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  • This time last year I took my first road trip up California's 395 through the eastern Sierra mountains. I went on to Mammoth, Truckee and Yosemite.

It was epic.

The highlights for me were Bodie (Check out my highlights for "ghost town"), Mammoth (reminded me of the Canadian Rockies), and seeing the Donner Party Memorial/area.

It's a super hard state to live in, but it sure is beautiful. (PS: I made a Spotify playlist for just the drive: http://bit.ly/mountainroad).
  • I posted this in stories but  got so many comments I had to post it here.

I'd read an article which said how common an electric kettle is in the UK/AU but not in America. 
This was so interesting to me because my kettle is probably my most used appliance. But when I stay in homes here I can never find one.

A lot of Americans told me they use their microwave for hot water or they have a stove top.

And @astridpiepschyk explained it had to do with voltage. "Most Americans don’t own an electric kettle because the electricity voltage is too low to power a kettle effectively. In Australia, UK the voyage is 240, but in America it’s 110, and not very effective in boiling an electric kettle. It works, but takes a long time. This is why stove kettles are much more common." So what started as a post about how I love my half shelf for teacups in my 1930s cupboards turned into a great cultural and scientific conversation.

This is why I love Instagram 😀
 #hyggehouse
  • Ten years ago I moved to Philadelphia to build Anthropologies first Social Media, Content and Community programs.

It was a dream come true for two reasons. One I loved the company and two I was moving in July which meant I'd have an east coast fall.

It did not disappoint.

I spent every weekend out in nature with rosy cheeks, drinking hot apple cider. All this time later, that fall is still one of my favourite s and I miss it every year.

PS: the last photo is my old garage on my one acre property in Chestnut Hill. I had an 18th century stone home which I loved. I don't think I ever really wrote about this place because i never really settled in. Something I wish I'd done but I was just so consumed with work.
  • I like taking photos at Disneyland that don't look like Disneyland.
  • This is my aunt on my french fathers side. During WWII, she got tuberculosis and was sent to a sanatorium to recover.

To pass time, she and her other young female friends would doll up, take photos and send them plus letters to soldiers to flirt with. Some they knew, some they didn't. Like old-fashioned Bumble. 😀
She was incredibly smart, witty, and fierce. In this photo she was full of possibilities and hope.

She married soon after to an abusive alcoholic, had four sons and quickly got trapped by circumstance and the era.

She was my favourite family member even though I didn't see her that often. I have one hand written letter from her and this photo which are the few family things I have.

I loved her because she always listened to me - patiently and sincerely. She saw who I really was and was so kind about it and oddly relatable. She gave me direction without advice. She laughed often, was direct when needed and sometimes acted soft. She was the only one who ever called me sweetie (my family nickname at the time was Chuck! and my family never used soft names with each other. So sweetie felt so amazingly special). I had 5 other aunts but I called her just "Aunty" as she defined them all. It was only to her that I felt a connection, unconditional love and a sense of family.

Her situation was always pitiful and dire,  but she never acted like a victim. When I saw her on her deathbed she was so small, weak and wilted from a hard life. But somehow she had always given me courage and strength, as if to say to be the possibilities she couldn't be.

Recently I hung out with my two young adult nieces and they both just called me "Aunty." Not Aunty Alex or Alex. Just Aunty.

It made me feel so special and like we have formed the same bonds that I had with my own Aunty. And that I was now being to them what she was to me. 
But more importantly, they helped me change my idea of her - the one that she never accomplished something. 
Because she did. 
She taught me how to be a good Aunty - one of my favourite things to be. That's her legacy which I think is really beautiful.

Well, that and dressing up when you feel poorly. 😀
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There's something so magic and calming about Ojai and this place taps into it so perfectly. And they have the best massages.

My recs? Avoid weekends and holidays. It's insane and the spa isn't as relaxing because it's just so overcrowded.

For rooms, avoid the ones above Libby's Market/Pub (I think they are the original rooms). They're just louder & smaller. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I've had a suite with a patio, bedroom and fireplace down by the spa that was heaven and I've had a larger room by the main restaurant (I can't remember that buildings name) and both were amazing. This past room was in the Topa building which is their main building and it was really lovely (and had a balcony overlooking the golf course). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I've  been here with girlfriends, alone, on retreats with work and loved all the experiences. I know a lot of people who come here with kids (@couldihavethat has a recent post in IG and her blog on why it's great for families) and it's also totally dog friendly (@ScoutStCharming has been). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I  paid for my room 😀 and received zero things for free. So not am ad, just sharing what I love.
  • I found hope in Hope thanks to nature and my nieces.
  • Possibilities.
  • "After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains." Happy 200th birthday, Walt Whitman
  • Spring is always the most alive after the darkest and rainiest of winters. #hyggehouse
  • "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." C. S. Lewis. Or, as the Secret Sisters sang, "Tomorrow will be kinder."

