Old codger.

It was New Year’s Eve. We’d found a comfortable place to have a cup of coffee and debate what to do with the day in one of California’s quietest cities. It was all part of the plan to have a low-key holiday in Pacific Grove.

The sky was gray and it looked like rain might be a possibility. We were dressed in muted tones consisting of black, gray and brown. Woody the black Lab was curled up under the table, blending in with the surroundings. All was calm when a neon ray of light came into view. To be more specific, it was woman, probably in her mid-60s in zebra-stripped, lime green pants, a tie-dyed t-shirt and a fur coat. My San Francisco sensibility quickly sprung into action as I prepared to hand over some spare change. But as I quickly discovered, things are wonderfully different in “PG.”

“Excuse me, have you seen an old man come this way? Brownish hair. I don’t know…maybe in his 70s?” she inquired.

We told her we hadn’t, but she continued to elaborate.

“He’s this old man I met while visiting my mom in the nursing home. Nice guy. Just an old codger. Big house. Widowed. He asked if I wanted to meet him for coffee. I was dressed real conservative that day…nice sweater, slacks…he hasn’t seen me in this…in my zebra stripes…but I figure, what the hell, right?”

I immediately liked her and asked her more about the blind date. Her concern was that he’d shown up early and left as she was running late. She didn’t have his phone number and explained that she doesn’t believe in cell phones.

As she continued to fill in the details of the backstory, I noticed a rather conservative-looking older man crossing the street with a smile on his face. Intervening without interrupting, he politely squeezed her shoulder.

“This is HIM!” she exclaimed, as he put his arm around her and they walked into the coffee shop. No goodbye. No silly promises to talk again. We decided that was the official beginning of 2018 and the positive things to come. Here’s to hoping your new year is off to a good start.

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Santas in the night.

There’s nothing like spending the holidays in a neighborhood that’s festive year round. Here in San Francisco’s North Beach, multi-colored lights permanently hang above Grant Avenue, the bars and restaurants are usually packed with cheerful patrons and frequently big groups of people go door to door singing—at least until they get home. While it’s not great for good night’s sleep, most days feel like some kind of special occasion.

The other day, however, I encountered a new level of coincidental holiday crossover when I found a gift on the doorstep. Technically the gold bag with its carefully arranged tissue paper was tossed on the sidewalk, but the decorative effort wasn’t wasted on me. I picked it up and nervously looked inside to discover an undamaged glass tray with an artful gold type that simply read CHEERS. Momentarily, I considered my options and decided the tray was coming home with me to be re-gifted just as soon as I could deliver it to my lovely lady on the third floor.

Secret Santa? Drunk elf? Perhaps a small token of appreciation from the universe for enduring the yelping of drunks night after night? While I’ll never know for sure where this sidewalk surprise came from, I’ll always remember the joy of finding this accidental gift.

With that, I say cheers to you and yours. And Merry Christmas. And happy holidays. If you can, take a moment to take in the world around you and watch your step—you never know what treasures might be waiting underfoot.

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Life is but a dream.


Our San Francisco apartment is so small a quick shower fogs up all the windows—including the one with a slight view of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise. The “cotton candy sky” (as we’ve started calling it) through the accidental steam filter caught my eye this morning and I thought I’d share.

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Farewell Friday.

Looking out over the city, I see that Sylvia’s Bakery didn’t make it. It was just open for business the other day.  No surprise, I suppose. There’s only so long you can cover the rent in San Francisco with $5 scones. I hope Sylvia had a plan B.

My buddy’s dad also passed. He was just playing golf a few months ago. I never had a chance to meet him, but from what I hear he was old and wise so I suspect we would’ve gotten along. I hope the friends and family have a chance to celebrate his legacy.

This world twists and turns—so many things come and go each day—but ultimately one has to remember to appreciate the fact that we’re even here at all.

I know. A bit cheesy. But I’ll give it a try if you do. While you’re at it, maybe send a Christmas card or two? You’ll like the way it feels to sign, seal and deliver a thank you message to the people who put up with you all year. Take my word for it.

Speaking of doing the right thing, it’s Friday again. You’d better make it a good one.

The prime real estate formerly known as Sylvia’s.

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Internal communications.

As Gen X, Gen Y and whatever they call the people who came after that continue to live and work in cities, it seems many of us own less and less. Clothes can easily be rented. You don’t need to buy a car to have a vehicle at your disposal. And most of us, especially in the Bay Area, have no realistic hope of home ownership. While all this offers a certain degree of freedom, it has also led to a world where few seem to take any pride in anything because it’s all temporarily on loan.

This don’t-give-a-shit attitude is alive and well in the charming, but incredibly overpriced and crowded neighborhood where we dwell. And while communicating directly with people is one way to solve problems, I’ve come up with a more passive aggressive, potentially less awkward way to work things out—Bad Neighbor Greetings. Like Hallmark, but dedicated to acknowledging irritation, anger and inconvenience, these cards could be slipped under doors, left on welcome mats or attached to bulletin boards in public areas.

Here are a few messages to get things started:

My the weed you smoke all day is skunky.
Please open a window every so often.

It’s called house music, not tiny apartment music.
Please mind the volume after midnight.

Heated debates are good for stimulating the brain…but fighting with your boyfriend every night doesn’t seem to be making either one of you any smarter.
Please consider others nearby when arguing with your significant other.

Sitting on the stoop with your dogs is cute—until they start using it as a bathroom.
Please take your pets away from the building when they need to poop and pee.

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