Friday, August 31, 2007

Going Postal

Before we left on our vacation, I went to the United States Postal Service's web site and requested a vacation hold for our mail.

I printed the receipt acknowledging the request, which included instructions to hold all mail until we picked it up at the post office upon our return.

We cruised back home this afternoon. Our landlord handed us a pile of mail and said it began showing up four days ago.


I called the phone number on the receipt. I talked to a very nice man named Jay who duly took the information and said that someone would call me on Tuesday.

Just to be sure, Bob and I headed to the Main Post Office in Long Beach to see if they had any more of our mail.

Sure enough, the very nice postal clerk came out with another pile of mail and many apologies.

BTW-two years ago we put our mail on vacation hold. The following January, two days worth of mail postmarked in August showed up in our mail box.

It makes one wonder...

UPDATE: Saturday, Sept 1-I just got a call from a very nice woman from the Long Beach post office. She apologized profusely and said there was absolutely no excuse for what happened. She confirmed my suspicion that our regular carrier was on vacation. She said that they are working on the physical layout of the sorting center that is the root of the problem. She also confessed that the same thing happened to her when she got back from vacation two weeks ago. There. I feel better knowing that we received the same treatment as a postal employee!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Light Show

Picture from the San Luis Obispo Tribune

The remnants of Hurricane Dean did an end run on the Central Coast last night, completely blindsiding the weather forecasters.

I thought it was odd that someone was using a strobe light in the middle of the night. Earplugs kept the rumbling of thunder at bay until 2:30am when I was finally shaken awake.

The best part? The fragrance of rain! It has been many long, long months since I have been blessed by that.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

DSL in Atascadero!

Bob and I said farewell to beautiful Cambria this morning and headed east to scenic Atascadero. My sister has DSL. No more dial up! I'll post pictures to previous posts as I get the energy...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The most strenuous thing Bob and I did yesterday was stay up and catch the beginning of the total lunar eclipse.

The fog bank stayed well off shore as the moon began to disappear.

The sight was enhanced by the sounds of the surf pounding and the aroma of Cambria pines.

That was one stellar show!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Visitors in Paradise

My sister Christy, her husband Dave, and their son Mason drove west from Atascadero to take in our little bit of paradise yesterday.

We had fine weather for our walk on the ranch and nearby tide pools. The remnants of Hurricane Dean dropped moisture further south, but didn't touch us here.

We got a close view of several turkey vultures as they made their way to the beach below the ranch boardwalk. We couldn't see what was on the menu, but could certainly smell it, and appreciated their role in clearing out the carrion.

The tide was low, so we got a good look at the tide pools. Mason accurately observed that the exposed sea weed looked like potpourri. It certainly didn't smell like potpourri!

A lavish spread of the most exquisite snack (read junk) food was enjoyed upon our return home.

We all remarked on how peaceful and relaxing the surroundings were.

I woke up this moring thinking of my teaching responsibilities back home. That's just wrong! I'm going back to reading.

School can wait!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Otter Pop

Yesterday, during our evening walk on the ranch, we heard it: "Pop...pop...pop..."

We searched the ocean directly below us.

There! "Pop...pop...pop..."

We were delighted to discover two sea otters floating on their backs amid the kelp, rocks in hand, working smartly to smash the shells separating them from their mollusk dinners.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Castle in the Clear

Bob and I drove the short 8 miles to Hearst Castle yesterday. When we arrived, the hill was completely shrouded in fog. We had scheduled a 3:40 tour, but there was room on the 1:40 tour instead. We gulped down some truly mediocre yet expensive food, then made our way onto our tour bus for the winding 5 mile trek up the hill.

Then something truly wonderful happened. The fog lifted to reveal breathtaking vistas of ocean, hills, and, of course, the Castle.

The tour guides that met us at the top said until that moment the grounds had been completely enveloped in mist. We were treated to clear, deep blue skies and very mild temperatures, unlike the 105 degrees reported a few days earlier.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Mr. Hearst's "ranch". We both took lots of pictures. I'll post some when we find some DSL.

Today we plan to have no plans. We can sleep until tomorrow if we want. Maybe we will!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Foggy Walk

We strolled over to the East West Ranch yesterday afternoon. It was a cool, foggy afternoon so we donned sweatshirts and headed out.

It's a mile across the ranch to Marine Terrace along a beautifully accessible trail. We saw lots of pelicans and some seals. Still eluding us are sea otters and whales, although we've seen them here before.

We walked around Marine Terrace and down to the beach. The tide was in, and it was fun to watch the waves pound up to us.

We hiked back across the ranch using the upper dog and bike trail. It has been completely graded and groomed into a wide swath which doubles as a fire road. Dogs are allowed off their leashes here, and several were romping about.

Dogs weren't the only thing out yesterday. We encountered a coyote shadowing the trail. It was amazing how its coat blended in so perfectly with its surroundings. We got the feeling that it was on the prowl for delicious brisket of dachshund or fillet of Fifi. Fortunately, none were to be had.

We made a quick trip into town for some sherry from Fermentations. Then we parked ourselves in front of the fire for a quiet evening of reading and crosswords.

