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27 February 2003

isabella.gif (5271 bytes)Remember this symbol. I have been told it is going to become one of the most recognizeable symbols in the area. You heard it here first.

This is Isabella, soon to be the logo for a new restaurant about to open in Sacramento.

We had call around 7 p.m. last night. I was sitting there trying to decide what there was in the fridge that I could whip up for dinner. It had been a stressful day and I really didn't feel like cooking dinner. The kitchen was a disaster anyway. I knew that I would probably have to thaw a couple of chicken breasts and I just wasn't feeling inventive with chicken breasts at the moment.

The call was from our Mexican daughter, Marie, who lived with us for her senior year in high school, in 1988.   She was giving a tour of Davis to her mother, who was visiting from Mexico and invited us to meet them downtown for dinner.

The circumstances surrounding Marie's coming to us were pretty weird. We had gone to a show at the theatre and sitting in front of us were some friends who had just returned form Mexico. David is a physician who volunteers time down there each year as part of a program put together by a local minister and his wife.

They talked about how their trip had gone and said that they had met this girl whom the minister and his wife thought had great potential, but she needed to get out of Mexico to be educated. As she had dual citizenship (her father, who had died when she was young, was American), there would be no visa problem, but they needed to find a home for her to live. As they knew I placed foreign students with American families, they asked if I had any suggestions of people they might call to see if they would like to host Marie for a year.

Never one to be able to say no, I immediately said "we'll take her."

Most of our students had been male, which was fine because they could share a bedroom with the four boys. On the rare occasions when we'd had women live with us, they slept in the living room. We'd never had someone live in the living room for a whole year. And I'm sure Marie never dreamed she'd be sleeping on a hide-a-bed for a year.

The short version is that she came and we got along very well. She had some adjustment difficulties but after the first few months, she blossomed. The potential that she displayed in Mexico was very apparent. This was a girl who was intelligent, a hard worker, and she was going to make something of herself.

In the 15 years since I picked up this frightened girl from a home in Sacramento, she has indeed "made something of herself." I can't remember now all the things she did, but she graduated from Sacramento State College in business. She was chosen to go to Peru on a special international business program. She worked for some part of the state government for awhile on some sort of special deal. She wrote a book, I believe. It seemed that everything she touched turned to gold-and not out of luck; because she has a good head on her shoulders, knows what she wants, and is willing to work for it.

She married Mannie, a man from India, five years ago and shortly after their marriage they opened a restaurant in Sacramento. It's called Todo em Poco ("all in pieces") and was designed to be a two-part restaurant-one side was the "fine dining" Mexican restaurant and the other side was a more casual pizza parlor. It never quite divided up the way she originally anticipated, but they've had incredible success and in the past year were named best restaurant in Sacramento by one newspaper, were named one of the top 10 restaurants in the area by Sacramento Magazine, and Marie was invited to start her own cooking show in a local Mexican TV station.

Now they've been offered a second restaurant, this one in the heart of downtown Sacramento (for those familiar with Sacramento, it's on 21st St. between L and K). It's to be called Isabella and will feature Italian food, Mexican food, and tapas. Part of the building is a nightclub and so there will be entertainment as well. The area is also well known for a high concentration of gays and lesbians and apparently this has been a well-known lesbian hang-out, so she is very excited about catering to the gay and lesbian community.

I listened to her chatter last night and I marveled at the worldly, ambitious, hard-working woman she is…that she has always been. Ideas just streamed out of her as she talked non-stop. The graphic was drawn for her by Esteban Villa,  muralist, printmaker, art educator and community activist, who had dinner at Todo em Poco and left it on a napkin for her as a tip (apparently Picasso used to do this in his leaner years). It was a drawing of her as she waited tables and she kept it, framed, for a couple of years and when looking for a logo for Isabella's, she decided that she wanted to use this graphic. So it is carved into her furniture and on all of her advertising and she says that the restaurant is going to flourish so much that the logo will become famous.

Having seen what she has made of her life in the past 15 years, I have every confidence that this will come to pass.

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This picture was taken at the wedding of Walt's cousin, Gerald and his wife Melissa.  I just love it.  The two little kids are Kayleen and Ernest Kevin, children of his cousin Ernie.  The others are, left to right front:   Vince (our Malaysian son), David, Jeri, Tom.  Then behind Tom with the arrow pointing to her is Marie, then Ned, Paul and Marcello (from Brasil).

wpe23C.jpg (3339 bytes)Thanks for your nomination of Funny the World for a Legacy award, of all things. You can find all the nominees here.

Congratulations to all the other nominees--especially my buddies Haggie and Marn. If you have a journal, support the community and be sure to vote.

Quote of the Day

The bow kept forever taut will break.

~ Zen proverb

Yesterday's Photo

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Marie & Grandma Sykes

One Year Ago
The Stinking Rose
It's amazing how versatile the lowly garlic is...for medicinal purposes, for decorative purposes, for gourmet eating, or for brewing. Obviously, for some, a thing of garlic is a joy forever.

Two Years Ago
Piņata Party without Piņatas
It was like stepping back 30 years in time. We walked into the home of our friend Jeri and Bill and the house was filled with toddlers and small children racing around the house, babies being passed from hand to hand, the kitchen counter and dining room table filled with food, coolers of beer, wine and soft drinks

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Pounds Lost:  73.8
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer

URL Total 741.6
Blue Angel Total 704.2
2003 YTD Cumulative:  217.8

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