As a retired military man I am grateful that I am not deployed to far away seas these days. In San Diego, this holiday weekend has been an opportunity to meet with friends. Saturday with an outdoor concert by the San Diego Symphony at the downtown waterfront ending with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (with cannons!), Sunday with a gathering at Mission Bay, and today for breakfast at a restaurant our friends have enjoyed since the husband was a child.
In the late summer in the American West, life has challenges including “excessive heat” warnings, brush and forest fires, snarled traffic, and where to go for a getaway that is not “tourist pricey”. Living in a region that everyone heads toward: beaches, nearby islands, amusement parks, and mountain retreats, I want to avoid all these in summer. Of course, getting out away from the crowds of people for the weekend leaves the desert and the deep sea. Without a boat of my own, the sea is out of the question and the desert – only a few foolhardy migrants and the Border Patrol are out there in August.
Last weekend, in a spur-of-the-moment outing to celebrate my birthday, my spouse and I thought we would go to Catalina Island off the coast southeast of Los Angeles. With no ferry seats on a return trip that day, we looked elsewhere. The popular amusement parks like Disneyland were off-limits, not because of the crowds, but because our annual Pass does not permit entry during the popular summer months for tourists. And Nature was also causing chaos. Brush fires along destinations we alternately considered were, like the Spirit blocking the Apostle Paul’s travel to Asia, directing me to go north up the I-15 freeway. And so we went to Temecula, about sixty miles north of San Diego.
Yet no road trip with my wife is properly prepared unless she has a large cup of fresh – or at least, recently-brewed UNSWEETENED ice tea at launch and part-way through the adventure. I could write reviews on scores of places , “convenience” stores and “fast food” drive-in windows, who must not sell a lot of unsweetened, fresh tea. When you no longer tolerate sugary soft drinks, water is about the only other choice. Even the dozen brands of bottled iced tea are a last resort. Does anyone really like a passion-fruit-flavored Iced Tea beverage? (For my European and British-tradition tea drinking readers, while you have no idea whatsoever about “iced” tea as a beverage, it is consumed by the millions of gallons annually in the United States. I have had Britons and Irishmen in those respective countries look at me as completely mad when I described brewed tea, refrigerated and poured over ice.)
Once her tea is secured, and the approximate travel time between consumption and the need for the first bathroom stop is calculated in my driving computer ( my head) we set off. As anyone in Mid-Life, who travels frequently with their spouse, that is, fifty-ish, the climate control in the vehicle is a frequent issue. I generally like the air conditioning ON in the car anytime the outside temperature is above 75F. Normally we are at opposite extremes -when she is cold I am hot. When I am comfortable, she pulls out a sweatshirt or a jacket. If roll a window down, she wants it up. And so on.
At least now with our lifestyle that can at times be confused with the “Atkins diet”, the “Keto diet”, “Paleo diet” or “vegetarian”-ish, we do not bother with correcting folks. I can eat anything, though I choose more often to eat healthy food and in smaller portions. So what is the meaning of “Paleo donuts”?
The Paleo diet seems to be at odds with any encounter with donuts. However, as some may be aware, I have been focusing on a better diet and exercise for much of the last eight or nine months. I do not subscribe to fads, particularly ones identified with the eating habits of extinct people. But on our travels into Temecula, we found a farmers’ market I talked about in an earlier post . I spotted a vendor offering samples of donuts and like a smart aleck, opined that that they would have to be gluten-free or Paleo -diet friendly for me to accept. Those were.
When someone has the opportunity to eat his own words, and if they are in a donut, I will. Without regret or “cheating”. A sliver at a time.
One of the best examples of community is how we give of our time, and of our money to the less fortunate. While most recognize that members of our own species needs aid, love and compassion, there are others that we can help. I was introduced to a few examples of this today. Sometimes, it is noteworthy to recognize those who help rescue canines in need.
Labs and More, San Diego
Several times a year, at the main campus in Carlsbad, my company hosts expos for charitable organizations in San Diego – supporting a children’s hospital, or fighting cancer, or health and wellness, or disaster preparedness. Or like today, when a few San Diego animal rescue groups came with their furry ambassadors to raise awareness in the community. The volunteers who organize and man these outreach programs wear their hearts on their sleeve. These all-volunteer groups raise funds to support…
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The first thing I noticed about my wife’s choice of venue for her former nursing student-graduates gathering, was how loud and crowded it got after 6:30PM on Friday. First, it was surprising to me that “loud” was something I would be annoyed with. And second, I am also annoyed at thinking it a “crowded” venue which the over-forty crowd seemed to enjoy. While I have been in Navy CPO clubs and Navy aviator officer’s clubs in San Diego, this was my first time in the 94th Aero Squadron, a public restaurant with an a military and aviation theme.
