I thought this would be fun. It’s little vignettes of my Paris apartment, from the most recent edition (July/August) of Vanity Fair:
Have a wonderful week!!!
Posted on July 20, 2020
I thought this would be fun. It’s little vignettes of my Paris apartment, from the most recent edition (July/August) of Vanity Fair:
Have a wonderful week!!!
Posted on May 25, 2020
I hope that you’re all healthy, well, and safe, and holding up for these last days of confinement in many places. In San Francisco, and in many places in the US, it has been two and a half long months, and in another week, your city and state government will tell you what comes next, and hopefully the confinement will be lifted and you can get back to a more normal life. That happened two weeks ago in Paris, and it made a HUGE difference being able to get out of the apartment (after 11 weeks), walk down the street and breathe, and see friends, and do at least some of what we all took for granted before the pandemic turned our world upside down. I am grateful for every day and hour of freedom now, even with social distancing and a mask. I found that the last 2 weeks of our confinement in France were the hardest for me, and many people I know. People are not meant to be isolated, and being shut down can really hit your spirits, especially if you’re alone. So if you’re feeling droopy now, or really fed up, hang in, the end is in sight. And hopefully you’ll be out and about again very soon, even with a mask and social distancing. Stores are open here in Paris, you can go to the hairdresser, many people are going back to work (some are still working from home remotely), but life as we know it is becoming more normal again, and it will be soon for you too, if you’re in a place that is still sheltering in place. Hang in, you can do it for this final stretch!!!! It’s almost over, if you’re still locked down.
Memorial Day is a holiday commemorating those who lost their lives in the armed forces, a special day to remember and celebrate brave people. For those of us who never lost loved ones in a war, it has a broader meaning, and a very happy one. Traditionally, it has always marked the beginning of summer, with good weather, picnics, parades, and a lot of fun. Before Memorial Day weekend every summer, we used to do a massive cleanup of our summer home, and worked really hard to get everything ready for summer. And now every year, one of my daughters and I do the same thing, and spend a week getting rid of old broken stuff, getting outdoor furniture repainted, and doing a massive cleanup!!! I get to do it with her on Face Time this year (ha ha!!! I get the easy part!!!), and actually I’m sorry to miss it. It’s always a lot of fun, spending a week with her, working hard on getting everything clean and in shape. My children own that summer home now, it’s a 163 year old farm, and any home that old needs a LOT of tender loving care, and a lot of work to keep it in good shape. Every time you turn around, something breaks and needs fixing or replacing. But old homes have a lot of charm. We turned all the old farm buildings, (the horse stall, the cow shed, the rabbit hut, etc.) into little cottages, and the kids loved going there when they were little, and still do. We had chickens and goats (ugh on the goats, very smelly!!), and our pig loved it there too!!! We spent a lot of time there in the summer, and I still spend my birthday there every year, with all my kids. I hope to be home by then this summer!!!
I hope that you find some way to celebrate this first unofficial day of summer, and that our burdens lighten now, confinement will be over everywhere soon, and we can all enjoy some down time this summer, even if things will be different with some restrictions, but they’re not forever.
Have a great holiday, and let’s hope that this will be a wonderful, healthy summer, and we’ll all have fun in unexpected ways. Happy Memorial Day!!! Have a great week, hopefully your last one sheltering in place!!!
lots of love, Danielle
Posted on August 5, 2019
I hope you had a great, fun, and relaxing week. I hope you’re sitting on a beach somewhere, relaxing, or under a tree in the country, having some down time!!!
I’ve been whining a lot about the weather lately!!. I grumble all winter about the cold, wet, and sometimes even snowy blizzard-y weather, and am thrilled when the warm weather rolls around. Only this year, I’ve been in 2, possibly 3 just brutal heat waves. Two in France, and one in NY when I was flying through for a couple of days. Like childbirth, one forgets how miserable a heat wave can be. One kind of expects it in NY but it’s much more unusual in France. And this year in France, we had history making temperatures. One night at 4 am, it was 104 degrees, another day it reached 111, and there is almost no air conditioning in France, except in big hotels and supermarkets. It almost never would occur to me to check into a hotel, and I didn’t think of it this time—-but I will next time. Very few homes in France have air conditioning, you just don’t need it except in the South. And most buildings are very old (including mine), many buildings and homes in France are 200 or 300 years old, and it’s apparently very difficult to install. And landlords won’t let you put it in if you rent. Instead, many people have archaic machines (that look like a small refrigerator, it has a tube about 8 inches across, you hang the tube out the window, and supposedly it will eventually cool down the room. It actually works surprisingly well, but it’s not like the state of the art built in air conditioning systems in the US. We put one of those in each room, and two good fans.
