How does the garden grow? A pictorial from mid-July to early August

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space – a place not just set apart but reverberant – and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.
– Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, from Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

When one talks about his or her garden, it’s best left to pictures. So I’ll do that. I’m picking up from my last blog post and displaying photos of the bouquets beginning with July 14th. But first, some solo shots in the dahlia garden.

This petite tri-color dahlia has tight tubular petals.

Another petite dahlia with spikey petals.

One of my favorites – a deep maroon dahlia, which was one of my prolific bloomers.

One of the two Korematsu bouquets for July 14th.

Closeup with heliotrope alba trailing down the vase and rudbeckia “Prairie Sun” on the left and right.

The second Korematsu bouquet for July 14th.

Closeup with the rare white dahlia and a tiny orange zinnia in attendance.

Front car seat loaded up with flowers, with my daughter, Isabella, dutifully assisting me on all my deliveries. And Sammy, too.

A July 16th bouquet for my friend Kelly, with the birthday gift that keeps on giving.

This petite orange dahlia has been a productive flower all summer.

Because I can’t get enough of this rare white dinner plate-size dahlia. Perfection.

The July 18th ECHS bouquet with a pink and burgandy theme.

The other side of this same bouquet looks like a different bouquet – with carnations, daisies, helipterum roseum “Pierrot,” and cosmos bipinnatus “Snow Puff.”

A tiny arrangement that will keep my friend, Joann, happy because these echibeckia Summerina Yellow daisies will look great as a dried arrangement.

My bonus bouquet for Tuesday, July 18th, was given to my LUNAFEST chair and community leader extraordinaire, Joann.

A closeup with a big beautiful yellow dahlia, which is original to the first owner of our home, ol’ Joe Broglio. Also starring centaurea cyanus blue, alstroemeria, and Love in a Mist.

I only had one delivery for my July 21st Korematsu bouquets because one of the families went away on vacation. So I call this bouquet my stuffed dahlia arrangement.

Bear with me, as I couldn’t curate the pictures for this particular bouquet. Another angle with one of my favorite and also rare salmon, orange-colored dahlia in the middle.

A closeup of this beauty of a dahlia.

And another closeup, but of the pink variety, which looks beautiful next to the trailing heliotrope alba.

Magenta and burgundy.

And the pale yellow dahlia with pale pink streaks.

The day that I was leaving to take a red-eye to Portland, ME, for my business trip, I couldn’t resist making two last bouquets. To whom to give them? This went to my neighbor Carla.

Closeup of the brash and showy bi-color dahlias.

My neighbor Faith got the yellow and orange dahlia arrangement.

When I got back early Monday morning, July 31st, the garden was bursting with flowers.

I got back to work with gusto. Look at all these blooms!

I made four bouquets in all. First, the August 1st ECHS bouquet.

It’s really a rare dahlia, though I take a million pictures of it.

This compact bouquet of maybe only six dahlias was a statement piece nonetheless with the dinner-plate size of the blooms. The recipient of this red, purple, and yellow bouquet? My friend Joann.

Even though it was a Tuesday, August 1st, I had enough for the Korematsu auction winners. This pale but bursting beauty was one of the Korematsu bouquets.

Closeup of the spikey pale yellow dahlias with scabiosa atropurpurea “Florist Blue.”

This is the second Korematsu bouquet. Because of the lighting and its resulting moodiness, this picture reminds me of a Dutch still life, a Vermeer.

The same bouquet in bright light.

Back to the Friday delivery of the Korematsu bouquets. Here is the August 4th first bouquet, anchored by a ginger plant and flanked by Helichrysum bractetum “Monster Rose” on the sides.

The second August 4th Korematsu bouquet.

We celebrated my college roommate Susan’s birthday on August 5th. I wanted to do a big bouquet for the celebration.

There were many stunning dahlias in this bouquet. One of my favorite dinner plate-size burgundy.

Magenta beauty.

The white dinner plate.

Yellow spiked dahlia.

What a pair.

Dahlia love.

A different view of the bouquet.

This magenta dahlia is perfectly formed, underneath a purple dahlia.

Two bouquets for the August 8th ECHS delivery. Here’s the smaller of the two – and a non-dahlia bouquet at that.

