Wednesday, August 12, 2009


A few months back, a series of events that included bad planning, missed phone calls, and sheer forgetfulness found us at our friends’ house unattended. No bother, we made ourselves comfortable riding dirt bikes (well, dirt bike), hitting golf balls, enjoying the view, and playing with goats on their secluded acre spread in the El Cerrito hills. We fantasized about living there.

Later I called Brian. “Dude, if you guys ever want to do a house swap, we’d be down.”

Fast-forward a few weeks and Brian calls. “Hey, uh, were you serious about wanting to stay at our place?” Turns out Brian and Nadia would be gone for extended period of time and needed someone to goat-sit.

We mulled it over. The timing couldn’t be worse. Aaron was in the middle of a deadline and staying there would turn his 5-minute commute into a 40+ one, depending on traffic. I had a hectic week lined up as well, but we decided timing be damned, we were going on a mandatory “Fake-ation.”

Saturday morning rolled around, we handed our house keys off to Eric and Yuni (since they’d expressed interest in “Fake-ationing” at our place sometime), and headed east. The first commute wasn’t so bad, flew there in only 30 minutes, and soon Brian and Nadia were giving us the lowdown as they scrambled to pack and leave town. As they drove off we sort of looked at each other and wondered what the heck we’d gotten ourselves into.

The first day was weird. See, when you go on regular vacation, there’s that whole period where you adjust to your surroundings and familiarize yourself with your new, temporary “home”. If something is missing, you forgot to pack an essential, or your new environment doesn’t offer the same amenities as home, well, you write it off. “Oh well, guess we can’t so anything about it now,” is the mantra.

But in this case all the comforts of home were in teasingly perfect view. “Argh, I wish we had the ______ ... it’s just right there,” and as we’d point over the majestic mountain crest toward the perfectly silhouetted Bay Bridge as it made its way through Treasure Island and onward to San Francisco (and did I mention this place has an even better view of the Golden Gate and Marin?). No internet, spotty cell reception, and minor hangovers did not help us feel any better about the situation.

Sunday morning found us back in the city as there were errands to run and Aaron had to work (deadlines know no weekends). We stopped by the house for a few essentials. Seeing somebody else’s belongings in our environment somehow felt wrong, but it was just the wake-up call we needed. There was no turning back. We’d committed to a week so we’d better start looking on the bright side.

That afternoon, as I returned to the hill with Stephanie in tow, it somehow felt different. We sunbathed, Xochitl played with the animals, I read a novel and, all of a sudden, it felt like vacation. Real vacation.

I could go on and on about how it’s all in your mindset but, frankly, a scenery change helps a great deal. Oh, and being cut off from the internet. This is actually being composed in Word (!) and will be cut and pasted when I return to civilization tomorrow.

And now for the pics...
(taken on the one grey and foggy morning we’ve had)

Bello, the polydactal manx, and Little Girl, the Nubian

inter-species love

Xdog runs from Buddy

run, Forrest, run!

One with the herd

Xochitl joins the herd

(Buddy has to stay tethered since he has a history of wandering. Little Girl, being a good herd-mate, always stays wherever Buddy is)


2beemo said...

Xdog has gotten so BIG!! :)

ana poe said...

She;s not big, she's just large-boned ;)

Actually, it's quite a relief not to worry about stepping on her any more. That was a weird period.