I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


It's Wednesday morning and Ron said he'd be here between ten and ten thirty to pick up Ada and me for the annual trip into Hollywood to go Christmas shopping at The Grove. Ada heads out with Bob to Eric's shop and says that she will get Ron to pick her up there, so I wait alone. I am ready a bit early so I go sit outside the front door on a rocking bench seat to enjoy the sunshine. The view is so pretty... the citrus fruit trees, of which there are twenty-five on the property, the tall palm tree in the yard and the mountains in the distance.

After about an hour of waiting I send Ron a text asking if he forgot me and he says he will be by in thirty minutes. I decide to take some photos of the property and the inside of the house, so I won't ever forget it. This house used to be owned by Patrick Macnee of the 1960's TV show, The Avengers. It's a spacious rancher with a lovely interior and spectacular grounds. There's even an outdoor kitchen.

An hour later and still no Ron, so I go inside and bag all of the Skor bar I made into individual zip-lock bags and then put each one in a tiny gift bag. I write 'Merry Christmas ~ Sandra' on each one and put them into two large bags. Then I go back outside to wait.

Two and three quarter hours after I was supposed to be picked up, I hear a car pull up, the doors open, and Nelson's laugh. I gather my jacket and purse, lock the front door, and we are on our way.

We stop off and pick up Ada and Eric at the shop, and after a quick stop for gas and some munchies we are finally, FINALLY on our way. Yippee!!

It's a long drive in to LA and not at all what I was expecting. I had visualized a long road winding through barren desert with cacti and some wild life. Instead it's a freeway passing by strip mall after subdivision after junkyard. Soon we see smog on the horizon and I comment that we must be getting close.

I see the HOLLYWOOD sign and excitedly let everyone in the car know. I take some photos of it and before long, we are somewhere I remember being back in the 90's... CBS studios (I went with my husband at the time to be in the audience for The Price is Right. Despite said ex being in a crabby mood, it was a lot of fun for me). And across the street is The Grove! We park on the roof of the parking lot and take a moment to enjoy the three hundred and sixty degree view and take some photos. Then it's downstairs to meet up with Michael, Brian, Janey and Scott. But I am going to have to split off from the group right away and keep an arrangement to meet up with a guy who is also taking the same online screenwriting course that I am. I made the arrangement a couple of weeks ago. He has been texting me all morning about the time to meet, where to meet, how to get to The Grove, which 'Grove' is it (there's more than one?) etc, etc. I finally turn my phone off as it's costing me a lot to keep texting him back. That and the fact that I don't want to miss a moment with Ron and everyone else has me wondering if this was such a good idea. I especially want to go into the Italian restaurant we are all headed to right now for a bite of lunch as I am starving. But before I can take a moment to duck in with them to at least meet Michael, who is waiting for us inside with Brian, the fellow is at my side. I had spotted him just before he spotted Ron and me from across the crowd and I'd hoped he'd just wait there for me, but he didn't waste a second coming over to introduce himself to everyone. I have a really bad feeling about how this is going to go. Movie people, especially directors and producers and such, are very wary of strangers who know what they do and want to 'meet' them. Everyone wants something from them and so you learn that there is an expected code of conduct and to just put your hand out and introduce yourself before they make the first move isn't welcomed. I cringe both inside and out, tell the gang I will see them later, and start to head away. The guy finishes shaking hands with everyone and then follows me.

He doesn't want to go find a coffee shop until he finds his kids, so we stand around for ten minutes or so as he scans the crowd for them. He says 'hi' to me again an it's awkward. I am feeling like I just want this to be over. But, once he finds his kids and they head off again, we get a drink and sit on the rail by the fountain and spend about an hour talking about the course and other stuff we'd talked about online and it goes really well. He's a nice guy and he's got a good heart - he did redo my website for me for free - and I like him. But finally I say I should get going, I am anxious to meet up with everyone, and so we say goodbye and I head off to look around the shops a bit.

