meet the others. I remember sitting with her on this little bench waiting for everyone else, talking about how exciting it was going to be to jump in the cold creek. No one else showed up. We decided they were all wimps and she was the most courageous of them all. She still wanted to do it so I took photos as she took the plunge.
Unfortunately, so far I have not been able to find the shot of her. I am still looking!
Drawing and photo © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
I loved my mom. She was wonderful and flawed at the same time, like most moms. I’ve written posts about her in years past and will put the link at the bottom of this post for you to read if you would like.
But today I am also thinking about my other mothers. They were the women who also helped raise me. They didn’t help raise me in the ‘I went to live with them’ sense. They helped raise me in the ‘they took time to love me and nurture me’ sense.
Aunt Betty (left) and my Mom, Lee Coleman
Aunt Betty wasn’t my aunt. And her husband, Uncle Frank, wasn’t my uncle. I didn’t realize this until I was probably 10 years old or so. That’s when I figured out we called them that because they were as close as relatives to us, not actual relatives. What they actually were were my God Parents.
But in real life Aunt Betty was my mother’s best friend while we lived in California. They were the Lucy and Ethel combo, funny by themselves but hilarious when together. From the time of my birth until we moved away when I was 12 Betty treated us (my older sister and I) like her own kids, and my mom treated her kids as her own as well. That included watching over us, keeping us in line and feeding us among other things. It included letting us have complete freedom within their house. Their house, high overlooking the Del Mar racetrack and airport was, and still is, the best, most fantastic house I’ve ever ‘lived’ in. It was definitely the golden age of free range parenting and we ranged wide and free around both homes. I wouldn’t change a thing about my young life and she’s a big reason why.
When we lived in Maryland briefly during my first few years we had a housekeeper come in once in a while. I don’t remember Libby from those years. Years later we had moved back to California and when my mother had a late pregnancy and my younger sister was born Libby, who had also moved to California, actually came to live with us for many weeks to help out. While my mother took care of Jackie, Libby took care of the house and my sister and me.
We had a nice house but it wasn’t big enough for Libby to have her own room. My room was actually a big playroom downstairs, big enough that Libby became my roommate for those weeks. It was totally awesome.
What I remember about Libby really is pretty fuzzy but I remember how much she loved me. I also remember how she silently championed me, the younger underdog, in my battles with my older sister. She loved Nancy as well and didn’t take sides, but she was always letting me know that it wouldn’t always be that she could beat me up, or it wouldn’t always be that she would be the boss of me. I held on to those promises for dear life during those years.
One of the most profound and devastating moments of my life, the first real eye opener into the wider world I ever got, was the day we went to Libby’s house. I had never seen it and I just assumed, as most kids would, that she probably lived in a house like ours. I was wrong. I remember driving up and seeing what in my mind was a completely dilapidated shack. Worn wood, crooked steps, mud. I really truly was shocked. I remember thinking we needed desperately to bring Libby back to live with us, that we just couldn’t let her live in that type of place. I had no idea about poverty or race or inequality until that moment. I was 9 years old.
Libby taught me so much but most of all she told me that no matter the issues of race, poverty or inequality, you still could be loving, supportive and happy. I also always remembered how she gave me a hope for the future. Of course, in my case, my hope for the future as simply to be able to wrestle my big sister to the ground, but she knew that and gave me the hope that was appropriate for who I was. That was a big gift.
Helene was another friend of my mothers. She had met my mother in line at a grocery store decades before in Maryland when we had lived there for a brief time. We moved to Connecticut when I was 12 and we moved to the same town she lived in by then, Darien, Connecticut. Helene was not a typical Darienite. She was bawdy and irreverent and funny. She had a witheringly sharp tongue for pretension and snobbishness that could rear it’s ugly head too often in Darien. My mother was the same way.
What made her an important ‘other’ mother to me, and what really set her apart was her creativity and her desire, no – her demand, that one pay attention to creativity in their own life. It was a godsend for me as an artistic teenager to have someone like that pay attention to me.
