It's been so quiet around here. There's so little to report. I haven't even started a painting this year. I'm tired, mostly, I think.
Well the time just keeps zooming down the highway. Two years in Cayucos already! I moved here near my birthday, so that means I'm on my third birthday tree.
My last bike ride was at the end of October. I could blame the struggle for today's 14 miles on the wind (which was bad), but honestly. Not riding for a quarter does set me back.
I forgot to post my painting progress. So far, I've lived in Cayucos two years and I've created on painting each year.
This one started off as a sketch on orange:
This year was the year that the Cayucos Pier was reconstructed. I enjoyed finally getting to walk on it this fall. While the work was going on, somebody kept climbing out to put a pirate flag on the crane.
Just a quick wrap-up this year. My blogging is down. My reading is down. I was so crazy busy back in 2015. Here's to this year being about slowing down.
This year, when I did read, I tried to make a conscious effort to lean toward women writers. I only read 27 books this year (down from 56/61 last year). Because I was trying, we'll start with statistics:
Fiction::Non-Fiction - 26::1
Female::Male - 23::3 (1 unknown), count by book
Birth by Country (author count):
Still very US heavy. As an English-speaker, it's hard to get away from. This year, I'm going to try to shift my countries a little, though I'm not sure it'll be as easy to do as shifting to women, just because it's not obvious from the author's name. (It's not always with women authors, either, but it's a little easier.)
Birth by Decade (author count):
- 1950s XXX
- 1960s XXX
- 1970s XXXXXXXX
- 1980s XXXX
This year has a much smaller range of ages. Twice as many from the 80s as last year but I didn't read anything terribly old or by anyone terribly old.
I don't have a whole lot fascinating to say about my experience switching to women authors. I definitely found authors I'd not heard of and some were great and some were not.
Every year seems to bring small collections in my reading. This year, there were a couple of circus-based books. Both The Night Circus and Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti were interesting, weird reads. Mechanique was more firmly in the realm of Weird Fiction, with its half-mechanical circus performers and dystopian setting. The Night Circus was more of a fantasy; it reminded me very much of The Prestige.
I always enjoy finding an author who has already started a series and has a few books under her belt. It means that if I really like her writing, I've got more to dig into right away. This year, Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mysteries gave me an opportunity to spend time in a gentle little town in Canada with a quirky accepting community. Karen Miller's Mage books were also fun.
There are three books that I loved, but I don't think I would have picked them up unless I was challenging myself to read more women. And so I'm excited to have the authors to come back to now.
Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor was really interesting because of the voice of the young emperor. He is unexpectedly tossed into power in a world he doesn't understand -- not a whole 'nother world, just a different kind of political world than he was trained to excel in. He's nervous and young, angry and not at all sure he belongs. Its use of rings reminded me of the 99% invisible episode on Challenge Coins.
Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet gave me that sort of Firefly fix. I love space opera that features entrepreneurs instead of military agents, even when there is military stuff going on.
Naomi Novik's Uprooted is an excellent fairy tale. It doesn't feature some damsel waiting to be saved.
I loved Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown. I think this one is a pretty obvious hit for me. It fits in well with past reads by Susanna Clarke and Neil Williamson.
Even after a week, I was still a bit blarsted from jet lag. Rotterdam is a lovely place.
Though Amsterdam is where most of the mushrooms and smoking seem to be, I couldn't resist this one.
My hotel in Rotterdam was just more nicely placed than the one in Amsterdam, being right on the water.
So I signed up for this century ride (choosing the metric century as my goal), thinking that the cost and deadline would get me out biking to work up to a point where I could ride 65 miles in one day. And this definitely worked -- getting me out on the road three times a week, including progressively longer rides on the weekends, as described earlier.
I also knew that there was a risk I'd not be able to actually do the ride because I had a gig in Denver during the week, ending on Friday. My task was to finish the class in time to get from Denver to Phoenix in time to take the last flight from Phoenix to San Luis Obispo.
I didn't have much trouble getting out of class. It was a good group of hackers and they picked up things more quickly than I'm used to. So I got up to the airport to find that my flight was delayed. Since SLO is such a small airport, there really aren't many options for rerouting. But the flight was only delayed enough to make my connection time (assuming that nothing else changed) be about 15 minutes and the planes were actually scheduled so that I'd land at B1 and leave from B2.
Of course it didn't work out that way. The delay didn't get worse, but the SLO flight was moved to a different concourse. After we landed, but still taxiing, I checked my flight information to find that USAir had rescheduled me for a flight first thing in the morning!
Still, I'd been upgraded to first class from Denver, so I was sitting in 1A and I bolted up the jetway and over to the gate where my SLO flight was. And I made it! They had scheduled a flight for me in the morning so I'd be guaranteed to have a seat just in case, which really would have been good had it been needed. So I got home on the late flight and was able to get about six hours of sleep. And in the morning, I drove over to Morro Bay to register.
It was a gorgeous morning.
The sun is rising from the right direction to shine onto the Morro Bay power plant.
