Saturday, November 25, 2006

From the West to the East and Back Again

After a frustrating attempt to set up a flickr account (which is apparently conflicting with a yahoo account I already have set up) I will have to continue to post photos here without a link to my flickr set.

However, my husband notes our boomerang trip from west to east and back with a link to HIS flickr set here.

The trip to Myrtle Beach was excellent. We flew Delta and all of the flights were on time and fairly comfortable.
Mom hooked us up with a cozy Ocean Villa in the travel park where they have the primo 3rd RV spot from the beach. Each spot comes with an open cabana and picknick table made from wood that has aged to a nice driftwood color. They enclosed their cabana in plastic sheating and made it comfy with quilts and coverings warmed by a toasty heater. The perfect dining room to feast on the Frogmore Stew Mom made. Pre feast we visited over wine and football, post feast with pumpkin and apple pie and eggnog.
Will and I took advantage of our proximity to the sea and walked the beach to the north and south. Collected seashells, saw a jellyfished washed up on the sand, lots of birds; grackles, gulls, piping plovers (which are endangered), pelicans and a great blue heron in flight. The sea was beautiful and relaxing and the walk felt good. The air smelled clean and the water clear and sparkly.Mom and Lorne and thier two cats, Red and Pamela, have been on the road fulltime for about two years. They've now decided to settle down there in Myrtle Beach and forego the road. I (selfishly) wish they had found a place closer to the west coast, but hey, wherever they're happy. Really, I might even go as far as to say it was a breeze getting there, even during the holiday. And I can certainly see the attraction.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Getting Ready to Travel

With an early morning flight to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Wednesday I'm packing super light. Just gonna fit it all in my backpack to carry on. I'll be wearing slip on shoes so I can easily slip them off at the security check, toss them in the bin with my 3-1-1 baggie of appropriately sized liquids, lay the backpack on the conveyer, and off I go. I'm looking forward to the travel. I've been to Africa, twice, but I've never been to the east coast.

It's going to be a quick trip, but I get to spend Thanksgiving with my Mom and Lorne on Myrtle Beach.
I believe we'll be waking to the sound of the surf on Thanksgiving day as they've reserved us an Ocean Villa. And Mom's going non-turkey traditional with a Southern Seafood Boil.

It's all gone non-traditional since my Grandpa passed away and Grandma moved to Montana. I had been traveling home to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Northern California for 20 years, since I moved to Los Angeles in 1986. It was always such a great escape for me. Their house in Ono was particularly wonderful. Wild turkeys flying into the yard, the view across the valley, Grandpa pouring wine
, Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie. Ultra traditional, Turkey with all the trimmings, and my family all there together.

It's different now. But even if we're not geographically all together, we certainly are in heart and spirit. I'm married now. And Will is family too. And he's wonderful for sharing this time with me and my family. He understands how important they all are to me. So, I can drag him across the country to spend one day, Thanksgiving day, with my Mom and Lorne.

This time of year is always very poignant for me. This is the time of year when I see my family, not Christmas. For me it's not about gift-giving, because they are my gifts. It's a time of gathering, of coming home, of giving thanks. Here's to looking forward, to family, no matter where they are.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Around the House

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and feeling tired. I thought a cup of coffee would get me going but after breakfast I went to the sofa and with HGTV on, fell asleep. After a few naps and my baby going to get me some orange juice and make us lunch I got up off the sofa and with my camera decided to get some photos of Ranger. She's growing so fast and I often think about the pups we brought home from Monument Valley back in July.Our animals have the tendency to follow me around the house and with Shadow, Ranger and Pepper in tow we went in to the library where my husband was quietly on his computer with the football game on and we proceeded to roust about with squeaky balls, barking, and mussing up the rugs. He didn't want anything to do with us at all. After fully invading his space we (me, Pepper, Shadow and Ranger) adjourned to the kitchen to get a nibble and sprawl around a bit.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tamale Fest 2006

We decided to hit the Tamale Festival at MacArthur Park today. Being only a couple of miles from home we also decided to walk there. We headed over to Benton, crossing over the Hollywood Freeway and alternately admired and scoffed at the state of the some of the once beautiful homes and buildings along the way. Once we hit the wide tree lined boulevard of Rampart, with it's sidewalks that comfortably fit two (or more) across, it was a lovely walk and easy to imagine it's glory days. I use to rent and apartment at Nob Hill Towers on OceanView Avenue at the top of the hill at Carondolet. I had a corner apartment, a bank of windows that wrapped around the unit, high ceilings and a view of the park.That's it to the right of the fountain through the palm trees.As we approached the Park Plaza Hotel and were taking photos of it the guard opens the front door and is talking to Will. The next thing I know he's motioning me over and we're inside the lobby with its beautiful ornate chandelier hanging from a painted ceiling facing a grand staircase. I'm shooting away and then the guard leads us into the ball room to the left. I hear him say something to Will about a tour of the ballrooms. There are four. Two on the lobby level and two on the second floor. We wind through huge spaces with towering ceilings and every surface is gleaming. All light fixtures are switched on and shining bright.
It's amazing, and Omar let's us snap away and wander the rooms and halls peaking around corners and into secret compartments behind the paneling.From there we skirt the park, cross Wilshire and head over to 7th Street for the Tamale Festival. We try four tamale vendors and I liked Corn Maiden's the best. They had a really good spicy red sauce. After walking around the park for a bit we then headed back in to the festival for some funnel cake and Dolce de Leche coffee from the coffee bar at Mama's Hot Tamales . Back home before 4:00 it was a nice 5 mile walk and a perfectly wonderful afternoon.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Universe

