My dad says, “I’m ready for a new post.” But my mom’s house has a kryptonite barrier that resists computer connection! And then it turned to . . .
and memories of the island and home and fall and leaves and all of that came washing over me. My colorful little leaf collection I make every year, with leaves gathered from the dirt road where we walk each morning. I string them together for my kitchen window with a needle and thread . . . I
My backyard with layers of crunchy leaves drifting down and clouds of undulating starlings flying over trees and picket fences, the smell of salt air up from the harbor, my girlfriends popping in, not to mention Iris . . . a bit of homesickness seeps into this post . . .
Missing my dishtowels dancing in the cool autumn air . . .
There’s just something about October . . . but since we are now in California, we recognize there are other kinds of beautiful fall days in other parts of our country that “vagabonds with gypsy blood” simply cannot resist, and when you are there, it’s best to play the MUSICA of the neighborhood . . . go with the one you’re with . . .
Hello October in sunny Seal Beach, California! Can you hear the waves roll in? Feel the warm sun and soft breeze blowing? As Marilyn Monroe would say, “It’s all so delicate.”
And here’s a bunch of gypsy vagabonds if ever I saw them ~ heading off to Kokomo!
Just another day in paradise. If you look waaay over there on the left horizon, you’ll see a tiny little white half-moon looking bubble . . . see it? Well, next to it, you can’t see it in this photo, but it’s definitely visible to the naked eye (because of the smokestacks), is a huge gorgeous ocean liner so elegant it sends a chill up your sun-warmed spine. . . and you say, I got to GO there . . .
. . . and when you get closer, if you didn’t know before, you find out it’s the legendary Queen Mary launched in 1936 by King George V (Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather), a world class ocean liner still complete with old world ambience and authentic Art Deco decor and permanently berthed in Long Beach as a hotel with restaurants and bars and tours and shopping for all the world to enjoy! So of course my first thought was, “Let’s go for tea!”
I cannot imagine a better place to park The Fine Romance Van than in the shadow of this great ship. You just drive right up and park and walk right on board!
We were getting out of the car when Joe discovered Petey in his bag. Surprise! I hid him there. 🙂 He’s so happy. I know you can’t see it on his face, but trust me, he’s thrilled. (Petey is thrilled. Joe? Not so much. “What’s this doing here?” . . . I can’t seem to get the boy to swallow all the Kool-aid!)
Our cameras never stopped clicking as we walked up to the gangplank, me, my mom, and Joe.
You get on board and it’s so wonderful you actually want to run in all directions at once. Here we are on the Promenade Deck, trying to be ladies and gentleman about the whole thing.
So much to see! And we get to do it with my mom! The ship is huge; they said if you stood it on its end it would be taller than the Eiffel Tower. You’re free to walk all over it, stem to stern as they say. The ship’s horn blew (honked) on the hour and each time it did, I waited for the ship to do this:
She seemed fully capable of taking off and looking just like she did in her heyday . . . and we kept thinking, you go girl!
. . . Back then, passengers cavorted with the likes of Clark Gable and Loretta Young, Bob Hope and Walt Disney, British royalty and Prime Ministers too. This ship saw more than its share of glamour and we felt it everywhere we went. During WWII she was painted a (successfully) invisible sea-grey color ~ nicknamed the Grey Ghost, she transported thousands of troops and was a hero in her own right. The history of this ship is rich with story and there for the taking and imagining. In the bars, you can still catch the blurred images and feel the anxiety of boys (our dad’s and grandfathers) in sailor suits going far from home to save the world.
. . . and now us, Joe, my mommy and me for a proper tea in the Tea Room, no blurred images, and only one sailor suit . . .
A table for four please . . .
Yes, we will have this. The food was wonderful, as you can see, it tasted just as good as it looked! Little perfect tea sandwiches . . .
. . . egg and chicken, melon and prosciutto, some with caviar and salmon . . . Mom and I had a full tea, Joe had a large shrimp salad. The food was great!
