Whale Rock Reservoir

I'm going to call this the Check Mark Ride.

I found something to use the wind for. It's pretty light today, but almost always the wind here blows inland. And so a ride with the wind is a ride up hill. These hills aren't the mountains of Nevada County, but when you start 60 feet above sea level, 505 feet isn't bad.

I rode to the last lookout over Whale Rock Reservoir, which is pretty dang low. Sadly, you can walk down to fish on the lake, but you're supposed to avoid "bodily contact" because this is our drinking water. It'd be awfully nice to kayak, I think, especially so close to home, but no go. I'm sure birds never touch the water and the trout never poop.

I'm going to do this ride again just because on the way down there's a speed gauge and without trying I tripped it at 21 mph.


Still the most beautiful lake I've ever kayaked on.

Bike Report

Biking along the coast is really, really nice when there is no wind. Sadly, there are few days without wind. 

Still, it is lovely here. 

SUP, Monk!

Went out for a kayak paddle on Morro Bay this weekend. Got dunked when I wandered into the ocean, but the exciting thing was finding someone dressed as a monk working a standup paddle board.

(You might want to click to make this picture bigger.)

He noticed me. I think I made him mad.

Conference Search

Running around looking for a place to hold a conference next year is exhausting. I forgot how far it really was to South Tahoe, and it sure has a lot more traffic than I remember.


The world is full of connections. I was living in the hills of Nevada County just upslope from Grass Valley. I'm now living down here on the coast just south of Hearst Castle, built by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaperman who inspired Citizen Kane.

Today I'm watching Deadwood for the first time. I'm somewhere in the second season and a representative for a Hearst is making noises. So I looked him up. Turns out it's William Randolph Hearst's father. 

And where did George Hearst start making his money?  Grass Valley, California.

I know it's the new car effect, but still. 

Cayucos Whirlpool

At the vacation house I was renting between homes this winter, I saw a Hiroshege print. Actually, I saw a jigsaw puzzle that had been glued together, framed and hung on a wall. I decided that if I ever got back to painting, I'd try to make my own version.

Well, here it is:

I tried to make the rocks look a little more like Whale Rock, though this time of year Whale Rock is almost all white, and the coast is more like the hills on the other side of the pier.  True, the coast would be to the right of this view of Whale Rock, but we have cameras for reality, right?

Here's what it looks like hung on the wall:


Well, I found an app for my iPhone that lets me add posts from the phone. I'm not sure if this will increase my output or not, but it's with a try. 

Looks like I can add pictures, like this one:

but I can't do much formatting. Pretty much, it looks like I can bold text, but I can't change the picture size or provide a link to whatever sea creature I took a picture of. 

There were gobs and gobs of them on the beach this weekend. I like the blue food coloring. 


OK, so I've been slacking a bit and it's time to get back on the horse. I found myself writing a pretty rambling email to a friend this morning and I realized that my writing needs a bit of pruning. The best way to get back into writing habits is to write, and I don't really think it matters what.

I owe a post on the annual state of the Toaties, but I'll get to that later.

Here's what I did today: I dressed up a shed.

The house I bought down here in Cayucos was more expensive than I had hoped back when I was dreaming of finding a shack to improve, so I've not had the budget to dive into home construction projects that I thought I'd have. I haven't really done anything to the house since I ripped out the bathtub sliding doors. (Doesn't look like I made pictures of that. Goodness.)

Back in the yard with all the cactus plants, there is a ragged shed. I suspect it's unfinished because of the fear of permitting or something, but there's a shell of a shed that the former occupant used to store surfboards. It was covered with a tarp, wrapped entirely with black plastic, but underneath has a good frame. Here is what it looked like:

The blue tarp had gotten itself shredded by the wind and there are bits and pieces of blue plastic all over the yard. There isn't a lot of rain here and I'm just using it as a place to paint, but that black plastic is starting to get little rips and the tree from the neighbors yard has a good flail in every breeze, so I was sure it was going to split right open at some point.

In keeping with the not-a-real-structure thing, I decided to cover up the front with the kind of material you can use to reupholster outdoor furniture. Then I put a series of Ondura roofing panels on top. It's corrugated, but not nearly so shiny and cheap looking as plastic, in my humble opinion. And so now my shed looks like this:

I'm pretty happy with it. We'll see how it holds up to the weather.

