on giving directions

Do you ever wonder about what happened to those folks to whom you have given directions?

Some years ago I was filling up the car at the 76 station in Gilroy. A couple drove up and asked me how to get to Interstate 5. Interstate 5? We’re nowhere near I-5. Which is what I said. Then they mentioned Highway 152, which I know well will get you to I-5 after a drive of a little over an hour. So I told them to go down to Tenth Street and make a left. That takes one out of town and turns in to 152. Then straight on to I-5.

A couple of months ago I was out doing my walking and a couple pulled over and asked me how to get to Morgan Hill, the next town up the road. I’m not sure how they managed to get so far off the main thoroughfare, but there they were. I directed them to Monterey Highway, told them to make a left and simply keep going until they got to Morgan Hill. I thought about directing them on to the freeway, Highway 101, but I didn’t want to complicate matters unnecessarily. Monterey Highway would take them straight into downtown Morgan Hill where they could get directions to their destination easily enough.

You hope that your directions were clear and those folks aren’t still out there wandering around looking for the place they’re trying to get to.

follow me on twitter: @MikeChristie220 I tweet whenever I publish a new blog entry.

new in the kitchen

A couple of kitchen updates.

When Terry and I have a night at the Fairmont in San Jose, we normally have a room service breakfast. We’re both tea drinkers, so we get a pot of hot water, a selection of tea bags, and a lemon. The lemon is always wrapped in a lovely yellow cloth which keeps the seeds from getting into one’s tea.

lemon-garlicFor the most part I had accepted the seeds as being the price for enjoying lemon in my tea. But it occurred to me that those things must be available for sale. I checked Amazon and came up empty. A few days later, though, I tried different search terms and came up with a number of choices. I selected the Regency Lemon Wraps, which come in a pack of 100. They arrived just as I expected, and I was surprised at how eminently reusable they are. Simply rinse one out, let it dry and it is ready to be used again. We currently have four in service, and that’s the total number we have taken out of the package so far.

About the same time the Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher caught our attention when we saw it mentioned in Coastal Living magazine. Our magazines can be dangerous. We had each seen it independently and it had seemedgarlicpress like a good idea to each of us. It wasn’t that expensive, so we decided to order it. I’m glad we did. It’s very easy to use and clean. I’ve tended to be lazy about using garlic, using garlic powder rather than fresh garlic, because my old garlic press, something I’ve had since my days is Oklahoma City, is such a pain to use and clean. I’ll be using a lot more fresh garlic now, I believe.

Terry and I have so much fun in the kitchen.


We left on vacation on 1 October, the first day of the government shutdown. My intent was to mostly stay off of Facebook while away, because I knew there would be plenty of posts on the topic, and I had no intention of letting the idiocy in Washington interfere with my enjoying my vacation.

I therefore went to the Apple App Store looking for something related to arts and culture. I discovered the app for Goodreads, which I immediately downloaded to my iPad. I signed up and joined a few discussion groups. It’s nice. I like it. Some things are more easily done from the Web site on a PC than from the iPad app, but the app is really very nicely done. It’s great for reading updates from “friends” and discussion threads, and it is very easy to add books to your “bookshelves.”

I commented on one of the discussion lists that I really didn’t need more book recommendations, since I have so many samples on my Kindle iPad app. One member responded:

I chuckled at not needing any book recommendations – many of us say that when we start, but somehow the longer we hang out here, the longer our “to read” lists get.

Another said:

Our thread on books we’ve read each month is SURE to add to your list of Books To Read! Yikes!

Yikes indeed!

Since I signed up on my iPad using the iOS app, it automatically picked up my location. Well sort of. While I was in Cambria, my location showed Grover Beach, some 48 miles south according to Google Maps. Still, Grover Beach wouldn’t be so bad. But alas, in the interest of honesty I changed the location to Gilroy when I got on to the Web site on my PC.

Gilroy and not Cambria or Grover Beach, still I’m enjoying being part of Goodreads.

follow me on twitter: @MikeChristie220 I tweet whenever I publish a new blog entry.

things not to be put up with

This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
—attributed to Winston Churchill, probably apocryphal

We’ve had a gardener, Jerry, take care of the front yard for some years now. He comes on Monday when we have trash, recycling, and yard waste pickup. That way he doesn’t have to haul away the yard waste. The neighbors who used to live in the house to the south of us, Randy and Frances, introduced him to the neighborhood. They knew him from Frances’ days of managing apartments. Our neighbor to the north, Steve, moved away but kept the house and rented it out. He used Jerry until he got new tenants with two healthy, athletic boys.

