From Los Angeles to Glasgow

First read Pamela’s post “Strangers on a Train” (so that you know who Andy is :-))

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dear Andy,

Thank you so much for your letter!  Keeping the postal service going is a most enjoyable endeavor, since it involves writing long letters (and purchasing interesting stamps; I’ve put two of my favorite on this envelope).  I wish I could send a little California weather along with this letter to you in dreich (that really is a wonderful word!) Scotland.  In fact, our summer’s been a bit long in coming too.  Our “June gloom” disappeared towards the end of June then reappeared in July.  We have now, however, had a series of lovely days.

Loch Lomond and Inchcailloch sound truly beautiful.  We recently had a dose of nature in an adventure to Cambria.  Cambria is a four-hour drive north of Los Angeles (assuming traffic cooperates) and is a lovely place to spend a few days.  The coast is incredible, and there are also mountainous areas and forests.  You may have read my mom’s recent blog-post about Fiscalini Ranch (and I briefly mentioned it in a 99 article), which is a 300-acre expanse of land that runs down to the ocean.  We take long walks there, along the many trails.  One leads into the forest and past a midden, which is a grassy hill formed by the debris left by generations of American Indians living in that spot.  Here is a photo:

At dusk, we will sometimes see a family of deer, or pelicans flying over the waves.  Once, on a coastal trail, we were lucky enough to spot a group of dolphins!  And it seems very possible that there are possibly cousins of the Woodland Folk in the forest on Fiscalini Ranch in Cambria!  “The Woodland Folk” is a most enjoyable pamphlet!  Thank you very much.

While in Cambria, we always like to visit Hearst Castle, a mansion built by 1920s newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.  The Castle is nestled in the hills above the ocean, and one of our favorite parts of visiting is the journey up to the Castle, as it appears and disappears in the distance, with an amazing view of the coast below.  I have enclosed a postcard.

I agree that the stories classics offer are most definitely worth the extra effort.  Which ones have you been reading?  I hope to begin reading classics soon.  My dad recently finished listening to the dramatized BBC radio broadcast of the entire Sherlock Holmes series.  I’ve listened to a few, and they are marvelously done. This summer I went through a phase of reading American history.  My mom and I never finished reading A History of US (Applewood School ended too quickly!), the wonderful American history series we used during eighth grade, and so I picked up where we left off, reading about the 1860s through the 1890s.  The author, Joy Hakim, does such a wonderful job bringing history to life as an engrossing story.  One of the lesser-known historical figures she writes about is Alfred Ely Beech, one of the inventors of the typewriter, which he called a “literary piano.”  Isn’t that a wonderful name?  It describes a writing machine so wonderfully!

I have one summer reading book for school, which I recently began.  It is called Sophie’s World, and as its subtitle states, is “A Novel About the History of Philosophy.”  It is so far a very interesting read, about a fourteen-year-old Norwegian girl who begins receiving anonymous letters about the history of philosophy, introducing her to the ideas of Democritus, Socrates, Plato, and through to Darwin.  The author, Jostein Gaarder, was a philosophy teacher, and writes the book as a cross between fiction and nonfiction (the letters from the anonymous philosopher).

Another idea for your list of books that every young perosn should read just struck me!  Have you read E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World?  It was originally written in German in the 1930s for schoolchildren, but continues to be a wonderfully written account of world history.  Gombrich has an interesting story too.  He was an art historian, and wrote the book The Story of Art.  During World War Two, he went to England where he had a job translating German propaganda for the British government.  I have read about half of A Little History of the World, and it is fascinating.  If you have a chance, you can see if it seems like a good book to add to your list (though then it would be a list of more than 50 books, wouldn’t it?).

My parents and I recently went on our usual summer visit to the Getty Center.  We went on what turned out to be a very busy day, and so we decided to walk up the hill to the museum instead of taking the tram.  It is a fairly quick walk, with trees lining one side of the road.  Anyhow, the exhibit we saw was of Klimt sketches (the other enclosed postcard).  It was a wonderful exhibit, and so neat to see such amazing drawings.  Writing of museums, I think it is wonderful that the Kelvingrove Museum has organ concerts!  When we visited the V&A the last time we were in London, there was a student from the Royal College of Music playing the piano in the café, which was quite lovely.  And thank you for the postcard of The Annunciation!  It does indeed have remarkable perspective, and the background view of a lake is so interesting.  This is one of my mom’s and my favorite paintings at the Getty, which also uses light and perspective in a very interesting way:

It is called A Woman Preparing Bread and Butter for a Boy and the artist is Pieter de Hooch.  We once were sitting looking at it when a tour guide brought a group by and stopped in front of us.  She said, “Now, this painting looks pretty boring at first….” My mom and I looked at each other, horrified, for we had just been discussing how interesting it was!

Please say hello to Mary Jo for me.  My parents and I are so looking forward to seeing you both soon!



Natalie & Andy Viewing Postcards in Paris


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