• 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:
  • 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 πŸ˜€
  • 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. πŸ˜€
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. πŸ˜€
  • The @ojaivalleyinn is one of my favourite places either for a day trip or an overnight. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
I always go when I need supreme rest and healing because I really really get that here. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
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. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €
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). β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € 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). β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € I  paid for my room πŸ˜€ 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."


Cat + Dog Danish Life Holidays

Easter Thoughts

April 24, 2011

Selso Kirk from alex beauchamp on Vimeo.

One of the reasons I was most excited to return to Denmark was because my trip would fall during Easter. Despite the fact that I didn’t grow up in a religious household or belong to any Church (my father was French Catholic and my mum was Danish Lutheran – very different!), Easter was something that was always celebrated – all four days.

Coming to America, it was hard at first to adjust to not having a Good Friday and Easter Monday holiday, to not have the big family brunches and gatherings. To just have a huge cultural shift over what I think is a really lovely (and for some, meaningful) holiday.

My mum and I have been staying at my cousins house in the country where the weather has been unbeatable (clear blue skies and 20C/71F). Prep for brunch started days before; cook books were brought out, grocery trips were made, flowers were bought, cooking was done, candles were secured around. I was going to meet a lot of family for the first time and see others again.

The night before I was giddy as a school girl because, well, the last time I had had an easter like this I was a school girl!

But that night I got word that my cat, Grace, had suddenly taken ill. She was rushed to emergency and things didn’t look good: she had a brain tumor. Although physically in good shape she was neurologically gone. I had to think about what to do for her health and possibly death and it was one of the hardest things to do. I was up all night red-eyed, making plans, talking, sometimes just sitting in the darkness.

The next morning I woke up and the house was fluttering in anticipation for guests who would be coming at 11. It’s one of those times where you just have to put on a brave face and meet people where they are, not where you are.

As most Danish gatherings go, ours went on for five hours of eating (round one, round two, round three), dessert, lots of coffee, lots of stories and even some napping in between. There was lots of chat, chat, chat and it was good.

Some of the family is very religious (my cousin taught Bible study for 11 years) and some of the group are not. I am somewhere in-between. So thinking about the meaning of the day historically, and then the meaning of the day as it was happening now (being with family, enjoying the good, simple life), gave me a lot of things to think about. I wondered if I was being selfish for laughing with my family, for not grieving openly, for not telling everyone what was happening. If it was weird that when I looked at the yard, the people, the food, I felt happy for that instead of feeling sad every moment. It was uneasy to feel torn.

As the last of the guests were leaving, I got word that Grace had passed away in her sleep. The news was far from easy to take and had me devastated the rest of the night. The comforts came from earlier in the day and somehow of having her pass on Easter.

It reminded me of how just a week before my mum and I were at our family’s plot at the Selso Church above. Along side some other family are my mothers parents and we were there to do a little something for her mother who had recently passed away. What struck me was that how in the church yard, which was full of death, there was so much life. From all the birds singing, to the cows grazing on the other side of the wall to the trees just coming back to life from winter. There was this beautiful mixture of life and death. I suppose there always is.

I am often accused of not painting a ‘real’ picture of how things are (IE not sharing the dirt, the hardships, the details) but that’s because I think there are so many hard things to deal with that sometimes the best way to deal with and accept them is to find the good. I’m the sort that whole-heartedly believes that there is good to everything if you look for it (with the full understanding that sometimes this is very, very hard to do not just in the moment, but after a good deal of time has passed).

Easter ended up being that lesson for me; how do you deal with the wonderful right in front when the terrible is also happening? Celebrating and being with family beautiful, wonderful and happy and losing one of my most trusted companions was the most painful events ever.

But then, I think, that’s just a perfect surmise of life; the good with the bad. It happens every day, every moment. The trick perhaps to getting through it all, is to always acknowledge and be present through both so that you eventually get to just remembering all the good.

For that’s really the only way to get from one day to the next, and moment through moment.

  • Reply
    marleneNo Gravatar
    April 24, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    i am so sorry for your loss. she was a beautiful cat.

  • Reply
    JayneNo Gravatar
    April 24, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    I’m so sorry to hear about Grace. There is a cruel irony to losing a little companion at excactly the time you are enjoying a reunion with family. I’m glad for your happy family reunion but so sad at your loss of a little pal. Thinking of you…

  • Reply
    MelisaNo Gravatar
    April 25, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Thanks for sharing. I lost my most trusted companion over the Easter weekend as well. Lady was a gentle soul and she had the most amazing brown eyes and she looked at you as if she understood you completely. I was especially sad that I couldn’t be with her at the end. But I’d still like to believe all dogs (and cats!) go to heaven.
    Be blessed this Easter!

  • Reply
    ShannonNo Gravatar
    May 20, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    What a beautiful post but I am so sorry to hear about your loss. One of my saddest memories still to this day is when my cat of 18 years passed. She had been my best friend since childhood and even now, some years later I still think of that terrible day. I am glad you were surrounded with family and I wish you many happy days the rest of your trip. Your blog is always an inspiration. Blessings, Shannon

  • Reply
    Nina OsterlyeNo Gravatar
    June 14, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    Thank you for your post. I am leaving for Denmark for 17 days in July to visit family and have never left my dear cat,Gitte, for more than 7 days in America. She sleeps on my hip every night and has learned how to open the screen door with her paw. I liked your ending when you said “remembering the good”. That was a very wise observation.

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