Time Flies…25…24…23…

Another week has gone by, with not a lot to write home about…two aborted kayaking trips, the continuing strange and bizarre curse on our dining out attempts, and several good rains which are desperately needed here on the central coast–actually all of Californicateya which is in the middle of a 17-year drought, now having become a state of emergency with water restrictions in almost every community in the state. At home, the bad weather continues with unusually cold weather and snow and ice. I heard this morning that I-5 had been closed due to multi-vehicle accidents both north and south bound,  including as many as 50 vehicles.

Monday we had planned to go kayaking, but it was cold and windy so we decided to scratch it, instead going to check out a couple birding areas including the Morro Coast Audubon Society’s overlook which is a small roofed platform on the edge of the bay near the little community of Baywood Park  and to the Sweet Springs Nature Preserve with paths with numerous sit spots, a boardwalk and a viewing platform. There are freshwater ponds, wetlands, cypress and eucalyptus trees, and excellent views of the back bay and normally a wide variety of birds to be seen. Without scopes, the tides make a difference in how many birds can be seen easily.  It’s becoming more and more clear that I need a better camera to capture the wildlife, if my photos are to show more than a speck in the distance, but here are a few of the area including a nice egret shot by Harold.
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Young Snowy (photo by Harold)

Young Snowy (photo by Harold)

Sweet Springs Preserve

Sweet Springs Preserve

Sweet Springs Pond and Bridge

Sweet Springs Pond and Bridge

Bay View

Bay View

2039 (800x447)While we were in the Los Osos-Baywood area, we wanted to stop in and visit a friend of a friend, a maker of beautiful art glass, Rod Baker. You can see some of  his work on his website, Central Coast Glass Blowing and Fusing. Rod had a little gift for us to take back to our mutual friend at home in Oregon and I wanted to get something as there was so much beautiful work there. I adore cobalt glass, so when I saw a beautiful little cobalt vase hanging outside the cottage/showroom/studio that appeared to be within our budget, it only took a little hint to Harold that Valentine’s Day was coming up. The building has a lovely little garden with many decorative touches, both glass and other materials.

Garden seat with chiminea

Garden seat with chiminea

Garden totem with beautiful cascade of string-of-pearls sedum

Garden totem with beautiful cascade of string-of-pearls sedum

Lovely Reflections

Lovely Reflections

Contrast

Contrast

Lovely window in door

Lovely window in door

Beautiful doors

Handcrafted doors with dichroic glass

Rod (L) and Harold (getting my vase)

Rod (L) and Harold (getting my vase)

Showroom exterior

Showroom exterior

Sparkling show room display

Sparkling show room display

Rod had been out of his studio when we first arrived and we’d had to wait for a little while for him. His place is just half a block from the farmer’s market so we strolled down there to see what was fresh and good. I only took a few pics because I quickly started purchasing fruits and veg and didn’t have a free hand to juggle the camera, too. I bought satsumas, beautiful strawberries, some squash, a delicious locally roasted coffee called Templetucky that we’d enjoyed before, some organic hot sausage for Harold and more.

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Have I  told you about our dining out curse? Anybody else suffer from this?  For some reason only known to the dining out gods, more times than not–or so it seems– when we attempt to go to a restaurant that we’ve been wanting to try, they are closed. Often it’s not even  Monday, the day many restaurants close for a day off. Sometimes it’s a family emergency, a vacation, a holiday for which you’d not expect them to close, or we want a late  lunch and it’s 3:03 and they closed at 3:00. Monday we wanted some tom kha. Now, some of you may know that we’ve been on a tom kha mission for months, never seeming to get to a Thai restaurant while they are open, and once, getting there, unable to find a parking spot in downtown SLO that we could get into with our huge diesel truck, designed for hauling an RV on the highway, not puttering around town. Last week we finally got down to the Thai restaurant here in Morro Bay and ordered a big bowl of tom kha with shrimp. We like our food spicy, but not being familiar with the level of fire here, we ordered medium. Big mistake, way too hot for both of us, and we both left feeling a little queasy.

Too hot!

Too hot!

As soon as the fire wore off, we were still craving the  tom kha of our dreams–something we may never find again since we had the best tom kha ever at a restaurant in Beaverton, OR that had snagged the chef of the best Thai restaurant in Portland, or so the story goes. Now it may seem I’ve digressed, but I’m still on track. After visiting the glass studio, we decided to try again at a Thai restaurant in Los Osos.

