Sunday is Mother’s Day. Since I am the mother of two little ones, it is a day where I have a free pass to do as I please; to indulge, rest, rejuvenate, reflect. Since my kids are still young, they don’t quite understand that being on their best behavior and honoring all that their momma does for them are required for the day. So while I do plan to spend time enjoying their company, my true intention is to use this day to take care of me. Guess what? You certainly don’t have to be a mother to chose this for yourself. Furthermore, you certainly don’t need a special day of the year to do it. I try to find moments in time throughout busy days to take pause, to enjoy something as simple as a sound, smell, or sight. If I have more moments free that can be laced together to create “me” time, some of the below are at the top of my list for spending time to take care of me, my senses, my mind, myself. Oakland is full of ways to treat yourself…be inspired to do so, you deserve it.
I have begun to remember that I really did use to enjoy history class. Perhaps its why I have recently found enjoyment in the stories of Oakland’s history. I often joke that I did not get the teaching gene that runs through branches of my family; yet maybe a branch of that gene does exist. As I have spent time becoming more aware of names I often see on signs and street posts, Peralta keeps making repeat appearances. A sunny afternoon visit to the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park left me with a stack of brochures and a series of questions, most prominent in my mind being “What will the history books say about you?” The veins of the Peralta family history run much like the creeks of the vast Rancho San Antonio, winding, twisting, and many in number. Their homestead, stretching from the eastern shores of the bay up into the hills, is the birthplace of our town; Oakland’s Momma. While today marks the official 164th birthday of Oakland, the date it was incorporated in 1852, it was the ranchero that brought the diverse culture and community to the land that Oakland now stands upon.
A historic Oakland establishment is closing on April 30th. Genova Delicatessen has been in business in the Temescal District of Oakland since 1926. A loved spot by many, patrons have lined up amongst the aisles for decades, watching the numbers tick by until they could put in an order for their favorite Italian deli sandwich. Genova has been a testament to how a business can thrive for close to 100 years; good service, good food, and a dedication to old world Italian roots. I decided to make a final trip on Monday, to brave the wait with two small children, to order a #9, and to say thank you. It was perfectly apropos that as I tried to explain to my four year old that the deli was closing and that we needed to wait our turn, he said, “but when they close the doors, who is going to open them again?”
When my host removed the chain and bolt and pushed the doors open, my breath caught. The first words out of my mouth were, “It’s stunning.” Stepping into such a grand, open, and iconically historic space is moving. To stand almost alone within it, listening to someone share its story, one of great historic value to our city, followed by even greater mistreatment and disrespect by its own, is enough to break your heart. The 16th Street station is beautiful, yet in shambles. What I would soon learn is that much of what I was looking at was actually remnants of a movie set. Once I readjusted my vision, I still saw what it could be. With the tremendous light hitting the white marble floors, I turned my mindset to one of hope, hope that someday it will once again become the grand destination it was in its past. So as I share both its history and its present, I chose to blend them together into one tone, a nostalgic twist to remind us of what could once again…be grand.
When I was a little girl, I begged my mom to take me to the restaurant in the bright pink house covered with whimsical hearts and smiling gingerbread men. Little did I know that menu items such as squab cassoulet, jambalaya, and sautéed quail were what awaited me at T.J.’s Gingerbread House. I made do with endless refills of lemonade; simply happy to be inside the pink oasis, self-described as “a fairytale come true”. While the pink exterior is long gone, this well known corner on the edge of West Oakland is bringing the fairytale back in the sweet form of cupcakes, Angel Cakes to be exact.
I tend to romanticize the past. When life feels particularly hard, I daydream of a time when existence seemed simpler. I think of picnics on rolling green hillsides, a rocking chair on a porch, reading a book by a fire. I imagine children playing freely on a span of lawn, dinner from the garden in the evening, a carriage ride to the general store. I suppose I live in denial that I could be without internet, iPhones, and Instagram. Last Friday was one of those days when the end of a hard week was a welcome sight, and the urge to spend a few hours alone on the couch came beckoning. Instead I grabbed a cup of coffee and chose to spend some “me time” at a place I had read about yet never visited. I suppose it could have been my mindset, but as I wandered the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, I couldn’t help but think how things seem to have been so much easier 100 years ago. I think I forgot that being a member of high society doesn’t hurt.
Staircases serve a purpose. They get us from one level to another in our homes; from one floor to another in a building. They can be short or long, curved or straight, steep or gradual. Some of us use then by choice, some of us head straight for an elevator if its available. I have a love/hate relationship with stairs. I am not a fan of uphill climbing :o) The strenuous monotony that comes with putting one foot in front of the other on a steep set of stairs doesn’t typically appeal to me. However, the nostalgic notion of hidden outdoor staircases tucked in our cities hillsides, leftover from a time of streetcar suburbia, was enough motivation to get me in the car early in the morning on the President’s Day holiday. The combination of the beautiful weather, the sights, smells and sounds of spring, and the lovely hillside setting was enough to keep me moving. It was even enough to turn me around at the bottom to head back to the top.
Continuing my romantic and nostalgic tribute to Mother’s Cookies today with a sweet filled trip down memory lane to recreate my favorite types of Mother’s Cookies in my own kitchen. My floor is specked with rainbow sprinkles, my counters are a bit sticky with white icing, and my shoulders are a bit tight. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my Mother’s Cookies love story, I have a hard time letting things go. I was determined to try my hand at these iconic favorites. So, when my daughter went down for her nap today I got to work and brought them to life, in my own way.