"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 in Retrospect

Certain unhappy times
Greasy Seasonings!! You’ve been given the present no one can turn down, a delightfully impersonal blog posting--yes! This one comes from the kid behind Hill Babies. Instead of a bow-tied present, I'm presenting you with my goings-on! Who doesn’t want to read about a year in the life of a toddler? Grab the eggnog and hide the scissors, this year was full of fun. Have a lovely holiday, however you celebrate it, but don’t forget: axial tilt is the reason for the season!  Love, G.

1 Baby + 2 Parents = Dearth of Friends
January—My parents throw a party for the New Year, and I’m bored to tears. I’m the only kid. What’re they thinking? Kid=family dog? Never! I'm sad that my best hiking friends, Henry and Iris, are leaving San Francisco. My parents take me on quiet hikes—I love the outdoors, the sunshine, and the smell of trees. But I have so few friends…
Friendship at the old toxic dump

February—Mom posts an ad online saying something like ANYBODY NUTS ENOUGH TO WALK ACROSS SAN FRANCISCO WITH A BABY? Lo and behold, there’s a passel of these moms. Suddenly, I have FRIENDS! Tabby, Maggie, Ella, Fiona, Leo, Georgia, and I rule the city—crawling and staggering from craggy, windswept Corona Heights, to the coyote haunt and hawk home of Glen Canyon, to the bird-filled flatlands of Heron’s Head in Hunter’s Point. Every time we meet, it’s a party in the sun.

Born to win
Gunslinger in a slot canyon
March—The coup de grace for the month is going to Las Vegas. I pig out at the buffet trough, throw tantrums for pie, and get dazzled by the lights. My folks have the nerve to find me a babysitter when Mom goes off to read a story somewhere (how DARE she not read it to me). On the best of days, I tromp about the springtime desert, exploring Red Rocks and the Valley of Fire. Before heading home, I ruthlessly poop on the rug of the casino-hotel.

The miracle of a wristwatch

Miz Lise of Vis Valley's Story Time
April—My first painting is done on ceramic pigs, and I make one for Grammy and Grandpa, and another for Tutu. Family folk, Peter and Rozell, come over for dinner. Rozell’s taken by me, and I’m taken by Peter’s wristwatch. How DOES it work? Other April highlights include “story times” at San Francisco libraries—I’m amazed by the silly adults who wear fuzzy duckling puppets on their fingers and whoop it up. I also ride on a bicycle for the first time, cruising through Golden Gate Park! It’s a blast!
Swinging with Grammy

May—What a lovely month: flowers blooming in the garden, bike rides on the coast, and outings with my buddies. Grammy and I don our biggest floppy sunhats and have a date at the San Francisco Zoo, Mom trailing in our wake. My parents throw a summer party, and thank god, there are guests my size and age, including new friends, Emily and Seamus, drinking milk and causing riots. 
The first snowstorm of the year

The Big and the Little G
June—Get ready for THIS: I take a road trip to Oregon with my buddy Tabby, and on June 1st we’re caught in a SNOWSTORM in the California mountains. Double wow!! By the next day, the sun is shining and I’m hiking through hobo camps in the woods. Up in Portland I see my namesake, Big Genevieve, and Mom’s cousins, Henry and his new wife, Loretta. Good times, but don’t ask me about the barbecue! (I learned the meaning of the word HOT. No fun.)

Punk rock wedding
Mississippi wandering
July—Things are getting HOT: the Marin County Fair (do I smell cow pies?), a punk rock wedding in Virginia City, Nevada where I dress up in cowgirl finery and shake my rump, and a jaunt to Mississippi. We head to Ole Miss where the nights are balmy and lit with fireflies, and come daytime, I snarffle through massive plates of BBQ, sweat like a hog in the Southern heat, and have a tantrum outside William Faulkner’s home.

 English Channel summer
August—I fly to JOLLY OLD ENGLAND, where straight off this ginger-haired boy woos me with sweets and ice cream as my parents drink at a pub. The folks and I head to Brighton where I meet two new friends, Joel and Ellis. We explore real castles and ancient battlegrounds, stumble across shingle beaches to the FREEZING English Channel, get backstage at the Royal Pavilion, climb Devil’s Dyke and hike on top of chalky cliffs, visit Roman ruins at Bath, and get lost in Leatherhead. I have a BRILLIANT time.

