Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rockin' the 'stache

Last I week I became a Lyft driver, the new(ish)-hipster-fist bump-pink mustache-friend with a car-ride service that is taking over San Francisco (and LA, Seattle, & Chicago).  So I drive my own vehicle, which is actually Gia's 2000 Honda Civic, and let strangers who are savvy enough to download the clever app jump in/out of my car on the way to/from work, parties, bars, friends' houses, "sleepovers", therapy sessions, etc.

The real rub is that almost to-a-(wo)man they love telling you their story and hearing their drivers' story.  After 80 or so passengers under my belt I have gotten a lot of questions like, "Why am are you Lyfting?, For how long? and Do I like it?  But inevitably I turn it around and ask them their story.  Usually easily revealed by where they are coming or going to or where they are originally from. I've only had one Lyft that was clearly not wanting to share (ironically my closest neighbor pickup), but that was at 7am on a work-day, and she was hiding something about where she lived and worked, no doubt.

You meet the most amazing people with the most amazing lives.  Active, happy, successful, well-traveled, young, hip, sweet and intoxicated.  I stopped living the party life long-ago and it's interesting to see it up close and personal again.

For the record, my first ever ride was Marissa in Cole Valley.
That same night I got a hug from redhead on Spruce who was going to an art show and getting out of the house, where her guy roommates hogged the remote; met a funny bicycler in Mission; a bitter Bloomies (what the kewl people call Bloomingdales) employee who is also a driver, and taught me a few tricks.

After my first weekend night had a perfect ending when got a ping at 12:30am to go to Central Ave. & Hayes, near my place.  Told the guy and his two friends I loved 'em.

Saturday night, met some kewl people incl. Natalie who had a boyfriend named Rick and was on a date with Nick.  She yelled at me when she thought I passed her area. Drove Marina girls home from a Ritch Street club and I called them "Mean Girls" after 2 of them bad-mouthed the 3rd upon drop-off.  To quote them, "I have issues!"

Bay-to-Breakers was CRAZY TOWN, of course.  I worked off-schedule and didn't stop until after locking keys in the car at Alamo Square Park.  Started with 2 French girls, one really really drunk.  Ended with 3 awesome foreigners (London, Hong Kong and Ireland) here on vaca, headed to a Lower Haight Bar.  Then my best pickup of the day, Gia at Colleen's and Chinese takeout.  Kept reminding myself to "Keep Calm and Lyft Safe."

Monday was a home game at AT&T Park and a pretty good night where I introduced my Giants journal for passengers to sign and "Lou" Seal, official mascot, on the dashboard.  My first signer was Bonny, who I accidentally called Bunny as the font on the app is a bit hard to read, and a two day recent grad in Psych. at USF.  A young guy was bound for a 24-hour flight to Israel that same night.

Tuesday was my first try at the morning commute and it was a bust.  But regardless still interacted with young professionals headed to tech jobs in SoMa after a few cancels in the Avenues.

I've never had a job this interesting, flexible and fulfilling - at least for the time-being.  And I'm actually making a living.   Back at it again tonight and all weekend - and can hardly wait to rock the pink 'stache and get to know some more Lyft-ers.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rick LEAPs

My nephew, Johan, wise beyond his 19 years suggested I try an exercise he learned at an organization called L.E.A.P.  Reluctant at first, I figured what would I have to lose.  The rules are to put in a time-frame, present tense, positive self-talk, review daily and visualize them.  Here's what I came up with..

1.  I wake up every day, excited for the possibilities - by getting out and interacting with positive and interesting people.    
2.  I cherish my contemplative side by slowing down and listening consistently.

3.  I always show my devotion to Gia through my deeds, actions, and loyalty.

4.  I earn enough money each month for my basic needs and that which is beneficial to exceed those needs.

5.  I walk, run and ride my bike regularly for my mental well-being, exercise and transportation.

6.  I finish what I’ve started or abandon that which is holding me back or not working.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Creative Cover Letter

[WARNING: Shameless name dropping and multiple links ensue!]

The requisite resume info (linked here) never tells the whole story, does it?  Here’s the whole story:  

I’ve been described as a “rick-of-all-trades” in production, having worked in the theatre, radio, television, film and music industries.  As the youngest of 12 children I’ve had the rare advantage of learning from the mistakes of so many older siblings as guideposts. 

My theatrical experiences proved a good place to get started.  Especially following a stint as Stage Manager for “the best college production in the country” when we took a play to The National College Theatre Festival at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  While supervising 30 young actors, my luggage was lost, but that’s a whole other story.

Among my greatest accomplishments is a decade of helping turn Franklin Mieuli and Associates around from near bankruptcy to the number one sports radio engineering company in the U.S. and Canada.  Wearing many hats (but never one of Franklin Mieuli’s famous deerstalkers) I learned a lot while scheduling engineers and technicians.  We had fun in the process, literally watching from the sidelines as the 49ers won multiple championships and the Warriors lost multiple star players and games.  Jerry Rice has the biggest hand I’ve ever shaken and there were great hangs with NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. 

Since 1999 as a day-hire at KQED/TV my responsibilities vary from stagehand to Stage Manager and I’m a proud card carrying member of our union: NABET-CWA Local 51Gwen Iffil of PBS Newshour and Washington Week in Review called me the best teleprompter she ever worked with.  She may have been joking.  I often have had the pleasure of spattering on the kitchen sets of Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich and Michael Chiarello

I Stage Managed the annual NorCal Emmy Awards for 20 years even though I may have displeased the late Mrs. Temple Black by not calling her Shirley.  Other freelance work at events including the Black and White Ball, Superbowl parties and numerous Galas have further qualified me to interact with high profile artists, athletes and other fancy types. 

I dabbled in film festivals where I established the groundwork of managing hundreds of multifaceted volunteers at the SF Int’l Film Festival, not an easy task.  Once I tried my hand at Assistant Directing an independent film, and am still waiting for it to be released. 

At SFJAZZ, I melded my volunteer management experience with event and house manager skills.  Under my leadership we received a “Volunteer Management Award of Excellence.” I successfully implemented Shiftboard to schedule and track volunteers online and we were used in this case study.  Artists like Jake Shimabukuro might even remember my name, thousands of volunteers certainly do.  Later, I created an organization-wide Google doc tracking system for all productions – leaving the production department better than when I started. 

Currently you will find me leading running and driving tours as Chief Raccoon for Ricky Raccoon ToursI am so proud that my unique start-up is featured on the likes of Airbnb Experiences, Anyguide, Stir! Events, Vayable and Vimbly. Meanwhile I continue to dabble in television production and driving my ride-share for SideCar, the people person's perfect gig. 

