I'm somewhere in Van Nuys, CA this week. It is not a great place to be. Luckily the hotel bar pours generous glasses of wine. Besides the wine, my other lifeline at this hotel just yards from the Van Nuys runway is my new Blackberry. For fun I thought I'd try to post my first blog post using my new friend. Here we go!
A couple of nights ago I decided to try sleeping with an eyemask to block out the light that streams into our bedroom windows. I hoped that it would help me to sleep better. It is too soon to tell but I'm happy to report that they are quite comfy. Charles is still getting used to the idea.
Just as I was drifting off to sleep last night we had the following exchange.
This past week I was in Hollywood, CA for a conference. While I was trapped for the most part in the lovely Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, I did have a few fun escapes to see bits of the city. This is the view from my hotel window. You can just see the Hollywood sign on the hillside.
On Monday night friends Jenny and John picked me up for an evening out. When we started talking about where to go one of them said something about "La Brea." I said, "Like the tar pits? Do they really exist?"
Before I knew it they took me to the La Brea Tar Pits. For years I have wanted to see this place - mainly because I'd read about it in a children's encyclopedia my grandparents gave me. It seemed crazy to my young self that sabertooth tiger bones were found in a tar pit next to a city parking lot in LA. But on Monday night there we were. Awesome! Afterwards we dined at El Coyote Cafe (established in 1931) for a yummy Mexican meal. It was a fun evening - Thanks Jenny and John!
During the week I also had the opportunity to explore two knitting shops: The Blacksheep Knittery (Hollywood) and La Knitterie Parisienne (Studio City). But those are for a separate post.
On Thursday night I came down with something so instead of flying home the next day I recovered by watching hours of movies (Mr. & Mrs. Smith for the 6th and 7th time, and Air Force One) and lots of Discovery Channel and VH1. I also got sucked into the History Channel and just my luck they were having a marathon of shows about cannibalism.
How strange to spend a whole day in a hotel room dozing, sipping flat soda, and not really being able to focus on anything. Getting up from the bed was a major effort. So I just lay there. Every few hours Charles would phone and I'd try to hold up my end of the conversation. It was weird.
When I finally felt better enough to eat something I sat in the easy chair in my room about 10 feet from where I had lain all day. From my new vantage it was as if the whole world looked fresh again. What a new perspective! How different the TV looked from this angle. But after a half hour of that I went back to bed. It was too much for me.
I was very happy to get on the flight home yesterday and to have Charles pick me up at the airport. It was a long week and there is no place like home.
My dreams came true this Christmas when Charles surprised me with a chocolate tempering machine. I now have all the tools to create homemade chocolate candies. Today I christened the machine by tempering a pound of 70% Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Chocolate and having some fun.
I made a batch of dark chocolate truffles, chocolate dipped cashews, chocolate dipped dried bing cherries, and when I realized I still had a ton of chocolate left I grabbed a bag of tortilla chips and started dipping them. Yum. I've already started thinking about all the other kinds of truffles, candies, and more I can make with my new toy!
On Friday Charles and I drove to Cobb Island, a small island in the Potomac River. I'd spotted it on a map a few months ago and from my research online it sounded like an idyllic weekend getaway location just 1.25 hours from our house. Charles made us a picnic lunch, I gathered my latest knitting project and the map, we leashed the dog and loaded up the car.
According to my research Cobb Island is a residential community with 3.5 miles of roads. From the detailed Civic Association newsletter and website it sounds like a vibrant and welcoming community. I scanned the real estate listings and discovered that there were even a few houses for sale that we could afford.
We drove south on Rt 301 when it turned west to cross over into Virginia, we kept going straight until the road dead ended at Cobb Island. After circling the island in search of the city park and beach mentioned in the newsletter we gave up and left the car at the western end of the island. We grabbed our lunch and Gemma and headed off in search of a picnic spot.
The town is compact with small mainly one storey and low two-storey houses, the majority of which appear to have been built between 1930 and 1970. Our initial excitement of arriving on the island waned as we walked in search of a place to eat our lunch. As we walked we were struck by the sense of a cloak of shabbiness over the island. It was caused in part by the hodge podge of building styles and plethora of garden objects that their owners probably thought looked whimsical but in the cold light of day are just junk. But what really made us wonder about the dark underbelly of Cobb Island was the high percentage of "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out" signs on fences, across driveways, and on garages around the island.
We thought we'd eat at the city park but we couldn't find it. Later we discovered it surrounded by a chain link fence and filled with knee high grass, weeds, and trash. Next door sat the two large propane tanks that power the island's volunteer firestation.
We found a picnic table next door to the one commercial building on the island - it houses the Post Office, a market, and a marine supply store. The Post Office had a "No Loitering" sign out front. We quickly ate our lunch and decided that Cobb Island was not for us.