On The Trail of Jessica Fletcher

A week ago, I flew home to Sacramento, CA, to surprise my mother on her <significant age> birthday. My dad and I had been plotting for months, so I was pleased that my mom really was surprised. Yay! And Happy Birthday Mom!

Celebratory lemon squares I ordered from a friend and had shipped in time so that I could splurge as well!

Celebratory lemon squares I ordered from a friend’s business and had shipped in time so that I could splurge as well!

My dad and I debated a while about what to do the brief time I was there, and finally decided on our family favorite destination, Mendocino, on the California coast north of San Francisco. As a family, we have been going there for about 30 years – at first we would rent a house in town for the week of Thanksgiving, and a week in the summer. Parking the car and wandering the town and coastline was worth the four hour drive from Sacramento. Mendocino is completely My Happy Place. The Victorian village overlooking the wild Northern California coast is as picturesque as it always has been. In fact, the foggy town has been the filming location of many a movie and tv show – one summer we watched Julia Roberts in a convertible drive down the street over and over as they filmed “Dying Young.”

I love this view...

I love this view…

A very famous 1980s TV show was filmed here, “Murder, She Wrote‘” starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer Jessica Fletcher. We never actually saw any filming, but Mendocino stood in for Jessica Fletcher’s town of Cabot Cove, Maine from 1982-1996, years we definitely vacationed there. We knew “her” house and Hill House Inn, as well as the iconic streetscape of the town. Earlier this year, I binge-watched almost every episode of “Murder, She Wrote” while working on some sewing projects. So deciding to take my mom there for her birthday was not only a no-brainer, but a chance to see some of those famous Cabot Cove sights!

Blair House, aka, Jessica Fletcher's house

Blair House, aka, Jessica Fletcher’s house

Angela Truffles

It’s clear the town hasn’t forgotten about it’s famous (and rather deadly!) past. And I certainly hadn’t forgotten my past in Mendocino – most of the trip consisted of “remember the time…” Over the years, we rented many houses in the middle of town, and more recently, stayed in hotels outside of town. We’ve seen the stores change hands, or stay the same, and the coastline change, but mostly stay the same….

Looking back at Mendocino

Looking back at Mendocino

View in town

View in town

Our favorite shoe store is still there!

Our favorite shoe store is still there!

It was so nice to be home for a while, and to enjoy the rough, foggy coast (bundled up while Washington, DC, sweltered in miserable heat!). Being back in Mendocino made me want to rewatch all the “Murder, She Wrote” episodes – when we got back to Sacramento, I did make my parents watch one that was set in “Cabot Cove” so we could see the sights. I have to confess, I rather enjoyed Jessica Fletcher’s style, since it reminded me of what I wore in high school and college. It was fun to relive the location of special family history, and a television heroine as well. I feel like there were many lessons to be learned from Jessica Fletcher, and that’s part of what makes me want to watch the series again. Being where she once was, decades ago, makes her more alive. I am not the kind of person to make a random pilgrimage of someone I admire, but well, given the chance to see Mrs. Fletcher’s stomping grounds, how could I resist? Add in my favorite place in the entire world, and it was an easy choice. Oh, and celebrate with my mom! I love you Mom!

2016 Mendocino Tiki

I have pictures taken next to this character going back to the 1980s! It’s Tradition!


Let Nature Nurture

There is a lot of pain, fear and anger in the world these days. I don’t know if it is worse than years, generations, decades or even centuries past, but it is certainly stressful. I have been avoiding the news, discussing the news, thinking about the news… I just need some time to recover from the raw emotions of the shootings in the United States, I need time to fully process and recover my strength. I don’t have time to turn to nature to help me heal, so instead, I’ve been hunting through my photos for pictures of some of my favorite healing nature places.


My most relaxing place is the ocean. I love the crash of the waves on the rocks in Mendocino, which is my happy place. But there are many oceans, and rivers, and bays, and lakes, and other places that have water that make me happy.


I love trees, too. I love their huge size, the bright green when the leaves are new, the dramatic skeletons when the leaves are gone… In forests and in fields, and down the street from me. Trees are completely uplifting.


