The Best of Marin County this week

Wooden foot bridge in the woods.Best of Marin this week

Best happiest County Fair in California- Marin County

Best new documentary -Brooklyn Farmer (

Best 2.5 acres rooftop garden in the whole USA- Brooklyn Grange (

Best Small Movie Theater: CineArts at Sequoia- 25 Throckmorton Ave Mill Valley

Best garden/lighting/decor store: Illumigarden in Mill Valley near Sweetwater

Best Furniture Clearance Sale: Scandinavian Design San Rafael

Best Donuts: Johnny’s Donuts in San Rafael

Best Services and Staff: Ritter House – San Rafael

Best New Film: Roger Ebert Film, “Life Itself” at the Rafael Theater

Best Mini Storage: Terra Linda Mini Storage- talk to Janet

Best six-day fireworks extravaganza nightly: Marin County Fair

Best gluten-free cakes in Marin: Beth’s Community Kitchen, Mill Valley

Best organic ice cream: Three Twins

Best new drugstore (with a Wine department) makeover: Rite Aid on Blithedale –it rocks!

Best newspaper column (written by a bartender): The independent Journal’s Jeff Burkhart: The Barfly

Best brunch and Bicycle Parade viewing: Poggio Sausalito

Best Bookstore Book Passages- Best Staff: The Karens




Not so great: Larkspur Courts – on Old Quarry Road –  the tenants forced to leave – in droves – with $800.00+ a month rent increases. Really?



Your first date – in decades?

t finally happened. A date.

Let’s say you are “suddenly single.”

Perhaps you are 50-something, fresh divorced or widowed or just back in the social saddle- dating again. For some singles, it might be decades since your last date…

Concerned, nervous and wondering: have the rules changed?

After weeks of trawling online for a kindred spirit, you’ve connected with someone you rather like.

You exchanged the requisite three e-mails, two telephone calls, and both decided upon meeting for the proverbial ‘Coffee Date.’ Now what?

Relax. Have a good time and avoid these Top 10 Blunders and Bloopers.

Remember:  Never Ever

1. Arrive late and fail to apologize.
2. Post an ancient photo of yourself, which doesn’t remotely resemble you.
3. Assume the other person will pay for coffee. You are a big girl/boy.
4. Take and make phone calls during the date.
5. Share details about your divorce. Nobody wants to hear about it. Really.
6. Advertise you are divorced, when you’re really separated. Truth in advertising is big in this area, too.
7. Ask your date how much they weigh, their height, age, or salary.
8. Regale your date with stories of your past trophy dates and exploits.
9. Step out for a smoke. Return with a toothpick.  Yawn. Three strikes – yer’ out!
10. “Go HR”  this is supposed to be a coffee date, not a job interview.

Now What? Kiss, hug or shake hands?
Let’s say things are working better than you ever imagined. Now what?

How much time do you spend? Thirty minutes? An hour? Remember: There are no hard and fast rules. Common sense trumps any dating data. First and foremost, have a good time.

And, remember the old saying:  “How am I going to miss you, if you don’t go away?”

To hug or not to hug:  that is the question

As the date ends and you are reluctantly leaving one another, you can gauge the level of interest instantly. It’s the old handshake versus hug conundrum. Do they go for the handshake or the light hug?  A perfunctory handshake (no Rosetta stone required ) simply means, “It was nice meeting you.   Next.” Whereas, a light hug means, “Let’s do this again.”

One second date, coming up.


Seven hot summer date ideas


You may have to cross a bridge and enter a rainbow tunnel – to have fun- but the options are numerous

1. Best Place to Have a Cocktail at the Beach in San Francisco: The Riptide – eclectic and funky and fun- claims to have the best staff, best juke box or you could hit The Beach Chalet across the street from Ocean Beach.

2. Best Place to Laugh in the Dark: Just want to laugh? Get tickets to see the movie CHEF- it’s a romp – it’s delightful and totally predictable…a feel good comedy -with a side order delicious…on July 4 Look for Roger Ebert’s New Film, at the San Rafael theater, Life Itself.

3. Best Place for Stargazing: Get thee to one of the Bay Area’s most spectacular sights: Mount Tamalpais – in addition to stargazing – there is hiking, biking, picnic areas, birdwatching, camping,     (See Below)

4. Is That Some Kind of a Record? Many Fog free- hours can easily be whiled away going through the stacks of CDs, vinyl and DVDs at the veritable treasure trove, Amoeba Records on Haight Street. While in the hood, necessary stops might include The Alembic – and the hot, haute, restaurant Cha,Cha,Cha.

5. Best Place to Feel Breathless- Gilroy’s famed Garlic Festival will cure all that ails you. (Save the date: July 25-27 2014) Is garlic is your Midsummer Night-mare? Shakespeare warned: “Most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.” So, skip the stinky bulb and frolic at many fun-filled events at the very popular, crowded, festival. No, not a breath of fresh air, but so much fun. Yes, Virginia, Garlic Ice cream.