At my church I became a Lay Preacher and discovered my charism of writing and public speaking.  My Jasper type is a Visionary, with these unique strengths: Empowering, Expressive, Communication and Collaborative. 

Simultaneously focused on customer service and the organizations needs, I work great in a team, individually and am enthusiastic and joyful to help your organization. [END]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A layman's tour of Le Tour de France

My brother Sean asked me about the several jerseys of The Tour de France. It got me thinking how confusing it is for the layman. I'm not an expert, but I thought I'd give it a go and explain a few points of this otherwise complicated sport. Admittedly I'm using Wikipedia and other sites as references.

The race takes place primarily in France, but touches on neighboring countries and is famous for the climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees. The race is never the same and sometimes it will take decades to revisit a small town. One consistency is the finish on the Champs Elysee in Paris, that's coming up this Sunday. However, it's rare that the race is won on the last day.

The race is a grueling 21 stages in 23 days. Monday's are rest days. It is usually about 2200 miles in total. It's like running a marathon repeatedly for 3 weeks straight. These are clearly some of the best athletes in the world; doping aside.

The overall leader in time is awarded the Yellow jersey (maillot jaune) every day. This is the general classification, or G.C., as you may hear it on the air. The maillot jaune is both an honor and a target. Right now it is held by Frenchmen Thomas Voeckler, of team Eurocar, and he has a lead of 1:49 after stage 14. He may win it all if he can hold off the big guns like Luxumburg's Frank Schleck or his brother Andy. Italy's Ivan Basso or the Aussie Cadel Evans, who has finished 2nd twice behind the now retired Lance Armstrong, 7 time champion.

There are 3 other races within the race:

1) The POINTS CLASSIFICATION (green jersey), you get points at the finish of each stage and at an intermediate sprint. This is known as the sprinters jersey, and is not sought after by the G.C. contenders. Think Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man, who has 19 tour stage wins and 4 this year. The "Manx Missile" is amazing but is generally known for his confidence some may view as arrogance. He may likely end up with the most stage wins ever as he's only 26 years old. Tyler Farrar is America's best hope of the sprinters.

2) The KING OF THE MOUNTAINS (white with red polk a dots) goes to the best climber. The competition gives points to the first to top designated hills and mountains. Think small skinny guys who are not necessarily in the hunt for the G.C. and rarely are they sprinters.

3) The BEST YOUNG RIDER (UNDER 26) in the general classification wears the WHITE jersey.

However, this is a team sport. 9 team members are riding for the sake of their rider with the best chance at G.C. Sometimes they switch who that rider is during the race, or they have a few with a chance like Radio Shack. The Shack is currently down to 6 riders and Levi Leipheimmer, of Santa Rosa, CA, is their sometime leader. But his chances are slim and none right now. Although he's still my favorite rider. Also consider Mark Renshaw, who is Cavendish's lead out man for the sprints. His whole purpose in life is to ride for the sake of his fast as lighting HTC-Highroad teammate. The other classic "teammate" story is Big George Hincapie who supported Lance for much of his career and is still riding strong on team BMC.

TV coverage is superb on Versus in the U.S. and more than aptly commentated on by Phil Leggett and Paul Sherwen. Phil's been commentating on bicycling for decades and Paul is a former racer himself. FYI...I usually record the long version early in the morning and then fast forward through, cutting it down to about 2 hours before I get going for the day, trying my best not to fall behind.

Find out more on Wikipedia here:

Monday, March 07, 2011

Incentives Announced for AIDS LifeCycle donors

Video Link: Ricky Raccoon on bike

From June 5-11, 2011, I'm bicycling in AIDS/LifeCycle. It's a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from the City of Saint Francis (SF) to the City of Angels (LA) to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Your support this year couldn’t be more important. Why? The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill with some of the most draconian cuts to health and human services that have ever been made. And state governments everywhere, including California, have made huge cuts in funding for HIV/AIDS and other health programs. The thousands of clients served by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are more dependent than ever on the funding from AIDS/LifeCycle. People like you who are making these services possible.

Please help me and do your part in the fight against HIV and AIDS with these fun incentives I've created. You will earn the following benefits:

For a donation of $25:

  • My undying love and gratitude
  • Name mention in my blog
For a donation of $50:
  • My undying love and gratitude
  • Name mention in my blog
  • Name listed on my Day 7 jersey
For a donation of $100:
  • My undying love and gratitude
  • Name mention in my blog
  • Name listed on my Day 7 jersey
  • Two tickets to an SFJAZZ Spring Season concert of your choice. Some concerts are not available. Go to for the great concert lineup.
    - OR -
  • [Good for those outside the Bay Area] Rick's Whirlwind Tour of San Francisco. A private, humorous, one-hour drive around The City's best landmarks.
Co-workers special: Any amount = Homemade Biscotti di Gia delivered to the SFJAZZ office in May.

Those who previously donated are included the above incentives. Or up your donation to receive more benefits.

Help me support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation by giving what you can. We'll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.

Go to:

Friday, February 11, 2011

She was born on her Twin Sisters' Birthday

Me and Maria on my wedding day

My sister, Maria, was born 6 years to the day after "the twins" Peggy and Bonny. Yes, it's true I have 3 sisters all born on February 11th.

Gia and I woke up this morning laughing while reminiscing about my crazy family and wondering what is was like for Mom and Dad to have all those little ones. I got to thinking that just in between the Feb. 11 girls alone were born Susy (the triplet), Sean (Seany-boy) and Cefe (who would go on to have 4 of her own).

To quote my young niece Alana, "that's a loooooooooooot of people."

Peggy and Bonny, although twins, have quite opposite personalities. Peggy was born first and is a peace-loving easy-going personality and lives in Sacramento. Bonny, who lives in LA County, is very organized, loves to cook and is far more conservative. However, both are devoted grandparents. Maria, the mother of Carson, also lives in Sacramento and has long worked for the Federal Gov't. She loves her lattes, reality TV shows and can tell a story or two.

I love my sisters, all seven of 'em, and we are so blessed that three of them were born this day.

Happy Birthday to Margarita, Bonita and Maria de Lourdes.

Peggy(left) and Bonny on my wedding day

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Raccoon is back and in new SFJAZZ digs

Well, hello friends and neighbors. The Raccoon blog is back. I've decided to make frequent (or infrequent) posts for your reading enjoyment. But you gotta promise me something. You will comment or at least put a smiley face or something each time you read something. Even if you don't like what I have to say (Butch).

OK, so here's today news. After 7 years of working at SFJAZZ in the Production Office we often called the War Room (or Peace Room, as it may be) we have re-located. Our office are now in what used to be the old box office and Holy Toledo! there are WINDOWS GALORE! It's a fish bowl surrounded by clear glass and looking on to the passerby's of Embarcadero Center Three.

