Have you ever rented a big house for a weekend, big enough to accommodate your whole family? We never had, until this past weekend. We had rented apartments before when we went to Paris a few years ago, so we were familiar with renting other people's spaces, but this house was easily the largest. The one we rented out in Inverness, in west Marin county, was huge - five bedrooms and five baths, plus a shower room, with spacious shared spaces and wonderful outdoor areas, too. It welcomed us all in, all eight of us. There was even a little contemplation garden outside the kitchen door, complete with a Buddha.
You'd have drooled over the amazing kitchen with its six-burner gas stove, dual silent dishwashers, and a big French door fridge. It was stocked with lots of china, glassware and silver, and had every appliance known to man, right down to a little battery-powered doohickey that foamed the milk if you wanted to make a latte.
The weekend started as a celebration for three family birthdays that happen to fall close together, but we expanded it to include all four of our "boys" so none would be left out. We hung out the floating carp that Japanese families use to celebrate Boys Day, one for each male in our clan, and I made My Beloved his favorite birthday cake, Pineapple Upside Down cake, decorated with little race cars since he is such a racing fan. It was originally heart-shaped as a tribute to my mother who always made me heart-shaped birthday cakes but, as you can see, I didn't get the camera out before the cake was half-devoured.
I used crushed pineapple and a yellow cake mix to make the cake, and eliminated those strange red cherries as well as half the sugar in the recipe, and it was still really good and quite sweet enough. We all pitched in to watch the children and share the cooking, the guys did some paddle boarding, the girls did some hiking, and we took the children down to the beach to play in the sand.
We enjoyed the house for its amenities but also because we were all out of our normal spaces and off our turf, had no chores to attend to other than to make the next meal or tend to the children, and had leisure and privacy for good conversations and sharing. We would rent this house again in a heartbeat, but we are also thinking about other locations we might share in the years to come. Because the girls are My Beloved's daughters but not mine, it is a wonderful way for us to get to know each other in a deeper way, to build memories together, and to appreciate each other.
We made up a name for our shared weekends - BaCoCa, combining the first letters of our last names. I hope there will be lots more of these.