The tea desserts were painstakingly made and delicious! I took about a thousand photos in the Tea Room, but I know you want to see the ship . . . so let’s go do that shall we? Let’s start in the gift shop! It’s the normal thing to do. ♥
If you ever need a crown for any reason at all (and who doesn’t even if it’s just to wear around the bedroom), this is the place to shop for them. They come in all shapes and sizes, sparkly reproductions you’ve seen at many famous queenly events.
They even had crown rings . . . my mom and I had lots of fun in here!
Tea pots, flowered china cups, special teas . . .
. . . all kinds of fun things . . . being the practical girl I am I bought only one thing in there: a red tin box of bandaids that said, “Keep Calm and Carry On” on each bandaid. I could not resist. Cute and useful too. My two favorite things in shopping.
Many of the shops carried vintage-looking clothing and accessories . . . I liked the red shoes so much I looked up the maker, Chelsea-Crew, to see what else they had! I now predict new shoes in my future. Cute and useful!
And look at these darling reproduction watches! Aren’t they adorable? I want one!
The shops look like this and showcase lots of interesting and wonderful things. I bought a gold scarf covered in sequins for Diana! (From the book? To thank her one more time for telling me to go with Joe to Boston! She loves anything that sparkles and I love her! ♥)
Besides the shopping, they have a self-tour you can take that gives you peeks (through glass walls) into the rooms decorated as they would have been back in the day. This is the children’s playroom, filled with old toys and children’s furniture. Many of the original murals are still here too . . . making it very easy to step back in time, and positively no sea-sickness involved! Gorgeous mural huh? Would be nice in my dining room! 🙂
This would have been the Captain’s Quarters. Nearby were the much-smaller, windowless, but still lovely rooms for the Captain’s Steward which included a tiny pantry complete with teapot and bar still filled with the old glasses. I could easily live here if I had too.
Speaking of the bar, here is the Observation Lounge out on the bow of the boat with a wonderful view of the shore, swirly Art Deco ceiling and original mural. Some people seem to dress up and play the part of elegant passengers here.
Here’s a closeup of part of the mural over the bar . . . I love the lady in pink, and the bow on the woman on the right!
There are over 300 one-of-a-kind staterooms you can choose from if you come here and spend the night.
You get off the elevator in the hotel part of the ship and it looks like this, hallways filled with the rich wood paneling and gorgeous rugs that decorate almost every space on the ship. The hotel also has a spa and a fitness room.
Here’s one of the main dining rooms . . . can you imagine? At sea, this beautiful room? Pearls and glittering diamonds and red nail polish, satin, lace, perfume and tuxedos, the band plays Cole Porter. So very extremely civilized. Cary Grant makes a toast and clicks delicate champagne glasses over the gardenia bouquet at table number six! Myrna Loy bursts out laughing. What could it all mean?
Not to be completely outdone in the realm of “not too shabby” here is one of the dining rooms where we had dinner on the Queen Mary 2. They managed to keep the amazing ambience of specialness with a capital H for Heaven, just like the movies.
The Queen Mary is filled with 1930’s sophistication and style, carpets are all gorgeous on this ship! I actually took a photo of every one of them. One of these days we’ll just do photos of “rugs I’ve known and loved.”
And the same style echoes on the Queen Mary 2 . . .
Of course the whole thing comes with stunningly beautiful panoramic sea and shore views! See the tall building with the green roof? That’s where my mom and dad had their first date. He was wearing a sailor suit and my mom tried not to swoon. ♥ We are a hotel dating people, apparently.
For Joe, we saved the best for last. He had tea, he kept his pinky in the air, he dealt with Petey with a certain kind of grace, he shopped, he looked at darling rooms, now it was time to take the elevator to the bottom of the boat . . .
. . . deep down to the bowels of the ship where they keep the engine room . . .
Joe was beside himself in here, he loved it . . . four floors of pipes, funnels, switches, gauges, nuts, bolts, and engine-type things for him to marvel over.
