Weekend in Mendocino

The sun, moon, and earth are aligned only at the new moon or the full moon. When this happens in combination with the earth’s closest approach to the sun (winter) the gravitational effects of all these bodies are combined and produce king tides. The high tide is above normal levels, and the low tide as low as it gets. This year there are two king tides in California, December and January.

We made plans to go to Mendocino during the January king tide to do some beachcombing. We love Mendocino and were happy to have a reason to visit. Our plan was to drive down on Friday, stop to walk on the beach before low tide in the late afternoon, then continue on to our B&B. The next day we’d return to the beach in the afternoon, because by low tide at 5:45 pm, the sun would be down and the sky losing light. It’s difficult to beachcomb in the dark. Some London mudlarks use headlamps and go out in the dark, but it’s not for me.

We drove south from Eureka, watching the mist rise from pockets in the hills. In Ft. Bragg we had lunch at Mayan Fusion, cochinito pibil, Mayan roast pork, served shredded with black beans and home-made corn tortillas and spicy salsa. I haven’t had home-made tortillas in ages, and they are so much better than anything you can buy at the store. It was the perfect lunch.

We were ready for beach combing and headed to the parking lot at Glass Beach then walked south. We could see people collecting beach glass all along the shore, but there are no stairs to the beach (about 50 ft below), and we had to find a place we could manage the climb down.

Though the tourist site is Glass Beach, there is a lot of beach glass along the rocky shore. The extra low king tide made it possible to see a bit more of the beach than usual. I focused on finding nicely frosted and fully rounded pieces of glass that can be used in my jewelry projects. Jonathan did the same. He has a mesh scoop on the end of an adjustable stick that lets him pick things up without having to bend. At the end our our outing, I’m sure I was more sore from crouching down and leaning over to pick pieces up than he was from scooping.

We left the beach around sunset and went to our hotel. For a short stay like this one, we didn’t get an Airbnb, but stayed at the Seagull Inn Bed and Breakfast. It’s right in Mendocino, which is a tiny town, and that meant we could walk everywhere. We emptied out our pockets and looked at our finds.

We went to dinner at Luna Trattoria, just around the corner, and had a delicious appetizer of polenta and mushrooms. We each had pasta as our main dish, mine with clams and Jonathan’s with sausage. The service was slow, but the food was good. We ended by sharing a tiramisu, a very good example of the genre.

On our short walk home, we realized that Mendocino has very few street lights and the sky was darker than we’ve seen in quite a while. The night was cold and clear and the sky was breathtaking, bright constellations everywhere, and thousands of stars. Orion was high in the sky, and we could see its stars clearly, down to the knife hanging from Orion’s belt. We stood and stared, enjoying the stars in the dark heavens.

Saturday morning after breakfast, fresh fruit yogurt parfait with home made granola, and excellent coffee, roasted in (relatively) nearby Santa Rosa, we went down to the local beach at Big River, on the south side of Mendocino. There’s a lot of driftwood on this broad beach at the river mouth. Back up the stairs, we walked a section of the shore to watch the waves. It was a sunny, clear day, absolutely beautiful. We stopped for lunch at Flow. It took a while to get seated, but the food was excellent and the service was good. I had a fried green tomato salad with a soft boiled egg on top. Jonathan had Korean tacos. It set us up for the afternoon of beachcombing.

We got back to the beach in Ft. Bragg after 3 pm, and walked a bit further south than the previous day. There was a broader range of colors in this section, but the pieces were quite small. We picked up less than on the previous day, though I now have a good quantity of material for making jewelry.

Once again, there were people collecting glass in every nook and cranny of the beach. We made our way down the steep slope, and stopped to talk to a mother and daughter who were about to leave. They live near the beach and come down to beach comb regularly. They didn’t seem to have any objection to people collecting, as that was something they enjoy themselves.

There is controversy over whether people should collect beach glass from the area around Glass Beach. We chatted with a man who calls himself Retired Ranger Rick. He answers questions about the glass deposit that has made Ft. Bragg famous, and answered one long-standing question of ours. Why aren’t there more places like Glass Beach, with a thick layer of waterworn glass? People say Glass Beach is where the city dump used to be, right along the beach, but other places had similar dumps, yet there are only one or two other “glass beaches” in the entire world.

