December – Streamin’ holiday cheer

December in the Northern Hemisphere, is a time of dropping temperatures and lengthening nights, leading up to winter solstice that has had cultural significance dating back to Neolithic times for people who have responded with observances often associated with the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing and the beginning of longer days, resulting in cheerful celebrations often around themes of birth or rebirth, renewal, hopefulness, and new beginnings, and characterized by people gathering, celebrating, feasting and drinking (Wikipedia).  December’s full moon is known as the both the Full Cold Moon* and the Long Nights Moon.

Recently, we received photos and cheerful news that the new owners of our Airstream Safari trailer successfully completed a round trip from San Diego to Northern California to visit their family while camping along the way.

20171025_122115 Hitched for maiden cruise

20171029_180037 Maiden cruise camping

We have cheerful memories of camping and celebrating the holidays and seasons from fall to spring over the years.  Ten years ago this month, Larry and I and our late corgi Mac and pug Pau Hoa celebrated our first December camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where we met up with friends and celebrated the season.

HPIM1905 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

I brought along my lighthouse keeper’s garb, which doubled as a conductor’s uniform, for The Polar Express* spoof performance I gave to entertain and cheer our friends.

HPIM1907 The conductor & uke player

I also brought my plague doctor’s robe and top hat to present The Nutcracker‘s Drosselmeyer giving a nutcracker to Clara* (Emma here).  (Also see “Nutcracker in the desert” and Tour of America’s “Characters.”)

HPIM1949 Drosselmeyer presents gift

HPIM1951 Emma receives Nutcracker

We then held an ukulele fest that could drive the cold winter away* (along with Dr. C)!

HPIM1954 Uke fest in the desert

Cheerfulness abounded both outside and inside our Airstream Safari.

HPIM1970 Airstream decorated for Christmas

So this December 2017, we are cherishing our home and wishing everyone Good Health and Happy Holidays!

IMG_1002 Larry's Holiday Panettone

And be of good cheer as you watch James Corden’s Most Intense Christmas Celebration Ever* and ‘All I Want for Christmas’ Carpool Karaoke!*

IMG_1020 Our holiday mantel 2017

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Ocean knight currents, part four

I cautiously passed the windmill facing the ocean, which I had originally and mistakenly perceived to be a giant with waving arms,* and sallied forth to find the museum housing musical instruments that are close to my heart, such as the lute.

DSC_0165-2 South Carlsbad windmill

While venturing eastward, I came upon a lovely field of flowers (The Flower Fields® at Carlsbad Ranch)* with a beautiful damsel (Dulcinea?)* in the middle beckoning visitors to enjoy the splendor of ten million Ranunculus flowers.

DSC_0163 Flower Fields of Carlsbad

Assured that the lady was safe behind a white picket fence, I continued on in search of stringed instruments and came upon a magnificent castle* on top of a hill with a commanding view of the countryside and the Pacific Ocean.  This is the home of the Museum of Making Music,* which displays hundreds of vintage instruments and presents special exhibitions twice a year along with concerts, workshops, and educational programs.  (I last made a pilgrimage here in 2008 to view a special exhibit of ukuleles.)  I was delighted that my quest was at an end as I experienced their current, special exhibit, “The Banjo: A New Day for an Old Instrument.”

DSC_0149 MOMM's banjo exhibit (1)

DSC_0150 MOMM's banjo exhibit (2)

The banjo’s roots are thought to go back to West Africa, where hide-covered gourd folk lutes, such as the akonting, were plucked.*  The concept was transported to Colonial America by Africans via the Atlantic slave trade.

DSC_0159 Banjo's roots

An early version of the banjo was played in degrading minstrel shows of the 1800s.  My favorite black banjo/guitar/singer of the folk song era of the 1960s was Elizabeth Cotten,* best known for her timeless song, “Freight Train.”*

DSC_0146 Recapturing the Banjo

Back at camp, Larry prepared lunch featuring pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish, fried masa pies filled with ham and cheese.

DSC_0176 Larry's pupusas

A couple strolled into the sunset as I reflected on our successful quests, the rebirth of the San Diego Opera, and why music is so important.*

DSC_0018 Stroll into the sunset

It’s nice to remember the sun’s gonna shine again.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Summer Wizardry

Midsummer nights are here and on most evenings we can hear fireworks rumble from San Diego’s Seaport Village.  Our Airstream Safari quietly rested in its homeport under the midsummer stars as I took the dogs out for a late night break in the cool air of the backyard patio.

As I passed by hanging plants on one side, I noticed a sensual fragrance and, looking more closely, I noticed many large, white blooms of the Nightblooming Cereus, the Queen of the Night, had just fully opened.

This is a magical moment because these flowers bloom at night and wilt by dawn.  Their blossoms are enchantingly alluring.

Even the nearby and playful Green Man seemed to take notice.

Meanwhile across town, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was playing.  Before I delve into this finale, I thought it best to read and understand the magic and character of Harry Potter, as written and developed by J. K. Rowling, author of the seven Harry Potter books.  So I have begun reading (out loud) each evening a chapter or so, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

During the day, we visited the first inaugural San Diego Ukulele Festival.

We went on Friday afternoon as booths were just being set up and performers were testing the sound equipment. Seen below is Ukulele Bartt, Bartt Warburton, animatedly singing and playing his ukulele like a wizard.  This 3-day festival at Liberty Station opened last Thursday with a concert by ukulele grand wizard, Jake Shimabukuro.

More information about the history of the ukulele and the ukulele – Airstream connection is found in my article, “Ukulele Strumming and Airstreaming.”

