Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ray of Hope

My favorite beach at sunset (Stone Steps in Leucadia)A recent sunset at my favorite beach: Stone Steps in Leucadia.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pumpkins on Parade

Pumpkin Patch overlooking Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CaliforniaHigh on a slopping hill overlooking the sea a couple of blocks up from the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) Temple and Ashram Center in Encinitas, a plot of land brings forth the fruits of fall. Pumpkins brighten the coastal scenery and provide a peaceful setting to admire the wonderful crop. The true miracle is seeing the land being used for agriculture. The ocean views make this a prime piece of real estate.

The land is owned by SRF and is used year-round to grow vegetables. It is attended by the monks who live at the temple.

When my children were young, we used to attend the SRF’s annual Halloween festival. Hundreds of intricately carved pumpkins greeted Halloween celebrants on all hallowed night. As we entered the fellowship grounds, a wonderful world of good and evil, make-believe and real-life lessons greeted us. Plays, musical numbers, characters, wish-granting queens and villainous plotters barraged our senses. The festival grew and grew in popularity, until the thousands of people it attracted made it too popular. After 2001, SRF no longer hosted the festival. Glorious pumpkins ripen in the sun at the SRF patch in Encinitas, California (better than condos!)

The Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association still hosts its Safe Trick or Treat, where businesses along Highway 101 remain open and provide treats to youngsters in costume. Halloween activities are provided in the Lumberyard and SRF still provides carved pumpkins for Encinitas.

So, although I miss the SRF-hosted Halloween Festival, I am thankful that the monks still own the land and use it to grow these glorious pumpkins.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Leisure Time on Labor Day

Del Mar Sunset as two surfers catch a waveSouthern California baked over Labor Day weekend. Cool down Rx included beach time in both Del Mar and closer to home in Leucadia. The waves were pumping the whole weekend with mist forming occasionally as the cool water met the sizzling air. Absolutely no complaints. Here the sun sets in Del Mar as two surfers catch one more wave.
Labor Day in Leucadia with wide-open stretches of beachLeucadia was relatively peaceful, as the number of people sharply diminished the further you walked from the nearest access point.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hey Joel! Put it in the garage.

A very pretty urinal from Csiga Cafe, Budapest, Hungary. Photo credit: atmannI wanted to post a picture of my neighbor’s urinal—it’s in his garage and he added it when he built his custom-designed home. But I couldn’t quite bring myself to ask. “Hi, Pat. Happy Labor Day. How’s it going?”

“Yeah, I was wondering if I could take a picture of your urinal? . . . No, you don’t need to be in the picture . . . No, no, I don’t want an action shot . . . ” So, instead I show you a lovely urinal culled from the internet here.

But getting back to the point of the post. Recently the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Joel Stein who laments that perhaps his home value will diminish if he installs a urinal in his bathroom. He gives reasons why installing one is great
Toilet seat is always down
Decreased water use
Time-saving device
With opposing views from women he consulted that included
Urinals are found in large, impersonal institutions (think prisons)
Lidlessness is unsanitary
Urinals diminish the real estate value of the home
Here is a reason for putting one in. I recently attended a college graduation party that included both college-age kids (sorry, they’re kids to me) and members of the “parental generation” (relative to the college-age kids). A mean game of beer pong took place in the back yard with much beer consumed. While there were some young ladies, the ladies did not consume as much beer as the young men. As happens at cross-generational parties, the youngsters congregated outside to play beer pong, while we parental units huddled inside (watching an exciting Padres game on TV, as I recall).

And as the beer goes in, it must also come out. Many of the young men could not be bothered to enter to house (and walk nonchalantly past the leering adults) to use the bathroom. They found discreet (and as the night wore on, less and less discreet) corners of the garden to water the plants. Had they had access to a convenient urinal in the garage, I am sure they would have used it.

The garage is the perfect place for the urinal because the garage is the domain of the man. I don’t know if I really believe that. I do try to stay away from gender stereotypes, but as Joel pointed out, one of the complaints that women had with putting a urinal in the home bathroom was that a urinal is just too “aggressively male.” Unfair, he says. The house is already way too slanted towards the dominion of the woman. I agree. It is unfair. But, the garage has been the man’s domain: his tools, his car, his precious stuff from his previous life, and all his stuff that doesn’t go with the d├ęcor of the home.

My neighbor and his wife think that having the urinal in the garage is a great compromise. It’s great for beer pong. And so, Joel: put it in the garage!