Floyd and Helene Hall (left) and my parents.
Her home was a reflection of all that as well. It was messy and cluttered in the best artistic way. She had sculptures here and photos there. A painting leaning against a wall, a clay head in the inca style being worked on in her studio. Trinkets and books and everything else inhabiting that space just screamed art, creativity and freedom.
She challenged me as an artist. I remember taking a trip to New York City with her to go to a Picasso Sculpture Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. When I told her the pieces looked like anyone could do them she said one of the single most important and profound things any one has ever said to me about being an artist. She said, “It Doesn’t matter if you CAN do it. It matters if you DO do it.” It took me years to figure out what that meant, but when I did it clarified so much about art that it really broke me through to art maturity in my mind.
She also was witness to my family falling apart. She saw my mother descend into alcoholism and she was the first person I called when I found my mother unconscious on the stairs, suffering from what we would later find out was a cerebral hemorrhage. It was not an easy time and she was there to help out.
My best friend during my teenage years was a guy named Jim Moore. I can thank his mother for our becoming friends. She saw that we had moved in down the street and within a day or two she kicked Jim out of the house and told him to go down the street to meet the new kid and not go come back until he had. So he did and we became pretty fast friends from then on.
Ginny gladly welcomed me in to her home, always making me feel welcomed and loved. They took me on vacations (and we took Jim on some as well). They suffered through me being the rabble rousing teen that I was, including several instances where I broke, ruined, wrecked or otherwise caused mayhem to descend onto various possessions of theirs.
I was sort of the Eddie Haskell (A 60s TV show, ‘Leave it to Beaver’ reference for those not old enough to know) to the Moore Family. Nice but always tending to get Jim and myself into some sort of adventure. It wasn’t all me of course. Jim was pretty good at finding adventure himself. What Ginny saw was the importance of our friendship and bond and allowed all the wild things to transpire as part of that bonding. I am grateful for that!
The Moore Family (Ginny, bottom right)
When I moved away after my senior year of high school but wanted to come back and live in Darien the next summer, they graciously allowed me to stay the entire summer in their house. It didn’t occur to me until much later what a incredible gift that was.
I’ve written often over the years about the incredible man, Dwight Johnson, who was the father of my first wife, Kathy. I don’t talk as often about her mother, Vivian, but she was incredibly important in helping me move into adulthood and being a husband and parent.
Vivian and Rebekah
We had a good relationship, one that included a lot of patience on her part, watching this young ‘bad boy’ marry her daughter after only about 9 months of dating. We were a lot alike in many ways. We were the two most competitive people in the family, often going head to head in legendary Scrabble battles at the family cabin. She was feisty but also very focused on being positive and nice. She could say sharp things but chose not to most of the time. She gritted her teeth and smiled when she probably wanted to hit me, or at least yell at me.
She was supportive, kind and understanding as she watched her daughter and I build a life for our family, slowly and with a number of missteps on my part. She didn’t always like me but she always encouraged and supported me in spite of that. That taught me a good lesson about what it means to be a parent and parent-in-law.
It Takes a Village
None of us were raised in a vacuum. I am so grateful for all the women I mentioned above (and others I didn’t mention) who made up my village of nurturers, caretakers, friends, and visionaries. They helped me so much, I could never repay it so all I (or any of us) can really do is pay it forward as best I can.
Who are your ‘other mothers’ and how did they help you?
Here is the link to a remembrance I did about my mother a few years back.
© 2015 Marty Coleman
Hello Napkin Kin! Here is the end of the road trip posts.
Today I leave Berkeley and head back home to Oklahoma. I am sad to leave so soon, having only spent less than 4 full days with Chelsea and her new family. But with a total of 6 days on the road, it makes for a long time away from home.
