Monday, September 9, 2013

My reason for Walking...

It’s my kid – my grown-up daughter Julia – who drives my desire for a cure for type 1 diabetes. I want to cure T1D (type 1 diabetes) because it’s in her way – in the way of uninterrupted nights of sleep if she gets low, in the way of those “straight lines” we love – to the movies without worrying about highs or lows, on an eight-mile training run through the coast range, in the decision about whether to buy the form-fitting sheath dress or tight jeans without pockets that pose challenges for her pump, and in the constant hassle about health coverage.

I don’t think about T1D too much unless I’m watching Julia use a big needle to insert her insulin pump’s cannula at a new location on her tummy, or when I rant about health care access to a startled fellow swimmer in the Civic Center pool’s locker room. Julia is an editor for UC Santa Cruz Extension, has undergraduate and graduate degrees, she’s worked in Spain and at diabetes camps, taught university writing classes, written grants for academic journals, produced stories for local radio stations and did I mention her four half-marathons, numerous 10K runs and exuberant water ski turns?

Julia is why I gently badger my friends and family for donations to our Walk to Cure Diabetes team each year, why I like it when the great staff at the local chapter of JDRF asks me to help, and why I understand it’s not just because it’s fun to dress up and eat with friends that brings people to our annual fundraising galas.

We want to cure T1D. Julia is why I volunteer to write news releases about our chapter’s Walks that take us around the State Capitol the first Sunday of every October. It’s why I contact every print, television, radio or online media I can think of to let folks know about our Passports to a Cure fundraising galas. I feel like we’re making progress when we promote our events – this Walk, golf tournaments, crab feeds, trail run fundraisers, school walks, the golf tournament, the crab feed, the new trail run fundraiser, school walk teams – and anything else our hardworking Northern California Inland Chapter of JDRF can come up with.

I love to be around others who share my desire to make diabetes evaporate, go “poof,” fall off the face of the earth. Research breakthroughs for a cure and the amazing progress we’ve seen in treatment and preventing T1D is thrilling.
I’ve learned a lot from this chronic disease, the most important thing being appreciating each moment.

Which is why I enjoy laughing at Julia’s wonderful dog cartoons, take such pleasure in her brilliant 100-word stories and her blog, look forward to her 2014 wedding to a wonderful man, and love cheering as she crosses the finish line of yet another big race. Dudette, we’re closing in on a cure.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finding Family in Unexpected Places

Note: This was a commentary on Capital Public Radio in November 2005 (, when my friend Christine, mentioned below, finished her first chemotherapy treatments. She passed away today. I miss her.

I have a really terrific family of blood relations. From 87-year-old Aunt Polly who sends greeting cards like clockwork, to my mama with the laugh that could wake the dead, to my cousins and kids, I am blessed. But our birth families can’t possibly serve all our needs. We often embrace kindred spirits who share no DNA. One of my favorite families is made up of growers at the Davis Farmers Market. The market started in 1976 -- the same year my own farmer father died too young. The vendors show up twice a week at Davis’ Central Park to share tomatoes and corn in the summer; squash, dried fruit and nuts in the winter; and flowers and comfort all year long.

Woodland farmer Ramon offers Mexican nopales cactus to help my daughter’s diabetes. Ying, who farms along the Sacramento River, always tucks extra cucumbers into my bags of green beans. I talk to Annie of Good Humus Produce from the Capay Valley. Her son Zach waves me over to see a rescued kitten; his girlfriend Nicole shares my love of Halloween pumpkins. I worry when Christine at Fiddlers Green loses her hair during chemotherapy. She’s better now, and points out her new eyebrows as she hands me multicolored beets.

Weekly, we share stories. To their delight I give their jams to friends and wear hats made from their Angora rabbit fur as the seasons change. But that’s not all I get from my market friends, and cash is not all I give. In this world of disaster, loss and political cynicism, we care about each other, these friends who till the soil like my father. We’re family, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tahoe shredder

She checked us in at the CalNeva, which straddles the California-Nevada border. Asked to see Alan’s ID. Like me, she’s been a victim of identify theft. But she got to confront her exploiter, who was in one of her college classes.

“He took my debit card, a few pieces of mail and just slipped into my identity.”

He was expelled and went to jail, she said.

“I let him know how know how I felt.”


“I broke his nose and the right side of his jaw.” Pause. “Don’t think he likes snowboards anymore.”