Look at all those dials! So exciting!!! Straight across the room there’s a sign that says, “control panel.” I was thinking we could use one of those in our house. Push a button for instant control! If only . . .
We stayed all day, until it got dark and we think we only saw maybe half of what there was to see. But it was time to get home, must save a few hours for our nightly game of Rummikub and eat our Potato Chip Cookies!
Out one of the windows of the Queen Mary we could see Long Beach Harbor and the docks and cranes where ships from all over the world come to unload their containers filled with goods. So exciting to think that in three weeks, a ship will come into this dock and unload pallets filled with the second printing of our very own book!
Yes, we’re still receiving your darling “traveling photos” — our book gets around! Here it is with our girlfriend June, at Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham on the Cape!
And for all of you who have ordered books and are waiting ever so patiently, your signed copies of A FINE ROMANCE will be the very first to go out in the mail . . . the girls in the studio are ready! Girlfriends, we have sold out of the second printing too!! We are new customers to the Long Beach docks, but they will be getting a third shipment with our address on it at the end of November! Who woulda’ thunk it? We are as happy as those kids riding the waves here in Seal Beach ~ we’re on our own little wave of sorts. I look to the left and the right, and there you all are, on your boards, riding the waves with us. ♥
On October 15, new charms arrive . . . more Girlfriends charms (for those of you who missed the first ones) and our new Fine Romance charms will be here too (to join the other two, the third one’s the charm ♥) . . . and we were so excited to learn that our Tea Tins came in on Tuesday! Along with my two favorite and now our signature blends of tea . . . the lavender tea with roses I wrote about in the book ~ and my favorite organic every-day Earl Grey tea. It’s all here! Most of you have already figured it out ~I used to be the one who gets to announce things, but you are too fast for me! You know stuff before I do! I brought my own tin along with me so I’ve had it this whole trip, but I still can’t wait to see them all at the studio today!
Yes, this is the day we reach our destination for this first cross-country leg of our trip after a month of living out of the back of a van, we will settle in to our house for a month! Squealing with joy (in a whisper, because my mom and Joe are still asleep). I have my tea and I’m sitting at my mom’s kitchen table where, for the moment, I have the quiet all to myself. Only the sound of munch of cookie. The stars are still twinkling in the sky, a little blurry through the soft fog from the Pacific. We’ve had a wonderful time, every day we pick a new restaurant next to the water to have lunch at! Every night it’s Rummikub and homemade something. And later today we’ll drive up beautiful blue Pacific Coast Highway along the ocean, winding past Malibu, Zuma, Trancas, and Ventura, into Santa Barbara, then over the mountains with a possible pitstop at Cold Spring Tavern (if we can bear to stop, those last few miles to home are always the longest, almost unbearable rounding the last two curves) to Arroyo Grande where they are expecting a balmy high of 71 degrees today, thank you very much. For the first time in two years, we will see Kellee, Alfredo, Sheri, and Bonnie (who’s been helping out at the studio lately), and meet the two kitties, the “Studio cats” that everyone adopted since the last time I was there! There are two mooshable, petable kitties at the end of this rainbow! I will need to be careful not to pounce on them! Then I get to have lunch with my darling BFF Diana on the beach at my favorite restaurant in Shell Beach and let the laughing roll! I lived on the Central Coast from 1971 until 1982 (the formative years, but then again, aren’t they all . . .) until I moved to Martha’s Vineyard and I’ve kept in touch with several people there. Lots to look forward too. Four high school best friends are coming to the Remnants Show on November 10th! (I hope if you can, you’ll join us!) Karen (with the beautiful red hair with whom I met the Beatles), Marilyn, Cathy and Linda (we made our Drill Team pom-poms together at a slumber party at Marilyn’s ~ among other things). So much fun! I have a garden here too that Alfredo has been watching over for us. I’ll take lots of pictures! I must close now, with lots of love and kisses. And I think it’s only right that I give my mother the last word: