Category Archives: Family & Friends

Stories about time with friends and the members of our family.

WISDOM Wednesday: Two Grandmothers©

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

If you are raised in a San Franciscan multi-ethnic / multi-cultural family, you automatically get an education in diverse worldviews that most people must study diligently and travel extensively to comprehend.  We had no idea that we were the recipients of a treasure trove of experience that shaped who we would become and continue to be relevant in each of our lives.

Earlier BOBB stories introduced my renaissance grandmother Pauline Josephine Robinet Chaine Kennedy Shinazy, the matriarch of our Gold-Rush pioneer San Francisco clan (see: “A Room of My Own,” “Pauline Shinazy, Artist,” and “Wonder Woman.”)  A consummate seeker of spiritual and political truths, she converted from being a French-Irish Catholic, to the follower of a Guru, to a Socialist, to a Jew.  For my tenth birthday, she gave me a copy of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet.”  She refused my request to spend junior-year-abroad in France because she didn’t approve of Charles de Gaulle’s politics.  Still, she took me to Temple to tell me she was traveling alone to Israel immediately before, and during, the Six-Day War.  She was a brilliant, wise, artistic, and spiritually worldly woman.

My maternal grandmother, Casimira Erang Chang Pacheco Smith Price White, Nana, was more modest in her worldly pursuits.  Raised on the province of Pangasinan, Philippines, she married an African-American Army Corpsman and immigrated to the U.S. as a young woman.  After several years in Arizona and San Francisco, she found herself living as a struggling single mother of three young children.  She kept her family afloat by learning how to out-negotiate poultry and vegetable vendors in Chinatown, through the goodwill and charity of her neighbors and the local Catholic Church.  Later, she would marry and adore the man I loved as Grand Father (see Grand Father’s Little Girl).

By the time she was a grandmother, Nana was the woman into whose bosom I could cuddle when I felt sad or just needed affection — way into my 20s.  She was also the only woman I consulted as I was considering giving birth to my first child at home, rather than in a hospital.  When I asked what it was like to have a baby, she admitted,

“Oh, I could feel the baby coming, so I tucked my skirt up between my legs and ran home to get on the bed.” 

There was no need to give me verbal permission.  The naturalness of birthing a child I had intuitively suspected was confirmed by her experience.

She also encouraged me not to let my babies cry, “There’s enough time for crying in life.”  And, to breast feed them for as long as I wanted, “It’s mother’s milk.  It’s good milk.”  I received countless disapproving looks during the times I was negotiating with each of my toddlers about ending the nursing ritual.  But Nana supported me with resolve, “They will stop when they’re ready.”  And, they did.

Two grandmothers.  Two distinctly different worlds.  Two uniquely rich contributions to the person I would I become as a spiritual being, a woman and a mother.

photo by Alex E. Proimos and fradaveccs


Rosaries For My Sister

This story written by Bobbi Rankin


When I first heard this story, I was enchanted.  I was sitting with my two sisters, one of my nieces and we were taking turns talking of family history and telling our stories.  Our parents Helene and John Rankin came to California from Montana in 1942, hoping for a more prosperous life.  My sisters, who were older than I, had taken a bus trip back to Montana to stay a month with our Grandparents, Bessie and Carl Rankin.  This is their story…

It was the summer of 1947, the country was still recuperating from the war and travel, even to see family, was not nearly as common as it is today.  As they boarded the bus, they looked around in bewilderment and uncertainty.  Accompanied by an Aunt they hardly knew and only remembered as being stern, the two sisters waited for their long journey to begin.  At the ages of 7 and 8, they had no idea what lay ahead except that their Grandparents would be waiting for them to arrive.  The bus and travel was such a new and unfamiliar experience and “when will we be there and how much further” were questions that Aunt Fritzie was not accustom to.

Aunt Fritzie was a strange old bird, as they say.  A short stout woman with almost black dyed hair and very red lips, that left both of the girls a little frightened.  Wanting to go visit her home in Montana, she agreed to chaperon the girls.  This gave their parents some time alone with the new baby and the sisters were excited to see their Grandparents with whom they had fond memories.  Of course, Aunt Fritzie had no patience for the little ones.