Sunday, September 4, 2011


She texts, “do you ever feel weird back in Santa Monica? Like u have a different identify there?”

Me: “BIG YES.”

I’m more open here vs. the firm responsible daughter who triggers my mother's “ignore” screen.

A problem when I want to convey something important. Better to wait for Alan; a short sentence from him is gold.

I think I know a little about how you feel in the Forever 21 dressing room, me waiting with the Latino boyfriend who’s approving his girlfriend’s shirts. Anxious? Judged? Very young?

The proverbial rock and hard place waits for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Writings in the Raw: one hundred word story #21: This one's true

Writings in the Raw: one hundred word story #21: This one's true

Strictly Ballroom

August 30, 2011

In an odd way, I welcome my aches and pains because they get me out of bed and to the keyboard. Tonight my toes were hurting – maybe it’s the dancing shoes I’ve been squeezing my feet into on Friday nights when Alan and I head to Barbara’s Dancing Tonight on Sycamore Lane. That’s where we go for our rumba, cha-cha, foxtrot, waltz, tango and East Coast swing dance lessons. Yes, really. We love it – Alan has the memory for patterns, we both work to recognize the rhythms, and I wiggle my butt.

It’s a pleasure when we find something we both enjoy. We like the focus of our arms around each other. It’s very intense, and the biggest challenge is trying not to step on our feet. My problem is letting my mind wander as I look at our fellow dancers or the Strictly Ballroom, Tango! and Swing Kids posters. Alan can tell when I’m not concentrating because I start stepping on him. He is very patient. He does appreciate when I try to add the flavor of the dance – singing along with the cha-cha, doing the hip moves, throwing my head back. I love knowing that Sade's "Smooth Operator" is a rumba and Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" is a cha-cha.

I’m already more than twice Julia’s magical concise 100 words that she writes and posts several times a week. The music carried me away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love and gravity

August 24, 2011

We had a wedding…and boy, it was some kind of wonderful! And beautiful, and tender, and the weather was a lucky 88°F, Aug. 13, 2011. Josh and Shelby’s special day dawned bright and clear, and we were cool under a blue sky with long shadows that shaded the ceremony, with a full moon for dancing when the sun went down. The ceremony was right before Tu B’Av, Jewish Valentine’s Day!

There were cries of “Mazoltov!” from Grandma Saralee, April and family and other reps from the Konigsberg Halprin gang, and happy cheers from Grandma Alice and Grandpa Fred, with echoes from Williams and Jackson clan members, including Alice’s sisters Evelyn and Rayma. Shelby’s parents, Stephen and Hannah Ho, brought their joy in smiles and beautiful leis – maile leaves for Josh hand-carried on the plane, and the gorgeous smells of ginger, ilima flower and tuberose leis FedExed from Hawaii. Hannah’s four sisters from the Loui clan were filled with smiles and love – Linda, Judy, Helen and Melissa, plus daughters and one spouse - my “lansman” from L.A. Larry. And did I mention the friends? Dozens of young people from their childhoods surrounded Josh and Shel from Village Homes/Yolo County and Honolulu, while beloved compatriots from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and all over the world added their love.

Alan and I were speechless with joy – almost – and our smiles kept the tears in check. Josh’s smile was the widest, although Sweet Shelby was right up there. She looked like a delicate mermaid in her lovely gown. Tamara, Dahlia and Mira’s dahlias brightened the bridesmaids’ bouquets, while Annie Main’s flowers filled 60+ small vases all over the place. We used Shirlee’s baskets for wine, flowers and goodies at each picnic setting on the lawn.

Lizzy Thigpen Hunt, who grew up with Josh in Village Homes, cooked the meal. What a chef! Veggies were by fellow Village Homes kid Toby Hastings from his Free Spirit Farm. Nicole Wright Main did the luscious haupia (coconut/chocolate) pies and piƱa colada cupcakes, while the bride and groom cut the blackberry pie that Grandma Alice made from Grandpa’s fresh berries. A special thanks to Virginia Thigpen who built the small wooden bridge the wedding party crossed to get to the chuppa. She made it out of scraps from an old deck the morning before the wedding.

How did we get here? Albert Einstein explains relativity and gravity in a different way (thanks Katie & Matt!):

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.
How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl [or boy] for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.

We are blessed!

P.S. To those who wondered about Alan's pesto recipe, see my last