Friday, October 28, 2005

If you're going to New Zealand....

Our most delightful stopover in New Zealand was in an 1860's era church that had been lovingly transformed into a holiday rental. We stayed there 5 days or so and would have stayed on. I told the proprietress Heather (pronounced Heethaah) that I would post some contact info on my blog, so here it is 5 months later, but just in time for summer over there.
The photo with the sailing boats is of nearby Akaroa, a picturesque French colony about 45 minutes away down the Banks Penninsula--which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth that I've ever seen. The Chapel is about 20 minutes out of Christchurch. If I were returning to New Zealand for pleasure I would fly straight into Christchurch and stay here for a week!
Anyway, here's the contact info:

Day Phone:
03 329-6988

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Homeland and the Mad Tea Party


Mad Tea Party

Found these on the web yesterday.

Today we signed the lease to rent our new home in Santa Rosa. I wish I felt more enthusiastic about it. I feel a sense of impending doom, frankly. I want to get the hell out of the US. It's always just a question of where.

Today I also called the police department here in Santa Rosa. They issue permits for massage. The permit is only $100, plus a $32 fee to send my fingerprints off to Sacramento to be checked. Then there's the medical examination form to be filled out by 'my doctor'. The police lady said they are mainly looking for any rash, open sores, etc., and then they need proof of rubella and measles vaccinations. I asked, of course, what if I don't have my childhood records? Well, a blood test will suffice. And of course one needs a business tax certificate and zoning clearance as well, but that's a different department.
Jesus Fucking Christ. It's the blood test that really gets me.
Thank god that Santa Rosa is such an enlightened place to live and work. And that the police are protecting us from all those scabby disease infested criminal massage therapist crack whores who might otherwise be raking in the bucks here.
I politely declined her offer to mail me an application. Sebastopol is only 8 miles away.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Wedding in Redding

P1010021, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

My sister Andy got married yesterday at her church in Redding. Our beloved Aunt Marian and cousin Sandy came all the way from the East Coast to represent the family. We got to have a lovely visit over breakfast, and got front row center seats for the ceremony. What luck!
I think my favorite memory of the wedding will be dancing with Aunt Marian to 'Mac the Knife'.

The Delicate Lodge

P1010050, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This beautiful willow structure was made by Joe's men's group. The couple were seated in this and the guests filed by on the way into the church. I believe the 'lodge' symbolizes the new space that the community must now grant the couple, to be theirs alone, to hold their relationship. It was a subtle aspect of the wedding and very beautiful.
After all the guests had gone in and were singing, a hummingbird came and greeted Andy and Joe, hovering infront of their faces for a time. I call that Auspicious!

Families Join

P1010073, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This was wedding #2 for both Andrea and Joe and their respective kids were very much included in the ceremony. Andy has Katie, Cara and Kelly (and Katie's stepkids Jeremy and Tyler who absolutely adore Joe), and Joe has Daniel. It was sweet.

The Ceremony was Glorious

P1010087, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The whole church was packed (many people had to stand) to witness this particular union. It was a beautiful ceremony that started with all of us singing. We sang them into the church. There was a lot of humor and ease, while at the same time it felt like very strong vows were being made.


P1010152, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

These guys are, like, soooo married!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Let's Go Swimming!

LA to Santa Cruz a (41), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The indoor pool at Hearst Castle. My personal favorite part of the tour. We didn't get to swim, alas. I wanted to try out the diving platform (show here near the center top)

Our Welcome was Warm

LA to Santa Cruz a (49), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Jay and Eileen and the 3 new kittens welcome us to The Garden, their Sufi inspired sanctuary in Santa Cruz. We had a wonderful time!

The Pond and Quan Yin

LA to Santa Cruz a (74), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

We spent a whole afternoon hanging out by the pond with Jay and Eileen. Along with the beautiful goldfish and koi, there are two turtles whose bumbling exploits amused us all no end.
And the Goddess Quan Yin looks on serenely.
The Garden's website by the way:

The Labyrinth

LA to Santa Cruz a (50), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Eden enjoys running the labyrinth at The Garden. We all walked (or ran) it many times. I believe it is based on a Hopi design. The gazebo was also a wonderful place to hang out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Welcome to California Land

california land, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Get in line! Notice the beautiful tile mural, the grizzly bear mountain, the palm trees and the huge aircraft hanger that housed our favorite ride.

California Zephyr

california land (5), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

I loved this train. I don't know if it's a real train or not, but it sure seemed like it. This is where we had our hot fudge sundaes to celebrate India's birthday.

What the Hell?

california land (23), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

We came around a corner and discovered this! Whoa. Big fun, but ultimately not our favorite part.

Rock and Roll

california land (40), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This mobile band was actually quite good. And very loud. They used hula hoops to get the folks dancing.

The Goddess of California

california land (19), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Is there really a 'Califia' or did Disney invent her? Or does it matter?


california land (21), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The goddess of California looks a bit like Whoopi Goldberg. This was truly grand.

Eye Candy

california land (16), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The sun rises on California.

One Big Photo Op

disneyland show (3), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

It was the 50th anniversary and the castle was all bedecked in gold.

It really IS a small world.

disneyland show (8), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

After all.

The Future's Looking Bright

disneyland show (17), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Or is the sun setting on the future?

Peak Oil? No Worries!

disneyland show (47), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Fill 'er up with water! A car-toon car in toon town.

Ain't She Sweet

disneyland show (60), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Eden with Sally. Alas, the Haunted House was closed. It was being retrofitted with Nightmare Before Christmas stuff.

Blasting Off into the Future

disneyland show (18), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This ultra-futuristic ride featured the signs of the zodiac! Very stylized but recognizable to all but the muggles. Krista's car is Capricorn and India's Sagittarius.