The days were long as they rode through the scrublands of Nevada.  For as far as the eye could see those flatlands were void of towns, houses and trees.  In 1947, there was little attention paid to children and their need for entertainment, so their hours were spent either looking around at the others on the bus or out the window at the barren land.

As the bus finally pulled into the station in Hardin, Montana, the girls saw two familiar faces searching the windows for their granddaughters.  The sisters became excited as they spotted their grandparents.  They got off the bus and ran toward the out stretched arms of Grandmother Rankin, relived that this long trip was over.  Grandmother could not get over how the two young girls had grown.  They were so much taller than the last time they had all been together.  The sisters immediately felt comfortable in the presence of these familiar people.  They waved goodbye to Auntie Fritzie again relieved that they would not have to spend any more time in her presence.

For Grandmother, the days seemed long, having these two young and energetic girls in the home all day.  As happy as they were to have these sweet granddaughters, a month now seem like a long time.  With that, she needed to find something to occupy their days while Grandfather was at work.

The Catholic Church was across the street from their apartment and Grandmother knew that there were always things going on there.  The ladies of the parish had many projects and generally kept themselves very busy.  She knew many of these women as some of them, along with the grandparents, were the founding families of Hardin.  Even though Grandfather and Grandmother were staunch Presbyterians, they did mingle with the Catholics.  Grandfather had always kept himself involved in the politics of Hardin and in the public eye therefore, it behooved them to be sociable with all the towns’ people.

The next day Grandmother took the girls by the hand and walked across the street and down into the basement where there was a bustle of activity.  After all, the good churchwoman of the town were the ones who cared for the sick, lonely and dying, and so there was always busy work for these Catholic women to do.

All things of beauty easily distracted the youngest sister.  She saw the world through eyes that cherished flowers, pretty colors or sparkles that shined in the light of day.  She was then immediately drawn to the wall just inside the great hall as they made their way down the stairs.  There, waiting for her eyes to behold was color, lots of color….bright shinny color.  There were reds, blues, purple and all descriptions of mixed colors.  Hanging on the wall there at the foot of the stairs were, in all there array, rosaries.  To her the rosaries hung like necklaces instead of the prayer beads they were intended to be.  Surely, they were waiting for her, waiting to be touched and placed around her neck.  So many, so many colors and beads to see, she could barely take it in.  This sister with the eyes and heart for beauty then walked over to them and very slowly and gently extended her hand, just wanting to have at least one little touch, to feel it between her fingers or maybe to place this beautiful necklace over her head, and to gently dance around in circles.  Just that one day would bring such joy, as she, at age 7, had never known before.

Grandmother, being a gentle person herself, stood by the youngest sister, giving her time to take in all this beauty and desire, then took her hand to steer her away.  She explained that rosaries were for just one thing, they were held while praying, that each bead was a prayer sent to God.  In this young sister’s mind, she too wanted what these Catholics had.  She would promise to pray to God morning and night just to be able to have a string of those beads for her very own.

Just then Grandmother drew her back from her imagination and took both girls into the activity that would hopefully occupy their time for this day and if lucky, for days to come.  Is that not why they came?  This was Grandmothers idea, that there would be enough activity to entertain and keep the girls busy.  The youngest sister, on the other hand, thought that the only reason she was there was to have the privilege of seeing those beautiful hanging necklaces.

At dinner that night while sitting around the table, Grandfather asked the girls what they had done that day.  The older sister immediately started talking about all the busy work they had been a part of and the fun they had at Catholic Church.  At that very minute, Grandfather looked over at Grandmother with a question in his eyes before he could bring himself to ask the question.  What in the world was his wife, his granddaughters for that matter, doing inside a Catholic Church?  Whatever possessed this Presbyterian woman to go inside that church and do busy work with those people!  At that moment, this man of usually few words, forbid them to return.  Forbid them to mingle with these Catholics.  Moreover, that was final!