What a relief from not having even a small window to look out AFTER NEARLY 25 YEARS AS A PROFESSIONAL PERSON! I mean this is epic folks. I'm so excited I may join The Bar Method or get my nails done at Vanity, the beauty salon across the way.

So after a whole day in here by myself today I noticed that folks don't really notice you sitting inside an office typing away. Until one friendly lady started banging her way in and eventually I recruited her to volunteer for SFJAZZ. Doing pretty well here so far!

Come on by for a visit, you know you want to.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Thoughts

Sister Snoozy (only I call her that, I hear) misses my blog. She may be the only one...
Home sick today, no really I actually have a cold...
Cleaned house and cooked regardless, good thing cuz Gia was in no mood after long day at "the office"...
Burnt the Chicken with leeks and granny smith apples, but scraped the pan to create a nice sauce and the wife and i enjoyed none-the-less...
I think I sound like Dad after burning the toast on prior comment...
SFJAZZ week 2 of shows start Friday, so no rest for the weary...
Prez Obama picks 11 of 16 right in first day of NCAA Basketball Tournament...
Yours trully picks 12 of 16 at same contest...
I watched more basketball today then in the last year combined...including the Warriors loss to the Lakers on National TV...
Sister Josefa's bday today, missed out on calling her but hope to talk tomorrow...
Neph. Brian called today re: buying a road bike...
Got a new Blackberry yesterday, same number, but I don't have anyone's numbers programmed, so call me and I can add you...
Or text me...
Suz, if you correct me on typos, I will cease posting...
I'm out dogg...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Slideshows now available online

View my slide shows at:

Current list of videos:
1. Mercy High School Volleyball 2008
2. Shown at The Wedding
3. Tshirts

P.S. You will likely have to download a simple portal once, in order to use the program.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gia & Rick make Hollister Freelance

Gia Borelli and Richard Warren were married Sept. 27, 2008 at Old Mission San Juan Bautista.

Wedding: Borelli/Warren

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Wedding Weekend Reviewed

Well, finally getting back to reality after a whirlwind few weeks. See, I was busy getting married and honeymooning in Mexico. The time went by really fast, which everyone warns you, but what can you do. I enjoyed it all thoroughly and was able to rest a bit near Puerto Vallarta for 8 days. Gia and I stayed at a small resort with a private beach for the first 5 nights in Sayulita. The final 3 nights in a high-rise all-inclusive hotel in Nuevo Vallarta called RIU Hotel Vallarta. The two locations couldn't have been more different and had only one thing in common, they were both near the beach. Our villa in Sayulita was called Playa Escondida and there were only a few couples there the whole time. We had literally had the beach chairs, hammocks and private beach area to ourselves most any day. We also would be among the only people in the pool and hot tub. The exclusive outdoor restaurant was so empty that the famous chef would sit with us for dinner, and come up with customized concoctions. We were treated so well, it was amazing. In fact our whole Mexican vacation was that way, from the drivers, hotel staff, and even medical facility. See, I got and ear infection about half-way and hoped it would pass. I ordered the wrong medicine since I didn't know the words for wax buildup in Spanish. Later when in Nuevo Vallarta we walked into a private medical facility and I was immediately taken care of by the Dr. who spoke perfect English. I couldn't get over how this would never happen in The States (I have Kaiser).

At the RIU we went out to buffet breakfast, lunches and dinners until we ate so much we had to hti the gym and go to the disco. Later we regrouped and enjoyed the spa and had a fancy dinner out. We enjoyed watching the entertainment provided by the young sports/entertainment team who we played water volleyball with earlier in the days. We met several other couples who were married on the same day as us, and I enjoyed trying to figure out how far apart in hours our weddings took place, accounting for time-zones.

Our wedding weekend was so wonderful. From the rehearsal dinner, where we had 70 guests for the Spanish themed outdoor dinner with tapas, paella, tri-tip, sangria, etc. This party, in honor of my late mother, was planned and executed by me and all of my siblings and came off well. It was fun to see a lot of people dressed in red and black. The decor, which Anita and Maria did, was amazing. The house was graciously provided by our family friends, Yvonne and David Perez. After my opening remarks, my Dad did an invocation and everyone, hungrily lined up for the main courses around the Spanish dining time of 9:30. By 11 we were all exhausted and needing rest for the next day.

The wedding day included me delivering chairs, doing finishing touches at the reception site (The Ranch) and going to Radio Shack before a final run by Taco Bell. I got to The Mission in time, but it required some playful running through the streets on San Juan Bautista while the video camera was following me and my best man, Altie. To my surprise, our priest hadn't arrived and didn't until 3:00 exactly, the time we should have started. After about 20 min. he was ready while I poured the holy wine and picked out his vestments. Somehow, we managed to take a whole series of photos in the garden with Altie and my Dad while waiting. The procession was really long, and as I was emotionally watching Gia appear backlit when they opened the large wood door...she immediately came out of her fancy Christian Louboutin red healed shoe. I went from crying to laughing right quick. When we finally got on with it there were other funny moments, including our vows. I proclaimed, "this is a tough crowd" at least once.

For the ceremony, I brought Gia a handkerchief that she had given me that read "JOY" on it. This was one of the 7 she made for me for an earlier AIDS ride. I also brought her the compass she'd given me, which I had previously dismissed to let her know I hadn't forgot the gift. I held a small delicate hanky that was my Mom's.

Following a pictures on the altar, with my family outside and just us in the garden we got in an old car and headed to the reception. We were greeted well while in the rumble seat driving up the road to The Ranch. Missing out on most of the cocktail hour we were swept right to the tables. Gia's Dad did a funny toast focusing on how I should look out for his "smiling" mafia conciliaris. Altie did a great best man toast from the heart and Carla, the maid of honor, followed it up with a hilariously written speech that included several suggestions on how to survived the Borelli family. Gia and I thank everyone and we got on with the festivities which included a special Limoncello toast and my Dad's famous wedding skit that included a lot of hat wearing.

Everyone seemed to enjoy either hanging out in the haybale couch area, indoors watching the slideshow I created, under heat lamps, or on the dance floor. Dancing continued well into the night.

Some responses we've gotten include that this was the best wedding they'd ever been too; and I wonder if everyone just says that about the most recent good wedding they enjoyed.

Sunday, we finished things up with a brunch at San Juan Oaks for family and out of town guests. After doing some cleanup and opening a few presents, we were back to San Francisco Sunday night in time to regroup for our Monday morning honeymoon flight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wedding Update less than a week

Wow! It's really getting down to the nitty gritty. Everyone says the same thing, something to the effect of: "don't stress, it will all turn out alright, the important part is your love for each other, etc." Well that's all true and good advice, but I'm in the thick of it here folks. There are still many errands to run, calls to make, and not everyone is on MY time frame. I'm waiting for piano's to be tuned, meat to be picked up, napkins to be monogrammed, etc. Not sleeping near enough, which is causing stress to add to the stress.