The first one we entered had no tom kha–we were informed they only serve curries. The second one was closed. Next we went to an Italian restaurant that we had enjoyed before, Jimmy Bumps–closed. We had driven past Back Bay Cafe and I’d heard good things about it, so that was our next destination–that was a closed-5-minutes-ago fail. We finally decided to head back to Morro Bay before we starved to death and hit Giovanni’s for fish and chips for Harold, a couple of grilled fish tacos for me.

Next up, the non-kayaking trip to Lopez Lake. And more food…

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Countdown begins…31, 30, 29…

I love getting away from Oregon for the coldest, darkest and wettest months. In late January or early February, I get anxious about what’s happening in the garden at home, what’s blooming and what plants may be lost to freezing weather or water-logged clay soil. I start counting the days. I wonder whether the house is OK or if we’re going to arrive home to broken pipes or other problems. This year I have a new concern and something else calls me home: my kitty, Scruffy. I worked so hard to gain her trust and even though she is in the loving care of my friend and neighbor Kimmie, I miss her and worry that I will have to begin all over again in winning over this semi-feral little girl. She accepts the mister and she accepts Kimmie, but without a doubt, I am her person.

Scruffy

Scruffy


I'm napping...

I’m napping…


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I looked for some photos of the garden from last January or February, the only time I’ve been at home in Oregon at this time of year in a decade, but there are none as my father was in hospice care and I was spending as much time as possible with him. I can’t even remember what might have been blooming. Perhaps some Schizostylis, now renamed Hesperantha coccinea, a name I can sometimes remember, sometimes not; perhaps the Iris reticulata, one of my favorites so I hope I don’t miss them.
My friend Flora Gardener of Tangly Cottage Gardening recently posted some photos of them blooming on the Long Beach Peninsula in SW Washington state where she lives and gardens both for pleasure and professionally. It’s quite a bit milder there than in the Willamette Valley so perhaps they are ahead of the I. reticulata at New Leaf and I will still get the pleasure of their fleeting beauty when I return home. I planted several hundred new ones last fall, so it would be a shame to miss their blooms.

Since I can’t share my January garden with you, I want to show you some photos of August’s and Laurel’s little hillside garden which I told you about in an earlier post, Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future….

August and his wife Laurel are retired and came to Morro Bay from Oregon. They live in a small apartment on top of a tourist shop facing the bay, below the house on top of the hill that you see in the below photo.

Road View August's Garden

Road View August’s Garden

They’ve carved out a wonderful patio deck and garden area on the hillside. In the below photo, you see at left the door to their apartment. They even have sedum containers on the porch roof and the apartment roof.

Entrance to August's Apartment

Entrance to August’s and Laurel’s Apartment

View of  Upper Area

View of Upper Area

Close Up

Close Up (click for larger image)

Without having my own garden to photograph, I’m always in search of other interesting gardens and plants. There aren’t many gardens here due to the drought and resulting water restrictions and very small and expensive lots. Here are a few interesting plants and flowers I spotted yesterday afternoon on my walk.
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Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus

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And, a pretty I spotted in a window.

Pretty art glass seen in a window

Art Glass

And crab pots down by the bay. I’ve seen crab and fishing boats from Astoria in our little harbor. Perhaps there are some from Ilwaco as well. Some of my peninsula friends might even know the owner of these.

Crab pots being offloaded from a truck

Crab pots being offloaded from a truck

Birds and Beef

Last fall before coming to Morro Bay, I read an article in Sunset magazine with central coast BBQ restaurant reviews and discussing the famous red oak barbeque and Santa Maria-style tri-tip for which this area is known. In the article, and then in discussions with local people, “Jocko’s in Nipomo” kept coming up. On Saturday, the mister declared he hadn’t had a ribeye in forever and that he really wanted a steak, and I wanted to explore a place called Oceano Lagoon which is in the same general area. Thus a plan was hatched for an excursion.

In the late 1920’s, some land south of Pismo Beach was being developed into a huge housing subdivision. An existing fresh water lagoon was dredged deeper and enlarged to enhance the subdivision and a model home was built and many lots sold. But then came the 1929 stock market crash and the depression resulting in the project’s failure. The lagoon and surrounding land are now a county park with a campground and are part of the migratory bird habitat surrounding them. The area is especially popular with birders hoping to spot migrating spring and fall warblers and water birds so we loaded up our kayak and set out for an adventure. Perhaps we’d finally find the elusive green heron that we’ve been stalking.