The youngest sister could not believe what she had heard!  They would not be permitted to go back to the basement across the street.  That basement held such awe and wonderment of those beautiful rosaries.  While lying in bed that night, waiting for sleep to come, she could still see the beauty and sparkle of the Rosaries.  She could still use her imagination to feel the beautiful beads hanging from her neck.

Grandfather had lived among the Crow and Blackfoot Indians since he was a young and newly married surveyor.  His first son, the girl’s father, John Knox Rankin was born on the reservation in 1907.  Grandfather had many friendships with the Indian and local immigrant but for some reason he, as was a common attitude of the time, was prodigious of Catholics.  But to the youngest sister, the only thing she knew was that she would never again lay eyes on that wall in the basement lined with more sparkling beads then she had even known.  To be denied this joy broke her heart and dampened her spirits.

As the days went on there came to be many things of interest and enjoyment for the girls visiting their Grandparents.  As the time came for them to return home, they began to worry about the bus trip and being with that Aunt Fritzie.  The oldest sister told their grandparents that she had a very bad smell and they simply could not sit next to her all the way back to California.  The return trip was delayed for another two weeks much to the joy of all and then our grandparents drove the girls back home.

Knowing my sister as I do today, this story does not surprise me.  One of the reason I am telling this is she is still a lover of all thing beautiful.  She cherishes the new bloom of a rose and the prolific colors of an English garden.  She looks forward to times spent in the D’Orsey or the de Young, viewing works of art.  Sad to see the flowering season end she anxiously waits for the new season of growth and blooms to awaken before her eyes.  Always looking for the sparkle that bring light and joy for her family and the world to see


photo by Muffet

Role Reversal

This story written by Will Jones

Both my younger brother, Kevin, and I left home when we were still in our teens.  He settled in New York and I eventually settled in California after a few years in Colorado.  Our parents lived first in Philadelphia and then in Norristown, just outside the city.  We visited home as frequently as we could, but from the late sixties and early seventies until both of our parents died, father first in 1999 and mother second in 2009, we were never more than temporary guests.  My parents visited me in both of the western states where I lived, but for forty years they mostly stood and waved as I pulled away from the curb in front of their house.  When I was younger I’m sure their thoughts included concerns about my well-being and my future, and when I was older happiness about my career and family life.  Either way I know they were sad to see me, and later my family, go.

Yesterday I stood in front of my house as I watched two of my sons leave for a surf trip.  They were headed up Highway 1 through Big Sur and then on to Santa Cruz.  My oldest son lives in Boston with his wife and their two-month-old daughter, our first grandchild.  We’ll be visiting them in May.  At sixty-three, I’m now the waving parent alternating thoughts about safety, future and happiness as I watch my children grow farther and farther into their adult lives.  Such bittersweet feelings.  Each is his own man, each with unique looks and talents, each fully engaged with life from his own perspective and personality.  I’m of two minds when I think about them, both now and as I visualize and dream about their futures: part of me wants them to enjoy their youth but also be planning for a more or less “conventional” life that will make their middle and later years  secure and free from financial fear.  The other part of me wants them to live free of convention and create thoughtful lives based on their passions and individuality without succumbing to all of the pressures applied by the oppressive economy of modern life.  Somehow, I guess, I want them to have it both ways.

My boys are 31, 28 and 22.  Each has started down the road to his future, but they have a long way to go.  My path didn’t become clear until I was in my middle thirties and later on I had to make some big personal changes to hang on to a good life that was slipping away from me.  Today my life is better than I ever could have imagined, and that includes great relationships with my sons.  I admire their strength, their courage and their fierce individuality, but I also have those concerns about safety and security that my parents had decades ago as they watched me pull away from the curb without knowing when they might see me again.  Our farewell yesterday went like this: my sons waved and called out “Peace!” I replied, “Love and truth!” as they swung a left and soon vanished from my sight, following the grail road to the future.


Read more of Will’s writings at

photo by Paro_for_Peace


When Past and Present Unite

A Storyn by Joy Grude

“Tell me the story about Henry and the castle… please, one more time?”  My grandmother would snuggle next to me and begin the familiar tale, one that I had heard many times before… but still reveled in its wonder!

