Welcome!

A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Friday, November 28, 2014

This touched me.



It's never too late.  And it's always worth it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hope. Well, and Love.



Have you seen this?

I am so lucky to work where I do.  My colleagues are fantastic.  One of the best of the best is a math teacher who is all kindness and enthusiasm.  Not a new teacher by a long shot, but the energy and idealism of a newbie and the polish of the veteran he is.

He's into Minions.  When his students found out, they started building him a collection.  A week or so ago I saw this on facebook and it made me laugh.


It was easy enough.  Printed it off, wrote "from Debi" on the bottom and tossed it in his box the next morning.  I expected a smile and a thanks - eventually.  I did not expect a thank-you email that choked me up, that said in part that he appreciated that with all I've been going through, I can still think of others beside myself and do nice things for them.

That is exactly what is getting me through all this.  The love of friends and family.  I was touched by the cards and the presence of long-time friends  and colleagues at my husband's memorial.  And appreciative of my son who didn't blink when I asked him to drive me to Santa Barbara and back because my ophthalmologist wanted me to see a surgeon for my eye problem. 

But once down from the surgery - and essentially helpless for almost two weeks - the support blew me away.  My niece didn't hesitate to cancel her plans for a two nights and the day in between to drive me to Santa Barbara, sit in the waiting room during the surgery, then to Costco for prescription drops.  The next day she drove back to the surgeon's Oxnard office for a check-up with a stop at a drug store on the way home.  She has her own health issues within her own active life, but she gifted me with her total attention.

And my mom!  Yeah, she's my mom.  But she also has her own health issues and drove herself out here to sit with me while I sat - head down - for two weeks.  She even figured out  how to work our TV system.  I haven't watched it in years but I guess abject boredom is a strong motivator 'cause she got that sucker on and to the channel that runs a show called Bones (her favorite).

Friends kept up the encouragement through facebook and text messages (which I could keep up with on the ipad on the floor and the cell phone on my lap.  When I returned to work I was met with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on my desk accompanied by a big "Welcome Back" card signed by all the students.  As I stood at my desk and tried to not make too big a mess out of myself before the kids started in, one of the parents came in with the most delightful basket full of gift cards and treats and special "toys," all with Disney themed labels.  Like the pink beauty mask that you keep in the frig that had the label with Aurora saying "Don't forget your beauty sleep."  Or the sunglasses with the picture of Olaf that read, "In the summer you will be a happy teacher."

It was lovely and overwhelming.


I'm OK, and things are coming together.  It appears that I will have enough money.  I still have some physical issues to deal with:  two weeks before my husband's death I had to go to an orthopedist who diagnosed a torn meniscus (a year ago my dog greeted me with exuberance and hyperextended my knee, which I continued to try to dance on as well as make the two-mile round-trip walk to work and back.)  Oh, and he also says I will have to have a full knee replacement within the next two years.  And I woke up one morning with trigger thumb, which is more painful than the knee and first on my list of medical have-tos after the eye issues.

Which are getting better.  I'm scheduled back to the surgeon in late January.  He says I have the "potential" for 20/40 vision in the eye that was operated on with the possibility of refraction at the January visit.  Sometimes it seems like there has been no improvement in the eye for a while, then suddenly I will realize that I can read something I couldn't read before.  There is still a great deal of distortion - kind of like the wavy mirror in the fun house, which isn't all that much fun after all.  But overall, I am functional and optimistic.

"They" say it can take a year for full recovery from surgery for a detached retina.  The other "They" say it can take a year to settle an estate after someone dies.

2016 is going to be a spectacular year. And if I can push that forward into 2015, even better.






Straight No Chaser - featuring Kristen Bell - Text Me Merry Christmas (L...



"Fully charge your phone."

Adorable.

Love SNC.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

All is well.


The sunsets have moved back to the studio.

The financial mess I inherited is straightening out (uncountable phone calls later) and I will be reasonably comfortable by Christmas.  My 2013 taxes are postmarked today and I'm confident I will be able to pre-pay the 2014 in January as my accountant wants me to do.  Making a list of repairs and maintenance that must be done on the house to save for - with optimism that I can actually get some of it done.

