Mademoiselle Colette


816 Santa Cruz Ave. * Menlo Park CA 94025 * 650-644-8469 * ( Also locations in Palo Alto and Redwood City! *)

PART 1! Prelude to Catastrophe, Saved by Pie

“ Today is gonna suck “ – internal whining – “ I better get pie. “ Literally thought while skulking abou-I mean running essential errands in downtown Menlo Park.

Shortly thereafter I was supposed to go to mom’s place, grab her, drive her to a neuropsychologist appointment that I had made, be informed of the totally not shocking ‘news’ that she had memory problems, deal with the aftermath, and drive her back home. And why did I make that appointment? Because she bailed on the first one – she was buying overseas plane tickets instead. Good one mom. Her medical system called me and insisted she come, thus I was complicit and pissed off to be shoe-horned into this most cruel of mom-nappings. Damn right today was gonna suck. Days like today were meant for PIE.

I walked into Colette’s stunned by the sophisticated ambiance. It was immaculate. It was refined. It was everything I am not, BUT, I reassure myself, I am not so bad as the human blarg I’d encountered only minutes before. Waiting in a restroom line at a coffee shop, I (and plenty) were treated to the sight of  icky patron’s  head shoved in his computer, picking his nose, and eating it. Seriously what the fuck people. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I shot across the street into Colette’s, feeling unworthy of the cleanliness, as if I’d been tainted somehow. The transition was incredible.

*AAAAAA!* The angels sing. Oh there was pie all right. Mini pies of pumpkin and apple and pecan with golden nuts.



Midmorning midweek and Colette’s was packed with ALL WOMEN barring a few kitchen staff and one lone feller looking a tad uneasy. Inside and outdoors, ladies eating dessert and socializing in this pristine oasis. Had I stumbled into the secret sanctuary of pissed-off -grossed-out women?

I so wanted to sit down and stay. Invite myself to join a cluster of my brethren. Never leave. But I had the devil’s deed to carry out so I bought a mini apple pie for mom and two mini lemon cakes for myself and Mr. Rapunzel Pie Snatchers. ( Tantalizing tale for another day. )

I presented mom with her mini apple pie and it was a hit! The pie was adorable, the pie was scrumptious, even the pie’s box was cute with flowers drawn on all sides. Thus fortified we were able to put up with the rest of the day’s absurdities.

Where to begin. Apres pie, ( THANK GOD ) for mom’s appointment we drove to a world famous university’s neurology clinic, which, it turns out, you need a homing pigeon to find. Once you navigate the twisting roads and lack of signs and park the car in the confusing garage and locate the place for the ticket and wander around looking for the front door of the building, you simply walk in. Stand there twisting your head around until a helper directs you to a counter off to the side, where you are handed a pile of papers to ‘read’ ( HA ) and sign and then you must promise to pay them a gazillion dollars. Take a piece of paper with a barcode on it. Locate the restroom which is fully automated and try to explain via spastic waving of hands under the robo sink how it operates, thus confusing the elderly person with cognitive issues even further. Hop in the elevator and joke that the point of this neurological clinic is to create cognitive issues – by the time you stumble into your appointment, you present as scrambled brains. Hop off at your floor – and this is important – have no human interaction whatsoever. You’re supposed to swipe your barcode under the barcode reader – helpfully tacked on some side wall – and sit down in a waiting room devoid of any living thing barring some flowers which you want to kiss in gratitude. There is one clear sign though – a huge banner advertising how great said university’s medical offices are. Fantasize about ripping the banner to shreds. Now – ah! A human being. This is the doctor and she takes you to a windowless room with no soul and gently informs your mom that she is doing SUPER but … has some wee problems learning new things. It’s a dumbfounding session because of course every info and tip mom is told, she will forget. Realize that the doc has chickened out giving the actual news to the point she hasn’t even entered it on mom’s medical record.  Now we’re personally escorted out because the exit sign is written so small it’s unreadable unless you have found the exit already.

“ Let’s have a follow-up in 6 months!” The doctor suggests.

“Like hell’”, I promised myself. I find it completely fascinating that a department devoted to Alzheimer’s and cognitive issues could design a system guaranteed to drive anyone with neurological problems – and those accompanying these patients – absolutely batshit. They truly fucking nailed it. My theory is they spent so much time trying to be CLEVER, and then bragging about how clever and modern they are, but in no step of the process was anyone who ACTUALLY HAD EXPERIENCE WITH COGNITIVE DISORDERS a part of the planning process. But who cares! Look how shiny and new and smart this building is!


Debora Ferrand; owner, founder, save-the-dayer


 Sorry, rant off. We don’t have to go to Neuro-Psycho department again unless we absolutely must. We can choose to go or not go. And now we have Mademoiselle Collete’s near mom’s place, where we can exercise our best choices ; what pie to order!

I bid farewell to mom and proceeded to haul 2 Colette mini lemon cakes up to Rapunzel Pie Snatcher’s . Only 4200 ft elevation change and 365 turns in 7 miles and they survived intact! Wowzers! Later we tried to…replicate?…these lemon cakes by baking lemon oatmeal cookies. Inspired, but sans the sheer charm of Colette’s pastries.

This entry sings adieu on a two note song: one lowly ominous, one literally high. Unbeknownst to us, a premonition day of witnessing dear people working in a health care system that was utterly useless…and a day that was saved on the high note…pie! Pie in the sky!

Continue to Part Two…

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Surfing and Strolling near Mademoiselle Collete

SURFING: As the crow flies from Collete’s , you’ll find yourself just south of Mavericks, and just north of a place nicknamed, ‘ Don’t Eat Us Creek. ‘ A more reasonable (flat!) spot is just south of Mavs I’m gonna call Demented Hitchhiker. Thanks to upwellings there, the water is particularly icy and you might find yourself unable to change or get into your car because your hands are frozen. Of course you parked right off the highway, so every single passing motorist sees you jumping up and down waving your arms in circles trying to get circulation back. For twenty minutes. YOU are Demented Hitchhiker.

STROLLING: Wunderlich Park and Windy Hill Preserve are kinda sorta nearby! Lovely hikes but for gods’ sake don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need a map. ” Just an out and back,” you might think. Ha! No! Windy Hill Preserve is now named for the wind between my ears when I decide I’m an experienced hiker and am going to improv a route. Pro tip; after these kinds of tours, extra pie is required.

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