Rain is Done

We had rain yesterday, but it's clear today, so I can set the "hasn't rained since" clock. 

The best part of this time of year is that I can actually get seated at the marina restaurant. (It's always too crowded in the summer.) And today I'm right up front. 

Rainy Days and Butternut Squash

For the record, it's been raining again these last few days. We can certainly use it.

This weekend, I stayed in the house and cooked.

I found this recipe from Jamie Oliver for a pasta casserole with ricotta and butternut squash.

I've got to believe that English butternut squashes are smaller because I had enough for a big casserole dish and a smaller single serving one, and I wasn't careful to use every part of the thing

It was delicious.


Wow, we've gotten to the time of year where the sun actually sets over the water. It always sets over the water, of course, but the water is actually south of my house, so for much of the year, it's setting over the hills on the arm of land that just out west on the north side of the bay.

It's Raining Again

I think we all have to admit that this song does not hold up. I don't remember it droning quite so much.


I'm reading that we haven't had measurable rain in 186 days. Then last night the water finally returned to the Central Coast. Not sure how much we got and it's still drizzling.

It's been so long since I slept to the sound of rain on the roof -- my bedroom's ceiling is the roof -- and last night was the best shuteye I've gotten in a long while.

Tree Update

Everybody remember my bacon tree? I planted it for my birthday back in the winter. Here's what it looked like then:

With the drought, we're restricted to outside watering only on Monday and Thursday. Do you know how hard it is to remember to water on those days? I finally had to put an appointment in my calendar to remind me.

Unfortunately, travel doesn't help. Last week, for example, I missed both days. I can't understand why one of the days can't be a weekend day. So, given that, I think the tree is in fair shape, though it definitely has a sunburn.

Truly, it's just the mist from the ocean keeping this thing alive.

Denver Cowboys

Took a few days to visit my company's office in Denver and I found a couple of cowboys.

My favorite thing is still watching folks walk right by these things without noticing they're around.

Speaking of Whale Rock Reservoir

This weekend I took a walk around it. This would be a lovely lake to kayak upon. I walked as far as allowed along the southeastern shore (about 2 1/2 miles) and back and didn't once see another human. That's pretty rare down here.

A shame there isn't kayaking because people are afraid.

It's not like the dozens of birds I saw in the water are all that clean. And you can pay a $2 fee to fish, though you have to do it without touching the water somehow. That implies there are fish in there. Fish never poop, I guess.

[Aside. Well, I just read up and it looks like it's a California thing. You need a special exemption to allow recreational uses of drinking water reservoirs. These reservoirs are exempt from the rule: San Diego County reservoirs, Modesto Reservoir, Nacimiento Reservoir, Sly Park Reservoir and Canyon Lake Reservoir. I thought Jackson Meadows, Scotts Flat and Spaulding were used for drinking water, but this would imply not? Maybe Scotts Flat is for flood control. I know Spaulding is also used for electricity. Or maybe NID is also exempt?]

I do like the view up into the hill. The little white house very much reminds me of Scotland.

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.