Today's new restaurant experience is brought to you by Zoltar.
I was going to comment on the use of sharks for directional signage, but honestly the takeaway from my quick hike around Avila Sea Caves is that people are disgusting. There is trash everywhere here and some of the once-beautiful rocks are covered with graffiti.
And apparently the world is just an ashtray.
I'm not a fast painter. I seem to be on a pace to make one a year. Last year's painting was the Cayucos Whirlpool. I think that took about six months, though I don't seem to have recorded the start here at the Abbey for some reason.
In early February, I started a new one. Every so often, I go out and work on the thing. As the weather has stabilized this month, I've gotten a few trips in over the last few weeks.
[Yes, "stabilized" is quite a word for weather where the high doesn't change more than 10 degrees over the whole year. Mostly, I'm talking about the fog and rain that we got -- little as it was. But, to be honest, there's a big jump between 60°F and 70°F when working outside.]
This is my first painting that I've tried to do any extensive drawing on.
I'm watering down the paint and trying to take a bunch of passes on each section.
I kind of like the idea that the pier is more defined to the right of the crane than to the left. I wish I'd thought of that and designed the painting around it.
another Soviet luxury sailboat.
Click to make it bigger.
BEK РОССИИ does seem to translate as Age of Russia (or Russian Century).
Update: Oh, this is neat. The boat was meant to compete in the America's Cup back in '92, but the club that owned the boat ran out of money before it hit the water. According to the LA Times, it was destined to be destroyed, but this other page says it's been sailing around as a luxury yacht and it was built in the same place as Sputnik.
Well today it's hanging out in Morro Bay.
Here's a longer range picture.
Both these were taken from my iPhone in a dry bag. It was too bright for me to see the screen when I took the pictures. I'm amazed the boat's in it the pictures at all.
A little late for a first ride.
And I'm embarrassingly out of shape.
And the wind is terrible, but the weather is lovely otherwise.
Gosh, it's been a busy year. I'm run ragged.
It's almost two months late, but I finally got a birthday tree. I wish I'd gotten to it before last weekend's rain (maybe the last for a while?)
It's an olive tree. It should be good in this drought, but I've just learned that it could take up to five years for the first fruit. Which is going to be rough, since I've never lived in a house more than 5 years, and I'm already a year and two months into this house.
Last year's tree is doing well, I think.
Here's what it looked like when I planted it a year ago.
And here it is now:
This place is much better than Nevada City in this respect: my birthday trees aren't getting eaten by deer.
I had a nice lunch in Morro Bay at a place that's become somewhat regular for me, in spite of the rocky start. It's hard to beat sushi and French fries. I parked about a mile up the hill and walked down. Toward the end of my meal, a thunderstorm hit.
It wasn't loud and I never saw lightning, but it's the first thunderstorm I've listened to in years. And I love the colors when there is clear sky out at sea and a shower falling on the bay. We still haven't gotten to non-drought measures of rain, but this winter seems like it has had more storms than last winter. I am both looking forward and a little sad to look forward at the 9 or 10 months of no-rain ahead.
I ran out of podcasts, so I searched for a new one to add to my list and I got the recent episode of Everything is Stories. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It was an interesting story about a woman hooked up with a much older man and starting a commune. I'm going to give a few more episodes a try.
In the last 2 1/2 minutes, there's a separate segment that really jumped out at me. This guy gives a quick talk about meeting up at Morro Bay with a guy who then goes and drowns.
I know it's the New Car Effect*, but it's still weird to hear about your neighborhood when two years ago you'd never heard of the place yourself.
Here's a rainbow from up Los Osos Valley:
* I don't know if "New Car Effect" is the real name. It's that thing where you decide to buy a little Honda CRX and suddenly every car you notice on the road is a Honda CRX.
Is there really only one Google hit for "nomanomicron"?
Not any more.
When I mentioned where I lived to a colleague in Chicago, he said he still remembered staying at the Madonna Inn in the '70s, even which room. I said it was about 30 minutes from my house, but near the place I get Tubby's food.
It's called Romanesco broccoli. And it's made of fractals!
I put mixed it into a pasta dish with loads of cream cheese, so I have not idea what it tastes like.
The only thing I really noticed is it had a crispier texture, closer to cauliflower.
In spite of yesterday's rain, I did get out to the shed and do a little canvas prep. I'm trying something I've never done before: an underpainting.
The Wee Toaty Explorers haven't visited Florida in a very long time. It's a whole lot nicer in the winter than in the summer.
Well, maybe when it's winter, you have to keep warm.
Yesterday marked one year since I bought this house in Cayucos. I suppose it's a sign of my age that the year just flew right by. Just like that, I'm 20% through my maximum stay in one place.
This will really be the only End of Year summary. I'm not feeling much for retrospection this year, which is ironic considering my involvement in this year's Retrospective Facilitators Gathering.
Here are the books I read in 2014:
There are 61 covers in that picture, but I'm only going to credit 56 because the six books of the Nunslinger Saga are each really just novelettes (if that) and were collected into a single book anyway.
