Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Where Two Roads Diverge

Our real estate agent emailed us that the address of our house was about to get a new street name.  Currently, the house is on Mammoth Road, but there’s a long driveway leading to our house, which is not visible from the street.  The town fire department wanted these long driveways named so that the houses would be easier to find.  Our private drive was about to be renamed “Paradise Way,” a name chosen by the current owners of the house.  Our realtor advised us to contact the town planning director if we wanted something different.

Hubby and I thought “Paradise Way” was rather blah.  We called the planning director, who told us that “Paradise Way” had already been approved by the town selectmen, but if we could get him our suggestions within the next 24 hours, he would submit them for consideration. Given that we would be the new owners who had to live with the new street name, he was sure the town selectmen would take our preference into account.  We got the impression the town planner was not too thrilled with the name “Paradise Way” and would be happy to hear other options.

What a great opportunity to name a street!  We were given the following parameters: (1) no names of people, dead or alive, (2) no non-sensical names, and (3) no names that sound too similar to an already existing street name.  We were encouraged to think about local history and references.  So after a bit of brainstorming, we came up with the following list:

1.    Yellow Wood Drive

In reference to the Robert Frost poem “The Road Less Traveled.”  Frost had deep roots in New Hampshire and is beloved in this area.  Plus, Hubby and I liked that we would live on a road less traveled, as this is how we like to live life.

 2.    Juniper Road

On our short list of baby names for girls, but we figured the town would let this slide because Juniper is also a plant.  Of course, our kid could grow up with an ego because she had a street named after her.

 3.    Story Lane

In honor of my literary love, the short story.  We tossed around “Storybook Lane,” but decided that was too cheesy.

 4.    Cardinal Way

For my alma mater, the Stanford Cardinal—the color, not the bird.  But also a pun on “Cardinal Rule.”  Go Card.

 5.    Silverton Street

Hubby’s home town in Oregon, which is, according to him, the center of the universe.  ‘Nuff said.

We zipped off our suggestions to the town planner.  The next morning, we got the following verdict: “Juniper” and “Cardinal” already existed as street names.  “Story” was too similar to “Lory,” an already existing street name.  But “Yellow Wood” and “Silverton” were good possibilities.  He particularly liked “Yellow Wood” and the Robert Frost reference.

Hopefully the town selectmen will agree.  Our first venture into small town politics!

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Caroline’s Blankie

Another full day of driving took us across the state of Iowa and Illinois for 530 miles.  Iowa is mostly rolling green hills (not flat like Wyoming & Nebraska).  Once we hit the Chicago suburbs, driving the big yellow truck became a bit harried as Hubby had to maneuver the hulking monster through traffic and a maze of a construction zone.  It was then that Hubby decided he didn’t want to live in Chicagoland.

Here in Chicago, we are staying with my friends Pam and Sam Schapmann and their four kids, Nathaniel (14), Elizabeth (11), Caroline (7), and Joshua (6 months).  Pam was my roommate my second year in China.  I was a bridesmaid at their wedding and I’ve watched their kids grow.  It’s been about 6 years since I last saw the Schapmanns, however, and they welcomed me and Hubby like long lost relatives.  They fed us Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  It was then that Hubby decided he could live in Chicagoland.  

Elizabeth, Caroline, Pam, Baby Joshua, Nathaniel, and Sabina

Elizabeth, Caroline, Pam, Baby Joshua, Nathaniel, and Sabina



We had a long discussion about baby blankets.  I did not have an attachment to a baby blanket, but Hubby did.  His mother saved what was left of his baby blanket–nothing but the silk border, which is frayed and yellowed with age and now hermetically sealed in a ziploc bag.  Evidently, all three of the boys in Hubby’s family had well-loved baby blankies and the nostalgia for them run so deep that my 37-year-old husband was horrified by the thought of his baby blankie being thrown out.  It’s a good thing his mother saved it.

