This is the short and the long of it      . . . William Shakespeare

May 09 2010

Home Sweet Home

Filed under Life    

Home is Home 450x337 Home Sweet Home

Bird Nesting on a Door

I’ve been away so long I forgot how to input my photos so that they enlarge…so, don’t bother clicking on this one. I haven’t been in my blog since March. Home still isn’t quite as sweet as I would like it. My office and back bedroom are filled with the start of my cleaning out project where the “out” never happened. Worse, I’m starting to wonder why I’m blogging.

My sister and I arrived here on February 15th and she started therapy three days  later. The first few weeks were chaotic. We slept in the living room while her room was made ready and we were adapting the house for safety reasons.

Although my garden looked sweet to someone coming from cold, snowy Connecticut, I thought it looked like crap. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my sister likes it (what? she likes to see a lot of bare dirt?).. .but truly it’s the management that matters most. I wasn’t here in February to prune my roses.  I told them all they just have to make do this year. Pitch in with their best performance despite my neglect.

We have therapy appointments five days a week, doctor’s appointments, tests, shopping, laundry, cooking – I’m cooking for a diabetic and consulting with an expert on insulin – tricky stuff, insulin – doing the therapy homework….there’s just so little time left in the day that me-the-night-owl, who stayed up until two in the morning….I’m in bed by ten.

Brain plasticity is an interesting thing. We take for granted that it’s our brain doing everything for us automatically. When a part blows out, you have to build new motor pathways going the wrong way. An affected limb has to be worked enough to get the signal to the brain, and worked enough again and again to get the brain to retain the information.

Take a step? I never think about it, I just do it. Hold a glass and drink from it.? I just do it. With my sister, we go through the motions time and again training some other part of the brain to take over the job of holding a glass or taking a step. In therapy sessions the therapists stretch all the sticky joints and invent bizarre ways to play with the brain to encourage it to notice it’s got two sides of a body to recognize and control.

Despite the extra work I’m really glad to be home and my sister is happy.

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Mar 31 2010

Back in the Land of Flowers

Filed under Life    

I thought I’d be gone just a couple of weeks but as it turned out, I stayed in Connecticut until February 14th.  I spent most of my time at the Transitional Living Center; with my sister. I had all the right clothes, but traveling from our winter, which consists of warm summer days in between rain storms was tough.

Snowy Boulder 450x337 Back in the Land of Flowers

My sister had had a stroke and we discovered, much to our surprise, that she would get better therapy here in California. I brought her home to live with us. The therapy through Dominican Hospital has been wonderful. We’re working hard. And it’s nice to be back in the spring when the grass is green and the plum trees are in bloom. Come summer the fields of green will be fields of brown after months with no rain.

Green Fields 450x337 Back in the Land of Flowers

It’s good to be home. Connecticut was cute and full of Yankee charm but weeks in the cold wore me out. Plus, we were out in the countryside where the folks roll up the sidewalks at 9:00 pm. There were many nights when I got lost in the woods trying to get back to my hotel. One night, the only lighted place around was a prison, so I stopped there for directions. In the past I’ve thought about moving back but the vibe is wrong for me.

I hope that soon I’ll have more time to blog regularly.

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Jan 24 2010

Back In Two Weeks

Filed under Around Santa Cruz    

I wont have time to blog while I’m away so I leave you with some photos from around Santa Cruz.

Downtown Mural 450x299 Back In Two Weeks

Lighthouse 450x337 Back In Two Weeks

Boats on the Beach 450x337 Back In Two Weeks

The O’Neil Cold Water Classic 2009

Surfer on a Foggy Morning 450x300 Back In Two Weeks

Oops 450x300 Back In Two Weeks

Lovely 450x300 Back In Two Weeks

Surf and Sun 450x300 Back In Two Weeks

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Jan 22 2010

Termites – Again!

Filed under Life    

MorningSun 450x262 Termites   Again!

It was a beautiful dawn over Monterey Bay and that’s the last nice thing I have to say today.

Two years ago we bagged the house, had it filled with a noxious, killing gas to murder the termites, we moved into the Venetian Hotel because we were terrified of the gas and…now we’ve got termites again. Do these things not have any natural predators? They’re laughing at us. (Yes, the termite is a bad photo shop job but what are you going to do with a termite? Plus, I wouldn’t give it a place of  honor in my portfolio, it’s a nasty, voracious house eating critter.)

big smile 421x450 Termites   Again!

