Noah Griffin bringing back the elegance of Cole Porter

Noah Griffin and Meredith Browning devoted to musical literacy are bringing a new awareness of Cole Porter.

Noah Griffin and Meredith Browning devoted to musical literacy are bringing a new awareness of Cole Porter.

To say that San Francisco’s Noah Griffin is a singer is to under-explain his status in the entertainment world. He is a performer with the exceptional style and elegance of a sort not so often seen these days. He is also a born educator with a passion for musical literacy and history well taught. His wife Meredith Browning has her own interesting connection to the world of musical theater as well as a talent for launching projects. With this team, lamenting what seems to be a vanishing awareness of the music and thoughtful, well-crafted lyrics of composers of yesteryear went so far, and they decided to do something about it. Noah and Meredith have created The Cole Porter Society with some interesting plans and goals. To listen to Noah and Meredith talk about why they created this society is in itself a musical history lesson. Their love letter plan? Historically charming, and relevant to future generations.

Amena Elaine talent, energy and love everywhere she goes

Amena Elaine talent, energy and love everywhere she goesAmena Elaine is new to San Francisco and brings with her an endless load of talent, energy, contagious enthusiasm, appreciation of everything that surrounds her and beauty. She sings, plays the piano and violin and is a whiz at fashion retail with a strong feel for street style. To see her walk through a room is to be engulfed in the feeling that the world is on the right course. To listen to her talk about her family is a lesson on love. Tip of the iceberg. The youngest of seven children in a multicultural family (French, Haitian and Jamaican), she was loved and pampered by her siblings, taught the value of hard work and family devotion by the example of her ER nurse father and her joyful mother and raised to be independent and at home everywhere she goes. Her love letter? Plural I hope. Mother, father, siblings and the grandmother whose fashion sense she has.

Jane Storeseter on rising to the unexpected life-changing challenges of motherhood

Jane StoreseterIn preparing for motherhood, it seems the best you can do is prepare for what you think it will be. What it will actually be, you will learn with the birth of each baby. And, each one, as you may already know, will come into this world with his or her ever-changing unique physical and emotional needs.

Jane Storeseter, mother of four, knows what it takes to raise a child who has been struck with a life changing condition. To listen to Jane talk about what motherhood requires when unexpected and sometimes life-threatening challenges arise is to learn what unconditional love really means, about emotional resilience and tenacity, and taking on the school system, and keeping up her own physical endurance so she take on the world in defense of a child who was hurting. Her love letter? To her daughter who has reached a beautifully independent adulthood.

The joy of a Cordes Christmas can be yours next year


Betsy Cordes about to share her family Christmas magic with the world

Betsy Cordes about to share her family Christmas magic with the world Photo by Sarah Deragon/Portraits to the People

Betsy Cordes was raised by parents who, in her words, “really believe in the magic of Christmas and made it such a special time in our home. They still do!” There were carols on the stereo from dawn to bedtime, fresh greenery, lights and candles everywhere. Her dad’s crazy Christmas toys, and stockings but not being allowed to come see the tree until parents had “confirmed” that Santa had been there. And, the glee of adults acting like children. Oh, yes, one more essential ingredient, Mr. Dog.

Mr Dog’s Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn, written by Albert Bigelow Paine in the late 1800s, is read by her father every Christmas Eve as it has been for two generations now. Betsy is in the process of insuring that it will be passed down forever and to everyone. She is going to republish this book  with new illustrations by San Francisco artist Adam McCauley. Listen to a very joyful Betsy read part of the story and talk about the sustainable magic created by her parents with the help Mr. Dog. Next Christmas you will be able to read this to your children and start a whole new family memory. Her love letter? Hopefully two of them and maybe incorporating one into the new book?

Lina Misitzis with an unusual love letter plan

Lina Misitzis with an unusual love letter planLina Misitzis, born and raised in Virginia to Greek parents, brings together the strength of two disparate traditions. Greek was her first language and culture, yet Grammar school field trips were to Civil War battlefields and grand plantations, excursions based in troubled history. Listen to her talk about her life at home, the chunks of life she spent in Greece, the differences between her and her American born friends, her leaving home to forge her own way in life, her zig-zag journey across the country and the endearing adventurous reason she is in San Francisco. Lina is brimming with historical knowledge and personal creative experience, so the telling of her life is a fascinating and charming tutorial. She is a joyful young woman with the power to appreciate. She is also a gifted writer with a wonderful plan for a love letter. In her words, “I could write a thousand love letters to Brooklyn.”