Trying to relax, I swear, but with the San Francisco Jazz Festival pre-festival starting while I'm gone there is much work to be done before I leave town (Wed) so I'm trying to deal with all that as well. I think Gia's going to kick me out if I don't back off.

My brother Peter visited for 24 hrs. which was a nice break, but also distracted me from the tasks I had planned to do this weekend. I was telling someone this is the longest I've gone w/o watching TV in years. I did manage to catch the Emmy's on DVR.

Gia called in sick today (she deserved to) and was trying to get our laundry done and run some errands when I left her. We'll see how she's holding up tonight.

Off to a meeting at Davies Symphony Hall (a marvel) and then home for more stuff like writing vows, and practicing our first dance. Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Wedding Update

In an attempt to share what's going on with me I'm going to make every effort to blog on a regular basis between now and THE wedding (Sept. 27). My objective being three-fold: to openly put in writing what it is I need to do and accomplish in these final weeks; allow the reader some insight into what the final weeks of wedding preparation entails; and to communicate with my mass audience a little of what's going on for me lately.

Gia's been away for the 4 days, starting with her bachelorette party weekend in Aptos where numerous of her closest friends have gathered in and out of a beach house. Today, however, she is attending the funeral of her Dad's long-time business partner, John O'Brien, who passed away a few days ago. Just yesterday her Uncle Marvin Grimsley died after his long illness. Marv, married to Gia's aunt Maria was very close to the family as lived just blocks away from The Borelli's. The funeral is scheduled for this Saturday.

Meanwhile, I have to figure out if I can attend the funeral as I previously scheduled to work a major event at KQED with stars of the 60's including Carol Lawrence and a bunch of musicians in the Pledge event of the year. Lately I've been working both in the office at SFJAZZ, doing about one show a week all summer, and picking up a few night and weekend shift at the Q (KQED). This additional income has come in handy with all the wedding expenses that one incurs at this time.

My credit card company (CitiCard) offered me something called, "life events" or something to that effect, that allows for a delay in payments for a 2 months. The charge a fee, but apparently it's less than if I'd pay the normal APR. Meanwhile, I'm getting all these points, which I have no idea how it works. All I know is I wasn't able to work out a free honeymoon trip, which I hear is what others do.

I've been known to do a lot of reading and research on certain things, but with finance I'm like a deer in the headlights. My Dad, on the other hand, is the master of all things financial. And Gia is quite good at keeping track and investing, I could learn a thing or two from them.

This weekend, my nephew and best man Altie came over and we headed into The Mission for dinner. The vibe was pretty kewl in SF as the Power to the Peaceful concert was going on, led by Michael Franti. Ironically, he came into the restaurant we ate at, Bissap Baobab, with his entrougage in toe. Later we had drinks at a few places and I showed Altie a taste of the club life for one last time as a single guy. It was fun, but I was reminded of why I'm happy to be married and away from the dating game.

Just as Altie left on Sunday, and the 49ers lost their home opener, my friend Colleen came over for a visit after her angel workshop. We had a great dinner out at the Citrus Club, a noodle bar, and a nice conversation that lasted so late she got home around midnight, and wrote me this morning to say how groggy she was but how worthwhile it was regardless. Co and I go way back and our conversations are free-flowing and wonderful.

I had intended on spending the entire weekend with Katherine Heigl (the hot one in Grey's Anatomy) but ended up only watching her in "Knocked Up" and saving "27 Dresses" for when Gia's comes home. But with the funerals, wedding planning, work and appointments, it's unlikely Gia will take time for a movie. I squeeze in the Netflix when I can, but it's not a priority for the wife-to-be.

I managed to put off my secret wedding project on account of all the visitors. This project, although planned in my head for about 6 months, has seen little daylight in actually coming to fruition. But I hope to make up for it tonight and in the weeks to come.

Today, I'm back at SFJAZZ, where I'll do some paperwork and potentially leave early to get to the passport office. Gia pointed out that we needed passport updates for our Mexican honeymoon which is recommended but not required, I think, and we are running out of time. I figure it will all work out.

Lately, it's been my M.O., to relax and not worry about things so much and allow them to take their course. Also, allowing Gia to play her part as the bride who makes the final decisions. Oh, my Dad would be happy to know that the final step on the cupcakes has been determined.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Our Wedding or Not?

So much work has gone in to it.
The dedication of many fine individuals.
A production like no other.
A spectacle.
Secrecy and surprises.
Music, spirituality, history.
No not our wedding, but the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

The famed director Zhang Yimou produced what in my view was one of the most amazing spectacles I've ever seen on television. How incredible was that when the drummers, in unison, pounded on their light box drums. The choreography of so many performers blew me away. How about that scroll film image on the ground and later on the projection overhead? The site of big Yao Ming along with the young earthquake hero. And the final torch lighting, when the retired athlete ran sideways along the amazing 360 degree image above.

That will be one to remember, as will our wedding, in it's own way.

Check out this photo stream:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Groomzilla, Reno 2008

This past weekend I had the good fortune of spending a few days (and nights) in Reno with my closest friends and 3 of my 4 brothers. We didn't have any fun, and nothing happened other than a lot of gambling and some eating. That's what I'm supposed to tell you.

Truth be told, there was a roast, multiple Top-10 lists, plenty of drinking, some singing (I was honored to reprise "Hey Jude"), goofy dancing, race cars and miniature golf.

Those who attended were:
Altie Ford, "D" as in L.T.D., my nephew, friend and Best Man
Butch Green, "R.L.S.", one of my oldest and dearest friends
Wayne Purves, "Cool Wayne", my ol' tennis buddy and roomate
Jim Arballo, "Pastor J", the best guy to have around at 3am
Rob Smet, "Big Rob" the smallest guy of the bunch, and my ol' friend from youth ministry
Eric Allen, "E.A." or Eazy, my boy and co-worker
Kevin Warren, "Kevinino", Brother #3
Sean Warren, "Uncle Seany", Brother #2
Ken Warren, "Rummy", Brother #1

We also had names for the 7 of us (before the brothers arrived on Saturday)..but they shall remain a secret among the dwarf's.

I am so grateful to all the boys who showed up and did all the planning, picked up tabs, teased me relentlessly (a form of affection) and took my jokes with a grain of salt. I especially want do a shout out to Butch (Jesse) for his pre-planning and itinerary.

I'll never forget Groomzilla weekend, July 18-20, 2008...and neither will Reno.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

AIDS LifeCycle Summary

I recently completed my fourth consecutive AIDS/LifeCycle.

