Last week, Fancy Schmancy tagged me for my first-ever meme! I was oh-so-excited, and felt as though I had "arrived" in the blog world for real. But then my kids got sick and work got hectic and I still haven't done this meme. And now the meme "assignment" is just hanging over my head like a little black cloud. Sort of like my car, but that's a different story altogether.
So today I'm going for it. Kid is still sick, but I've got him parked in front of the tv sipping juice for a while, so here goes.
Oh, and I'm not going to tag anyone else for the memes (sorry, Fancy). I am, instead, adopting -- plagiarizing, even -- Whiskeymarie's approach to memes. I hope she doesn't sue me or anything. The basic idea is that memes are welcome to come here and I will answer their insistent questions, but then afterwards they will be put quietly to rest in the back yard. But without Whiskeymarie's little ceremony. I'm not as "sentimental" as she is, apparently.
Of course, if anyone wants to participate in this meme thing, you are welcome to do so. Just consider yourself tagged merely by having read this here, link away, answer the questions on your blog, and comment here to let me know you've done so. Simple as that!
Fancy's meme was apparently actually two-memes-in-one. I can't resist a bargain, so I said I'd do it. But I'm breaking it back into two memes, to shorten things up (the houses meme will take you a while to read, especially if you click all the links) and also to get two posts for the price of one. (Another bargain!) Today, we'll do meme one - houses. Tomorrow, meme two - random facts about me.
MEME ONE -- HOUSES:
Where would you have your 8 homes, if you were as insanely rich as the McCains? List them.
You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains.
When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.
The disclaimer (because I wouldn't be a very good attorney if I didn't throw in a disclaimer here and there, now would I?):
Even if I were as insanely rich as the McCains, I don't think I would buy 8 houses. I can think of better things to do with money than buy expensive houses all across the United States. Then again, perhaps it would help the real estate market and the economy, so it might be a good use of the funds after all...
The answer -- if I had to buy 8 houses, all in the United States, they would be in the following places:
1. Coronado, California (actually, one of McCain's houses is here, too).
Although dubbed "Coronado Island," it's not actually an island, but a peninsula. Regardless, it has some of the most beautiful homes on earth, and the beach near the Hotel Del Coronado is one of the hugest white-sand beaches I've ever seen. Simply awesome. You can see photos of it here. There are also several beautiful, large parks for the kids (and adult kids-at-heart) to play in. It is a short drive over the bridge, or a short ferry ride across the water (bikes welcome on board), to downtown San Diego, easily one of the top 8 most awesome cities in the world.
I don't seem to have any digital photos of Coronado; they must be on my husband's computer. But here is a link to Coronado's official website; they have lots of photos there if you are interested.
One of my fondest memories of Coronado was a trip my husband and I took there shortly after the tsunami hit Indonesia in 2004. We were dining at a restaurant. The waiter had just dropped off the wine and appetizers, and the following conversation occurred:
Waiter: Um, I just thought you might like to know, there's a tsunami warning for the area.
LegalMist: Oh wow. Does that mean they are actually expecting one or they are just watching and will let us know if something develops?
Waiter: I don't really know.
LegalMist: What is the plan if there is one, I mean, should we get in our car and drive to San Diego, or do we go stand on the roof, or what?
Waiter: (Look of concern and worry) Hmm.... I don't really know. (Big Smile) Oh well, enjoy your meal!
And off he went, smiling and humming to himself.
It is exactly that carefree attitude that I love about Coronado. It is as if the people know they are living in heaven on earth, so who cares if there is no tomorrow? Just enjoy today!
2. San Francisco, California.
Mark Twain has been quoted as saying that the coldest winter he ever endured was the summer he spent in San Francisco (or words to that effect). Nevertheless, I find San Francisco to be easily one of the most charming big cities ever, and the weather is just part of its charm. Quaint townhouses, awesome skyscrapers, bustling Chinatown, pretty parks, excellent transit system (including the historic and wonderfully fun cable cars), beautiful bay and bridges, endless museums and other amusements, home of the Grateful Dead.... the list goes on. I could happily live and die there, if only I could afford the real estate.
Okay, I know it seems unfair to put two of my houses in the same state, but they are two of my favorite U.S. cities.
In fact, I almost completely copped out and made city number three San Clemente, CA, which also ranks near the top of my "all time favorite places to be" list. But then I decided that if the "big one" ever hits California, I'd hate to lose 3 of my 8 houses, and also for investment purposes it would be better to diversify.
