Monday, June 23, 2014


Friday morning was a brilliant, sun-filled morning--but hey, we're in southern California, so what else should we expect, right?  So we went for a good long walk through the neighborhoods surrounding the RV park, enjoying the beautiful flowers and plants in the yards.  It's always so much fun to see how the plant life out here differs from what we have typically in Georgia.  Some flowers are similar, but lots of things are indigenous to this area, and it's so interesting to see.  Saw several varieties of fruit trees, orange, lime, persimmon, as well as the vibrant colors of bougainvillea, and a few that we couldn't specifically identify.

There's a school right across the street from the RV park and Friday was apparently the last day of school, and lots of classes were having parties out on the playground, with lots of balloons, food and games.  The air was filled with the sound of laughing children, so excited over the beginning of summer--loved seeing the smiles on these little faces as their parents came to pick them up, hugs for the teachers, goodbye waves to little friends--a happy day for them!

When we got back to the RV park we walked around the campground with Sophie, meeting some other folks and chatting about where folks were from, where we all were heading next, and Sophie met a few new canine buddies.  Always enjoy doing that.

Then we packed up our clothes for our week with our college friends and came out to Bob and Linda's house.  Linda is a school teacher, and her school had already finished; Bob is a long time faculty member at Cal State Fullerton and is now leading an effort to establish a new model for funding higher education in the California system, so he was still at the university, feverishly working to finish up a huge grant proposal for the model.  How is it that so often when one is trying to get away for vacation, there's a big project that's right down to the wire??  Remember so well so many vacations when I would have to take some time away from the family to do some work along the way--the way of the world, I guess.  Anyway, fortunately Bob was able to get away later that day, and we went to a lovely Thai restaurant for dinner that evening.  Bob and Linda had thoughtfully found a place that had several vegan options on the menu and we loved it!  As we walked into the restaurant, the hostess greeted us warmly, asking if this were our first time there--and then picked up this huge mallet, with a polished wooden handle and a big, tufted fabric ball on the end, decorated with gold piping and intricate embroidery, and struck this great big gong, sending out a deep, vibrating, but mellow sound--pretty neat!  The dinner was super, with deliciously different tastes, and, of course like most Thai restaurants, a beautiful presentation.  Lots of intricately carved garnishes, like a radish made to look like a rose!  Just a lovely way to start the week.

Saturday morning we headed into LA to visit Andy and Claire, and to meet their 3 month old baby, Cyrus.  Andy and his family had lived 2 doors down from us in Atlanta; his mom and Trisha were best friends and his dad and I were law partners.  He and our middle son, Todd, were best buds, and he and his two brothers were often at our house.  Tragically, his mom, Jean, lost her battle to cancer when she was just 38, and Trisha was one the leaders of the neighborhood effort to provide support to her and the family through her struggle with this disease, and this experience with care giving proved a big impetus for her going on to seminary.  Just a few years ago, their dad, Bob, was struck down by leukemia, so it's been a tough road for the boys, but their closeness and mutual support is a beautiful testament to the lessons of love they learned from their too short time with their parents.

Andy is now a lawyer in LA, his younger brother, James, is a writer in Chicago, and older brother, David, is a Presbyterian minister in Chicago.  Longtime blog readers may remember that we visited David and his family last year--their son, Matt, was so enamored with the RV that he spent the night in the RV with us while we were parked in their driveway.  David had performed the marriage for both of his brothers, which was so touching.  Andy and Claire had gotten married at this spectacular place out here, in a garden setting, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It was just stunningly beautiful and so much fun.  So now it was so exciting to meet the newest member of their family.  Cyrus was a really big baby when he was born--nearly 12 pounds, and 24 inches long!  Claire said that the measuring tape they had in the hospital nursery was exactly 24 inches long, and at first they thought they would have to get another tape!  Anyway, it was so much fun to meet him and to see them.  They have a lovely home in the Los Feliz area of LA, within walking distance of Griffith Park, which leads up to the famous observatory.  They've been in it for about a year, and Andy said they were really excited to find it, as the schools in the area are very good, and lots of families with young kids.  Claire has found a young mothers group--it's just so wonderful to watch the children of your contemporaries grow up, find their careers, find their life partners and begin new families.  And these three boys have been so special to us for all these years.    As we were visiting, we were commenting on how Cyrus looked so much like both of them, with Claire's beautiful eyes and Andy's facial features.  That brought back memories of when our youngest, Jeremy, was born, and Andy was 4. Andy was at our house one day shortly after Jeremy had come home and some friends were over to see him, commenting on how much Jeremy looked liked me.  Andy piped up with "He doesn't look like Todd's daddy, 'cause he don't got no beard!"  Hilarious!!  Trisha had knitted a beautiful green hooded sweater for Cyrus--knowing how big this little fella was, she had to guess on the size, and knowing that it would be summer when we got here, she chose a 24 month old size.  Good decision, as Cyrus is already almost 20 pounds at 3 months, and Claire said he's already outgrown 6 month sizes.  He is such a beautiful baby and just came to each of us so readily, sitting up, holding his head up and taking it all in with his bright little eyes.