Marshall takes on the North Idaho Aryan Nation

Marshall Mend in one of his life's serious turns

Marshall Mend in one of his life’s serious turns

Marshall Mend has come a long and heroic way in his life. A high school dropout who became a success in the meat and seafood business, who followed the advice of some of the great motivational speakers to even greater success, who moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho so he could live someplace friendlier than Los Angeles, he has risen to the stature of the lionhearted. To hear him tell how he discovered the threat of North Idaho’s Aryan Nation and his part in their eventual defeat  is an incomparable lesson in what one person can do. To hear what he did is a lesson in diligence. And, to hear him tell it in his own voice, well, if it is Marshall telling the story, even the most perilous challenge has its  ”how can you laugh at a time like this” moments, which makes anything he says easy to hear.

The Marshall Mend Show, yes he is back

Marshall with his son Paul

Marshall with his son Paul

Once again, Marshall Mend is back, this time to talk about this making a home in Coeur d”Alene Idaho, how he got into real estate, how he got what he calls his double doctorate in motivational psychology and his triple doctorate in sales. Yes, the fellow who dropped out of high school. He needed that diploma to get his real estate license and…  Oh, just listen to him tell it. Too good!  His story is an education in what you can do if you put your mind to it, if you never take no for an answer, love to do the impossible and have the charm and cheek to put yourself front and center.

Brenda Knight on gratitude and blessings for the daily meal

Brenda Knight, long ago farm-girl, now editor of Viva Editions, author, Medieval history scholar and gardener still has time for a daily spiritual practice

Brenda Knight, long ago farm-girl, now editor of Viva Editions, author, Medieval history scholar and gardener still has time for a daily spiritual practice

Gratitude is a wonderful feeling. It calms the spirit and makes the heart sing. Focusing on what is good chases the blues. But, how, in this busy world, do people find the time for a daily gratitude practice. The very phrase seems to take time out of a busy schedule. Brenda Knight, founding editor at Viva Editions and author of several books including Women of the Beat Generation knows what it is to be busy. She also knows what it means to stay grounded and how to do it.

Her latest book, The Grateful Table, Blessings, Prayers and Graces for the Daily Meal, is a collection of world-wide concepts, prayers, and graces from different cultures, all of which can be offered as blessings on a basis as regular as breathing. Brenda talks about her girlhood on the farm, the values instilled in her, her passion for reading, her mother’s encouragement and the letters they have written to each other. Thanksgiving is upon us, but how lovely to see through Brenda’s offering that gratitude is the wonderful feeling we can have all year long.

Marshall Mend is back with a tale of no such thing as born to fail


Marshall, always open to learn from others

Marshall, always open to learn from others

Marshall Mend, an exceptional salesman who says there are no born salespeople, is back to talk about people he learned from. The great motivators. One of those people was Glenn W. Turner, born in a charity ward in North Carolina, destined to be a failure. No such thing as born to fail, according to Marshall, only born to win. To listen to Marshall talk about how he finally agreed to try various motivational tapes that changed his own life, and even made the LA freeways tolerable, is instructive, motivational itself, and, yes, because it is Marshall, no-holds-barred and funny.

The education of Marshall Mend

The education of Marshall MendMarshall Mend thought he should attend high school just when he felt like it. The principal thought he should attend Monday through Friday, so they parted ways. Marshall dropped out of high school to join his father in the butcher business and then start his own meat delivery company. How he ended up the steak and seafood salesman to television stars and police alike is a tribute to Marshall’s quick wit and ability to follow through. To hear Marshall recount the steps on his way to success is a lesson in knowing when opportunity is knocking at the door and then opening that door very wide to walk fearlessly through it. It is as much fun to listen to him tell the story as it was for him to have lived it. His love letter? One he requested from Loni Anderson while on the set selling her steaks.