With that number revision, 2014 was in line with 2012's 56 and above 2013's 42. I suspect this reflects the added stability of a single home for the whole year (almost).
It's been a good reading year.
This is the year when I fell back in love with science fiction. At some point, I tweeted that I thought Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice should win the Hugo. Gosh, it did that and more. A lot has been written about this science fiction novel, so I'll just repeat what I said last January: this book is completely up to the hype.
This is also the year that I fell back in love with fantasy. This series by Patrick Rothfuss is delicious, though it has not yet ended. I know there was a lot of talk about Lev Grossman's Magician books, which were good, but for me, if you're looking for a grown-up Harry Potter then The Kingkiller Chronicle is for you. This is a magic story as it should be told, with real adventure and a pint. If you like Locke Lamora, then you probably have already read these books.
I think that there are often stand-out books in the YA section that should live on their own on the adult shelves. I said in February that this series by Patrick Ness kept me enthralled to the last page. And snatches of it still walk around in my head. This is the story of a human colony that has fallen into the clutches of religious extremism and (more interestingly) is infected by a disease that makes the men (and only the men) involuntarily broadcast their thoughts to everyone around. I'd love to see this as a movie, but I can't imagine how they'd do it.
Not everything great this year was SF/F. Mick Herron's Slow Horses is a great spy novel. It tells the story of British agents who have failed into a division that's meant to keep them out of the way -- they messed up badly enough to be pulled off the streets, but not so badly that they can be fired, I guess -- and how they take initiative. This is good stuff.
Goodness, I could just go through and list every single book. Here are some other thoughts that fall neatly into categories:
In 2013, less than half the books I read were electronic. In 2014, 100% of the books were. And all of those, by the way, I read on iPhone. With this smaller shack I live in, there just isn't room to keep adding to the 1000 books I already can't fit into the house. On top of that, it's just so much more convenient for my business trips, especially now that we don't have to stop reading during take off and landing. I do miss the smell of used book stores, but I just can't justify bringing another object into this house to be put into a box or in storage. Maybe after the next move.
At any rate, I did read some things that I wouldn't have if I hadn't gone to Amazon Prime, and most of it was dreck. However, I did read one self-published series this year that really pulled me in. I wouldn't call it the most polished thing I'd ever read, but it hooked me and dragged me from book to book: The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker is worth the time.
I'm not really a fan of apocalypse or post-apocalypse novels. I did not like The Road at all. But this year had two standouts for me, both I highly recommend:
The Last Policeman (Ben Winters) and its sequels tells the story of the time leading up the destruction of earth. Everybody knows it's coming; nobody can do anything about it. Should life go on normally anyway? What's a police officer to do when there's no future?
Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) is another book that everybody has been buzzing about. I'd be surprised if this isn't on the Hugo ballot this year.
Speaking of the Hugo ballot reminds me that some time in the past I had started to grow bored with SF/F. It's the genre where my heart lives, but it hadn't done much for me for a few years. But this year, with the books above, I am excited about it again. So much so that I have to mention a couple more books I read this year.
City of Stairs (Robert Jackson Bennett) combines the best of other world fantasy with a detective/spy novel. This one will also likely make the Hugo ballot, if I am living in the same world as everybody else.
The Moon King (Neil Williamson) is a beautiful novel of the fantastic that is another great example of fantasy without all the baggage that the last century gave us. It deserves awards, but I suspect it's too quiet and beautiful to gain traction.
Female:Male -- 15:21 (by author count), 26:28 (by book count) - 1 writer/book unknown
Not much to say there, I think. It's about the same as last year. One of these years I will make a concerted effort to switch the order. I'm only a few books away. (I seemed to like to read other works by a woman author more often than books by men this year.)
Birth Country (by author count) -- 25 US, 5 England, 3 Canada, 1 France, 1 Scotland, 1 Australia, 1 Unknown
Still heavily American reading habits, sadly, and almost identical to last year. I am embarrassed by the lack of Asian and African writers in my pile.
- 1860s: X
- 1870s: X
- 1890s: X
- 1900s: X
- 1930s: XX
- 1940s: XXX
- 1950s: XXXX
- 1960s: XXXX
- 1970s: XXXXXX
- 1980s: XX
- unkwn: XXXXXXXXXXXX
I had a lot more trouble finding out ages this year. This is the first year I've read folks born in the '80s (thanks Robert Jackson Bennett and Nathaniel Rich). Neil Williamson is the closest to my own age.
There were no polar bears for this year's Polar Bear Dip, which was held near the pier in Cayucos.
However, a dolphin did come to visit right beforehand:
Yeah, hard to see. Here's a close-up:
There was also a seal cruising along for a bit, but its picture wouldn't have been any better. Still, it was a lovely day, on the chilly side, but not really polar bear weather. The water, though, was likely verrrrry cold.
But that didn't stop the hordes of crazy people from running to the ocean when directed.