4th of July - Cayucos, part 2

It was downright cold on the beach for the fireworks, but I trekked back to the house to find that I could actually see them from my balcony. I don't have any pictures of fireworks, though. Just pictures from earlier in the day.

The town had a parade. It was pretty impressive. It had all the usual things: classic cars, fire trucks, police cars, cheerleaders. There weren't any marching bands, but there were steel drums.

Down here on the coast, there was a lot more of a nautical flavor, with pirates:

and parrots:

and vikings:

It seems to me that surfers and skaters are obligatory in this part of California:

As are old VW Bugs, though this one belongs to a bunch of retired submariners. Did you know that the continental US had actually been attacked by the Japanese in WW2? I don't remember learning that in school, but apparently torpedoes were launched at Morro Bay and a tanker was sunk off of Cambria.

There were businesses, like the Brown Butter Cookie Company:

And avocado orchards:

I have no idea what these snacks were about. There's not a movie theater in town:

Every town needs a precision umbrella drill team:

But what I liked most about the parade was that it seemed like some of the participants were just families who wanted to be in the parade. This rather large group represented Nana's escapees:

They brought their own jail, complete with Elvis. There's a reporter getting folks' real names. When you work for a paper, you have to make sure you provide proper attribution.

There were smaller family groups, too. Like this incredibly cute representative from Oz:

But at the end of the day, the group that impressed my inner 7-year-old the most:

Yep. The gulls are doing what real life gulls are expected to do.

Oh, almost forgot. There was even a group in the parade especially for me:

4th of July - Cayucos, part 1

So, I'm going to make a post with pictures of the parade, but first I want to talk about chairs.

Way back on Monday, I saw the first ones.

These were out in front of the little market. Did I mention it was Monday? That was still June!

As the week went on, more chairs appeared.

By yesterday, there were rows and rows of chairs.

The town went chair crazy. None of them were really chained or anything, just tied together or draped with police tape. I think that was more to save extended space than to warn people off.

As I was walking up the street yesterday, SUVs were pulling up and unloading dozens of chairs each. Obviously, this wasn't just the locals being grumpy about their parking spots being taken over by the parade. This was bigger.

Indeed, one of my teammates sent me an LA Times article:

One day each year, this beach town of less than 3,000 residents becomes among the most populous places on the Central Coast.

Some 30,000 people show up for a parade featuring floats that locals have worked on for at least two or three days before the event, children doing cartwheels and — when they aren't otherwise booked — marching bands.

30,000 seems like it might be a high estimate, but it was crazy crowded this morning in Cayucos. This was shot today where the first chair picture was taken:

And the town seemed to absorb it okay, really. Everyone I saw was smiling and cordial. (We'll see how tonight goes after a day of drinking.) I think the layout of the town helps. Down here by the beach, the streets are a whole lot wider than up in Nevada City. We're just generally spread out more. And, of course, the beach absorbed a lot of people, too, once it was over. All in all, not a bad deal.

And several folks went the extra mile. If you're going to go to the trouble of reserving a spot, might as well make it nice:

Oh, and sadly, I was disappointed he bothered to save a chair but never showed up:

Parade and sand castle pictures later.

This is Really Not Helping the Campaign against Using a Cell Phone While Biking

Cyclist of the future, 1933 - 15

In Brooks Robinson's Shadow

I forgot to give them right arms.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

Flickr Commons

Looks like the Library of Congress just posted a photo of a professor at Hogwarts.

W.H. Rothwell (LOC)

The Moon King (Neil Williamson)

It is the moonlight reflecting upon the waves around Whale Rock just off our shore that visitors to Cayucos exclaim about. But in the evenings I prefer to sit on my second floor deck. The view from there is of green hills rising above the rooftops of this beach town to which I've moved myself. I can also look down into my wee realm of nearly 200 square feet and see the giant cactus that grow in beds surrounded by the planking of a meandering deck, the sundial that needs perpetual tuning, and the two boys harassing lizards where I planted an avocado tree in a whisky barrel on the platform raised above the decking.

It's actually a whiskey barrel, having once held Kentucky bourbon, but I prefer to think of it without the 'e'.

