Beach Bits,  crazy stuff,  urban life

Big Skies at the Beach and other babblings

sky sky and more sky

The thing I love about winter and fall at the beach is how clear the sky gets. The skies are so blue and the clouds seem to go on up forever unlike they do in the summer and spring when they hover low and thick because we usually have a marine layer of fog and low clouds. I catch myself looking up at the sky often and wondering if I could be like Georgia O’Keefe and paint the clouds. What colors would I use? How could I capture how big and vast they are and how small they make me feel?

I was out in the desert with my Dad this last week and I caught myself admiring the crazy cloud formations after a quick desert thunderstorm. There were big giant towering formations with glints of gold around their edges. It was beautiful.

“Aren’t they amazing?” I asked my dad as we were walking between my mom’s old house and her new studio apartment next door, carrying a load of household items with us.

“What? The sky”? he asked, looking at me like I’d lost my marbles. “It’s just the sky.”

I shook my head in disgust. How many people have I encountered who could walk right past a brilliant sunset and not even notice it? But before I shuffle my dad off into the pile of people who just don’t see things the way I do, I have to give him a break. He’s a long haul trucker, and he does drive across the country weekly. He sees all kinds of skies. I notice bright brilliant skies more because here at the beach we are so often socked in with fog or a hazy mist. In fact, it’s misty so often that when it’s clear, the mountains scare us. Where’d you come from Saddleback?!! Of course, I love the fog. But I love these crazy blue skies too.



plopped herself down


We had a great beach day, Bug and I. It was pretty hot and the water was soooo warm! It’s funny how that happens. It has something to do with the upwelling of cold water from the bottom of the ocean in summer and then that goes away in the fall. Water temperatures are much colder in July and August than they are in October. If you like to swim in the ocean, I’d suggest going now. It’s the perfect temperature. I hardly ever go in the water since I’m terrified of big surf but I spent quite a bit of time splashing around and even getting wet all the way up to my hair yesterday. Of course I didn’t swim out past the surf, like I’d like to. I have to wait until Bug finally learns how to swim to do that.

So anyway, I’m reading a book my friend Sonja lent me, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as you can see up there in that picture Bug took of me. It has me just as perturbed as that other book. Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and not think about these terrible things. La la la la la la, I am IGNORANT!!! As most everyone already knows it’s all about the author Barbara Kingsolver living off her land without being part of the massive industrial food chain that America has become today. No more tomatoes from Chile, no more hybrid turkeys that will never reach their full maturity because if they did they’d become too fat to walk, etc. It’s all very well and fine and I admire her greatly but I just discovered Costco this year so it is not sitting with me well. Lettuce in GIANT bags! Peppers for less than a dollar each!!! Please don’t take that away from me! Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. It’s still a very interesting book though and it has me looking twice at the fruits and vegetables I buy.

Cream Pan

Which brings me to this little Japanese-French bakery another friend of mine took me to the other day. Cream Pan in Tustin. We missed breakfast so I really don’t know how wonderful their French pastries are. I’m sure they are absolutely divine because that’s what everyone says and I could tell by the meticulous way they kept their shop that anything they did would be perfection. It was so cute and French inside. But mostly what impressed me was the thriving garden of Japanese eggplants growing in front of their store.

Japanese eggplant


See? Eggplant! Great big purple beauties too. There were bunches of them. I don’t even like eggplant (I don’t think; I haven’t really tried it enough to say) and these look good enough to eat to me. I might even go back there and try an eggplant sandwich just so I can say I’ve eaten one grown in a strip mall. It truly amazed me. The plants looked strong and healthy, not covered with dirt and brake dust like I would expect from growing right along side a parking lot.

bitter melon sun shade

And then on the other side of the building was a trellis of bitter melons! I actually didn’t know what they were but a nice woman was walking by and overheard me wondering about them aloud to Bug. How ingenious is this? The vines act as a sun shade to the restaurant inside AND they grow melons! Or something like that. There were also some sunflowers and something growing along the bottom that I didn’t really look closely at because I was too overwhelmed by how cool the vine sun shade was. This small plot gardening put me to shame. I have about a four-foot patch of dirt between my neighbor’s air conditioner and my other neighbor’s fence and sadly I’ve done nothing with it but grow lemon-scented geraniums and buried a few dead birds. The geraniums have thrived and taken over but they’ve given me no fruit or vegetables. Harumph!

sunflower pretty eggplant flower


floppy hat

Back to what I am doing well…

crazy sky

…enjoying my beach and these amazing fall skies. I really need to break out the paints and attempt to capture this. Though I know I would fail miserably.