It turns out there was a bottling plant in Ft. Bragg in the early 20th century that went out of business in the 1940s. Everything left at the plant was dumped on the shore, in the city dump of the time. Ranger Rick said that at one point the pile was about eight feet thick. Ft. Bragg’s dump had much more glass piled into in than the average landfill, especially now that a lot of glass is recycled and doesn’t get as far as landfills.

I did a little bit of reading, and the California law that protects coastal access makes it virtually impossible to prohibit glass collecting along the tide line. Anything below the mean high water mark is public land. Access cannot be prohibited, and it would be very difficult to keep people from picking up glass. There is a sign that asks people to leave the glass on Glass Beach, and to ask others to do the same. The steps to the beach have been removed since our last visit, probably to deter visitors. There are still many people who visit the beach to collect glass every day. During the summer months, there can be over 1,000 visitors to Glass Beach each day. No wonder the deposit has thinned out.

We emerged on the bluffs just after sunset and were startled by the beauty of the sun’s afterglow. We had a complete 360o view of the horizon and the sky changed color all the way around, from lavender, pink, and pale blue in the northeast, through pale blue, streaks of yellow and orange by the setting sun and more golden and peach colors over the ocean. We rarely see the entire sky lit up all around us so impressively. By the time we actually left, it was cold out and I insisted on stopping for a cup of tea to warm up–it really hit the spot.

Dinner our second evening in Mendocino was at Trillium, another short walk from the Seagull Inn. The food was delicious. I had shrimp and risotto, while Jonathan had short ribs. We have different tastes in wine. Our dessert was toasted chocolate babka with coffee ice cream. It was the most interesting thing on the menu, and I was curious after having made a chocolate babka a few months ago. It was unusual and delicious. As we ate our dinner, we struck up a conversation with the couple next to us who live in Santa Rosa and had suggestions about restaurants to try when we are there on one of our monthly visits.

Rough waters off Mendocino Headlands

Sunday morning, we were served crustless quiche, and bread from the local Cafe Beaujolais with more good coffee. We didn’t plan on any more beach combing, as low tide would be after dark. We walked the Mendocino Headlands trail around the west and north sides of town. It was bright and sunny, but cold and windy. We were glad to have our layers. We stopped at several places to watch the ocean. An occasional whale spouted, but there were so many whitecaps it was difficult to spot them. The surf was very rough, making the water among the inlets and sea stacks boil with white foam. We were happy to be on the bluff safely above the ocean. At the far end of our walk we stopped on a point where the breaking waves below us showered us with mist. When the sun caught the mist, rainbows flashed in midair. It was a beautiful end to our walk.

From the headlands, we stopped at the Mendocino Art Center to look at the current exhibit. There are a lot of talented people in this area, and we enjoyed looking at the painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, and jewelry.

It was time to head home to Eureka, so we turned north to Ft. Bragg, making a stop at Cow Licks Ice Cream. They make a wide range of flavors, and I had to try some. I think every flavor is delicious, though I have no plans to try their mushroom ice cream.

We made good time getting home, only waiting at one spot on Highway 101 that is partially blocked while a serious landslide gets fixed. We could see the big crack in the hillside where the land slipped.

I’d forgotten to take my UV flashlight with me to Mendocino to examine all my glass to see whether any was fluorescent. Back at home, I found a few fluorescent pieces in different colors. The yellow comes from uranium, but the red-orange color was new to me. I believe it is from manganese in the glass. I’m keeping all my fluorescent pieces separate until I have enough to make a fluorescent necklace. (And no, the pieces don’t give off a harmful level of radiation.)

Now that we’re home, I already miss Mendocino, the rocky coast, beautiful walks, stars at night, and the beach combing. Maybe we’ll visit again next winter.

In the Rain

I wouldn’t have driven all the way to Santa Rosa from Eureka (150+ miles) without a good reason. My doctor’s appointment could not be put off, and Jonathan did most of the driving. I took advantage to stare out the window at the mist and rain and take a lot of photos.