On Oceano Lagoon

On Oceano Lagoon

The Chauffeur

The Chauffeur

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

We tried traveling in stealth mode, and we spotted some herons so well camouflaged that even paddling slowly and quietly we couldn’t see them until very close, and then they’d startle and fly. We thought we’d spotted the greens, but a closer look revealed Black-crowned night herons. Accustomed to seeing the tall great blues with their long and graceful necks, we were surprised to see how short and stocky these herons are, looking more like penguins with their thick necks.

Well disguised...

Well disguised…

Lookin' like a penguin...

Lookin’ like a penguin…

After exploring the lagoon, we loaded up the kayak and headed toward Jocko’s. We had reservations, but had heard that it can get so busy that having a reservation just means you’ll wait less. But, as we headed down Hwy 1, I spotted the most amazing turret sticking up from behind a trailer park–I cried out to the mister that I must have a photo, even if were were a few minutes late.

Amazing Spire (with live bird)

Amazing Spire (with live bird)

He kindly drove around several blocks until we were able to locate a street that led to the side of the structure. To our amazement, it was an incredible Victorian home sitting right smack in the middle of a rather shabby trailer park.

Victorian home

Victorian home

I grabbed my camera and respecting the No Trespassing sign, I took a number of photos through and over a chain link fence.2014-01-26 002 056 (547x800) 2014-01-26 002 063 (567x800) 2014-01-26 002 065 (600x800) 2014-01-26 002 066 (600x800) 2014-01-26 002 068 (800x554) 2014-01-26 002 069 (800x586) 2014-01-26 002 070 (600x800) 2014-01-26 002 071 (2) (800x484) 2014-01-26 002 073 (800x600) 2014-01-26 002 074 (800x600) 2014-01-26 002 075 (800x562) 2014-01-26 002 076 (800x600) 2014-01-26 002 077 (800x600) 2014-01-26 002 079 (600x800) 2014-01-26 002 081 (800x766)After we returned home, I did a little research and found that it’s a historic house known as the Coffee T. Rice home. It was completed in 1886 and has 20 rooms and once had a paddock, racetrack and beautiful gardens. It was built of mahogany, teak and marble with handmade Italian tile, and was framed with 2×6 studs. By 1895, Mr. Coffee T. Rice fell on hard times, his son killed in a riding accident, his fortune lost and his wife suffering from “neurasthenia” (I think, perhaps, the language of the time for nervous breakdown) and he moved out.

In 1905, it was purchased by the Temple of the People (the Halcyonites) who used it as a sanitarium until 1925. It changed hands several time and then in 1959 was sold to the 4th owner who added the trailer park.

I’m always saddened when I see one of these “Grand Old Girls” sitting unloved and deteriorating. Those who share my love of old houses know that feeling. Reluctantly, I had to tear myself away from my dreams of rescuing her so we could get to Jocko’s.

We arrived at Jocko’s before 4:00, finding a long, low, 50s looking block building, with about 40 cars parked in the dirt lot, including plenty of pick-up trucks. This sign welcomed us:

A Jocko's Welcome

A Jocko’s Welcome

After a short wait (we were a little early), we were led through the dark hall/waiting area into an also dark, low-ceilinged room to be seated. This was definitely not a white-cloth restaurant. We were seated at a formica table set with paper placemats, menus were brought, drink orders taken. Our waiter returned with a relish tray, salsa, foil-wrapped butter pats, and a basket of assorted crackers in cellophane wrappers. Clearly this place was all about the meat.

Relish tray, crackers and butte  and salsa

Relish tray, crackers and butter and salsa

Although famous for BBQ, they also had Mexican food, Italian, fish choices, etc., but for the Mister it was all about the meat. Taking in the drab and weary-looking decor and observing the other tables, it seemed that must be the case for most diners. Looking through the window, we could see the glow of the outdoor fire pit with meat piled high on racks. We were surprised on opening the menu to not find ribeye, but we were told their Spencer was the same thing, a 2″ thick ribeye steak cut from a whole prime rib roast and that they butchered and aged their meat on-site. After a glance at the huge platters of food being brought out for other diners, we decided one dinner was more than enough for both of us as the mister no longer eats like he once did (nor weighs as much). We ordered the 28 oz ribeye with an extra plate. For an additional charge, we could have ordered extra on the sides, but we decided not to having seen the size of the portions. Although the place was full, we didn’t have to wait too long for the meal to arrive, meanwhile sharing a salad big enough for us both. Being new to blogging, I forgot to take a photo of the platter when it arrived, accompanied by an enormous baked potato, a big bowl of beans, and a basket of garlic bread. We were glad we hadn’t paid the plating charge for extra sides. It was an enormous amount of food. I rarely eat beef, but the first bite of that beautifully seasoned and grilled steak knocked my socks off. I don’t remember ever having a steak that flavorful and tender. We both ate more than enough and still brought a box of leftovers home. The meal included coffee and dessert and the bill was less than $40 including taxes (yep, we’re in California now) and a generous tip for our very courteous waiter! If you’re ever on the central coast and want an excellent steak, Jocko’s is the place. If you’re looking for a romantic atmosphere for date night, skip it. It’s all about the meat.