The photo album tells a bit of the story from our final training ride with margarita’s in Sausalito, to all seven days of the 545 mile journey from the City of St. Francis to the City of Angels, followed by my birthday celebration, Gia and I enjoying Santa Monica Pier, relaxing at her brothers’ in Weslake Village and visiting my friend Cady at Sony Pictures.

I met lots of new friends and was re-acquainted with many old ones who come from all over the country. One thing I’ve learned is that the more years I do The Ride, the more emotional it gets as well as more fun. Each year seems to bring new and yet familiar moments of joy that are difficult to translate.

Some highlights include meeting some Hispanic children in Gonzales. I carried with me a youth bracelet that I kept for years. Upon running into this small group, I asked, “If anyone can tell me why we are riding, I’ll give you this bracelet.” They hesitated as clearly English was not their first language. I pointed to my shirt, looking for the word “AIDS”, or anything familiar. Just before I gave up, the eldest boy profoundly said, “You ride to help the sick people.” He got it, and I was so moved. That is truly the reason we do this ride.

Shortly thereafter, I met two riders doing their first century ever and just as we were hitting 100 miles on my odometer we stopped suddenly for a photo op. Grateful, they went in for the final 5 miles. Although it was getting late, suddenly inspired, I raised my bike above my head and began screaming to the riders passing, “You just completed a century!” “Thanks for changing the world!” “Way to ride 100 miles, you rock!.” One by one they responded with, “Thank You,” “I Love You,” and so forth. Many were suddenly aware that they just completed their first century. It was a truly spontaneous moment that went on for nearly an hour until the final riders approached. Boy was I emotionally and physically drained that night.

On Quadbuster, Day Four, there is a notorious 1.8 mile vertical climb. I decided I would attempt it twice: once for myself, and a second time for others. On the way down, I was shouting and encouraging folks. I made the loop back and sought out someone who especially needed encouragement. I met a weeping Kara, and gave her a long push all way up the hill. She told me her legs were burning, and I gently talked with her letting her know she could do it. This is tricky business, helping someone with one hand, while staying balanced and climbing your self. Kara became stronger as we finished, and with a big push over the hump we dismounted and there were hugs and kisses galore. She was grateful for my help, but I was so impressed with her perseverance not to stop that I didn’t once consider my own pain…until camp that night. You’ll see our “victory” photo (she’s in a green jersey while my mouth is awkwardly agape).

In the “it’s a small world” category, I re-met a veteran bicyclist, who has been doing the ride for years and after discussing life a little deeper came to realize that he worked with my sister Peggy for many years at CalTrans and even attended my brother-in-law David’s memorial in 2001. (Peggy, I forget John’s last name but he’s in the photo just after Kara and right before the first Grease Pinky’s shot).

I was so moved on the last day, which coincided with my 43rd birthday. The night before I had friends sign a personalized white jersey. Many left messages of well wishes and all included their names and rider numbers so I can stay in touch. This was my 2nd year of uniquely wearing all white on the final day. It was a big hit, and will go down as one of the great days of my life. I was literally stopping traffic in that outfit (near the end of the ride I directed traffic near Peet’s coffee).

This year I introduced a personal philosopher I call BikEvangelism. Being a BikEvangelist, to me, means spreading the good news of kindness, doing for others and acting in a way that Jesus would, if he rode a bike. Never underestimate how helping to fix a flat can change someone’s day or entire ride experience and gain you a friend in the process. So far, this is an internal philosophy but I hope it spread a little on this ride and will carry on in the future. Come to think of it, I believe Jesus was on this ride. How could he not be?

I am so lucky to have the support of all my donors, family, friends, co-workers and of course Gia, who I dedicated this years’ ride to. Thank you all! But I want to especially thank my sister Susy, brother Steve, Cady and Gia for meeting me at the finish, making signs, bringing leis, and making my birthday so special. Also, gracias to Jaime, Lisa and Ana-Sofia for joining us at dinner and for providing that wonderful cake.

The photo above is with Lenore on Day 7, whom when she is not being an angel for ALC, is one of my volunteers at SFJAZZ, among other things.

P.S. There are tons of videos on YouTube, just search: AIDS LIFECYCLE.

Click here to see my photos:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

AIDS LifeCycle 7 starts TODAY!

It's the first Sunday in June and that can only mean one thing. Today is the start of AIDS/LifeCycle. I'm off and riding in a matter of minutes after Gia drops me off at the Cow Palace. Even though this is my fourth years, there are still nerves and excitement. I've prepared by body, my bike and my baggage...there little more to do. Oh yeah, but ride 545 miles to Los Angeles. Truth be told, it's going to be great. It always is. And when one keeps in mind others who are suffering from HIV and AIDS, a little discomfort like using port-a-potties and setting up tents and having sore muscles and rising at 4:30am, isn't all that hard.

I wanted to make one final post in order to THANK all my supporters, those who have done so financially and emotionally. I especially want to thank Gia, my fiancee, who I am dedicating this years ride to - for all her support at home. She's been terrific - even in the midst of wedding planning. And she'll be with me on my birthday in Los Angeles and a few days after when we spend the weekend there. I'm so impressed by my group of donors that it's garnered me speechless - which is hard to do.

I dropped off my bike and did orientation Saturday, and it was so great to see old friends. Especially those from out of the Bay Area, whom I only see annually. Gia and I had a glorious dinner last night at a nice Italian restaurant with our neighbors.

If you would like to keep track of ALC 7 go to:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Messages of Support on ALC

On Sunday I rode what will be my last major training ride of the season, 101 miles. We left at 6:30am and I didn't return until nearly 6:30pm. A long time on a bike. But it was an amazing day, and I met more beautiful people that will be on THE Ride, June 1-7.

Anyone can send electronic messages of support via the AIDS/LifeCycle website that I'll be able to check every day at camp. I'm rider #3121.

Thank you for all your support.

Brother Sean on Mother's Day


I went to church on Mother's day this year thinking of Mom and all the times at church at Sacred Heart or St. Benedict's. I was remembering one time at Sacred Heart when Mom seemed to spend the whole mass sad and crying, perhaps thinking of her own Mom or someone who had died. I thought of happy times and sad time, but I most often thought of how much I still miss my Mom. I spent the whole day at the gym watching basketball games and at halftime of each game players were given a rose to give to their moms. How I wish I could still buy roses or alma rocca or see’s candies for Mom.