The opening line was always the same: “My father was born in a castle in Germany…. His father was the coachman to the Baron.  “While listening intently, my imagination grew, and I quickly envisioned scenes from Cinderella, with noble ladies in flowing gowns and sparkling crowns upon their heads.  I could see stately gentlemen wearing top hats and tuxedos.  Then the enchanting bedtime story would turn dark, but this was also mesmerizing, even though I was too young to understand all the implications.

“The baron needed an heir to carry on the family name… but was unable to sire his own offspring.”  As an eight or nine year-old kid, I had no idea what she was talking about, but understood that the baron wanted a child, but nature was not cooperating.  “He asked your great-great-grandfather, the coachman, to impregnate the Baroness…”

My grandmother made this statement as though it was a common occurrence, with no sense of shame or cause for embarrassment.  No… the family myth of my ancestor’s role as a “surrogate father” – to stand in for the impotent nobleman – was proudly passed down through the generations.  We were somehow related to European royalty!

As the story goes: “the job was quickly accomplished by the virile coachman, Johann Mischke,” and thus, the young baron was born.  The coachman’s own legitimate son, Henry, was to be raised and educated alongside the young heir.  As far as anyone in the family knew, this was accepted as a true story.  Henry Mischke grew up as though he was part of royalty, and his best friend was the “young baron.”  The two boys were inseparable companions until a time came when their secret brotherhood was disclosed, resulting from gossip amongst the peasants in the community.  So the baron needed to get rid of the evidence of his impropriety… he paid for Henry’s ticket to America!

Forty years would pass before technology would make it possible to prove or disprove this wild story about a secret agreement between the baron and his coachman.  Was it really true?  And who was this baron?  No one in the family could even remember his name.  But I had to try to solve the mystery, and maybe find my long-lost relatives!

The Internet has been like a magic wand for genealogists, providing resources at our fingertips!  But the only detail I knew for sure was that the castle was called “Schloss Niederrathen” and it was located near the “Table Mountains” in Germany.  My first surprise came in 2005 when I found a photo of the castle on the Internet… and then discovered that it was actually located in POLAND!

“Am I Polish or German?”  I wondered.  No, it had been part of Lower Silesia in Germany, but the borders changed after losing the war.  All the ethnic Germans had been forcibly evicted from their Silesian homes and sent “West” as displaced persons.  Then I wondered what had happened to the baron’s family – and did they survive the war?

It would take too long to describe all the twists and turns during my research and obsession with this noble family.  But I had finally found their name!  The baron who held reign of the area during the mid-1800s was “Woldemar von Johnston,” a wealthy landowner of Scottish origin.  Hurray!  I could now put a name into the story!  Unfortunately, the family myth began to fall apart soon after that discovery.

It turned out that the baron who secretly contracted stud services of his coachman had died two years before the supposed date of the agreement.  Furthermore, he already HAD a son, Max von Johnston, who was a teenager at the time of his father’s death.  The story, as told, could not be true!  There was no need to provide an heir… a son had already existed!

I was in shock.  Was this family story a total lie, a fanciful fairytale that my great-grandfather concocted for amusement?  I wondered why he would make up such a thing, but then thought about his reasons.  After I traveled to Poland in August 2011, I acquired a sense of the culture of the old Prussian days, and this led to the formation of a new theory.

Further research will be necessary, however, to uncover the truth, and possible false identity of my great-grandfather.  Was he a noble bastard born under secrecy, or just a big liar?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happened 150 years ago!  The family myth has provided a lifetime of entertaining stories.  It has also led me to the living descendants of Baron Max von Johnston.  I recently found his great-great grandson who resides in the Hannover area of Germany, and he is a successful, hardworking CEO of a wildlife foundation.

“Hilmar von M.”  (name withheld for privacy) and I have corresponded by email, and we hope to meet in person next summer.  At that time, I will present him with an artifact from his ancestry.  A few months ago, I had found a 1903 bookplate with Max von Johnston’s name and family crest imprinted upon it.  Right now it is framed and displayed in my family room… but it will soon be returned to its rightful owner in Germany.

