Monday, July 5, 2010

California Livin'

From the moment we stepped off the plane I knew this was going to be my kind of town. Fellow journalist and friend Anne-Marie Johnson who had been a dear friend when Greg and I lived in Cyprus picked us up with her children, Rowan and Molly. We headed straight for Stinson beach with a quick stop at the most amazing Whole Foods I had ever been in. It was newly opened in Mill Valley. We bought up every locally grown fruit and vegetable we could find. Some sprouted spelt and raisin bread, corn on the cob that was so sweet it could melt in your mouth. Some agave nectar (cactus nectar) to sweeten our oatmeal. Yum! Eliza Finkelstein and Alexis Laurent had lent us their house in Stinson right on the beach. We arrived at this magical house with a full size volleyball court in front and a pizza oven and hot tub and sand dunes that made it so private and secluded. We kayaked and went to Bolinas for one night - a hippy, surfer town where the locals are so intent on keeping it private that they tear down the signs so that outsiders can't find it. It was the only place we could find gas. After two days we crossed back over the Golden Gate bridge and made our way down the Slow Coast to the Republic of Santa Cruz. Anne-Marie and Martin have a slice of heaven - 9 acres on top of a peak overlooking the valley and ocean. Their Bernese Mountain dog, Sebastian, greeted us like a bear. I watched the fog roll in and roll out from the hot tub while Anne-Marie took the kids down to the boardwalk and roller coasters. I lay in the hammock looking up at the Redwood treetops while reading an old profile of General Petraeus in Vanity Fair. I started the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I know. I know. It had been sitting on my bedside table, a gift of my aunt Catherine since my diagnosis, but I just couldn't concentrate until now. On the 4th of July we made our way back up the coast to dear friends Lila Rifaat and Pete Steinle's home in Marin. (Lila and I have been best friends since 5th grade and were roommates at Harvard. She has two girls, Ava and Brooke.) This morning we went on a 2 and a half hour hike up and around Mount Tam (not far from where we started in Stinson). The girls all went to Impressionist painting camp. Lila, Pete and I climbed above the roiling fog. The smell of eucalyptus was pungent. Lila is studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York - she has been dialed into the Slow Food and locally grown and low glycemic index, super food diet for some time. We are going to go to Chez Panisse on Wednesday to pay homage to Alice Waters and then have dinner with Rebecca Katz ("The Cancer Fighting Kitchen") on Thursday. I had cleaned up my diet quite a bit since Lila last saw me, but most of the nutritionists had told me one cup of black coffee a day was ok in terms of anti-oxidants. Lila has learned through her studies and Ayurvedic lectures with John Douillard that coffee is a real drain on the lymph system. It jacks up the adrenal system (of course, that's why we get the rush) putting us into a panic state and leads to the production of too much mucus in our intestines and bogs down the lymph system (dairy does the same). It is acidic and we want to create an alkaline environment in our blood through our food to prevent the spread of disease. Acidity leads to disease. Disease proliferates when our bodies are ingesting too many acidic foods and liquids. Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day. This American is going to switch to green tea.