My retinal surgeon (who, I'm told, is one of if not the best in the state) was visibly excited by my progress at my post-op today.  My eyes are closer to matching each other, and with his special equipment he was able to conclude that it is quite possible I will end up with very decent vision in that eye.  For now it's blurry and distorted, but the other eye is trying to work with it and I can see a little better every day.  Was taken off most eye drops and restrictions on lifting and high altitude travel.  Disneyland for sure.  And maybe Utah.   So incredibly appreciative.

I treated myself to lunch at Lure today, and have the clam linguine and lobster spinach dip leftovers for dinner.  Since I've been eating peanut butter on English muffins most nights, this is enough to make my salivary glands downright giddy.

Have been enjoying Mraz's album, YES.  Every track has meaning for me.

Yes.  All is well with me.

God Only Knows - BBC Music



Serious spirit comfort.  I danced to the Beach Boys as a kid.  Wore my hair long and straight and my jams bright with flowers.  I know about the licensing controversy but am naïve enough to hope a damn big chunk is going to Brian Wilson.  This music still brings great joy to my silly teenage girl heart.

And it ends with a feather.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

And. Alone.


A strange place to be.

I have some regrets.

I regret that I never continued with the violin.  If I'd had even a little encouragement from my parents I think I would have.  I'm a human metronome and have a terrific sense of music, both of which I entertained and expressed through dance.  But I know I would have loved to play an instrument and would be enjoying it still.

I regret that I stopped with a foreign language after year three of high school Spanish.  I'm good with languages.  Great accent.  Now, of course, I know that once you've learned your second, others come easily.  How fabulous it would be to converse with half the world.

For years I have regretted that I never lived alone.  Like most good girls of the fifties, I went from my parents' house into my marriage.  I wonder how my life would have been different - how I would have been different - if I'd had some time to think in complete thoughts without interruption, and starve a little without rescue.

Guess I'm about to find out.

I spent the last couple of days with my mom, who drove me home and returned to her own home after being with me since the day before the surgery on  September 22.  The surgery went very well, I think.  My vision in that eye improves a little every day.  Still blurry, still cloudy and still distorted, but it has improved enough that the other eye is trying to coordinate with it.  My surgeon released me to return to work Wednesday as long as I don't do any heavy lifting.  I live less than a mile from school so should be able to handle the drive, then will try the longer drive to Mom's again on Friday.

I feel vulnerable in this aloneness.

I didn't during the days after my husband's death.  I felt strong and capable to handling what life had tossed my way.  But to be here with impaired vision - both in my eye and in my view of the future - is...   Maybe not frightening, but certainly confusing.  It was on my drive to Mom's the following Friday that I took a deep breath and admitted to myself,

"I can't fix this."

I couldn't make a to do list and dive in.  I could only take one piece of paper at a time and deal the best way I could.

And that's pretty much where I am.


I am so fortunate.  At the edges of this aloneness, there is a community of people who love me.  They help make it easier to breathe, trust and let go.

I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

In baby steps.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beatings.

All I want is a breath between them, OK Universe?

Update.

I filed for divorce.

Before his papers were served, he died.  Left a financial mess for me to clean.

Sons came home (again - they were just here last month for a happy time) for the Memorial.

Memorial was yesterday.  It was planned and executed by someone else.  It was perfect.

Younger son returned to Tennessee this morning.

Less than an hour after arriving home, my older son was hauling me to a retinal specialist in Santa Barbara.  Verdict?  Detached.

Surgery scheduled Monday 6:15 am.

Flat on my face for two weeks.

I've decided this is this life's task:  to learn to let go and go with the flow.  So, yeah.  Beat me to a bloody pulp and I say "Uncle."


Uncle.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Sometimes life is surreal...

...like today.

A loved family member asked me if I would be attending the celebration party for the father of my sons (of course),  and my divorce attorney sent me flowers in sympathy for my loss.