I got my number:
and I bought a jersey:
I love the zebra stripes. The zebras today were on the north side of San Simeon. A couple on the trip told me that they also saw whales crest during the ride. I saw the swarms of birds that usually mean whales, but I never saw them.
Other free stuff included a rubber bracelet, the patch in the picture above, and a wristband for the BBQ bash after the ride.
The ride had three rest stops. The first and last were in a park in Cambria. Lots of people the first go around. They provided an awfully good variety of snacks:
But the main reason for that stop was to get a chance to refill water bottles and just sit in the shade. The view of the ocean from the park was popular.
The second rest stop was at the turnaround point, which was a lookout spot from which you can see the lighthouse for which the ride is named. There wasn't much shade, but it was fairly crowded. (The lighthouse is in this picture, I promise.)
And this is the point at which we really started to spread out in terms of speed. By the time I got to the final rest stop, the crowd had thinned quite a bit:
And then from this point on, I never passed another person. I was passed quite a lot, of course. I wasn't the last one back to the school, but I might have been the last metric century rider -- the 85 and 100 mile riders mostly beat me, too.
But the important thing is that I made it. I hadn't ridden my bike hardly at all this year until I decided to train for this in August. And with living in the mountains, it's been six or seven years since I rode more than 10 miles in a day. So I'm pretty proud to have made it through.
The next thing is to see if my weekly biking sticks. If I still get on the bike on Tuesday to go have dinner at the Wee Shack, it will have been worth it. Maybe if I work at it all year, next time my bottom won't start hurting in the first 20 miles.
Good News: Registration positions opened up on the SLO Lighthouse Ride, so I'm going to be able to do the ride next week.
Bad News: I have to keep biking to work up to this thing, which takes a whole lot of time out of my week, so all there is to report on on this blog is biking.
Yesterday, I stayed on track, making 55 miles.
Of course, for me, that took 8 hours or so. It seems that next week's 65 mile ride might just barely be possible.
The zebras were out this week!
Stay tuned for next week's big ride. Hopefully I'll make it back from my trip to Denver.
Well, I've been doing OK on working up to the century. My plan was to do the metric century (only 65 miles) because I'm so dang slow and there aren't enough hours in the day. Today, I did 45 miles (10 more than last week). If I add 10 miles next week and can do another 10 the following week, then I can do the century. Here's my chart of distances so far this year:
(Green is biking, yellow is walking, red is kayaking. A drop off in the others was to be expected, I guess.)
Sadly, though, I waited too long to sign up for the SLO Lighthouse Ride. I'm on a waiting list, but I'm kicking myself for putting it off. The motivation to get out and ride disappeared when I realized I probably won't get to do the organized ride. I have my fingers crossed, and if I can't do it, maybe I'll find another one.
But at least I got up and did my ride today.
Well I broke another spoke today, just a day after getting another spoke replaced.
I decided it was time to clean up my exercise act and get back on the bicycle. I'm going to work up to the Lighthouse Century.
And, of course, I immediately broke a spoke. I'd like to think it's the fates out to get me, but most likely my weight is just too much stress on this ole bicycle.
The sea fog here is terribly hard on the bike. Everything is rusting so quickly.
In spite of the dryness here, that walnut next door just seems to grow like crazy. I've cut it back once since I moved in, mostly because it was trying to puncture the roof of my shed. (Before I put a solid roof on it, it was just plastic. Take a look at the link and see how fast that walnut has been growing around the cactus.)
So, I got out there and cut it back again today. Here's the before shot:
And here's the after shot:
The gloves I wore weren't as thick as I thought. My hands have needles in them. I've never liked cactus. I'm still surprised I didn't notice them and make their removal a condition of the sale.
I don't know how you prune the cacti. I just ripped off some of the pads from the prickly pear. They're unexpectedly heavy.
It took me a year and a half, but I finally got up my courage to get the kayak out into the actual ocean.
I launched from the boat ramp in Cambria, which is somewhat protected from the heavy waves and so is easy to jump into the kayak from.
Just off shore are lovely kelp beds.
I did a quick circle of this rock that is just visible from shore.
But my kayak isn't built for the ocean (it's not a sit-on-top) so when the wind and waves picked up, I headed back into shore.
You might remember that I noticed a few chairs gathering in Cayucos right before the 4th of July last year.
It's going to be a different scene this year:
I'm glad that I got to see the traditional bringing out of the chairs last year, anyway.
A few weeks ago I was in Dallas.
It was hot and steamy. It makes this apple look more like a tomato.
More important, it was raining. And raining hard. At 3am, I got to wake up because my phone was giving me flash flood alerts. I'm glad that it was able to know I was in a flash flood area, but telling an out-of-towner to move to high ground isn't quite enough info. First of all, I'm not sure what a Texan would consider high ground. And second, even so I wouldn't know where it was.
Still, I figured I was safe in the 3rd floor of the Hampton Inn.
And so I found it was important to find cover wherever I could.
I just wish I'd brought a tanker truck so I could bring the water back home with me.
The lake is shockingly low. Here are a few pictures.
Some of the docks don't even make it to the water.
Worse, some of the boat ramps no longer make it to the water.
Things are not good.