I woke up to a beautiful and cool Berkeley morning. Another person was staying at the Airbnb that night and we had met the evening before. She was a runner so we had a great conversation about it, including a bit of coaching from me about injury recovery. She mentioned she was going to go on a run the next morning, up the the same park I had done my trail run the day before. I didn’t ask if she wanted a running partner because I didn’t think we knew each other well enough to get in the car together and go traipsing off into the woods. However, when she got back from her run she said she had decided to just skip the trip to the park and run right from the house. Then I wish I had gone on the run with her! Instead I toasted another runner who happened by as I was packing.
Here is the Airbnb link to Edrie and JoAnn’s spot. If you are going to Berkeley, I highly recommend them.
I said adios to Mr. Otis, telling him to take good care of his mama and daddy.
Then I took a selfie with Chelsea in the bright morning sun of Berkeley and said my goodbyes as I drove off into the sunrise!
On the Road Again
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Denise (homeowner)
It took me most of the day to drive to Arizona. I rolled in to the Airbnb in Lake Havasu City and I had time to go see the famous London Bridge that they bought from London and transported piece by piece to Lake Havasu and reconstructed. I had dinner overlooking it. The home was a nice place on a golf course but they had large dogs that barked into the night, right outside my room, that made sleeping not so easy for a while. Luckily they either fell asleep or the owner brought them into his room and I eventually got a good night’s sleep.
I was out the door and ready to get rolling as the sun rose over the desert. I had a long way to go to get to my destination in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Trinity and American Pie
I went a secondary route through much of Arizona and New Mexico, south of the usual Route 40 headed east. I was listening to a audio book and not paying much attention when I passed a sign that barely caught my eye. I stopped and did a u-turn to see if it was what I thought it was.
And it was. It was Trinity. The spot of the very first explosion of an atomic bomb. That is one of the most momentous moments in world history, as well as US war history. I just stood there and thought about how that moment changed the world in so many ways. It’s humbling to be in a spot like that, especially one that is so profoundly peaceful, quiet and serene, and realize the violence and unforeseen consequences that came from that moment.
I continued down the 2 lane highway for hours, seeing almost no traffic at all. But then, I turned a long sweeping arch and found myself smack dab in the middle of a party. Hundreds of cars and people parked on the side of the road in ‘Pie Town, New Mexico. I think the actual town consists of just this store, the ‘Pie-o-neer’.
It turns out there was a pie festival with contests and awards, pie making demos and more. I didn’t see much of that but I did walk among the booths and found a couple good things to bring home for Linda.
This lady, Cindy Yarmal, was selling veggies on the front porch of the pie shop while tourists mingled and a good ol’ boy band played some tunes on the other end of the porch. I asked her if I could take her photo and she obliged me. After I sat and enjoyed a slice of Blackberry pie as the world swirled around me.
I arrived at ‘The Snowcap Adobe’ just as the sun had set. I had contacted the owner, Susan, earlier in the day to let her know my time of arrival and she told me she had her best friend over and chili on the stove, asking if I would want some for dinner instead of having to find food before I arrived. That was a welcomed idea and I took her up on it!
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)
Her home was amazing. It was built by her family many decades ago and she had updated it in recent years to make it a welcoming spot for travelers. It felt homey and warm. The three of us sat at her kitchen counter and she told me the story of her family and her home. Susan was a great story teller, especially about her grandfather, a well known artist in the mid-twentieth century regionalist tradition. She had even done her Ph.D. thesis on his use of symbolism in his art.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)
This was my bedroom for the night, comfortable and genuine New Mexico.
Day 9 – Headed Home
Finally I was on my last day. I once again left early, before Susan had awoke. This is an early morning view of her solarium that her mother tended while she was still alive. It is still filled with plants but Susan says she forgets to water them. There are a lot of plants, I probably would too.
I drove northeast through rural New Mexico and Texas until I reached Amarillo. During that stretch I found one last interesting place. Alanbeen, Texas was a gas station and a motel. That was it as far as I could tell. The station said it was the post office too so I think that pretty much says it all.
