Monthly Archives: February 2013

So it’s not a museum. So what!

donutsI know, I did it again. Missed a week of posting. But that’s what happens when you’re approaching the end of your time away. It’s a funny thing being away from home for 2 months because you’re not really a tourist and you’re not really a local. You’re kind of in limbo, or as I like to put it “limboish”, which I realize is not really a word but I sure like the sound of it. You see, for the most part you just want to be comfortable in your new home, spending your days walking on the beach and drinking coffee on the patio of your local Starbucks just like everyone else which begs the question “doesn’t anyone here have a real job?”. On the other hand, there are so many new and exciting things to see and do that you feel somewhat compelled to devote at least part of your time visiting the local attractions. Especially during February which just happens to be museum month in this neck of the woods which means Macy’s and the San Diego Museum Council have partnered to let people like you and me get in for the price of just me.

There is quite a list of participating museums that will welcome you for 50% of the regular rate. Which is great if you don’t feel a little squeamish about taking money away from the coffers of what can only be struggling arts venues, especially now with this sequestration thing going on down here. For my part, on previous visits I have had the pleasure of visiting some of the more renowned sites and while interesting, as a shallow person I have never felt inclined to take a second jog around the block, so to speak. Which puts me right back where I started with the “what do I do to avoid looking more like a tourist than I already do” dilemma.

Fortunately, I’m the kind of person who keeps her nose to the grindstone, ear to the ground, finger on the pulse, eye on the prize (can you come up with more body part cliches?) and that’s how I found out about a local attraction that was right up my alley. I suppose I might have figured this out earlier had my beach walks not always ended up at that mother of all coffee chains, Starbucks. Had I not been so singularly focused I am certain I would have more quickly noticed the proliferation of what can only be considered a local phenomenon not to be missed. What, you ask, could be so significant as to make me question my penchant for non-fat, no-foam lattes?

Donuts. That’s right. Donuts. And these are not your “never fresh”, previously frozen, shipped and ready to bake specimens that we have come to settle for in my country of birth. No, these are “made on the premises”, warm and delicious delicacies that are best enjoyed no more than three hours out of the fryer. Of course there are not likely to be any left within that timeframe because donuts are clearly serious business here and not to be fooled with. That’s how I decided that my tourist dollar would be well spent visiting each of the most highly touted venues to compare their offerings and chime in on what seems to be somewhat of a rivalry among the locals.

And so my quest for the perfect donut began, but this was no easy task because we are talking about some pretty awesome fare. Now let me tell you there is a lot of controversy in these parts about who makes the most delectable donuts so I was not about to take my task lightly. I kept my wits about me and came up with a set of criteria by which to compare and made the somewhat difficult decision to stick with chocolate, difficult only because there are times that I do enjoy a good apple fritter. But I digress, once again.

After several visits to each shop I came to the stark realization that they were all good. Actually, they were all great. So what it came down to for me was, as your trusty realtor would say, “location, location, location”. I mean, the funky little hole in the wall with tons of charm that everyone, and I mean everyone, talks about as being the very best, really is but it’s a 10 minute drive down the highway, opens at 5 am and is pretty much down to holes only by mid morning. And then there is the closest one to home which is quite respectable and while the hours are great, it’s a little nondescript and a touch sterile in its rather austere, strip mall locale. So after much consideration, my vote has to go with the local barber’s choice (which I suspect is at least in part due to his shop being next door) not only because they continue to make donuts all day so there’s always a fresh one to be had, but also because, lo and behold, it’s on the way to my fav coffee shop and what could be better than a chocolate donut with an afternoon latte?

Ok, I know there are no museums on my sightseeing tour of choice, but so what! I had a delicious time and learned a lot about the culture and culinary delights of my second home. And it’s motivated me to come back to continue my exploration. Next year: Frozen Yoghurt.


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bootsIf you have been reading the blog lately you know that I’ve been spending a bit of time at the beach where the temps are considerably warmer than those of the city in which I have for some unknown reason chosen to spend the last 35 years. Ok, I’ll admit there have been some very good reasons to reside in the far north but none of them include the weather during what is normally a long and unforgiving winter. Just like the shallow blog, my hometown has a mantra and, should you decide to visit during one of the six months of winter you will invariably hear someone reassure you that it’s a “dry cold” and the only thing you have to do to keep from freezing is “dress for it”. And dress for it we do with our hats and scarves and marshmallow down coats that make even a model figure appear somewhat rotund. Oh yes, and there are the boots. Never venture out into the icy winter without your boots lest you risk having your behind (or worse yet, your head) unceremoniously hit the pavement, or the even more horrific experience of being able to see but not feel any of your toes.

Now let’s be honest. There’s no denying that not every day in my southern paradise is quite as toasty as I might like it to be. I do however have to give my head a shake when I overhear declarations about it being “freezing” outside as technically that would be 32 degrees fahrenheit and in reality the mercury seldom dips below 50. And I chuckle just a little when I picture these same people venturing out into the -30 celsius world that I have come to know all too well. Having said that, there have been times while walking on the beach that my ears start to tingle and the cool breezes cause me to reach into my bag and pull out the fleecie I brought with me, “just in case”. But it is far from frosty. Which brings me to what’s been bugging me just a tad, so I’ll explain.

Understand please that one of the primary benefits of my journey to the south is the ability to rid myself of the bulky and less than flattering outerwear I am forced to don for the better part of 6 months. It’s the never ending “putting on and taking off “ that adds considerably to the time needed to journey out and I long for the days when I can step outside without the interminable search for the always misplaced left glove. So it is with some wonder that I question the clothing choices of my Southern California coastal neighbours.

