California Sunshine – Luxury No More: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice


Fresh California Orange Juice from

I am standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. A coffee maker is gurgling just to the right, and a few feet behind me there is a skillet with onions and potatoes cut in small cubes, destined to become a diner-worthy accompaniment to the eggs and toast. It’s cold in our small 70s kitchen that could have easily come from an Updike Rabbit novel, but all the smells that surround me scream comfort and warmth. The grass in the front yard sways in the rhythm with the wind that blows from the west, bringing along the briny smell of the ocean that manages to break in through the open door.

We don’t have a dishwasher and I should feel dismayed and frustrated as this is the first time that I have to do without that luxury since I arrived on the American soil more than twenty years ago; but I don’t feel burdened: there is a beautiful rose bud that opened this morning monopolizing my view and competing with an idyllic scene featuring several small boys milling around, chasing one another along the sidewalk.

My dad soaking some California sunshine underneath the orange tree

We might be experiencing the record-low temperatures for Southern California for the first time, but my nose being cold on most mornings is the small price to pay for the eternal and uninterrupted blue that greets me when I open my eyes and inevitably makes me smile. A jasmine bush hugs one side of the garage door and its sweet fragrance reaches me through my bedroom window as I try to silence the alarm clock.

Yes, life is hectic and I still need at least five or six extra hours a day to accomplish everything. But even with the constant adrenaline rush I manage to take in all the beauty and serenity around me and acknowledge how grateful I am that my girls and I are living on this particular street, in this bungallow decorated by many wooden artifacts from Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Japan, with this wonderful woman who is old enough to be my mother, but young enough to be my soul sister, a confidante and a friend. I cannot wait to tuck my girls in their bunk beds, pour myself a glass of wine and sit on the edge of her bed for our regular nightly chit-chat.

As I wave to the neighbors and greet the mailman, I feel as if I truly belonged to this street with its undulating tall palm trees, luscious yards, and red-tiled roofs. Every day is like a present, unexpected, but eagerly awaited and greatly appreciated.

California sunset from

There are several large plastic bowls resting on the brown-and-yellow-tiled kitchen floor filled to the capacity with oranges my dad picked from the tree in the back yard. Freshly squeezed orange juice is on the menu this morning; and many mornings to come. I feel as if I were living a dream as the sweet, sticky liquid runs down my fingers and the smell of fresh citrus envelops me. It might not sound grand or imposing, but a glass filled with the juice that came from the fruit in our back yard makes me tremendously happy to be alive right now, in this beautiful part of the world that I can finally call home.

Fresh California Orange Juice from

39 Responses to California Sunshine – Luxury No More: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

  1. Christina says:

    Just read this to my mother and she was SO incredibly impressed by your writing! Makes us both want some freshly squeezed OJ, too!! So glad you are so content!!

  2. Sarah Olson says:

    Oh Lana, You have a way with words, I envy your ability to really paint a picture. It’s so great to hear this optimism and sunny outlook. Let’s get together for lunch again soon?

  3. Lovely post Lana – glad you are content and comfortable. Look forward to hearing more details!

  4. Valentina says:

    I absolutely love this, Lana. I feel like I’m in that kitchen with the onions sizzling. I’m so happy you’re settled into such a lovely, happy place. (And the oranges are gorgeous!) xo

    • Lana says:

      Thanks, my friend! Your comments are enough to make me feel good:) BUt I am finally working, things are getting better and I cannot wait to get back into the world of food again:)

  5. Cher says:

    Lana – good to hear that things are better for you. And your dad is visiting? That must be a treat for you.

    Best wishes.

  6. Lizthechef says:

    Thanks for reminding me how fortunate we are to live in this part of the world.

  7. Lidia says:

    I am always in awe of your descriptive writing.

    Hope one day soon our paths will cross.

    Much love and sunshine to you Lana.

  8. Ilke says:

    Hugs to you my dear friend :) Enjoy your OJ, sun filled days, and people surrounding you. Every bit of it worth living…

    • Lana says:

      Thanks, Ilke! I wish I could send you some sunshine and oranges:) But I am sure your heart is filled from your visit home:) Hugs to you!

  9. Jamie says:

    I bet there’s nothing better than freshly squeezed orange juice! YUM

    • Lana says:

      Jamie, I toil for 30 minutes every day as I don’t have a juicer, but it is so worth it:) The kids ahd colds and I finally succumbed, too – drinking this juice saved us:)

  10. What a lovely post Lana! You always bring me right into your world. Such a gift!

  11. Kim says:

    Hi Lana,

    I am so thrilled that things are turning up for you. When you get a chance, let’s get together. I now have Mondays and Fridays off of work, so plenty more time to meet with friends!


    • Lana says:

      Kim, it is unbelievable how small changes can turn your life around:) I am working (Yay!) and I probably won’t have a set schedule for a while, but I would love to meet you for lunch one day soon (coincidentally, I’ve had Mondays and Fridays off last two weeks:)

  12. Monet says:

    What a beautiful post. I found myself wishing I was in the kitchen with you, beginning a loaf of bread or even assisting in the dish washing! Thank you for sharing, my friend!

    • Lana says:

      Monet, coming from a fellow scribe, your comment is invaluable:) I always remeber your courage in sharing your personal stories:)

  13. Judy says:

    Hi Lana- this post was lyrical and the melody is full of beauty and optimism… am so glad you are working and living well and making beautiful oj- looking forward to lunch with you- hope we can do it one Friday soon- Judy

  14. Kelli says:

    Beautiful post. Wonderful writing. I can relate to your feelings. We have only been here for 6 months. I share your delight in the beauty, simplicity of this So. CA. morning.

    • Lana says:

      Kelli, I still feel like a tourist here in Cali after more than four years! And it’s OK, as there is so much to see and experience for a whole lifetime! Thanks for liking my writing:) I hope to see you soon!

  15. Lana, thank you for so beautifully describing what gratitude is. So inspiring!

    • Lana says:

      Nancy, after I looked at the abyss for a while, I encountered a beautiful woman who opened her home to me and the girls when we were facing a homeless shelter. I lost my mom last summer and Freida is my adopted mother:) Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Lana, how happy I am to hear that you have good reason to let your natural optimism loose. I, too, must pinch myself sometimes…what a gift it is to live in So Cal!

  17. Lovely! So happy to hear you are in a good place – literally and figuratively! Wishing you all the best. xo Jeanne

  18. Nancy Rose Eisman says:

    So sorry about what you’ve had to deal with, and so glad the sun is shining on you and your girls now.

  19. stephanie says:

    Reading this I felt I was right beside you.

  20. Jean says:

    So happy for the sunshine shining upon you, Lana. I envy my neighbors who have orange trees in their yards–most of them unloved. What a treat to be able to have freshly-squeezed orange juice each day. :)

  21. Mairi says:

    Beautiful post Lana, we have just had the warmest driest Summer in forever…just wonderful. A little more autumnal this week but still beautiful. Happy to hear you happy :) And that you got to enjoy some time with your Dad :)

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