Archive for December, 2013

Celebrating Doris

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

On the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s, our family attended a celebration of a different sort than the typical holiday party. We attended a celebration of the life of Doris Rustad, Steve’s mom who passed away last February.

Although it might be somewhat unusual to wait 10 months to hold a commemorative service, it made perfect sense under the circumstances and I think was actually an inspiration by Steve’s sister who did all the planning. By waiting until the Christmas break, family members who had to travel from points north and east could all convene in San Francisco.

You see, although Doris raised her family in Southern California and spent the last few years of her life in Washington State, she always said that San Francisco was one of her favorite cities so that was selected as the location where her ashes would be scattered.

But where in San Francisco would be the most appropriate keeping in mind that we’re not talking about spreading pixie dust but cremated human ashes – Coit Tower, top of the Mark, off the side of a cable car or off Fort Point into the ocean?

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising when you consider how cash-strapped the government is these days, disposing of cremated remains in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area requires submitting an application for a Special Use Permit and a $400-$1,000 fee. Doris was a very petite lady; I’m sure $400 would cover it.

But what a waste of money. How to scatter the ashes became incidental to the real purpose of the day: celebrating her 90 years. It was decided that all the family members would convene at the Cliff House – certainly and iconic SF location – for lunch followed by a short memorial service at the Palace of Fine Arts.

A sense of peace at the Palace of Fine Arts

It could not have been a more beautiful day to be in San Francisco and honor the memory of Doris. The 18 family members stood in a circle under the center dome feeling the warmth of the sun in an almost cathedral-like setting; reciting the Lord’s Prayer and sharing memories about her energy, determination, artistic talent, appreciation of quality, and intelligence, I felt that she would have been very pleased.

I don’t know if loved ones look down from heaven, but if they do, Doris was smiling.


Family wrap up for 2013

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

As a wrap up to the year and also because I didn’t have time to write a blog for this week, I’m re-purposing (I love that word, it sounds so much better than saying that I’ve found a way around doing more work) our 2013 Christmas letter as my blog post for this week.

If you follow my blog, thank you for the time you haven taken over the past year to read my ramblings and hear about the happenings in our household. I wish you and those dear to you a very Merry Christmas.


This past year brought another move – the second one for us in two years. Given the frequency of our address changes, you might get the impression that we actually like moving. No chance of that – it just happened that the opportunity arose to move to a sunnier condo across the narrow driveway. We whittled down our possessions yet again in this most recent move and if we get any leaner and meaner, Steve and I will be sharing the same fork.

Ethan has completed the first year of his five year hitch in the army and is still immersed in Korean at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. I regularly remind him how fortunate he is to be getting his Advanced Individual Training in one of the most beautiful places in the country. The DLI is like being back in college except that unlike SF State, he has to study. To burn off steam from eight hours a day of Korean, he and his buddies travel to weekend Bay Area GORUCK competitions (ruck is short for rucksack; the army term for a backpack.) These competitions involve creative combinations of ocean water, sand, pushups, running, log carrying and team building challenges all while carrying 40 pounds of bricks in your ruck.  I guess he just didn’t have enough fun in Basic Training.

In May, Valerie will graduate from Chapman with a major in graphic design. She is already putting her talents to work outside of the academic environment in a small design firm in Newport Beach. Between keeping up with her school assignments, internship, part-time job and martial arts classes, and new this year – a relationship (according to Facebook) – she is a busy girl and several days go by between hearing from her. Good thing that I can keep up on the happenings in her life by following her on Instagram.

Jennifer Lynn got her driver’s license shortly after the beginning of 2013 and that was the last we saw of her. Okay, I’m exaggerating but she is eager to exert her independence and hopeful that the spring will bring news that she’s been accepted into a college far, far away from Cotati. While we wait to find out if the scholarship money has enough zeros attached to it, Jennifer is spending her senior year of high school balancing her time between her IB classes, working at Starbucks and the most recent expression of her adventurous personality, joining the wrestling team. Boys…girls…wrestling…how does this work, I wondered? She assures me it’s all very legit and as Steve reminded me, it’s a useful skill for a girl to know how defend herself – especially one who wants to land on the east coast.

In between branding and design work for Rustad Marketing clients, Steve is very involved as chairman of a non-profit dedicated to helping veterans with severe PTSD. He also volunteers with the Petaluma Police Department and generously gives of his time whether they need help with crowd control or want him to shoot a video of a town hall meeting.

