A Mother/Daughter weekend in Lompoc & Los Olivos ~ reflections, memories…

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face.
Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking.
But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
~ Mitch Albom, For One More Day


 I was brought up with my mom, alone ~ an only child, single mom. It was her and I against the world, her and I in the world. And it was such a pleasure. There were no distractions, no jealousies, no one getting more or less attention. We never seemed to fight. At times, there was a look of disapproval when I did something bad or thoughtless, but mostly there were looks of happiness, agreement, understanding. My life as I live it now, married and with two kids is hectic, chaotic, exhausting. Whether it’s the distractions and constant compromises that make no one happy ~ the days filled with driving to two separate schools, an attempt at getting too much done, too many activities along with hours of homework ~  chess, hip hop, legos, monopoly, UNO and dinner fit in there somewhere; as well as dog walks and arguing over dress codes, hair accessories, showers, water consumption. Life was never this complicated when I was young, when it was just my mom and I. So when this weekend’s family getaway ended up as a mother and daughter adventure down to Lompoc and Los Olivos to stay with another mother and daughter, it was such a beautiful moment of pause, to pause ~ to appreciate that bond between mother and daughter, and to remember my world past and present, encompassed in that very dynamic I remember, and love. Below, a visual diary of our adventure, a look into my past, which began with my mother, and her story ~ and a contemplation of how we see ourselves through raising our daughters, and reflecting on how our mothers raised us … ~~~~~

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Above ~ mother/daughter : my mom and I at Leominster High School football game; Royal, 3 days old at Cafe Fanny, now Bartavelle in Berkeley. Royal and I shot by Jock McDonald for a San Francisco Magazine article. Royal wearing “Baby Royal”  and a hand-made knit sweater by my Aunt Elsie. Royal wearing a “Royal Baby” stretch velvet flapper dress at the Red Cross Benefit in San Francisco.


~~~ Saturday/Sunday ~ From Oakland to Lompoc, Los Olivos and Los Alamos, and back…~~~

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Above, top ~ A quick and delicious stop at The Madonna Inn, where Royal and I drooled over the crazy princess cakes and pink glassware (which I bought, along with a cupcake) and we talked about the cakes my mom used to make for me (bottom) ~ for slumber party birthdays, and Roll-On-America birthdays.


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Above ~ Our yummy Veneto-region Italian wine to begin the evening in Lompoc at Melissa and Juliet’s house. [I had met Melissa Sorongon and Sashi Moorman of Piedrasassi Wines (Sashi is also winemaker for Sandhi Wines) a few years ago coming down to harvest to meet up with our friend Raj Parr.] Our arrival at Mattei’s Tavern that evening, juxtaposed with my first time arriving at Mattei’s 6 weeks earlier for a TV-shoot with Raj (above), Mattei’s chef Robbie Wilson and RN74 chef Adam Sobel.. (the episode is coming out soon).

~~~ MATTEI’S TAVERN, LOS OLIVOS ~ inside and out ~~~

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~~~ OUR SUNDAY ~ Bell Street Farm, for lunch and Bob’s Well Bread Bakery for treats to take home ~~~

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Above ~ exploring Los Alamos, and running into the 10 year anniversary poster for Alexander Payne’s wonderfully insightful SIDEWAYS;
Brunch @ Bell Street, including Royal’s very first Arnold Palmer; and lots of goodies to bring home from Bob’s Well Bread Bakery
(with certain loaves inspired by Tartine and Josey Baker’s The Mill in SF…)


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~~~ on our way home ~~~


~~~ Mother / Daughter, a reflection ~ excerpts from an interview with my mom Carole Borja ~~~

1bOn Making Things ~ “I made bread for 2-3 years, from scratch, with yeast. I got the recipe from a cookbook and what I used to do is cut it in 4, and have one with cinnamon, like a cinnamon roll. You can’t beat homemade bread. This was when we were on Cheryl Drive, and Jeannie lived next door and we would cut it in half and butter it..I loved making anise cookies and pizelles ~ that was MY thing to make. We always had those for weddings and bridal showers, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. I did them in lemon, almond with nuts, chocolate with nuts; and my new new one now is peppermint. I also used to make cakes…and for your birthday with the twins, i was trying to think of something to do together and did it of the three of you on a sled. It took 20 hours to put together. The mold was a bear but i cut the ears off and put hats on them…

On grammy and papa ~ their garden and food rituals ~ “Grandpa had one garden at first: tomatoes, cukes, beans, parsley, onions and squash and you used to go in and help him weed and pick. We used to start the tomato plants at home and he used to help you plant them in his garden. When he retired he went to two gardens, but tomatoes were his main thing. I used to have you go in the garden first to see if there were any snakes, but there never were… Grammy and papa always made their own ravioli and gnocchi ~ she would get all the ingredients and they’d get it all mixed, cut it and then roll it with their thumbs. They would make it once every couple months and then freeze it. One thing we all loved was we would have polenta dinners on a big board, and then put sauce on it with hamburg and sausages and papa would take his red pepper and put it all around his area so no one would go near it.

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Above ~ my mom and I at Salon Dinner #19, for my mother’s birthday. My mom with her Ziggy cake, and with the amazing birthday cake
for Brad and David Perkins and I, at Roll-On-America in Leominster. My papa Michael Iannacone and his tomatoes…



On Clothes & Costumes ~ “For the first two or three years i made all of your clothes ~ the dresses, a lilac dress where the material was from Vietnam… Well E.T. took 15 hours, and I remember Jerica’s dinosaur which also took a long time, Raggedy Ann, and gram made two for her and dad; the jelly bean canister ~ you won a lot of contests with that one.”

On ROLLER-SKATING outfits ~ “I remember the red and white one that I made and that’s the one that has your signature lettuce edging. The orange one i think debbie made; and the black one too but i put every one of the 400 rhinestones on individually.”

On Roller-Skating ~ “The first time we took a lesson, it was a group lesson and Cheryl was teaching and afterwards when I asked you if you wanted to take another class you said no because you couldn’t skate like she did… but you ended up taking a few more classes, and then one private lesson, and then two. I skated for one season but then stopped so you took my lesson. You got to meet all kinds of new people and being in front of the judges and you went to summer camps a few times. Cheryl took you to Ohio and New Jersey. it was good for you. It taught you poise and was a good learning tool. And it was for fun. I always remembered that ~ not to take it too seriously. You skated for seven years and when you wanted to quit you were afraid to tell me and I said let’s not just quit. Take one month off, where you don’t go to the rink at all, not even sessions, and at the end of the month decide. And you decided to quit. you were there at least 5-6 times a week for lessons and then practices, and with sessions on the weekend, so it was a big part of your life. And in high school you had gotten into cheering, the honor society and dance so you had a lot of things going on.”

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On your communion dress ~

“Grammy made that out of my wedding gown. she wanted to make your dress and i thought what was i going to do with my wedding dress, so she took the whole thing apart ~ every stitch, and made it…Grammy always made all her own clothes. She wore them up until the day she died; She was sewing until her 60s.”

On Hawaii ~

“I got there and your father was delayed in Vietnam a day and he didn’t make a reservation and I met this woman and stayed with her. We were in Oahu and because of the military it was $15 a night and for a full meal for two of us is came to $15 and that’s where I got pregnant with you.”



“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction
that human beings are not born once and for all
on the day their mothers give birth to them,
but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.”
~ Mark Twain





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