Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Last evening v wasn't feeling good so we took a drive.  We found ourselves driving along the highway that cuts through the lettuce fields of Salinas.  It was just after sundown with a rim of marine layer threatening to envelope the fields.  One man was out walking along the rows checking the equipment and possibly monitoring the irrigation pipes where the plumes of water are rising from in this picture. I don't know why I had it set on sepia, but somehow that is fitting for the Salinas fields.  So many fortunes have been made from them and not just from the dirt itself.  John Steinbeck came from Salinas, a museum dedicated to him and the the farms he wrote about is on Main Street.

Whenever we drive past the miles and miles of fields that comprise the Salinas Valley v is always in awe of what he calls the generosity of the land.  The fields are in production from February through December, each yielding multiples of crops.  Strawberries, lettuce, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, artichokes, asparagus, kale, radiccio...just on and on.  Once you drive south along the Central Coast stretch of Hwy 101 you pass miles and miles of grape vines.  River Road just south of Salinas boasts numerous Wineries.  Twenty years ago River Road boasted cattle and scrub.  Cattle ranches still exist throughout the warm hills and canyons trailing off the big Salinas Valley. What a bountiful land our California is and always living under the threat of "progress" and pavement.  Redevelopment over development should be the focus.  Look to the empty and crumbling infrastructure in any city or town before sealing the fate of open land under asphalt and cement.  Crops don't grow out of either, and our world is getting smaller, people are getting bigger.  Where do we expect our food, not to mention our air, to come from?

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of the Day

Another long day of business with v and Fog's End Distillery.  We are rewarded with such beautiful scenery on our drive home, I just had to pull off for this.  Happily sales are up and the Giants swept the Dodgers. This last is for v, he's very loyal, there are radios stationed anywhere he may be working or relaxing. 

Business took us to Santa Cruz and a drive past the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  I really have to take the time to photograph not only more of the Boardwalk, but many of the beautiful neighborhoods and beaches throughout Santa Cruz so I can share them on future posts.

A long and tiring day, but so beautiful.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Cold

Summer on the Central Coast is never the steamy, sticky hot summer of the Northeast or Central U.S., nor the sizzling hot of the Southwest. It's cold.  It's gray.  It's damp.  

The garden still grows and still needs attention.  Because of this weather we don't have the weeds that I observed one summer in Minnesota where I stayed with a friend and weeding was truly a daily chore, otherwise her garden would have been taken over.  She didn't have to worry over much about watering either (we're not talking about this year of dreadful drought).  

Here we practice selective watering.  Rain is not expected between May and October, so our weeds are comparatively skimpy.  This year has been unusually sunny, not terribly warm, but sunny.  We are now into August and earnest summer.  Our section of the country is blanketed by the white-gray of the marine layer.  Some days it won't let up until late at night when we are able to view stars for a couple of hours before that dense layer eases back in.  It is high summer, and mid-morning, and the temperature is 56 degrees F.  I am about to head out to do some serious cutting back of spent blossoms and wilting leaves and I am having to bundle up to do so.  If we're lucky we might get some sunshine later in the afternoon.

The corn is coming along, though it might be sweeter if it had a little more warmth.  The tomatoes are ripening.  The beans are slow but tasty.

Summer here doesn't inspire thoughts of picnics or backyard barbecues.  But, of course, we wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  We do have our Indian Summer coming.  The best is yet to come.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Question

Do you know what this is?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Unwinding a Bobbin

This is a small memorial to my paternal grandmother.  It is a bobbin from her old White sewing machine. An early electric model.  It rests up in our attic, its gold leaf decoration flaking off.  I've carried it with me these nearly forty years since she died.  

There were so many things in that little apartment of hers.  I have the pottery she made and a few of the sample fabrics she wove on her loom.  I don't have her loom.  It wasn't my decision at the time, what to keep and what to discard.  I was considered too young to make that sort of decision.  So I've kept the sewing machine that she made all of my clothing on from when I was born to when I had my own machine and began making my own clothes.  

That sewing machine of hers kept food on the table during the last depression. She was an excellent tailor and dressmaker. Her clients were some of the wealthy of Los Angeles during the 1930's who could afford to have hand made, and tailor made, clothing through those difficult economic times. For some items she even wove the fabric.  Some of the samples have tiny glass beads threaded into the weft.  

She told me a story, once, of the things she had to give up after the Depression hit.  When she married my grandfather they'd had quite a lot of money.  She had furs and jewelry. They'd even had a chauffeur driven car back in the twenties.  That was when my grandmother had learned to drive.  She loved to drive. She loved the independence and the convenience.  When their money was gone and they had to sell everything of value, it was the car she hated to let go of.  Forty years on she still missed that car.  She never drove again. She and my great-aunt and I always took the bus wherever we needed to go if it was too far to walk.

Times are bad again as we all try working through this new Great Depression.  Worry is a near-constant companion to many of us.  However, it seems that it is only in times like these that we realize what it is we truly cherish.  It also seems to be times like these that bring us to ourselves, distilling our daily choices to what is best, what is needed, what matters most.  

So, it seems I've taken the thread from that bobbin and run with it through my thoughts for tonight. 

