Thursday, November 29, 2012


Maya came with us to my eye appointment

These look better on her than on me

She liked the horse that made galloping noises
For the past few months, my vision has become worse and worse. I let them talk me into this coating the last time I got glasses that now has disintegrated so much , the lenses are quite cloudy. On top of it, I seem to be developing cataracts but as the optometrist said, it isn't the end of the world. The surgery needed to get rid of them would also obviate my need for glasses. As it is, they aren't bad enough to justify the surgery but maybe in 2-5 years.

I was able to bike early this morning though my toes were frozen from the ride. I rarely bike so late into the year. I used to have neoprene foot covers but who knows where those are. I saw just one other rider and he had neoprene this and that on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strange searches

On Statcounter, there is a page which tells you how a reader came across your blog. Some readers come from other blogs; others know my url. But some are here for specific searches. What has been most popular lately is "How to isolate a drug". The drug in question is caffeine. I used it as a demonstration at work to show kids how we operate. The other is a diorama of a Chippewa village Shanna made as a 5th grader out of papier mache.

But then there are some weird searches. Several times, a picture of Shanna as an 8 year old was a result of a search for 'cute, nude, young boys". Ugh. She is a girl, not nude though she was young and cute. Today was a search of a child with Marfan syndrome and they came up with a photo of Naomi as a 10 year old. Yes she is tall and thin but does not have the other features of Marfan's.

We finally figured out how to put a password on our WiFi. Not sure if those crazy kids next door sucked off our internet for free but now they can't. Also I read about a scary court battle. Some downloaded child porn was traced to a certain ISP and a search warrant was issued. The owner of the ISP had no bad stuff on their computer but it was noticed that he had unsecured  WiFi. The authorities then used a program to see who was sucking it up and came up with the suspect whose defense was that it was an invasion of policy to hunt him down in such a manner. There is no expectation of privacy for the owner of the ISP but some one who 'borrow' WiFi might think they have 'an expectation of privacy'. After going back and forth, it was determined that the freeloader had no expectation of privacy either and was prosecuted.

So computers can be seized at any time. and apparently, individuals can trespass and take photos through windows that can't be viewed from the street to be used as evidence. Such is life.

Maybe it will be warm enough to bike tomorrow. At least it was dry enough to run. Another lazy day. Steve and I had a nice Latin lunch with empanadas and posole roja.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mama Sunflower

At the start of our breast cancer yoga class last night, the director came in to let us know that our beloved teacher had a recurrence of her breast cancer. This time it is all over the place. She just adopted an infant early this year who she refers to as Baby Sunflower. She is Mamma Sunflower. Such a sweet, gentle soul who I believe isn't yet 40. So unfair. A letter from Mama Sunflower was read to us saying that she will be a yogi among us instead of teaching the class. She is on a clinical trial in which some of her cancer cells are removed in order for artificial antibodies to be developed which are then inserted. It is  hoped that these antibodies  go out and destroy the cancer cells. They do have a similar procedure marketed for prostate cancer.

She had been feeling some pain which she had attributed to carrying Baby Sunflower but no, it was liver pain. Lesions were found within. Further scans showed similar lesions in her spine and lung. She had early stage breast cancer around the same time as I did, not sure what kind. In general, BC in younger women is more aggressive.

We were all in tears. It was hard to concentrate on the exercises  led our new teacher, Ms. Noodle, named by me as she said we were to emulate a wet noodle whereas I can only emulate a uncooked noodle. If I bend too much, I crack. Unlike Mama Sunflower, she has not had breast cancer. Although she had characterized our class as restorative, it exhausted me and I am among the healthy. She will need to dial it down a bit.

After my run, I took Maya to the library storytime where her cousins and aunt were. Then total chaos at my house for the afternoon.

I was discussing retirement with a friend the other day. She is afraid of it because, what would one do? Somehow, even with all this time on my hands, I don't have enough time to get things done. I have a list.....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Matzoh ball soup

Steve is Jewish; I am not. Early in our marriage, I decided to cook some of the things he grew up with though I drew a line at gefilte fish and beet borscht. I made him some matzoh balls and served them on a plate. I was then told these things are to be served in soup.