Ukuleles glowed in the warm afternoon sun.

We took in more magic Saturday by attending the San Diego Gay Pride Parade, where approximately 300 active and inactive military service-members marched for the first time.

Yes, wouldn’t this be a good time for a piece of rhubarb pie… and listen to Jake Shimabukuro perform his “Crazy G” encore.

 

Stepping into summer

Summer for us is actually our off season for camping, which may surprise some because we live in San Diego, which has many great, nearby camping spots and where people come from places such as Arizona to cool off and enjoy our beaches.  That is precisely why we stay at home during the summer.  It is now too hot for us to camp in our favorite mountain and desert places without full hook-ups and air conditioning.  As mentioned in my “Desert heat” article, the 100-degree desert heat while we were camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last May motivated us to turn our trailer into a cave and enjoy the air conditioning while reading, doing projects or just napping.  We don’t need to go to the desert to enjoy air conditioning that we have at home.  Our nearby state beach campgrounds are now booked for the summer and we prefer to do most of our camping in quiet peaceful settings.  So we step into summer by staying home.

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We enjoy stepping into the tropical garden oasis in our own backyard with its pond and plants (flourishing due to Larry’s TLC)…

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Bougainvillea above (surrounded by Red Trumpet Vine and Delicate Asparagus Fern) and Epidendrum below.

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And of course we enjoy stepping onto the patio and barbecuing chicken and rib eye steaks.

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Hear “How To Make The Perfect Burger“, and learn the recipe in this Morning Edition, NPR program of July 3, 2009.

I also enjoy stepping into the world of reading books and I have them stockpiled for summer reading.  I’ll have time to read each time I step out of the courtroom of Superior Court – County of San Diego during my current jury duty, which is expected to last two to three more weeks.

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My latest addition to my library is Miles Gone By – A Literary Autobiography, William F. Buckley Jr., Regnery Publishing Inc., 2004.  Years ago I was fascinated by his debating style and sense of humor, and my interest in him was rekindled after watching his son Christopher’s interview on Book on C-SPAN2. (He also has an interesting blog on The Daily Beast and new book out, Losing Mum and Pup – A Memoir, Twelve, 2009.)

Another literary addition to my summer reading is Reading Lolita in Tehran – A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2008.  I first heard about this author while listening to the NPR program, Azar Nafisi Discusses ‘Things I’ve Been Silent About, February 10, 2009.

My favorite author became Ernest Hemingway after I read his first African safari book, Green Hills of Africa, Scribner, 1935, 1963.

Summer is also a good time to savor good radio programs outside or while getting ready to begin the day.  Just before stepping out the door last Wednesday morning on my way to jury duty, I was listening to Morning Edition on National Pubic Radio (NPR), on our local public broadcasting station.  My ears perked up as I heard the sound of diesel power and I delighted in their story, “Diesel Cars Attempt Comeback with Clean Diesel“, by Chris Arnold (NPR, Morning Edition, July 1, 2009).

View “The Great American Summer“, a gallery of classic images from a bygone era, presented by The Daily Beast contributor, Rachel Hulin.

So in these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, I might even dust off the ukulele and start strumming…

Or take my boogie board to the beach for a celebration of summer with an afternoon of surfin’ followed by “a cool one” at Miller Time and chilling out.

Addendum: In memory of just some of the many notables who have sadly stepped out of this world this summer, including Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, Robert McNamara, and Walter Cronkite:

Never dreamed you’d leave in summer“, performed by Stevie Wonder…

And as ‘Uncle Walter’ would say, “And that’s the way it is.”

Ocean breeze

Surf’s up and cool ocean breezes are zipping up and over our South Carlsbad State Beach bluff campsite where we enjoyed a break from the desert heat. We camped for four nights on the edge of a 3-mile long bluff, where we were bathed in the continuous sounds of the wind and surf. Seagulls sailed by, both inside and outside the trailer.

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Seagulls by John Perry

The area of Carlsbad was once inhabited by the Luiseno Native Americans who had a village near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon which was a resting place for Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi on their expedition up the coast in 1769 to establish outposts and missions for Spain. In 1883 the Santa Fe Railroad passed near here and land was opened to homesteaders and real estate speculators, including John Frazier who tapped an artesian spring yielding mineral water which was thought to be curative and likened to the old Bohemian spa of Karlsbad (in Czechoslovakia).

Five miles north of Carlsbad is Oceanside, where Marshal South, once known as Oceanside’s Poet Laureate, met his wife-to-be, Tanya, whose parents were orthodox Jews from the Russian Ukraine and emigrated to New York in 1906. See an image of Marshal and Tanya’s “honeymoon accommodations” while camping on an Oceanside beach in 1923.

Marshal South probably would have found our trailer accommodations interesting even though he apparently had no desire to use or generate electricity at Yaquitepec. Here at South Carlsbad State Beach we are self-contained and, with our two solar panels, we generate more electricity than we use during the day, even through the marine layer. Typically by late morning each day our AGM batteries are 100 percent at 13.5 volts.

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If we did a lot of this coastal camping, a portable wind turbine could possibly take advantage of the almost constant ocean breeze.

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We found that this South Carlsbad bluff is really the turf of the California Ground Squirrel.

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 Their accommodations are underground burrows on the other side of the fence and their favorite activities are surveying the campers and obtaining campers’ food and water. Bungee cords were used to secure outdoor items that contained food or other items of interest.

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A family of nearby squirrels paused for a moment and seemed mesmerized by Larry’s ukulele playing and singing.

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 More beautiful sunsets and summer breezin’ are just around the corner.

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