Today is not only America’s official birthday, but also my friend’s. I won’t tell you how old she is as she could easily get revenge on me on my birthday. And no, she says she didn’t think the fireworks were just for her when she was a kid. She just started a blog herself, at www.portlanderinla.blogspot.com if you want to tell her Happy Birthday.

We left the California desert yesterday. We hear Donn’s parents are having a hard time adjusting to the silence. Last night, we stopped by Oprah’s house to tell her about Oasis, see if she wants to contribute some magazines. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, we are staying with friends in Santa Barbara. I love how this part of California smells—of juniper, cypress, wild sage in the hills, a tang of salt in the air. Today the kids and I went on a hike through the forest. We plunged into a mountain pool, where the water tumbled over boulders and fallen logs. I pondered how amazing this would be for our Mauritanian friends. In his memoir Wind, Sand and Stars, Antoine de Saint-Exupery has a great description of taking some desert people to France, and showing them a spring. They were dumbfounded, and later made some comment about how the God of the French was amazingly generous, giving his people more water than they could use. I can’t remember the exact comment, and don’t have the book with me to look it up. Sorry.

It’s been a great day so far—we’re off to enjoy fireworks over the pier at the beach.

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