Sunday, February 12, 2012

Long Time Gone

Oh my, it's been longer than I thought since I posted anything here. The winter break was a much-needed relief and Christmas was very nice. In early January we spent a week in northern California, first a couple of days in Sonoma and then on to visit kids and grandkids in Mendocino. Our friend who lives in Sonoma took us to Petaluma for an afternoon - I hadn't been there in decades, literally, so the beautiful old town was new to me, and I don't think Joe had ever been there before. My earlier visit had been part of a move-back-to-the-land-and-raise-poultry-organically fantasy that never materialized; Petaluma was (and maybe still is) noted for that. Visiting factory farms with huge buildings full of miserable, traumatized battery hens in tiny cages was a horror I still remember, though I loved finding this old sign on an even older wall.
 There's also a delightful yarn store in the old downtown, filled with wonderful goods and a friendly, helpful staff. And just up the street a bit is Copperfield's Books, an equally wonderful place!
 At what seems to be the main intersection in downtown (at least as we came in, from the east) is the Seed Bank, a required stop for any gardener. Note the word "heirloom" in the window. The building was originally a bank and now it's a treasure trove of seeds, things I usually have to mail-order since they're not likely to be found at Home Depot or Lowe's, or even smaller local nurseries. This time I got a couple of the heirloom European winter squashes we love, Marina di Chioggia and Muscat de Provence. And the nasturtiums I planted from seed I bought there are coming up nicely to fill in some bare spots around the cannas and in the part-herb, part-flower bed at the back of the west side of the back yard.
 This is what it's like inside, a gardener's delight.
 Finally, I just had to take this picture of what I think is a resale clothing shop. Oddly enough, I didn't go in, perhaps because we'd just had fish and chips with some pretty high-octane microbrew at Maguire's pub, a place I highly recommend, along with Pliny the Younger, a delicious double IPA from the Russian River Brewing Company with an astounding 10.50% alcohol level - I only had one, but it sneaks up on you.
The weather was gorgeous everywhere, blue skies and sunshine. We drove across from the 101 through Anderson Valley, through redwoods that made me homesick for Humboldt County, where we lived before moving to Tucson.

And then we came out of the woods, into the sunlight, and there was the ocean, along with a state park (that was open, fortunately, in spite of budget cuts, and it had restrooms).
We turned north and drove through Mendocino to Fort Bragg, just another 7 miles, where we checked in to the Colombi Motel. I'd found it on the internet and we just had to try it, because of its reasonable prices, convenient location, the independence it offered (all units have full kitchens), and the positive reviews on travel websites. Here's the kitchen:
 and here's the outside, with our little red rented Ford Focus in the carport (we really liked that car).
Not a fancy place but very comfortable. It was built in 1951 by the Colombi family, who still own and operate it, as well as the little corner market across the street and the laundromat next door. It's off the "main drag" and very quiet (the carports in between the units help with that as well). More like a little apartment than a motel unit, and three nights cost what one night in the big fancy motels-with-a-view would have - and it was a three block walk to the beach - I can do that.
      Then we called the kids and went over to their place where we had dinner and a lovely evening. Next day we went to Glass Beach, at the north end of Fort Bragg, a great place to pick up beach glass, explore tide pools, and just generally climb around on the rocks and walk on the sandy beach and hang out with people we love and don't see often enough. Here's our grandson, son, Joe, and Bentley the dog,
 and here's our only granddaughter, the intrepid naturalist.
 Looking out to sea, it's obvious how the beach glass gets tumbled and polished.
But some of the most interesting views were close up, like this anemone waiting for the tide to come in and bring dinner (look at all the bits of rock and other natural debris caught on its surface)
and these colonies of mussels and some other shellfish, of which there were many on the rocks above the tide pools.
We collected somewhat less glass than on earlier visits but that was all right. The main point of going is to be there, not just to accumulate more stuff. And every time we go, it seems new; we notice things we hadn't paid attention to before. Starfish clinging to the rocks,
 patterns left in the sand by the outgoing tide,
 one piece of driftwood standing sentinel,
 the color of rock and sand and ice plant as the sun begins to set.
 Screen out the buildings in the distance and the noise of traffic a quarter mile away (the sound of the waves makes that easier), and it could be a hundred and fifty years ago.

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