What a momentous day it will be when I hand over this token gift to the Baron’s closest living relative – perhaps a time to feel one’s history… when the past and present unite!

_  _  _  _  _

You can enjoy more of Joy’s writing by reading Scandals of the Coachman’s Son

photo by Joy


WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity.  He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman.  He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

             “ You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you. You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water … before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again – and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement … Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Reneeand Molki

Spring Cleaning

A spring cleaning experience with  Shinazy
spring cleaningI’m a city girl surrounded by distractions.  When I want to go out to eat, I just step out the door and within a half a mile – I can eat the food of any nation on the planet.  If I want to see a movie, I just check Fandango and within a 10-minute drive, I can watch any film.  There are plays, musicals, comedies, and lectures.  I’m always entertained.
This weekend I’m in the country, or I should say COUNTRY.  There’s no movie house.  Tonight, a Friday night – date night – the area’s one non-American cuisine restaurant has six customers (including my aunt and me) and the only gas station stopped accepting credit cards last year. 

The background dim of the big city is absent, no traffic noise, no airplane flyovers.  The other main distractions are also missing … no internet access and my smartphone decides to go unplugged as well.

It’s raining.  The only sound reaching my ears are the drops hitting the gutter with such force that I first thought I was hearing gunshots.  If the weather were dryer and warmer, I’d be out on the lake or hiking in the hills.  But it’s hailing and frosty causing me to feel a bit wimpy, so I stay inside and visit with my aunt.       
spring cleaningAunt Judy owns a museum size art-glass collection.  These colorful, transparent objects sit on glass shelves in deep glass windows – big open spaces with no definition between inside and outside.  There are so many pieces the windows appear as though they were made of stained glass.  Today the art has a grayish haze about them – is it the reflection of the rainy sky? 
The house has gone through winter, sealed tight to protect her from the damp chill.  The pellet stoves roar all day and night exhaling warm breath.  It’s a house ready for spring cleaning and I have nothing else to do.
I’m afraid to touch these pieces – fragile and unforgiving, one wrong move in the sink and I’ll have a pile of worthless glass confetti.  One by one, each piece gets a bath and emerges … sparklingly beautiful.  With Windex in one hand and newspaper in the other, I attack the shelves, the windows – inside and out.  The cleaning has my full attention, no distractions. 
The sun just broke through the clouds and houses across the lake are glowing silver.  There’s no longer smog hovering on the surface of one piece of glass.  I found this activity enjoyable because, unlike my work, at the end of the day, when I’m finished doing all I can do, I can see the results of my effort – spotless, transparent, pristine, gleaming glass. 

I think I’ll go home and spring clean . . .  Everything.

art by amy jo hughes, photo by fdecomite

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Birthday – A Sharing Tradition

Sharing birthdays with Shinazy
birthdayHappy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear, Linda, Marlene, and Kitty . . . WHAT ?  !!!
     When it came to celebrating our birthdays, my younger sisters and I became triplets.  Our mother altered birth certificates so each of us could enter kindergarten by the birth-date cutoff.  (Why no one questioned this statistical oddity is another story).  Every year three little faces puckered lips and blew.  I never revealed my birthday wish, but I knew it would someday come true because, in the presence of all that wind, every candle was extinguished.  
     My sisters and I were born under the Sagittarius sun sign – with Christmas only a few weeks away.  As each birthday passed, I closed-in on that wished-for December date – my true, single-birth day.  A birthday where I was the center of attention…no sharing.  I’d be the only birthday girl smiling for the flash bulbs and the cake would appear decorated with one name . . . mine.
     The first time my wish came true was on my 30th birthday . . .  Yeah . . . Great.  I was 30, the age-defining split second of becoming a member of The Establishment.  It was official; I joined the You-Can’t-Trust-Anyone-Over-30 crowd.  For three decades, I imagined a joyous celebration of my very existence, instead, I was blinded by candles commemorating that I was OLD.
     As the other hallmark birthdays passed: 4oh, 5oh, 6oh, I shared the occasions with other Sagittarians, while imagining a celebration, which became more elaborate.  The great thing about imagination is everything is possible.  birthdayOne year I invented a party at the North Pole where the aurora borealis was my personal candle light.  Even in this fantasy, when it came to candle-blowing time, I wished that next year the deep exhale would extinguish real flames.
     A few Decembers ago, I decided to combine my birthday with my honey’s, who was born in February.  The perfect gift was for us to go away for the weekend and experience something new – births are new, birthdays should be new.  Off we went to overnight in the lighthouse on East Brother’s Island.  We’ve repeated sharing our birthdays every February, staying at a different lighthouse.  This February as we drove to the Point Sur Lighthouse, my sweetee turned to me and said, “Here you are again, sharing your birthday.” 
     Yes, Sharing … The best way to celebrate a birthday.
photo by Aih and Larry 1732
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WISDOM Wednesday: Roommates

