The three generations of women on the front porch of their house in Noe Valley. Left to right: Judy Berg, her daughter Ocean Berg, and Ocean’s two daughters Florence and Stelli Babus.
Stelli helps her grandmother take down the wash from the line. The clothesline shares space in the backyard with fruit trees, a grape arbor, and several plots where Ocean grows vegetables. Judy grows herbs in pots on a small patio. Frequent guests seldom leave without a gift of one of the herbs Judy has grown, a cutting from a plant, or some food.
Ocean and Judy fold the clothes from the wash in the front room. There is a washer in the basement, but no dryer. Ocean, who works full time counseling pregnant women, would like a dryer because of the amount of dirty clothes that two daughters produce. Getting a dryer will probably not be easy. In order to make space in the basement, the back garage must first be remodeled.
Ocean bought a dog, Bella. Judy thinks dogs should live in the country, not the city. Bella sometimes stays with a friend in Petrolia, a small town in Northern California. When Ocean and the girls are not around, Judy often keeps Bella in the back yard. Although Bella is friendly once she knows you, she guards the house against people she doesn’t know or remember. This presents a problem for Judy’s friends who are used to entering the house through the back yard.
Stelli plays with Bella after school.
After school, Ocean prepares a quick bite for Flo and Stelli to eat. Flo has ballet and modern dance classes every week night and needs to leave soon. Flo’s school is nearby, but Stelli needs to be picked up after school. On nights where Ocean works late, Judy picks up her granddaughters. Judy loves her granddaughters but is still unsure about how much responsibility for them she wants to take on.
Flo, Stelli, and Ocean share the sink and mirror in the small bathroom off of the kitchen. The bathroom sink is the original from when the house was built. The sink’s height is quite low, and although it has hot and cold water, they come out of separate faucets. Ocean would like to remodel and update both the bathroom and kitchen. Judy feels things work fairly well even though they are not ideal.
Judy prepares flowers and a photograph of her husband Peter. The whole family is attending the Día de los Muertos celebration in the Mission District. There they will set up a small altar for Peter who died three years ago.
Judy arranges the marigolds before attaching them to a photo of Peter.
Flo’s ballet lesson did not end until six, so Judy had dinner waiting for when Ocean and the girls returned. The irregularity of Ocean’s work schedule and of the girl’s activities, mean that they don’t always all get to sit down for a meal together.
Flo teases Stelli for a little too long about her favorite brand of cereal, calling it chicken food. In retaliation, Stelli bites Flo’s leg.
The tussle is temporary. They have been assigned the chore of washing the evening dishes. The sink area of the kitchen is tiny. The dishes are washed by hand and then left to dry. Ocean prefers a less cluttered house, and would love to change the kitchen. Most of what is in the house is Judy’s. Ocean brought very little with her.
Flo and Stelli relax in the front room before retiring to their own rooms. Although the house has four small bedrooms, one of them is completely filled with Judy’s projects. Judy now sleeps on this futon in the front room. Having given the other three bedrooms to her daughter and granddaughters, she has no room of her own. Ocean and the girls are away from the house most of the day, so Judy still has time to herself.
Ocean helps Stelli create a photo to go with a telephone number of a friend.
Stelli learns about cooking by helping her mother with a recipe.
Flo and Stelli take Bella for a walk. The park is a short walk up the hill from their house.
Flo climbs up to the first crotch of a eucalyptus tree, but finds it will be easier to jump than climb back down the way she came up.
The downhill side of the eucalyptus tree has a rope swing. Stelli takes her turn after Flo has finished.
Ocean sips a cup of tea. The process of negotiating how their lives fit together continues for Judy and Ocean. How much do each of them include the other when doing things with their own friends?
Flo hugs her grandmother when she arrives home from school. While future building projects will make their house more livable, the four of them clearly love each other a lot, and get along well.
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