I have to tell you, the day that it was 111 degrees, I was melting. And I was worried about my dogs. I kept wetting them down all day and night.
There was one massive heat wave in June, and another in July, it was hot as blazes in the South of France, and when I flew to NY to visit my daughters there, it was close to 100 degrees. It was 95 degrees and then alarmingly close to 100 for the duration of my brief stay. When I landed in NY it Was 98 degrees, still in the realm of the bearable, though not by much.!!!
I actually wrote a book while I was boiling and suffered, but both books I worked on turned out well.
I’ve decided that I like the cold winter weather better after all. It’s a lot easier to dress warmly and add lots of sweaters under a warm coat, than to try and cool off in record breaking heat (the temperature during the second heat wave broke all records in France. I would have loved to sleep at my local supermarket!!!)
And by blissful contrast, when I flew in and out of San Francisco, to see my kids, it was the usual freezing San Francisco summer weather, in the 60’s in the daytime, gray and foggy and about 50 degrees at night…..heavenly!!!
I hope the temperatures won’t be too extreme wherever you are this summer!!!! keep cool!!!
Posted on May 27, 2019
Well, Summer is finally officially (or almost) here. Although the actual first day of Summer is still a little more than 3 weeks away, Summer always really starts with the Memorial Day holiday. And here we are. Warm weather starts happening everywhere around now, and people with weekend or summer homes start getting them de-winterized and ready for summer. Every year I spend the better part of a week before this weekend, helping my children get their summer house ready for the summer, and where they’ll be spending time together, and entertaining their friends. My husband and I used to work hard on that project, washing, cleaning, getting things painted and refreshed. Houses take a beating in the winter, and I love projects like that where you can actually SEE the evidence of your hard manual labor after a few days. And I particularly love the time I spend doing it with one of my daughters every year, and unfortunately, I missed it this year, and was really sorry not to have the chance to do it with her!!! I won’t miss it next year!!!
If you haven’t read my new book “Blessing in Disguise”, I hope you will—-it’s about a mother and her three adult daughters, each one by a different father, at a different time in her life, how different those 3 daughters are, and her relationship with them.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll have another new hardcover out, “Lost and Found”, which is the story of a woman who has adult children, a big career as a photographer, she breaks her ankle, which slows her down briefly and causes her to take stock of her life, remembering the three men she loved and left for various reasons and never married. In retrospect, she wonders if her decisions were right in each case. She decides to take a road trip across the US, from New York to Boston to Chicago to Wyoming, to look up those men, more than twenty years later—-and it’s about what she discovers about them and herself, and who she meets along the way. It seems like a fun summer book, as she drives across the country, to answer any lingering questions and put the past to rest. I’ll bet a lot of us would like to take a trip back into the past, and see if we’re happy with the way things turned out.
I’ve been working on a new book, and doing some editing, which keeps me busy!!!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend, and I hope this is the beginning of your BEST summer ever!!!
Posted on September 24, 2018
I hope you’ve had a great week since the last blog.
I’ve had some startling news about my home in San Francisco. It’s in a quiet residential neighbourhood, across from a park. Children play in the park, and there is a dog park for the neighbourhood dogs. And it’s a pretty peaceful place.