In the fish tunnel
September—School starts for me: part-time daycare at San Francisco State University. (I am that smart.) My old parents take me hiking in Marin, but my favorite hike is in Tilden Park with my friends. On another great day I visit the aquarium at Pier 39, which is awesome, but keep me away from the snip-snapping CRABS!

Turning TWO!
October—Hang on to your horses! I’m turning TWO! My party is a smashing success, and someone spins rockabilly tunes so me and my buds can do the watoosi and the hand-jive! I also have new friends, Naglis and Smelte. One day I ride the MUNI bus to Chinatown with my buddies, where I refuse to eat dim sum. I see a strange performance at the De Young Museum one night, party hard at my cousin Kekoa’s birthday, and toodle around the city on hikes. Awesome month!!

Puppy love
November—We drive to Los Angeles so Mom can read another of her interminable stories, and I fall in love with a gregarious and handsome young man named Jacob. He gives me my first toothbrush. We even bathe together, but don’t ask ‘cause I won’t tell! I meet two other boys in LA, August and Max. I’m like the belle at the ball, but my heart (and bellybutton) is for Jacob. Back in SF, my parents try to indoctrinate a leftist agenda on my impressionable self by having me serve soup at the local Occupy movement. Well I insist on being fed, too. We also ride in Critical Mass, a huge posse of renegade bicyclists that take over the SF streets and make a hullabaloo. November is such a full month, my mind is a-whirl … or is it puppy love?

No dental tools in my mouth
December—Every time I brush my teeth, I ask for Jacob. To my consternation, I am given my first dental appointment. Indeed, I bite a couple fingers. I walk out of that office like a bandit with a new teddy bear, two toothbrushes (one for Jacob?), and a kid-sized toothpaste bottle. WHO do THEY think they’re fooling? I will not go down easy. 

The month is halfway over, but there’s some event called the Winter Solstice coming up, and I hear I might get buck-naked and dance around a Yule Log, howling like a tiny wolf. Yes, my hippie-at-heart parents are forsaking this other event they call “Christmas,” and so they’re bringing me to a cabin in the Oregon woods (and in the process breaking the hearts of my grandparents three, who I’ll dearly miss). But truth be told, I’m excited. I’ve never spent multiple days in the outdoors, I’ve only seen stars in picture books, and I have a new pair of snow boots. I’m hopeful for a grrrrreat ending to 2011—for YOU and ME BOTH! Let’s keep each other posted. Happy holidays!
Looking sweet but plotting revolt for 2012

Love and kisses, 
Little G 

My friend Emily
Just for a second I allowed this invasion
Bringing soup to the Occupiers

My friend Naglis
Me, Tutu, and Mom
Rest is good
Wagon riding in the UK
My friend Leo

I call him Ginger Nut, my short-term British boyfriend
This Brit is NOT my boyfriend.
Marin County hiking
Shingle beaches of Brighton
Pig painting for the grandparents 

My friend Maggie

Riding the bus to Chinatown with my buds
Giddy up, Grandpa!

Cousin Kekoa and me

The indignity of it, but I love my aunt

Swimming in Nevada

Annalise, Ellie, and Uncle Chris

My friend Georgia

Whoa! Freakie-deekers at the De Young tonight!

My friend Fiona

Me, Grammy, and Mom

My friend Tabicakes

My friend Seamus
Me and Daddy
Critical Mass

Monday, November 21, 2011


It has been a chilly week with wind and rain clouds, and so when I saw a posting on a social networking group that asked for hot food to be brought to the Occupy San Francisco encampment, I decided to make some soup and take an urban hike.

With my two-year-old daughter pulling her Red Flyer wagon, loaded with paper bowls, cups, spoons, and a towel or two, and myself carrying a five gallon vat of vegetable soup, we arrived at Justin Herman Plaza, a little nervous, and a little excited.