The gas station consisted of one pump. Surprisingly it did take credit cards. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to go into the convenience store so I let it run and went inside.
And good thing I did, because otherwise I would have missed this sexy Texas miss smiling at me! The place was a hoot, covered top to bottom with stuff, most old Texas memorabilia and trinkets.
And then was a beeline home. I arrived in time to have dinner and relax, hear about Linda’s bachelorette week and show her some photos of Mr. Otis!
And that’s the end of this road trip! Next stop will be the opposite coast to visit my OTHER grandchild, Vivian. Not sure when that will be but I will let you know.
California Road Trip
Continuing my epic road trip to California and back…
By day 3 in Berkeley I had a rhythm of going to the French Hotel and Coffee Bar on Shattuck to pick up some pastries and coffee, then heading over to Chelsea’s house. She seemed thankful for the Cafe Mocha that morning but it sort of looks like Otis is in need of it even more.
One of the cool things about staying at Airbnb spots is seeing homes uniquely designed.
My hosts in Berkeley had devised a pretty cool way to both display and have available their collection of earrings. they simply hooked them on the bottom of the sheer curtain in the guest bathroom. I don’t know if it originally was a way to keep the curtain weighted when the window was open and the wind was blowing, but it made for a fun and unexpected design element in the bathroom.
And here was another design element in the bathroom I thought was pretty cool. It was a functional art piece on the wall and I liked it! And no, I did not steal any of the belts, though the green one was tempting!
Graham had to rehearse for a big show he was going to be in so Chelsea, Otis and I took a foray into the hills of Berkeley. We went up to the very top of the area, to Tilden Regional Park. It is a beautiful and serene spot not at all far from the bustle of the East Bay. We chose Lake Anza because Chelsea could sit and nurse Otis while I went on a run around the lake and presumably I would not get lost. I took a few spurs off the lake not realizing it but I made my way back without too much consternation on anyone’s part.
This is about a 3rd of the way around the lake. Chelsea and Otis are just to the right of the marker in the water in the middle of the image. On the left is a popular beach that allows you to swim in the lake. It even has lap lanes beyond the play swim area. I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
Right after taking the vista shot of the lake I turned was about to restart my run when I found this fellow fetching balls while wearing a doggie floatie vest. I immediately thought of a friend of mine back in Tulsa, Rosemary Dougherty, who has a serious love affair with all things bulldog. I knew it would make her happy to see him and it did.
In the meanwhile, this is the trail I was running. I thought I was going to be running a flat trail around a lake, but it was anything but. It was a challenge! I twisted my foot at one point but didn’t really feel it until that night and it wasn’t serious.
When I returned Otis was a happy camper, as you can tell!
After Otis was filled we took a hike down Chelsea’s favorite trail. It was easier than the running trail I found, that is for sure. We think of redwoods as being in big forests all by themselves but throughout Northern California there are many places they grow in and among a wide range of trees. Tilden Park is one of those places.
Along the trail we found an old pump house. I loved the stone around the empty window and had Chelsea and Otis sit in it for a portrait.
I got Chelsea to take one of me as well.
Chelsea kept Otis in the wrap for the entire hike. It was long and got a bit warm by Berkeley standards (still felt cool to someone from Oklahoma though). It translated into both of them being very tired when we returned to her apartment and they settled into a nice nap.
While they slept Graham and I walked down to Shattuck Avenue, to an area of Berkeley known as the Gourmet Ghetto. Destination: The Cheese Board. As you can tell from the line in the photo, it is a popular place. It sells only one type of pizza per day. No choice. It’s listed on a board but all those people in line? They don’t check first to see what the type is for that day. They know it will be great and they are going to get it no matter what. We were the same way. Turned out ours was fantastic, with guacamole and cilantro and peppers and sausage (if I remember correctly). YUM! They also had a cool jazz band playing. It was quintessential Berkeley.
