The heading for this post was going to be July 4–hence the picture of me about to attack the elaborate buffet table at Michael’s party. The days got away though, as they’ve been doing ever since I’ve been in California. It was probably a good idea to start my US visit in Port Angeles where the pace is a bit slower–picking nettles and walking the goats with Chris and Suzanne, for instance–before gradually heading south. Even though I’ve driven in California for years, the need to take three or more separate multi-lane freeways to reach a destination 30 minutes away took a bit of getting used to. Actually, it didn’t take too long; now I’m zooming along at 80 mph again, burning my $4.15 a gallon fuel (cheap compared to France though) listening to traffic alerts on KNX interspersed with ads for SitnSleep. Last night, I fell asleep with Larry’s voice in my ear, ‘. . .or your mattress is freeeeeee.’ If you don’t live in Southern CA and have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky.
July 4 in France is, not surprisingly, no big deal even though a French dentist made George Washington’s teeth and the French helped defeat the British so that America could win its independence (I learned that on KNX between a news flash about this year’s hot-dog eating champion (60 I think, then he proposed to his girl-friend. Amazingly, she accepted) a car chase in the San Fernando Valley and Larry’s mattress pitch. But, back to France where last year on July 4 Julie, one of two Americans in the village, and I decided we would celebrate. I made potato salad, she cooked sausages and we drove to the beach where we consumed our food, drank some wine and she flicked her Bic cigarette lighter, our version of fireworks.
This year, while on the freeway (six lanes, two connections) going to the party in Belmont Shore, I decided that I really, really needed a pair of sandals. Still wearing my French hat, so to speak, I assumed that nothing would be open. . . but wait, on KNX, an ad for a Fouth of July sale. (In France everything is an occasion for a community repas or fete, in the States what’s a celebration without a once in a lifetime blowout, everything in the store 95% off special clearance, buy one get more than you’ll ever use in a lifetime sale?) The shopping center parking lot was full. I got my sandals–40% off.
So, a good July 4–Michael pulled out all the stops, including a cotton candy (or as the Brits, I’m still one of them, kind of) say, candy-floss, machine. Michael couldn’t resist instructing Justin on the exact way to create the perfect cone of spun sugar. Afterwards, a block party in Orange–kids riding bikes, flags fluttering from the handlebars, hamburgers on the grill, music playing. Later, fireworks bursting over the Queen Mary. Perhaps a little ironic?
California retrospective . . .
I’ve been in California for about a month and it’s been a whirlwind of activity. From Casa Fishermeyer in Walnut Creek, see picture below of the newest household resident employed to keep birds from plundering Kit’s fruit trees. . . . .
. . . to San Jose where I found the way to Patty and Paddy’s residence and Paddy whipped up a plate of appetisers which we washed down with champagne and reminisced about Spain where we all first met– a wedding in Valencia to which we’d all been invited. Both P&P were along for the ride while I drove Joe crazy in my search for authentic paella. We finally found it in a workman’s cafe next to a rice field. P&P are on my list of visitors to France next year, as are the Fishermeyers. (Book soon, it’s filling up.)
My attempt at humour backfired a bit when, after posing for a picture in Patty’s friend Emilio’s Lamborghini, I posted on Facebook that I’d finally sold my book and with the huge advance bought a new car. Received so many congratulatory notes that I finally had to explain that it was a joke. Nice car, not mine though, still haven’t sold the book . . .
Still in the San Jose area, but felt as though I was back in France when I visited another friend in her hillside home near Palo Alto. Jan rides horses. It looks like an enjoyable thing to do and her horses are impressive. But I’m so allergic that I couldn’t even get close enough to photograph them . . . and they also scare me a bit.
Heading on south to Long Beach, I spent a great couple nights on the peninsula (thanks for the use of your apartment, Kellie) and Michael gave me a tour of his kitchen cabinets which include every appliance known to man including an icecream maker that plays a selection of tunes. Michael also has dishes for every holiday on the calendar. He probably acquired some at a 90% off, opportunity of a lifetime, everything in the store must go sale. I’ll have to ask whether he got his mattress from Larry.
The last time my friend Carol and I were on the waters of Alamitos Bay together we were in our 20’s and 30’s. She did useful things like raise sails and whatever else people do on sailboats. I mostly went along for the ride. History repeated itself when I went along for the ride as Carol and members of the Los Angeles Pink Dragons–all breast cancer survivors–did a very strenuous practice session around the bay. They’re training, twice a week, for the Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival in July and the October International Breast Cancer Survivor Dragon Boat Festival in Sarasota, Florida. Apart from the workout and obvious camaraderie, dragon boat racing has been clinically proven to be of benefit to breast cancer survivors because of the strenuous upper body and cardiac activity. From where I sat at the back of the boat, trailing my fingers in the water while the team members dipped their paddles, it also looked like a lot of fun.
Now Carol has a daughter, Christy, somewhere around the age we were then, who is a big cheese (pun intended) at Whole Foods–she recently was received accreditation as a fromagiere, I don’t think that’s really the right word, but she knows a lot about all different kinds of cheeses and I enjoyed talking to her and sampling the merchandise.
On the subject of food, Mexican specifically, the thing I missed most in France but have made up for since I’ve been back. Ate something fabulous at Taco Bell–a soft tortilla wrapped around a crispy tortilla, filled with all sorts of deliciousness; my friends Colleen and Rick treated me to green corn tamales at El Cholo–the original in downtown Los Angeles dates back to the 1920’s and green corn tamales have been on the menus since then–and carnitas tacos at Super Mex in Long Beach, probably my favorite Mexican restaurant of all.
Much more to say, but I need to walk off my last meal before I hit the freeways.