The other side of the smaller bouquet.

The second bouquet – an explosion of dahlias.

The other side of the bouquet.

Accompanying the dahlias are scabiosa atropurpurea “Florist Blue” and the venedio arctotis daisies.

Rose-colored dahlia.

Helipterum roseum “Pierrot” (white flower with black centered rimmed in yellow) and catananche caerulea “Cupid’s dart” flowers hidden in between the dahlias.

Two bouquets ready for delivery!


Second home in summer – Portland Maine

We sat bathed in luscious darkness, Casco Bay’s thousand islands spread out before us like a diamond quilt. ‘I don’t get enough of this,’ she said.
– Mike Bond, novelist, environmental activist, poet, war and human rights correspondent, and international energy expert

Every summer, I am treated to a week in Maine, thanks to the fact that my company is based in Portland, Maine. Every summer, I fly into Portland, and I immediately fall in love all over again. The bay, the islands with the homes dotting the shore, the billowy clouds floating across a brilliant blue sky, the fresh air, the fantastic restaurants, the cute shops. I gush about moving to Maine. Or at least summer in Maine.

This year, the out-of-towners at my company got to stay at the Press Hotel, which is a boutique hotel that was once home to the Portland Press-Herald newspaper. But not only is the building an historic building, but the owners got it right by decorating the interior of the hotel with a newspaper theme. The sales team at my company, who are just great to work with and for, thanked me for my service to them in a very sweet call-out before my boss’s presentation on our department. And they presented me with two Press Hotel mugs and ceramic tray, which now sit on my desk to remind me of my stay there and the wonderful memories from this year.

My picture of the building didn’t turn out because the sun wasn’t on my back. But here’s info on the history of the newspaper and building.

In the lobby, one of the walls displays typewriters from all eras.

In the lobby, an old-fashioned typewriter and complimentary stationery.

Mod carpeting and tables with enlarged old newspaper clippings.

In the hallways, the wall paper is taken from actual headlines found in old microfiche (yes, look up that word).

The room across the hall from me. I love the detail of the room number being illuminated.

The chair and its quote in my room.

My last night at the Press Hotel: lobster rolls and homemade potato chips.

My Press Hotel gifts and souvenirs….

Meals for the week! Portland is well known for its great restaurants. And I was lucky to hit a number of places. Some new, some welcomed me back.

Marcy’s Diner, if you want a hearty meal, with my colleague Julie.

Boats pointing to Casco Bay.

DeMillo’s on the Bay, Portland.

Branzino at Scales, with a great view of the Bay.

The tradition for dinner the last evening of our summer sales summit is taking the ferry to Peak’s Island and having a lobster dinner. Fun was had by all. And, of course, my colleague and partner in crime, Deb, accompanied me as we shopped in Old Port, the old part of town.

One of my favorite shops in Maine. From jewelry to unique clocks and other furniture to whimsy decorations like these bookish birdhouses.

I read about Flea-for-All in the local magazine in my hotel room. What a fun place to browse. This is where I discovered Michelle Estell jewelry.

Beautifully curated Flea-for-All on Congress Street.

The interior of Flea-for-All.

Maine Potters Market in Old Port has beautiful pottery made by artists from Maine.

Selfies on the ferry ride to Peak’s Island – with Erin and Claretha.

A mix of sales and editorial staff – with Jane, Kelly, Gus, Julie, and Deb.

Claretha and I bonded last summer with our love for big earrings. The pair that I’m wearing was given to me by Claretha on the first day of summer summit.

Peak’s Island lobster – a tradition.

On the way back to the ferry – a familiar sight of colorful hanging lobster floats.

Farewell, Peak’s Island!

After the summer sales summit concluded for me, I spent the weekend with my good friend Jack and his wife, Fay, and their daughter, Camille. But first, we walked around Portland, as I discovered for the first time since I’ve been coming here, that Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow lived here and his home is an historic landmark. We walked around the gardens.

Longfellow’s statue in Portland.

The lush Longfellow’s Garden.

Tranquil setting.

Vibrant greenery.

Colorful bouquet.

