Half Moon Bay and Japanese Tea Gardens!

Hey guys!

 As I was walking along the bluffs of Half Moon Bay last week, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that *this magnificence* is part of my job!  Ten years ago, as I was revising the not-yet-published manuscript of my first book, I never dreamed that my books would take me to places like this...

This was my second author visit to Half Moon Bay-- the first was a few years ago, during which time I fell in love with the place. I'd already been enchanted by the name, because, as you know if you've read my first two books, I really like moon-related things.

Armando Ramirez (above) invited me back this year and I was thrilled!  He's an amazing bilingual librarian who is deeply devoted to his job-- more like his calling, I'd say.  He knows everyone in town, as well as in neighboring towns, and calls them all m'hija or m'hijo. Makes me smile.

On the drive to visit El Granada elementary school (which overlooks the ocean! these kids are so lucky!), he told me all about his personal experiences with los gitanos (aka Rom, gypsies, hungaros) and el cine ambulante (traveling cinema) in rural Mexico-- a fascinating topic that I've been in the midst of researching lately. I was scribbling lots of notes...

His cool librarian colleague, Karen (above) is so much fun to hang out with, too-- here we are with the El Granada school mascot (a dolphin). The HMB community is so lucky to have these awesome, creative, committed librarians.

And here (below) is another one of my favorite HMB people-- teacher extraordinaire, Laurie McMahon, who reads my books aloud to her students every year.  I adore her students, who send me letters with insightful questions and comments about my books (and a bit of psychoanalysis of me--- they're really perceptive readers and notice all kinds of recurring images and themes...). We had an interesting, fun discussion in English and Spanish in the classroom. I also got to visit Pescadero Middle School, in a small, beautiful town down the coast a bit.

On Friday night, I did a presentation for the community, which was so interesting for me because I could chat more with the students and their families-- some of whom are from Oaxaca, where several of my books are set. So cool!

In my free moments, I walked along the succulent-covered cliffs over the beach and savored every last detail of the ocean... the sounds, the smells, the light on waves, the feel of the wind... it all makes my soul happily shiver and sigh.

I walked to the farmers' market on Saturday morning, and bought this entire fresh cherry pie for myself.  It was a smallish pie, and it was fun to just dig into it with a fork and sit on the curb in the sunshine and listen to the band play mellow, funky music.

I spent that afternoon with my good friend, Andrea, who I've known since middle school.  We walked and talked on the beach for hours among the gulls-- such a nice day!

I had a wee bit of time before my plane left on Sunday, so I spent an hour in the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco.  I love gardens and tea, so it was no surprise that I loved this place.

The morning light was pretty and peaceful...

It's funny how safety-hyper (or lawsuit-scared) the U.S. is. A couple weeks earlier, in Portugal, Ian and I scampered up and down towers and castles and ramparts and tunnels and all manner of potentially dangerous-yet-cool things.  And I don't remember any signs telling us to be careful... after all, it was pretty much common sense, you know?  But back here, there are signs all over the place. Sigh.

Lovely, vibrant red temples here and there...

Pink azaleas remind me of growing up in Baltimore.  We don't seem to have azaleas here in Colorado.-- maybe they need more moisture or are less tolerant to cold? I miss them.

Such a peaceful way to begin a day of plane travel.

Thanks for swinging by!