We did not have to detour around flooded roadways, and our route was not blocked by mudslides, though we passed places where cones blocked one lane while crews cut up fallen trees. Highway crews were out in their raingear, moving from one incident to the next. On the 101, they stayed ahead of disaster, and we were not held up at all. We drove a bit more slowly than usual to cope with the rain and water running off the roadway, but the trip was as easy as possible considering it rained most of the time.

Along the Russian River

Our trip back began around 10 am the next day as rain pelted down. We drove north out of Healdsburg past the Russian River, where the water was very high, only a couple of feet below the road, but not yet near enough to be threatening. We stopped at the Jaxon Keys Winery and I took a photo of the sodden fields.

Something about the wind and the mountains results in more rainfall between Santa Rosa and the middle of our journey around Willets. The second half of the journey took us along the south fork of the Eel River, and as the highway approached the river and veered away, we could see tiny waterfalls, rushing streams, and the growing span of the river as its course widens over the descent to sea level on the coast.

Spring or Storm?

January first the new year comes in whether or not we’re ready. We’ve been out walking most days, as the weather forecast is for strong winds and heavy rain later this week. It’s been cold for this region, low 50s, high 40s during the day and occasional frost at night. This is nothing compared to the annual week or so of -10 we usually planned on in Chicago, so we add another layer and go out.

Most surprising to me this week is the suggestion of spring that we’ve seen all around us. Magnolia buds are about to burst open. Calla lilies are greening up; I saw two that already bloomed in a sheltered corner of downtown. Certain shrubs have bright red bark. I call them all redbud since I’m not that good at plant ID.

Sunset has already pushed a few more minutes into our day. The winter solstice was two weeks ago, and I notice that we can stay out until 4:45pm before we notice the failing light. We’ve definitely turned a corner. The photo at the top of this post was taken about that time. The rays of light and cloud always remind me of two things, sunset photos by Eliot Porter that were everywhere when we lived in New Mexico, and “god the father” sunsets: the light and clouds around saints depicted on holy cards when I was in Catholic elementary school. (Holy cards are the size of baseball cards, printed with god or saints in all their glory, often on a cloud surrounded by rays of light.)

As soon as I noticed the plants beginning to flower, the wind picked up and it began to rain. Weather reports showed a huge swirl of white cloud just off the coast. My brother pointed out that of all the cities on the Pacfic coast, the single one identified on the national weather map was Eureka. It’s rained off and on since New Year’s Day.

We look outside in the morning and if it is not already raining, we try to get going for a walk. By lunch time it is usually raining, and sometimes the wind tries to blow loose items around the neighborhood. The cover of our barbecue already blew away once, so now we tighten it and put a few rocks on top. The sun umbrella is stowed in the garage, outdoor chairs lean against the garage, folding chairs folded and piled up. We don’t want to let anything get away.

Waves were forecast to be 20 ft high along the coast, so we drove up to Su Meg State Park to have a look and found the park closed while a crew removed trees that fell across the access road. We turned around and went to Trinidad, figuring an entire town couldn’t be closed. The art gallery was closed, and stores looked pretty closed. It wasn’t until later we found that the town was without power during our visit.

The waves were big, but not impinging on the parking lot, so we stopped and watched the roiling sea. Waves thrown up by a blowhole across the bay topped a very tall rock. It was impressive and interesting to be out. The weather wasn’t all that bad judging by the number of people climbing up to have a look at the waves, walking their dogs, and looking around. After a short hike to look out to sea, we went down to the high tide line to have a look. Sure enough, not five minutes into our walk, a larger wave came in and swamped Jonathan. Wet to the ankles, we decided our visit was over.

Our climb up Trinidad Head was a bit drippy.

Since our day out in the storm, Eureka has been the center of a small spot not getting much rain. We still take our walk early in the day, but generally everyone around us is getting rained on more than we are.

Here we are in far northern California, January is just getting started, we’ve got spring in the air and big waves coming off the ocean. A little of everything.

A Happy Humboldt Holiday

It was a wonderful weekend. Our youngest daughter Lillian and her husband Neil flew out of Chicago before the big winter storm hit. They arrived in Eureka on Dec. 22, completing our family group. Amanda and Jim finished cleaning up after Monday’s earthquake, Lyra finished up pre-holiday work, and we were ready to celebrate.