At the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club for drinks with Eric and Jack. Love the simple green bouquets on the table. This place is all scarred wood, clear glass, greenery, and old-time maps. And good drinks!

Still bad at doing selfies, but I guess that’s a good thing. With Eric and Jack.

First time at Empire – one of the favorites, Peking duck buns. To. Die. For. If you ever go to Portland, you must eat here. The hour wait is worth every second.

Jack and his family moved to Brunswick in 2015, but since we went directly from Portland to Stonington Island, where they have a home there, I never spent time in their new abode until this year. Brunswick is lovely, and I had a relaxing time exploring the historic town.

The picturesque Brunswick Inn, in the main street of town.

This is a great shop, though pricey and questionable customer service. But still a great place to browse.

Wyler’s of Brunswick, a charming shop with jewelry, clothes, housewares, toys, locally crafted gifts, and accessories. You can spend a lot of time browsing here.

Hatch on Maine is a cute vintage and antique shop. There are a few vintage/antique shops on the main street. This one was a favorite of mine.

The shores of Brunswick.

The Frank J. Wood Bridge, which spans the Androscoggin River between Topsham and Brunswick, at twilight.

Contemplating life, Fay and Jack overlook the Androscoggin River.

Can’t get enough of the clouds here.

Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, a lovely private liberal arts college established in 1794 when Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Bowdoin College Chapel.

Inside the chapel.

Hubbard Hall.

Lovely white hydrangeas all over the campus.

The second majestic lion.

Illuminated clouds.

Along the way, we walked through the local cemetery, in which Joseph Chamberlain, hometown hero of the Civil War, is laid to rest.

Walking through the Brunswick cemetery.

Something about headstones in a cemetery that draws me, especially when the cemetery is an old one.

Joseph Chamberlain’s headstone.

A row of headstones.

A family of headstones like rows of old teeth.

Knowing that I love gardens, Jack took me to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where I took upwards of 200 photos at least. Here are just a few, though it was tough to narrow them down.

Adirondack chairs await visitors at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

A view of the Back River.

A field of daisies with monarch butterflies, if you look more closely.

Charlie’s bench.


One of the more inventive interpretations from a visitor to the Fairy House Village.


Rabbit sculpture by Lisa Becu.

Lush lime green greenery.


Slater Forest Pond.

Vayo Meditation Garden pool.

Close-up of the Basin sculpture by David Holmes.


Wind Orchard by George Sherwood.

Colorful hostas.

Windsound by Val Bertoia from Bertoia Studios.


Ethereal plants.

I had another great time in Portland and Brunswick. Thanks to my great friends and hosts, Jack and Fay. Looking forward to next year!

It looks like I’m wrestling with Holly, the Beaudoin Family dog, but I’m really awkwardly trying to do a selfie with her.

Last meal in Maine in Portland at, of course, Empire.

Fay and me at Empire.

Brunswick architecture. Love the homes here in Brunswick, in Maine.

My last attempt at a selfie with Jack and Fay in front of their lovely Brunswick home.

Abundant garden

Why try to explain miracles to your kids, when you can just have them plant a garden? – Robert Brault, American author

Since we had our dahlia garden rejuvenated and backyard landscaped, we have been blessed with an abundance of beautiful flowers. Seems the last time I posted, May 28th, nearly six weeks ago, I have made myriad bouquets. Apparently, too many to try to keep track of, as I try to label them for this blog. Alas, let’s just say that all of these flowers were either a continuing birthday present for a good friend or an auction bouquet for the winning bidders from Korematsu Middle School or El Cerrito High School.

While I have an abundance of dahlias, which I am absolutely giddy about, I have been experimenting with a number of different kinds of flowers. Gaillardia, rudbeckia, echinecea, helenium, helichrysum bracteatum, osteospermum, to name a few. And I have been lurking in and out of the various nurseries in our area. Of course, Annie’s Annuals, but also Flowerland, East Bay Nursery, Westbrae Nursery, and my first foray into Berkeley Horticulture Nursery. I’ve been trading jewelry and clothes for nature’s jewels, so to speak.

So without further ado, my weekly bouquets – at least four a week, sometimes more – up to the 4th of July. Enjoy! Even though I consider the 4th of July the midpoint of summer, there is so much more summer to bask in.