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
As a second born child, with three kids of my own, I like the energy of a house full of people (see previous story, “A Room of Her Own”).
My first roommates were my sisters.  In our room we each had a portable / movable closet, bed, desk and chair.  And, we had our own sofa.  We transformed the configuration of our huge bedroom to meet our regularly changing privacy needs. Sometimes it felt like we lived in three micro-studio apartments.  But, when we were done with homework, we’d invite our brother in and it was party time!
In college, as soon as I could move out of the dorm, I rented a house with four other unconventional like-minded students. We ranged in age from an 18 year old sophomore (me) to a second year microbiology Ph.D. student. We had private bedrooms where we spent most of our study time… And on weekends, it was party time!
Once my children left the nest, I had the opportunity to spend several years living alone. I have successfully learned to enjoy my own company, as all self-help books tell us we must do.  And, I unequivocally Do Not Like Living Alone
My house has a living room separating the master bedroom and its bath from the guest rooms and their bath. I decided to rent a guest room to re-experience another human being coming and going, and have extra cash flow… Sounded good on paper.
I quickly found a young man stationed at the local military camp looking for off-site housing. Immediately, my friends beset me with concerns:
1.    He might be a slob!
2.    He might stiff you on the rent!
3.    He might annoy you and you’ll never be able to get him out!
4.    He might be a mass-murderer!
With a little due diligence, I determined he was not a mass-murderer. Everything else, I’d deal with after he moved in.
The first few weeks with a roommate were not instantly comfortable…
Turns out it’s against my nature to just rent out a room.  I felt bad each time he’d return in the evening and “go to his room.” So, I urged him, “Please, make this your home away from home.”
     > Before long, if one of us made a pot of coffee before dashing to work, we’d leave a note: “Free Coffee.” 
     > When he left all the garage lights on for 48 hours, I requested he mow the lawn – A penalty his wife agreed was appropriate 😉
     > And, the skittish, suspicious-of-everyone cat purred incessantly on the rare occasion my roommate and I watched a movie together.
I never did experience any of the worries my friends enumerated and was genuinely sad when he announced his new promotion included moving away.

I thoroughly enjoyed living with my roommate. Although days or weeks would pass without seeing each other, whenever I came home, it felt like home, not just “house.”

Time to find a new roommate… mass-murderers who are annoying slobs need not apply.
photo by SFC Jose “Joe” Garcia
California Army National Guard

Pauline Shinazy, Artist

 This story was written by Charles Blim
In 2003, I received an email from Pauline Shinazy’s granddaughter stating I was the only site on the web referencing her grandmother.  From my research, I showed Pauline exhibiting primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

One of the exhibitions, where I discovered her name was at the prestigious 1956 Association of San Francisco Potters, held at the de Young Museum.  A few months after this initial contact with Pauline’s granddaughter, we conducted this interview to explore her grandmother’s interesting history, as a member of the American Studio Pottery Movement.