On the 22nd, we went to Ferndale for some pre-Christmas shopping. It’s a lovely, small town with lots of Victorian storefronts. It’s also where TV food personality Guy Fieri grew up. After window shopping, we had lunch at Tuyas, a very good Mexican restaurant.

The next day, we stopped at Piled High Deli for sandwiches and took them to Big Lagoon for a picnic lunch and some agate hunting. Everyone found a few tiny agates. We strolled the beach, and took turns going out in Amanda and Jim’s kayaks. It was a beautiful day for a ride around the lagoon, and we stayed until the afternoon clouds started to come in and the temperature began to drop.

Christmas Eve we all got together to hug Aurora and have salmon for dinner. It was delicious and fun to be together.

We reconvened the next day for Christmas breakfast, and to open Christmas stockings and gifts. There were a lot of fun things for Aurora, clothing, toys, and books. We took a walk with the dogs, watched Christmas movies including The Santa Clause, then had a collaborative dinner. Jonathan baked the ham, Neil made brussells sprouts, Jim made cicvara (Serbian polenta), Amanda and Lillian made cranberry pie, and I made pumpkin cheesecake. It was a Christmas feast for us all.

Earthquake! 12/20/22

I’ve already heard jokes about the lengths I’ll go to get material for my blog, but I promise you I had nothing to do with the earthquake that hit Tuesday at 2:34 am. We were jolted awake and wondered briefly whether we should put on coats and go outside. The shaking stopped by then and we got up to check on what happened. The power was out. A bottle of bourbon flew off the shelf and smashed on the floor, but other bottles that fell off didn’t break.

Jonathan’s knives are attached to magnetic strips along the wall by the stove and fridge. The shock of the earthquake threw knives across the kitchen. It looked like a failed circus act. I’m glad we were in bed.

We got back into bed and called the girls. Lyra was ok though her Christmas tree tipped over, spilling water all around. Amanda was distraught but she and her family were unscathed. Their house was a shambles, damage uncertain. We told her to try and get some sleep and that we’d come help in the morning.

It took a while to get back to sleep, especially with the occasional aftershock reminding us of the general instability of our region. The epicenter of Tuesday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake was almost exactly on the Mendocino Triple Junction. The Triple Junction is where three of the tectonic plates that make up the earth’s crust come together. The meeting of three of these is a bit unusual. Along the Pacific Rim of North and South America, one plate is pushed below another where they meet. A triple junction makes things more complex. Often, when the plates move they cause earthquakes.

We got some sleep, and in the morning it was raining. Jonathan heated water for instant coffee over the extra burner of our gas grill, not a great solution in the rain and wind, but we got some caffeine. The power was still out. We left for Rio Dell to help Amanda and Jim and hoped the power would come on while we were away. Outside the house, I could hear the hum of generators, as everyone who has a home generator fired them up to run their refrigerator or a heater.

Traffic lights were blinking, but people seemed to remember how a four-way stop works, and we got on to the highway without difficulty. Most stores were closed, and there was no place to get coffee.

Jonathan and Aurora wore matching outfits!

We arrived with a gallon of water and work gloves. A quick tour showed that most cupboards and cabinets had disgorged their contents onto the floor, into the sink or the bathtub. A set of curio shelves dumped tiny agates, beach rocks, sea glass, and small souvenirs in a pile of glass shards. We put glass into paper bags and rocks into cloth bags. When we eventually got all the objects and larger bits of glass picked up, we vacuumed the area, picking tiny crumbs of glass up as they sparkled in the light.

Everyone took a turn with the baby, keeping Aurora changed and fed and entertained while the others picked up. Their two dogs were corralled in the hallway by the bedrooms to keep them out of the glass. Every now and then we’d carry them outside for a moment of freedom, but even after the rain stopped, the ground was wet and cold.

The garage was full of crushed glass from the cabinet of wine glasses and flower vases. Jim worked on picking up fallen cans of paint, oil, and piles of wood, then he and Jonathan swept up glass fragments.