If I make turkey, I end up making broth for matzoh ball soup which was what happened this weekend. I filled a huge cauldron with freshly prepared broth seasoned with dill, sage, carrots, onions and celery with 3 recipes worth of matzoh balls and a half pound of egg noodles. Maya now is a fan of matzoh ball soup.

It was cold today yet calm and dry so off I went on my run. It does make me feel so much better about life. I was so, so lazy yesterday that I didn't even leave the house. My excuse was that I am nursing a cold but it is a very mild one. I did yet another photobook (one more to go before these silly groupon deals expire) and watched TV movies: Tortilla Soup (cute Mexican version of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) and The Girl, a version of Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi Hendren.

Tonight: BC yoga and a dinner with a friend.

The Sandwich Dilemma

It will take two sandwiches to sate you as you are very hungry. You have two sandwiches: one especially tasty and the other so-so. Which do you eat first?

As hunger is the best seasoning ( I remember that Josh was so hungry that a dusty, limp race cake from a stranger's backpack was looking mighty good), perhaps the boring sandwich would taste better than it really is so eat that first.

Or if it's a choice between a vegetable and a sandwich, perhaps the  more nutritious yet not as tasty thing should be consumed first. Isn't this why desserts are served last?

Or if it is good wine versus mediocre wine, drink the good first. Maybe you will be too drunk to notice how mediocre the second wine is.

I read of this in an economist column recently in the WSJ. He extended the analogy to whether one should have children. Let's say you have a certain budget for food. You could have so-so food most of the time and then splurge or you could eat better than average food most of the time with no special meals. Which type of person would be most suited to raising children?

The first, in his opinion. Raising children can be boring, annoying, tiring and not always enjoyable. But then you have special moments that you can only experience raising children. These may be few and far between but it makes the whole experience worthwhile. If you expect a constant rate of happiness, then maybe raising kids isn't for you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who wears the dress best?

I didn't save many of Naomi's clothes. The few clothes I did save, I can't find. But in the garage, I had a box of clothes that I was saving for a friend who adopted 6 kids, 4 of them little girls. I sent her everything less than Size 4 but I have a had a few size 4 clothes left. Naomi is 3 in the picture on the left; Maya is a full year younger.

A lazy day. I will give my cold, a very mild one, a day to disappear before going out in the snow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

TV chemo

Naomi with blonde streaks. She is never happy with her red hair but  at least this is better than her attempts to dye her hair dark brown. Steve is trying out his new camera phone

I have been watched Parenthood with interest particularly the storyline about Kristina's breast cancer. I understand that it is not much of a story when someone has chemo and then experiences absolutely no side effects but her lying on the bathroom floor covered with vomit while her autistic son demands this and that seemed unrealistic. Outright vomiting is rare with all the new antinausea drugs though it is true that most patients feel queasy and somewhat crappy. Her vomitting is ameliorated by marijuana  not the first thing people would try. The biggest danger to chemo patients is infection due to their immune system being shut down This can be life threatening. I am afraid that patients about to start chemo will be unnecessarily scared by watching the last episode. The episode did get it right showing Kristina trying to do all the normal things for her family without considering that she needs to step back and maybe not volunteer to keep a high needs child for the weekend so his parents can party in Vegas. And where were all her family while she was reeling on the floor? It did address how upset she was that her selfish mom couldn't find any time for her and how much that hurt.

I assume the next episode will feature the hair loss. 

Cold, windy, dark and gray: why I hate November. We even had a dusting of snow. Still the wind died down somewhat so I could get a run in. No icy puddles could form in all that wind.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A change in the wind

The temperatures are quickly dropping; the winds are picking up. Our brief warm spell is broken. I got out and ran this morning before the conditions became too challenging.

Thanksgiving was its usual hectic self. The menu over the years has not changed much as the kids look forward to certain dishes. When the kids were little, I would serve this concoction, ambrosia, a mix of coconut, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and sour cream. I replaced this with a pear, cranberry chevre salad with a pear champagne vinaigrette. This was not well received though Josh's friend seemed to like it.
Josh made candied sweet potatoes; Shanna made pecan pie and mashed potatoes. The friend supplied some of the wine. Naomi did general kitchen chores such as peeling potatoes and ripping up bread for the stuffing. Maya tore up some bread too.

