Friday, February 29, 2008

Surfer School of Protocol

Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaWednesday afternoon and the Grandview parking lot was nearly full. Sure, it was a toasty 75 degrees, not bad for February, not bad at all. But, that’s not what brought the crowds. No, you can always tell when the waves are good by the lot. Word gets out and spreads throughout surfdom. Good waves, lots of cars.

I love watching the surfer routine. It’s so consistent and so pervasive. All the guy surfers seemingly went to the same surfer school of protocol. Here it is.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaYou drive a light truck or sport utility car that will easily fit your board, your towel, your wet suit, and your trunks (which I am convinced you never wear). You stand behind your parked vehicle and undress, taking everything off except your pants. Then you wrap your beach towel around your middle and surreptitiously scan the lot. You’re basically modest and you don’t want anyone watching you. You carefully reach under the towel—you don’t want to lose your cover or, goodness, show too much—and remove the rest of your clothes. You’re now naked except for the towel. With wet suit handy, you step into each leg and pull up the suit to your waist. You can now safely remove the towel.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaNow you prepare your board. You pull it out and place it gently on the ground next to the trunk of the car. You attach the leash (if it’s not already attached) and apply the right wax. You grab any cold-water extras: booties, gloves, or cap and place them next to your board. You lock up the car and take only what you need to surf. Surfers are minimalists. No chair, no towel, no sun glasses. Anything that can’t be used while surfing stays in the car.

You walk briskly through the parking lot and down the stars. You may pause at one or more of the landings to study the break and the crowds. When you get down to the beach, you walk to the water’s edge. Here, you’ll put down your board and attach the leash to your ankle. You may rinse the board. You put on any extra cold-water garb and then you’re off into the waves.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaThe return has its matching, symmetrical tasks. Detach the leash from your ankle and take off any extras. Back at the car, you place the board lovingly inside the back. You strip down to your waist and grab the trusty towel. Once again, you carefully inch down the (now wet and uncooperative) wet suit. You grab your ready dry street clothes and once you’re again minimally clothed, it’s safe to remove the towel. You’re set.

Oh, and Happy Leap Day (and Happy Birthday, Jon).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Steam of Consciousness

A perfectly made cappuccino with just the right amount of steamed milk sits on my desk. I find the dark espresso lurking beneath the steamed milk, and as the caffeine speeds to my head, I know I can focus on today’s world. Caffeine. We’re all on some sort of drugs.

I use a pen for the morning crossword and Sudoku. God, I love those. Gets me going almost as well as that perfect cappuccino.

Have you ever noticed that color defines your mood—soft or bright, rough, smooth, melodic. Color is so much. Color is music. No! That’s backwards. Music is color.

Damn, this cappuccino is good.

Where was I? Ah, music. I can write about loving you as you are, coming to visit me, sharing the day or the evening, but maybe Nirvana can help me do it better:

As you are
As you were
As I want you to be . . .”

Yes, that’s it. Be yourself, but be the self I mean you to be in my head.

And I can’t resist a good Beatles tune that evokes just the right amount of . . . of what? Coolness? Nostalgia? Come on! If Eleanor Rigby can wear her face that she keeps in a jar by the door, just think of the possibilities. Or, if Maxwell wields his silver hammer or Daniel is hot and Rocky collapses in the corner (Doc, it’s only a scratch). . .Gosh! I hope Maxwell doesn’t break Eleanor Rigby’s jar. That could be ugly.

And the Eagles. Such cheekiness of, you know, putting me on the shelf like that. That is the heart of the matter. Indeed, you’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself. All I can do is think of poor Charlie Brown and a squished peanut butter sandwich. Jack Tempchin probably ate something real nice that day (no doubt a California Burrito from Juanita’s). Note to self. Today. Juanitas. Where’s a post-it?

That cappuccino is gone. So is the hour.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Maiden Voyage

Early morning high tide at San Elijo State BeachIt’s always the little things that stay with you.

