East comes West

by Claire: 

We were thrilled to host Casey and family on their recent trip to California. We had three sweet days together. The boys deepened their bond playing hard together. On one of those days we all drove north to Salmon Creek, a beach near Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.  We found an abandoned ship on the shore, ran down the sand dunes and played in the driftwood structures that someone had created.  The photos below are glimpse into that wonderful weekend. Parallel Coasts unite! 

This is was just one part of Casey and her family's trip from NY.  Stay tuned for more stories...

At Home in Berkeley

This is the beginning of a series where we celebrate the quotidian details of our life.  Below is a collage of pieces of my home, little things I look at daily.  

A snapshot of my everyday views.

A snapshot of my everyday views.

 

  1. Sprig of mint. I am hoping this sprouting sprig will survive its upcoming transplant to soil. Tea soon!
  2. Legos. A new constant in our home: small pieces of Legos all over the house, all of the time. 
  3. Stained glass owl. We have a large amount of owl themed objects. 
  4. Hanging guitar. Music fills our house. My husbands band is Professor Burns and the Lilac Field
  5. A little hand in soil. 
  6. Fabric. I inherited a collection of beautiful fabric. This is a pillow I recently made for our couch.
  7. Galimoto bike from Kenya. I found this toy bicycle at an estate sale last year. I’m inspired to make a wire and cloth toy with movable parts.  
  8. Metal Letters. This will be included in a mobile for the boys room. 
  9. Books. We all tend to collect them here. 

Tilden Park

We live in small house. Not a “tiny house,” just a small home. Some mornings it feels like it only takes about 20 minutes for my boys - Arlo 3 ½ and Avery 1 ½ - to destroy any sense of order. Their toys, clothes and food subsume every surface like a flood. Yesterday was one of those days. I felt we had to leave the house to save the house. Tilden Park is often the perfect solution. This 2000+ acre park is located in the hills above Berkeley stretching south toward Oakland. We did a whirlwind tour of the park, hitting all three of our favorite spots: the Little Farm, the Carousel, and the Steam Train.

Little Farm in Tilden Park

Little Farm in Tilden Park

The first stop was "Little Farm ." Yes, it’s just like it sounds - a small public farm tucked away at the northern edge of Tilden’s woods and meadows. As is the ritual, we brought celery to feed the cows and goats. This was the first time we went that Avery was engaged and curious about the animals. He fed a goat for the first time and tried to chase the chickens. Then (ritual #2) we sought out Farmer Stanley, a gracious English farmer who oversees the farm and the dozens of students who volunteer there. Stanley wasn’t to be found, but Arlo met a friendly grandmother.  They conversed for a good three minutes, and ended the encounter with a hug. I am happy to see this quality of appreciation for and connection with elders. (It also reminds me of his dad, a historian who often interviews veteran activists in the Bay Area.)

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Arlo in snake skin pants riding a carved poplar horse on the antique carousel in Tilden Park. 

Next, we made our way to Tilden’s antique carousel,  a short drive from the farm. The 105 year old carousel was made by the Herschel-Spillman Company and has been at that site since 1948. It is beautiful. There is so much craftsmanship, and it is really fun to ride!

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Two brothers on the steam train in Tilden Park 

Our last stop was the Steam Train - a must stop if you are ever in the East Bay. There is something magical about the scale of riding the little steam train through the tall Redwoods. The train takes you on a 12 minute loop complete with a tunnel and a miniature western town.

Tilden has many incredible trails. I look forward to the day when the boys are ready for longer hikes. Recently, I heard there are rock wall remnants referred to as the “East Bay Walls” or “Berkeley Mystery Walls” that can be found in Tilden Park. Apparently to see them you would need to hike quite far and high. The internet offers a handful of  conspiracies as to who made them. I just asked my archeologist neighbor about it. I’ll keep you posted.

Casey’s parallel post is about a family day trip to Fort Tilden in Queens. I was hoping that there could be a direct connection between the their Tilden namesakes, but it doesn’t appear so. While they lived at the same time - their 19th century lives overlapping for 40 years - I found no evidence of relation. Perhaps, living 2900 miles apart, the Tilden’s had their own version of parallel coasts.

I am interested in learning more about the “East Bay Walls.” Does anyone have any information about their origins, location, function?

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park 

A view of the Bay Area from Tilden Park 

On Friendship

Welcome to Parallel Coasts - a blog about creativity, community, and place rooted in a long and beautiful friendship I’ve had with Casey Atre. We grew up together in Louisiana and now live on opposite coasts. Casey lives in Brooklyn, and I live in Berkeley. 

Casey and I met on the first day of sixth grade. My parents had decided to move me from public to private school because I was starting to "act up." They felt that a small class size, more teacher attention, and greater academic rigor would provide the support I needed. At this new school, there were twenty-four kids in my grade. Many of them had been together since kindergarten. I was both excited and terrified. On the first day of school, Casey sat next to me and oriented me to who was who. We became fast friends. From the beginning, we had much in common: our phone numbers were only one digit different; we both had new-agey moms; we shared a sense of adventure. In the decades since our meeting, there have been many moments where we have noticed continued parallels. 

As teenagers we spent so much time at each other's houses. Through Casey, I gained a second mother and little brother. Together we learned to drive, joined the Explorer Scouts, made movies, got into trouble with teachers, tried pot for the first time, snuck out to New Orleans, studied bharatanatyam, shared family trips, and spent many nights at the local Waffle House. We supported each other through both our mother's diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, rented a house in New Orleans after college, spent time with our other amazing friends, hosted crazy parties, moved apart to try new cities, met each other's boyfriends, went to each other's weddings, met each other's kids (2 boys each), made plans for family trips, brought our kids to Mardi Gras, made plans to start a blog! Born from this treasured friendship, this blog is place for us to reflect, document, and share as we engage in our parallel lives as friends, mothers and artists.

Claire and Casey in High School c.1995

Claire and Casey in High School c.1995


Casey creates brilliant solutions for problems I hadn’t even noticed existed.
Casey is up for the adventure.
Casey is an entrepreneur and inventor.
Casey has a great capacity to notice subtlety.
Casey appreciates beauty.