Sleeping in Angela’s Suite

On a recent trip to the west coast Husband and I left San Francisco, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and took scenic Highway 1 up the coast.  We spent the weekend in quiet Mendocino, a small town on the beautiful Northern California Coast.  Quaint Mendocino boasts thirteen bed and breakfasts, but we choose Blair House, Jessica Fletcher’s home in the television show Murder, She Wrote that ran on CBS from 1984 to 1996. Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher.

I was a bit disappointed when we arrived as the front entrance was obscured with scaffolding as the front of the house was in the process of being repainted and repaired.  Fortunately the workers were gone for the weekend.  The white picket fence was also in the process of being repaired and eventually re-painted.  We were told by Norm, the sole caretaker, to enter from the side gate and go in through the kitchen.  Somehow it seemed appropriate to enter through Jessica’s side door directly into her kitchen where her neighbors and friends had dropped by for dinner, advice or a cup of coffee.  A bicycle was parked near the back door.

We choose to stay in Angela’s Suite on the first floor that featured a cozy but spacious bedroom with fireplace, a generous parlor with a second fireplace and a private bath with a luxurious claw foot bathtub.  Norm provided us with a complimentary bottle of wine from a local winery, Hirsch Vineyards, when he gave us the key to Angela’s Suite.

 Photos by Husband.


Parlor fireplace

Husband and Crone in parlor

Breakfast is served from 8:30 until 9:30.  Norm provided a hearty and healthy breakfast served family style in the dining room and consisted of granola and cereals, English muffins, bagels, fresh fruit,  jams and cream cheese, milk, tea, orange juice, and plenty of good fresh coffee.  The first morning we shared breakfast with two young couples from London who were on their way to San Francisco for a week.

The last night we had an early dinner at Mendocino Cafe, Norm’s recommendation for us, and was an excellent choice.  It was casually intimate with indoor and outdoor seating.  We enjoyed quiet dinner music provided by a talented guitarist.  After dinner we walked along the streets and window-shopped at mostly closed stores as the sun was setting in the west.  Mendocino is a lovely place to visit and much different from my coast in Texas.

Photo by Husband

View of Mendocino

Angela Lansbury came to the United States from England when she was fourteen years old.  She has been a successful actress in movies, television and stage.  This year she was in the Tony-nominated revival of Gore Vidal’s timely political play, The Best Man, along with another octogenarian, James Earl Jones.  She turned 87 on October 16.  It was a pleasure to stay in Angela’s Suite!  For information and reservations go to the website for Blair House.

Related Information on Angela Lansbury


 Maybe it was the heat of August, but as I was out running one morning  last week I thought of cremation.  And when I think of cremation I am reminded of the San Francisco Columbarium that I visited several years ago.  As part of a post-graduate technical writing class I had taken, I had written a piece about cremation versus burial and had mentioned the San Francisco Columbarium in it.  I managed to shock my younger fellow students with the clever title of “The Tomb or The Torch?” 

San Francisco Columbarium

The San Francisco Landmarks website describes it this way:

Columbaria, first built by the classical Romans, are buildings which contain cremated remains. The word is derived from the Latin columbawhich means dovecote.

The San Francisco Columbarium, containing over five thousand niches, was designed by British architect Bernard J. Cahill and opened in 1898 in what was then the 167-acre Odd Fellows Cemetery. In 1910, San Francisco passed a law prohibiting cremations, and the crematory was demolished. Later all bodies in the cemetery were relocated outside the city. The Columbarium survived but from 1934 to 1979 it was abandoned to raccoons and birds, mushrooms and fungus.  The Neptune Society acquired the building in 1979 and over the years has performed a dazzling restoration.”

Inside the San Francisco Columbarium

It is an incredible place full of beauty and surprises around every curve.  The dome,  stained glass and marble floors presents a cross between a cathedral and a museum with a quiet sense of  reverence, mystery and art.  The rounded walls blend with the dome which is capped with stained glass.  The rotunda gives it a feeling of infinity, but  the small alcoves gives one a sense of intimacy.  The settings seem so much more personal than a mausoleum or a cemetery.  Each niche is like a compact memorial.  In some niches the urn is sealed inside with only the name and life dates on a plaque.  Others have a glass front with the urn and a few personal mementos visible –  passport,  picture,  locket,  teddy bear,  rosary,  lock of hair,  good luck charm – to reflect the life departed life of the ashes that now reside there forever. 

Check out the San Francisco Landmarks website and click on the photos there for a closer view of the ones I posted here. 

Cremation makes sense to me, but I just don’t know what I want done with my ashes.  The San Francisco Columbarium is too far away.  Composting would be practical but quite undignified.  I see no reason to have them kept around the house like some odd vase that nobody can find the right spot for but will feel obligated to keep.   To bury them seems to defeat the purpose of cremation.  So scattering seem the best solution.  But where?  I’ll have to be creative.