Sunday, December 28, 2014

Oranges in December

I shed my jacket
and dust myself with
the scent of orange.

The rains are gone.
The sun is ablaze.
Ripened fruit drops
to the ground
still scorched from drought.

Is winter passing us by?
Or has it not yet begun?

Sharing with Patti and friends at Visible Monday.  All photographs taken at the California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside, California.  Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holidays at the Mission Inn

Where am I?  Barcelona?  Florence?  I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and begin to orient myself.  Oh, yeah, I'm in southern California.  Unreal!  Someone taps on the door.  A waiter brings in our breakfast.  Fresh croissants, danish pastries, fruit, hot coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Sigh.  This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine!

The Mission Inn in Riverside, California, is a destination hotel.  There is absolutely no reason to leave this enchanting castle once you're here.  We came, of course, to see the Festival of Lights, but the hotel is just as magical in the bright morning sun.  After breakfast, we spend another two hours roaming its grounds.  Getting lost underneath the arches and flying buttresses.  Walking up and down stairs and ending up in secluded plant-filled gardens.  Thank goodness check out time isn't until noon.  We are not leaving one minute before!

There is an interesting little museum on site that documents the history of this 1876 adobe turned European castle.  The place is filled with the collections of Frank Miller who founded the hotel and used it as a showcase for the bells, artwork and furniture he amassed.  It is a National Historic Landmark and for all its beauty and splendor, surprising affordable.  Our room was only $169.

I may very well make the Mission Inn an annual holiday event.  It's truly a joyous place!

From Riverside, California, wishing you all a Very Happy and Joyous Holiday Season!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mimi Wears Toile

I lobbied hard to line my bathroom walls with black and white french toile wallpaper, but the men in my family vetoed that one.  "Too girly," they complained.  But when I brought this gorgeous red and white cashmere sweater home for the holidays, it was all thumbs up.  Mimi and I have been sharing it for the last couple of weeks.  Way better than those ugly Christmas sweaters that seem all the rage right now. (And I just don't get!)

French toile, I get.  It is romantic, nostalgic and just plain sweet.  This fabric originated in Ireland, actually, way back in the mid-18th century.  It was a factory in France, however, that popularized it with repetitive patterns of complex landscapes.  It has now seen a revival--not only in wallpaper and upholstery, but in fashion.  There are dresses, shorts, sweaters and even shoes made out of this delightful fabric.  Patterns now include safari scenes and modern city scenes.

Okay, I admit my boys are probably right.  I would have tired of the girly print for my home.  But this sweater?  Never.  It's going to be my go-to holiday sweater for many years to come.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Festival of Lights

I love surprising my travel buddy.  This Christmas season I booked a room at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, California.  He knew nothing about this amazing hotel--a piece of Seville in the desert of southern California.  This place is a Disney Land for grown-ups, especially during the winter holidays when the hotel puts on a spectacular show of lights.
Although you don't have to stay here to enjoy the lights, I highly recommend it.  Only guests can wander through the corridors and see the enchanting inner courtyards.  We got completely lost and ended up going down some narrow back stairs to one of the hotel's kitchens!  One of the waiters laughed when he saw us and pointed us in the right direction--the bar!  We had a nightcap in the lounge before going back up to our room.  We listened to live jazz and strained our necks to take in the entire two-story Christmas tree decorated with creamy white and gold.

We fell asleep with bright lights filtering through the gauzy curtains and soft instrumental Christmas music floating in the air.  I loved the panda bears aglow with orange light outside our room.  When I woke up around 3 a.m. all the lights had been turned off, but the full moon continued to shine.

I fell in love with Christmas all over again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tio's Garden of Whimsy

Tio's Tacos is a Mexican restaurant located in downtown Riverside, California.  Although the fish tacos we ordered for lunch were indeed delicious, it was the over-the-top folk art that we came to see. The visionary genius behind these tin men, bottle buildings and mosaic floors is Martin Sanchez, an immigrant from Mexico who moved to Alta California as a boy.  Like all outsider artists, he was born with an insatiable desire to create even though he had no formal art training.  Instead of hauling the bottles, cans and broken glass from his restaurant to the trash cans (like most people do), he filled chicken wire forms with them and one image after another gushed from his imagination.  Before long, he had a whole village of whimsical people behind his little taco stand.  His restaurant was always full!

I seek out these places whenever I travel.  I get it--that urge to create something out of nothing.  My own garden is rapidly filling up with wine bottle borders and broken glass sculptures.  When my wanderlust is finally cured and I am home more than I'm on the road, I want to live out my days in some isolated corner of the world and bring to life all these crazy visions lurking in a head that isn't enirely screwed on right.  These artists are a little mad, aren't they?  Mad, but loveable.  Harmless. Whimsical.  They bring joy to a world that is governed by rules and etiquette and sameness.  Give me a garden of tin men over a perfectly pruned flower garden any day.