Outside the gym was a Mothers Day concert and reception. Lots of little old ladies some walking with a cane that reminded me of Mom. I smiled opened doors, said Happy Mothers Day,to countlest Moms and Grandmothers, but the more I thought about it the more it made me think of how much I still miss my Mom. I spent the evening trying to avoid thinking about it, I went shopping, watched TV and had dinner by myself. Then as I went to bed that night I couldn’t help but see the pictures, my shrine of Mom, happy, vibrant, smiling, loving, warm. I felt her hugs, her hands, her faith and her unconditional love. I was able to sleep well that night. The next day I saw pictures of Kevin’s 50th birthday party, how proud she would have been of all of us getting together sharing and caring. Looking at Altie as a dad, watching the bright blue eyes of Elijah, and anticipating the excitement of the summer and Rick and Gia's fall wedding. How can I honor her, How can I help take what she has given me, How can I help the legacy?

My thought and prayers are with all of you this day and always.

May God Bless You, Keep You Safe and Hold You In The Palm Of His Hand. I think of all of you often, you help to comfort me when times are sad, life goes on, but you must know I still miss my Mom.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ALC Journey Continues

I'm pushing ahead in my quest to ride for the fourth consecutive year in AIDS/LifeCycle 7, despite a busy schedule and a few minor setbacks. As I've mentioned in prior posts I have experienced much joy from training and completing "The Ride." In order to continue I must raise a minimum of $2500.

My fundraising has picked up but I'm still about $1000 away from the minimum with only 5 weeks to go. I need your help. If you're reading this you must care a little about me and my journey. I've had former co-workers donate $100, a friend of Gia's who I've never met pledged $1 per mile, one of my volunteers personally donated $500 (again) and is asking others to view my homepage. Please consider a donation of any amount so I can join my friends and family at the finish (my birthday) on June 7th.

The first year I dedicated the ride to my late brother-in-law and friend David, as I rode his TREK bicycle and channeled his beautiful spirit. I carried his picture throughout my training and all the way to LA.

The second year I rode for myself. I know it sounds selfish, but I was under strict orders from my therapist and it was necessary for my personal growth.

The third year I dedicated it to my late Mother who passed away the year before. I carried a precious picture of her on the beach when she was young and her smile lifted me over many a hill.

In the year in which I will be married, this time I've decided to ride in honor of my bride-to-be, Gia. I hope to carry a picture of her beautiful face and recall what makes me so happy (and no doubt do a little wedding planning in my head). Help me to make this a reality.

Please click here: ALC HOMEPAGE, for more information. Thanks.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Support me for AIDS/LifeCycle 7

AIDS/LifeCycle 7

545 miles - from the City of St. Francis to the City of Angels

June 1-7, 2008

For the fourth year in a row I'm participating in AIDS/LifeCycle. It's a 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from SF to LA which makes a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.

In 2005 I began a journey to complete "THE AIDS ride" during the week of my 40th birthday. Little did I know these four years later, how it would change my life. I am be fully invested in the mission of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, have been a Training Ride Leader for three consecutive years, met so many wonderful people and personally have raised over $11,000 for the HIV/AIDS beneficiaries.

I’ve been preparing for the summer launch. Here's a bit about what goes into the training season:

In September of the prior year there is thank you ride. This is when after a few months of rest that many of us begin to decide if we're going to do "the ride" again (although some have already signed up during the previous ride). In October is the kick-off the season ride and around this time is also when Training Ride Leader (TRL) re-certification begins. This year well over 100 volunteer TRL's were certified in the Bay Area alone. Training rides start appearing on the ALC online calendar in November and December.

On January 13 was the big kick off event, and this year the sign-ups were cut off to the first 2500 around just after that event. Series training rides are being created in January. Most rides are Category 2 (10-12 mph) and the most popular of which are Ben's Sunday rides which run about 16 weeks with an increase of 10-15% in miles each week. I help lead some of the series and other rides like the Hollister Hills Ride I created in 2006. By February we're in full force and there are multiple rides on the calendar on even given weekend in SF/Marin, South Bay and East Bay.

By March everyone is going full force and riding several days a week. The idea is to build up saddle time and get used to riding multiple days in a row while also not peaking too early. In April and May one might be doing 80-90 miles on Saturday and 50-70 on Sunday. I personally ride to work several days a week, do a solo ride during a weekday and get in one long "official" ride on the weekend. My schedule is complicated from March-June with the jazz season, so working everything in is quite the challenge.

This year Day 0 is March 31 where we drop off our bikes and wait in lines to register. It takes 1/2 the day and you get to see everyone coming together for the first time from newbies you helped train to ol' friends from years past. I love Day 0 at the Cow Palace as it is a nervous exciting reunion of sorts. On June 1 we'll arrive with our luggage and after announcements depart "as one" heading to Santa Cruz for our first camping night. This is the only day everyone leaves at once, as the subsequent days will be an open staggered start from 6:30-8:30am. Most people leave around 7am.

Each year I have celebrated a birthday on the ride. This year I am stoked that it will be on the final day where the natural celebration will be in full force. Should I wear white (for victory) again?

Now you know a little more about the process and all the work that goes into making “THE ride” so enjoyable for me. Help me support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation by giving what you can. We'll keep riding until AIDS and HIV are a thing of the past.

Peace and Love,

ALC Rider #3121

P.S. For more information and to donate online go to my homepage at:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wedding Plans (officially) Announced!

So we finally have a firm date, church and reception location to announce as of today:

Gia and I will be married on September 27, 2008 at Old Mission San Juan Bautista. The ceremony will begin at 3pm. The reception will immediately follow with full dinner and dancing at Don Christopher Ranch, also in San Juan.

We are currently working on hotel options and registry info for our guests. We'll be sending out electronic "Save the Date" cards soon.

Thanks for your patience during this difficult decision. We are super excited and moving forward with the details.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wedding Update Part 4

So Santa Cruz is out and San Juan Bautista is in. Close to "home" and quaint as heck.

We are almost sure of a Sept. 27 date but I'll leave the details out for now as we need to firm up the church to match the venue and make sure everything lines up time-wise before making the official announcement.

Suffice to say this has been an arduous process of selecting the all important city, venue and date. Much longer than we planned. However, I believe that through our perseverance we've selected a location and place which accommodates all of our wishes. No curfew, a great caterer, outdoorsy, etc.

I look forward to posting on here when we are 100% sure, and will give everyone invited hotel/inn options at that time.

Thanks for all your support during this stressful time. Now the fun part of preparing the details.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Maria's Hot Latte Challenge

I have a new game for the family, involving the photos below, and having to do with my favorite drink -- a hot latte! As I was going thru the pictures, I associated some right away with members of our family. I decided to come up with one for each of us 12 "kids", like Mom did for us with the prayer windows, and that's when I got the idea to make it a game.