3. Flagstaff, Arizona.
A quaint town in the mountains of Arizona, with a fun revitalized downtown area near the university (Northern Arizona University), beautiful and historical old homes (a rarity in Arizona, where most everything is new new new), pretty tree-lined streets, and a sense of history. Flagstaff is half an hour from Sedona, Arizona, which is easily the most beautiful place on earth, but rather too hot in the summer so Flagstaff would be a better place to live.
4. Pensacola, Florida.
I know this isn't most folks' ideal city, what with the hurricanes, crime issues, and so forth, but my grandparents lived there when I was a kid, and they had the most fabulous house ever, which is the specific house I would buy there if I could. It was a two story brick house with a basement where they kept the bumper pool table. I still remember the exact address, and I have found it on Google Maps, so I know it is still there even today. Here is a picture of the exact house I would buy:
Not the best image, I know. It was originally taken with a polaroid camera (anyone remember those? They were the pre-digital-age "have to see my photo now" camera), and the photo has become yellowed with age, then was copied on my low-end color copier, and scanned into my "blogging" computer so I could post it here for all three of you to enjoy. I hope it was worth it.
That's me, standing in front of the house with my bike, circa 1971. I think I was a little old for training wheels, don't you? I loved that bike, though, with the fashionable red "banana seat" and the groovy red fringe hanging from the handle bars. Later that summer, my grandparents bought me one of those red flags on a very tall skinny plastic stick that you attach to the back of kids' bikes so people in cars can see them and won't run over them, and then I really thought I was hot stuff. Dig the pants, too. So very.... seventies.
I remember the house as being huge (although I was probably about 10 when they sold it, so probably it would seem smaller now), with very high ceilings (probably cost a fortune to heat and cool), a huge kitchen, formal dining room, sunken living room, marble-tiled entry way, home office with a separate entrance for my grandpa's insurance business, awesome (and fun) giant formal staircase with a big landing that we kids loved to play on, a huge master bedroom suite and two other large bedrooms upstairs, an attic, and a separate garage with a huge "rec room" (including ping pong table) above it.
My mom used to ship me off to stay with my grandparents in Pensacola for at least a couple of weeks every summer, and I had absolutely the best time there with my cousins and uncles and grandparents. My grandmother had a flair for decorating, so the house was beautiful and always looked "grand." I thought my grandparents were the richest people ever (until I met my friend Jennifer Goldstein, but that's another story entirely). Best of all, the house was a short drive away (half an hour, maybe?) from an awesome beach, with white sand, an excellent assortment of sea shells, and great big (to my 5 to 10 year old self) waves. I still have not forgiven my grandparents for selling that house and moving to a smallish condo in a highrise in Atlanta, GA.
If I am ever "Cindy McCain rich," I will own that house.
5. New York, NY
I've never even been there and I have no photos to share with you for this one. I drove through it once, on the way to visit a friend in Boston, but I have never stayed there. But I can't imagine owning 8 houses across the U.S. and not having one of them be in New York City.
6. Charlottesville, VA
This is another awesome university town. It is near the blue ridge mountains (great hiking, beautiful scenery) and just over a two hour drive to our nation's Capital, or (slightly different direction) to the beach in the Norfolk / Hampton area. Thomas Jefferson lived near here, at Monticello, and our fifth president, James Monroe's Ash Lawn estate is here, too. If I could afford to buy an estate like these, I would.
7. Columbia, SC
Another adorably quaint town with awesome houses with hardwood floors, fireplaces, arched doorways and ancient plumbing, curvy-hilly-tree-lined streets, a sense of history, decent weather, and enough fun stuff to do that I wouldn't be bored out of my skull. And although South Carolina has sort of a racist reputation (some of which may be deserved), my best friend who I have known since I was about 3 years old lives in this town. We have kept in touch even through all of our families' various moves which started when we were both about 8 years old. When we get together it is like we still live just down the street from each other and we just pick up where we left off yesterday. So yeah, I'd buy a house there just down the street from her so I could visit her at least once a year and stay a while.
Here is a photo I found on flickr of an old historical house in Columbia SC. The house I'd buy there, however, would be brick, on a larger lot, and surrounded by huge trees.
8. I feel like quite the copy-cat, here, even though I am modifying Fancy's idea a bit. Instead of a houseboat, I'd buy an RV, perhaps something like this one, by Fleetwood. That way, I could explore America's vast interior, visit all the states I've never visited before, and re-live my bus-driving glory days all at once. Nothing like sitting up high in a huge vehicle with ten plus tons of "right of way," cruising the open highway on a beautiful sunny day..... aaahhh, the good old days.