The rest of the menu:
Turkey and gravy with bread stuffing. The stuffing is a simple mix of celery, onions, butter, bread and spices. Addition of cornbread, nuts, dried cherries, dried cranberries, all tried in the past, meet with displeasure.

Cauliflower au gratin. This didn't make it to the table. It was placed in the oven to keep warm then forgotten about until today along with a second dish of yams.

Sparkling cranberry and cherry juice. No one eats cranberry sauce here and not everyone is a drinker.

Crescent rolls from a can: This task I set Naomi to do as she somehow polished off 5 cans of these during our trip. But she said it was impossible as there were no perforations for her to use. Steve had bought the kind that is used for not separating. The end result was none of the rolls were the same size or shape. The little kids didn't care. Danny refers to these as 'special bread'.

Green bean casserole:  Who doesn't have this? I had numerous reminders..make sure that you...To class it up a bit, I used portabella mushroom soup. Sadly I cooked the top onions too long. Too many dishes for me to keep track of.

Ginger pear crisp from fresh, tasty pears. I thought this turned out especially well but maybe two desserts were too much. No pumpkin pie, a disappointment to some of the crowd. Steve and I don't eat it and we have to deal with the left overs. All those candied yams should be similar enough.

Missing giblets: What happened to them? I performed a disgusting body cavity search for them. As I have no more animals to feed them to, I would have thrown them away anyway.

So lots of leftovers. Lots of running around on my part. I tried to squeeze a bike ride in before I had to do my slicing and dicing chores to get that turkey in such that it would be done by 3. Our dining room is too small for all the adults that now make up our family and we were down one. Tessa and Maya sat on laps. The boys had one of their three Thanksgiving meals already and were happy to be some place else. Next year, Shanna will have a house and have dinner.

But I think we all enjoyed being together, which is a blessing. I do love it that all my kids live so close and I can watch the babies grow up. Tessa especially is changing at least in the tricks she can do. She happily was passed from lap to lap yesterday during dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Box Office

Tuesday funny:
While the C-5 was turning over its engines, a female crewman gave the

G.I.s on board the usual information regarding seat belts, emergency exits, etc.

Finally, she said, 'Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew
take you safely to Afghanistan '

An old Master Sergeant sitting in the eighth row thought to himself,
'Did I hear her right? Is the captain a woman? '

When the attendant came by he said 'Did I understand you right? Is the captain a woman?'
'Yes,'! said the attendant, 'In fact, this entire crew is female.' 

'My God,' he said, 'I wish I had two double scotch and sodas. I don't know what to think
with only women up there in the cockpit.'

'That's another thing, Sergeant,' said the crew member, 'We No Longer Call It The Cockpit'
'It's The Box Office.'

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What if? what if? What if?

This cycled through my brain for the past few days but particularly last night. In the affected breast is a hard round mass approximately the size of a cue ball or maybe just a little bit smaller. Is is getting bigger? Could something be hiding underneath it? Are these shooting pains in my chest and ribs 'something' other than random misfirings of radiation damaged nerves?

On the mammogram today, this mass took up a good quarter of what remains of my breast. But compared to last year's scan, it pretty much looks the same though it took a few painful (and costly since my insurance doesn't cover diagnostic scans until a high level is reached) to get the correct angle in which the two scans could be directly compared. I have a giant seroma that still has not shrunk. Harmless but by film, looks like something scary (by ultrasound, it looks harmless).

Good news. I have now graduated to a screening mammogram (paid for) versus the diagnostic one.

I took the earliest appointment possible so I wouldn't have to deal with 'back-ups'. I had an appointment later with my oncologist. I look healthy. No signs of anything worrisome. Good.

The mammogram looks for only regional recurrences; it is up to me to report indications of distal recurrences. The chances of either are becoming much, much smaller though I am still vulnerable to new primaries.

I later received a flu shot in the infusion area. Bad memories there. I found a former colleague there translating for her father, the patient.

The night before I left for CA, there was a loud knock on the door. As I was alone, I was a bit scared but it turns out the book on Triple Negative cancer that I helped edit was sent to me. Within, this blog was mentioned. Maybe the incensed reader who made a very negative comment about this blog 2 weeks ago got on from that book. In which case, I am sorry that this entire blog isn't about cancer. Read the first year when I first was dealing with it instead of this once a year scare.