After several years of drought, and two years of ferocious severe fires, mostly to the North of the city, in Sonoma and Napa counties, the wildlife in those counties are being driven out, looking for food and water. Deer show up in unexpected places, and I was just made aware of a most unsettling situation. Coyotes have been seen all over the city, in parks and on city streets, and have now made their home in the park across the street from my house. People who work for me have seen them, neighbours have warned me, photos have turned up on Facebook of two of the coyotes walking past my house, and they were seen yesterday, standing in front of my home, watching people come to work in my office, one of whom comes with her dog. A few months ago, a friend of one of my sons was surrounded by coyotes in the Presidio (a big park that used to be an Army base, and is now where children play, people picnic, jog, and play baseball there. The coyotes were ready to attack her, until someone heard them, and her screams, and chased them away.) I have very old frail dogs at my home in San Francisco, who are living out their final years peacefully, and I am frightened for them and the people in my home, with coyotes “casing” my house, and living across the street. (We have no idea how many there are, if they are part of a pack, or are protecting their young, which would make them more aggressive). With really bad luck, they could attack a person coming in or out of the house, or a dog being walked on a leash.
We called local animal control to ask for their help, and they said that there are so many coyotes in the city now (people I know have seen them in neighbourhoods all around the city), that they do not try to remove them, or move them somewhere else back to a more natural habitat, and they don’t come to help when coyotes show up on your doorstep, as they have on mine now. It certainly makes San Francisco a dangerous city, with animals who pose a real threat (to people and domestic animals), running free around the city. They suggested that we keep our dogs indoors and be vigilant. And that’s it.
Sadly, one of my closest friends lost a beloved dog to coyotes earlier this summer, in broad daylight in the morning, in another part of the country. Other friends have lost their pets to them in the country near San Francisco. And we have them around our home in the Napa Valley, and keep a close eye on our dogs there. I heard them there this summer, howling terrifyingly close by, seemingly moving in for the kill of some animal. Similarly, friends who have homes in Lake Tahoe, in the mountains, have a problem with bears hanging around their homes, and two have had bears break into their houses (and empty the fridge), and sleep in their beds.
We aren’t dealing with bears in the city of San Francisco yet. But the proliferation of coyotes in the city is a frightening prospect. It’s a sad situation for wildlife animals seeking food and water, but it can be a tragic one with potentially dangerous animals running unchecked in the city with children and small dogs and even adults at risk to be attacked by animals that present a real danger to small dogs and humans. Apparently, they’ve taken several cats in my neighbourhood.
It certainly is the Wild West, and very scary!!!
Stay safe, and have a great week, full of happy moments, good times, and good surprises!!! (not scary ones!!)
Posted on May 28, 2018
I hope you’re enjoying a long lovely weekend for Memorial Day. This holiday always symbolizes the beginning of summer….which is not quite the weather we’re getting anywhere on my route. Cold and gray in San Francisco, a friend tells me it’s cold and rainy in Boston, I think it’s been cold in New York, and everyone in Paris is complaining about how cold it is there. And I was in Napa and wore two sweaters and a jacket. So come on, Summer!!! Please try a little harder!!! I brought out my summer clothes this week, and am wondering why I did!! But other than the weather, It’s a lovely holiday, and is kind of a book end for summer, with Labor Day at the other end. So summer has officially begun.
In years past, my husband and I used to spend the Memorial Day weekend getting our home in the Napa Valley ready for the summer, dragging out all the pool furniture, dusting off the porch, pulling summer toys out of the barn for our kids. We spent the whole weekend cleaning things and getting ready, a big job. Our Napa home belongs to my children now—-and I’m still on the cleaning crew, although I only go there once a year now. And I spend several days before the holiday, with helpers, doing the same chores before Memorial Day now. It always warms my heart to go there, and do the same things again, getting it ready for my children to enjoy the place now with their siblings and friends. It’s a tradition now. We bought the home before most of them were born, and there is something touching about continuing the traditions of the past, which is in great part what Memorial Day is about, memories and cherished people. So I spent this week cleaning house and sprucing the place up, power washing, a little painting here and there, and freshening things up. And we are particularly grateful this year, as the big Napa fires last October came within less than a mile of the home. My youngest son very bravely went up during the fires to save all the photographs of their childhood, and mementoes of their father, in case we lost the house in the fire. We were all very grateful we didn’t, and copied the photographs he brought back. They normally hang all over the house, it’s their whole family history on the walls of our old farm. It’s very quaint and cozy. And my BIG BIG job this week was hanging all 464 photographs back on the walls. I hung them chronologically this time, so you can trace back to my husband’s youth, his early days, when we met, our wedding, all the children’s christenings (a LOT of them with 9 kids!!), their childhood and growing up years, right to the present. It was a lot of work, but I had a wonderful time doing it, and it brought back tender memories of happy times. I hope it will do the same for them!!! So that’s what I did this week. A long walk down memory lane and a lot of cleaning. One daughter always helps me, and we always have fun doing our annual clean up week. So we’re spiffy clean and ready for summer when it shows up!!
