MVP: How long have you lived in Mill Valley?
LM: We moved here in the fall of 1997. We were living in Darian, Connecticut when my husband was offered a job with Foote, Cone, and Belding in San Francisco to work on the Levi’s account.
MVP: How did you decide on Mill Valley?
LM: Our boys were young and we knew we didn’t want to live right in the city. I knew one girl in Connecticut who was from Palo Alto and she said, “People in Marin are like that movie, Serial. They’re in hot tubs and they wife swap. You’re going to want to live in Palo Alto.” Then I met a girl from San Rafael who said, “You are definitely going to want to live in Marin.” Our realtor, Anne Murphy, took us around Marin and we really liked it, so I guess we’re that type.
MVP: What’s your neighborhood?
LM: We live in Blithedale Canyon. I love it because we have a hot spot. I didn’t believe in the microclimates until we moved here. Everyone told us it didn’t matter where we lived because we’d be spending all our time outdoors, but we moved here the year of El Niño and it rained four months straight.
MVP: Do you like your neighbors?
LM: Yes, very much, but I miss the Dixons.
MVP: Where did your kids go to school?
LM: I have two boys and they both went to Old Mill, Mill Valley Middle School, and then Marin Catholic. Now they’re both in college.
MVP: Are you enjoying the empty nest?
LM: Yes. We call it Flew the Coop. I’m still doing the things I did when they were at home, but I just don’t have to prepare as many meals. The boys ate so much. Now my food budget has decreased so I can spend more money at The Store. I went from feeding four to three, and now just two of us.
MVP: Do you have any advice for new empty nesters?
LM: One thing I have noticed is that you have to really like your spouse, because when the nest gets empty you are spending a lot of time together. I am lucky that I still like Peter and that we have common interests. Thank God we both like to cook and go to the movies.
MVP: Do you miss going to the boys' games?
LM: Well I do miss watching them play, but we still go to the games. We go to the Marin Catholic football and lacrosse games. Now everyone else seems so young. And when I drive by Old Mill those moms look like babies.
MVP: OK, what about football? Growing up in the South I watched so much college football and it just doesn’t seem to be as big out here.
LM: When you know people who are fans it’s fun, but back home everyone is a fan. Anywhere you go everyone is a Tiger fan or a Saints fan.
MVP: Who watches the games with you?
LM: The Butlers watch with us, and Bobby Hines. He is from Louisiana and went to LSU. We love having friends over to watch, but because I’m very superstitious I don’t just let anybody come over. It’s true. If women come they can’t chat, they have to watch the game. And if you come and we lose, you are not invited back. Sorry, but that’s my policy.
MVP: Do you miss Louisiana?
LM: Yes, very much.
MVP: What do you miss?
LM: I think people in the south are generally funnier and a bit more laid back. There is a lot of drinking in the south, which can be a problem, but everyone just likes to have a good time. Plus I miss the heat. It’s never hot enough for me here.
MVP: How does the food here compare?
LM: I think the food here is very good. Of course we don’t have as much fried food here. In Louisiana we have those delicious tomatoes and peas in the summer. Back there everything you cook is an excuse to have a party. You say, “I’m going to boil some crawfish,” and that’s your excuse for having people over. It all starts with the food.
MVP: Do you go to many restaurants in the city?
LM: We love to go in and try new restaurants. That’s what we should be doing more of as empty nesters. I love La Folie. That’s our favorite place in San Francisco, just to be treated well and have a special night.
MVP: And you’re a nurse.
LM:Yes, I started out in Labor and Delivery in Charity Hospital, in New Orleans, and then the operating room at Tulane. When we got married and moved to London I worked at the Lister hospital in the recovery room. It was a private hospital and we did have some celebrities like Mick Jagger. Then in Connecticut I worked for a plastic surgeon. Out here I worked for a few years doing laser hair removal. I also gave flu shots, which I enjoyed. I liked going into the retirement homes or Safeway to give shots. The older people were very appreciative and it was really interesting to hear their stories. I also worked at the Marin City Health and Wellness Center.
MVP: Are you a big proponent of laser hair removal?
