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