The big news for me this week is that my new book, “The Cast” a week after it came out, will be #1 on the New York Times and several other lists this week. No matter how often it happens, it is a thrill for me every time!!! Thank you for buying the book—I hope you love it. It’s about the members of the cast of a hit TV series, and all the complications and secrets in their lives, and their interactions with each other in real life and on the show. It was huge fun to write, with some wonderful characters in it, and surprises, and I hope you love it!!! It should be a really fun read for the summer with characters I loved when I wrote the book. And now that my big annual cleaning mission is done, I’ve been writing all weekend. I really do hope you love “The Cast”.
I have some busy times ahead, with a lot of work to do. The books don’t happen by magic, so I’m getting to work.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful long holiday weekend, and are starting to make fun summer plans. Thank you for everything, and for making the book #1. Have a great week!!!
Posted on May 21, 2018
As many of you know, I love art, particularly contemporary art (and I used to have a contemporary art gallery, for 6 years, in San Francisco. I still miss it!!!), and I especially love happy art, and art that makes me smile. In more classic art, I love paintings of children, or mothers and children. And in contemporary art, I love paintings and sculptures that involve words and sayings. I love hearts, AND I love sculptures of dogs, preferably in bright, fun colors. I realized recently (especially when I moved apartments 6 months ago and had to pack them all!!! and then find places for them in the new apartment) that I have a lot of fun sculptures of dogs, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. Most of them are painted bronze (and weigh a ton), some are fiberglass/also in bright colors, and some are metal like tin, or aluminum, and some are in odd materials, (one of them is made of little strips of newspaper). So I hope you enjoying seeing them…..I can never resist a cute dog statue, especially in a bright color. The French bull dogs in a multitude of colors are by an Italian artist, and the ones of Chihuahuas (in gold, red, and other colors), and the big white dog are by a Belgian artist named Willem Sweetlove, and I love his work (I also have a big red elephant by him, the size of a real baby elephant!!! It’s in my entrance hall, as a surprise to welcome arriving guests).
The word sculptures I love are fun too, and feature words I love: Hope, Love, Happiness. I also used to make wall hangings with multi colored vintage letters to spell out words or sayings I like. Some of the word paintings are black and white, and the word sculptures tend to be red. I collect a French artist called “Ben”, who writes words or sayings, usually on a bright background. In my office, my paintings by him say: “You never know”, “Keep on looking”, “I risk everything”, ” There are no questions without answers”, and “You have to laugh at it”.
So here are the dogs I’ve collected, I hope you enjoy them too!!! Have a great week.
Posted on February 6, 2018
Oops, sorry I’m a day late with the blog, but I will confess I was having fun yesterday, at least some of the time. Living between two cities and travelling back and forth every few weeks, I always seem to be hit with a backlog of work, minor and major problems, and things to catch up on when I arrive. My last day before I leave is hectic, and my first day back in either city is a total zoo, and chaotic. I’m not complaining because I feel very lucky to live in two cities—but the transition can be bumpy. So yesterday was first day back, and I spent 21 hours playing catch up and settling in. My reward for all that was that a small shipment of photographs, paintings, curtains and objects that I sent home by ship when I moved to my new apartment in Paris at the beginning of November, had arrived the day before I returned home, and I got to dig through the boxes and find a place for each of the things I sent back. Some of it I had earmarked for my kids (some great photos of Marilyn Monroe that my son wanted, some fashion photos from the 1950’s for one of my daughters in fashion, and the modelling photos of another of my daughters, when she modelled for a while before getting into the business and counselling end of fashion).
