Hotel California

  • Jul 29, 2010

In the nightstand are snacks: two cans of mixed nuts, a box of Samoas and Thin Mints– yes, Thin Mints!, in the familiar green box with two sleeves of divine cookie confection. Thick white towels are piled on the wooden chair while San Diego postcards and a book of stamps lie on the desk. Extra toiletries fill a basket in the armoire and a half dozen pillows adorn the king sized bed.



Skylights in the family room and kitchen project the illusion that the lights have been left on, and everything from the orange rug, the rumpled canvas couches, the butter spread walls evoke warmth and comfort. Great glass doors open to the garden where trees hang heavy with oranges, lemons, nectarines, limes, dragonfruit. Tomatoes, basil and strawberries crowd the beds and lush red roses hang from an overgrown tree.

Eight boxes of cereal line the counter (in hopes that everyone will be tempted by something), but most days, my sister whips up waffles or blueberry muffins as an extra indulgence.

We tried to master the art of the Pride and Prejudice clean-up. You know the scene where they spot Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy walking towards the house and whirl about cleaning the rooms in minutes? We didn’t clean for visitors, but simply to keep the dishwasher running and the table clear enough for long games of Risk, discussions of our secret superpowers and ‘What animal would be your patronus?’ (mine is a lioness).


this is for all those people who come to my blog simply to see boys flexing 😉


Could there be anything more flattering than family who regard your visit as the greatest event of the summer? Cousins who created a paper chain in March just to count down the days until your arrival? Is there a sweeter hostess than my darling sister?






Our days were spent at the beach, the pool, Balboa Park (which pained my photographer soul– I must, I need to, go back on a morning or at dusk when the light hangs heavy and low), easy runs and long talks. My camera lay idle while I curled on the couch and read three thick novels:


Does everyone who visits San Diego dream of moving there? My mind is thrumming with plots and plans to find a blue-shuttered cottage and bask in the perfect climate that leaves my skin soft, curls Mary’s hair into gentle ringlets and requires nothing heavier than a sweatshirt or a raincoat even in winter.




I’m tempted by the beach, the buildings, the exquisite photographer light– but most of all by my lovely, luminous sister.

July 26, 2010
August 3, 2010



  1. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    Oh wonderful! A blue shuttered cottage with fruit trees in the back yard and a really nice sister? I wanna move to San Diego too! Looks like a fabulous trip. Thanks for sharing. Your photos always leave me in awe.

  2. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    A coworker left last night for a weekend in San Diego and now I’m even more tempted to plan a post-summer trip there. So happy to hear you’re having a wonderful time.

  3. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    How perfectly Mary’s suit matched her cast. How is her sweet little arm?

    I do so appreciate the boy flexing photos I admit.

    The Moosewood cookbook – a favorite of mine.

    Radiant sister – gorgeous, happy.

    Everything about this post made me smile. Just like you always do.

  4. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    Oh, how you make me miss it. The beach is divine and the weather wonderful, but what draws me back are the amazing people, including your sweet sister and her beautiful family. Thank you for sharing them with us. And thanks for posting pictures; it makes me feel like I got a little vacation of my own jut before finals week :]

  5. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    I heart San Diego, too.

    And can I just say how gorgeous your pics are? I mean really really gorgeous.

  6. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    My siblings and I were all born in San Diego; my parents lived there for 15 years and they still talk about how much they miss it (25 years after moving away). We do family vacations there occasionally and always end up wanting to go back. It’s a lovely place.

  7. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    Luminous is an obvious trait in your family, lovely!

  8. Reply

    martha corinna

    July 30, 2010

    You live a beautiful life Michelle!

  9. Reply


    July 30, 2010

    As silly as it sounds, this post has me in tears. Not just small drips down the face, but a deep, sad cry. How I loved that place–everything about it. And I still feel like a little girl that has been taken from her home. Two years and I still get terribly homesick

    And best of all, there is Ruth. She is absolutely one in a million. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts and beautiful photos.

  10. Reply


    July 31, 2010

    Sigh. I love San Diego. I was just thinking tonite that I need to get down there again.

  11. Reply


    August 1, 2010


  12. Reply


    August 1, 2010

    Beautiful, beautiful photos! This is what summer was made for. San Diego looks so inviting. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Reply


    August 1, 2010

    I love San Diego so much. We went to see a play at the Old Globe in Balboa park and I fell in love with it. We have family in Delmar and every time it breaks my heart to leave I love it so much too. No Michelle I love you 🙂

  14. Reply

    House of Estrogen

    August 1, 2010

    Sigh… I want photography lessons from you! Can I come on your next trip with you and take lessons??? Pretty please????

  15. Reply


    August 1, 2010

    My dream is to live within five minutes of my sister. (I used to, and it was heaven.)

    We love San Diego, too. Looks like your time there was everything…and then some!


  16. Reply


    August 2, 2010

    whenever i’m in california these days, i marvel at how i never really “saw” it while i was growing up there. as if i was in a dream all those years, i didn’t realize how unique it was…having no basis for comparison. the lovely, mild weather was lost on me. the amazingly diverse vegetation, which surely was the inspiration behind so many of Dr. Seuss’s crazy creations, went unnoticed.

    now i revel in the walks i take there, enjoying the architecture, plants, and of course the wild, wondrous ocean.

    i didn’t miss life near the ocean when i moved away for college, and had no interest in returning to raise my family there…probably because i was working through the pain of my own childhood. but i have come to just love it and appreciate, retroactively, all the wonders of that amazing part of this planet. so glad your family has a sweet-spot to land there! Ruth is wonderful. ♥

  17. Reply


    August 3, 2010

    I had the pleasure of visiting this very same Hotel California back in March, and I would agree with you on all points – especially the best part being Ruth. I miss San Diego terribly, but mostly because of the Mitchells…