Whirlwind of Wonderfulness

I adore interesting people and their stories (surprise, surprise). And this past weekend was a whirlwind filled with interesting people sharing interesting stories–which made me a happy camper (who needed a nap afterward).

On Friday, I left my perch in the mountains and made my way to Saratoga to pick up a wonderful friend and co-founder of Anonymous Good. She was staying with some friends and before we zoomed off, she gave me a quick tour of their compound. A true compound–gorgeous at every turn–that included a vineyard, a basketball court, and two garages filled with classic cars that I promptly began to pretend were mine (especially the snazzy little 300SL Mercedes–I think it was–from the late 50’s I’m guessing).

After zipping off, we arrived very early for our meeting at Facebook so our lovely superwoman of a host took us to lunch at the cafeteria. Great food enjoyed outside on the terrace while we chatted away about how incredible her eyebrows were (those arches!) along with awesome initiatives that are underway. (I’m sworn to secrecy!) That was followed by a meeting with several more of the amazing minds within Facebook, then a tour of the rooftop garden that was a terrific end to a great day of discussions.

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(Photos by P)

We checked into our hotel and promptly found the bar. We earned our drinks, thank you very much. Wine for me and a Long Island Iced Tea for P—hold the tequila, and swap out the triple sec for peach schnapps. More conversation in the bar, seated at the table nearest the fireplace. Glowing conversation, glowing faces, and good drinks. Sushi for dinner at a nearby spot I’d found, then we made plans for an early breakfast and went off to our rooms for sleep.

The next day—Saturday—we enjoyed breakfast and chatting with the server from India. He showed us pictures of his hometown that P, by way of “coincidence,” is slated to travel to next year. Nice guy, nice breakfast, followed by a nice drive while we talked and talked en route to the mountains.

After a quick pit stop at Casa de Fruta—for restrooms and wine purchases—we kept on and arrived back at my mountain homestead and waited a short while for our mutual friend W (who created an awesome iPhone App called Mindfulness Daily). From there we zipped off to Bass Lake then picked up our catered dinner, brought it home, and prepared for more friends to arrive for a dinner party.

So when I say we all had a good time talking, here’s what I mean by that: P spent a lot of her career being a journalist, then later served as bureau chief for a major network, and she currently produces humanitarian documentaries as well as frees slaves, serves on various non-profit boards, etc., etc. One of her many, many, many skills includes asking pointed questions that spear into the pulse of something, then oh-so-gracefully will go right for the heart. She is a SKILLED woman at getting stories out of people, to put it mildly. (And no one at the dinner party would disagree with this!)

Wine and Mexican food and fantastic stories of how couples met—all around the table. “When did you know?” etc. And let me tell you, P did not let anyone off the hook and indeed was known to throw a cloth napkin at someone if their answer was…well…shit. (As she would say.) 🙂

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(Photo on left by P, photo on right by W)

The next morning, I took P and W and my pup for a tour of Sugar Pine where I was raised. Then we ventured on to Yosemite for a quick moment to pause and breath and take pictures at the river.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.07.18 AM(Photo by P)

Then we ventured back home where P and W packed up and, after a series of hugs and thank-yous, headed out for the airport.

When I say it was a whirlwind of wonderfulness, I truly mean that we each were challenged to turn ourselves inside out and share, and to do so in an environment where our insides were celebrated—our stories, our interests, our lives—and no matter what we shared, it was wonderful simply to be sharing with people who have, as P put it, big hearts and big brains.

xo Isla


Tahoe ~ Travelogue #2 ~ 2014

Fresh vegetables from our family friends’ garden were cooked to delicious perfection for our summer meal. Eggplant, fresh kale and tomato salad, pasta with basil, all incredible and picked from the perky garden that morning. Nothing like it! We gathered around the table on their deck in Carson City, Nevada—dogs running around the expansive lawn playing with a slobbery ball, the humans chatting and laughing and telling stories of travels and coincidences while traveling. (Funny how many people have experiences running into people they know while in distant locations. Love the way the world works.) 

Wine passed around to accompany the meal—a lovely red I wish I remembered the name of. Eventually the sun set and dessert was delivered in the form of a homemade raspberry tart with coffee (decaf, thank you!). 

My stepsis and I entertain the dogs for a little while longer (or they entertain us?) then it’s time to head back to Tahoe house. Dark roads and satisfied bellies, we’re all happily content. 

Slept soundly until Gigi puppy woke me just before dawn—again excited for another day in Tahoe. Of course now she owns the place so she wandered around, sneaking in bedrooms and doing her best to make sure everyone is up and starting the day! It’s apparently her job and she is very, very good at it. She loves people, animals, nature, and mornings. LOVES mornings, which makes me love mornings. A whole lotta morning love. 