It felt like Christmas as I took time out from real work to dig through the boxes. It was like a treasure hunt!! After three months, I had almost forgotten what I sent, including two sets of really pretty curtains that didn’t work anywhere in the new apartment, and I hated to give up, so I kept them and sent them home. I love collecting things, so my houses are pretty full, and trying to fit anything new in is like working a Rubik’s Cube!!! But I somehow always manage to squeeze one more thing in, or hang one more painting, by re-hanging 5 or 10 others!! I also used the opportunity of the move to get rid of things I was tired of, and had been mistakes to begin with, so what was left were mostly things I really love, which makes my new home that much more enjoyable, now that I weeded out the things I didn’t love. I love going to auctions and finding unusual things, or paintings by unknown artists. I love Chinese art, and have a collection of small wooden antique Buddhas—they’re not of great value, but with the patina of age, I really love looking at them!! And sometimes moving something old and familiar to a new home gives it a new burst of life and you enjoy it all over again!!! I love mix and matching things, old and new, I have a collection of Chinese ceramic vegetables and fruit, and have mixed them with the things that my children made in ceramics class in school when they were very little. It makes a fun eclectic group of objects, and I have them all together on a table. I have a lot of art made by my children, and I love it!!! And I still have many paintings left from when I had a contemporary art gallery. Sometimes the things my children made look great with modern art. I love mixing and matching with both fashion and decorating—-something very special and even expensive mixed with something silly or fun that I found in a funny little shop somewhere. I like the light hearted side of that rather than being too serious about decorating or fashion. So I had great fun finding new homes for all the things I sent back, and the curtains I sent home fit perfectly and look beautiful. So it was my Mix and Match day.
As much as I love fashion, almost as an art form, for the past 10 years or so, I enjoy decorating even more. And when I had put all the new arrivals away, I went back to work on the mountain waiting for me on my desk, and I’m still at it today. It was a 21 hour work day yesterday, with more of the same today…..but I loved my Mix and Match day yesterday. Have a great week!!
Posted on January 17, 2018
I was reading from Joel Osteen tonight—he always inspires me, and something I read struck me as important. “Everything you say matters. Something you say may seem insignificant to you, but to someone else, it may be life changing.” I find that to be so true, both positively and negatively. Particularly with one’s children, but with other people too. Something we may say casually goes right to someone’s heart. I still remember a math tutor I had, who told me at about the age of 12 that I would never amount to anything, and it stuck with me for a long time, and fortunately proved to be untrue. A family member said some really cruel things to me as a child that stayed in my mind for years—almost like a curse, and I had to overcome those words. And in the same vein, we can encourage people, with a few warm, kind words. We need to use our words well, it can make a huge difference to someone, especially if we offer a kind word at what we may not even know is a low point for them.
This time of year is high writing season for me (it’s nice to stay home in the cold weather), and it’s also my ‘homebody’ season, when I stay home on cold rainy days, putter around the house and get things done that I’ve meant to get to for a while. Hang a painting, clean out a closet, tidy up my desk, make calls I’ve been meaning to make. I love having at home time to do that. I’m really enjoying my new home, and am still settling in.
Doing something as complex and complicated as a move to a new home brought me in contact with many suppliers I wasn’t familiar with, and hadn’t used before, but needed to complete the process, IT people, Internet and phone installers, movers, carpet cleaners, painters, curtain installers, someone to install a movie projector, so my kids could watch movies/DVD’s at home. Some of it was pretty simple stuff, and some of it more complicated. As a woman alone, one sometimes appears vulnerable, and the whole process has been a lesson in human nature. Some people simply cannot resist taking advantage, and others do a fantastic job. I’ve had some real battles to face, which has taken patience. In all, two of the suppliers were outstanding, and did way more than expected, and didn’t charge a penny extra for it. Others couldn’t resist the temptation to cross the line, and padded bills, flat out lied, didn’t show up and weren’t reliable, and didn’t do what they promised at all. In each case, I tried to be patient and reasonable, and sometimes had to get tough about a blatantly dishonest bill, or a supplier who had gotten paid, and then didn’t do the job. It’s disappointing when people do that. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t make a fuss about it. But after several months of it, when I see an irregularity now, or a ‘cheat’ on a bill, I put my foot down, and in one or two cases, it took a lawyer to get things back in line. It will make me much more cautious in future about whom I trust, what I pay for, and expecting people to do the job they promised!! And with so many suppliers and tradesmen involved in a move, there’s a lot of opportunity to wind up with some bad ones in the mix. And some VERY good ones, which I am grateful for!!! Even more grateful than before.