Friday evening commutes in San Diego are typically one that I will stop to have a cigar at a favorite lounge on the way home from work. However, this past Friday, my wife invited me to join her while she waited for a couple nurses to join her at the restaurant and bar that borders Montgomery Field municipal airport. With the tri-winged red airplane out front, reminiscent of the Red Baron, I would not be mocked too much if I asked where was Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel doghouse.
While they reminisced about their time at the school (my wife’s employer) and chatted about kids, medicine and the training, I drifted off. And then I needed a second glass of something to ward off the chill. While San Diego rarely gets weather that has anyone scurrying for jackets, wool caps or gloves, this was one of those cool weeks. Part of this restaurant was open air, looking out on the airfield, which on any other week of the year, would have been very pleasant. The cool evening also spurred me to risk ( my Keto diet regimen) two glasses of merlot.
I thought it was a great place for a happy hour. The service and the appetizers were – on my carefully chosen sampling – quite good. But as the happy hour crowd left and the evening crowd of forty-somethings started partying, the loud music, the cool, and the 8 o’clock hour on Friday night is about all the partying my wife and I can handle.
If a sloth is the new image of cool, then I am still a “party animal”
Google Maps gave me driving directions around the worst of my evening commute tonight that inspired this blog post. While I have made prior references to driving through San Diego at rush hour, it is pointless to meander along that sordid topic – it is only going to get worse and not better. However, I can use the time to make some observations about some of my fellow Southern Californians.
Driving through an obviously middle class neighborhood in suburban San Diego this late afternoon, two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday, I was intrigued that no more than perhaps one in forty homes displayed Christmas decorations or lights of any kind. This was not a section of the city that appeared bound by any homeowners association prohibition, nor a singularly Muslim area or commune of Ascetic monks, It was a single-family style, $600, 000-average price neighborhood (for California, a little more than the median price for 2017.)
I am not denigrating anyone for NOT displaying Christmas decorations, and I in no way attribute Santa Claus, decorated trees, inflatable Minion or Harley-riding Santa Claus to the Birth of Jesus. But I find it very “unusual”. For a nation that spends a lot on holiday cheer regardless of their spiritual aspirations, (a retail survey calculated that Americans spent $3.2 Billion on decorations, lights, trees and so forth in 2015) I found it unusual. In neighborhoods that become a festive attraction for the surrounding communities, band saws in garages start going in September, and decorations start being put up on the Black Friday shopping day. I thought I would look up the relationship between decorations and personality. One article was particularly interesting in perceptions. An experiment was conducted on observers perceptions using pictures of groups of more socially-engaged neighbors, not socially-engaged (keep-to-themselves sort), each with decorated and not-decorated homes. People who were generally unable to distinguish between social traits for decorated homes, could generally determine the level of social interaction of people with non-decorated homes. People can tell what you are like by the stuff in your environment.
Next post, I may discuss why some late-middle-age men like to tootle around town in a fire-engine red, convertible Porsche Carrera, and why some young people driving Civics, or BMW 3-series, or a 3-cylinder Prius, feel the need to be the most ignorant drivers on the road.
I am a happily married man and yet I have a mistress. No, not that kind. The Sea.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
– Jacques Yves Cousteau, ( http://www.brainyquote.com)
The sea used to call to me as a child. I read stories about life at sea. I was fascinated by Jacques Cousteau’s shows exploring the sea. As a youth, my family would frequently make the short drive to Half Moon Bay from Belmont, California. After body surfing and boogie-boarding in the cold ocean surf we would warm up by a bonfire on the beach. Moved by my mother to to the Atlantic coast as a young teen, I would swim and take a sailboat or rowboat out in the waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Though swept out to sea once by a rip current, I responded by learning to snorkel and scuba dive.
There is a witchery in the sea, its songs and stories, and in the mere sight of a ship, and the sailor’s dress, especially to a young mind, which has done more to man navies, and fill merchantmen, than all the pressgangs of Europe. -Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
I was a captive, not unwilling, during eight years assigned to Navy ships. Then, I spurned my love-interest. I retired from the Navy. As I dallied with camping, hiking, and cycling, the sea called me back to her. It was a recent cruise to the Caribbean that has me spellbound again. I am not too old to don a wetsuit, or rent a boat, or take another cruise, all the while listening to Jimmy Buffett on the radio.