Since there are 14, I included Mom & Dad. I went back and forth with some of them, but now chose one for each. Anyone could play and some of the "symbols" could be associated with the spouses and families, but just guess Mom, Dad or one of us sibs, by matching up ea. name with a #.

The winner who gets the most matched up correctly will get a prize from me --- maybe coffee, or chai latte for Rick.

Love you a latte (hee hee),

Coffee Art:
There is a restaurant in Vancouver...actually three where they dress up the lattes. You get to watch them create the pictures. What can be done with coffee, cream, milk & imagination? For the coffee lovers and others just to enjoy the art.

Add the number after the name and email answers to Maria:
















Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wedding Update Part 3

We're getting closer to choosing a location and date. Gia, Carla and their mother Josephine did some site visits on Monday while in Santa Cruz. They liked two of the places we had on our list and we are in the midst of choosing one of them, hopefully soon. I won't reveal all the info just yet, but both are essentially retreat centers that will accomodate all the elements we are looking for. We're looking forward to a full weekend of activities in either the 2nd or 3rd weekend of October. Stay in touch!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wedding Update Part 2

Gia and I spent a rainy Tuesday looking at wedding venue sites in the Santa Cruz/Aptos area. Each of them are different and we are yet to make the big decision. We're hoping to go down and do more site visits the week after next.

For me, this feels like one of the biggest decisions as it will effect so many other factors from vendors to which city we will end up in to the overall cost. We are getting a bit anxious but not too worried quite yet, as our wedding plans are tentatively set for October, we have over 8 months.

I'm excited that we have secured a tentative church and priest which was my first choice. This could be changed, however, if we don't settle on a ceremony venue in Santa Cruz.

We are going to be cashing in some favors and are asking some friends/family to share their skills like photography, singing, decorating and DJ'ing.

P.S. Who said orange was a bad color for October?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wedding Update

Plans are not set yet for our potential Fall '08 wedding date; causing sleepless nights and trepidation in the Warren-Borelli household. We are weighing the merits of Hollister, Aptos and San Francisco locations. Our hopeful choice of Pietra Winery is on hold as they determine if doing a wedding after 2 years is going to work for them during wine making season.

Also looking into churches and chapels. Reading The Knot book and browsing online with and more.

Some advice we've been given is to not reveal too much and therefore open your plans up for debate and potential let down, but I'm of the open book variety, always have been. The bride-to-be and I are of a bit different thinking on things, so we have our own compromising (read: convincing) to do. But it'll be fun to get creative and do some things traditionally and others with our own flair and uniqueness. Of course, time, money and the like are great equalizers.

We've been in touch with some ol' friends after long absences as a result of the engagement and have enjoyed reconnecting. We thank all those who sent nice engagement cards, I didn't even know that was so common.

Gia's brother Stephen took some engagement pictures of us on Christmas/Proposal Day and one is posted on previous post. I'm hoping to get the others to share soon. Meanwhile here's one of Gia and my future brother-in-law, Frank.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gia & I Became Engaged on Christmas Morning

Just after sunrise on Christmas Day, Gia and I were engaged to be married at Pietra Santa Winery in the Cienega Valley of Hollister, the town we both grew up in. This is also the location of where my Mother was born in a vineyard shack.

Here's the back story:
We knew of each other since grammar school at Sacred Heart. Gia is one class ahead of me, the acquaintance was minor.
Our parents know each other and her sister Carla and my sister Anita ("guns") were friends in childhood.
We went to high school together and ran in separate circles.
Fast forward 25 years and both living in San Francisco, me for a long while and still single, and her after several years living in Rome and San Jose.
Gia and I ran into each other at a several film festivals in SF and became email buddies and later hung out as friends. I patiently pursued the relationship further for the next 6 months.
Finally she started seeing little "Ricky" from Hollister in a different light.
We've been together ever since, 4 years this week.
Through ups and downs in a growing relationship I knew deep in my heart she would one day be my wife.

The engagement:
On Christmas Eve day I went to the Borelli's, her parents house (which is 6 blocks from my family) to say hello, and her Dad recruited me to help prepare the dining table leaves and chairs. I cornered him in a back room, and asked for permission to marry his youngest daughter. He agreed and had some nice things to say and about my family and about our relationship.
When Gia arrived later that evening we had cioppino at the Borelli's with her larger extended family. We opened white elephant gifts (above the neck) and judged the 3rd annual dessert bake-off. Later we joined my family for our 44th annual Christmas "play" where I sang a song from Sweeney Todd (a customized version of "Johanna" (Gia)) to her great embarrassment in front of about 40 of my family members.
We went to bed late and I mentioned to Gia I wanted to wake up early.
I prepared coffee the night before.
At sunrise I woke her up and she reluctantly but quickly agreed to go with me, to my surprise, for a mysterious early morning drive. I put the coffee in a large thermos and hid a coffee cup and some breakfast snacks in a small backpack.
She went to the car before me and warmed it up, but the windows were icy. I hosed 'em down, alarming her with the spray. Poor girl was chilly, half asleep and wondering where the heck we were going.
We drove half way out to the country when I realized I had left the coffee thermos on the counter. I also wasn't able to play the "love mix" I painstakingly prepared on the iPod due to technical difficulties. However, I plowed ahead.
We arrived at the location I chose, with the help of my niece Nicky 2 days earlier, just outside of the winery where we'd setup an iron table and chairs overlooking the hills and vineyards.
I offered Gia biscotti and fruit but she wasn't exactly feeling hungry at 7:30am especially with no coffee to wash it down.
Then I pushed the backpack to her and asked her to dig in for anything else she may want. She was still clueless until this moment when she found the cup and attached was a diamond ring jingling from the handle. She cried, then I went to a knee, asked her THE question and told her I had her father's permission. She said "YES!" and we proceeded to laugh for several minutes. It sort of felt kind like a final episode of "The Bachelor" I suppose.
Soon we went back to the warm car and I turned the radio on where ironically the wedding march "Pachelbel's Canon" was playing. It was a perfect follow-up to the proposal. We immediately told her family, then my large family where we woke up several of my many sisters at Ridgemark where they were staying. We shared the unused coffee and some honey donuts her Mom made and gave hints until they figured it out. It was really sweet and emotional. Several of my sister started following us with cameras in tow like paparazzi as we headed to my Dad's house.
We told more folks as the day went on including Gia's cousins and Aunts and my Aunt Marian who was most pleased.
Gia returned to SF that same night since she had to work the next day.
Plans are immediately in the works for a wedding date and location, and will be announced sometime next year.

Thanks to everyone for the support and well wishes and we'll keep you informed right here.

Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Name Those Colors?