We started using Jerry about the same time that Steve did. At the time I was commuting into Silicon Valley three or four days a week and wanted to free up time on my weekends. I’ve since become a full-time remote worker, but we’ve continued to use Jerry.

For some years now we’ve been permitted, in fact encouraged, to put food waste in the yard waste toter rather in the trash toter or down the garbage disposal. In fact there was a rate increase to cover this service. We’ve been doing that since Day One.

Some time last fall, I believe it was, I caught Jerry pulling food waste out of the yard waste toter and putting it in the recycle toter. WTF! The recycle bin? Not even the trash toter? Dammit, Jerry, we f***ing know what we’re doing! I had a fit, went storming outside and flung the food waste back into the yard waste bin, explaining, not all too patiently, that the green toter was yard waste and food waste.

This happened again some weeks later. I printed up a sign, saying both in English and in Spanish (thanks to Google translate):

Yard Waste and Food Waste
Do not remove anything from this container
Leave all items in this container

That should have been clear enough, even if the Google Translate Spanish was not optimal, which it likely wasn’t. This coincided with the winter months which meant I could bury the food waste under leaves and such. Eventually I gave up on the sign, as I had to replace it every couple of weeks since it was out in the elements. I trusted that Jerry and his crew got the idea.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw Jerry doing the exact same thing again. I again had a fit, again went storming outside and and again flung the food waste back into the yard waste bin, yelling, yes, yelling, “I told you before not to do that!” To which Jerry gave a simple, “OK.”

Then, when he was done, he had the temerity to ring the doorbell and ask for his check. Well, English not being his first language he rang the doorbell and said, “Money.” Certainly he is entitled to be paid. Of course. But I have been very diligent about paying Jerry, and I will take his check out and track him down if he’s working in another yard. It’s just that this was the last day of the month, and I was going to be paying bills that evening.

So I notified him that I was discontinuing the service. The money was an exacerbating issue, but it was not the main point. The point is that there are some things up with which I will not put.

One thing up with which I will not put is polluting the recycling stream.

Especially after repeated clarifications.

I considered whether I was cutting off my nose to spite my face, something my dad insisted that I examine before doing something potentially rash. But really, I’m not.

First, we’re saving $60 a month. And speaking of sixty, it won’t hurt to get this 60 year-old body out in the front yard mowing the lawn and raking leaves. My previous primary care physician commended me on my daily walks, but insisted that I needed to add strength training and stretching to the aerobic routine of walking. I consider yard work to fall into the strength training category, and really there’s stretching involved too.

A decision made and living with the consequences of that decision.

And so it goes.

Sacred Music Friday: El Shaddai

An Amy Grant classic

Cambria Scarecrow Festival

I’ve said that Cambria doesn’t change a lot. One innovation there, however, is the Cambria Scarecrow Festival each October. It’s a recent occurrence, having started in 2009. Terry and I first discovered it in 2011 when we were in Cambria in October.

The festival has expanded greatly in the past two years. This year there are more scarecrows, and a few have migrated up Highway One to San Simeon. They are more sophisticated. One family of scarecrows is actually in motion, riding bicycles. Many of the faces are more completely drawn, replacing the zombie-esque appearance a lot of them had in 2011.

Here is a more-or-less random sampling of 2013  scarecrows, courtesy of Terry.


The Cambria High School Band


Police officer and artist


The Addams Family and Popeye & Olive Oyl


Not sure who the figure in the left represents. Neptune on the right, in front of the White Water Inn.

the Sea Chest

SeaChest-signWhen we stay in Cambria we make a point of eating at the Sea Chest restaurant. I’ve written about it before, but not since I’ve been here at WordPress, I don’t believe. We’ve been dining there for as long as we’ve been staying in Cambria.

It has been around forever. It’s in an old building that overlooks the ocean. They don’t takeSeaChestBlackboard reservations, and they don’t take credit cards, so I always make a point of making an ATM withdrawal just for our Sea Chest dinner.