This is a lovely tribute my son created for his dad.  He apologizes for the Emmy snippets but we are Sara Bareilles fans and her performance of "Smile" on the Emmys was flawless and perfect for what he wanted here.

video

My husband worked with emancipated foster youth through the California Youth Connection and Casa Pacifica in Camarillo.  His lovely friends at Casa are coordinating a Celebration of his life on Friday, September 19 at 3:30 at Casa Pacific on Lewis Road.  Both of my sons are coming home to say goodbye.

Such a sad time.

Even for me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sad.

My poor boys.

Yesterday I returned home after a day of teaching, a staff meeting and a couple of errands to find a car at the curb that should not have been there, the newspaper still on the driveway after noon and a mailbox full of mail. After a quick check of the family room revealed only an empty chair, I found the man I had called husband for forty-two years still in his bed. He had apparently died during the night.

Although our relationship had deteriorated over the last few years, I never doubted his profound love for our sons or his generosity of spirit to all who called him "Poppa Larry." 
 
This is a heartbreaking time for all of us who knew him. Teacher, mentor, father, friend. I had hoped he would have those 15 more years he had been promised, and that they would be happy years with those who loved him best.

A deep, dark hole in our lives that will never be refilled.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Filed.

Probably a record.

After 42 years, I've filed for divorce.  My future Ex is not a bad man.  Simply profoundly disrespectful.  And it's taken me most of my life - but especially the last four years - to embrace myself.

I am worthy of more.

My attorney, after completing the paperwork, looked at me and said, "You really are at peace with this."

I am.

But there is a profound sadness.

I wanted ever after.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Year 23

Always an adventure in middle school.

Meetings and trainings this week through Tuesday, then kids on Wednesday.  Rumor has it our school is full to turning students away.  That's good, certainly flattering, but it sure makes it crowded and the paperload overwhelming.  I haven't seen my class lists yet, but am guessing a full load of 175 students in five sections.

It's been an amazing summer.

I worked 12-14 hour days to get my house and yards into shape for my kids to come for a summer visit.  It was so fantastic.


I started by clearing out my studio area and remaking it into a master suite.  With all drawers emptied my son, daughter-in-law and grandson (not quite three) could unpack and make themselves at home for the month of their stay.  I can't even communicate what it meant to have that happy little giggle erupt down the hall, not to mention hearing the alphabet song belted (in tune and in rhythm, thank you) at random times throughout the day.  "NNNOP"! 



The day after the Japan group arrived, my younger son surprised them.  I flew him out and his best friend picked him up at LAX and brought him home for the happy reunion and first meeting with his nephew.  He's been chomping at the bit for three years to be an Uncle, and made the most of the experience.






We visited most of the parks our city has to offer.  Certainly, they have lovely parks in Japan, but they don't seem to favor large expanses of grass (at least, not in my family's nearby neighborhood) and so this group had a blast running and hiding behind trees and playing with bubbles.


I raise Monarchs and we had over a dozen to release during their stay.  My grandson was impressed, although those butterflies got a bit of a rollercoaster take off toss.

Through the tunnel into fantasy.

Happily, they let me take them to the Southern California Disney resort.  Our visit got off to a bit of a slow start.  For the first time EVER - in 56 years - the service at the café where we ate breakfast was slow and not as gracious as we've come to expect.  Then, after a ride on the Autopia, our party got separated with instructions to meet at the Jamboree.  My mom and I made it there with great excitement over the opportunity to show my grandson the games, musician (he loves to dance), trick roper, coloring tables and - most of all - the characters that hang out there, only to find the area converted into a concert venue to promote ABC's show about Nashville music.  While I tried to track the kids down (some castmember sent them to Critter Country to the Country Bear Jamboree, which has been closed for over a decade) my mom sat in her wheelchair outside the closed gate and listened to the Nashville sound coming from rehearsal.  When I made it back to her, she declared that she wanted out of there FAST.  Coincidentally (or not, as I don't believe in coincidence) my younger son moved to Nashville to get into the music scene only to learn that he, too, dislikes the Nashville sound.

