porch corner

The Cabin

The cabin has always been called the cabin. As in The Cabin. As in there is only one and it’s a proper place. And for my family that’s true.

When Josh asks me to write a book about the cabin, I want to say: as soon as we finish the bathroom, put up new the window shades, replace the dry-rot planks on the deck, fix the toilet, and do all the other never-ending work I’d be happy to write about it; if it doesn’t burn down first (my biggest fear). Of course this isn’t going to satisfy him nor is it a good plan.

Josh wants me to tell him stories about my childhood at the cabin. And he has very precise directions for this book : 265 pages, navy blue hard cover, and the same gold font on the spine used on the Harry Potter series he owns.

While not as specific, my friend Heidi made a similar suggestion when she visited. “You should write about the cabin,” she said.

I know they are both right: that the cabin is a place like no other. A place that inspires serenity and anxiety in equal measure…a place that brings out the best and worst in its owners…a place that is breathtakingly beautiful to look at and backbreaking laborious to tend to. A place that deserves to have its history recorded.

But how do you write about a part of your life that isn’t unlike your right thumb—it’s there, you can’t imagine life without it, but it doesn’t have any real drama attached to it?

Oh sure there have been some epic family fights at the cabin, some wild party days and nights and some criminal behavior—mostly in the form of underage drinking and smoking. But no one has died at the cabin. No one has dropped a kerosene lantern and turned it to ashes. No one has been killed there by a local meth addict—unlike the poor woman on a neighboring property.

But there are lots of stories I can tell Josh and these are those stories. Because memory is not the most reliable historian, other people may have stories that are different than mine. But these are my stories about the cabin I grew up at, the cabin I’ve inherited, and the cabin that will one day become Josh’s.

Filed under: Uncategorized
In the kitchen at the cabin during the holidays.

Grandma Mary’s Pumpkin Pie

Grandma Mary was a great cook. She didn’t have a large repertoire, but what she did make was fantastic. Having grown up in an orphanage, Mary didn’t know how to cook when she was a young bride. But soon after my grandparents were married, my… Read More

All 4'9" of my Grandma Mary at the cabin.

Mary Narlock

My grandmother, Mary Narlock would give you the shirt off her back but never ask for a favor. Every year, she’d give us money for our birthdays and literally lend us money whenever we asked—without any guarantee that it would ever be repaid—but deny herself… Read More

A man and his beer....cake.

Chet Narlock

“My old man,” is how my father referred to his father, Chet. Others have had less kind words. He was a hard-headed man who ruled the roost at the cabin. He was the youngest of the Narlock men and followed his older brothers into the… Read More

Uncle Bill and Aunt Marie

Uncle Bill

Born in 1915, Bill was the second youngest of the Narlock men. Unlike his brothers, Uncle Bill didn’t practice his trade on land initially, and instead became a merchant marine. Later, he worked for the city of San Bruno in the public works section, where… Read More

Soaking beans with bay leaves and pepper.

George’s Beans

George’s Beans This recipe is as retro as they come. Salt pork is one of the ingredients. I thought it might be hard to find, but nope. Most supermarkets carry it. It’s like a chunk of bacon cured with salt, that requires boiling before being… Read More


Uncle George

  My father used to say Uncle George was the happiest among the Narlock men because he never got married. A confirmed bachelor, George lived with Uncle Bill, and Aunt Marie while she was alive, for as long as I could remember. Before that, he… Read More

The other Lori Narlock


Every Narlock in the United States is related. This is what my father told me as I grew up. The name isn’t very common and in my research I’ve only found one other branch of Narlocks, and because their names are similar and they lived… Read More

Leo and Evie


There are things you know because you were there and that experience becomes a memory. There are also things you know because you heard a story so often from someone else that it becomes your memory. My memories of Uncle Leo are like that. The… Read More

Three brothers

Three Brothers for Three Sisters

Three brothers for three sisters. It sounds like a musical! Three of my grandfather’s brothers married three Sullivan sisters. Archie married Catherine, Leo married Evelyn, who was called Evie, and Lawrence married Helen. The Narlock men all looked alike—thick hair, broad foreheads, wide smiles and… Read More