The Cambrian

Pines & Needles: Vacation, extended

In 1943, a month before I boarded a train taking me to Camp LeJeune, the Marine Corps boot camp outside of Macon, Ga., I went to see the Broadway production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and thoroughly enjoyed it, never thinking that somewhere down the line I would have a similar experience.

Last November, I decided to spend the holidays with my family. Most of them live in the Grass Valley and Nevada City area of California, with a few holdouts remaining in Southern Cal.

When I speak of family, I refer to the sons, daughters, granddaughters and great-grandkids, a motley group of in-laws and out-laws, a fun-loving, hard-working collection of young relatives.

I had a good time—however, towards the end of my visit, I was ready to come home. I missed Cambria and my friends. The pine forest surrounded us, but the weather was too cold for me, although the snow made for a picture-postcard Christmas.

I went to exercise classes and dog agility sessions with my daughter-in-law.

I went to family breakfasts with granddaughters and their offspring.

I went to the movies. I saw a mutilated version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

I stood on line outside another theater, a line that went around the block, a line of rabid movie fans anxious to see “Avatar.” I couldn’t take the noise and walked out after the first hour.

Oh, it is a splendid visual (you don’t really need the cumbersome 3-D glasses for rent in the lobby).

I didn’t like the movie. I don’t understand the allure of skinny, sexless heroes and heroines cavorting naked through the conveniently placed jungle leaves while snaky tails flicked nervously and red eyes flashed above dull yellow teeth.

I am one lonely critic, for Avatar has pleased thousands of fans and made millions of dollars.

What happened to the suave, well-mannered, handsome leading man, the super sleuth? Look what they did to Sherlock Holmes, a charming, flicker fantasy hero flawed by a narcotic habit only hinted at during the final scene, “Quick Watson, the needle.”

Sherlock has been replaced by a body builder with a propensity for fisticuffs.

It was time to return to Cambria, but I wasn’t feeling well and ended up in the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital emergency room. They found a problem that required daily injections for two weeks, so, like Sheridan Whiteside, who, in the “Man Who Came to Dinner” play, slipped on the ice and broke his leg, I had to stay longer than expected. Hopefully I wasn’t as cranky or as manipulative as Sheridan.

No one seemed perturbed by my extended visit, but I was happy to get on with my life and I arrived home with a smile on my face — Cambria sure looked good.

E-mail longtime Cambria resident Margaret Sherick, a regular contributor to The Cambrian, at