Lyra arrived with her camping gear. She and Jim set up a table and her camp stove in the driveway, and Jim set about making coffee. He offered it to the neighbors, too, and spent a few minutes exchanging earthquake stories. We were happy to have another sip of coffee. Friends from work stopped by to deliver ten gallons of drinking water, and soup ready to be heated. Every phone filled with texts asking how we all were faring.

The kitchen was covered with broken glass and the remnants of a bottle of cooking oil. First, we picked up and swept up glass, then Lyra went over it with degreaser and we could finally walk across the room safely. Others restored order to the bathrooms and bedrooms, and started in on cleaning up the sunroom, where a number of plant pots had crunched on the tile and needed repotting as well as cleanup. Little by little the mess receded.

Though there was still some cleanup left, we left at 2:30 pm, with the house in much better shape. Everyone came to our house for dinner, and Amanda, Jim, and Aurora will stay until there is power and water again in Rio Dell. We made a stop at the grocery store. Stores were open in Eureka by mid-afternoon. At home, the power was still off, and with the inside the same mid-50s temperature as outside, taking a short nap seemed the only practical thing to do. I lay in bed reading, then tried to sleep. Suddenly, the lights came back on. Then the heat! We were back in business.

By the time the kids arrived just after 6 pm, I was baking cookies and Jonathan had the chicken for dinner marinating. We had a delicious dinner and everyone agreed that we’d turned a bad day into a pretty good one. Having family and neighbors to call on during the aftermath of the earthquake was a huge relief. People smiled and spoke to one another, we all worked together without any complaints or harsh words, and we had everything back in order more quickly than anyone thought possible. The losses are just things. Some were sentimental favorites, and I did bring home a bag of pieces that may eventually be made into other things, but overall we were happy to be together. We’re the lucky ones, grateful to have friends, neighbors, and each other.

Postscript: Last year, on Dec. 20, 2021, just after noon, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit almost the same spot, just a bit further off shore. This year, same day, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit. What will happen next year?

Earthquake Dec. 20, 2021 12:10 pm

Winter solstice Dec. 21, 2021 7:58 am

Earthquake Dec. 20, 2022 2:34 am

Winter solstice Dec. 21, 2022 1:47 pm

The South Spit of Humboldt Bay

South Spit is a long narrow finger of land that extends around the west side of South Bay, the south end of Humboldt Bay that includes the mouth of the Eel River. Getting there requires a drive south along Rte. 101 to the turnoff at Beatrice, then west along the marshy land south of Humboldt Bay. The Humboldt National Wildlife Refuge occupies the marshy side of the road, and the water was covered with birds when we drove past. Hundreds, possibly thousands of pintail ducks were resting, and we pulled over to have a look.

A large group flew up, and we thought we’d spooked them. Then another group did the same, and we saw that a hawk was swooping low over the marsh, scaring the birds into the air. We saw a second hawk doing the same thing and stood transfixed watching the waves of ducks rise and settle back onto the water as the hawks dove and passed overhead. We did not see the hawks catch anything. Maybe they need a particular distance, angle, or individual duck to catch something, but it looked a lot like they were playing.

We drove on to the ocean. There’s a parking area at the south end of the spit where we’ve stopped in the past, but I wanted to go out to the end of the road. Long, narrow spits of land are often without roads, or the trail is gated, but this one is wide open. Once a paved road, the remnant is passable, with sections that test the mettle of a Prius. We did see another sedan out there, though most visitors drove trucks. It takes about 20 minutes to drive all the way to the end. A jetty extends out along the channel that connects Humboldt Bay to the ocean.

We watched a few boats going out. An unpaved road goes out some distance on the jetty, but erosion has left the concrete structure exposed. It was like driving on a road composed entirely of large speed bumps. We turned back to the end of the spit.

It looks harmless, but this is not a road for cars. We turned back.

Surprisingly, the spot overlooking the channel is prepared for visitors. There’s a restroom and parking area. Not much, but more inviting than just a sand dune.

We started our drive mid-afternoon, meaning it was already getting dark by 4:30 when we got to the jetty. We walked around, looked at the birds and the water, then headed back. Unpaved roads marked as hunter’s access points lead toward the bay. We saw deer grazing peacefully by the roadside (none had antlers). There’s a beach on the bay side of the spit almost all the way back to the south end of the peninsula. It looks like it would be good for swimming in the summer. Not much in the way of beach-combing, the broken glass was all recent, and there were very few shells. It was good to walk up and down, consider interesting pebbles, and decide to return another time to walk on the ocean side.