Happy Birthday India

disneyland show (51), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Sweet 16.

Evening Tea Party

disneyland show (77), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Very mad indeed.

Tomorrow Land at Night

disneyland show (79), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This thing was rotating everywhich way. Total eye candy.

Really Scary

disneyland show (84), originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This is the glowing contrail we saw from Disneyland on our last night. Yikes!

Our Trip South

We had a rich set of experiences on our southern odyssey. Much more than I expected.
Monday the 19th we headed down to LA. We'd planned to leave at the crack of dawn but ended up heading out at 10am. Just as well. It only took us 6 hours to reach LA and another half hour to traverse that sprawling hellscape to Anaheim.
Checking into our hotel was a very pleasant surprise! Our room was really nice--there were granite countertops, a decent sized fridge and a microwave, a good tub, very comfortable beds. Even the carpet was clean. And we really were directly across the street. The crosswalk was right in front of the hotel! And this was only $67 a night! The Park Vue Inn.
After settling in and making our spaghetti dinner (we pretty much brought our own food, both to save money and for health reasons) we heard loud booms outside. 'Fireworks!' we yelled and rushed out to see. Instead we saw huge bolts of lightning off to the North, followed by intense thunder. The rain chased the thunder and it really poured.
It was still raining a bit the next day as we headed over to get our tickets and tackle the happiest place on earth. The rain didn't bother us, but it seemed to keep alot of folks home. The park was practically deserted! I suppose it's also off season, what with most kids herded into those government run 'education' centers. It was good for us. We walked onto rides I remember waiting an hour to get onto. In fact, we ended up "doing" disneyland pretty much that first day. Or so we thought.
And it was indeed fun, although poor Eden was aboslutely traumatized over a few of the rides and became very distrustful of us. The Indiana Jones ride really did her in. Turns out she thought we were going to the Tarzan Tree House (which is the upgraded Smith Family Robinson Treehouse, by the way). Somehow all the flaming skulls, giant striking snakes, spiders on the wall, the rushing lurching jeep--oh well, I don't see why she was crying. But we had a hell of a time getting her to go on anything else.
Having polished off disneyland we set our sites on the park they've built directly adjacent: California Adventure. We had absolutely no idea what it was, even if it had rides or not. It does. And it's great. What really makes it great is the eye candy of the park itself. Many California icons are present--from the golden gate bridge to the palace of fine arts to hollywood itself. In the evening an old woodie drove in pulling a live and very loud surf band on a trailer. They got folks hula hooping and dancing. Really over the top.
That second day it was rather hot and we were getting footsore, so we went in to watch a few shows. I was cringing a bit, expecting the typical disney patriotic smarm fest. I was very much surprised instead. For example: the first show was all about the history of California. It included the Native Americans and the Mexicans, it showed Chinese getting blown up while working on the railroad, it went into the racism and had one scene of a Japanese mail order bride getting pelted with tomatoes by white thugs driving by in a truck. It also portrayed the whole Hippy movement in a very positive light. There was a montage of famous faces from California history and damned if Jerry Garcia wasn't up there. And Timothy Leary!
The 3D Muppet show we watched had a not so subtle anti-war message. Or so it seemed to us.
I have to admit, disney never failed to impress.
Anyhow, the third day we dragged ourselves around going on our favorite rides again--Soarin' Over California, The Tower of Terror, Dumbo... This was India's actual birthday and our anniversary. Krista got the kids hot fudge sundaes to celebrate.

Right before the park closed we saw something very strange up in the sky. It was an enormous contrail--we could actually see it being formed by some huge aircraft. It was quite dark by then and the contrail was glowing. It was bright white with a bit of orange at the end. I'd never seen anything like it and neither had the other park-goers who had all stopped in their tracks and were pointing up at the sky, taking photos and videos of it. It was like being in a bad sci-fi movie all of a sudden. What the hell is that?!
Krista freaked out. She didn't like it one little bit and wanted to get out of the park NOW. Unfortunately the parade was just ending and about 40,000 other people had the same idea. We ended up getting caught up in a crush, but made it out alive. I was trying to figure out how much time we might have left, if that was a nuclear missle going out.
Turns out it was a missle, or a rocket, from Vandenburg Airforce Base up the coast. Old news to my cousin Laura's family.
We stayed with them in Hollywood, in a neighborhood of huge mansions. We went for a walk the next day and it was astonishing. I found out my cousin's oldest daughter Mars is tutoring a kid who has learning disabilities. The kid is in a popular tv show however, and makes $20,000 a week. I asked Mars 'how much are they paying you?'. $15 an hour. My cousin said that many of her kids friends are 'doing quite well' in the tv-movie biz. Her kids, who are frighteningly good looking, have abstained. The whole thing blows my mind. Fortunately Laura and her clan are wonderful folks and we had a merry visit.
We headed up the coast, out of the smog, and stopped over in San Luis Obispo, a place that seems at least as beautiful as Sonoma County and possibly even more expensive! Then on up to Hearst Castle for a tour. I loved it. But I really had to drag the family along. I think they ended up liking it. It wasn't as gaudy as we feared and seeing the indoor swiming pool was worth the whole trip.
We tooled up beautiful Big Sur and ended up at Jay and Eileen's place "The Garden" which serves Santa Cruz as a Sufi/spiritual/healing arts center. We were made so welcome that we stayed two extra days! Jay and Eileen are wonderful hosts and they had just adopted 3 kittens the day we showed up. This provided endless entertainment for the kiddies whilst the grownups traded stories.
We left The Garden feeling refreshed and re-energized and inspired. And after 10 days travel, flew home from Santa Cruz in just two hours!
It was a lovely trip. Next time we'll bring you along.