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seduction by Dahlia

v has discovered dahlias.

We may begin finding them tucked into the garden.  

The market stall has bucket after bucket of brilliant colorful dahlias at this time of year.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Market Day

It's Tuesday.  We have spent our day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium introducing people to sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, and gumboot chitons.  We've helped people find our giant octopuses, pointed out wolf eels, and encouraged one and all to limit their use of plastics, especially single use plastic items.  Witnessing the wonder alighting the faces of all ages and cultures is an unending joy for us. 

Tuesdays aren't just about the aquarium, however.  Tuesday is market day in downtown old Monterey. We hop on the trolley and take a short ride to the wharf where we take a short walk through beautiful gardens and past old adobes to Alvarado Street where the farmers' market is in full swing.

In the early days of Monterey, during the colonial period, men would sit on the balcony above this courtyard and watch Grizzly bears battle with bulls.

It's just a short walk away from the walls of this garden and past the Portola Plaza Hotel

to the beginning of the market.  The market can speak for itself.

From end to end we are surrounded by the adobes of old Monterey.

As they say at the market: Buy Fresh! By Local!  The number one best thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint (and that of your food) is to buy local product.  Cuts down on shipping and the energy used to keep vegetables cool.  Reduces packaging as well.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Workshop in the Garden

At the back of our garden there is a workshop that was built by v.  He built it out of materials salvaged from our little Victorian during its renovation several years ago.  Except for the roof and the central beam he did all of the work himself.  Our wonderful carpenter and friend, Hans, put the beam in place as a surprise birthday gift to v.   I am still amazed that one man could heft into place a 23 foot, 4 by 10 inch beam, 15 feet off the ground without any help. Amazed.  

Under Construction

His workshop is full of natural light. Six of the seven windows came out of the old house. The seventh window is a portion of a broken stained glass window he found.  Every skill v uses in his carpentry or woodworking is self taught.  His adoptive parents had different plans for him and the school he attended didn't have "shop" classes.  He feels he is slow and that there may be easier ways of accomplishing some of the things he does.  What he does is beautiful work for the benefit of our home, our lives, and our friends.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Visiting

Definitely the lazy days of summer around here.  We have been hosting old friends and site-seeing up and down our coastline seeing the sites with new eyes.

I was so happy to see my childhood friend when she came to stay with us for a couple of days. We have known each other since the first day of kindergarten.  We try to see each other at least once a year, but this was wonderful having her stay with us.  She still lives in Southern California where we grew up and where I haven't been in decades.

We have been delighted to welcome v's old friend, from his Berlin days, to our home. She shared her stories of her home and life in the city and of how, without having to move from her little apartment, she went from living on the edge of West Berlin to living in the center of Berlin and how much more energized and dynamic her location has become.

We've traveled from Big Sur to San Francisco and many points in between.  We've been making great meals at home and having picnics in out of the way places.  

Between visits we've been tending our garden and planting seeds for the fall and winter; peas, spinach, lettuce, and basil.  We were very late with our basil this year, but the warmest months are just beginning so we shall see.

Now we are at rest with our feet up, a good book, and only a walk in the park as a destination for this week. What heaven this summer has been so far.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Friday, August 3, 2012


We were getting into the car the other day and v asked if I had my phone.  I didn't and my first thought was to run get it.  We were going to the park. We were having a little local escape. I stopped before I even reached for the handle and, not for the first time, wondered why we must be so connected all of the time.  How have we become so obsessively attached to immediacy?  And why do we so willingly sacrifice our privacy? And at such a high price.

My grandparents must have loved the immediacy of the telegram.  My grandfather would go away for a week, or so, but he could easily send a telegram from his hotel, sometimes as often as four times in a day to my grandmother.  

I don't know when they had their first telephone installed.  Another marvel.  One only had to pick up a receiver, either jiggle the cradle or dial a zero to ask an operator to connect you anywhere in the world where there was another telephone. Mothers no longer had to wait for days, weeks, or even months to hear from their child far away in another state, or another country.  News of births and deaths weren't read, they were heard.  The peace and silence of the home was now, and forever, to be interrupted by the shrill ringing of the telephone.

And one was tethered to the spot where the phone was.  The phone had its own table and a chair situated where one could sit comfortably for the length of the conversation.  Cordless phones were so freeing allowing conversation anywhere in and around the house.  

Even early on there must have been the concern that, as convenient as it was to reach someone, there was the expectation of a response, a reply.  An invasion of privacy.  An unseen, but very well heard, presence in the room.  Life was becoming a bit more demanding at any hour of the day.
Party Lines. Not a party at all, just those shared lines where a conversation, considered private, between two individuals was easily eavesdropped on by any number of people connected to the same line. 

Of course there is the over-riding benefit of being connected.  The security of knowing help can be called in an emergency, the peace of mind of knowing someone is there at the other end of the line.

When at my grandmother's, the first sound in the morning was the shoosh-tick-tick-tick of her daily ritual: a call to her sister, down the street, assuring each other that they had, once again, survived the night and would see each other that evening at supper. H-E-3-1-8-9-7.

In bocca al lupo. m & v