Our day picked up after Dole Whips in the Golden Horseshoe Theater, then a trek over to California Adventure and the favorite stop of the day, CARS LAND.  The baby was fascinated to meet his favorites, "Lining N'Keen" and "Mater N'Keen".  After a fine meal at Flo's V8 we headed back in time for the parade and the All American College Band.

A fine visit after all.


Lining N'keen
We enjoyed a couple of family reunions and the kids took a three-day chunk to visit my DIL's family in the South Bay area, then the next week another three days for a road trip up to Monterey and the Aquarium.  They also spent a LOT of time shopping for clothes.  They were thrilled at the inexpensive clothes for the baby, but even more so for the clothes they found for my son.  At 6'4, size 14 shoe, it is difficult (impossible?) for him to find everything he needs in Japan.  He was delighted to find dress shirts that fit, tee-shirts that fit, SOCKS that fit and five pair of shoes.  He even found a suit for $100 at our outlet mall that fit and was delighted.  They all found shoes.

As our visit headed into the last week, my son had the genius idea of nightly runs to chase the sunset.  The first night we started at our local Metrolink station where we waited for a train to pass.  My grandson is very familiar with Japanese commuter trains as they live across the street from the tracks.  But where he lives there is a fence and several feet of vacant land between you and the trains.  At the Metrolink station there is no fence, and the trains is only about five feet from the parking lot.  He was thrilled to see the train in the distance, full of smiles as it got closer but those big brown eyes were huge when that huge train actually roared by.


Camarillo horse sculpture at the train station.
Then we pulled out of the lot and headed west, ending up at the last offramp out of town to watch our first captured sunset.



The next night we decided to head to the beach and pulled into the little beach park next to Mugu Rock.  We were disappointed that a fog bank blocked the sun, but not disappointed in the beauty of the spot.



My son loves pelicans, especially the way they fly in formation, so was thrilled when we ended up almost at eye level as they made their way down the twilight coast.


 

 
The next night we did not go chasing.  They had started to pack so we stayed home.  I sat at the computer for a while and heard my daughter-in-law tell my grandson, "Go tell Grandma PINK!"  Down the hall he rushed, calling,  "Grandma, PINK."  I looked out my window, which faces south, and realized we were being treated to our occasional all pink sunset.  All pink in that the sky is pink in all direction, pink reflects off the walls and fences and if pink had a fragrance, you could take deep pink breaths of it since the very air around you seems pink.
 



 
They were headed to the back - which faces west - to enjoy this spectacle, but I diverted them to the front to get the whole effect.






One more night we did head west again at twilight to the large park at the edge of our little airport.  My grandson enjoyed running in the grass while we waited to see the show.







Before they left we made one last trek to the state beach at Sycamore Canyon.  It was a tourist poster day, with the tide roaring in to amuse us by snatching towels from visitors who either did not understand our high tides or who were not paying attention.


Visiting sea lion.  There were three.  On the way to the airport the next day, my son asked his son, "What is one thing you remember from our visit."  And my grandson - not quite three - replied, "I saw a sea lion."  Cool.


 

 


 

 

 
Ambivalence.  A glorious time in overwhelming beauty.  A touch of melancholy at our last afternoon visit together.

The next day I took them to the airport and once they were ticketed I said my good-byes and escaped.  I had promised myself a good cry in the car in the parking lot, but it was so crowded and so many people needing to park that I just forced myself to calm down and made my way home.  Fortunately, I got to see this.
 


 
Clouds make me happy.  The sea is a comfort.  And to be able to see the islands is a rare treat.

Before my summer break ended, my mom said that she wanted to treat my sister to a Disneyland trip and I was happy to be the chauffeur.  It was an all-around fine day, but there was one episode that gave us all the giggles.