Any bright and cheerful blossom in the spring makes me smile – I can’t get enough of the gorgeous colors around me then. When I lived in New York City, I lived near Fort Tryon Park, and spent years wandering through the park soaking up the vivid colors. And I’ve always loved gardens – botanical gardens, gardens at historic estates, gardens of my neighbors. Bright colors make me happy! 2015_Dogwood blossomsChristina's Flower 2

Fort Tryon Park, in 2007

Fort Tryon Park, in 2007

Just looking at these pictures make me happier, and perhaps more resilient. Of course, they also bring back happy memories, which probably also lowers my stress level. It’s a nice reminder to see adventures with friends and family over the years.

I hope you have a moment to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the trees. It won’t solve the world’s problems, but it might make them easier to stomach. red poppies

Whirlwind Tour Through Northern CA

The Mechanic and I just returned from northern California, a whirlwind tour of my favorite childhood places. Ranging from Sacramento, to San Francisco, to Mendocino and Napa Valley, we covered a lot of territory in about ten days.

The first few days I was on my own in Sacramento at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference. The keynote speaker was Dr. George Lakoff, whose book Don’t Think of an Elephant, I finished rereading on the plane. Panels on making behavior stick, social marketing, and even behavioral economics were all very inspiring. I attended last year, so I had a better idea of what to expect, but nevertheless, I came away energized (as it were) – as illustrated by me at the end of a conference workshop. IMG_7488

Before The Mechanic arrived after the conference was over, my mom and aunt and I went wedding dress shopping. Although we joked about having a “Say Yes to the Dress” argument, we had too much fun to even pretend to fight over something, and yes, I ended up getting a dress. But you’ll have to wait with The Mechanic until June 14 to see it!

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it's nice to think about!)

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it’s nice to think about!)

I dragged The Mechanic around Old Sacramento, where we had a tasty lunch at Rio City Cafe, toured the California State Railroad Museum, admired the new green lanes, and struck up conversations with the owners of Practical Cycle, a bike shop that specializes in electric bicycles and transportation bicycling. Their mission is “to make cycling more practical for everyday people,” people just like me, and I applaud them. More on them in a later blog post.

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Then we spent Sunday night in San Francisco, where I was able to meet up with some friends, and geek out on the vintage streetcars, which I haven’t seen before. I haven’t spent any time in San Francisco in ages, so I was happily surprised at how bike-friendly the city has become. I’m sure any local will tell me it’s not perfect, but trust me, it’s an improvement!

We didn’t bike in SF but we rode the buses and streetcars everywhere. We were amazed at the fact that we never needed a bus schedule to figure out how long we needed to wait – they seemed to appear within 5-10 minutes! I really loved the streetcars, and the fact that they cost the same $2.00 as the buses did. We made use of our transfers, too. The Mechanic was super excited about the fact the electric buses are amazingly quiet.

After visiting Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, three friends, Golden Gate Park and the museums (although we didn’t go in any of them), Huckleberry Bikes, and watching the San Francisco Ballet “Nutcracker” projection in the mall dome, we drove up the coast to Mendocino, my most favorite place in the world, where we met up with my parents, aunt and cousin. We had a rental house just outside of Mendocino village for four nights, over Thanksgiving, allowing us time to really enjoy the area.

We vacationed here for a week every summer and the week of Thanksgiving for years, while I was in high school and college, and we used to consider ourselves locals of sorts. Local tourists? It’s been years since I was able to spend more than one night, and the weather gifted us with perfect warm temperatures and clear blue skies. I could go on and on about this area, but there just isn’t enough space! Pictures will have to do.

The Mechanic and my cousin and I drove back to Sacramento through Anderson Valley, where we did a wine tasting (and buying!) at Navarro Winery, plus a beer tasting at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (well, they did), and had a picnic lunch at Sattui Winery, the most crowded I have ever seen that place. Well, it was a perfect day, so who can blame the other tourists?!

My goodness we did a lot! I think the only reason why we weren’t exhausted at the end of this trip was because Mendocino was so relaxing. Wandering the Mendocino Headlands State Park, sitting watching the waves crash on the rocky shoreline, and just soaking up sunshine was almost all we did. It’s hard to relax and experience everything at the same time, but I think we did a pretty good job this trip! CAM00285