California Snippets

Before I get into telling you all about my new summer class (which I am really loving, I must say), I’ve got to get the brief recap of my California trip out of the way.  I’ve waited for a while so I could avoid going off on a decidedly not nice rant about my brother, his political opinions, and the process by which, I suspect, he has formed them.  I will avoid all that – I think it’s best for all of us.

Suffice it to say that my brother and I are very much like Bart and Lisa Simpson, except that we are all grown up and Bart owns actual guns. Guns. As in more than one of them. (I can only assume that, as on The Simpsons, these guns were purchased at Bloodbath and Beyond.)

[Ed. Note: Friends of mine have compared my brother not to Bart Simpson but to Achewood’s Showbiz Kazenzakis. If you read Achewood, you will enjoy this idea.]

Just like Bart does with Lisa, he knows exactly how to push my buttons, effortlessly sussing out whatever it is in my life that I am currently the most involved and invested in and then ruthlessly ridiculing and deriding it.  It’s pretty fun. I should also say that this doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in me, and I can only excuse some of the rude things I said by thinking with satisfaction of the many other, ruder things I virtuously refrained from saying.

As always when traveling with family (as I am sure each of you already knows in your own unique, individual ways of knowing that are informed by your own family’s particular brand of craziness), one must always find serenity wherever one can.  Luckily, I always feel a certain serenity whenever I am far away from the humid treacheries of New Wye.  Not only was the California weather blissfully dry (every day was a serenely good hair day!) but the landscape was just as pretty as ever.  The cemetery memorial gardens where my grandparents are buried inurned is a beautifully groomed, peaceful space full of flowers and towering redwoods and we all agreed it was quite lovely.

One night, on our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some wine, sourdough, and other items for dinner.  The store we happened into had been my grandparents’ neighborhood grocery for decades – a store I’d been in countless times with them during those summers when I stayed out there – and it was honestly the strangest thing.  So familiar and at the same time so strange to be shopping there without them hassling me to make a request for dinner or dessert. From what I can recall, the place hadn’t changed a bit.

The day after the service we drove down and back up the coast a little bit, taking in the ocean air and relaxing.  In between my brother’s painful political observations I managed to find my serenity by watching a group of kitesurfers, sampling some locally brewed beers, and sticking my feet in the Pacific. Please to enjoy these photographs:

A trail along the bluffs at Wilder Ranch

A trail along the bluffs at Wilder Ranch

While we were hiking along this area, we briefly stepped off the trail to get a better look at something, and my brother wound up getting a bunch of little foxtail burrs stuck in his socks and shoes.  As he was standing on one leg, hopping angrily about and cursing as he tried to get rid of the burrs, my dad dryly observed, “Well, that’s what happens when you kick the foxtails out of the way instead of just…stepping over them.”  This explains everything about our family.

Kitesurfers near Gazos State Beach

Kitesurfers near Gazos State Beach

So, kitesurfing. Apparently, this is a real thing.  I know.

Highway 1 North

Highway 1 North

If you know me, you know how much I enjoy taking road pictures from behind the windshield of a moving car.  At least this time I wasn’t driving while clicking.  I just love the possibilities inherent in being on a road trip and I’m always trying to capture that idea, spotty windshield or not.

Very Important Beers.

Very Important Beers.

On my brother’s good side, I will tell you that the beer sampler was his, and he graciously shared with me all the varieties he didn’t like.  Which, rather predictably, happened to be all the varieties I preferred anyway. Sometimes it pays to be opposite in every convceivable way.


  1. Love you too, sister :p

    I’m always glad to share beer, especially if it’s not to my liking. My tastes generally run to reds, stouts, porters, etc. Rule of thumb: if you can chew on it, I’ll drink it.

    Note to self: take sister shooting next time she’s in the same zip code. She might actually like it!

    Regarding the guns… Well, it’s a hobby. I enjoy it. Collecting, shooting, gunsmithing, and discussing are all fun. I do so safely, and I’d encourage you to try it, just once (pleeeeaaase?); you might actually like it. I promise to do my utmost to refrain from political diatribe during the act.


  2. Yes, great idea to refrain from political comments while Vague is holding a gun!

    (j/k, of course, but I couldn’t resist pointing that out.)


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