A Dock Comings and Goings

Mira enjoying her floating home
Gabe and Janna Barkin saying goodbye

Ranney cut a dashing figure as a foreign correspondent in the 60s  |  photos and post from Davia Lehn

Former 25-year San Franciscan Mira Pickett crossed the Bridge to explore life on this side a year ago. Originally renting on Yellow Ferry Harbor, Mira knew that that would be a temporary move as the owner occupied his home for a good chunk of each year. A furnished rental became available on A Dock this past fall, and Mira was in the right place at the right time. Spurred by her love of the water creating easy accessibility to her paddle board, she was likewise enticed by the spiritual tranquility that living on the water brings. Life in the Mission District had included owning and running a boutique for 10 years, which had been preceded by a career in tech. As her store lease was coming to an end, the grind of city life was also losing some appeal. At this point she seized the opportunity to “birth” a new concept from her widely admired mira mira sf boutique, which resulted in the emergence of a new business that included the hybrid role of personal stylist, closet curator and conscious shopper, where less is more. These skills are taught to her clients so that they, too, can make fashion choices and edits that reflect who they really are. The business is known as the edit. When Mira is not working or paddle boarding, she can be found in the kitchen preparing a lovely meal, hiking, rescuing feral cats or enjoying time in her meditation room.

With shared excitement for their new home purchase and sadness that they will be leaving A Dock, on February 20 we said adieu to Gabe and Janna Barkin, who have been residents here for nearly 5 years. Married for over 30 years, Gabe and Janna raised their three children in Novato, finding and quickly falling in love with the floating homes community when they became empty-nesters. On A Dock, they nurtured a lovely garden, enjoyed the water in their kayaks, and basked in the sunshine from their top-level deck, often entertaining friends and family. Walking past their home, you sensed their creativity and love of music (think Hair and Let the Sunshine In) and perhaps a deja vu of Sixties culture. Gabe himself, while holding a very respectable job as Director of Operations at The Croner Company, is a gifted song writer and guitarist, and could be found playing from that same deck, entertaining whomever was within hearing distance. Janna, both a yoga instructor and preschool teacher at various times throughout her life, has found her voice as a writer, particularly in her and her family’s own journey of the soul raising a transgender child, their son Amaya. That journey is transcribed in her book, He’s Always Been My Son; likewise, she continues her work with the LGBTQ community. We wish Gabe and Janna a happy life in their new home and they will always have an open door on A Dock.

Last January we lost a true old timer, Arthur Ranney Johnson. Ranney first made his way to A Dock in the early days, pre–Waldo Point Harbor construction, through a chance meeting with T.J. Nelsen at Fred’s coffee shop, the gathering spot for waterfront locals. Having exited his second marriage, Ranney was looking for a place to start anew. The foreign affairs journal he wrote for had closed its San Francisco office, and he was unwilling to move to New York. He found not only a place to live but also a job helping with security in the tumultuous times prior to the ‘houseboat wars’. More importantly, he found a community that was to be his home for the next 35 years. He was a circumspect man and an erudite scholar of all things historic, political, and economic (what a feast his mind would be having in today’s turbulent times). Spending hours delving into journals, magazines and newspapers, he loved nothing more than earnest conversation over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. A well–traveled man and fluent in Spanish, he loved the energy and cultural dynamism of the Mission District of San Francisco from which he shared his favorite mounds of feta cheese and briny black olives at the Wednesday evening potlucks that had become a standard on A Dock. Ranney died at 97, having lived in a nursing facility for the last decade plus, where he had physical limitations but his mind and wit still sparkled. And, as in the beginning and throughout his life, T. J. Nelsen and his wife Paula were his family, with him until the end.