God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Cry or To Laugh?

Which shall it be? I guess it depends on what I want out of life this day. Let's see--it is gorgeous here--only a day that a loving God could give us. Flowers are bold and bright......

Fountains are bubbling and the perfect setting for birds to take their baths....

After they feast.....

The harmony of the bird talk and song, awesome and peaceful. What a creation! That is the smile and the laughter.

Then--I must leave this spot of heaven to go buy clothes Casey neglected to mention he needed for the Junior Model United Nations Conference. How could he not have heard that he needed: dress pants, shirt, tie and SHOES--the caps compliment of the teacher when she e-mailed to tell me that he was not dressed appropriately today. His church casual clothes, which by the way look very nice, will not do--tomorrow he must dress properly. I do understand why this is important and I do intend to strangle him when he gets home today; however, what an expense for a one time wear. I guess he will gussy up for promotion next week and the award ceremony he has prior to that..neither of which require such formality.

I wonder where he parks his brain much of the time. I keep looking but can't find it. I keep thinking that the day will come when he packs it with him in the morning along with the backpack slung over the shoulder--often with homework forgotten on his desk. For goodness sake, he starts high school in 3 short months.

I pray that the God who makes the beauty will mature my child quickly and that all will be well. But then, I am remembering this post from 4 years ago Does a 9-Year -Old-Think and I shutter to think it may never happen.

But, today I choose to laugh....

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Time for Gold

In 1962, 50 years away were too far in the future to contemplate; becoming old was inconceivable and youth was eternal. But...somehow, time passes, moves happen, kids come and grow up, careers take curves to places unexpected, trauma and drama fill space and good times overtake all. Most importantly, "old" doesn't happen. Surprise!

Many memories fill the scrape books of the mind. I sometimes wonder if they stay planted when minds begin to skew and faces are no longer familiar. I think they do as they are filed away so carefully, protected with laughter and guarded by time. If I live another 30 years (which I do plan on,) I'll let you all know.

Son Jeff wanted to do something for us to celebrate--an open buffet for friends, a trip for Ken and me somewhere; he was thinking bigger than we wanted or needed. Our wish was to just enjoy "our boys"--Jeff and Casey, and follow a fond memory of the weekend we spent together in San Francisco a few years ago. So, we asked for a night in Los Angles at a lovely hotel and dinner at the Beverly Hills location of the restaurant we enjoyed so much in San Francisco.

So, on Cinco di Mayo we headed north, remember, we are far south. First stop was Venice Beach which totally personifies why people think of California as a land of wackos. It's a crazy place where you will see just about anything along the boardwalk. There's also a beautiful beach, well-kept lawns where graceful taichi is performed, open air massages enjoyed, lovers love, and playgrounds where kids play. It is so California with a ballet of bicycles, skateboards and skates swirling along the paths. It was fun for us just to stroll and absorb.

Lunch at the Venice Ale House
(Isn't son Jeff a handsome lad?)

Next stop was Beverly Hills--the SLS Hotel, of which (for those of you old enough, you know that Churchill would approve of the grammar syntax) I am sure you have never heard. It is new and is the first of four in a new luxury hotel group. The other three will be in South Beach FL, NYC and Las Vegas. 

The SLS has hundreds of permutations--Sparkle Like Sunshine, Susie Loves Sam, Savor Luxury Stays, Sweet Like Sugar, Satan Loves Sinners and on and on. It is fun to see the creativity as every place you look there is an SLS. Many of the rolling wall of slogans have been contributed by guests.

The designers decorating imaginations ran wild--it is as if they went to sleep, dreamed, woke up and went to work each morning fresh with new ideas of fun. Even the interiors of the elevators tickle. 

Wild? Isn't it?

Lamps and chandeliers are crazy. With hundreds of them, I don't think there are two alike. 

This was my favorite--straight out of Great Expectations.

Casey's Favorite

Really Weird

Even the rooms are unique--unlike the stereotypical rooms in any hotel, even those billed as luxury hotels. Basically, they are pretty predictable and the same. Here they are different. Beginning with the almost totally black mirrored walls, including bathroom and shower, the mirrored wall above the sink in the bathroom which slides open as a window into the bedroom, the bed that sits in the middle of the room, the huge tub in Casey and Jeff's bath, the black TV hidden in one black mirrored wall--oh, this is all too hard to describe. Just know that it is different, fun and almost decadent. If you love the atypical, this is a 
place you would enjoy--mark it on your bucket list.

Each floor has a white room with a white pool table--really quite beautiful. It was a perfect way for the "boys" to spend some time having fun; although, the swimming pool area was quite spectacular, too. Casey was learning from a couple of experts--particularly Uncle Jeff who at one point spent a good amount of time at the local pool hall.

At some point while I was thoroughly enjoying this camaraderie, a lovely gift from the general manager arrived in our room--a beautiful flower arrangement, a chilled bottle of chardonnay, an exquisite cake and a very nice note of congratulations, all nicely arranged on a small table awaiting our little celebration. (Don't you love the self-timer function on cameras? Casey's our master, of this trickery.) Although this was pre-dinner, we had to have a toast and a sliver of very sweet, gooey cake.

Dinner was not at the hotel; although, we will go back someday as the The Bazaar restaurant beckons. Our reservations were at Crustacean, the sister restaurant of fond memories in San Francisco. Jeff and I salivate when thinking of their specialty, roasted crab and we were not disappointed. Ken sticks to giant butterflied prawns as he has a thing against having to work for his food. Me? Love digging into crab, lobster, escargot, whatever. Along with the crab, one must have the drunken, garlic noodles which, having tried to imitate several times, I now almost have mastered.

Well, not very good of Ken but the rest of us are OK.

The evening finished with Casey going to the room while Ken, Jeff and I hit The Bazaar for drinks and people watching. I am pretty sure we were in the company of wealthy and powerful and probably a celebrity or two thrown in. Definitely a lot of young people who we surmised were rich kids of rich parents. No one paid any attention to us--wonder why? Were we fooling them all with our humbleness? 

The Baazar is also the location of the gift shop which is as whimsical as everything else at the SLS. Fun to look at but nothing I need or want or can afford. The chairs (or one should say seating) in the lounge are just as eclectic and varied and unique as the lighting. We fortunately were comfortable on a cow pelt (or simulated) couch but some looked pretty uncomfortable.

The Gift Shop

And so closes our 50th anniversary--except for the last treat the next morning when I visited the elegant white and gold Ciel Spa for a luxurious massage--maybe one of the best ever. The boys entertained themselves with more pool while I luxuriated. And then it was time to leave with memories to carry through another fifty or maybe, if we are lucky 30 years. 

Thank you Jeff.