Thursday, May 19, 2016

California 2

We went to Sacramento primarily to see my dad, but our trip gave us a couple of other delightful opportunities in addition. We spent an afternoon with our friends Lonnie and Rocky, whom we hadn’t seen in far too long. It felt just like home to be back together with them. Lonnie and I have been lifelong friends, and it’s always special to spend time with her because we have so much in common. I wasn’t sure about commonalities with our other Sacramento visit. I wanted to see Walter Borland, whom I knew in elementary school. He and I didn’t get along so well in the first few years, mostly because he was cool and I was not. He had Levi’s jeans, and teased me about my Billy the Kid jeans. My family couldn’t afford Levi’s.

I had thought about Walter without warning one morning a couple of months prior. It seemed to me that we’d just begun to learn to get along about the time we graduated sixth grade, and I wondered whatever happened to him. I didn’t have a lot of trouble finding him on Facebook, and he seems to be quite the man about town in Sacramento now. He’s friendly and has maintained strong connections with lots of old friends. He jumped at the opportunity to get together, and volunteered to drive wherever necessary to meet me. We had breakfast together and continued to chat for a couple of hours. I really like him now.

We spent most of the rest of our time in California with Nika and Tim, though we managed to see my cousin Susan one of those evenings too. Nika still works in the Asian Museum, so she got us free entry for a day of art there and an evening of art at the De Young Museum. I didn’t know anything about the Asian Museum until Nika started working there, and I like it a lot now. They always have interesting exhibits, and I like to see what’s new every time we’re in town.

Finally, for our last weekend in California, Nika and Tim took us to a delightful inn in Mendocino. I barely knew this beautiful town on the north coast of the State, and Alla had never been there. By the time we left, she was so enthralled that she took with her a brochure from a house we saw for sale. I certainly would enjoy living in Mendocino, but especially if it weren’t so remote. I suppose it feels so special because it’s so hard to reach. I don’t think there are any easy ways to get there unless you own your own plane.

We picnicked, strolled the streets and ate together. We also took a couple of nature walks out to more remote areas, including a place called Glass Beach, which was once a garbage dump. The organic garbage has rotted away, no doubt a bunch of stuff floated away, and now we’re left with a beach paved with worn pellets of broken glass. It’s very pretty.

Overall, we had a great time in California and we left a bunch of people unseen and desires unfulfilled. We’ve already booked a return visit when the Taiwan exhibit opens up at the Asian Museum and I’m diligently looking for a way to make sense of a move to California while Alla is still excited about it. I’d love to be closer to family.

Glass Beach

Friday, May 13, 2016

California 1

As soon as we got back to Boston, we left town again. We were eager to see family in California, and only waited a few days to move on. We have plenty of people to see there, and barely got started this time, so I guess we’ll have to go back.

On this trip, we started out in Woodside, spending a weekend with John and Meredith. It’s hard to explain who they are to me, but Johnny often feels like the son I never had. As a huge added bonus, he married Meredith. It’s no surprise, then, that their son James is great too. We always like seeing them, and each visit feels like “the best.” We didn’t do much. We didn’t have to. We cooked a little. We hiked a little more. Johnny and I went to the hardware store, where I was pleased to learn that I could have bought a package of live bugs if I needed any. California is a wonderful place.

From 2016-04 To USA
We hit California at the exact right moment, too. The drought is finally more or less over, and the hills are all green. They’ll dry out and turn “golden” very soon, but while we were there, we saw green vistas everywhere. Alla reveled in the biodiversity. We took a wonderful little hike in the hills above Woodside. Sometimes James walked too, but mostly he rode happily in a backpack. He’s a great companion, with a healthy respect for the pleasures of mud.

Johnny’s sister Susie came over with her husband and kids on Sunday afternoon. I haven’t seen them often enough lately, so I was very happy that they could join the party. Their second son, Grant, is almost exactly the same age as James, but he’s bigger. They’re both very big boys. Maybe they’ll grow up to be a rowing doubles team. They’ll sure have the build for it.

On Monday we picked up a rental car, which was a whole story unto itself, and drove down to Hollister to see my cousin Nants, her husband Tim and their daughter Ila. Ila’s been living far from home for a long time, and I really enjoyed seeing her again. She’s always been thoughtful and frequently wise, so it’s fun to be around her. To be truthful, it’s great to be around all of them. Nants stayed home from work and made a bunch of individual cheese souffl├ęs for lunch. And an apricot pie with apricots from their trees. Oh my, did we eat well, almost as well as we enjoyed their hospitality and conversation.

We hated to leave, but we still hadn’t seen our own daughter. Well, she’s really Alla’s daughter, but she’s nice about letting me claim her. We were so eager, we got to San Francisco a little bit early and had to spring Nika from work before she planned to go. Tough luck, Nika! As usual, San Francisco’s yards and parks are filled with flowers, so we went for a walk before dinner. Nika and Tim live right between San Francisco’s two largest parklands, so we always have someplace pleasant to walk. Alla and I like the ethnic grocery stores in the area too. We’d be with Nika and Tim for almost a whole week, so we had plenty of time to explore. I’ll tell you more about it later, when I also tell you about our bonus trips to Sacramento and Mendocino.