I can’t help noticing too, and commenting on, what a terrible beating California has taken with fires both North and South, floods, mud slides, and even a recent earthquake in Northern California. Many of the stories are truly horrible from the fires, with so many homes lost, and all their personal treasures, or loved ones, lost. And now the victims of the mud slides are equally poignant, with loss of life, and so many homes. My heart goes out to everyone affected, and all the victims. I hope the planet will calm down now!!!
I hope the year is off to a good start for you, whether you are hibernating, or out having fun!!!
Have a great week!!!
Posted on December 19, 2017
I hope everyone is well and in good spirits, and not too rushed, swamped, and stressed by the season. This last week before Christmas is a challenge!! Finish Christmas shopping, finish wrapping, send presents to people far away, get the Christmas cards out, visit family, and/or fly to far away locations, and just getting through it all, whatever it takes. It seems to be a tradition now at our house that some major function in our (very old, 111 year old) house breaks right before Christmas, usually too late to fix it in time for the holiday. A few years ago, the entire heating system broke down, and no one could do a major repair until after New Year, so we literally ate Christmas dinner in warm winter jackets. One year, one of the water heaters broke. This year, the hot water is suspiciously cool, and a dining room window broke and won’t close. And when you jam every room full of people, and 20+ people take showers at the same time, the house no longer seems to be used to full occupancy, and some vital system collapses. I see chilly baths in my future for the next week!!! (The same thing used to happen at our beach house over my birthday, when alarms would go off, the hot water would run out, and someone would have forgotten to get a fresh tank of butane or propane or whatever so we could cook. Oops!!) But whatever the kinks in the house, I am happiest when our house is full to the gills, and my whole family is home. That’s the best part of Christmas or any holiday for me.
We all know what the stresses of Christmas are. The important thing is not to let them eclipse the joys of the season. Family battles, minor or major feuds, the usual problems that plague us all and lurk even at Christmas, job worries, financial responsibilities, health issues, and all the dreams we want to come true, and maybe haven’t yet (the right partner, a better job, a nicer home, a kinder boss, an estranged family member to return, a healing for our marriage, a better relationship with those we love). The worries will still be there by next week, so it’s nice if we can put them aside long enough to enjoy the holiday!!!
One of my children volunteered at a homeless shelter for the past two weekends, and I am very proud of her. It is so important to remember those who are less fortunate than we are. No matter what we have or who we are, as humans, there will always be people who have more, and others who have less and need our help. Our foundation in my late son Nick’s honor gives gifts and gift certificates to as many as we can manage at facilities for homeless, troubled, and mentally ill children and young people. And the gift of one’s time is often the greatest gift, and the hardest to give at this time of year.
The year has been crammed full, of good things and scary things (the Napa fires), and sad things, losses and gains, disappointments, victories and lessons learned. Each year is a slice of life with the full mix of blessings and sorrows. And at this time of year, the memories of sweet times and losses flood us, and ultimately carry us through.
So as you rush around this week, trying to remember everything you’ve forgotten to do, and finish all the last details before the holiday, I hope we take a minute to remember our blessings, even if they are small ones, and cherish the good times and the good years, and our hopes for the future. The world around us can be dicey, but even with its ups and downs, we’re lucky in so many ways, no matter how small the blessings.
I send you all my loving thoughts for comfort, strength, and joy, good people in your lives, happy moments that carry you through to better times, and will make these holidays special in some way. May the love and joy and spirit of the holidays be with you, and keep you warm. A very, very happy holiday to all, whatever holiday you celebrate, and wherever you are.
With much love, Danielle