London and Palo Alto

Where’s your most beautiful place on earth? I have many places that are dear to my heart.  Algonquin Park, Canada. The city of London.  The Rocky Mountains. But the place I find the most shockingly beautiful is 17 Mile Drive south of Monterey, California....

Service with a simile

I’m fascinated with service customs in California vs. Toronto every time I go back and forth between the two.  Let’s take food service.  In Toronto your waiter is probably an out-of-work actor.  He does the job more or less competently but knows he’s too smart for...

Icarus

My sister and I are staying in Menlo Park, California, for a holiday, right next to Stanford University. Menlo Park is one of the satellite communities of Silicon Valley.  Jonathan and I began our family 22 years ago here, producing the first of  two girls who are now...

The 10 best things about Berkeley

I’ve been in Berkeley over two weeks and leave in a couple of days for Palo Alto, then Monterey.  Obviously I have a  shallow impression of the city, but here’s what I’ve liked best: 1. ) The way people age here.  I’ve mentioned this before,...

Retail therapy

When we were first living in California, in the late 1980s, I had a little baby to take care of and stories to write for Maclean’s magazine and the need to feed and clothe the family for as little money as possible.  I scouted the charity stores and the thrift...

Alice’s restaurant

We had our Valentine’s Day dinner early this year.  February 10 through the 14 are booked solid at Alice Water’s famous Chez Panisse, so we took the 9th.  At 5:30.  I commented to Jonathan that we were the only people in the restaurant without grey hair....
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