I wouldn’t have noticed for months but for the bad luck we’ve been having with our new siding and new double pane window in my office. Both of them leak when blustery winds push rain into the south side of the house. The old windows don’t leak. I caulked them myself so maybe that’s why. In any case, I had to wipe the water off the window sill this morning and saw termite poop.  I pulled back the blinds and saw the pin holes up in the window frame. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

House in a Bag 450x322 Termites   Again!

I’m not about to spend another $2,600 on a bag job. I’m willing to try the electrocution method although even that is a few hundred dollars. I’m away for the next two weeks though, in Connecticut, so the bugs can wait.

I wouldn’t mind spending another three days at the Pink Venetian 315x450 Termites   Again!Venetian except it’s winter and we could be swept away.

It really is an adorable place with the cutest little kitchens, and if you’re lucky a view of the water in summer. In winter, well…just be ready to run if you’re on a ground floor.

After this week’s huge storms the beaches are a mess, what’s left of them anyway. Some roads are still inaccessible, especially those in the mountains.

Despite the termites and the leaks though, I’m glad we live on a piece of flat ground with no mud slinging hillsides anywhere near us. Buildings are starting to fall after this first series of storms, their cliffs undermined by the waves. Rivers of mud run-off are tearing through neighborhoods in San Diego where last year’s fires destroyed all of the plants and trees and there’s nothing left to hold back the soil.

Ok, I’m grateful. I just didn’t think I’d be dealing with termites again so soon.

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Jan 20 2010

California Storms

Filed under Around Santa Cruz    

While we have our electricity back, I’d thought I’d squeeze in a post. Last night’s storm was tremendous and today’s is supposed to be a lot worse with very high wind gusts and a big swell. What’s so interesting about these storms is that we’re getting thunder and some lightening and that is a very rare thing here. We’ve got some flooding and power outages but so far nothing as horrific as southern California. The summer fires denuded the hillsides and mud is pouring out of the hills.

Storm Clouds 450x299 California Storms

West Side Wave 450x299 California Storms

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Jan 15 2010

Sexy San Francisco

Filed under Travel    

Two views from Coit Tower of the city and the bay.

San Francisco 450x303 Sexy San Francisco

San Francisco Bay 450x337 Sexy San Francisco

Golden Gate Park

Fog at Golden Gate Park 450x337 Sexy San Francisco

The Heads having a shower across from the Embarcadero.

Across from the Embarcadero 450x337 Sexy San Francisco

I hope Pat’s is still there. The colors sucked me in the door. Breakfast was delicious.

Pat's-Cafe

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Jan 09 2010

The Scent of Julia Child

Filed under Life    

45,000 eggs39,380 pounds of flour – 5,955 pounds of butter – 5,940 pounds of sugar and 1,870 pounds of chocolate a month and what do you get? Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria. She’s the cook when we aren’t up to the job and neither of us felt like cooking tonight. Jim has a cold and I wasn’t home long enough to throw so much as a bowl of cereal together.

Gayle's-Bakery-and-Rosticer

Not only can she cook, she delivers exquisite customer service. Her staff are all on happiness drugs and no matter how crazy it gets, especially at the height of tourist season, they are unflappable.

So here’s my favorite Gayle’s story. It was a dark and stormy night. Really. It was dark when I got home from work, cold and pouring rain.  I found absolutely nothing in the pantry that I could cobble together into a meal. Since I was already wet and now hungry I went back out into the dark and stormy to pick up dinner.

When I got home and unloaded my bag on the counter, I discovered that the string beans were missing. Not a big deal except that I love the way Gayle’s does string beans and I had no veggies.  I called Gayle’s not to complain, just to get a “credit”…it’s an informal thing. If something goes wrong they take care of you.

I didn’t expect the Gayle’s van to pull into my driveway with a delivery of string beans and two free desserts.

Rack Of Day Old Breads 337x450 The Scent of Julia ChildSo now I’ll talk about applesauce cake. It’s gotten a bad rep in health food stores because when you try to make it healthy (non fat) you get something that’s gluey and tastes like cardboard.  Why bother? Just eat an apple if you want to be healthy.

