After eight days in Bangkok, wrangling my cousin’s twins and exploring temples and markets, we were excited to to head to the beach. The journey to Thailand had been so arduous with the babies, my cousin’s Climate Change Conference hectic, so we opted not to fly and found a local getaway where we could unwind.
Hua Hin was a popular seaside resort for Thai elite and the King’s summer residence, and now it is popular with Scandinavian and Baltic package tours. It is about a three-hour drive from Bangkok and our hotel organized a van and driver—no car seats of course. The roads were in good shape and traffic not too horrendous, but keeping the babes occupied was certainly hard. We had a giant bag of toys and board books, cheerio type snacks and all the bottle accoutrements and tried to hold them tight, but you can imagine the gymnastics involved.
We stayed at a small friendly, family resort I would highly recommend called Anantasila Villa by the Sea. The pool, rooms and public areas were beautifully appointed and inviting, and the outdoor eating area was dreamy. Continue reading »
I have wanted to pick stone fruit since I moved to California more than twenty years ago. In the interim I have picked blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, apples and some cherries from my urban backyard tree. The lure of fuzzy pink peaches, iridescent plums and, as comedian Mel Brooks would say, “I love a nectarine; It’s half a peach, half a plum, it’s a hell of a fruit” is tantalizing.
Dreams of picking fruit, fresh off the tree dance in my head, particularly in summer. One of my happiest memories was wild camping in Provence waking up in our tent under a reine claude plum tree. We ate so many as we noshed on our fresh croissants and coffee.
Somehow, I always seem to miss the season here, maybe it’s my East Coast sensibility or the craziness in May and June, but finally this year, my dream came true! I had planned a day with my younger son, a good friend and her son. We would pack a picnic, drive to the East Bay and pick fruit in searing heat and then cool off in a pool or watering hole. There are many lists of U-Pick fruit orchards, I picked this one: Farmer’s Daughter Produce and U-Pick Farm.
I tried to maintain that buoyant feeling despite a wrenched ankle, that had me hobbled, and the whining complaints of the the two tween/teen boys we had brought along. I knew they would rather be playing video games, but I also knew that this was going to be fun and rewarding!
Every year around this time we hear railing against the commercialization of Christmas, and the exhortations to shop and buy and give do get tiring, but they’re nothing new. In fact, they’ve been around a long time, since the Middle Ages, as the many Christmas markets across Europe attest.
The oldest, in the French city of Strasbourg in Alsace on the German border, has been active since 1570. Georgia Hesse, in the San Francisco Chronicle, ably describes the appeal of such markets and the particular draw of Strasbourg, where visitors stroll the lanes where Goethe, Gutenberg, and Albert Schweitzer once wandered.
Many markets last through New Year’s Day and some even run through the Epiphany on January 6, but others close up shop on Christmas Eve, so hurry, time’s running out.
I saw him moments after descending from the bus before boarding the boat for the Temple of Philae in Aswan. It wasn’t the white stubble of his beard and close cropped gray hair that caught me. It wasn’t his erect posture in the flowing galibeyah gown or his flashing eyes or the smooth texture of his brown skin. It was the white cotton shirt in his hands.
Simple embroidery decorated the shirt pocket. A buttonless slit ran from near the pocket to the collarless neckline. Cut like a t-shirt but elegant in its whiteness in the desert sun, the shirt flapped like a flag in his brown fingers. Continue reading »
The gnarled, web-like fists of Rosa Santa Maria mystified me.
“It’s good for luck, and smells good in the home,” one shopkeeper said.
The overflowing barrels of dark red whorls?
“Hibiscus.” Continue reading »