Up on the Mendocino County coast: We drove up yesterday by way of U.S. 101 and Highway 128, through the Anderson Valley to the mouth of the Navarro River, then a few miles north to a place called the Andiron Inn, just south of Little River. Two nights at the Andiron are a gift from our son Thom, who has visited and likes the place. It’s a collection of cottages in a meadow that opens onto a view of the Pacific–hard to go wrong with that. In keeping with sometimes cloying bed-and-breakfast trends on the coast and elsewhere in the Western World, each cottage here has a theme. Ours is named “Read”–there’s one named “Write,” too–and has a sort of library and wordsmith theme. It’s warm and comfortable and well, nice, with some vintage furniture, some vintage and probably long-unread volumes on the shelves (for instance: “Farm,” by Louis Bromfield, and “Magnificent Destiny”–a hard-cover that explains itself as “a novel about the great secret adventure of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston”), and some vintage games. There’s also a Viewmaster with a nice little library of slides (three-dimensional pictures in full-color Kodachrome. Now showing: “Natural Bridge of Virginia,” one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and “Homes of Hollywood,” including the manse occupied by the late Wallace Beery).
One of the games: Anagrams, copyright 1934, Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin. We opened that up, read through the rules, which were only slightly more complex than your average Supreme Court decision, and played. The object: drawing letter tiles at random (and one at a time), make as many words as possible and be the first to make ten. You can hijack your opponents’ words to make new ones based on the single letter you have in your hand or the discards in the middle of the table. The pool of letters seemed to be oversupplied with vowels; all the better to make words like “zouave.” Like Scrabble, which somehow caught on where Anagrams did not, you can challenge words and resort to a dictionary to resolve contested entries; foreign words and proper nouns aren’t allowed (one player suspected the other–names will not be named here–of making up “zouave.” Thank goodness for the Random House dictionary that awaited on a desk nearby).
OK–four stars for the Andiron and for “Read.” Time to go out and actually experience a little Mendocino now.