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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Family Time

I am about to depart, once again, but this time from my sister and her son's family. We have had a wonderful visit and I hate to break the spell. It's been grand to have two little children in my world again, to be singing lullabies and reading them to sleep. They have worn me out in the pool. I want to stay and be their nanny.

Nancy and I took them down to Escondido today to meet another cousin, who has made an oasis with her husband at the top of a hill. Avacado trees and peaches, tortoises and chickens, heirloom tomatoes and eggplant - and special places to sit and rest or meditate. Bill and Debby do a lot of traveling and it is reflected inside their home. It was exquisite. Then it was discovered that Bill brewed beer and that the Stone Brewery was just down the hill and that was that. We were in our cars and gone. What a place.... Simone and Dylan played in a creek by our outside table while folks enjoyed brews at two large bars, inside and out. It was a stunning place and the hops were just right. My duck tacos weren't bad, either.

I guess it's hot everywhere right now. I hope everyone is enjoying the peak of summer. I occasionally have these moments when I realize that I could be listening to the news and plugging in and that I am not going to for the ENTIRE SUMMER. I do know that D.C. had an earthquake that woke Maggie up and that they may have finally plugged that evil oil spill. The Tour de France is on every night here so I am watching the most beautiful scenery one could imagine and there seems to be some kind of golf tournament going on.

Tomorrow I am going to make the journey from Laguna Niguel to Altadena, perhaps a one hour drive, and visit Debby's mother, Yvonne, sister to Aunt Zella, who I grew up living next door to in Crescent City. Zella and Yvonne have been icons to me all my life - beautiful, intelligent, cosmopolitan, active, passionate - it has been two years since Zella died, just after her 90th birthday, and it is still hard for us to reconcile that she is gone. I look forward to soaking up stories and history and, if I know Yvonne, some really good wine.

I spent quite a bit of time this evening organizing photos and I hope to post an album soon so you can see much more than I have shown you so far. Tomorrow is Day 20 and I begin to climb slowly through the state of California.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SoCal I hardly knew you

It is a fact that I am a native Californian, but one that I have not always wanted to admit. After living in D.C. for 8 years it has become easier to "out" myself but, because my hometown is 20 miles from the Oregon border, I usually say I am from the Pacific Northwest and, since I went to college at OSU and spent most of my adult life in Oregon, I sometimes say I am an Oregonian.

Why such an issue? Because, if you tell most people you are from California they immediately think of all that is not where I am from: Hollywood, movie stars, la la land, freeways and suburban sprawl like you cannot believe, Valley girls and bad actors that become politicians. When I was a freshman in college, a foreign exchange student from Columbia in my dorm complex learned I was from California and immediately thought that I would sleep with him. Common lore puts Santa Barbara in Northern California. I am happy to include San Francisco, but please, Santa Barbara is so not in the north.

So, recently my nephew and his wife relocated to Orange County for employment reasons and we all shrieked and moaned but, hey, they have two beautiful children and so, here I am in Laguna Niguel examining the natives. Most of them wear bikinis or Hawaiian print surf wear. All of the architecture is Spanish looking and there are a lot of palm trees. It is really very lush. We went to the beach yesterday and I was overjoyed to put my feet into the Pacific and the sand felt pretty much like up north, just not as dark. It's very bright.

The housing developments and shopping centers are endless. I am recalling a high school speech tournament where we were given the subject of megalopalis ..... well, here it is. One town stretches into another and there is not a hint of agriculture or even the desert that this all rose from. It's all the same stores that you see all across this country, but somehow they have a different aura: you need to go in, you need to have what everyone else has and maybe first.

Family prevails and I am very happy to stay with them. Simone and Dylan are delightful children and they are keeping me very active. Soon I will drive north and start hitting the landscape that I am more attuned to. Maybe even Santa Barbara will be looking better.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

By the Time I Get To Phoenix

..... I will have driven over 3,000 miles and taken 450 photos
..... I will have seen the hills of Appalachia, met the premier guitar builder in the land (Wayne Henderson) and visited the Carter Family Fold and a great-grandson of Maybelle Carter
..... I will have been to both the Bluebird Cafe and the Ryman Theater, seen the Grand Ol Opry and been in a swimsuit photo shoot at Nashville's Art Crawl in the Arcade AND toured Cheekwood Botanical Gardens during a Chihuly glass exhibit
.... I will have driven through the countryside of Tennessee on a sunny 4th of July Sunday and then landed in downtown Memphis for a whirlwind three days of music - both in museums and in the clubs - and met some very fine, warm people on Beale Street
..... I will have finally seen Fayetteville, Arkansas, a town that has interested me for many years, and the surrounding area in the Boston Mountains, which is very reminiscent of the Blue Ridge
.... I will have watched the hills recede and the plains approach in eastern Oklahoma, visited Woody Guthrie's hometown and been forced off the road in Oklahoma City by torrential rainstorms. That was good. I discovered the Red Cup, an amazing coffee shop with some great, old geezers sitting on the porch.
.... I will have set my eyes on the wide open spaces with grass and cattle and clouds forever in a blue sky and had the best BBQ ever in Amarillo, Texas
..... I will have been moved to tears by the landscapes that inspired Georgia O'Keefe and actually walked by her home plus visited friends who have built a paradise outside of Santa Fe
.... I will have been pulled off of the interstate once again by rain at Flagstaff, Arizona and found the most beautiful roadhouse with a dance floor and stage that makes me want to form a band right now!
..... Still in Flagstaff I met a young girl in line at a very new age coffee house who goes to St John's College in Annapolis and sails and then sat down next to a woman who is going to visit her sister in Laguna Niguel (my destination of sorts with my sister, where my nephew lives). OK. The second woman had just been to a metaphysical conference on earth's energies in Sedona and she has a massage business in Kawai. It was what you would call "trippy."
..... It's 4:30 Mountain Time and I have a 2-hour drive to Nancy's in Phoenix. Had to stay here in Flagstaff to watch the end of the World Cup..... wow.