Make no mistake, I’m no fashionista although I do my best to keep up with the trends and will admit not only to owning four pairs of Toms but also to a new found passion for J.Crew cardis which I believe elevates me somewhere in the vicinity of Mrs. Obama. As a shallow person however, I do on occasion find myself critiquing the fashion choices of others and let me tell you, there’s plenty of room for that here. Because it appears that no one has figured out that down vests and sheepskin boots have no place on the beach. To be fair, I’m thinking I should forgive the down vest thing because they probably got carried away while in the Patagonia store picking up some vibram water shoes and simply couldn’t resist the array of colourful puffy things hanging on the rack. And once in a blue moon it does cool down enough at night to slip one over a long-sleeve Tee.  But the woman wrapped in her sheepskin coat, wool scarf and knee high boots sporting a straw sun hat, well that is just wrong in so many ways.

It’s the Uggs though that are truly bothersome. I simply can’t find any good reason for anyone, at any time, to think that there is one single justification for wearing Uggs on the beach. For those of you who are not as fashion forward as I am and may not be familiar with this product, Uggs are an Australian creation, apparently acquired by the Americans of late, that have taken the North American continent by storm. They are short and frumpy looking and do nothing to elongate the leg. Most importantly, and this detail is not to be missed, they are lined with sheepskin which, they tell me, makes them incredibly warm and cozy. And that’s what makes Uggs, if you insist on wearing them at all, perfect for the cold and snow. But the day the snow melts and the ice goes away is the day the Uggs come off. Period. If they were a fashion statement it would be “don’t wear us on the beach, and especially not with shorts or leggings”.  And stop trying to convince me that they are great because they “breath”. Your feet breath too so why not let them revel in the warmth and comfort of the beautiful, soft sand.

You see, I have a theory that the reason Uggs are so expensive for those of us who need them is that those of you who don’t are buying them all up thereby escalating the price. So I’m imploring you to give us northerners, and your feet, a break and stop wearing Uggs on the beach. Honestly, I’m not saying this just because it’s a cruel reminder of what we face upon our return home. For us its just as much a safety issue because without our boots we’ll be slip sliding all over the place . Trust me, even if you should be so unlucky as to accidently stumble and hit your head on the sand, it’s not going to hurt all that much.

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I Mean What I Say

beach_chairsI know, I’m a day late and a dollar short. Well actually I’m about a week late, (although I continually remind myself that I never professed to have a posting schedule) and, let me tell you, way more than a dollar short since leaving for my extended sojourn on the beach. But that’s the thing about words. They don’t always make clear what we are trying to say. As a shallow person I like things to be pretty straightforward so when I find myself trying to navigate through the murky world of ambiguous language I get a little cranky. Let’s take this little “dollar short” saying for instance which apparently has nothing to do with money. According to “Wiktionary”, which I am sure ranks up there somewhere between Oxford and Webster, the meaning of the phrase in question is “Action that was taken too late and is too feeble to be of any use.” Well if that’s the case, why not just say so? Why make me start worrying about my bank account for no reason whatsoever? Which leads me to believe that perhaps we should all take note of Horton’s sage advice and try harder to “say what we mean, and mean what we say”.

Lately, during my long walks on the beach, I’ve been thinking about this very thing; how words can have multiple meanings and how confusing that can get. Take the word “edge” for instance. For some reason I’ve been thinking about that one alot. It seems to me that people can be “on edge” which isn’t usually a good thing because it means something not so great is going on in their lives. It’s really hard to talk to someone who is on edge because they are not focused on what you are saying. And you never know for sure how they are going to react because they are not feeling like “themselves”, another rather perplexing concept since for all intents and purposes they still look an awful lot like who they are. While they are on edge it’s good to “be there” for them, which doesn’t mean you actually have to be with them but you should be if they call you and ask you to come by. The good thing is you don’t have to worry too much about them jumping off a bridge because they are only on edge, not “on the edge”. Which is an entirely different thing.

People who are living “on the edge” are more inclined to take risks that are outside most of our comfort zones. Turning back to my trusty online wiktionary I discover that these are people who “have an adventurous or perilous lifestyle; behave in a manner which creates risks for oneself.” And apparently this sometimes works out for them and sometimes doesn’t as the second definition provided is: “To be caught in an economic or societal situation which one did not choose, which threatens one’s well-being or life, and which causes distress.” So if you are that way inclined, I would proceed with caution. Unless you are one of the disciples of the “Living on the Edge” organization whose purpose is to “help Christians live like Christians”, which may not be quite as risky or distressing, although I can’t say for sure. Of course being on edge might prove to be preferable to being “edgy” which means you could be “on the edge between acceptable and offensive”. Honestly, given the choice between “distressed” and “offensive” I’m going to have to go with the former.

But none of this is really why I have been thinking about the word “edge” these past few weeks. The real reason I’ve been dwelling on this four letter word is that each day, as I walk on the sand I am acutely aware that I am literally standing on the edge of the continent. As I look out to the west there is nothing but ocean. Granted the edge ebbs and flows slightly with the tides, but it’s never more than a few steps away. In the evening, I watch the sun disappear as it makes it’s way below the edge. And every once in awhile I see a boat approaching from beyond the edge.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know that globes don’t have any real edges so I’m not overly concerned about falling off the edge. But I gotta tell you. If this was 1492 there’s no way, no how that anyone is going to convince me to get on one of those ships. Which probably means I’m not a “living on the edge” kind of gal. Yet here I am. Go figure!

And while I’m talking about words I want to send a few good ones out to my friends, and the best property managers ever, Liz and Bruce. If you happen to be travelling over to Vancouver Island and need a place to stay, you’re going to want to give them a call at Victoria Prime ‘cause they will take great care of you. And I’m not just saying that because they have done a bang up job of managing my little island abode. But they have, so I can promote them because it’s my shallow blog and I can do what I want to. And they read it and think it’s funny. So this one’s for them.

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