Surviving Triple-Negative  Breast Cancer: Hope, Treatment, and Recovery
by Patricia Prijatel
Anyone who is first diagnosed with TNBC should read this. Pat is a journalism professor and former TNBC patient. Although she does not have a scientific background, she carefully reviews all the current literature concerning TNBC. Her blog is Positives about Negatives, the title chosen to defuse the extreme negative tone that the popular press and even the medical literature take with their dismal, poor prognosis, deadly, difficult to treat descriptions of this disease which unnecessarily scare the newly diagnosed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Norcal memories

Running: Along the coast near my brother's was a bike path that went for 20 miles snaking through beautiful scenery. Perfect for running. Seeing wild flowers, the pounding surf, the nearby mountains buoyed my spirits. In Pacific Grove, I took the coastal road bike path in one direction and ran the coastal trail, hard packed sand for the most part back seeing different but still scenic beaches. There were a couple of days that I couldn't run due to our schedule. I didn't run at Treebones because Route 1 is fairly scary around there.

Bicycling: Didn't do it. I have used my brother's bike in the past but getting it up and down his steep hill to the coast was too difficult. I could have rented a bike at the Harbor  and the place where we stayed in Pacific Grove rented bikes that I could take  on the 17 Mile Drive. Many people seemed to be taking Route 1 all the way judging from all the stuff they were carrying. One person hauled 2 bicycle trailers full of stuff through Big Sur. At a rest stop overlooking the Bixby Bridge, I met a man from Seattle who recently retired and was going to spend the rest of his days biking. He got rid of his house and stuff. He was riding 30-35 miles a day heading to San Diego. He said, if he was still alive, maybe he would then go into Mexico. Some of his possessions were stuffed into a catfood bag bungee corded to the back of his bake. No fancy equipment for him. He asked me to take his picture on his phone. Should have taken one with my camera.

Frittata sandwiches: What a concept! I saw these on a few menus and finally had one at the Blue Sky Farms, a combination cafe and nursery in Miramar, right off my running path. Steve and I had been sniping at each other about who was responsible for the missing maps I thought we needed for our trip within a trip. But this place was so pretty and reasonably priced (very rare..the reasonable price part in NorCal), we were no longer crabby. Another bonus: they had the Meyer Lemon Tree my  SIL was hoping to buy for much less than usual. Alas when we went back to buy it, we found it was only open in the mornings. Meyer lemon. Must be a local variety. Restaurants wouldn't just serve stuff with lemon sauce: it would be with Meyer lemon sauce.

Cameras: Steve didn't take the big, good one as he gave himself only minimal room to carry electronic stuff. I had my small camera but no way of recharging the battery (also no room for the charger, a passive/aggressive way of getting back at me for scheduling this right after the election). He did regret this decision once he saw how pretty everything was. The battery finally died on the Elephant Seal Beach and then we were just left with our phone cameras. I had turned off the flash to conserve the battery and wouldn't look at what I took until I could put the card on the computer. Steve will take multiple shots of the same scene whereas I only take one or two. Plus he would stand very close to the edge of the cliff to get a better shot, which scared me. But hopefully you can see by our combined efforts, including those of my brother who did have a 'good' camera, that everything is just stunning there.

Twisty, steep roads: Michigan seems so flat now. Everyday, my brother drives up from one coast over a mountain to the other coast usually going from fog to sun.  I don't think he travels much more than 20 miles but it seems a lot longer. Going from the beach to his house is a climb of 370 feet in a very short bit of time. The mailman won't go up there. He has his choice of picking it up in the small post office that serves 2500 people or the larger one 4 miles away. People living next to each other might have different addresses depending on this choice. School buses don't go up the hill either. As the rental car was in my name, I did the driving except on the weekend in which we were on my brother's beamer, which had the power to deal with these roads. My cheapie rental car strained mightily up some of these grades.