6. Best Place to Nibble, Nosh, and Dine Around – Got truck? Sample all at the delicious foods at anyone of the dozens of Off the Grid Dining events (in Novato, North Beach,Serramonte, Burlingame, Cupertino, etc)

7. Best Place for Kite-Boarding is Crissy Field – and in San Mateo Coyote Point. Both locales are great for watching or participating. Like standup? How do they do that? See: Standup Paddle Board  Cruise scenic Richardson Bay in Marin County.


Wooden foot bridge in the woods.


The Fabulous Mount Tamalpais

Facilities and Activities
Hiking and Bicycle Trails: More than 50 miles of hiking trails are within the park and connect to a larger, 200 mile long trail system. Friends of Mt. Tam provides hike suggestions and hike schedules on their website.
Road bikers are challenged by the infamous seven sisters and the twisting road to the top while mountain bikers can enjoy the Coast View and Dias Ridge multi-use trails as well as park fire trails.
Be aware of park regulations when visiting!

The Bootjack Picnic Area has tables, stoves, piped drinking water and flush toilets.

The East Peak Summit features a Visitor Center and the Gravity Car Barn, a small museum of railroad history (open on weekends only). Picnic tables and a fully accessible restroom are also available.

The Mountain Theater (AKA The Cushing Memorial Theater) was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The natural-stone amphitheater seats 3,750 people and features the Mountain Play each spring, produced every year since 1913. In the summer, monthly astronomy programs are held in the theater, free to the public.

Walk-in camping is available first come, first served at Pantoll and Bootjack. For reservations at Steep Ravine cabins or campsites, or the Alice Eastwood and Frank Valley group camps, visit Reserve America.

For more information about the park and activities in the park led by Friends of Mt. Tam, visit


A loud-talker: First and last date

Handpainted peace sign in dripping colors

My first and last date with a loud talker

 We exchanged e-mails for a week before we spoke on the phone.

He was entertaining – seemingly, we had a lot in common and good rapport. He (Dave, 55, Walnut Creek resident, entrepreneur, consultant) suggested we meet halfway between our two homes at the “1968 Exhibit” at the Oakland Museum.

We met at the museum entrance and each bought our own ticket.

We agreed to first view The Day of the Dead Altars. As we entered the hallowed space with muted light and a number of beautiful, sentimental art altars- celebrating fallen heroes, friends and every day saints. It became quickly apparent that Dave was a loud talker-straight out of that Seinfeld episode.

While others lowered their voices out of respect for the deceased, he commented on the art, the intricate details, the use of color and special effects. Lovely. I softly touched his arm, and spoke in hushed tones, thinking surely he would bring it down a decimal. He did, until his phone rang. He took the call in the museum and I walked away. He followed me like a puppy, oblivious. Fortunately, the security guard showed him the door. I could hear them in the lobby talking. Everyone could.

I wondered if it was too early in the relationship the start ‘nudging’ him.

We entered the “1968 Exhibit” and the first hall was filled with people quietly reading the timeline of that cataclysmic year in history.

As we moved slowly through the room, he peppered me with questions about where I was in 1968. I whispered short answers. I put my finger to my lips and nodded to the quiet-as-a-church-mouse crowd around us. He looked puzzled and launched into, “So, I was just a kid… blah, blah, blah.”


As we continued moving through various rooms, each more interesting, filled with historical kitsch, and 1960’s iconic pieces -people chatted and commented freely. Dave pole-vaulted into conversations- private or not – for the next hour. I swam away from him as often as possible.

 Deal breaker?

The poignant Martin Luther King tribute -a video of his last minutes and Bobby Kennedy’s eulogy at King’s funeral had the crowd huddled in front of a TV screen-silently weeping. Dave broke the silence with a quote about sorrow and single soldiers – several people turned and glared at Mr. Mouth.

Then, he suggested we walk to the new Cathedral near the lake. All I could think of was: bull in a China shop-talker. I politely begged off, looking at my watch and creating an exit strategy – when an elderly couple came up and said quietly, “Sir, this is a museum, not a party. People speak softly out of respect for other patrons”.

Dave said, “What a buzz kill. Madam, this is a free country.” Alrighty then.

Oh! Look at the time!

My car was on the first level of the parking garage and I could leave and be home in less than 30 minutes. I said, ‘Goodbye, nice day, must run, Dave. And good luck.” I didn’t look back. I was in my car, in total silence and home safe.

Lesson learned: What will I do differently next time? I’ll talk on the phone to a prospective date – I will listen – I will ask questions and pay attention.



Everything I know about internet dating, I learned online…

In the beginning
… Online Dating, if nothing else, is two things: amusing and addictive. It’s like a drug.  

As a virtual virgin you find yourself sucked into hours of scanning photos and reading profiles.

At first, you conscientiously read every profile that the dating companies serve you on the silver screen. After all, you have waded through pages and pages of questions and tests.