Over the years one of our favorite locations at Disneyland has been the Golden Horseshoe Theater in Frontierland.  One of the few places to cool down in air-conditioned comfort, it used to house a wonderful act called Billy Hill and the Hillbillies and we made it a point to go see them at least once during every stay.  Disneyland closed their show (which I will never understand since they packed the place) and has tried a number of replacements.  We were there for a singer/piano duo.   The singer came down off the stage for part of his set and after a couple of verses, zeroed in on my mother.



Lucky Jim : What's your name, darlin'?
Mom: Becey
Lucky Jim: BT?
Mom: Yeah
Lucky Jim sings, then asks Mom to name a town.
Mom: Simi Valley
Lucky Jim sings, incorporating Simi Valley as Debi finally manages to get camera out and pointed in their direction.


After their encounter, Jim returns to the stage.

Debi: It was smart of you to give him an alias, Mom. 
Sister: Yeah, never give them your real name, you Stud Magnet!

Later we sat at the curb across from the train station in Town Square for the Soundsational parade.  Now it was Captain Hook who zeroed in on Mom, treating her to a kiss on the hand.  My sister and I were in hysterics. 

Stud magnet indeed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aw, Robin.

63


By all accounts this comedic genius was also a kind, gentle, generous soul.

63

I did a little project once and made note that Robin Williams and I were born in the same year.

And here I am, grateful for the pain and struggles of the last four years that have brought me to a place where I know - at 63 - that one of best parts of my life is just beginning.

63

All around the world are millions of people who - like me - wish we could have met this man, wrapped him in our arms and tried to make him understand how well loved he was.

Sadly, it wouldn't have helped.  Depression is just that hideous.  It doesn't let you hear, feel those messages of love.

63

Life is too short.  Too many holes in our hearts to fill, and not all of them in our control.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I might be a little excited.

Maybe.


My brother and I go to Disneyland for the first time.
My parents took me to Disneyland for the first time in the first year it was open.
I was celebrating my fifth birthday.


I took my oldest to Disneyland when he was around 3.

This Saturday my mom, that son (and his wife), HIS son and I will be at Disneyland for my grandson's first visit.

Only for one day, and it's killing me not to be in charge.  Can't wait to share my lifetime love of this park with this wonderful little boy.

He LOVES music, to sing and to dance.  There may not be many rides in his day, but there will be LOTS of music.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thirteen to go.

Gentle Men.

How I love these beautiful boys of mine.

One arrived from Japan on Wednesday of last week with his wife and son.  The other the next day.  They had not seen each other for four years.  The Uncle had never met his nephew.  I hope I never forget the looks on their faces when they all saw each other.


My youngest returns to Nashville tomorrow.  Just five days, after four years.  They've been peaceful days with leisurely breakfasts, trips to the park, time with the extended family and impromptu drum circles with drop-in friends.

Through it all, I've been so delighted with these gentle men I've raised.  Kind, thoughtful and patient.  My grandson is not quite three.  Bright and brave, he is willing to try just about anything new (although he wants support when he climbs high, just like his Grandma). Like his father (and Grandma and uncle) he appears already to be a human metronome, and already has extremely good, if not perfect, pitch.  He is affectionate and funny with just a touch of two-year-old temper that he wields rarely (probably because it is so ineffectual.)

I'm trying to focus on the many adventures coming up with the Japan family, who will be with us nearly a month.  I'm trying really hard not to allow visions of my goodbyes to intrude, but since one happens tomorrow - and I have no way of knowing when I will hold that child again - I am easily broken.  LAX tomorrow.  No predicting how long it will take me to get myself safely on the road up the coast again.

These happy times will do much to hold me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blissed Out.

Seriously.

Last day of classroom work (sans students) for the year was Monday.  Tuesday I had a meeting all day.  Wednesday I was a "prisoner" to caution tape as SolarCity installed eighteen solar panels to my rooftop.  (THAT feels good!)

Yesterday felt like my first day of summer break.  My mom felt well enough to join her quilt club friends (over 35 years with the same group of wonderful, talented women) for the first leg of the annual Southern California Quilt Run.  I drove and my sister-in-law went with us.  We hit four shops, then had a lovely Chinese food lunch in Woodland Hills.  After we got back to Simi Valley we hit our favorite restaurant - Red's BBQ and Grillery - for a shared brownie sundae.  Later Mom and I returned to the same restaurant (our second home, second family) for dinner.

