I loved UC Irvine - Irvine the city, not so much, but the campus, oh my yes. You gotta love a place that names the dorms after Tolkien characters like Pippin, Brandywine, and Gandolf, with one whole section named "Middle Earth"! Both of the girls liked UC Northridge but the "commuter" feel of the campus put them off. Chapman is gorgeous as is Pepperdine, but neither had that certain intangible whatever that the girls were looking for.
I've never been a big fan of SoCal but having a newly purchased GPS tracking system (thank you Terry!) really helped negotiate the seemingly endless snarl of freeways. We programmed the GPS gadget with a female British accent, and the girls christened her "Muriel". Rachel even knit a, uuhhh, unique, one of a kind, little bag to store it/her in (it is very colorful, with pink and magenta yarn, sparkly ribbon and Fun Fur. Y'all know you're jealous, aren't you?).
The girls were marveling a bit at the SoCal freeways. We have really only two or three freeways on the SF Peninsula, none wider than four lanes to each side. Comparatively, LA was just plain scary sometimes. Thank gawd for Muriel and her excellent advice (EXIT LEFT AND KEEP RIGHT IN 500 FEET!) Exciting and fun, but still, it is too crowded and too humid to ever make me happy.
Every single day was a bad hair day for me – in humid weather my hair goes limp and flat no matter how much I threaten it with a blow dryer, and I immediately sweat off all makeup. I gave even bothering with makeup after the second day. After all, nobody down here is ever, ever, going to see me again, fright right?
[I'd insert multiple pictures here, but… well… they've gone missing. Or the little SD card is corrupt. Whatever. Imagine pretty college campuses
[here] - and [here]. [Add a couple of photos of girls trying on clothes they cannot afford]
[And a picture of Erin wearing some really bizarre sunglasses – plastic things with louvers instead of lenses]
Erin totally loved LA and was completely in her element. We visited Hollywood proper (yikes!), visited the Citidel for shopping, and ate too much. Both the girls saw some of the silliness in the "trendy" shops that we visited when they recognized various bits of clothing as coming from directly from Old Navy, the Gap, etc,. but with a spendy price tag attached. All of us were astonished when we went to the beach one late afternoon and found the ocean water to be warm – bathwater warm! The mind boggles! Our ocean up north is not even close to warm - it is more likely to induce hypothermia in under ten minutes even at the height of summer.
Sadly, Santa Barbara (the town I was most looking forward to visiting) was a bitter disappointment. In my mind Santa Barbara was this sweet charming college town, with a vibrant downtown and unique architecture. The periphery is still lovely, but the downtown area has morphed into something totally alien, and not for the better – a long string of pricey high end "name" shops, with a homeless person on every other bench trying to bum a dollar or ten.
Daughter Rachel still has her heart set on Cal Poly, and after visiting the town and the campus I can understand why. San Luis Obispo is what I remember Santa Barbara use to be – a small, sweet, college town. Utterly charming. It is very, very, Rachel.
Somewhere along the line at one of these colleges (Northridge?) my knee registered a vigorous complaint on a set of stairs. And on the next flight I got one of those "well, stupid, you wouldn't listen, so now it is lesson time. TWANG!"
The girls were surprisingly sympathetic, offering ice and venturing into a pharmacy to find me a knee brace and a pack of IcyHot patches. I hobbled a lot and cried a bit. Damn, it hurt.
I finally fulfilled a long standing desire to visit Solvang, a charming but totally tourista Danish village, situated in Santa Barbara County. Bought cookies, limped a lot, and ate ableskivers (which for me was totally hilarious, since I've been making the danged things for years with an authentic pan and all – and I've not a drop of Danish blood in me!)
Home for a week and the appalling state of my carpet (and house in general) had me in a complete funk. Finally, after, oh, 15 years of bitching, pleading, moaning, griping, DH agrees it is time to pull up our pathetic hideous well worn carpet to so we can evaluate having the hardwood underneath refinished. Deep under the carpet lies what once was a beautiful red-oak hardwood floor that was tastefully covered by avocado green shag carpet when we purchased the house so many years ago. Back then, we told ourselves that we'd pull the carpet and refinish the floors after the kids were walking and weren't so likely to kill themselves on a slippery floor. (Rachel, the youngest, is now driving. We've delayed long enough, I think).
DH, however, absolutely had to attend the birthday party of a friend this Saturday, and I was scheduled to work at my LYS, so we agree to tackle it on Sunday. But the party runs late, he visits an old friend, and ends up spending the night in the California foothills, so my brave daughter and I tackled the job on Sunday morning. Traffic rescues intervenes and DH is spared the worst part – dragging furniture and ugly whacked up pieces of carpet about, prying staples, etc… the blisters on my hands have blisters (the only gloves available were useless garden gloves, or way-too-big leather gloves… so blisters. Lots of blisters.) DH gets to pry up the tack strips and haul the big yuck to the dump – which thrills Matthew, home for his weekend visit, to no end, because he loves going to the dump. Go figure.
The part that has me really, truly, bent is the fact that Home Despot, way back in the way back days, installed our now absent carpet. Their ever so careful and delicate carpet installers used this device that I can only describe as the knee-banger, a gadget that was supposed to stretch the carpet in place and stick it to the tack boards. These knee-banger things left sizeable enormous gouges in the hardwood underneath. Sizeable enough that the people I've had out to estimate the refinish work have literally winced at the damage, and cannot promise they can really fix it.
But I'm going to have hardwood floors. Yay! This will, of course, make all of the other furniture feel really, really bad.
We've been going for the shabby-chic look for a while now and have quite successfully managed the shabby part. The chic part really never quite caught up. I suppose when the furniture is temporarily moved out to the garage a tragic accident with a flame thrower could occur, maybe, possibly. Right?