For two months, I've heard about the Occupy movements across the globe. I've supported them in spirit, but hadn't made the trek to an encampment. I believe in the reasons for the Occupy movement--the non violent protest against Wall Street--and I'm furious about the deregulated capitalism that has caused so many problems in my life, including an imminent foreclosure. I don't know what my financial future will be like, and my child's future is completely blank. I've had lots of excuses as to why I couldn't get down to the local Occupy movement: I've got a toddler, I've got graduate school work, I've got an old mom who needs me more and, frankly, I'm busy. Yes, I'm BUSY. I'M JUST FRICKIN BUSY. And besides, what would I do down there?

Bringing soup was the right thing.

Right away, an activist saw me lugging my pot and offered to carry it, leading me to a central location where I could serve soup (there was a choice to donate my soup to the food tent, but I wanted to dip the ladle in the pot and get to meet some occupiers).

My toddler enjoyed the experience too. She eagerly distributed spoons, and if anyone forgot a spoon, she squawked and waved at them. Finally she turned to me and said, "You too! You too!" which in her language means "Me too! Gimme some soup!" She ate a bowl along with everyone else.

My grandmother, Marie Louise, with
my uncle, David, when they still
lived in Germany during WWII
It's funny, but I thought later about a story my mother once told me, about how her parents, who had immigrated with her and my uncle from war-torn Berlin to Long Island, reacted to Senator McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign in the 1950s. "It is like the Nazi regime is starting in America," my grandfather said. His cousin, Peter Yorck, had been hung with piano wire for being involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler. If my grandfather had been caught by the Nazis for his own clandestine activism (he was a spy for the British) he would have been killed. Perhaps my mother would have been killed too. Perhaps I wouldn't have been born.

When my grandparents moved to America to be free from oppression, and learned about what McCarthy was doing, they took action against him as best as they could. My grandmother obtained some anti-McCarthy leaflets, and she took my mother, who was maybe four years old, and went down to the local passenger train station to distribute them.

My mom has faint memories of passing out fliers to commuters who normally rushed to their train, but stopped to see what this little girl was holding up in her hand.

My mother became a Civil Rights activist, then an anti-war activist, and finally a social worker. She likes to say that the childhood experience of passing out leaflets in the busy train station was her first moment of activism. I once thought to myself, Gosh, so Grandma used you? I've come to believe that we have only one life in this lifetime, and we can be silent and make excuses when the government mistreats its people--I've got a small child, I said, and so I shouldn't do anything but bring her to the playground and sing "Ring Around the Rosie"--or we can work to make the world a better world.

Within twenty minutes, all of the soup was gone. I've never met so many thankful, kind people who made it clear how important a cup of hot soup is for morale.

As my kid and I walked through the camp with our empty soup pot, someone called, "Thank you for the soup! Thank you for bringing your kid! We need more children here!" Genevieve raised her own hand up and shouted "Bye bye!" She was all about solidarity.


For more information, please visit these sites:

Justin Herman Plaza, site of San Francisco's Occupy Movement

View Larger Map


  • a couple pounds of washed red potatoes, cut into big chunks
  • an onion, chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4-5 scrubbed carrots, chunked
  • a half pound of Brussels sprouts, cut in half
  • a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes 
  • two zucchini chopped into quartered pieces
  • half a bag of frozen corn
  • a glug or two of olive oil
  • salt, pepper, and several dashes of hot sauce to taste
  • two handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
  • herbs (I used marjoram and parsley from my garden)
Cooking Directions
Get the biggest sized pot you have and fill it a little over three-quarters full of water and set it to boil. Toss in the onion, garlic, and oil. Toss in the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Wait a couple minutes, then add carrots. Add the rest of the ingredients in the last twenty minutes. The zucchini and tomatoes will melt down and help create a great broth, but the potatoes will still retain their shape. Total cooking time is about thirty minutes, maybe a hair longer. Taste and see. 

Secure the lid with a rolled up kitchen towel, and place in a box; stuff towels in the corners to keep it from slipping about. If you have a wagon, it might fit in there, or you might have to carry it. Bring bowls and/or cups, spoons (not necessary, but nice), and overcome any hesitation to say hello to people.
Please spread the word about the OCCUPY Movement...    Let's make a change.