Seemed like the perfect Saturday.

Today I hit the garden at 9:00 am and kept at it for seven hours.  Took short breaks for water and food and checking in on facebook to cool off, but for the most part I was busy pulling weeds (I LOVE to pull spring grass and there was plenty of it), repairing fence and cleaning a space that hadn't been completely cleaned for a couple of years, I think.

I finally hit the areas that needed to be watered before I could continue so I turned on the system and rested.  After a shower I meditated for fifteen to my favorite guided meditation tape, did cross stitch for an hour or so and now am deciding whether to start the second stitchery piece or just go to bed early.  Hmmm...

Want to share my new gadget.

I hate to cook.  Oh, I don't mind baking and I have a few decent recipes that I can throw together without too much pain (my Tika is killer) but I don't enjoy it.  The simple task of hard boiling eggs has escaped me for years. And I love deviled eggs.

So, my birthday is Sunday and I bought myself this gadget.  Hard boils up to ten eggs at a time.  I did three this morning to try it out and they were perfect!  Peeled easily and sunny yellow centers.

Overall a perfect Sunday.

Except it's not Sunday.  On and off today I felt the familiar "work tomorrow" energy starting to kick in and had my annual delight of realizing NO WORK TOMORROW.  Because it's not Sunday, it's Friday.  And even if it were Sunday, still NO WORK TOMORROW because it's summer break.

Gonna be a great one!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Queen + Adam Lambert iHeartRadio Complete HD 1080p concert



Never another Freddie, but Lambert has the chops.  Didn't mind that FUN got to do one of my favorites, either.

I'm OK, I'm all right, ain't gonna face no defeat...

Find. Me. Somebody to love.

Gotta pull the cds.  Been too long, Freddie.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Home Free - The Sing Off - Season 4 All Performances HD

Home Free - The Sing Off - Season 4 All Performances HD

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Big Sur Holiday

Wishes fulfilled.

I wished to get the heck away from here.  And into nature.  And to the sea.

I hadn't been AWAY since my last trip to Utah in - I think - 2009.  The following summer (2010)  I stuck close to home, first because my dad was so sick.  Then, after he died, I stayed with my mom for a few weeks and by the time I got home there was so much to do in the yards and house that I didn't try to go anywhere.  I was content with that choice.

The summer after that (2011) I contented myself with gardening and visits to Disneyland, then mid-August stayed with my mom while she had knee replacement surgery.  Again, I didn't feel the need to get away, and was able to travel to Japan that November for the first time to meet my then-three month grandson (oh, yeah, and see my son and daughter-in-law, too).

Things were feeling pretty constricted, though, in summer 2012.  I cheered myself by knowing that the money I made teaching summer school again would get me back to Japan in November.  Then, just a week before I was scheduled to leave, my car died and I've been without one ever since.

So,  last summer (2013) I taught summer school again, then was pretty well stuck here.  And by this time I was REALLY wanting to get away.  Away, away.  No car, no money, so no getting away for more than a few hours here and there with a borrowed car.  As always, I have my garden to escape to, but that yearning...

I am rescued for a while by my fantastic uncle.  When I was little, my grandparents died within months of each other.  My uncle was still underage and moved in with us for a while.  I was only three and don't remember much (anything?) about that time, but have always had a special bond with my unclebrother.  Anyway,  my mom was chatting with him, telling him the family news and that I didn't have a car, and he offered me one of his extras. 

I have saved the down payment for the car I want - a Mazda CX5 - RED - and was optimistic that I would have the car by the first of April.  No boring details, but I called a few weeks ago to ask to take him up on his offer after all, until the end of August, and he delivered simply the best car ever.

A 1996 Chevy Tahoe.

Yeah, it sucks gas like crazy, but it is the car of freedom.  I determined not to rack up too much mileage ($$$) but it only took one afternoon of errands for the Central Coast to call through the vents or something, and on the Friday of spring break I was on the road at 6:00 AM.

It was the most gorgeous trip!  Up the 101 through Ventura and along the Rincon to Santa Barbara.  Once out of Santa Barbara it was mile after mile of green hills and poppies and lupine.  I had hoped for a bright, sunny day but instead enjoyed high fog and light clouds.  My heart did a little happy dance through the Gaviota Pass (gorgeous) as for me that marks the beginning of The Central California Coast.

The highway stays inland for a while, but my PCH1 adventure officially began when I could see Morro Rock wading just off Morro Bay.


I just waved as I drove by on my way through Cayucos, past Harmony (pop. 18) and into Cambria.

Yeah, I know SoCA is famous for our sandy surfer beaches, but they can have them.  I'll take these rocks any time.

The smell of the sea, the rhythm of the waves.

Scarlet Monkey Flower.

 

A little farther along.  It's a wonder I got to my destination, I spent so much time at view stops taking pictures, breathing deeply and smiling.


I figured out I haven't driven this since 2002 when I stayed in Carmel at Asilomar for a conference.  Sometime earlier than that even I had had breakfast at a funky restaurant on the west side if the PCH between Cambria and the Pacific.  I remember sitting and waiting for my food, looking out the window at the shrubs growing under the window when a flock of tiny little blue birds swooped in, chittering, and gobbled up all the buggies on the shrub, then swooshed away.  They were about the size of a hummingbird, only plumper, and pale blue and black.  It was magic.

And the breakfast delicious.  I didn't expect the birds again, but was looking forward to my first meal of the day (oh, did I mention the package of Double Stuffed Oreos and Dove Easter eggs on the seat next to me?), a delicious breakfast at the funky restaurant.

And so was very disappointed to see it gone and some kind of fake Euro styled spa in its place.

By the time I realized what I'd done, I was back on PCH going the wrong way.  I made a right onto a road that I thought would take me the back way into Cambria, and instead found myself in a very nice residential area in the pines.  I had to loop around to find my way back to the highway, and found myself waiting for some pedestrians at the stop sign.


That was worth the detour.

And to soothe myself from the disappointment of no breakfast, I decided to take a short drive part of the way down Moonstone, to enjoy the bay.  No disappointment there.




Really, no views on this trip that were not breathtakingly beautiful.

By this time I needed to walk around a little and find a restroom (it was after 10:00 am) so I headed for my scheduled Cambria stop, the Cambria Pines Nursery.

Which direction first?  Where is the restroom?

Restroom in the yellow house, but first to enjoy their front yard.  Are these the cutest ever?


After the requisite pit stop (and my only purchases, surprisingly), I wandered the grounds.  And built a fairly long wish list.

I wanted them all...

...but especially this.  Just too pricey for me.

Ohmygawd, it's a peacock flock.

HAHAHA.  And a flamingo flock, too.

Pretty nice Koi pond.

And maybe a tea house?  Not sure, as it's very patio like.  I liked the lanterns, though.
 
After a stop for gas ($4.27 a gallon, I believe) I took the road again.  The farther north you go along this stretch, the more beautiful it becomes.  Still no sun, but the fog and clouds were high enough that the views were unimpeded.

Just a few miles north of San Simeon I pulled off at the new (to me, anyway) Elephant Seal view park.  A real parking lot and wooden boardwalk for a full block or more so that humans can enjoy these remarkable critters safely (for the remarkable critters).

Sweet looking, huh?

The docent said they come here at this time of year to moult.  In late fall/early winter they will come to mate and give birth.  May have another trip at least that far in mind.
So many.  I suspect I've seen these while flying down this highway before but thought they were washed up driftwood.

My favorite.  Doesn't he look content?






Just a short time later the REAL Highway One to Big Sur began with hairpin S curves for a few miles.  Over the years Caltrans has "shaved" the curves for most of this road so that the drive is much easier than I remember.  And in the "shaving" they created LOTS of view points.  I didn't stop on the way up - wrong side of the highway - but promised myself plenty on the way down.

