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The last part of my friends and family tour of the US took me to Los Angeles and Seattle. In Los Angeles, I stayed a couple of nights with daughter Lyra and another few at the home of my daughter Amanda’s future mother-in-law, Connie. Amanda and Jim live there, too, making it an excellent base of operations on this side of Los Angeles. An episode of Homeland had just finished filming a scene at the neighbor’s. Then they filmed a scene inside Connie’s! (I wasn’t there yet.) In Los Angeles, unusual things happen all the time.

The next day I met up with my sister Sheila and her husband. They live in Hesperia, and since I usually stay in Los Angeles we meet at a halfway point, the huge Victoria Gardens mall in Rancho Cucamonga. The drive is opposite traffic and the sky gets deeper and deeper blue as you drive away from the city. The three of us dawdled over lunch and caught up with family news. We headed our opposite directions before rush hour got going, and the drive back was painless.

I was in Los Angeles to see my sister, my daughters and also to attend a wedding. I’ve known Linda since we were both sixteen–and her daughter’s wedding was another milestone in life that needed celebrating. Lyra went with me to all the wedding events (Thanks, Lyra!)

The wedding events were very enjoyable, and the ceremony was lovely, full of heartfelt vows. We were outdoors at Descanso Gardens in Pasadena at sunset, and the weather was perfect. The bride’s dress was a beautiful column of white, her flowers were white, cream, and deep burgundy roses. We had a delicious dinner and chatted with people from all over the country. Ceremonies like these renew my faith in the future.

I did my good deed of the trip the next day and helped Lyra hang paintings in her new apartment. She moved just a few weeks ago, and managed to get move all the furniture and boxes over a weekend, but then work intervened, and she still had art stacked against the walls.

In a hour, we managed to get most things where she wanted them and her place looks much more settled.

After a quick dinner, we walked to the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills to hear Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin speak. What a pair they are! Jane Fonda led with an impassioned plea for action to halt climate change by phasing out fossil fuels and plastic bags, pointing out that oil companies like Exxon knew thirty years ago that their products could irreparably damage the environment. The audience was full of fans who, like us, have watched every episode of Grace and Frankie. We laughed at all their jokes while the moderator tried his best to keep them on topic. It was a lot of fun.

Packing in just a few more activities, I drove to Pasadena on Monday morning and visited the Norton Simon Museum with Amanda. She’s familiar with the exhibits from being at every opening with her fiance Jim, who is a preparator there. We particularly liked the William Crutchfield exhibit, though it was fun to walk around while Amanda showed me her favorite pieces throughout the museum.

In the afternoon, Linda came by and took me to Koi, a boutique in Highland Park. She has gotten to know the owner, another Linda, and the sales manager, Brenda. We chatted about jewelry and looked over some of the necklaces I’ve made, and some gorgeous things that Brenda makes. Everyone had good suggestions. With a few improvements, some of my pieces will be for sale in Koi in the new year. I am delighted.

A last dinner with Amanda, Jim, and Connie, and I was off to Seattle to stay a few days with Larry and Sharon. Larry and I were undergraduates together at Harvard, and see each other every five years at reunions. I have read some of his books, and he has given me some very helpful comments on the mystery I eventually plan to complete. Sharon and I met in Melbourne last year. Their daughters and grandchildren live in Melbourne, so they now spend half the year there.

Seattle was unusually cooperative, providing day after day of sunny weather. We visited Snoqualmie Falls, standing in the mist while the falls thundered into the river below.

We had a great tour of some of the city’s icons. The troll under the bridge is a fanciful landmark that should have everyone who visits rushing home to read a fairy tale.

Just down the street is a huge statue of Lenin leaning into the intersection. The tale of how this huge relic of Soviet history made its way from a scrapyard in Czechoslovakia to a street corner in Seattle is a testament to people’s pig-headed desires to do things that make no sense to anyone but them. How Lenin got to Seattle.

We visited the Chihuly Gardens, a gorgeous display of oversized glass plant life. After seeing the amazing, massive glass structures emerging from the ground, we watched a pair of glass-blowers from the Community Hot Shop (glass blowing furnaces and ovens in a converted Airstream trailer) make a vase. These bowls and vases are sold at the Space Needle gift shop, so we had to go have a look. They are not terribly expensive ($45-$65) and would make a distinctive gift from Seattle.

We rode the monorail from the Space Needle to the Pike Place market. Even mid-afternoon, there were rows of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, tuna, and more varieties of fish than I could name. Fruit and vegetables, and stalls selling hundreds of things that you need and don’t need. (We failed to locate the wall of chewed gum–I’m not sure I regret missing it.) We returned home after this, and ended the day with dinner at the Carnation Cafe, an excellent restaurant near Larry and Sharon’s. The desserts, all made in-house, were really, really delicious.

Having seen so much in such a short time, I took a day to walk around the local area, making my way down to the bridge across the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers. It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun making the trees blaze with color. For about three minutes, though, it rained, and the bouncing raindrops turned out to be hail. I sheltered under a fir tree to avoid the hail and in another five minutes the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I walked home. A beautiful end to this adventure.

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