It broke all by itself: This is what I wrote on the 'accident' report to explain to the rental people why my car had a sizable crack in the windshield. I sounded like a 3 year old but that was the truth. I was driving on a flat, expressway part of Route 1 towards Monterey and suddenly heard a loud cracking sound. No one was around me, and no I didn't see any gravel hit me from what would be no where. This put a damper on what was a fun vacation as Steve fretted that now we would have to pay for this as I  didn't get insurance. But presumably my credit card will cover it if I am found responsible. I have since researched this and found that GM puts extra thin windows in this model that are known to crack spontaneously. I have been on this earth many years and have driven a lot with lots of different cars and this has never happened. At worst we did have a star crack from a piece of gravel on a then new car that didn't spread ever. So far, I haven't heard from them. Also we could NOT find gas at the last minute so we will have to pay $10 a gallon to fill it up but we had driven less than 25 miles on a car that is supposed to get 40 mpg.

The weather: We were very lucky as it was unusually clear most of the time we were there. There was fog the first day and some rain the second afternoon. One morning had a record low for the area and the locals moaned how awful that was. But as it was way above the usual Michigan temperatures for this time of year, no complaint here. Josh's friend is in San Francisco now along with a trip to the wine counties and has nothing but rain for the duration of their stay. Right now in Michigan, we will have highs in the 50s which means I can bike, which I did yesterday. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Food highlights: Freshly made almond croissants, enormous sea scallops, spaghetti bolognese, tasty dim sum in Chinatown, dulce de leche gelato in  North Beach, clam chowder, ollalieberry pie, apricot pie, artichoke and chile soup, coconut artichoke soup, crab roll, frittata sandwich, shrimp tacos, coconut flan, chicken tacos, smoked chicken panini on the porch of a small, adorable Pacific Grove Italian cafe. Sipping wine overlooking fantastic views most notably from our yurt deck.
Final pictures

Inside Blue Sky. Also had a beautiful garden with tables but cold at 8 am.

Looking across Marin Headlands to Alcatraz

Around Pescadero

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Coit Tower SF

Lombard Street

Painted Ladies from Alamo Park

Realtor brochure  of my brother's house. Looks like a ranch from the street but has a whole other level below due it being perched on a steep hill.

Steve at Moss Beach

Many sunsets

Big Sur

Julia Pfeiffer Park


The yurt experience: This was our indulgence though Steve would grouse about the high cost of 'tent' camping. The bed was super comfortable. There was a hot tub with ocean views with color changing lights. Steve sat on the deck besides me as I indulged. From out deck, we had a water fountain and chair swing right in front of us along with views of the ocean and cypresses. We slept to the sound of seals noisily jockeying for position though the high winds that came from nowhere kept me up for about 4 hours. The stars in a clear sky with no ambient light for miles. The homemade granola with yogurt berries for breakfast the next day. All these yurts do look  alike. In the morning, I walked into a yurt surprised to find who I believed to be Steve still sleeping when he said he was off taking a shower and why is the couch on the other side of the yurt and where did that green bag come from. The man sat up and asked if he could help me and I scurried off embarrassed. There were many paths on their complex that were fun exploring. Overall, a highlight in this ones life.

Back to Reality: The scary to me search for breast cancer is tomorrow, a gutter fell off in our absence though Josh helped Steve get it back on, Naomi's situation continues to be 'not good' though she doesn't seem concerned. A good friend's child is in big trouble, so many things are falling apart on our house, Josh's situation is still unsettled. It was so good to put these things in the back of my mind or even out of my mind for a brief period.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Flora and fauna

Flowers at Treebones
I am still thrilled to see callas in the wild

Wind flower?

close-up of butterfly flock

What the butterfly tree looked like. The butterflies are right in the middle

Need to use a telescope to see them. I put  my iPhone right next to the ocular

Succulent collection

This tree was covered with enormous blossoms. Steve's hand in background to give you some idea how huge these were. My botanist SIL did not know what they were

Passion fruit blossom. Very complex looking

Unripe passion fruit. Ripe purple ones were on the ground

Another hummingbird

Eunium in my brother's backyard which was a magnet for this yellkowish-green hummingbird. Alas no photo of that

Lots of seagulls and pelicans. No good shot of the latter. They would fly close to mewhile I ran. So prehistoric looking

Harbor seals

Sea lions. The San Francisco Bay isn't salty enough for sharks, their enemy, so they feel safe here
Elephant seals

Orchid like flower in my brother's front yard. Had lots of azaleas, thrift, roses too.
Ice plant: Some consider this an invader to be ripped up. Others consider it a blessing for erosion control. Has pink or yellowish white blossoms. In some parts, the plant would be deep red. Here in Monterey, it is warmer so all green.

