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When I turned 30, I was working at the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts. I had been working there since the Spring of 1976, when I beat out 100 applicants for the job of Director of Marketing for University Conference Services. I joined a demoralized staff working for two long-time University administrators and was assigned an assistant who was too smart to work for anyone else. In the six months between my arrival and my birthday, I finished my Masters Degree in Marketing, left my philandering husband and got the marriage annuled by the Church. I encouraged my assistant to change her name from Debbie Zepplin to Devorah Fox, energized the staff through a reorganization and sold the largest and most profitable Conference they ever had; World Wide Marriage Encounter.

flowers

The two old guys who had been running University Conference Services had been squeezed out by the administration, and I was encouraging the women on the staff to seize their lives and kick out the men who were making them miserable. We decided to have a party at my apartment and everyone would dress up. I cleaned my place, planned the food, and when I arrived at work on the morning of my birthday, my desk was filled with 30 roses. My staff had bought every rose in the Campus Center that morning.

After a day of work, I gathered up the roses, brought them home and put them in vases to decorate the apartment for the party. A couple of hours later my staff all showed up in long gowns they had sewn up for the occasion (not many formals available retail in snowy December Amherst Massachusetts in the 1970's). Some women had dates, some did not and we all had a great time dancing, eating and drinking.

When I returned from Sea Ranch on Sunday, December 17, I was greeted with an armload of roses from Peggy that filled two vases. It brought back memories.

bouquet

The Origin of Sea Ranch

Sea Ranch was created in the late 1970's when Castle Cooke, the parent company of C&H Sugar (California & Hawaii sugar) bought a large rancho at the Northern Coastal end of Sonoma County. The plan was to create a "Stepford Village" that would blend into the coastal environment. No Tuscan Villas like San Juan Capistrano near San Diego. This community was designed to appeal to academics and artists. Architecture, colors and plants are strictly limited to blend harmoniously with the environment. It wasn't long before school tachers were priced out by the rapidly rising prices. Now, Sea Ranch is the playground of the wealthy. All the roads are private and Security will incapacitate your vehicle if it does not have the correct mirror hangtag.

I wanted to visit Sea Ranch since the 1980's when I saw an article in Architectural Digest. A few years ago, Howard and I joined an architectural tour of homes opened to the public as a local fund-raiser. We often camp in the area in a County campground that is part of the original rancho that Castle Cooke had to cede to Sonoma County as part of the building approval process. The campground is on the Gualala River that separates Sonoma County from Mendocino County to the North. We canoe and kayak on the river, and paddle out the to sandbar that separates the river from the ocean.

Our Sea Ranch cottage had two bedrooms and one bathroom and several wonderful decks. The deck off the master bedrom had a hottub, and because of Sea Ranch's strict lighting rules (dark sky) we could gently poach in the hottub and view the Milky Way.

I relaxed by reading the Iraq Study Group Report and starting Tom Ricks' best-seller, Fiasco. It was fun to read these upstart liberal books surrounded by Sea Ranch Republicans.

Now that I'm 60, I feel it is okay for me to be who I want to be, rather than who others want me to be. But I'm not sleeping very well, so I went to a "sleepologist" yesterday to remedy my problem. I hope to look more awake in my next photo.

Sea Ranch