I haven't lived here long enough to be sure yet, but I believe the green will soon be fading to brown as the brief rainy season is put behind us. Only last week, I received a tweet from the local fire brigade about a fire in a nearby river bed. There is something wrong with a world where river beds are appropriate places for wild fires.

I tell myself to ignore the desire to sing the Midnight Oil song aloud.

Living alone brings a matched set of pleasure and difficulty. One difficulty is restraining myself from talking to the cat, singing random snatches of song, and interacting with imaginary people. Some day I would like to rejoin society and I have no desire to crash land in it with a cart full of off-kilter behaviors. So I am doing my best to ignore the two boys crouched upon my deck near the avocado because they are but evidence of some unhealthy misfirings in my brain. And the worst part is that although my brain has invented them out of whole cloth, it refuses to remind me of the name of one of the boys.

Still, one cannot allow the local fauna to be terrorized by the figments of one's imagination, right? The ice clinks as I put my Godfather on the railing and walk down the spiral staircase to investigate. As always, I use a little technique I've come up with to ferret out what's going on in situations like this. I call it, 'asking questions'.

'Hey, what are you lot doing?'

Prasad doesn't bother to straighten his tie or stand when I interrupt. 'We are making luck lizards,' he explains.

'Obviously.' It's never wise to let your imaginary crowds think you aren't keeping up. 'And I assume you got the idea from some book. The true question is why are you making luck lizards?'

'Because there aren't any monkeys in this place, obviously,' pronounced the boy whose name I cannot remember. 'Have you thought of living somewhere else?'

'I have thought of living many places, but you and the rest of the imaginary crew always find me. I thought there'd be peace by the seaside.'

Prasad catches another lizard and places a coin in its mouth. He puts the lizard on top of the wooden fence between my yard and the one that seems to belong to the Dalmatian next door. When Prasad releases the lizard, it raises and lowers its feet in diagonal pairs, testing its freedom. Then it scampers away. It never drops the quarter.

When it comes to being inspired by books they read, I suppose a bit of trinket redistribution via lizard is not the worst they could have come up with after reading The Moon King, Neil Williamson's latest bit of weird fiction.

'I don't know if it qualifies as weird fiction,' Prasad tells me. 'It's rather gentle.'

'Gentle?' I'm surprised by the word. It feels right, but... 'But there are riots and mayhem. It's clearly weird. This novel is easily on par with the best of Ambergris.'

'I think it owes as much to Calvino as to VanderMeer. It's almost musical.'

'Oh, right,' says the kid with no name. 'That's your shtick these days: finding the so-called parents of the book at hand.'

'This one is a hard one,' I admit. 'In addition to those, I see Foundation, Baudolino, Diamond Age, and Soldier of the Mist, all wrapped up in a beautiful package. It's a lazy shorthand, but --'

'It's not lazy; it's insulting. As if the books are not true creations in their own rights, simply mere mashups derivative of early work.'

'Oh, that's not my intent at all. I think it's more like there are sympathetic vibrations from these other works in this book, as if each one resonates with this at a particular level, though it is not a mirror or copy of any of them.'

'Perhaps it is a conversation the book is having with the other ones, much like you are having with us,' Prasad suggests.

'I'm not having a conversation with you.' I wave my hands in frustration. 'You don't exist. You are not real.'

The other boy puts an ankle bracelet around the neck of another lizard and sets it free. Both boys stand up. 'Then you won't mind joining us down at the beach?'

'What's at the beach?'

'We're going down there to wait.'

'And to watch,' Prasad put in.

'No, I am going to sit on my deck and finish my drink. You two run along.'

I watch the boys walk past the house to the road. I'm sure they'll be safe: after all they don't really exist. As I'm sure that whatever it is they are expecting to emerge from the waves is not real. I am not afraid.

I just want to finish my drink.

And I am definitely not humming any songs by The Mountain Goats.

Tiszaf├╝red, Hungary

Imagine spooky, somewhat dated music.

The music increases in intensity.

The camera pulls in, a bolt of lightning strikes....

And we hear an evil cackle.



I needed a place that was protected from rain because it's been off and on wet this week. The telephone/electricity poles here seem to mostly concrete, which is useful for this sort of exercise. I also made a wee Van der Graaff generator, but the wind blew it away.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.