Contempkin village

Well, first, Happy New Year everyone!


I meant to put something up sooner but last week was New Year’s day and we were off to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, where I took a lot of pictures, many of which are in progress on my Photostream right now.  Besides which, we had up to 15 guests staying at our modest abode over the holidays and every minute was pandemonium.  I won’t even go into it. Net-net, it was glorious and we had a ball but there were the usual mishaps: sick children, lost cell phones, missed deadlines, long lines to events, dinners out with Geoffrey and me falling asleep over our plates since we kept our up at 4 am schedule and had to party until late at night.


It was great, thrilled that we had such a good time and glad it’s over. It has taken me all week to clean up my usually immaculate house and also juggle work that flooded in at the beginning of January for some reason.  I finally have a minute to post, hence these pictures which are perhaps a bit long in the tooth at this point, but were next in the hopper.  Next week, Rose Parade pictures, a bit more timely.


Also, after months of bone dry heat, December ended bitter cold and January kicked off sunny, cold, then raining torrents. We took our chairs outside and sat in it just to get that old home feeling of normal precipitation, crazy as that sounds. You don’t know the downside of hot and dry until you have vacuumed and dusted a 3000 square foot house with animals, nearby freeway, and high desert particles blowing on fierce winds all the time.  Keeping this place clean is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge — it never ends.


Oh, speaking of which, I have a winter travel post coming up to take the place of my Fall in NY sticky page. I am a bit behind the curve on that one, but it is on the docket.


Back to the title of this post. Valencia is the original Potempkin Village — not what it seems or at least, it is what it seems and that in itself is the problem for some people, me being one of them. I have so resisted the manicured, low profile, monotony of this area for the whole time I have been here, that I made myself unhappy and restless when I might have simply chosen it as the neutral background against which to live my unique version of the California experience.


It is all cast into high relief when visitors come. Many of them are from back East where life is far more complex, serious and perhaps pessimistic (realistic?) than it seems to be in the Golden State.  I can see the way my guests look when they step off the plane and contrast it with them stepping on it again to return home. They come heavy and leave light. I know I am not imagining it.


Life is just easier here in California, simple as that. The weather is uniformly mild, food grows effortlessly and is abundant and relatively inexpensive, people just don’t talk about politics or frown on it, there are many places to go and have fun. Town after town has easily accessible attractions almost for free, whether it is the beaches or the parks or the zoos or the restaurants and theaters.  The state is one long megalopolis of high times and good living.  So, our guests dropped off their stuff and headed to the sand or snow, to surf and ski and sail. They hardly knew what to do first. Their enthusiasm is always contagious.


My goal again this year is to shrug off the contempt I have felt for a life that doesn’t involve the same struggles I expect. To let people who have just never had a major setback be as indifferent to the causes of the world (many of them mine) as they like without me judging and rejecting them. The photography has helped and so has this blog because I realize more and more as I express my NY dissatisfactions with the easygoing natives here that perhaps just relaxing into good fortune and effortless happiness is better than battling for more awareness of those that don’t experience them.  After all, I could have chosen to live somewhere that needed my help instead of being surrounded by people who seem to need nothing at all, who have everything anyone could ask for. Why should I try to make them aware of what is simply not a factor in their glowing world? And, I hope this is not just ovine politesse, but sincere transformation of perspective. I am working on it!


Meanwhile, you might see me kvetch from time to time here anyway, as the one place where I can at least raise my hand and say, “But, not everyone has it this good. Let’s remember them”. Hope you don’t mind!


And, I will try to get around to your place and catch up. Forgive me for being MIA lately.  I should get back on track now.


Next week, Pasadena — always a happy subject.

Images: Chez BeBe – my neighborhood: Valencia Heights


27 Comments on “Contempkin village”

  1. Wonderful photos to compliment your very insightful candid remarks / observations on
    what has to be considered “giving” almost to the extreme. I hope all your guests
    acknowledge in spades. Happy New Year .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aww. Very kind of you to say so Bob. I sometimes feel we are a Hawaiian-style hotel. But, it does give me an excuse to clean the house up even more and run out and buy decorations and supplies. We indulged in Peet’s Holiday Blend for a month — that alone made all the effort worthwhile. A hug to you for the New Year.


      • LOL – as if you needed an excuse to clean, Beth (and I’m quite sure your digs rarely need to be cleaned up “even more”).

        I’m not QUITE as bad as Quentin Crisp, “After the third year, the dust doesn’t get any worse.” (humor about why he doesn’t clean) – but his style is closer to mine than yours. I believe I must be among the few who rarely complain that a housekeeper could never do it as well as we do. It seems that almost *anyone* could do it better than I (only half kidding).

        I do my very best to keep up with the really important bits, like in the kitchen and bathroom. As someone who takes baths instead of showers, my tub must *always* be clean-clean-clean – and “Nobody is afraid they will get sick in my house” is one of my [albeit] loose housekeeping standards, expressed humorously. (“Nobody trips over the dust” is another)

        Like I said (on my blog, perhaps?), I’ll trade you a bit of your tendencies toward OCD for my ADD distraction tendencies. We’d BOTH have an easier time of it, no doubt (and my house would be as clean as I’d like every single day.)