I had so many cut flowers that I was able to make four bouquets on this Sunday, June 4th, so everyone got a bumper bouquet for the week.

First bouquet’s other side – it looks like a completely different bouquet. I love gerbera daisies, but after the initial impressive blooms, the blooms grew smaller, and then they just withered.

The second bouquet with the mighty ginger plant in the middle.

The third bouquet.

Close-up of the third bouquet. One of my favorite flowers – scabiosa “fama blue.” I bought several small plants at Annie’s Annuals to ensure a larger crop. I’ve not had success getting more than a handful of these beautiful flowers all season. We’ll see what I get next year.

The fourth bouquet, anchored by an ongoing crop of ginger.

Early June Korematsu bouquet in monochromatic burgundy, magenta, and pink.

Ginger plant, dahlias, scabiosa, dianthus (carnation), osteospermum (African daisy), and hydrangea.

Another close-up. This spikey deep burgundy dahlia has been a strong performer this season.

The second Korematsu bouquet in yellows and oranges.


And zinnias, gerbera daisies, scabiosa, and alstromeria for a dwarf bouquet.

A June 11th bouquet for Kelly – orange and yellow with a hint of burgundy.

June 13th El Cerrito High School auction winner’s bouquet.

An extra dwarf bouquet in burgundy and pink.

Close-up with chocolate cosmos, dahlia, daisies, and featuring African daisy “Zion Copper Amethyst,” so named because these daisies are prolific at Zion National Park.

June 16th, first Korematsu bouquet.

Close-up featuring a delicate miniature pinkish creamy calla lily.

A tiny arrangement with chocolate cosmos and Zion Copper Amethyst cape daisies.

Close-up overview.

Second Korematsu bouquet.


Second miniature bouquet companion for the second Korematsu bouquet. Hot combo of purple and orange.

June 18th ECHS bouquet.


June 18th bouquet for Kelly.

Close-up featuring gaillardia “Arizona red shades” at the lip of the vase and frilly red geums on the left and top.

Close-up showing off the gaillardia, geum, alstromeria, and, of course, dahlias.

June 20th saw a bumper crop. Four bouquets when I usually only deliver one for the ECHS auction winner.

Close-up of a ginger plant and hot pink and deep burgundy dahlias.

Second bouquet featuring the very pretty helipterum roseum “Pierrot” and scabiosa caucasica “Fama Blue.”

The second bouquet with a rare dahlia, which is one of my favorites.


Favorite dahlia in the light.

Another close-up of the favorite dahlia.

The third bouquet.

Close-up of the third bouquet.


After all was said and done – four floral arrangements.

June 24th Korematsu bouquet. The light yellow dahlia on the left, right, and below the one on the right, is also a strong performer.

The same bouquet on the other side – it’s like another bouquet.


Second Korematsu bouquet.

June 25th bouquet for Kelly.

June 27th’s ECHS bouquet with alstromeria, dahlia, venedio arctotis, sacbiosa, and featuring helipterum roseum “Pierrot.”

Close-up. One of my favorite but rare dahlias in the garden is the pink variegated version in the middle.

I succumbed to three dinner-plate-size dahlias from Costco – white, deep burgundy, and pink. An extra bouquet was happily given to Joann, our fearless LUNAFEST film festival chair.

A close-up.

And another close-up, which never gets old for this photographer.

I made a bouquet to greet my cousin Janet and her husband, Tim, when they arrived for their annual 4th of July visit. Against the backdrop of my favorite painting (by Gary Stutler) The Lamp Lady, this bouquet complements its setting.

Close-up. It never gets old.

I made two large bouquets that I gave away to my friends Jane and Raissa after our 4th of July party. I forgot to take pictures of them. But I did make a lot of small arrangements that I sprinkled throughout the patio and house. Here is an arrangement destined for the patio bistro table.

This red-and-white beauty has been a staple in our dahlia garden for years. It is just now popping up. And how!

My cousin Janet and I checked out Urban Ore in Berkeley, one of our traditional destinations over her 4th of July visits. I found this heavy beautiful rectangular vase, which was perfect for displaying the dinner-plate-size white and pink dahlias.