There’s a story behind Jocko’s and that “come in and monkey around sign”, in brief, there used to be monkeys in Jocko’s bar, but I’m too tired to write about it tonight. Besides, it’s all about the meat and all I know is that there’s no better steak than one cooked Santa Maria-style over red oak wood at Jocko’s.

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Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future

I can see it’s going to take a while to get into the bloggin’ habit. I was just astonished to find that I haven’t posted here in two weeks. I’ve continued my daily walk-abouts here in Morro Bay and have been taking a lot of photos. Awhile back I took this photo of a lovely succulent.
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Today I met August, who with his wife Laurel tends a fabulous sedum garden on a hillside. I told him how much I enjoy his garden when I walk by. It’s quite small (at least by Oregon standards) but full of interesting driftwood, rocks, garden art and, of course, the sedums. I must get a photo of it to share with you. I was delighted when he generously offered me a start of this plant. I don’t know whether it will be hardy in Oregon, but how could I refuse?  

Other highlights of the past couple weeks were attending the Morro Bay Bird Festival and finally launching our kayak for the first time. No kayaking photos yet, as being a newbie kayaker, was reluctant to take out the camera. I do however have a few photos from the bird festival.

Ducks in a Row
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Banded Kingfisher:
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Great Blue Heron:
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And not a bird, but a picturesque abandoned dock at one of the birding sites:
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And an adorable otter as seen from a boat birding tour
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And is this sunset not gorgeous?
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I hope to catch up a bit more in the next few weeks and share with you more of the sights here in Morro Bay before my winter rambles end and I return to Oregon at the end of the month and begin the new gardening year.

Pondering Blogging

I wonder how many bloggers struggled with writing their first blog post? Where do I start? Do I just jump in and write as if it was just another post in a lengthy archive of blog posts?

 Towers

Morro Bay Icons

Hmmm…seems I should write some kind of explanation as to why I, an obsessive Pacific Northwest gardener, am posting photos of a small town on the central California coast. 

But then, perhaps the few folks that find their way here will be friends and family who already are familiar with the seasons of my life.

They know that for years I’ve been a snowbird, leaving Oregon during the coldest wettest months, for years in Baja, then very briefly Arizona and then 3-4 years in California in Borrego Springs, a donut hole in the Anza-Borrego State Park. Needing a change, we narrowed down possible destinations to the California coast south of Monterey and north of Los Angeles, then closed our eyes and pointed: Morro Bay.

I’ll be posting about my life here and sharing photos of this area until I return home to Oregon. 

 

Circling about town…

I’m participating in a photo “challenge” by taking one photo a day and posting it to a group tumblr. Each day has a suggested subject and today’s subject was “circles”.

I do my errands on foot and today’s circle included the library, post office and getting an ink cartridge refilled. I shouldered my pack, grabbed the holy trilogy (phone, wallet, camera) and headed out. But, before I forget, I want to say thanks to my friend Flora Gardener of Tangly Cottage for encouraging me to start blogging.

The first circles I spotted were gumballs in a machine, but too many reflections made for a poor photo. So, I continued walking, and will share with you some of the circles I found. But, I must digress and tell you about the one that got away:

We had planned to get BBQ from a local restaurant, , but after getting home from the photo walk, discovered they close at 5:00pm…what’s up with that? So, having no dinner planned, decided on pizza. Called it in, grabbed my wallet, and walked down to pick it up. As I walked through the door, the first thing I saw was a white-aproned young man with a flour-smudged face tossing a huge *circle* of pizza dough up in the air! Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, so here are photos of other circles I saw around Morro Bay today.


Suggested subjects for the first month of the 365 day photo challenge.

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Free Trade basket outside healthfood store.

Iron Circles

Iron Circles


Another Slant

Peeking

.

.

Bright Pelargonium in cobalt pot. I’ve given up my once-snobbish attitude about “common geraniums”.

Framed: Zoooom

Botanical donut: Crime against horticulture?


Putting a sweet spin on it.


Sucker Reflections

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This is Bill from Santa Cruz. He was down at the waterfront with his handmade sidewalk telescope. He let me take a picture through the eye piece for my last circle.

Moon shadows as seen through Bill’s telescope.