Friday, July 15, 2016

Niecy's Musings and Coastal Fun

Niecy's Musings it is.

I have found myself writing lengthy Facebook posts lately. I just have things to say and tend to spend time there anyway. I decided my personal FB page wasn't really the place for it. Instead I started a new page called Niecy's Musings. It is a public page where I can write my feelings about the world, being retired, traveling, God, whatever. People who do not like to read lengthy posts on FB do not need to go there. That way, my personal page is still for quick, fast humor, messages, etc. I'm a bit excited about it because it means I am wanting to write again!

Now, I still have my writing blog - Zebra Or Polka Dots and More, so I will use both. I found myself writing a poem about the world's chaos, as well as the nation's, recently. It just flowed out. That's when I really love writing, when it flows out of me. I will share my writing in both places since I do have some readers on the writing blog, but have even more on FB. Why not? Some writing is meant to be shared.

We just returned from a six day road trip up and down the west coast. We first drove to San Jose, visited the Winchester Mystery House, went out for a nice dinner, and after two days, moved on. It was quick, but really enjoyable for my husband, my son, and myself.

The Winchester Mystery House was very interesting, not scary as some have reported. The architecture was a mixture of various styles. Of course, I loved the Victorian style of much of it. The inside offered many treasures from cabinet doors that opened to brick walls rather than actual cabinets, tiny steps that felt awkward to walk on, narrow hallways, small rooms with toilets only in odd areas, unfinished rooms, very finished and nicely decorated rooms, doors to nowhere, just an assortment of interesting treasures.

Sarah Winchester was an extremely generous employer and had the money to be so. She made certain all who worked for her were paid well and given comfortable accommodations. She also installed or purchased equipment to make their work less taxing, the best of everything. Personally, I do not believe she was crazy or haunted. I simply believe she was spiritual, which was popular in her day. She was superstitious and sincerely felt building in the house needed to go on 24/7 to keep all the victims of the Winchester weapons appeased. Does that sound a bit crazy? Yes, but I also saw her as a giving, generous, intelligent, lovely woman. I would have loved knowing her, superstitions and all.

After leaving San Jose, we went through Monterey and walked on Fisherman's Wharf. We had a nice lunch there and enjoyed the wharf atmosphere. We could not stay long, but I would really like to return with my husband and visit the popular aquarium there. We moved onto San Simeon with plans to see The Hearst Castle. We stayed one night there and visited our destination after some rest.

I really enjoyed The Hearst Castle and would have liked to explore more. We took one group tour of the Grand Mansion, which took us through the grounds, pools, and rooms on the bottom floor. We also learned about the many parties and visitors who stayed there, Joe Kennedy, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and more. Actually, the castle was a bit gaudy, full of interesting art - paintings, sculptures, tapestries, carvings - and more. That part of it was interesting as well as the architecture. The reason I say it was gaudy, although I'm certain that was not true of the time Hearst lived there, was that every wall was covered. The motif was basically gothic, dark in a sense. It made me wonder. How would someone with that kind of money to burn decorate today? I'm certain there would be expensive art and other collections, but would it be gaudy? I have seen some of Trumps homes on television, never in person, of course. I found his decorating gaudy as well. I believe it can be done with the best of everything, beauty all over, but not overdone. I would like to see that. I will never experience having that type of fortune, however.

The part of The Hearst Castle that I loved were the outdoors. The scenery for miles were mountains, green and brown plants, trees, animals roaming, the ocean in one direction, other smaller buildings used for employees who work on the working ranch, and more. With the sun shining and looking down from the top, it was magnificent.

I really wanted to tour the upstairs and outside cottages, but traveling with my husband is not always easy. He does not find treasures as interesting as I sometimes, and also has trouble being on his feet for lengthy periods of time due to bad knees. We did climb an awful lot of stairs and I worried about him being in pain.

From San Simeon, we drove to Lompoc to visit with some old friends. We stayed one night there, visited with them one evening, had a blast and caught up, and then slept ready to go again the next morning. These friends were originally my husbands, but I grew to love them too. Fred was hubby's best man, an is an intelligent, dedicated, hard-working man, and his wife, Cynthia, is just a beautiful, vivacious, happy individual. She is in the fitness field and full of energy and spunk. They also have two grown daughters who were little last time we saw them. These girls are now women, one getting married in Hawaii in September, already having a little girl with her intended. Cynthia told us they actually married at the Justice of the Peace when their daughter found out she was pregnant. They wanted to be married when the baby was born, but are now having a ceremony to include family and friends. The older girl is working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience somewhere in Iowa. She is following her dreams and is also very happy.

It amazes me how sometimes in life you know people you can be separated from for many years, but still pick up where you left off once you see each other again. That is the way it was with this couple and their family. I just love them and we are planning on visiting more often and enjoying some of the wineries all around them. I just love when I have friends like that.

Finally, we left Lompoc and drove to Santa Barbara to enjoy the beach. After enjoying some very tasty Mexican food for lunch, we drove to the beach area and walked and walked. The beach is always calming for me. It was such a great afternoon. While walking up State Street to see what shops we could explore, we found a great one called The Blue Door.  This little antique shop was three floors of interesting, old, beautiful, well-conditioned furniture, artwork, jewelry, clothing, household goods, odds and ends, and my absolute favorite, books! There was so much I would have liked to purchase, but this is a time in my life when I need to prepare to downsize. I restrained myself, but did take home some treasures - two books, two plates, and a teabag holder. They just caught my eye, I knew I would have a place for each, and they were affordable. One book was a collection of Mark Twain's work, and the other was a treasury of poetry and song by many authors going back to the 1500s. Did I need them? No, but I will treasure both.

We rested that evening at a beautiful Best Western - really nice one on Bath Street - and prepared to head home. After a nice breakfast at The Live Oak, on the hotel grounds, where we discovered the cook was from Hawaii and the menu was wonderful, we headed home to see our pooch and relieve our house sitter. All three of us had a great time, enjoyed our last trip together before our son leaves for college, and came home very happy individuals.

One experience of this coastal trip that I did not cover was the drive! From the San Jose area or a bit further down to San Simeon, the drive was right on the edge of mountains full of curves, turns, heights, white-knuckling moments! I had to keep reminding my husband to keep his eyes forward because he is not comfortable with heights and the trek was frightening. My son and I were both on the passenger side of the truck on the edge of the ocean making all kinds of sounds of concern. I don't know if I will ever take that route again. I know I do not really want to!

We are now home getting organized and back into a routine. The few days before we left were very difficult for our country. It left many searching for direction. It is nice to know that we could leave the sadness and chaos for a few days and enjoy life!

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the Winchester Mystery House, but here are a from the outside:






From the wharf:

Teabag treasure found in Santa Barbara:

Small plate made in Italy. Thought it would be good either to keep jewelry in while on my dresser or even to put on a wall, if I find the right place.

 A Gold Leaf plate made in Japan:

My book on treasury and song:



A sample:


 Another:


Mark Twain collection:





And finally, today's vocabulary:

ameliorate
to make better

                                                   Possessed of broadly humanitarian sympathies, 
he became interested in ameliorating the conditions of imprisoned debtors.

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