Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Wrap-up



Another year blazes by. This one was domestic, as opposed to the foreign adventures that marked 2013. One of its highlights happened early: the wedding of my nephew Charles Opalak and the lovely Liz Swilley, in Richmond, VA.


Our grandson Conor, the son of Bojana and MIchael Parman, and Haley Kreitler, the daughter of our Connecticut friends Allison Ehri and Charlie Kreitler (and the older granddaughter of Linnea and Bill Ehri - Allison is our children's honorary cousin), figured in the wedding party, where they were amply supported by Tom Opalak and Ross Parman.


We used the occasion to visit Charlottesville, on a sunny February day that hit 73 degrees, where we saw Monticello and Jefferson's remarkable Lawn at the University of Virginia, with its Stanford White-restored Rotunda.


In Berkeley, we much enjoyed having Rolf Schneider, an archeologist from Munich, as our friend and sometime neighbor, meeting his family when they converged on Berkeley at the end of his visit. Whenever we go to hear concerts in the vicinity, we think of him. 


East coast trips were fairly frequent in 2014. I made two on my own in the summer, to New York, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. In Baltimore, I was lucky enough to get a city tour and have dinner with my friends Jim Camp and John Thompson on Federal Hill. 


One highlight of our summer was a lunch with Madeleine Corson, Thomas Heinser, and George Homsey at Madeleine and Thomas's farmhouse in northwest Marin. This was a meal in the "Babette's Feast" tradition, and it was also great to talk with George at length on the drive back to San Francisco to drop him off. The man is living proof that curiosity and a passion for your work keep you going. Madeleine and Thomas have that, too!


Kathy and I went east in early September to celebrate the birthday of her younger sister Lenore Opalak, mother of the aforementioned Charles and Tom. We spent a wonderful day at the beach house of our friends Linnea and Bill Ehri in Milford, CT, on Long Island Sound. All summer I'd been longing for a beach, and this fulfilled that desire handily.  


In mid-October, I made a brief visit to Cambridge and Boston after an absence of almost 50 years. I had dinner with Ali Brown, a friend from San Francisco who's studying at Harvard GSD. Meeting up with Vernon Mays, we saw the New England Aquarium on a remarkably balmy day. Heading for NYC, I met an economist, Stephany Griffith-Jones, who lives in Brighton, England, but teaches at Columbia. Thanks to her, I finally crossed Central Park, something I'd never done before. (It's a surprisingly short walk - Golden Gate Park must be wider.) We went on to the Met, dodging the guards to take some photographs. Later, incongruously, I was reprimanded by a guard at the Frick for photographing its endangered back garden. At the end of my visit, I had dinner at Cafe Luxembourg with my friends Stacy Mar, Monica Schaffer, and her husband Kevin.


Like many, many others, I braved the crowds to see the Late Matisse show at MoMA. It was good - I went through it twice, taking advantage of my membership - but it's work that's pretty familiar through constant exposure. More exciting, therefore, was the Cubism show at the Met - the private collection of Leonard Lauder, a new bequest. Braque, Picasso, Gris, and Leger - with some remarkable Braque/Picasso pairings - made it truly new, and a revelation. Since I happened on it accidentally, alerted by the woman at the members' desk, I count myself very lucky that I saw it.


Over the summer, I met with a group of like-minded design-and-culture types to form an alliance between TraceSF.com and Yosh Asato and David Baker's StoreFrontLab. This is starting to pay fruit in generating content from real life and helping give TraceSF.com a local focus. Still essentially in soft launch, it gradually ramps up. As for me, I've been a fairly loyal attender of the always-interesting StoreFrontLab events. 


In other news, Kathy won an award, well-deserved, from the Berkeley Property Owners Association, and our third son Ross announced his engagement to Alison Powers, a public defender in Arlington County, VA (and the delight of the family). A late-summer wedding is planned that will take us back to Charlottesville for another family reunion.

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