They open at 5:30 p.m. That means you want to be there standing in line by 5:10 p.m. One of the nice things about that is that you often get to have a conversation with the folks ahead of you or behind you in line. Last week we chatted with the couple in front of us. They must have been close to our age and were from Chicago. They were making a West Coast tour to celebrate their engagement. They had been told about the Sea Chest, and knew the rules about getting in line and no credit cards.

SeaChestSoleThe doors open promptly at 5:30 and seating is very quick after that. The service is quality, though not necessarily prompt, given so many people being seated all at once. But the view is gorgeous and the food superb.

Terry had the Cioppino and I had the Petrale Sole. Rather than traditional tartarSeaChestCioppino sauce, they served a mixture of sour cream (I believe), tarragon, and dill. I don’t like tartar sauce, and usually only add lemon to my fish, but this was marvelous. The roasted potatoes are even better with the Cavender’s Greek seasoning, which they have at each table.

It’s good that we walk there, so we have the chance to burn off some calories on the way home.

the Cambria villages

The village of Cambria has two parts to it. There’s the East Village and the West Village.

CambriaTshirtIn the West Village you’ll find the long-established Linn’s restaurant, which serves old-fashioned hearty fare. They also have a gift shop just up the street. Across the street from Linn’s is Cambria Wildwood, a clothing store that has quite a variety, including, of course Cambria-themed shirts and T-shirts.

Up the street from there is a relative newcomer, the Tea Cozy. It’s British-themed, with plenty of souvenirs in honor of the Royal Family. They have marvelous teas and soups. In fact, they have a much wider menu, but that is what we’ve tried. That’s where we discovered Scottish tea, and it has since become the tea of our Saturday breakfasts. We pick up a box whenever we’re in Cambria.

In the West Village you’ll find Madeline’s Restaurant sharing a small building with the Cambria Wine Shop. We’ve never eaten at Madeline’s, but we always stop in at the wine shop to buy a nice bottle of local wine and some cheese and crackers for an evening after we have an early dinner.

Also in the West Village there’s the Main Street Grill, which has as good cheeseburgers and fries as you’ll find anywhere. Last week we discovered a charming clock shop at the far end of the West Village which contains an amazing variety of timepieces, where Terry had her watch strap, which had come off, reattached.

Of course that’s just scratching the surface. There’s many shops and multiple gourmet restaurants, such as the Sow’s Ear (in the East Village), which has a great reputation, and which we have never tried.

We’re creatures of habit, but we do enjoy our habits.


The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars…
—Robinson Jeffers

Terry and I don’t remember when we first visited Cambria. We agree that it has to be more than ten years ago. On our first visit we chose a motel more or less at random. It wasn’t the greatest choice. It’s not that it wasn’t a nice place, by any means. It’s just that the room was decorated with antiques and there was a sign saying, “Please do not sit on our beautiful antique bedspreads.” Say what?

The place was run by a husband and wife. The wife ran the front desk, and she was not terribly well-informed. We asked her about the Sea Chest restaurant two doors down. She said that they don’t take reservations and that you “just walk in.” She was right about the reservations part, but as for just walking in, it turns out that there is a long line when they open their doors at 5:30. It’s a place we’ve come to love, though, and much more about the Sea Chest on Wednesday.

We also asked the innkeeper about the trolleys that went into town. She said that there was no schedule, that you “just stand there and wait.” In our wanderings we discovered the White Water Inn, where there was a trolley schedule posted on the bulletin board and the innkeeper was well-informed. That is where we have stayed every visit since then. Innkeepers have changed over the years, but they have remained friendly and well-informed. We always stay in a room with a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub. Moonstone Beach is just steps away, across Moonstone Beach Drive.

One of the marvelous things about Cambria is that it changes little. The wine shop (more on that tomorrow) I believe has changed owners. The White Water Inn now has DVD players rather than VHS players, the TVs are now flat screen, and they provide wireless Internet access.

But in general the Cambria we visited all those many years ago is the same Cambria that we visited last week. It’s a marvelous place to relax, get away, and recharge.

And to make that primal connection with the ocean and the tides.


Secular Music Friday: No Day but Today

from Rent, of course