Mule deer all over in Pacific Grove
I love seeing flowers and animals that I wouldn't see back home. Right now, all that is in bloom are my edelweiss and alyssum. Oliver was upset to find 'the skunk plant' dead (aka cleome). I had a variety of ice plant in my rock garden but it didn't bloom. It might last until next year. And we still have plenty of deer; the larger white tail versus the CA mule deer versus the tiny roe deer I saw in Italy.

Raptors: I didn't see the king of the raptors, the CA condor though we saw plenty of hawks and vultures. Raptors have their fans. On top of the Marin Headlands, we came across The Raptor Club with all their viewing aids excitedly recording all the alleged raptors floating above us. What we saw were black dots. Bird Nerds they called themselves.

Elephant seals: They have lots of friends. One of the elephant seal friends came with me on my walk. She drives 2 hours in every week to educate the public about the seals. Where are the bulls? (I wanted to show Steve how impressive they are weighing almost 2 tons. All that was there were females and juveniles). She whipped out a map  of Alaska. They are feeding right outside of this. They will be back late January to start mating.Why were the females and teenagers there? Building up their bones. If the seals spend too much time feeding in the water, their skeletons get weak and then they wouldn't be able to support their massive weight when they have to come ashore. Just slithering around on the beach occasionally is enough exercise for them. The teenagers stage mock fights with the bellowing we heard at night.

Sea Lions: Top attraction in San Francisco. There are many floating platforms for them but they choose to pile up on top of each other. One of the sea lions was being ostracized for some reason and wasn't allowed to join his peers who would kick him off the platform. Humans don't bother them; sharks do and this area is safe from sharks due to low salinity.

Harbor seals: We saw these all over the place. They are fairly small but have their fans too. In the reserve near my brother's house, there are rangers constantly ensuring one doesn't get too close..

Monarchs: There are two places in the world these butterflies congregate for the winter: the east of the Rockies ones fly down to Mexico and the west of the Rockies fly to Pacific Grove. There are butterflies out and about beyond the Grove. In the gardens in Big Sur, they were all over the place. Steve was trying to photograph them and I told him to hold off until we got to Butterfly Central. When we first got to the Grove, we could see a few fluttering up in the sky, not the massive amounts promised so we were disappointed. But just as we were leaving, we spotted a crowd around a telescope with a Butterfly Friend. Looking through the scope, there they were. Thousands huddled together. With the bare eye, you could barely make the masses out as they appeared to be so many dead leaves. But with the telescope, you could see them. Impressive.

Hummingbirds: So many different kinds with differently colored gorgets. (patch on the throats of males that in Michigan is always red or orangish red when the sun hits it the right way). Saw bronze and lavender gorgets along with red, pink, and orange. In Southern CA, there are plenty of hummingbirds but all the ones I remembered seeing were the Anna's hummingbird which looks like the Michigan one only larger and with  a lighter colored  head. As it has been two long months since my hummers visited my feeder, it was a special joy to see these all over.

Other birds: Herons, pelicans, Stellar Jay, Mountain Blue bird.Lots of finches though not as pretty as the ones here.

Fennel: In my rock garden I have a small (less than 8 inches) fennel plant struggling to survive. Wild fennel abounds everywhere along the coast. It is often 5 feet tall. My rosemary plant that I have had for several years and looks pretty good at 2 feet high is currently wintering in my kitchen. My SIL's rosemary plant is a 6 foot tall bush outside. The same with lavender My plant is maybe 2 feet tall versus 4 to 5 feet out there.:

Flowers, Cypresses. Big Trees: All over the place

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sounds of the nights

View from my brother's deck

For an insomniac such as myself,  subtle background noises at night become magnified.
 At home, there is the constant tire noise from the freeway, the train that comes through
 1.5 miles away, the comings and goings of the many young renters next door and their
 yappy dogs they let out in the middle of the night.

At my brother's, it was perfectly still where they are perched high up a hill except for
the fog horn in the harbor that sounds every eight seconds regardless of whether there
 is fog or daylight. It is a working harbor. The crabbers go out at night though with
all this new technology, one would think they can find the narrow entrance to the
harbor without listening for the horn.