It’s a romantic Rorschach test. You’ve supplied name, rank, cereal flavor and a plethora of likes and dislikes and paid the big bucks. Throwing caution to the wind, you take the leap.

Here are the Top 10 Online Dating Observations of the Day:

  1.  If a person shows up and does not resemble their photograph….pause.
  2.  If you are voracious reader, runner, writer, cook and their idea of fun is watching TV –  Note: they are not going to change.
  3. If you are “a sports fan”  and into running, jumping, biking, hiking, spelunking, throwing, diving, and your proposed match isn’t into any or all – dash.
  4. If upon meeting your ‘match’ and they are much older, thinner, heavier, balder, or strange – think about it…before you dash for the door.
  5.  If his or her profile consists of boasts and brags about all their accomplishments and two favorite words are ‘Me’ and ‘I’ – say the magic word, “Next”.
  6. If their activity list is very short and consists of ‘snuggling on the couch’, and you’re an active, dynamic person with more interests: red flag.
  7. If your IQs don’t match – it might be a red flag. If they ramble on about Byzantine art, quarks and metaphysics and you keeping thinking: too quirky and want to taking a quantum leap outa there. Not a match. Not a couple. Not a good idea.
  8.  If you see facets of anger, rudeness, moodiness, and addictions: red flag.
  9.  If you thought, he said “Penn State” and he really said “state pen.” Listen carefully – then run.
  10. If you said, Kama Sutra and they thought: Camus Sartre…hmm…there might be a philosophical difference…

The First Three Dates

Here is what I know: Men and women are on their very best behavior on the first three dates. On approximately date number four, the gloves come off.  Masks drop and reality rears it’s pretty little self. Do pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Ask questions, look closely, pay attention.

And you won’t know what you are missing unless you make an effort and get out there and play! Game on.


Marin County and San Francisco: a tale of two car washes

photo_28497_20131005San Francisco

The trash basket near the coffee-tea-water station was overflowing. What appeared to be a perfectly executed, neatly folded “To Do List” caught my eye.

The word “errands” -written in the most exquisite Renaissance style –was followed by this list:

  • Drop-off donations – Casa de las Madres
  • Call list of restaurants for Food Runners: need new food/supply for shelter
  • Clean out DM’s closet – deliver all to St. Anthony on Mission Street
  • Church needs men’s socks and underwear-Sunday
  • Little Sisters of the Poor- volunteer on Tuesday afternoon
  • Attend Elder Abuse Workshop/Helen Karr- at Hotel Nikko Saturday 0800
  • Drs. Without Borders = donation= kickstart
  • See Nicholas Kristof article New York Times: girls + slavery
  • Check out Shebooks get on-board
  • Old towels and sheets sheets delivered to SPCA for puppies

Who was this generous, altruistic, person? Were there still saints roaming the planet? I kept that stunningly generous, errands list. I told my friends and showed others- impressed and sobered by the generosity and kindness of this person.



Another world – another day

 Last week, a dear Marin County friend – in the midst of a tough round of chemo, asked me to take her to an appointment. Rather than wait, she asked if would I get a super-duper car wash at her Mill Valley spot? Of course.

I found myself settling into a small room for the 30-minute wait; I glanced at what they call The San Francisco Chronicle – both pages – I jest, not much.

My eye was drawn, once again, to an overflowing trashcan. Newspapers were stuffed in, papers balled up, a few envelopes torn in half, however, one pink, floral sheet of paper caught my eye.

Nonchalantly, I leaned over to pretend to tie my shoes (darn, I was wearing clogs) and skillfully lifted the piece of paper out of the canister. Who can resist a “To do list” with hearts and flowers doodled in hot pink ink?  Really, I’m not one to scan and scoop. However, a quick look and you just knew a Tiffany or Crystalle had tendered the list…

The list read – verbatim:

  • Get champain (Get French only)
  • Pick up Obaggi, Latisse, and cream at spa   charge!
  • Cancel personal trainer-icky!!!
  • Get massage-ask Nikki
  • People Magazine-May-wedding!!! K and K
  • Get wax-not in Ross ever again
  •  Take riding lessons?
  • Need closets organized-color coded
  • Rent storage space (ask Vikki) for shoes and bags
  • New glasses for “smart look” look-Mill Valley googles
  • Tanning salon bikini?
  • Google- may Angelu
  • Get car wash / vackuum

 The rest of the page was filled with doodles… flowers, hearts, and scribbles. You can’t make this stuff up.

When I told my book club about ‘The tale of two car washes’ aka my rendition of ‘dumpster diving,’ they laughed.  And then, they paused and said they all knew which person they wanted to friends with…not the one with “champain and googles.”

photo_1963_20060920GREAT bridege

Best pick up line: Mill Valley

A certain Mill Valley Store employee – in the tall, dark, handsome, category
graced her with the Best Pick Up Line of the Week:

Her: Hey, how are you?
Him: (looking her in the eye) If I was any better, I would be you.
Her: (momentarily dazzled) Wow…thank you…what time do you get off work?



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