Later that night Otis’ Godmother Lina came over to see Otis and meet me for the first time. We hung around for a long time talking about all sorts of things. She had just returned from her umpteenth time at Burning Man so she had lots of stories to tell. Chelsea and she gave me the low down on how to prepare and experience Burning Man in case I ever make it to the event. I want to and hope to within the next few years!
California Road Trip
Hello again Napkin Kin! Here is the part 2 of my epic road trip to the west coast this past week.
Since Chelsea and Graham live in a studio apartment with a new born, my housing was obviously going to be elsewhere. I found a great Airbnb spot about 6 blocks away in the Berkeley Hills. This is their living room overlooking the small winding street below. Edrie and her partner JoAnn were friendly and hospitable hosts, with coffee in a French press ready for me each morning.
Chelsea’s family unit had an appointment on Tuesday morning so I was solo for a few hours. I took advantage of the time to get my first run in. I had to return the U-Haul trailer and the location was way down in flats of Berkeley, near the San Francisco Bay. I figured there had to be running trails near the bay and I found a great one that goes for miles and miles. Within that trail was a loop that went out into the bay towards the Berkeley Marina. It was there that I found Cesar Chavez Park, with a great latticework of dirt and asphalt trails.
The sky was overcast and the air was cool with that fantastic California ocean breeze. After a summer of 90 + degree running days in Tulsa, it was exhilarating to run in cooler temps. It wasn’t just the temps but the surroundings. This little peninsula of a park was beautiful and natural. You would not know you were in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas of the United States, that is for sure. But as I crested over a little hill in the middle of the park I realized where I was.
It may look like just a trail with water in the background but look close. The water leads to a bridge on the left, which leads to a city which lead to another bridge in the center right. One of the best things about running in new places is how you always end up seeing that place in ways you can’t anticipate. Seeing the Bay Bridge, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge all at the same time from this angle was fantastic. It was so cool I made this loop about 3 times, going 2 miles further than I had planned, just so I could experience it longer.
Then of course there is the more mundane angle to a run. What can be a majestic bay is always a small and intimate one with birds and mud and grass just like the Arkansas River back home or any other body of water. But look close again and there are always things to admire and wonder at.
Here is another thing runners often see that others don’t, the homeless. Of course in most cities you don’t find them waking up with this view. A night outdoors might be a tad bit easier on the SF Bay, but overall I have a feeling the burden is the same no matter where it is.
As I turned around at the halfway point of my run I glimpsed the BerkeleyMarina and the Berkeley Hills from whence I had come.
When I returned the Coleman-Patzner family were folding laundry and playing. No worries, he isn’t about to break his neck. He does a lot of backward and upward bending motions and his neck is already quite strong. I experienced it first hand. Not bad for a 6 week old!
Otis and I hung out on the porch for a while. He was quite mesmerized by the amazing stories of my many road trips, as you can tell.
So much so that it wore him out. Here he is dreaming of going on an epic road trip with Papa Marty.
Even though Linda wasn’t there, I knew it was what she would have done so Chelsea, Otis and I went on a shopping trip that afternoon, getting stuff for the kitchen and the rest of the apartment. We also got fixins for a family dinner.
Graham’s parents, Curt and Karla Patzner, came over for dinner. I had met Karla before but hadn’t met Curt. I liked him because well, he had a nice hat. What more did I need to know, right? I made Linda’s famous Smoked Salmon Pasta with lemon and Dill. It went over pretty well!
It was babysitting day for me! Graham and Chelsea took a break in the afternoon to go see a movie and Papa Marty and Mr. Otis had our first bonding time alone.
But first Graham got Otis all ready for our big adventure. I don’t know Graham all that well, having only met him a few times, once when I visited California last year and another when Chelsea and he came to Oklahoma on their own epic road trip in the spring. That trip was a 6 week music tour around the entire US of A in a little Saturn car while Chelsea was preggers so yes, it was truly epic! Graham has been a very attentive and hands on father, playing with Otis, changing diapers, just taking care of business as a father. It’s been good to see.