Luminous. The small bouquet for Janet and Tim’s guest room.

More luminosity.

One of two Korematsu bouquets for July 7th.

The second Korematsu bouquet – with the first gladiola of the season. Usually gladiolas come up in early June, but they were disturbed during the front yard landscaping. On the upside, there are a lot of little blades of gladiola leaves popping up!

Korematsu bouquet close-up.

Celebrating Cesar Chavez Day, University of CA, Office of the President

On Wednesday, March 29th, I was the guest speaker at a lunchtime event sponsored by the Latino Staff Association/Asian Pacific Islander Association affinity groups at the University of California, Office of the President (UCOP). The event, entitled, “When Mexicans and Filipinos Join Together: The Farmworker Movement and Unity in the Making,” was in celebration of Cesar Chavez Day. After reading an excerpt from my novel, A Village in the Fields, I sat down with Belinda Vea, Policy and Program Analyst in Student Affairs for UCOP who did her graduate work on Filipino literature, in an “in conversation” question-and-answer session. Belinda is also co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Association.

Among other topics, Belinda asked me about the research process and my family’s story within the novel. The floor was opened up to questions from the audience, which numbered between 45 and 50, which was really nice to see. It was gratifying not only to respond to such thoughtful questions, but to see the interest in people’s faces. In addition to UCOP employees, the event was also advertised to employees from Kaiser Permanente, whose building was across the street in downtown Oakland.

I’m posting photos taken of the event, with gratitude to the photographers, Juliann Martinez, Employee Relations Specialist and chair of the Latino Staff Association, who kindly extended the invitation to speak, Alina Tejera, Pamela Palpallatoc, and Ben Tsai, co-chair with Belinda of the APIA.

The flyer advertising the event.

A wonderful poster welcoming the audience.

A nice spread of Filipino and Mexican cuisine.

A very nice slide show of Filipino and Mexican farm workers was shown before the event.

Reading an excerpt from my novel.

A close-up of my reading.

Belinda Vea “in conversation” with me after my reading.

Belinda at the ready with her questions.

One of the things I talked about was the value taking Asian American Studies classes at UC Davis both in my personal life and in my writing.

An animated me answering a questions while the audience leans in.

A beautiful basket of vegetables and two of my books were raffle prizes at the end of the event.

Me with Pamela Palpallatoc, who works for UCOP and is a UC Davis alumna.

Talking beyond the lunch hour about Filipino American history.

My hosts – Belinda Vea, Ben Tsai, and Juliann Martinez.

Top 10 reasons to attend the extra-special LUNAFEST 2017

I can see myself in all things and all people around me.
– Sanskrit phrase

We’re almost a month out from LUNAFEST East Bay’s annual LUNAFEST film festival – “by, for, about women” – which means it’s time for my annual Top 10 reasons to attend. This year is extra special, as you’ll see as you go down the list.

One of our perky ECHS ITA students serving at our VIP event last year.

10. VIP event
If you’re attending the VIP event, which precedes the film screening, you’re in for a real treat. First of all, you’ll be served fantastic food created by J. Gourmet Catering. The flavorful fare will be paired with an assortment of spirits – wine donated by Clif Family Winery and Folsom & Associates (Robert Mondavi and Franciscan) and beer donated by Lagunitas Brewing Company and Trumer Pils. You will get to meet our two guest filmmakers whose short films were selected for LUNAFEST this year. Listen to great music performed by El Cerrito High School student musicians while mingling with other VIP attendees who love film and raising funds for worthy causes. This year, we’ll all be raising a glass of champagne for a toast – but I won’t let on why until further down the list. Intrigued? Sounds like your kind of event? You can get VIP tickets here. But hurry, number of tickets are limited and they are selling quickly!

Head straight for the raffle tables in the lobby to choose what you’ll be buying tickets for.

9. Raffle prizes
Every year, LUNAFEST East Bay raffles off fabulous prizes, and this year is no different. Among the LUNAFEST 2017 prizes are a $100 certificate to Chez Panisse and $100 cash. Check out the raffle board at the VIP event and in the lobby of the El Cerrito High School (ECHS) Performing Arts Theater to peruse the themed basket of prizes, and then nab an ECHS Information Technology Academy (ITA) student who will be selling raffle tickets. $1 a ticket, 12 tickets for $10, and 25 tickets for $20.

