Thursday, June 26, 2008


After the last post about Happiness, I decided to go out and actively pursue a little Happiness. So what is happiness? The Oxford Happiness Inventory, a broad measure of psychological well-being measures happiness as an aggregate of self-esteem, sense of purpose, social interest and kindness, sense of humor and aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetic appreciation - yes! That's for me!

So, Chuck and I decided to finally use the wonderful gift certificate our friends Linda Hylen (Julia Morgan Ballroom), Terry Adams (Nob Hill Ensembles), Teri Menchini (La Bocca Fina Catering), Leighsa Smyser (Branch Out), and Marilyn Tabatsky (Have Your Cake) gave us five years ago for a stay at the Gables Inn in Sausalito. Our anniversary was coming up, so this was a perfect opportunity. This was a beautiful piece of architecture, so we were off on our aesthetic journey.

The Gables Inn was indeed charming and romantic, very clean, spacious, comfortable, and run by very nice people. We went to various corners of the Bay Area and played tourist for 3 days.

We started our journey at Audobon Canyon Ranch in Bolinas, near Stinson Beach, which is only open on weekends through July 13. What a wonderful preserve. There were over 50 egrets and herons nesting in the trees. These elegant birds which are 5' tall swoop down to the lagoon for some fishing, then fly back up to the treetops to feed their young. You get a remarkable view from across the canyon with high-powered telescopes placed at strategic places and docents ready to answer any questions. We were so glad the third-generation owners of this tract of land decided to preserve it so we could all see the beauty of nature and the grace of these birds, rather than selling to a major corporation that had designs to fashion a resort with golf course, condo's and other activities that would have driven the birds away forever.

We took a leisurely drive to Limantour Beach, walked and enjoyed the view, which was just exquisite. Then, we had dinner at the Olema Inn out on a terrace overlooking a tranquil garden. Lovely.

The next day, we visited the Conservatory of Flowers where one room was dedicated to butterflies - live butterflies flying in every direction. They were beautiful, but it was the wonder and joy on the faces of the little children that was even more terrific. We should all be like little kids - seeing things as if for the first time.

Then we went on a docent-led tour of Women Impressionists at the Legion of Honor. Our docent was such a skilled storyteller that she allowed you to get inside the heads of four very talented painters and understand the restricted lives they lived and how it affected their paintings. Before we took the tour, we wandered through the exhibit. We had commented that the subject of many of the paintings were women and children. The women in the paintings seemed to have a far-off gaze as though they had time on their hands, they were bored or sad, or trapped in some unhappiness or another.

After the tour, we understood why. In the late 19th century, respectable women required a chaperone to go out in public. And even then, many public places were off limits to decent women. Women of this strata of society had few duties. They were not even allowed to care for their own children; a nanny did that. This shaped the way women lived. Many of the male impressionist painters of the same time were free to paint either portraits or landscapes or anything they chose to. Thank you Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales and Marie Bracquemond for making inroads for all the women who came after you!

On our third day, finally relaxed and almost entirely blissed out, we got up late, had breakfast with some international visitors, then slowly drove home via Route 1 past Half Moon Bay where we scouted a few locations for a piece were are filming for a bride and groom in early July.

It didn't take long to rediscover what relaxation and happiness are. And, we didn't have to travel far to find it.

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