I took myself into the palatial bathroom, filled the jacuzzi tub with warm water and bubbles, lit a bunch of candles, and read Ruth Reichl's "Garlic and Sapphires" for an hour and a half. Believe me, I've never sat in a tub that long before! It was wonderful. I'm thinking of doing it again tonight!

We're off to Hearst Castle this afternoon. Bob has never been there, so we're taking Tour One. I'll let you know how it goes if I can get this incredibly spotty dial-up connection to behave.

Meanwhile, it's time to sit and breathe the clean sea air.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our Piece of Quiet

Bob and I are enjoying our piece of quiet up here in Cambria.
I went into the bedroom last night and thought, "What's that noise?" It was the sound of the ocean waves breaking.
I could hear the sea lions barking in the distance as I lay down for a nap yesterday. From our bed you can see the ocean and the ranch.
It is supremely peaceful and very quiet here.
We are drinking it in.
I tried in vain to upload a picture using this dial-up.
You'll have to use your imaginations.
Gotta go.
It's nap time!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Perfect Summer Day

I stopped by the Ritz Carlton in Lauguna Niguel yesterday.

I've never before seen such a perfect summer day there.

I was longing to dive into the beautiful blue water!

I was deeply grieved, however, to see this scar in the bluffs directly behind the lovely beach pictured above.

How depressing.

Maybe this view will cheer you up!

As sunset rolled around I felt as if I'd been transported to Hawaii.

What a magnificent sight!

Bob and I are looking forward to a different kind of summer weather tomorrow in Cambria.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Auf Wiedersehen Marine Stadium, Good Bye El Dorado Park

A large crowd packed the park Thursday evening as the Long Beach Municipal Band said Auf Wiedersehen to Marine Stadium.

It was blazing hot on the band stand.

The sound system tried to go down repeatedly during the concert.

Bob resuscitated it, but it wasn't pretty for him.

Friday saw the final set up at El Dorado Park:

The three Men In Pink spent a good part of the night smoking brisket in this marvelous contraption:

Mike, Greg, and Justin not only set up the risers, stands, chairs, and mike stands, but provided amazing barbecue for the band.

My niece Bethany and her husband Tim vamped it up Hollywood style.

They stopped by on their way back to Templeton from Palm Springs.

My sister Janine drove down from Paso Robles with her youngest son Peter (left) and our nephew Mason (right) especially for the concert.

Beverly, Mom and Dad are in the background.

Bethany and I take a break in front of the band stand before the concert:

Bob was trying to grab a bit of brisket while praying over the sound system.

It was on its last legs.

It limped through the last concert.

Fortunately for us it didn't quit altogether.

Aunt Charlo and Uncle Joe joined in the fun:

My brother Ken was feeling goofy after a long day at work:

A bit of serious warming up was required after ingesting such a large amount of brisket:

My view of the final concert:

After the final tear down in the park, all the equipment was unloaded here...

...where it will hibernate until next summer.

So long, Muni Band.

You will be missed!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Farewell Los Cerritos Park

The Long Beach Municipal Band farewell tour continued last night at Los Cerritos Park.

It's time to say so long for another year to my marvelous recipe source and friend Betty:

Singer Tony Galla sat on the other side of the rope to take in the first half of the concert:

Oh, and the Men in Pink?


Tonight we're cruising into Marine Stadium.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So Long Bluff Park

We froze our socks off at Bluff Park last week.

The weather was decidedly warmer last night.

We're doing our farewell tour this week.

The great Tony Galla returned:

As of Friday we're all unemployed.

Hurry on down while you still can!

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Time To Sit Down

A week from today I'm going to sit myself down on this bench with my dear husband Bob and drool.

Drooling is the most effort I hope to expend while vacationing in beautiful Cambria, California.

I love my job. I love playing for thousands of people a week. I love my university teaching jobs.

However, I need a break.

So Bob and I will be heading for the peaceful Central Coast next week.

We are planning days of recreational eating, reading, walking on Moonstone Beach and the East West Ranch, and lots and lots of naps.

Maybe I'll blog.

Maybe I won't.

Meanwhile, Muni Band Week 8 begins tomorrow.

See you in the park!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Separate Sisters

I've been following the formerly conjoined Herrin twins Kendra and Maliyah since before their separation surgery last year.

They celebrated the first anniversary of their successful surgery on August 7.

What a blessing it is to see them thriving!

The End Is Near

The end is near but, thankfully, not for Patti and Jonathan.

They survived a head on collision with a drunk 20 year old male early Thursday morning as they were driving to LAX.

Fortunately Jonathan's Mercedes protected them from the under age drunk's Lexus SUV.

They escaped with air bag injuries alone.

Jonathan's car gave its life to save theirs.

Marine Stadium looked inviting Thursday afternoon:

The weather was perfect as John typed his heart out:

Greg looks like he was blessing the band as he guest conducted:

The crowd got to whistle the Colonel Bogey march accompanied by the band.

Unfamiliar with Colonel Bogey?

Think Bridge on the River Kwai:

Barbara Morrison was back.

She lit up the crowd with her powerful set of songs.

Friday we were back at El Dorado Park.

John was back at the typewriter:

Greg was back on the podium:

Then the band was off to the annual band party in this lovely setting:

Four more concerts are left in the Municipal Band's 98th season.

Will we see you there?