While he slept I did a bit of work in the kitchen, moving out the fridge to put in a plug and mopping the floor. After that we went for a walk around the neighborhood. I introduced him to the jungle that is in the Berkeley Hills, with an elephant standing guard in a corner yard.
It was made of old pieces of tires. It was amazing.
A lot of Berkeley is amazing. While most homes don’t have huge land mammals in their yards, most of the homes have fantastic flowers and landscaping in their hilly lots. The homes are of all sorts, with a large percentage being of the Arts and Crafts movement, one of my favorite architectural styles.
The day ended with us going out to a Himalayan Restaurant on Shattuck Avenue in what is known as the Gourmet Ghetto area of Berkeley. It is too, amazing amount of restaurants in a very short stretch. It was really good!
California Road Trip
Hello Napkin Kin!
I’ve been gone on an epic solo road trip to Berkeley, California and back. It was 9 days, 3,675 miles and 62 hours in the car. I took 2.5 days to get there and 3 to get back with 3 and 1/2 days in Berkeley visiting my daughter Chelsea and partner Graham along with my first Grandson, Otis!
I didn’t post here during the trip because I posted on instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr instead. I figured I would show you the pics in 2-3 posts.
I have done similar trips before where I pushed it to 2 days and even 30 hours straight but I decided to do a little Airbnbing this time around. Do you know what Airbnb.com is? It’s an online room renting service. I first used it back in 2012 for 4 days in New York City when I spoke at Blog World. I rented a room in a little apartment in the West Village and loved it. So on this trip I not only found rooms on the trip out and back but stayed 4 days in Berkeley at an Airbnb home as well. Chelsea and Graham live in a studio apartment with a newborn so staying with them was NOT going to be happening.
So, here are the pics from the way out + some bonus ones only YOU get to see. Aren’t you special?!
I was also pulling a trailer full of furniture on the way out. It was a couple of beds, a dresser and miscellaneous tables for them to put in their little studio space. I started off on Saturday around noon after coaching my running group. I ran 9 miles which I thought wouldn’t be so long a run as to make a long road trip immediately afterward unbearable. I was right, my legs and the drive were fine. My goal was to get to Albuquerque, New Mexico by 10pm or so.
I wasn’t deep in the heart of Texas, more along the edge, but the Panhandle is about as Texas as it gets. I loved the simple design of the two stars, one a shadow cutout, the other a window to the sky. Texas has some of the best tourist info areas, always well designed and interesting.
Texas Information Center, Texas Panhandle
If you are wondering of West Texas is a flat as they say? Yes, it is.
I hit the New Mexico border at sunset and was able to grab a shot of the sun setting in the Land of Enchantment.
The flowers outside my first stop, an Airbnb room in Albuquerque, were amazing – especially after the sun rose and they were brightly lit.
I took off early and as I turned my first corner leaving town I found this rising to greet me as the day dawned.
Later in the day I hit the high desert area of California. The Mojave Desert to be exact. It’s not all one big sand dune, most deserts aren’t actually. But it is arid and stark. But that arid starkness leads to incredible beauty and exquisite design.
This was taken in Boron, California. When I was a kid there was a cleaning product called 24 Mule Team Borax. I always knew it came from here, Boron in the high desert. And now I’ve seen it.
I spent night 2 at a fantastic Airbnb location in Tehachapi, California. It is also in the high desert, at the western edge right before you travel down into the central valley and Bakersfield. Richard was my host and he was attentive, interesting and engaging. We talked about our mutual lives (he had lived 40 years in Hawaii as a dive instructor) before I went to bed.
The house was built by a silent screen star named Thelma after her retirement in the 60s and he had spent the past year doing renovations to the place. It was immaculate.
He had an indoor pool that I was able to swim in in the morning. It is solar heated and was fantastic. Yes, that is a rubber ducky in my hand and no, that is not my tail coming out behind me.