Anna Schumacher (photo credit: Talia J Phorography).

8. ECHS alumna Anna Schumacher
Master of ceremony duties belongs to Anna Schumacher, whose short film, “Finding June,” was a LUNAFEST 2016 selection. Anna, who grew up in Kensington, Calif., is a local alumna of Portola Middle School (now Fred T. Korematsu Middle School) and El Cerrito High School. If you went to school with Anna, come on out and reconnect.

7. LUNAFEST filmmakers Lara Everly and Diane Weipert
This year we are lucky to have two filmmakers join us – both at the VIP event and in an on-stage interview. Diane Weipert, who lives in San Francisco, will be showing her short film, “Niñera,” “a story that looks at the bitter irony many nannies face: raising the children of strangers for a living while their own children are virtually left to raise themselves.”

Diane Weipert.

Diane Weipert has worked in film for over a decade. Her screenwriting debut premiered at the World Cinema Competition at Sundance in 2006 (Solo Dios Sabe – Diego Luna, Alica Braga). Her award-winning radio piece, “The Living Room,” was named best story of 2015 by Wired and The Atlantic, and is being developed as a feature film. Weipert is a two-time resident of the San Francisco Film Society’s Film House, where she is in development on her feature, Boyle Heights. Read my profile of Diane here. Then get to know her in person and ask her about her feature film!

Our second guest filmmaker, Lara Everly, hails from Los Angeles. Her short film, “Free to laugh,” is “a documentary that explores the power of comedy after prison.” Lara is a director, actress, and writer championing women in comedy – both in front and behind the camera. Her directorial debut, “Me, You, A Bag & Bamboo,” was awarded Best Family Film at the Canada International Film Festival and won the Viewer’s Choice award at the Ovation Short Film Contest, which led to a televised screening of the film. Lara’s short films have played the film festival circuit, won awards and procured distribution through Shorts HD, Snag Films and

Lara Everly (photo credit: John Sutton).

Lara loves directing comedy, partnering with companies like FunnyorDie, Comediva, Hello Giggles, and College Humor. Web Series work includes “Love Handles” for FunnyorDie and a music-video web series called “The Queue” for PopularTV.  She most recently directed a musical comedy pilot called “Patriettes” about a mock government summer camp for teenage girls. Read my profile of Lara here. Be sure to meet Lara at either the VIP event or at the film screening – she’s as funny as her short films!

6. The Breast Cancer Fund and ECHS ITA benefit
When you attend a fundraiser, you want to ensure that it’s working to make the world a better place. LUNAFEST East Bay is supporting both a local organization and the Breast Cancer Fund. The Breast Cancer Fund “works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.”

The nonprofit organization translates the “growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk.” The Breast Cancer Fund also helps to “transform how our society thinks about and uses chemicals and radiation, with the goal of preventing breast cancer and sustaining health and life,” and finds “practical solutions so that our children, grandchildren and planet can thrive.”

ECHS’s ITA students – volunteering for LUNAFEST and gaining invaluable IT experience.

ECHS’s ITA is our local beneficiary. ITA is a small learning community supported by TechFutures, a nonprofit organization started by Mr. and Mrs. Ron Whittier. Their objective is “to give the underserved WCCUSD students an opportunity to have career focused courses in digital art and computer systems management.” From the funds raised by LUNAFEST East Bay, ITA has purchased, among other things such as art supplies, a three-dimensional printer, which is serving tens of hundreds of students. The students have created short films that will be shown at the film festival, which is paving the way for future filmmakers.

A great way to spend an evening with your women friends! Our LUNAFEST East Bay committee members raise a glass to another successful event!

5. Women’s Night Out
Historically, women have had to fight for too many things – the right to vote, protection of their reproductive rights, equal pay, and the list goes on and on. And we’re still fighting on many of these issues! Just as Black Lives Matter, there’s a reason why a film festival “for, by, about women” exists. It’s not meant to be exclusive. Rather, it highlights the fact that women have not had equality or equity in the film industry. Especially during these times, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of women. Let’s be right beside them when they dream big and make good on their vision. Let’s celebrate their artistic vision. If you went to one of the women’s marches around the Bay Area, gather your friends again and celebrate LUNAFEST by making it a Women’s Night Out.