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Everyday Hygge

Walkable Cities

February 14, 2007
Walkable Cities on Hygge House

For most of my life I have lived in walkable cities and avoided owning a car until just a few years ago (and even then used it very, very rarely). There is something to be said for walking cities; a sense of community is somehow (and often unknowingly) created.

Having spent the past couple of days in New York followed by today in Copenhagen, I am reminded of this. I had often heard that New York was a rude, cold, unforgiving city yet my experiences were anything but. When I had lunch with my friends, and mentioned this Felicia told me that New York had a sense of community (Summer and Sara, two transplants to NY who were also there, agreed). When a man tripped on the sidewalk, four people stopped to help. When a tough-looking guy walked down the street and blew off cigarette smoke inadvertently into my face, he apologised. I was often told by clerks to have a nice day and was chatted up on the subway – twice! But I really noticed when, walking with Felicia, we ran into her friend and the next day, when I was walking with my mum who had just joined me, ran into people she had sat beside on the plane ride over!

In Copenhagen, the cobblestone stone streets are large enough for three things; people, cars and bikes but cars get last billing. Here, there are even several walking streets in which bikes aren’t even permitted. Getting around the city on foot allows you to really take things in and see the city in a way that perhaps you’d miss if you were to zoom by in a car.

For me, walking allows me the time to notice how people live where I live; who has moved out, who has moved in, who bought a new TV, what new store is opening and which one closed. I can see flowers coming up or bend down to pick up fall leaves. Walking helps me connect to the buildings, the flora and the people in a way being in a car never could.

It is also how I stay fit; running errands, putting letters to post, getting groceries, visiting friends. But these things are easy to do in certain cities; London, Paris, New York, Vancouver, Copenhagen where the streets are set up for this as are the metros. In most suburban cities (or even smaller cities), walking is harder as a lot of communities do not even have sidewalks or even if they did, there is nothing to walk to (the local grocer and cafe seem to be vanishing in newly built communities). Also transit or walking in most places in the US has a stigma attached to it so getting around without a car is next to impossible.

Living in Santa Monica California I hardly ever used a car, finding it very easy to have a walkable lifestyle. That is, as long as I stayed in Santa Monica. Getting to the rest of LA proved hard without a car. And this is perhaps why I often felt disconnected to LA despite knowing it inside and out and connected almost immediately to New York even though I was still getting my bearings.

I think if a person hasn’t experienced a walking city it can be hard to understand just how much walking connects a person to their city and neighbours. How aware it makes you of others, of your streets, of your businesses and just how much tension it can release when you walk to pick up milk instead of getting in your car (and let’s not even get into the environmental/financial aspect of it).

Oh how I’d love to take city planners and residents of unwalkable cities to those in which you could get around on foot so that they could see the difference walking makes. But since this plan cannot be put into motion for a little while at least, I would offer that if you do live in a walkable city, to walk it for a week and if you don’t, see if there’s anything you could do to make it so.

PS: A great story of how one couple sold their 3,200sf home in the burbs for a 1,200sf condo in the city and the wonderful effects it had on them both.

  • Reply
    JenniferNo Gravatar
    February 26, 2007 at 11:37 PM

    I live in a walking city–Tokyo. The sidewalks are so wide that they are sometimes the same size as the roadways. Lots of walkers, people on bicycles…and you are right about getting much more out of a neighborhood through a walk. When I was forced (at first, uncomfortably so) to walk to a supermarket, train station, etc. over and over again, I was also forced to say hello to the neighbors, stop to chat for a moment, greet the girls jumping rope in the street by name, and pause to pet the dog. Gradually, the pleasantries don’t feel forced anymore, the chats don’t feel like wasting time, and the act of walking and experiencing a place, whether it is home or a totally new area of the city, changes from something I *have to* do into something that I *cannot* live without.

  • Reply
    Britta FlensburgNo Gravatar
    March 2, 2007 at 8:38 PM

    Kære Alex!
    Tak for din fine beskrivelse af dit besøg hos os! Vi var meget glade for at du og din mor var her. Nu er det næsten forår i Danmark… dejligt!
    Du er altid velkommen her, søde Alex!
    Knus til dig fra Britta.

  • Reply
    jennifer | creatingfromscratchNo Gravatar
    March 9, 2007 at 6:05 PM

    The “walkability” (and wonderful friendliness of the city) is why I’ll always miss NYC (my former city) even though I’ve lived in London for the past seven years. Nothing compares!

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