At the yurt place, the walls of the yurts are thin so no sound is blocked. There was
 a pod of elephant seals barking on shore way down the cliff. You couldn't see them
 but you could certainly hear them. People were to be quiet after 9 but you could hear
their foot steps. Then at midnight, the strong winds began. Lots of flapping and the yurt foundation was shaking. All was calm in the morning.

For the past 2 weeks or so, Steve's coughing will wake me up. He is having a hard
 time shaking this cold. Even if he is in another room, his coughing fits can be
heard. The cold made him extra grumpy for the trip.

You learn to ignore a lot. At Steve's parent's place, two train lines came together
 right under their window. One of the lines made a sharp turn screeching as it
made the bend sparks flying. I think the buildings focused the sound right into
 their apartment. Initially  I would wake up thinking there was an earthquake
but I learned to ignore it. I learned to ignore the church bells that went off
every 15 minutes during my stay in the monastery right outside my open
window during my 6 week stay in Italy 4 years ago.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Artichokes, hmm,hmm.
Artichokes, hmm,hmm.
Artichokes, hmm.hmm.

Down in Monterey the artichokes grow, 
Towsey headed artichokes, row after row.
They grow in Monterey 'cause it's comfortable there,
They like the sandy bottom and the cool salt air.

Artichokes, hmm,hmm.
Artichokes, hmm,hmm.
Artichokes, hmm.hmm.

When you eat an artichoke you take a little bite,
Stick you in the finger if you don't hold it right.
Take a little nibble, throw away the rest,
Enough left over for a google-birdie nest.
"The Artichoke Song" 
Malvina Reynolds

Artichoke that has gone to flower and has faded. In Italy, these thistle heads would be intensely purple.
From Treebone's garden

Steve in artichoke country

artichoke plant. This is from the Treebones' garden but outside of Monterey, there were fields and fields of them

Our car for the week. We found artichokes cheaper:12 for a dollar but hard to take back to Michigan

Most of you might be familiar with Malvina Reynolds from watching Weeds. Little Boxes 
was written and sung by her. A good friend of mine made sure our family was well stocked
 with folksy children's songs. The kids well remember the artichoke song as we love 
artichokes in our family. Even Maya has learned the joy of dipping the leaf into the sauce
 and scraping the little bit of goodness off with her teeth.

 California Route 1, which we were one for the majority of our trip, has some very steep
,twisty parts.  Yesterday morning for instance, I took it on the way to the airport  at
 5 am snaking through a particularly treacherous part known as The Devil's Slide. This was
 particularly fun in the dark after a very short, sleepless night. The tunnel bypassing this
 stretch is almost complete so road users will no longer have to worry about being buried in 
rock with no notice or the road splitting in two with your half falling into the sea 400 feet below.

 But heading south from Santa Cruz towards Monterey, the road enters
 an extremely flat stretch of land, flatter than southern Michigan, full of crops. Top crops seem
 to be artichokes, Brussel sprouts, kiwis and strawberries. Artichoke heaven.

When travelling, I try to eat the local speciality. Dungeness crab is fished right outside
 the harbor of my brother's town, so I had a crab roll there. Didn't try the sea dabs that 
seemed to be the top choice south of his place. In Pacific Grove, at a Thai restaurant,
 they had coconut artichoke soup. So so good! What I should have gotten too was the artichoke
 stuffed with seafood in red curry. I was put off by the inclusion of mussels but with the 
curry sauce, it should have been good. Earlier in the week, I had cream of artichoke soup
 mixed in with cream of green chile in Pescardero.

I am in Michigan now. Trying organize the millions of pictures and deal with whatever is here.
 I will blog more about my CA adventure later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The pursuit of butterflies and hummingbirds

A long way down
Me on yurt deck

Elephants seals Piedras Blancas


Steve Monterey Bay

Bixby bridge

Julia Pfeiffer Park

Looking north

Bixby bridge high up

Steve in yurt

Top of yurt from inside

Yurt community

Butterfly at Ragged Point

Hummingbird at Ragged Point. Lots of different kinds

iron work detail at yurt place

Beach at Asilomar Pacific Grove
View from our yurt deck

Star fish from many tide pools

Northern end of Big Sur
We've seen so much. Will elaborate when I return, which will be soon.


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