Boonville… not the novel

Boonville is a town situated in Mendocino County, about an hour north of Healdsburg (where I am currently based, seventy miles north of San Francisco). The reason I mention it is because this morning Char and I drove up there to visit our Anderson cousins, in the appropriately — and coincidentally-named — Anderson Valley. Bruce and Ling run the Anderson Valley Advertiser: an often controversial local newspaper; I don’t have enough time to go into that (sorry).

Boonville is also the setting, and title, of my cousin Robert Mailer Anderson’s first novel; of which I managed to blag a free copy in paperback, to finish reading before I meet up with Robert next week. (Robert, if you are reading this: I’m sorry — I truly meant to finish it before I left the UK.)

We waited a couple of hours at the Anderson compound waiting for Bruce and CJ to return from the dump. But they didn’t show — I did meet up with cousin Ben Anderson though — and so Ling, Char and I travelled up the Ukiah road about six miles to view Robert and Nicola’s 1,200 acre ranch. The views were spectacular, and the house itself reminded me of an upmarket IKEA showroom.

News from Menlo Park is that Jane is quite exhausted. Text messages to-and-fro seem to be a lifeline at the moment. She’s got till Thursday, so pray she’ll be okay, and then we have a week and a bit left to enjoy together; first in Seattle, and then in San Francisco.

(Boonville – A Novel, by Robert Mailer Anderson can be bought on Amazon, ISBN 0-06-051621-6 (Perennial, 2003))


Today was a leisurely day. I woke at 06:30 and finished reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (required reading for linguistic pedants, like myself) and pottered around for a couple of hours, chatting to Char, before replacing the CMOS battery in her PC and troubleshooting her (SCSI) scanner. (I thought I was on holiday!)

This afternoon we took a trip south to Santa Rosa where I spent the afternoon wandering around the Charles M. Shultz Museum. Shultz lived in Santa Rosa until his death on 12 February 2000. The highlight of the museum for me was the giant ceramic-tile montage of Charlie Brown and Lucy, made from individual comic strips. I have a postcard of the wall.

Tomorrow we travel further north, to Boonville, to visit the Andersons in Anderson Valley.

Meanwhile, text messages from Palo Alto have been coming thick and fast, but bearing little actual news about the Enneagram course. The news I have so far: Jane has Julian Anderson’s gift in her suitcase, and her GHD (Good Hair Day) hair straighteners don’t work in this country (despite what something said about them on the internet). Never believe anything you read on the internet!

A Day and a Half

What a long day! It felt like a day and a half, what with us having to wind our watches back 8 hours when we landed at San Francisco International Airport and effectively re-live the hours between five pm and midnight, albeit not strapped into a British Airways seat.

The trip from Edinburgh to London was fairly uneventful: we got on a plane; it took off; an hour later it landed in another UK capital city; we got off. London Heathrow upset me slightly. Or rather, Harrods at Terminal 4 upset me. Not Harrods as such, the “CHILDRENS” signs hanging above racks of clothing, small enough to be worn by infants, upset me. CHILDRENS?! Where is the apostrophe? Actually, I’m now not entirely confident that the name of the store isn’t “Harrod’s” and that it too hasn’t been mistyped.

There is little to report about the flight to San Francisco. It lasted over ten hours, and I watched the first episode of Little Britain (“Yeah! I know!”) twice on my personal in-flight entertainment screen and bugged Jane with Lou & Andy-style quotes: “I wanna go to Florida!”

The breaking of the Fellowship took place at a BART station within the airport as my cousin Charlotte and I waved goodbye to Jane and Dorothy, as they set off in search of their (an) hotel in Palo Alto; I received a text message a couple of hours later to say that they were happily booked in (and exhausted). Meanwhile in the airport, Char and I had to wait ninety minutes for the next bus to take us north to Santa Rosa, where Char had parked her car to drive us the remaining 12 miles north to Healdsburg. Where I am now.