I must admit that I cannot relate this this kind of attachment to an inanimate childhood object.  The Schapmanns’ third child,

Caroline and her blankie

Caroline and her blankie

 Caroline, introduced us to her blanket, a Pooh Bear blanket with a section that has been so loved that the fleece has been rubbed out completely.  Caroline uses her blankie to create cloth sculptures and to talk.  She even uses the blankie kiss people.  Hubby says she’s using it to express emotion that she’s not ready to express herself.  Hmm, that’s deep.


I think of Pam as a very practical mother, but she says there’s no way she’d be able to throw out Caroline’s blankie once it becomes nothing but the lining.  There would be no choice about it, she said.  Her two older children did not take to blankies when they were babies, but Caroline will not be parted with hers.  In some ways, the blankie is like a substitute mother, offering comfort to her when her own mother can’t always be there.  

What would Freud have to say about the blankie?

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Visiting the Roeloffs

Day 3 of our transcontinental sojourn took us 480 miles across the state of Nebraska to the city of Lincoln, where we are staying with my friends Teresa and Ken Roeloffs and their two kids, Joshua & Hannah.  The drive across Nebraska was green and flat, with miles of fields that go on forever.  There was one rainstorm and some strong winds along the mostly very straight, flat highway.

I know Teresa & Ken from my days at Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino, California.  Ken is a California boy and we were both in a group called 20-something.  Teresa is from Iowa and she came out to California as a nanny in the early 1990’s, where she met Ken.  Their wedding was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend.  I happened to be in Iowa City for a writers’ conference the week before the wedding, so I hopped in a rental car and drove across Iowa.  It was a beautiful wedding.  Everyone was blond and sang.

Teresa is the sweetest person you will ever meet and she welcomed us with open arms and a great meal of pastas & ice cream. Hubby played foosball with Joshua, who is a computer genius and easily connected our computers to their wifi system after Hubby had struggled for a few minutes.  Hannah looks like her mom and accompanied us for a walk around the block while the family cat followed.  The cat must think it’s a dog.  Ken, who is a pastor here in Lincoln, was officiating at a wedding and arrived home later, where he happily opened a beer with Hubby.  (I always think it’s a good sign when a pastor has an occasional beer with friends.)  Ken was educated as a civil engineer before going to seminary to become a pastor.  Hubby was fascinated by his combination of geek and people skills.  It’s a rare combination.

It’s been wonderful to reconnect with old friends.  I haven’t seen the Roeloffs for at least a decade and we found each other again through facebook.  Say what you will about technology, but it does have some advantages.  Hubby commented how nice it was to sit and talk with friends as opposed to staying in an impersonal hotel (where you couldn’t hook into the wifi).


Ken, Joshua, Teresa, Sabina, and Hannah with Blackie the Cat

Ken, Joshua, Teresa, Sabina, and Hannah with Blackie the Cat

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10.  Burrito Truck at Harrison & 22nd Street

9.    Public Transportation

8.    Watching the fog roll over Twin Peaks

7.    Asians

6.    Biking around the City

5.    17 Syllables, the best writing group ever

4.    Alemany Farmers’ Market

3.    Lefty Politicos & Artists

2.    Walking Crissy Field with Hubby

1.    You know who you are!

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Circle of Friends

Today I had my last meeting with my executive directors’ support group.  There are six of us who met at a training for executive directors two and a half years ago and we’ve been meeting monthly ever since.  We were all working in very different fields:my position in Chinese culture and the arts, Aspen’s post-abortion support and advocacy, Becky’s botanical garden, Norman’s center for special needs children, Tara’s education reform and advocacy, and Mark’s wooden boat preservation.  But no matter what your field, being in a position of leadership can be very lonely.  In this group of people with disparate passions, I found a kindred spirit of support and friendship.

Four out of the six of us have moved on from our original positions, though we continued to meet and support each other as community leaders.  While I had a very mixed experience as executive director, I am grateful for the friends and community I have built around my experience, not the least of whom are the friendships from this group.  I am repeatedly inspired by them, both as leaders and as friends.

Aspen, Becky, Mark, Norman, and Tara–Thanks for coming alongside me in the pain and the laughter.  I am confident our orbits will intersect again as we each strive to make a difference in this world.

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