But if you want your applesauce cake to be moist and tasty, use butter. For an intense apple flavor use dried apples. Cut them up into half inch chunks, cook them in apple cider until they’re soft. Let the liquid reduce to a nice, sticky sauce. Try adding this to your favorite recipe. You wont be sorry.

I just finished “My Life in France” and I wish I had known years ago that Julia and Paul had the marriage of the century. They were so much in love and so well suited to one another. Love and butter. That’s all you need.

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Jan 06 2010

Chapeau du Pain

Filed under Humor    

On Nova’s Science night I found out that humans have about as many genes as nematodes and that corn has way more genes than we do. Corn.  Why corn? We have to do a lot more than corn does on any given day. It’s hard to believe that we are who we are when we’re not much more than simple nematodes with brains. Apparently, there’s only a 3% difference between ourselves and monkeys. Or was it 5%? Either way, it’s quite clear that the basic building blocks of life are shared by a great many of us.  Why a Chapeau du Pain? Because I couldn’t make a hat out of corn bread, it’s too coarse and flaky. Wonderbread however is perfect. You should embiggen this one with a click to see the detail. I actually wore my bread hat to class. See my other artsy-fartsy food here.

My Hat Made of Bread 450x337 Chapeau du Pain

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Jan 04 2010

Capitola-By-The-Sea

Filed under Around Santa Cruz    

We like it best in winter when things quiet down a bit. This is the Venetian Hotel in morning fog, a far cry from it’s sister hotel in Las Vegas.

Capitola Early Morning 450x337 Capitola By The Sea

The lagoon in front of the hotel is a seasonal thing. When the rains begin and Soquel Creek starts to run fast  out of the mountains, it cuts a deep channel to the ocean.

The Venetian Hotel 450x337 Capitola By The Sea

In the big storms, the waves wash right through the Venetian carrying off the garbage cans, planters and anything else that’s not tied down. I was here the day the waves crashed over the wharf. Yeah, I got wet.

Capitola at Dusk 450x336 Capitola By The Sea

Capitola Bridge 450x337 Capitola By The Sea

The Lagoon at Dusk 450x337 Capitola By The Sea

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Jan 04 2010

The Roadhouse – Gone Forever

Filed under Around Santa Cruz    

Roadhouse Sculpture 337x450 The Roadhouse   Gone ForeverI loved this place from the first time I saw it on the cliff at Pleasure Point.

The Road House was built in 1902 with a saloon on the first floor and on the second floor were beds for “extracurricular activities” as well as a massage parlor. Bootleggers buried their contraband liquor in the sand below the cliffs during the 1920s.

It was later converted into a grocery store equipped with a gas station, and the upstairs rooms served as a motel.

Then it became a loosely organized commune of students, surfers, and wanna-be film makers, tenants who tended to stay for years – sometimes decades.

The small cabins were rented out separately and the kitchen, bathrooms and toilets were all in the main house, just a few short steps across the gravel drive.

Many years before the Roadhouse was torn down, a sculptor moved in and built a beautiful iron piece that turned slowly of its own accord.

Gardens in Bloom 450x337 The Roadhouse   Gone Forever

I was always especially fond of the flower and vegetable gardens that were planted everywhere and lovingly tended. This cabin, with the crooked tree, is where my friend Oren lived for years. Even after he started school at Berkeley, he kept this cabin for weekends.

A lot of people tried to save the Roadhouse from demolition. Hopes were high that it would become an historic building but it needed a lot of work and when the elderly woman who owned it passed it along to her realtor daughters, that was the fatal blow.

Cottage Row 337x450 The Roadhouse   Gone Forever

A 38,000 square foot lot on the cliff above the ocean, with an unobstructed view, is destined to become a condo community next door to the other condo community…just another pile of boxes crammed into the lot.

Whenever I visited my friends there the main house was always sparkling clean and dead quiet. In fact, I only saw one person in all the years that I trooped through the place.

I finally met the woman who lived on the top floor of what used to be the barn. She had a skylight and a completely open floor plan. She had been there for over twenty years. It shook and rattled in storm winds but that never bothered her.

More photos on Page 2

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