I am seeing a lot of little girls with Pleasant Company dolls and I am beginning to think there might be a PC store around somewhere. Sure enough, I find it almost right away and I am awed as I go inside. My girls each used to pour over the American Girls catalogue and, once we moved to Seattle, I bought each of them a doll and a lot of their accessories. The girls always wanted to visit a store so that they could take their dolls out for tea in the tea room. But there was no store in Seattle. I take out my camera and take pictures to show them later. On the second floor there is an area that has a 'room' dedicated to each doll. I walk around looking for Samantha and Kirsten's, the dolls my girls have. I can't find them. So I ask a clerk and she tells me that both of the dolls have been discontinued. I am so surprised, and disappointed that I can't take a photo. The woman tells me that those two dolls and their accessories are much coveted and are worth five to ten times what I paid for them if you put them on eBay. Wow. I decide I have to call Shonah and tell her where I am and when I do she laughs and says 'really?!'. Then I tell her what her doll is worth and she is shocked but says she would never sell her. I am glad. I always envisioned their daughters discovering them in a box somewhere and playing with them one day.

After an hour or so of browsing around, I send Ron a text and ask where he is. He tells me that they are still all at the restaurant and to come on over. So I head over and see them all sitting at a table outside. It's just getting dark and it's cold out but there are heaters all around the patio so it's cozy. I finally get to meet Michael and he looks exactly like he does in his FaceBook photos. It's so great to finally see him in person. I catch him looking at me and he smiles and says that I look so much better in person than I do in my photos and that there's a lovely 'softness' about my face and that "you're quite lovely. Really." He is so sincere and I am very flattered. I thank him and he tells me he means it. We sit around the large circular table for the next hour or so and I get to know everyone. There's Shaw, a tall and extremely handsome young man of thirty or so - who insists on taking off his jacket and draping it around my shoulders, Ron's sister Jane and her husband Scott, and a lovely lady I recognize from Christmas past photos on Ron's FaceBook page. She works across the street at CBS and popped over for a bit. We munch on appetizers, Ron orders me a Malibu and Coke, and there's lots of conversation, sometimes more than one going at a time, lots of laughter, and I feel supremely happy and content. I haven't felt this good in months.

Everyone still has some shopping to do so Ron and Jane take off together to find something, Nelson and I go off in another direction and we all agree to meet up in half an hour by the fountain. We end up bumping into Ron and the three of us browse and shop together until it's time to meet everyone else. It's now fully dark out and the lights on the trees amaze me - one in particular. Every single branch is wrapped in lights and the effect is breathtaking. The fountain is lit and the water dances in time to the music. The giant Christmas tree, the biggest I have ever seen in my life, is spectacular. The entire place is like a wonderland.

Apparently, someone spied Josh Groban shopping in Barnes and Noble earlier in the day, with his family. I am so bummed I didn't see him... although on second thoughts it's probably for the best as I would have had to say hello and what a huge fan I am and how I've been to every concert he's had in Vancouver and would he mind singing something for me (ok, maybe not that)... basically a make a total fool of myself.

Eventually, we make our way over to the agreed meeting place. Once we all are gathered, and it takes a while as people keep escaping, we head to our cars, stop to take some photos from the roof down to the Christmas display, and then to drive to Musso and Frank for dinner. It's a great old Hollywood landmark and many famous people frequented the place back in the day. A quote from the website: In the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s, the golden years in Hollywood, almost everyone in the entertainment business dined or drank at Musso and Frank. Through the years, waiters served Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Cesar Romero and many more. But the restaurant was also known for it’s clientele of famous writers. The famous back room was home to William Saroyan, John Fante, Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, William Falkner, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and many more.

Ron tells me, as we wait for our drinks, that Humphrey Bogart sat at the back where we are seated now, and that Clark Gable used to sit at the bar. The place hasn't changed at all over the years, apparently, and even a few of the waiters have been here for 50 plus years. I bask in the history as I sit there.

I order a steak and when it comes, it is the best steak I have had in my life. I like mine done medium well and it melts in my mouth.

All too soon it's time to leave and head back into Palm Springs. But first we make a stop at a graphic novel and comic book store for Nelson. We spend about half an hour in there and then get on our way. I am sad to leave Hollywood behind because I don't know when I will be back... it was 13 years since the last time. I hope it won't be that long 'till the next.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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