Profile in Grace

Diane_Boate_Cake.jpgWhat a challenge to try to summarize all the exceptional talents and qualities of Diane Boate. Perhaps her father said it best when, as a little girl, he dubbed her Mrs. Much. Our friendship began 20 years ago when she called me and introduced herself as "the cake lady of San Francisco." She was planning a trip to New York City with her partner Robert Meyers (now her husband) and hoped to get together. She also told me that she had lost her only two sons to AIDS and that the reason she brought it up in our very first conversation was that she wanted to avoid an awkward moment should it inevitably arise later on. Contemplating the devastation of such an unimaginable loss I expected the possibility of a defeated person but instead discovered again and again over the years that followed that instead of succumbing to self-pity, Diane turned her grief to the joy of creativity and most of all to helping others and making the world a more loving, beautiful and interesting place. I have never known a person to possess so many skills: from artistry, photography, crafts, cooking, baking, writing, gardening, and even playing both the piano and banjo by heart and ear. You may have seen the recent posting of this exquisite crocheted blouse she made for me after my having admired it years ago. IMG_3395.jpg I asked Diane if she would write a short bio, and in her own words highlight the activities and accomplishments she values most in her life. Diane_Boate.jpg From 1966 to 1976 I held three of the only regularly paying jobs I would ever have, for The Dating Game TV Show, The Egg and The Eye Gallery, and The Renaissance Pleasure Faire. From 1976 to the present 2016 it has been a 40 year run being The Cake Lady, the Hat Lady, Photographer, Botanical illustration artist and published writer. Special awards were winner in Gourmet Gala March of Dimes food extravaganza, winner SF Urban Fair cake decorating contest, being selected to produce cake for 2000 visiting mayors, winning a contest at National AIDS Grove Mad Hatters fundraiser for a huge hat comprised of 27 handmade dolls, being made President of the SF Hat Society, being selected to write a regular baking column for Working through the grief of losing my sons to the AIDS epidemic, I embarked on learning new skills as in taking my first Art History class and earning an Aplus from a tough European trained instructor. If I can do that, I told myself, I can do anything. For escapes I disappear into knitting and crochet projects, and always back to reading books. (One year in the 60s without a job, I read 87 books.) I have come to an idea that everything I do has a foundation of music behind it. I started music school when I started kindergarten in a Convent School in Eureka, California, my home town, graduating 10 years later, going on to Napa High School and College. I see color when I hear music. Music has given me mathematics, form, cadence, harmony, structure, and joy. If you listen carefully when I play the piano, you would understand where my flights of fancy come from when making a hat or decorating a cake, or where patience and discipline fit in when constructing clothes or any number of crafts, or where sadness tried to drag me down but I came out the other side, singing. The main thing with me is, what is the next new thing I am going to do? How can I surprise someone today?