It turned out to be quite convenient, too, that Andy and Claire live in Los Feliz, since my older brother, Walt, and his husband, Timo, live in the same neighborhood, just about 10 minutes away. So we met them for lunch, and had a good visit, as well as a remarkable, and imminently frustrating, "LA experience."  Parking is at a premium near their apartment, and as we were circling the block looking for a space, just up ahead on our side, I noticed a car pulling out of a space.  So I put on my blinker, and pulled up just past the spot, preparing to back into it.  Well, when I pulled up, a car came up behind us and zipped forward into the space.  The driver could not get all the way in since I was there, but just pulled in to wait until I moved.  We couldn't believe it--the audacity of it, but the driver just looked like this was fair game--I was so mad, I just decided to wait until she decided to move, but she obviously had the same thought.  So here we sat, standoff.  Briefly thought about getting out to state my case for being there first, but never sure who might just decide to pull out their pistol, so thought better of that.  Fortunately, after a few minutes, another car pulled out of a space on the other side of the street and I was able to get to it before another car came along--all in a typical LA day, I guess!

By the time we made it back out to Bob and Linda's house in Anaheim, Bill and Mary, who live in New Bern, NC (longtime readers may recall our visit with them last year, near Halloween, when we enjoyed the New Bern annual Ghost Walk), had arrived.  Trisha, Bill and I had all met 50 years ago as college freshmen, and Bob came to our college a year later.  We became fast friends and have remained close through the years.  Bob married his high school sweetheart, Linda, and Mary joined the group when she and Bill married 34 years ago.  So last year when we were out here, we all decided that this was an appropriate reunion year, to celebrate half a century of friendship.  Saturday evening we had a lovely dinner in their back yard patio, under their lights strung over the table--always makes me think we are in Tuscany when we sit out here enjoying one of Linda's incredible dinners.  She comes from an Italian heritage, so you really do feel the atmosphere here, with her cooking.  As it always is when the 6 of us get together, it's like we've never been apart, no matter how long it may have been since we've seen each other--just such good friends, and we've all shared so many events in our lives, the good, the sad, the difficult, the joyous--true friendship that's passed the test of time.

Sunday we took a long walk together in this lovely park near their house--a beautiful park, with lots of play equipment for little kids, volleyball courts, pavilions you can reserve, and the Santa Ana River running along the edge of the park.  Lots of folks were out, grilling, having fun, just a festive Sunday in the park.  In the afternoon we played cards and enjoyed another spectacular dinner, a Tuscan beef salad for the carnivores, and the salad sans beef for Trisha and me--lovely grilled eggplant, asparagus, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, just sumptuous.  This morning we're off to Paso Robles to tour the wine country there for several days, where Bob and Linda tell us there are many fabulous restaurants--but all of us agreed that we are unlikely to find any meal any better than we had last night!  So I wanted to try to get this post up before we head out, so here are a few pics:

Shots from our walk through the neighborhoods


 Thought this house was quite interesting--this little display of dolls . . .

 and a miniature bar!
 and an interesting treatment of this plant, colloquially called a mother-in-law's tongue, since it's long and sharp!--with eggs stuck on the ends!  pretty funny, I thought
 Liked the way they pruned these variations of Leland cypress

 Not sure what these are, but the blossoms look a big like bittersweet

 Lime tree
 Beautiful front door, reminded us of Celtic knots

Here we are with Bob and Linda

 Dinner at Red Thai Room, Friday evening--spring rolls with carved radish garnish
 Yellow tofu curry, with black rice topped with a fluted carrot!

 Mary and Bill arrive on Saturday!
 Bill and Trisha
 Mary and Linda
 The three musketeers
 Bob and Linda

 Red lentil stew for dinner, on the patio

 Cyrus' sweater, another original by Trisha!
 Trisha's not too happy to get her hands on Cyrus!

Outside Sunday evening, on the patin of Chez Linda's Kitchen!

 Tuscan beef salad

 Tuscan beef salad for vegans!
 Fresh olallieberry pie--yum yum!!  Apparently there is only a brief window of a couple of weeks in June when you can get olallieberries, what a treat.  Had never heard of them, but Linda says they are a cross between blackberry and loganberry.


  1. I believe I could stick with the vegan diet if I had Linda as my personal chef! Have fun you guys! Mary Lou

  2. Linda is indeed a wonderful cook! We're having a blast in Paso Robles, and have eaten at some fabulous restaurants--hope to get some posts up about it soon.

  3. Wonderful................

    Read a couple of times and love the pictures.