My first official stop in California was at the home of Cyndi and Darrell Blaschak in Livermore. Cyndi is the younger sister of my exwife Kathy. In addition to furniture for Chelsea I had brought on piece, an old sled bed, for Kathy as well. She had left it with me when she had moved back to California from Tulsa in 2004 or so. And now, 10 years later, I was bringing it back. Unfortunately Kathy lives far north of San Francisco and I wasn’t able to get all the way up there so I dropped it off at Cyndi’s house for safe keeping.
It was great to see Cyndi and Darrell again. I started dating Kathy in 1979 when Cyndi was only about 14 years old so I have known her a long time. She is now a mother of 3 as well as an incredibly active athlete.
And then finally I had arrived at my destination, Otis. Yes, I was going to Berkeley, but I was really going to Otis. He’s only 6 weeks old here. After our introductions Mr. Otis settled down and started to get used to Papa Marty.
Since I still had the trailer attached to the car I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a parking place at my Airbnb spot nearby. So Chelsea and I hiked the Berkeley Hills for close to a mile to find the spot. On the way Mr. Otis went to his very first library. It was a free library on the street.
Chelsea, Otis and I had dinner at Cafe Gratitude. I chose the ‘I am Humble’ for my dinner but I felt Iwas all those things as I watched my daughter take care of my first Grandson.
As we walked home the sun fired it’s last rays into the Berkeley sky. I am blessed.
California Road Trip
It’s happened again! I am a grandfather. My daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to my first grandson. Otis Martin Coleman Patzner was born 7/27/14 at 10:41pm in Santa Rosa, California. He was a healthy 8 lbs, 7 oz. This is just over a year after Rebekah gave birth to Vivian, my first granddaughter, so we are adding to the family at a spry pace and Linda and I couldn’t be happier!
And if you ask if I am happy they stuck my name right smack dab in the middle of his, Papa Marty says, Damn straight I am!
Both Chelsea and Otis’ father, Graham Patzner, are creative musicians, and both come from creative family lineage so I have no doubt Otis is going to follow that creative thread in some way. It might not be guitar, but it will be something!
It’s time to party hearty on day #4 of ‘The Extrovert and Introvert’ week!
Years ago, in the 1980s, I planned an anniversary weekend with my first wife, Kathy. It was a big deal; an overnight trip to San Francisco’s Union Square with a stay at the St. Francis Hotel, a dinner at Postrio, the hottest restaurant on the west coast at the time, finishing with a fun night attending the play ‘Noises Off’. It was glittery, fun and filled with sounds, tastes, smells and sights that stimulated and entertained. It went off without a hitch and we had a great time.
Well, ok. I had a great time. I thought Kathy was having a great time too. But later, on our way home, I asked her how she liked it, fully expecting her to be swooning over all of it and especially my exquisite romantic effort. Her response? It was ok but she didn’t like it all that much. Say WHAT? Are you kidding me? How could she not like it? My feelings were hurt, I felt like she had no respect for how hard I worked to put it all together to give her a great anniversary weekend. I was bummed.
She said the weekend I planned was too much. Maybe one of those things we did in the city would have been ok, but put them all together and it was too much. It was too stimulating, too sensory, too noisy and crowded and bright. I asked her what would she have wanted the weekend to be like. She said she would have preferred a quieter, more natural setting, maybe in the woods, in a cabin, going hiking, etc.
My Mistake, a Cautionary Tale
What I figured out later was that I had indeed planned the perfect anniversary weekend….for me, the extrovert. I didn’t really plan it for her, the introvert. I didn’t know her well enough to realize that doing all at one time filled her with anxiety, not joy. It didn’t excite her, it exhausted her.
I wish I could say I ceased to make those sorts of mistakes but I didn’t. It took me a long time to pay attention to who she was instead of who I wanted her to be. I think I am better about that now in my second marriage, to Linda. I am sure she sees times when I still don’t see her clearly, but I definitely pay more attention than I used to.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
Quote by Criss Jami, 1987 – not dead yet, American poet