King Salmon

We’re having a stretch of good weather, sunny and clear, with none of the rain winters here are known for. We decided to go for a walk in King Salmon, a tiny town on a peninsula south of Eureka. It’s all low-lying land, and floods whenever there’s an especially high tide. I wanted to have a look. We drove out, and parked at Gill’s By The Bay, a seafood restaurant at the far end of the road.

We walked along the shore on the Halibut Trail, past the pet cemetery, and along the beach. We passed a few other people walking, and saw a couple of fishermen on the jetty, though it was very quiet. There were a surprising number of large clam shells. Usually they’re broken, and it’s hard to find whole ones, but one after another turned up along the beach. The bright sun made it a lovely walk. We’ll go back another day and pick up where we left off. I’d like to walk the entire shoreline of the region, though a lot of it is too far from roads and parking lots for us. Still, it’s a good goal, or starting point for exploration.

Summer comes in as we move out

Leaving Eureka, CA
South San Francisco

As we took off from San Francisco, I looked out the window at the hills. The houses pasted to bone-dry hillside looked a lot like Lima. We arrived in Peru on Tuesday morning and went straight from the airport to Barranca. Tired from the overnight flight, we didn’t notice much other than that the weather was similar to what we just left in San Francisco, overcast and cool.

The early morning air didn’t have the same bite in Lima as in the US, because summer is just beginning in South America, while California is heading into winter.

The next day, the sun came out by noon and the beach warmed up. Each day the sun came out earlier and the day warmed further. By Saturday, the bright sun was out by ten am and families began coming  down the hill from town on foot, or parking along the sidewalk. By 1 pm, it was summer and the beach was rocking. Restauranteurs on the beach believe that the louder they play music, the more likely they are to attract clients. The music was loud. The seasonal restaurant on our next door neighbor’s terrace opened for the season. They’ve put up a volleyball net on the sand across the street, in hopes that players will stop in after working up a thirst. It seems to be working. From quiet and empty on Wednesday to raucous and crowded on the weekend, it was a quick transition.

Sunny Day on the Beach

We went for a walk down the beach past all the seasonal places that suddenly appeared from behind closed windows and doors . Almost every house is now a store or restaurant, cevicheria, bar, resto-bar, snack bar, or cremolada stand. We threaded through the people on the sidewalk. Mid-afternoon on Saturday and some were already deeply into their multi-packs of beer, or swigging from a depleted whisky bottle. A favorite technique is to put music on one’s car radio or player, open the door facing the beach and turn up the volume. Every 10 or 15 feet you walk past a different car playing different tunes.    

Sunset in Barranca

People bring their dogs, and their children, though often not their bathing suits, and end up swimming in their clothes. When we reached the far end of the beach by the fishing boats, we walked back along the sand, watching children run into and away from the water, dig pits and canals, and lie in the sand soaking up the warm sun. Dogs paced the edges of the soccer and volleyball games, ran around or sat by their families. A few people fished, but the weekend is mostly given over to water play. We strolled down the beach, nodding to the occasional fisherman we recognized from less crowded moments, until back to our starting point, happy to head indoors where the noise doesn’t penetrate. If the crowd dies down during the late afternoon, we sit on our front porch to play cards and watch the sunset. Jonathan’s genius idea years ago to put casters on easy chairs lets us wheel out comfy chairs every evening.

Strange that summer pretty much arrived during the week that we have done our final packing. We arrived on Tuesday, applied for the last form we needed before closing on the sale of our house, and settled in for the week. I would have said that all our personal items were gone after our visit in August, when we packed four full suitcases after realizing that shipping household goods to the US was a bad idea. 

This week, I found another four suitcases full of stuff on shelves and in drawers that I believed were empty! By Saturday, I had filled three of our four suitcases, leaving only one for Jonathan. I still spent an entire day putting things in and taking things out. Late in the afternoon I looked around and saw that we’d stripped the house of decoration, leaving it akin to another empty Airbnb on the day of departure.