        Happy New Year, Beth. I, too, have fallen behind on blog visits, so I’m glad for the New Year’s reset. (btw- had a chuckle over “ovine.”)
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
        -ADD Coach Training Field founder/ADD Coaching co-founder-
        “It takes a village to transform a world!”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year, Beth! I had an overstimulating holiday season and net, net, it was great! I’m glad to get back to my routine but I want to make some changes this year. One is similar to yours; I will stop judging people for their flaws and shortcomings; accept and love them as they are (I’m talking about relatives here 🙂 and do my part to become a better me. Love your photos – can’t wait to read and see more from you this year. I bid you L’chaim and Shalom for 2016.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you Vera. I will look forward to reading your posts this year too, as I always have.

      Yes, I simply have to let these people be who they are. We had the usual spate of difficulties with unconscious comments people made over the holidays and I just have to practice something in the profession called “radical acceptance”. There are people who have a hole in their bucket and pouring more into those buckets is an exercise in futility.

      I have to stop trying to make things right with everyone and realize that some people are just never going to be kind or understanding or thoughtful and let their barbs go. A struggle for me, as I was raised to be a pleaser and also to expect fairness.

      Let’s see how successful I am! 😀

      A hug to you for all 2016.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I agree, we have to fight for them when we are in a position to influence lives. I have to stop arguing with in-laws who will never agree with me and who have lives that they are quite smug about. Sigh.


          • Yes, sigh. I have some college chums “smug” about their fortunate lives, with whom I must make friends with “agreeing to disagree” (politics, chief among them).

            We could go back and forth forever, neither side would change our perspectives, and the friendships would be injured forever. Tough tho’, huh? (sock in mouth time 🙂 )

            My late father seemed to me to be THE uber-Republican – and I believe we both felt that the other had gone over to the dark side. To have any relationship at all, there were many things we both had to swallow.

            Religion & politics – I guess those “don’t discuss” admonitions aren’t all wrong.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely heard a new years resolution in this post, dear Beth! 🙂
    You are going to be content, still dream and investigste, but staying where you are looks and sounds marvelous. Your house and exterior photographs are stunning. I liked the back of the house and the unique lighting decorations throughout.
    I missed you but am happy you are busy with projects.
    Hope yours ♡ and Geoffrey’s ♡ new year, 2016, will bring you more dreams and hopes fulfilled, good health along with some happy surprises along the way. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, a resolution. Let’s hope I mostly keep it, Robin. 🙂

      Thank you so much for the kind comments about the house. We finally have it just the way we want it, inside and out.

      Now we are upgrading our communications systems, ditching the land line and switching over to Ooma. Really excited about that.

      Let’s hope we both, both our families, have a spectacular 2016 and that we visit each other here in the WP blogoverse often.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. As always, such beautiful pics, Beth. It almost seems a shame that the decorations have to come down but here we are, in this new year, with all the promise every day holds. We can’t solve everything – or maybe even anything! – but we can be ourselves and do the best we can. What else can anyone ask? Wishing you lots of wonderful. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have to discipline myself to take everything down – but when I don’t take it down early, it seems to dilute the magic. For years we simply had a room where we kept the tree decorated, stored in a huge tree bag. But we turned that room into a guest bedroom/study so we were forced to clean the garages up and put the holiday decorations out there. Now they are in new boxes and I feel much better, LOL!

      Let’s hope 2016 shows certain segments of our species joining the modern world.

      Thank you and wishing you the same heaps of wonderful, Anne-Marie. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe I need to move to California! (Seriously, I am investigating the best location for my next, hopefully last, move). I was born at Fort Ord, a now-defunct army base near Carmel, when my Dad was attending Russian Language School (my parents dragged me from there as an infant – no doubt, kicking and screaming 🙂 )

    They say, “All things return” – do you think that includes moving back to where you started? It sounds lovely, and I’m sure I’m overdue for a bit of ease as I age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carmel California? Oh there is one of my dream spots to live, Madelyn. I would even live there in a tiny cottage or apartment. What a beautiful, idyllic place. I hope you move somewhere wonderful. We picked ours and are constrained by needing to be within driving distance of Los Angeles. If we weren’t I would move to Vancouver or Rochester! I cannot afford Manhattan. Our co-op, that we sold twenty years ago now goes for $3 million dollars. Gulp.


      • Gulp indeed! Three mil would change a lot of things, huh? I’m sure you moved for good reasons. It will drive you crazy to fail to look at all the good things that have happened since – including your beautiful work on your lovely home – rewriting history to revel in an imaginary sale for an obscene chunk of change. But I know you don’t need ME to tell you that. 🙂

        Manhattan would be my first choice, of course, but I’m sure there are other places I could be happy – just need to find them. If I can keep costs low enough I can get my NY fix by traveling back and forth a time or two each year with the difference in living costs.

        Rochester? Brrrrr. Vancouver is lovely but also pricey. Canada IS on my list of candidates to explore, however (especially if America ends up firmly in the hands of the Republicans. But that’s another topic for another time).

        I have not returned to explore Carmel as an adult, but photos on blogs like yours make it look like one of the most charming places on earth. I might be more likely to locate a place I could afford in New York, from what I’m reading.

        Decisions, decisions! Research first, however. What do you know about Cotati?


        Liked by 1 person

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