On Wednesday night last week, we hosted a beautiful Passover seder at our home. About 14 people attended, and the food was off-the-charts delicious. Our friend Rose brought copies of the Haggadah that she has worked on for years, a very moving and relevant ceremony. Below is a photo of a chopped liver goddess, made by our friend Eileen.The next morning we left town and headed south for a visit with friends in Ventura, north of Los Angeles. The weather was finally clear, and as we drove south on 101 we soaked in the acid-green hills, the hot orange California poppies everywhere, and the puffy, racing clouds blowing across the azure skies. It was a spectacular drive. We had our little Zuma along, a great traveler.Highlights of this little mini-vacation included the following:
a) staying at our friends home, about 100 feet from the beach, and being able to walk out the door and onto the beach several times a day.
b) a terrific lunch at a place called "Tutti's" in downtown Ventura. Every bite was a melt-in-your-mouth moment.
c) hours of stimulating conversation and laughter with our friends.
d) dinner at a Chinese restaurant (name withheld, I don't know why!) where the food was just awful, and the service so laughable that we felt as if we were in a Saturday Night Live piece. Our waitress slammed trays, ran back and forth past our table, put other people's dinners on our serving table and then shook her finger at us "don't touch, it's not for you!". She borrowed one of our dinner forks to serve something, then dropped the dirty fork back onto our friend's plate. She served our rice in an upside down bowl, on a plate, spilling out in all directions. She brought our water on a tray full of dirty dishes from another table, and shoved it in front of us. "You want water, take it, take it!" It wasn't clear if the water came from the other table or from the kitchen. She told us we couldn't order Mu Shu Pork because she didn't have time to serve it, "unless you want to make it yourselves". Otherwise we would have to wait at least 20 minutes. Sometimes such an outrageous experience can be a highlight - it provides laughter and stories for a long time to come, and this one certainly fit that category!
e) On the drive home yesterday, we stopped in Paso Robles, a former cow-town and rodeo center, now morphing into a little "Calistoga"-south. Probably the movie "Sideways" has changed everything in that part of the world. From King City on south, the former agricultural fields along highway 101 have suddenly all become vineyards. Anyway, Paso Robles now is full of boutiques, patisseries, cafés, French restaurants, wine tasting salons, and little inns. It is nearly unrecognizable from what it was 10 years ago. The barbeque pits and steakhouses are being elbowed out of town by the clink of wine glasses and the aroma of baguettes baking in wood ovens.
f) In the town square in Paso Robles, we noticed something else interesting. A family had brought their boxer dog and her 7 puppies (all six weeks old) out into the park. All the puppies were dressed in various pastel doll dresses - pink, yellow, aqua, mint green, etc. From a distance, it gave the impression of some kind of wierd easter egg event going on, with these little pastel fluff-balls running in circles, and tumbling on the grass as they tripped over each other. Closer up we got to have some puppy-breath kisses from these little wonders. Didn't have our camera handy, darn!
g) back in Santa Cruz, a little sunshine, our wonderful home! But that was yesterday. Today, I'm sad to report, it is raining again. Oh well......