We’re going through a learning experience. We’ve recently bought a motorhome—not a new one, mind you, but one that’s about 15 years old: 23-feet of instant coziness. That is, if you know how to make her sing. And that’s what we’re learning: how to make her sing.

Of course, we’re learning from the previous captain, who assures us he’ll take us through her paces. And he does. Around the outside: here’s the propane, here’s the outside electrical outlet, here’s the outside storage that holds the lego-like levelers. 23 feet of instant cozinessHere’s under the hood, the shore water hook up, the shore electrical hook up, the back of the water heater, the rear bumper that stores the holding tank dump hose (oh, yuck!). Then the inside. Here’s how to light the stove burners and the oven. Here’s how to turn on the refrigerator, here’s the shower and the head. And the bed, it’s quite comfortable, actually. We listened, we took notes, we asked questions. And then the day of reckoning arrived. It was time to take out this boat for more than a dry run. It was time to get our feet wet and lay out our astro-turf mat. (It’s a requirement to have an astro-turf mat, didn’t you know?)

So we got ourselves an ocean-front campsite at San Elijo State Beach. It’s all of five miles from our house. Yep, that means if we forget something we can return home to get it. It’s also (well, besides being a stairway away from the beach), walking distance to a great food market, walking distance to the best donuts in San Diego County (VG’s), and a short drive to any number of great restaurants (wait, we’re camping, remember?).
Late afternoon low tide at San Elijo State BeachCamping. We have experience with camping. So, imagine my delight when later in the afternoon on the day we arrived, I turned on the sink's hot water faucet and there was hot water! (In my previous life, if you want hot water, you go set up the stove, pump and prime the tank, light the stove, fill a pan with water, and wait 15 minutes for that water to heat up.) Yeah, it’s the little things.

What are the other little things? Walking down to the beach and watching the sun set. Walking around at night and seeing a gazillion stars. Making a roaring fire and having your fleece smell like smoke for days. Making French press coffee and having it with one of those wonderful chocolate old fashions in the morning. (I said VG's had the best donuts in San Diego County—I wasn’t kidding!)
Sunset at San Elijo State Beach

Saturday, February 09, 2008

There is no joy in Mudville

From my Boston-area cross-cultural commentator (raised in San Diego, but living just as many years in the greater Boston area):
Okay, different sportbut New England is in a deep, deep depression right now, and I don't mean an economical one. This game is one for the history books, to be sure; a nail-biter; turning on single plays, where the fortune of the teams turned in a second.

People here were expecting a win. But more than that, they were expecting to argue for their lifetime whether the 2007 Patriots were the best team ever. This isn't just a loss of a SuperBowl with all the hopes that go with that. This was a loss of a version of historywe no longer can discuss if this team is the best team to have ever played.

There's been some comparisons to the loss of the World Series, but it feels so different. One commentator I think was rightthat loss generated a lot of angerit was lost through errors. This is deep depression; no errors were madethe game could have easily gone the other wayif only Manning had been sacked that one play!

Ahhhh, the life of a New England sports fan. I think they're going to revel in this loss for their lifetime!
And I reply:
Very good analysis. The game was amazing. I couldn't figure out who to vote for: Charger fans don't like Eli because he and his daddy snubbed us. Whenever the Giants come to town, Eli suffers the intense roar of crowd disapproval. And, well, Brady is just too good looking, the Pats have already won their share, and yes, thank God we don't have to listen to the New England best team ever blather.

But, Charger fans know in our hearts that with one of the three (Rivers, Gates, Tomlinson) healthy, we would have beat the Patriots. And then we could have finally laid to rest the Manning snub because there would be no way that our defense would have let Eli succeed.
And there you have it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rain Drop Pearls Grace a Tidy-Bowl Day

A string of rain-drop pearls grace a spider web outside my kitchen windowTidy Bowl day is here and we are looking at a rain-soaked event.
'I can't cancel Tidy Bowl,' laments Paul. 'It's a contradiction in terms.'
Stay tuned for an update.