Subject: Liisa’s mum Susie hosted us all for a couple of days at her place in Salinas, North California...
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Thursday, 30 August 2001 00:00:00 +0000
To: All

Note before: This is an old “Diary Entry” from the Modem-Help site, re-jigged into the etmg format. The original site is now long gone.

Susie’s home is within a housing development which looks exactly like the homes visited by the Avon lady within the film Edward Scissorhands. Susie is an excellent lady - she looked perfectly marvellous at the wedding - going through a difficult time as she recovers from a serious illness.

Daniel & Becky were fascinated to watch American morning TV, and especially the live News broadcasts. It’s difficult to know, with the on-setting Full Moon casting it’s usual baleful influence over humanity, just how typical the slice of life that we saw was, but a recent Ukrainian Christian immigrant decided to slaughter most of his relatives on one day & on the following day a man being served a warrant for imitating a police officer shot one of the deputies dead and then was burnt alive within his home when tear-gas canisters from the police set his house on fire & it was allowed to burn to the ground - all on live TV.

Whilst Daniel & Becky discovered America through TV and we all tried to shrug off our jet-lag, I spent Thursday & Friday getting to know Susie’s dog Scout and Californian bird-life in Susie’s back garden. There doesn’t seem much point in spending 10 hours in an aeroplane unless the place that you go to is very different from the place that you left. At the time I was continually struck by the lack of difference, but with hindsight that was incorrect.

Scout was a wonderful excuse to take a walk around the local district. Saw some of the ground-dogs (a squirrel-like animal that lives in holes in the side of earth banks) that the area is infested with. Also discovered that the lawns are green purely because the locals water them every night. Water is quite an issue in California. At home the habit of bottled water has taken hold - this makes perfect sense in California where the temperature was about 10°C higher & dry (107°F on the way back to the airport) plus the tap water often cannot be trusted, but a little foolish in a land where it rains every other day. Salinas is renowned as a soft fruit and vegetable growing area. This is achieved with continual watering. The land is about 18 inches of fertile soil on top of Adobe clay. Local farmers have discovered, of course, that the most lucrative crop to grow is housing estates.

Orange & Lemon trees heavily laden with their fruit were solid reminders in Susie’s back garden that this was not Nottingham, England. Also humming birds (I got really excited at these) and blue-tailed Jays with short black ruffs on their heads. Also a nine foot high solid lump of a windowless garden shed - very un-English.

Susie’s son Daryl visited and we visited him at his flat in Monterey. Daryl is the same age as Davin (29) and, of course, a good rivalry exists between the two of them. Not that this affected me at all. The fact that Daryl also has a well paid job providing computer support with a string of boat retailers affected me not at all. B*stard. The visit to Monterey gave me an opportunity to paddle in the Pacific Ocean, although at night. The beach sand was soft, white and beautifully clean, the night was warm, the water incredibly cold and the small waves had a strong suction as if to remind me that a few miles off shore several thousand leagues depth of water awaits. A few thousand yards inland the full depth of commercial hard sell awaits.

Alex Kemp