While I have loved working with the community at the Petaluma Visitors Program for the last three years, I will be leaving the PVP at the end of the year to join a company that makes promotional products, particularly for museum stores. It’s hard to say goodbye but I’m looking forward to new challenges and growth.

Steve and I are very thankful to be in good health surrounded by faithful friends. We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and blessings in the New Year.


The Rustads


Take it to the mat

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

About a month ago, Jennifer Lynn who is a high school senior surprised us with the news that she wanted to take on a new sport at school. Her decision to participate in a new activity didn’t surprise me – she’s always been adventurous about trying new things which thankfully stay in the realm of constructive endeavors such as badminton, cheerleading, and playing the tuba – while avoiding the kind of adventurous teenage behavior that has the police knocking on your door at 2 a.m.

The part of her announcement that was surprising was that the new sport she was going to participate in was wrestling.

I struggled to make sense of the picture that popped into my mind; a sweaty 17 year-old boy and girl horizontally interlocked with hands in places on each other’s bodies that only should happen after you’re married.

So of course, I wanted her to explain how this boy-girl wrestling thing works. She wasn’t exactly sure but one of her friends had also signed up so she figured that a good portion of the training she would be wrestling another girl.

I had my doubts. But the surprising part was Steve’s reaction. Knowing how protective he is of his daughters, I thought he would certainly object to Jennifer Lynn locking legs with a testosterone fueled teenage boy. Instead, he couldn’t have been happier that she was going to learn how to wrestle because now his precious daughter would know how to defend herself during an encounter that didn’t take place in a controlled environment like a high school gym under the watchful eye of an experienced coach.

Looking at it from his perspective, I had to agree that knowing how to fight off a boy is great skill for a young woman to have. Especially one like Jennifer who craves independence and hopes to land in a college on the other side of the country.

She’s been going to practice now for about five weeks and by her own admission, this is the hardest thing she has ever taken on – sure, those other activities were challenging, but this requires endurance and strength at a level that is totally new to her.

When I asked her if she had known how hard it was going to be, if she would have signed up. I got a definite “maybe.” But I’m proud of her because she says there is no way she’s quitting – if only because she’s told all her friends she’s doing wrestling and having to tell them she stopped would be humiliating.

I also see the pride she feels in herself. She is constantly showing off to us the bruises on her arms and legs and how they exactly match up with the grip that her opponent used. We get a running commentary on the development of her muscle groups so we can appreciate that she now has obvious biceps, abs, and quads.

She even got over the awkwardness of the singlet – the short unitard with the very low scoop neck that is the typical wrestling uniform. We got her a snug black t-shirt to wear underneath it. Glancing over at her standing in front of the mirror, it was obvious that she felt pretty good about her newly toned body.

When she gets a little more confidence, I look forward to going to a match and watching her wrestle a girl or boy. Pin ‘em!

Welcoming Santa

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Once again, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in spectacular fashion on Saturday when they chugged up the Petaluma River in a Jerico tugboat. The sun was shining on the water, the temperature was almost balmy, and when the tug sounded its horn heralding Santa’s arrival at the Turning Basin, I think even those of us who haven’t sat on Santa’s lap for many, many years felt their heart beat a little faster in anticipation.

Thanks to a huge amount of support from Basin Street Properties, Santa and Mrs. Claus were able to greet children in a decorated tent outside of Tap’s new location in River Plaza shopping center. I’ve worked this event for a couple of years and while the kids are always adorable, sometimes they are not that eager to be face-to-face with a stranger in a big red suit and a full beard. I’ve seen some tense moments between parents when dad is determined to get the perfect photo for their Christmas card but mom doesn’t want to set off a tantrum with their 2 year-old that could take hours to recover from.

But perhaps because Santa and Mrs. Claus weren’t in a stuffy room or crowded mall setting, it relieved some of the pressure on the families waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap and have their photo taken. Everyone was extremely patient and I don’t think I saw any toddlers burst into tears and cling to mom for dear life when they realized that they were being handed off to Santa.

Santa and Mrs. Claus take a break between kids’ Christmas wishes

Plus, Petaluma has the best Santa and Mrs. Claus this side of the North Pole. Sweet, genuinely interested in what the kids have to say, and willing to accommodate the families in whatever way works for their photo.

The day will stand out for me as a picture perfect Christmas memory. And thanks to John O’Hara at the Argus for taking such great photos. See them here.