The first person to guess the latest 3 colors of the "girls room" in order wins a special prize at Christmas. Two of the colors are still present in the room. The third latest, you'd have to be old enough to remember or dig deep (as I did recently).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

5 Years After David's Death

5 years after David’s death

Today I was looking through old journals and found a letter Altie wrote to his father, at Christmas, a month after David died. It was so powerful and heartbreaking I started to cry. I wanted to keep reading but I could no longer see the words through my tears so I had to stop.

It will have been 5 years this coming weekend since David died. Five years of his presence being felt in so many situations, guiding so many who loved him, through troubles and triumphs. We feel sad that he misses life events, especially the birth of Altie and Rachelle’s new sons, Amari and Elijah and Terrica’s baby Leila. But he will live forever in our hearts.

Peggy and Altie have gathered up the pieces of their shattered lives from that horrid day in November when David was cruelly snatched away from them. Courageously they fought the pain and have taken back their lives in a solid, purposeful and even serene way. They have become role models for the rest of us in how to cope with loss. I often hear Peggy comment when good things happen, “I feel blessed”. I know she enjoys the sounds of grandchildren filling her home with warmth.

On this fifth anniversary, I honor David by sending my love to all those he touched in life, especially my Peggy and her growing family--Altie, Rachelle and the three boys; and the Marylands--Terrica, Rob, Ariana, and Leila. His logo has become a heart with wings. I see the wings of David’s heart hovering over in a protective way making sure God watches over you all.

Thinking of you with love on this anniversary,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10 sibs, 10 days: Multiple Choice Answers

OK, I know you've all been on the edge of your seats. So here's the tally of results from the 10 sibs in 10 days trivia contest.

1st place: Josefa with 22 of 26 right.
Tied for 2nd: Cefe and Anita right behind with 21 each. For question #16, see below, I gave Cefe a correct score (D). Anita also got it correct with "A".


1. Brian and Santa have recently remodeled their…

2. Name Bonny and John’s favorite Mexican restaurant?

3. Kenny had to wear an ankle bracelet for…

4. Kevin’s car is a Honda…

5. Who did I go to the gym with?

6. What school does Alana attend?
C. North Broadway

7. Who got a new hand-me-down couch set recently?

8. Which Horton is most likely to read a 3” book in a matter of days?

9. Name Steve’s place of business?
C. UCSB Marine Science Institute

10. What does Susy claim is her busiest work day?
B. Monday

11. Which is an accurate John quote?
A. “We’re on a diet, but not strict about it.”

12. I bought Alana a new outfit in what colors?

13. Carson’s soccer team is…

14. Who is known as, “the heart of the Ghostbusters?

15. Who has a lavender colored bathroom?
C. Maria

16. Who got a college degree in Theatre Arts?
A. Me - AND -
B. Peter

17. What family members live the closest to each other?
C. Bonny-Brian, according to my maps 1.2 miles.

18. While I was away Gia enjoyed…
D. all of the above: dinner at A-16, a fancy Italian Restaurant; a massage at Nob Hill Spa (LAST YEARS CHRISTMAS PRESENT FROM ME, FINALLY; peace and quiet at home

19. Dad, Josefa and I ate what type of lunch in San Juan Bautista?
C. German

20. Upon first meeting Elijah I gave him a…
D. all of the above: “one love” jumper; big kiss; blessing (AS IS MY TRADITION UPON FIRST MEETING A NEWBORN)

21. Recently Josefa lost and Johan gained…
B. 14 lbs, NOT "an understanding about BTU’s in Johan’s bedroom", WHICH THEY HAVE NOT GAINED AN UNDERSTANDING OF

22. On the trip I traveled about…
C. 1300 miles

23. In 10 days I ate at In-N-Out Burger…
C. 0 times, THIS REALLY STUMPED SEVERAL OF YOU, I made an attempt to eat healthy although I was craving burgers at the end

24. In reference to Dad’s wedding skits who did I call, “the Trenton of the outlaws?”

25. Who worked at Pinnacles National Monument in their youth?

26. Who said to me, “I’m more addicted to reading your blog then I am my reality TV shows?”
B. Rayna, BY PHONE

Thanks for playing, this was so much fun for me. Now it's Josefa's turn; I know Rayna and Maria have questions waiting in the wings. Joey, let me know if you wanna come up for a jazz show or I can invite your in-laws as I alluded to.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stories from the firestorms of October, 2007



Not supposed to leave the house due to bad air from fires and smoke.

Stir crazy forced to listen constantly to radio fire news, to see if we need to evacuate.

Had to get out.

Walking the dogs, we cross the street and climb a hill with a 360 degree view of the skies.

Eastern sky so bright blue it thinks it’s a normal day,

Juxtaposed to a southeastern puffy dark thick grey cloud rising boldly from the Escondido fires.

I feel scared it might be near my sister who’d gotten the “prepare to evacuate” notice.

Turning left the northern sky curls then thins the grey clouds into long strips that look like city smog.

Turning west toward the ocean the orange sun can’t break through hazy filters of brown and rust.

Looking south beyond our house toward the lake, the sky is brown where a fire was recently contained.

A Somber Sight.
A Variegated Sky.


Once the two fires closest to us were contained, I no longer had to listen intently to live fire coverage. Relieved from constant vigilance, I felt compelled to use my energy to help others.

Drove to a nearby evacuation center.

Given a bright yellow, “How May I Serve You?” volunteer button, I do art with kids then wander over to a huge room where people are clustered in groups on the floor preparing to spend the night. I walk around visiting with people, help set up cots, and hand out pillows and blankets while standing in the center with a 360 degree view of the room.

Doors on the east wall open as new evacuees enter looking haggard and a little lost, towing young kids clutching pillows for security.

Scanning north a Mexican family of six sit together on the floor, look at me shyly and I smile warmly.

Northwest, a young couple at a table angry and worried about their parents, who were here, but went back to the evacuated house to get their sister’s car.

The west wall houses a stage and giant television showing wildfire coverage that most people watch.

In front of me toward the west at a table is a big blond mother of four. At lights out the mother calmly but firmly says, “Lie down right now” to her pouting 8 year old who doesn’t want to sleep on the floor.

Southwest, a woman helps her 90 year old mother take insulin. One toddler in blue pajamas racing around the entire room swipes an apple off the backpack of a 70 year old woman obliviously staring at the news from a lounge chair.

On the south wall a young couple asleep in each other’s arms with no bedding but a jacket under his head.

On the east wall three Asian teenage sisters share one big blow up mattress, and an older Asian man, formally dressed, bows graciously to me.

We set up a cot for the 90 year old woman who tells me with bright eyes, “This is the second time I evacuated. As a child I was evacuated from a flood, now from this fire. I guess I’ve come full circle.” I want to tuck her in like we used to do Mom but just smile instead. Then they turn out the lights and I feel sad to leave.

A somber room.
A variegated sight.