Routine now, I pour a cup of coffee and wander out for a walk with her. Sights and sounds of other neighborhoods are fun to explore. We’re learning the ropes—this house has a huge mastiff that woofs from his stance in the window, that house has incredible birds of paradise, and over there a home with an incredible man-made rock-lined gutter for water overflow that looks more like an artistically designed creek. 

I work for awhile as everyone continues talking about books, ideas, philosophies. My stepdad, a minister, discusses the topic of his next talk and everyone dives in with perspectives. I listen from the periphery as I type away. 

Then, sadly, we must depart. We say our goodbye-for-nows, give hugs and smiles and gratitude, then off we go. 

A terrific (quick) trip and exactly right. 

xo Isla

Travelogue ~ Tahoe #1

Tahoe ~ Travelogue 2014

Quick family trip to Tahoe this year to celebrate my mom and stepfather’s anniversary. Packed up the car, drove through triple-digit temps with the air con cranked to cool us down, and arrived ready to relax and chat with my stepsister who has a home in Tahoe.

We get a tour of the home– first time we’ve all ventured for the visit. It’s lovely and surrounded by tall pines and shimmering aspen trees. We all collapse on her modern and cozy wavy couch that basically cradles you like a cup. Wonderful. And a glass of wine is in order so we pour and pass around.

All satisfied and sipping our wine, my stepsis makes us her fabulous risotto (she’s an incredible chef–we are all so lucky), and we laugh and exchange thoughts and stories and general silliness until it’s time to retreat to our various rooms for a snooze.

Gigi puppy sleeps snuggled into me and wakes me at 4:30am so excited to look out the window at the new mountainous surroundings–especially the chipmunks and rabbits. I can’t blame her, but I do my best to snuggle her back to sleep. At least until the sun rises.

Once it finally does, I take Gigi for a quick walk through the neighborhood of incredible homes–all beautiful rock and wood–with coffee in one hand and her leash in the other. Then I work until the afternoon while the family plays. After I finish for the day, I join for the fun and we head out for mexican food. Margaritas and pina coladas make us all feel like we’re truly on vacation. We all crack up over hilarious little things. We are basically the Griswolds when we travel together.

Next we head for the beach where Gigi can play in the lake, run around in the sand, largely get wet and dirty and happy. “It’s just a really short, tiny walk, just on the other side of those trees,” my stepsis says. A mile later. “It’s really close. See that bush? It’s just on the other side of that.”

Gigi and I amuse ourselves by investigating the wildlife. She’s particularly fond of the buzzing bumblebees, and I admire the huge dandelions.

We reach the water as if it’s a mirage, all of us hot and ready for the cool water, but the drought has been so severe, you can walk about a quarter mile out into the water and it’s still only up to your shins. So bizarre. People everywhere look like they’re walking on water. Sci-fi summer, complete with gathering storm clouds that look like sculptures in the sky.

We find the least slimy/murky area and at least get our feet wet then trek back, a long long long way, to the car. Just as we reach our sanity (and bottles of water), the first spear of lightening stabs at a mountaintop. T-storms!

There is just something lovely about summer thunderstorms. Dramatic sounds–lightening cracking, thunder growling, rain pounding. Love it. We get home just in time to enjoy them. Gigi isn’t at all bothered by the thunder. Instead she just looks outside, observing the show. Little lovebug.

More to come ~ venturing to Carson City to see family friends and enjoy dinner.

xo Isla

(Picture– clockwise from top: 1. Gigi on our long, long, long walk to the lake. 2. Me (left) and stepsis (right) enjoying our afternoon frozen beverages on the restaurant patio. Huge dandelion head. 4. pre-storm skies.)

Back in My Mountains

The back and forth from SF to the mountains generally keeps things interesting. My lil pup and I just returned from the city and had a great time, save for the trip to the dentist. (But I actually like my dentist so, ok, I’ll deal.)

While in SF, Gigi got to walk on leash for the first time in the city. She did amazingly well amid the various loud honks and engine rumbles. She eventually clamored to go faster! Faster! My little 4-month old adventurer.

We arrived to lovely weather and departed on an equally sunny day but in the middle, during our stay, we experienced pounding rain while sitting outside the fantastic pub, Liverpool Lil’s. Beer was enjoyed by the humans while sticks and leaves were enjoyed by Gigi (pic above). Quite lovely, though chilly, the scent of nearby eucalyptus trees refreshed the air as it does. Love that smell. The Bay Area in California is the only place I’ve been to in the world where that refreshing and earthy smell just permeates.

As usual, I itched to write while gone. I am definitely one who thrives when creating, putting my imagination to work. Without it, without that feeling of creation and productivity, my energy dips and the inner doldrums take over (I say, ever so dramatically). So I’m back in the mountains, writing with my pup snuggled at my feet.

Happy weekend to all.

xxo Isla