LM: Yes, I am. If done correctly, and with the right machine, you can get very good results.
MVP: I know our readers would like to know about this so I will ask: In terms of the bikini area, do you think that people should go all the way with their hair removal?
LM: No, now that is something people are usually not happy with. I highly recommend just staying within the lines of the bikini. I have had many people express regret at having taken off too much. It’s best to start slow.
MVP: Does it bother you when people ask you for medical advice?
LM: A lot of my friends ask and no it doesn’t bother me at all. I am an old nurse and the old, common sense advice is the best. Just get enough sleep and wash your hands. I do still believe you can catch a cold if it’s cold outside, even though everyone says that’s not true. It’s a virus, but if you’re body is cold your immune system can get weak.
MVP: Do you think the flu shots help?
LM: Yes, especially older people or younger people, or people with compromised health. It takes the shot two weeks to work, so get it before December.
MVP: What do you like to do in Mill Valley?
LM: I love to play tennis, hike on the mountain with my dog, Deuce. And I love going to the library.
MVP: What do you love about the library?
LM: I just love libraries because I love books, and they are all free. You can pick out ten books and take them home. If you only decide you like two you haven’t wasted money. I love to go in and find old stuff, and if I find an author I like a lot of times the library will have three or four books I might not have known about. I just love the whole scene. I could work at a library.
MVP: Do you chat with the librarians?
LM: No, never. I used to just go to the card catalogs and look things up and now I go to the computers. I can spend an hour just browsing, reading a little bit of different books.
MVP: How many books do you read a month?
LM: I read about two books a month. I’m in two book clubs. We also get four papers every day. I love the movies too. I like to go downtown to the Sequoia. It’s a comfortable, big-screen theater. I just wish they’d change the movies more often.
MVP:What about music?
LM: Oh, yes, I love to go out to music. We’ll go into the city to see music and we go to shows at the new Sweetwater and 142 Throckmorton. We saw Super Diamond on my birthday.
MVP: Do you follow any local musicians?
LM: Danny Click and the Hell Yeah’s. I love them.
MVP: How does the music out here compare to New Orleans?
LM: There are just so many more places to see music there. Every night there are dozens and dozens of places with live music. Of course The French Quarter is the best, especially since shows like Treme have showcased the music. There’s good music out here, but just not as much.
MVP: Is there anything that you don’t like about Mill Valley?
LM: No, not really. There is a lot of money here but people are very low-key about their wealth. It’s not like Darien, where everyone is dripping in diamonds. I do think sometimes people here take themselves a bit too seriously in their pursuit of goodness -- driving a Prius, only eating local, organic foods, recycling -- I’m not against any of those things, I just wish people could relax about it. In the South everyone is much better about laughing at themselves and the absurdity of life. I loved the South Park episode when all the flights are cancelled because a blanket of smugness descends upon San Francisco.
MVP: I know what you mean. I was on vacation once with a friend from Atlanta and her daily breakfast was a Diet Coke and a cigarette. I don’t want that for breakfast, but it was kind of refreshing to be around. That being said, I do think there are some common values that draw people to Mill Valley. It is a very nice and healthy lifestyle. LM: I think Mill Valley is a very special place. It has been a wonderful place to raise children. My kids could ride their bikes to school and I had a town full of people looking out for them. Everything I need is right here, and you can see that by the odometer on my car. The people at the Volvo place keep telling me I need to get out more because my mileage is so low. I feel very, very fortunate to be able to live here. It’s full of nice, interesting people and it’s beautiful.
MVP: I know you like to talk about manners. Are you still thinking about doing a class?
LM: I would like to. There’s something about just basic consideration for others that I don’t think enough kids here understand. It’s not just pretention. Do you think a manners course would go over here?
MVP: Manners will serve you your entire life. Kids need them when they go to their college interviews, and they really need to know how to write a Thank You note. If you could position it to parents as something else necessary for advancement I think it would go over really well. “You need the SAT prep, you need the community service hours, you need the manners class!”
LM: I think manners are a dying art. I tell my boys, “You can get a long way by just looking people in the eye and using the right fork.”