Monday, April 21, 2008

Come To Think of It: Plenty to do at home in these valleys

Cameron Sullivan

Plenty for family to do in Area
Cameron Sullivan
Article Created: 04/21/2008 02:32:28 AM PDT

WHEN YOU live in the most beautiful place on Earth, it doesn't matter if you're a lousy hostess. People still visit. In fact, they don't even care if you're home. They come anyway. Just leave a key under the mat and they're happy.

I'm gambling that the family members who are visiting us this month won't notice my shortcomings in housekeeping, gardening and cooking as readily as they would if we lived in, say, Wausau, Wis., and had to stay indoors more often during an April visit. Not that there's anything wrong with Wausau; I've spent time there and it's a lovely place.

But I’m sure glad we live here instead. These valleys do a lot of good for my reputation.
In spite of the fact that I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head chopped off in preparation for a two-week onslaught of relatives coming to town from both Boston and Chicago, several tasks around the home will remain undone.

For instance, the master bedroom is now home to all the clutter I couldn’t find time or place to put away before the impending, overlapping visits from family members. The home office is even relocated into the bedroom. I keep the door closed.

In addition, rather than spraying weed killer on the tall grasses that recently sprouted in a flowerbed, I instead clipped down the grasses and buried them under some ivy overgrowth. With another heat wave, the grasses shouldn’t grow above the height of ivy until the relatives head back east. At that point, who cares?

We don’t plan to spend much time at home, anyway. When my three kids are in school, the adults will hop on BART and head into the city or visit the many charming downtowns in the area.

My two sisters-in-law and a brother-in-law from Chicago said they want to visit “the shore” while they’re here. I smiled at the expression, explained that it’s awfully chilly on the Pacific Ocean these days and added that with a few extra hours of driving they could reach warmer shores. I’ll even lend them the minivan.

Alternatively, with gas approaching $4 a gallon, staying local sounds better. If a spring day out in nature is all they crave, we could simply visit the shores of Lake del Valle and Shadow Cliffs, hike the Las Trampas Ridge and Mt. Diablo, or take a cruise on the San Joaquin Delta from Stockton. Some tours head to San Francisco for the day.

You can’t beat having natural beauty right in your own backyard.

My dad is happy so long as he’s got a driver in his hand and spikes on his feet. Given that these valleys have at least as many acres of golf courses as soccer fields, I’ll be lucky if I see much of Dad during the 10 days that he and Mom are here from Boston.

After the kids get out of school each day, we’ll spend our time shuttling between soccer practices at the beautiful Emerald Glen Park in Dublin, swim team practices in Pleasanton, baseball games in Livermore, and dance competitions across the Bay Area.

When we’re home, we’ll stay outdoors. The house is really only a docking station for luggage anyway. As a happy result, I’m not stressing out about the dust; we’ll just keep the lights dim at night.

Playing tour guide is much easier and a great deal more fun than having to keep my house tidy, cook gourmet meals and pretend I’m a domestic goddess.

After all, I’m no expert when it comes to hospitality. But whenever the relatives come to visit us in this beautiful place we’ve called home since 1997, we spend wonderful days together building special memories.

And in the end they always go home happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Cameron!

Love the column! Have a great time with the relatives!