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California Dreamin' 9/6/2016
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We were able to enjoy my nephew, Ryan, his wife and their little family, visiting from Denver, for ten more days in August...and I couldn’t have been happier. Ryan’s mom, Wendy, and I had the pleasure of babysitting for their irresistible 2 1/2 year old, Sonya, and very recent--equally addictive--Arthur, while their parents enjoyed a dinner date to themselves. While Wendy put Sonya to bed with stories and songs, I got to play with little Arthur, feed him and put him down for the night. These little ones are so adorable and so much fun—I just can’t get enough of them!

Later in the week, I attended the concert of a friend of mine, Raine Austin. She is such a beautiful person inside and out…and it doesn’t hurt that she has a killer voice. Her rendition of “God Bless America” gave me the chills!

The following weekend, Abe and I—and the seven-piece band you may have heard at my CD release party—were booked for a wedding held at the historic Huntington Bank Building in downtown Cleveland. We were one of the two bands delivering non-stop music for the reception’s 700 guests. It was quite a posh affair with a number of celebrities and politicians. Best wishes to the bride and groom—we had a ball!

The following Tuesday, Ed, Zach, and his Julie and I flew to Los Angeles, where we would be spending a couple of nights with Ed’s sister, Barb, in Oxnard, roughly an hour north of LA. We flew out Tuesday evening, rented a car and arrived at Barb’s darling home quite late—at bedtime, in fact. The following morning, however, we were out the door by 11 am, seeing the sights of Oxnard and Ventura, with our dear Barb leading the way. Barb is a doll! She is so warm and loving…and a natural stand-up comic, which always keeps things fun.

It was a gorgeous day for visiting the beautiful beaches of Ventura, where we dipped our toes in the surprisingly chilly Pacific Ocean. We also drove around the neighboring towns and took in many sights. All in all, a perfect day topped off by a yummy dinner at Larsen’s.

The next morning we were off to Ojai, where we would meet up with my son, Sean, his gal, Cait and many members of her family to celebrate the 30th birthdays of the “royal couple”. The setting was beautiful Gemstone Ranch, which our group rented for a three-night stay. Sean and Cait came up with the location and the idea of gathering both their families for the occasion—and what a place!

Seven bedrooms awaited our party of 17, along with a Hollywood-style “landscaped“ pool, a tennis court, a full basketball court…and two steer, called T-Bone and Ribeye, roaming the ranch! There was also a pool house with its own living room, kitchen, fitness room and sauna, opening onto a large patio with a fireplace, grill, oven and eating area. The interior of the main house boasted two huge living rooms, a movie theatre and movie snack room, a dining room and a smaller living room, a gourmet kitchen and six bathrooms. Let’s say that as many as we were, we were all VERY comfortably installed.

It was a fun-filled three days. I especially loved playing tennis with my two boys, and also with Ed and Julie. Everyone pitched in for the cooking and clean-up which made things easy and fun. On our first night, we grilled homemade pizzas. The second night, we were treated to an Italian dinner at a lovely winery by members of Cait’s family. Seated beneath the shade of leafy trees at sunset, it was a beautiful setting for a lovely meal.

Our last evening was laid back, with grilled chicken, burgers and steaks back at the ranch, where we were joined by Barb, her nephew (and ours) and his fiancée, in from San Diego. They added an extra Cochran touch to the celebration—this was the night Sean and Cait chose to blow out their candles!

After checking out of this home to the stars (we learned from the gatekeeper/custodian/concierge that Shaquille O’Neill, Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio had all stayed here as houseguests of the former owner) the next morning, we said goodbye to Mike and Loraine, and to Liam, Ally and their two little munchkins, who were heading back to New Jersey.

The remaining 11 of the group drove to Santa Barbara. Ed, Zach, Julie and I had a full day ahead of us before flying home on the redeye back to Cleveland and wanted to make the most of it. Santa Barbara is beautiful! I was last there when I performed with Jim at the Granada Theatre a couple of years ago, but hadn’t had time to take in much of the town. On this visit, joined by Barb, our nephew and fiancée, we enjoyed a yummy lunch at a deep dish pizza place called Patxi’s, and toured the amazing Old Courthouse, known for its gorgeous murals and architecture. We also took in The Old Mission, from where you could still see smoke from the terrible fires engulfing so many areas of Southern California this summer.

Before we knew it, the time had come to say our goodbyes. Our memorable trip had come to an end! We love his gal like a daughter and really enjoyed her family, but as usual, I found it hard to bid farewell to my eldest. Our three days together flew by in a nanosecond! But I cheered at the thought that we would be seeing him at Thanksgiving or Christmas, put on my happy face and just hugged him tight.

We four drove to Barb’s for a quick nap before driving the hour-and-a-half trip to the airport. We left three hours ahead of our return flight, but almost missed it! The airport was mobbed and the normal five-minute drive from the rental car company to our terminal took a full hour! Thank goodness, our flight was delayed an hour too. We arrived home early Monday morning…with red eyes, but California dreamin’ of our wonderful family vacation.

At the end of the month, Ed, Wendy and I attended a concert of an old friend, percussionist Jamey Haddad, who was performing with six other top-class jazz musicians at an intimate club called The Bop Stop. An incredible musician, Jamey just finished a tour with Paul Simon and has toured with Sting. He and his musician friends from Venezuela, Palestine, NYC, New Orleans and San Francisco were there for three nights. We took in the second night’s show, where they played original compositions by pianist Leo Blanke and saxman Billy Drewes. They call themselves “Under One Sun” and are amazing at their craft. I was so happy that I got to see and hear them—they blew me away!

I also managed to squeeze in some yoga fusion classes with Joni this month, several wonderful dinners with Ed and friends, a bit of tennis, a few walks with my sister, Wendy, visits with my mom and downtime with my family. I am truly a very lucky girl…