Pauline Shinazy came from a lineage of strong women.  Her grandmother left Paris, with no knowledge of the English language, to stake her claim in America.  It is no wonder that Pauline inherited these ideals of a liberated woman in a non-liberated era.  Pauline was born in 1900 in an area outside of San Francisco.  In 1910, after the family home was lost in a fire, Pauline’s mother and aunt with the assistance of a handyman rebuilt their home. The main home had the craftsman or bungalow style, but over the generations, as the family grew, it was expanded, again and again.  It is uncertain when Pauline first decided to create, but her first medium of choice was oil painting.  In the mid-1930’s, an unfortunate family accident led to Pauline’s studio being destroyed.  From this accident, she moved to the medium of pottery.
Pauline never formally studied pottery-making at an art school, and like many of potters from the Movement, she experimented in the medium to reach very desirable results.  To create pottery, Pauline built a shed, where she kept a couple wheels of differing sizes and the necessary inputs to produce ceramic art.  She also mixed her own glazes.  Her pots were primarily functional in nature, and her granddaughter recalls using them for everyday life.  The family is uncertain of the output created by Pauline, and her work should be considered rare because she was not a production potter. 

Unless Pauline was going to a social event, she always wore trousers.  Although a very sociable person, Pauline typically only shared her process of creating with her family.  With six grandchildren, Pauline stirred the creative spirit in each of them and from speaking with her granddaughter; this spirit is as fiery as the day when it was introduced by Pauline many years ago.

She was a person who was always working with her hands. Pauline created pottery until the early 1960’s, when she progressed into the medium of jewelry making.  She then ceased to create pottery.  She constructed a new addition to her pottery shed to separate her jewelry making from everything else.  It was this progression and dedication from medium to medium, which appears to be a common theme in her design. 

Although there was a period, where her work showed Native American influence, she created from a “sphere of vision,” where her design represented a unique meandering of her translation from objects in nature and everyday life.  The jewelry making was particularly memorable for her granddaughter because of the interesting hunts for different stones in California and Nevada.  The trips to Lovelock, Nevada were especially poignant because they searched for a particular stone indigenous to this area of the Silver state.

It’s not only the quality of the art but also the quality of the person I have come to know from this interview.  For me, an artist that moves from medium to medium with a very smooth shift of the gears is what I consider a desirable and rare trait of a great artist. 

As a pottery collector, I feel lucky, that Pauline chose the medium of pottery at one point to express her creative will.  I know when I discover the first Shinazy signed ceramic piece for my collection that it will not only be a quality find, but a tangible sense of the magic she created.

Charlie B. Gallery
200 E. Main St., Fernley, NV 

Editing & photo by Shinazy

FOLLOWER Friday: The Cousins

A story by Toni Duldulao

I give up!  The BOBB is my cousin and she has managed to get her sister, son, and friends to write something.  She didn’t ask me but I felt that someone has to represent this side of the family.  After all, I AM FAMILY!  She and Malati are my cousins.  Of course being the first born of our generation I always considered myself the older and wiser leg of “The Cousins”  but in reality I am just older…in fact three years older than the BOBB.

Family relationships can be a funny thing.  As children, we grew up during a time when families got together at Nana’s house for Sunday dinner.  While our parents…the brother, sisters, and spouses talked about whatever they talked about…my cousins and I would spend the day playing, running around the yard, and chasing each other up and down the stairs.  Unbeknown to us we were setting in stone a relationship that has been a lifelong one.

On those Sundays, we could be who we were.  There were no pretensions.  There wasn’t a teacher or an adult telling us how to behave in a certain way.  Of course, our parents did raise us to be respectful to adults and of one another.  They didn’t have to tell us it was just expected and if we forgot, they would remind us.

Now when we do see each other there are the friendly family type greetings.  After a few minutes of “catching up” maybe followed by some quiet awkwardness, inevitably someone will say, “Do you remember when…?”  We would laugh bringing up other memorable incidents of our childhood Sundays and laugh our way back to those days.

Back then little did I know how precious those Sundays would become to me.  As adults, we rarely see each other because we live in various parts of the state.  In reality about the only time we do get together now is when some family member passes away.  Yet when we do see one another all it takes is tapping into that little Sunday memory of decades ago, then time and distance melt away and we become just “The Cousins” once again.

photo by Rich Moffitt


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