We spent the afternoon wandering the universe under the dome on the hill named for its donor and visionary Col. Griffith J. Griffith. From top deck to its depths and everywhere in between it looks beautiful after undergoing a 4-year $93 million renovation. And the old parts are the best parts; the pendulum, interactive displays and plenty of eye-pieces to look through and buttons to push. I haven't been inside since I was a kid and I'd forgotten about the pendulum. Funny, 'cause everyone says this, but I remembered it being bigger. Oh, and I weigh 23 pounds on the moon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I Sent a Letter to Heaven

It's been a week chock full of activities. We hosted a pumpkin carving party at our house. The house was very warm and inviting and filled with our friends. Manny was the first to arrive and although he left early to get some much needed rest and relaxation, I'm so glad he took the time to come over and visit with us. Steve and Alice are wonderful biking friends of Will's; and Florie and Billy came with the young'un, enchanting Isabella; along with dear, thoughtful Rachel and Eric.

It was a lovely evening. We drank Spanish wines which went well with the treo of delish tamales I picked up from Mama's Hot tamales and my homemade Pumpkin Soup. We wrapped up the evening with Pumpkin Cake topped by Honey and Spice Buttercream icing and coffee.

Monday night we drove through Carol Avenue because we were (mis)informed that the old Victorian homes got done up big and scary for Halloween. We were disappointed in seeing they were few and far between. Not much of an impact at all.

But that was followed by a surprisingly good dinner at Leila Thai. I love the names of their dishes. They're called things like Magic Green Beans, Wisdom of Life Panang and Bewitching Yellow Curry.
Then we headed up into Griffith Park to Travel Town for a spooky Ghost Train ride and a surprising "celebrity" sighting. Who should we be winding around the line with but Puck! You know. Puck. From MTVs Real World San Francisco. Will didn't hate him and I think had some appreciation for Puck with his "I am who I am and f*** anyone who has a problem with it" attitude. But I couldn't stand him. He was obnoxious, rude, mean, shallow and horribly bad hygiene and such and unbelievably unattractive character. He was also there in line with with an infant, 10:00 pm on a chilly night and the infant was wrapped in a blanket with nothing covering his head, a bare foot dangling from under the blanket, and the nanny searching the ground for a lost little blue sock. Then when Puck took his place on the miniature train he handed his baby over the ticket taker. Pfft.

We were boarded on the next mini train and I was thankful that we weren't on the same train as him. Our train ride was fun and the ride was a good length of time winding around the lot and along the hillside, through a fog filled tunnel and a plane wreck. Ghosts were circling out in a field and ghouls and gobblins were popping up all along the way. It was really fun.
Tuesday night was Halloween and with the house all spooked out for the little trick or treaters, we sat on the front porch and drank Coronas and ate Halloween candy for dinner.
On Thursday we went to Olvera Street for the Dia de los Muertos procession and to have dinner at our fav place, El Paseo. We followed that up with a walk through the cobbled street, out to the plaza where we watched the Calveras dancing, and then over to an exhibit inside Pico House. The alters there were very pretty, interesting and touching. As we were getting ready to head out there was a big trunk filled with scrolls of colored paper tied with ribbon. The propped open trunk lid had written on it "Mailbox to Heaven" and next to it was a cafe table and two chairs along with slips of colored paper, pencils and ribbon. All were invited to write their own letters to a loved one who had passed on. And I told Will I wanted to write a letter.

The woman who designed the alter pointed out the photo on top which was of her Grandmother, the one below it which was of her Mother and in the photo with her Mother was her as a little girl.

I sat down and wrote a letter to Grandpa, signed it with my typical kisses and hugs XXOO, rolled it up and tied it with a ribbon, and placed it on the top of all the other rolled up letters to loved ones.
The trunk was brimming and even so, when I turned back, I could pick my letter to Grandpa out of all the others. In my thoughts I gave him a big hug, as I always do when I think of him. And with my eyes brimming held my husband's hand as we walked away. Out in to the cool evening air along the cobbled streets of Olvera we ventured home.