We visited with neighbors to say our goodbyes, gave away things that couldn’t be packed and that the new owner didn’t want, and braced ourselves for Monday morning. The morning arrived with bright sun, summer in full flow. We stowed our big suitcases and our carry-ons in the car and set off for Lima and our new home in California.

Endings.

I stared at the ceiling in the middle of the night imagining how to write about the sale of our house in Peru. We owned our huge, wonderful, historic house for twenty years, visiting every year. At first, it was our research station, where we arrived the week after school let out and stayed until the week before we all had to be back for fall semester. When we retired, it became the place we went every winter, enjoying the South American summer from Christmas to Easter. We live across the street from the Pacific Ocean, and if there is anything better than that, I don’t know what it is.

We had wonderful neighbors, ate fresh fish from the market, attended festivals, visited archaeological sites and beaches, and generally enjoyed ourselves.

My mind flooded with cliches about time and eras and tides and people and aging. We decided to sell our house now that we are both over 70. Much as we love adventure, we recognize that we are not as sharp as we once were, and the time had arrived to let go of our overseas possessions.

Almost exactly a year ago, we put our house on the market. I knew it would not be a quick sale, not everyone wants a 7,000 sq ft house with a second two-story house in the back yard. It takes a lot of maintenance. As of today, that is someone else’s to consider. The buyer lives locally and exports agricultural products. He seems mildly interested in the place, though it may be just another investment for him. I feared it would take two or three years or more to find a buyer, so I am not questioning the motives of the person who has just made our lives simpler, with minimal haggling and no foot-dragging about payment.

With that, we spent the day packing the odds and ends we did not take on our previous trip in July. There are a lot of them! I somehow thought that I had packed up everything I wanted, and have still managed to pack two suitcases. I’m starting on a third, as Jonathan claims he only needs one of the two suitcases he is allotted.

Monday we head to Lima, then on to the US on Wednesday morning. We can come back and visit any time. We have neighbors who are just furnishing a new apartment for Airbnb, so there is always a place for us. Whether that will happen is anyone’s guess. For now, we look forward to getting home to California and celebrating Christmas there. We’ll have one long, sad look behind on Monday morning, then focus on the future.

Our house in Peru

Thanksgiving 2022

We got home from England in time for Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Top of the list is my new gradddaughter, Aurora Violet Haas Woodhead. We were invited for Thanksgiving dinner at Amanda, Jim, and Aurora’s house–to decrease the need to packs up the relevant baby paraphernalia and come to ours. Lyra was there, too, and their friend Natalie, my sister Paula and her partner Wayne.

Everyone cooked, with the result that no one had to bear the brunt of the dinner. It was an excellent plan. Jim smoked a turkey. He’s done it before, and he’s good at it.

Lyra made biscuits, then held the baby while Amanda cooked vegetables, baked sweet potatoes, and made stuffing with the cornbread and broth that Jonathan made. Jonathan also made his grandmother’s renowned lime jello with chopped and cherries stirred in, a 50s throwback. He made cranberry orange relish for the turkey, too. It goes with turkey, stuffing, and gravy, and is pretty good all by itself.

Photos: Part of the Thanksgiving spread; our dinner group with Natalie behind the camera; pie and cheesecake; Lyra and Aurora; Paula pours the first wine; Aurora in her Autumn outfit.

Paula brought bottles of fabulous wine from her wine cellar, and Natalie brought pumpkin cheesecake with turmeric sour cream and candied ginger on top, straight from the NYT recipe section. Wayne wrangled the folding tables and chairs in his pickup, so that we all had places to sit.

Afterward, everyone helped divvy up the leftovers and clean up. Soon, everyone had a pile of containers to take home, and the kitchen was clean, dishwasher purring. No one had more leftovers that a meal or two. Thanksgiving can be an uncomfortable time when family members and friends gather not knowing that they have different views on everything from football to politics to whether or not pumpkin pie is delicious. Our group was a compatible and companionable one. We agreed it was as happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving as we have had, and a model for collaborating on future occasions. It’s always nice to go home looking forward to the next gathering rather than heaving a sigh of relief that it’s finally over…..

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