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Also! Please go read and comment on my Pancakes! post for Kellogg’s Share Your Story program. Don’t be shy! You might win $100!


  • bethany actually

    Not everyone knows about that book! I’d never heard of it till just now. And sadly, I’m with you. I like farmer’s markets and will shop at them when I can, but most of the time I am happy with my industrial veggies. Sigh.

  • a chris

    Break out the paints! Who cares if you fail? (Wait a year and look at the painting again; chances are you’ll see what you did capture and won’t remember so much of what you couldn’t quite get.)

    Those palm trees are just surreal to me. I thought I’d seen some growing outside once, in Plockton, Scotland, but I just googled Plockton and they’re apparently “cabbage trees.” Anyway, for me, palm trees are like moon craters or something. They’re real, but they only exist somewhere very far away. And to you, they’re normal! But even if it’s normal to you, you do seem to do a good job of appreciating and capitalizing on the best of your surroundings. That’s an important kind of wisdom, or wise action.

  • Madge

    You would have loved my next door neighbor as a kid. His name was Charles and he would come over and ask my brother if he wanted to go to the park and stare at the clouds. They were 10 at the time and my brother looked at him like he was an alien and said, “UH, no thanks!” HAHAHA

    I wish I could grow all my own food. Maybe one day.

    Lovely lovely clouds.

  • Lady in a Smalltown

    I love Barbara Kingsolver, but not all of her books work for me. If this is nonfiction, I probably won’t read it, but I might give it to my mother in law. I love my local farmer’s market and our co-op food store, but I also love fruit in the winter (I live in Vermont) and sugar and chocolate.

  • Kiki

    Your pictures make me miss laguna. I lived in Coto for two years in high school , and went to your beach in laguna at least once a week. Miss it. Paint , by all means!

  • nicole i

    I am a big fan of Ms Kingslover…I even went to reading at UCBerkeley…shocking I know. I am also a big fan of eating locally, seasonally and organically but we live in California so we are totally spoiled with produce….case and point your strip mall with veggies growing at the cafe. The beach looks lovely as does the sky.

  • Calee

    Oh THAT book. I made the mistake (?) of listening to it on tape last year and I still can’t get many of the things out of my head. You wanna come over and make mozzarella? I bought all the stuff and tried it all of once. That seems to be my way of things like this.
    Also. I. Love. Costco.

  • Mrs. Wilson

    I’ve never heard of that book, but now I am intrigued. I absolutely love the sky as well and am always amazed by it. I grew up in the no-sky mountains and have lived on the prairies where the sky goes forever and ever for three years now and I don’t miss the sky-blocking mountains one bit.

  • Ninabi

    The skies, the lovely little urban garden- what a fun post.

    Enjoy Costco for me. I always nearly blow a gasket when I go. I know, I know- the deals are amazing and the employees are paid decently and have health insurance and their stuff is all top notch but my husband and I are empty nesters and their carts are HUGE. I feel like I’m 6 years old pushing that monster cart through hordes of people. Maybe we should have split the bags of produce with people (funny, we never worried about splitting the giant bags of candy!) but we eat less if we don’t shop there.

    And I agree with other posters- get out your paints!!! You could do some amazing paintings of the ever changing skies.

  • BeachMama

    I can never tire of Blue skies. We just had a terribly gray September, where we almost his a record for rainfall. I am so happy to see blue skies again that I could cry. And then November will come which is usually our cloudiest and rainiest month. And I will need some light therapy to keep me from getting depressed. There is a reason I don’t live in Vancouver, can’t handle the rain and clouds.

  • Aunt B

    I am amazed by the clouds too. On my long ride home it’s like the clouds are calling me. I try to talk to others about them but no one responds. I just don’t understand why they don’t think they are as amazing as I do.