My computer screen hasn’t felt much love in the last week. My recent relationship with the computer has consisted mostly of setting up files to copy or move and leaving the room to handle other chores. Then there was the maintenance business a few days ago, opening the case, cleaning out the dust bunnies, and installing memory. I guess that is a sort of love being shown, but not much looking at the monitor.
As if that weren’t enough time away from my desk, there was a rash of errand-running lately. I have mentioned before that a trip to the supermarket—even if you only grabbed a dozen eggs)—chews up over an hour. Naturally, neither of us ever makes the trip for just a dozen eggs.
Just ten days ago, we drove to Bakersfield (that’s two hours round trip); on Wednesday the cupboard was pretty bare, so that meant Tehachapi (over an hour); then yesterday was an LA day. That’s a biggie. At least, for us. Under the best of conditions, it is a four-hour round trip. If you have the misfortune of hitting peak traffic hours or you encounter an accident or car breakdown, it is more like a five-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hour jaunt. Fortunately, we get to set our hours when we are simply errand-running and avoid the worst of the mess. Keep in mind that morning rush hour in LA starts about 6:30 AM and lasts until 10:00 AM. Evening rush hour chews up 3:00 PM until 7:30 PM. Obviously, we invariably catch a portion of the travel at risk of your sanity periods.
Still, we accomplished quite a bit yesterday and, of course, the best part of the trip is always lunch at Viva. In some ways, it’s like dropping by Mom’s on your way somewhere for a quick meal. You know she will be there and you can depend on good vittles. Moreover, there is no need for formalities. Especially if the restaurant is a little slow—and it often is as early as we arrive (usually around a quarter of twelve). On those occasions, the hostess often simply greets us and hands us a couple of menus inviting us to seat ourselves. We head to the back room to pick our own table. On the way back, we say “hello” to the waiters who have been there, in some cases, for close to thirty years.
Yesterday the food was typically delicious and the back room was pleasantly quiet. However, if you should happen to drop in on a Saturday night, don’t have your heart set on a tranquil meal. The margaritas are large, sufficiently potent, and the atmosphere is often raucous.
Weekend evenings are usually noisy because of the riders from Sunset Ranch, a rental stable, located in the basin (the ocean side of Los Angeles). Angelenos, who are feeling adventurous, can sign up for the Friday or Saturday night horseback ride across the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and Griffith State Park, have dinner at Viva in the San Fernando Valley, then ride back to the stables. As you might imagine, most of the riders are greenhorns and by the time they get to Viva, they are exhausted, sore, and often relieved to still be alive. Celebrations are usually in order. Too many margaritas are consumed and the place gets lively. Let’s sum things up by saying that, on more than one occasion, cabs are called, and some of the horses make the trip back across the foothills riderless.
Yesterday, most of the tables were sans margaritas and our lunch was peaceful. As always—along with the beans and chips, there are the memories of so many other meals. Peaceful ones, noisy ones, joyful events and sorrowful ones.