I did pull over for this one, a patch of blue sky showing in the fog bank.

 
I cruised through the beautiful Big Sur and headed up to Carmel, my final destination.  I stopped at the Safeway market (MUCH has changed there since my last trip) for another restroom break  (and some coughpeanutbuttercookiescough), then tracked down this place.

Valley Hills Nursery just a few miles down Carmel Valley Road.  And LOOK what I found!  They had a couple of nice tables of Annie's Annuals!


This was a nursery to make me drool.  Rhododendrons.  Sigh.  There were peonies on the left side of that walkway on the left.

ANNIE'S! 

I didn't come home empty-handed, after all.

Had to stop for a quick shot of the beach in Carmel.

And headed back down the PCH away from Carmel.


My favorite view, this turquoise water.

And back into Big Sur.



My favorite view spot.  Nothing better.  Anywhere.
 
On the way down, I pulled over at several view spots.  At this one, a sweet, giggling couple was taking selfies.  I got out of the car to stretch my legs and take some pictures, and offered to take some of them together.  The lovely (French)man offered to take some of me.  This one I liked.


 OK, funny woowoo story here.  On the way up (impossible to stop safely) I enjoyed the ceanothus in bloom EVERYWHERE.  This was the most spectacular of the plantings, and I kind of tried to take note of landmarks in hopes of catching a picture of them on the fly (I call them my kill me now shots. Shhh.)  I started recognizing the area on the way down, but some jerk was riding my tail.  Finally the road widened enough for me to pull over and let him pass.  Once I was safely over, I took a look around and DANG!  I was right in front of that patch of ceanothus I had wanted a picture of!

Thanks, asshole. :)

 
  This had come as a shock to me on the way up.

Kind of made me nervous.

My favorite bridge is the Big Creek Bridge.  On the way up I ran into these stop lights and didn't really understand what they were until the light turned green and I was able to proceed through.  It looks like the hillside has fallen away and left only one lane.


The bridge is still gorgeous, though.

 
And so is the sea beneath it.
 
THIS WAS SO COOL!
 
This is new.  This hillside is very prone to rockslides in storms.  It slides (and blocks the highway for months at a time) often enough that Caltrans was looking for a solution and developed it in this design.  The structure is designed to deflect falling rock and debris over the highway and into the sea.
 

 
 

I LOVE the design of this thing.  Kind of a cross between the WPA (which built a lot of the hardscape along this highway) and the original Time Machine movie.

Steering wheel tripod.



 


The only poppies I saw along this stretch...


...were planted by this group.  Just want to say, "Thanks."

Really a lovely gift for all of us.

I was almost back to Morro Bay when the sun finally made a short appearance.

This was cool.  There was a guy on that rock outcropping.  I said to myself, "Ah, I don't want a guy in my picture," at which point he climbed down the other side of the rock and out of my line of sight.  Thank, mister man.




Worth the wait, don't you think?
The only 'uh oh' part of the trip was at Cal Poly.  I had not considered, when I developed my itinerary, that all those Cal Poly students would want to head home for Easter weekend at exactly the time I was hitting that part of the highway.  Got stuck for 45 minutes in a real Los Angeles style traffic jam.  Set me back a little, but no harm.

Originally, when I planned this trip, I was going to get off the One at the 154 and go into Los Olivos for dinner at Mattei's Tavern.  THEN,  just days before the trip, I learned that my son, recently relocated to Nashville, would be just a couple of miles away at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.  He was on his first paying tour with country carry over singer, Carolyn Mescher.

Easy decision.


It was fun to watch him play again, and heartwarming to see that some of his best friends had made the drive up to share hugs and love of music.

Have to admit that the drive home - particularly the pitch-black drive down San Marcos pass with that same jerk from earlier in the day on my tail (HAD to be him, right?  Couldn't be two of them!).  Frankly?  Terrifying. 

But I made it home safely with my spirit restored.  Next trip?  Maybe sometime this summer when the hills are my favorite golden grass with oak trees.

So worth all involved.