people taking care of each other

There's an old Chinese couple that I sometimes spot sitting in the laundromat around the corner from my building, she on the low bench with her back to the windows, he on a chair facing her. I presume they are there waiting for their laundry, but I've never actually seen them at the machines. What I do see each time is the woman's pant legs rolled up to her knees and the man holding one of her legs in his hands, methodically massaging her calves, shins and bare feet while they talk and laugh together quietly. He is always smiling, and they are both relaxed, settled in for the evening. 

It strikes me as a very private moment to stumble upon. Every time I see them I am startled, embarrassed in the way you get when accidentally walking in on someone in the bathroom or inadvertently witnessing people kiss when they thought no one was watching. Of course it's nothing indecent--in fact, it's much more friendly and caring than romantic--but the intimacy seems so out of place in the laundromat, where most people are in and out, all business and no eye contact.

Witnessing these candid little moments of love is a bit like medicine when, like me, you are cranky and all you want to do is get your groceries home to your studio apartment and be alone. When, like all of us, you are seeing flags at half-mast everywhere you look. It's good to be reminded that people are taking care of each other. 

On Sunday, Ian and I joined my brother on a lovely hike in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. It's a great park. I would recommend the Stream Trail for a mellow stroll, and the French Trail for the slightly more adventurous. We walked along the stream and in the sun up to the top of the hill, and then meandered down over narrow, damp paths, pretending to be hobbits and keeping an eye out for banana slugs underfoot. My brother packed a pb&j, apple, and chocolate cookie for each of us. We couldn't have asked for a better picnic among the trees.

My brother also fed us with a story of his recent visit to Ike's in Oakland, where the person at the register asked how his day was. Instead of saying "good, thanks" and moving along to get his seriously bomb sandwich, he mentioned some good news he'd gotten at work that day and they had a nice little exchange. When his order was ready, he found a free cupcake thrown in as a congratulations. I mean, awesome right? Just goes to show what might happen if you engage with the people around you instead of moving through the world like a zombie, staring at your phone, your feet, the counter (all things I tend to do), anything but the human being standing in front of you.

And speaking of awesome, on Thursday night I will be going to a Letterpress Craft Night with Oh Happy Day and I could not be more excited. Oh Happy Day is one of my favorite blogs and a true source of DIY genius. I also have an unhealthy obsession with letterpress goods and can't wait to see the process firsthand, not to mention meet Jordan Ferney! I wonder if she'll sign my tote bag.

Love and pb&j,



  1. What a wonderful reminder! It's so easy to forget that kindly engaging with people can really turn a person's day around. We're always in such a hurry, we rarely stop to just enjoy 'being' in that moment with another person, oftentimes a stranger.

    Is this "Ike's Lair" connected to "Ike's Place" in SF? If so -- YUM. Now I'm starving for a giant sandwich with Dutch Crunch bread.

    1. Stacy, yes! Same Ike's. I've only been to the one in San Francisco but I'm sure you get shorter lines in Oakland!

  2. Definitely plan to try out that hike. Thanks for sharing!


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