My friend Wendy and her daughter, Lindsay, enjoy their evening out.

4. Mom/daughter night out
Following on the theme of the recent women’s march and Women’s Night Out, it’s important to think of our daughters, as they are the future of our world and what happens now affects their future. Taking our daughters to LUNAFEST is a way to introduce them to films with a woman’s perspective, to other cultures, to other ways of thinking and seeing. It’s a way of expanding their world and connecting them with people outside of our community. My daughter, Isabella, will be attending her third LUNAFEST. Technically, we’re not together in the audience since I’m in and out, behind the scenes, so she sits with a good friend of hers, who also comes with her mother. It’s a tradition that I’m thrilled to share with her, but it’s also something that she’ll take with her when she’s an adult – appreciating and supporting women filmmakers, raising awareness of the environmental impact on breast cancer, and raising funds for worthy causes.

A family of friends have some fun at the LUNAFEST photo booth last year.

3. Family night out – LUNAFEST is for everybody
So I’ve been advocating Women’s Night Out and Mother/Daughter Night Out, but I believe in inclusivity, so if you feel inclined, bring your whole family and make it a Family Night Out. In fact, my husband, David, and my son, Jacob, who is in the ECHS ITA, also attend LUNAFEST. I feel that it’s important for everyone – not just women and not just for preaching to the choir – to see films made by women filmmakers. Let your sons and husbands be exposed to and appreciate short films that speak to a woman’s view. It’s a great way to expand their capacity for compassion.

At last year’s LUNAFEST, the East Bay committee gets a little crazy at the close of the event.

2. 10th anniversary of LUNAFEST East Bay and 100th anniversary of City of El Cerrito!
It’s our 10th anniversary of bringing this fundraising film festival to the San Francisco East Bay. Sure, more than 175 cities across the country have been showing this year’s films, including local communities in the area. But we’re special: to date, in nine years, LUNAFEST East Bay has raised more than $27,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund, a distinction that has been recognized by both the nonprofit organization and LUNAFEST. We have also been supporting ECHS ITA for the last six years, raising nearly $11,000 for the learning community. We look forward to adding to those amazing totals with our 10th film screening. So come on out and celebrate this banner year! Our LUNAFEST film festival is also one of the official events recognizing the 100th anniversary of the City of El Cerrito. So, if you’re a resident of El Cerrito, join us in celebrating our host city’s centennial!

Still from this year’s LUNAFEST selection, “Another Kind of Girl.”

1. LUNAFEST films are fantastic
If you’ve been to LUNAFEST film festivals in the past, then you know how wonderful the films are. Quiet, rebellious, thoughtful, laugh-out-loud funny, sad, biting, gentle, animated, innovative, traditional – for the past 15 years, LUNAFEST has honored a broad spectrum of short films. If you’ve never been, join us and see why our event keeps growing in attendance every year, and many attendees return and make the event a tradition. We support excellence in short filmmaking. Be entertained. Be awed. Become full of wonder. Expand your world and your love and compassion. Get to know your neighbor in the theater and talk about which short film was your favorite and why. Connect and share. Walk away changed by the vision of these talented women filmmakers.

Note: For more information on LUNAFEST East Bay’s LUNAFEST screening, click here.

Alumni Journal Q&A in Syracuse University Magazine

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
– Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, actress, and American Civil Rights Movement leader, from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I received my fall/winter 2016, vol. 33, number 3 issue of the Syracuse University Magazine in the mail today. In late summer I was interviewed by associate editor Amy Speach for a Q&A in the Alumni Journal section of the magazine. The Q&A is in the current issue.

Fall/Winter 2016, Vol. 33,no. 3.

Fall/Winter 2016, Vol. 33,no. 3.

The full-page Q&A.

The full-page Q&A.

You can access the online version here. Thanks to Amy for a great interview. And thanks to my alma mater, the Creative Writing Program, and mostly to my amazing classmates and writers. One day, I shall return.