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Signs of Autumn


Male Deer in California

Male Deer in California

   Signs of Autumn

   In the Autumn the male mule deer come down from the higher hills where hunting pressure is lower. They come seeking the female deer which seem to know they are not hunted locally.  I took photos of this fellow from our front porch.  One photo shows he is smelling a female deer nearby. This is called ‘Flehmen Resonse’.

   The calender says Autumn is still two days away.. but we’ve had signs of Autumn appearing for a few weeks. It seems like it might be an early autumn at least, if not winter also.


Happy Trails Big Red


Big Red

Big Red


Big Red Dies at La Purisima Mission

Big Red was a big -ol’ Quarter Horse…. arguably the best horses bred.  Certainly they are popular locally due to the huge cattle industry on the Central Coast.  Quarter Horses are the most popular cow-horse. They are big enough to power through the heavy chaparral… they have stamina and endurance, yet they still have a very high degree of maneuverability and an explosive power that can be unleashed to head off a cow.

   Really, too much cannot be said of theAmerican Quarterhorse.

   Big Red was a Quart donated to our local Mission in Lompoc. He was a friendly big old horse who enjoyed meeting the numerous visitors. Kids loved him, and he always seemed to enjoy having his photo taken. When one trained a camera on him, he would freeze for a perfect portrait. He always seemed to have a smile on his old horse face.

   Yeah…. time crumbled the walls of the old mission… and the earthquake shook it down…. and now Big Red has fallen.


Fog enters the canyon


Fog enters the canyon

Fog enters the canyon

   The California Coast can often build up a huge bank of fog… this fog will roll inland until the heat of the day dissipates it. In our case it finds entry into the canyon through the narrow mouth…. one can awaken in the morning in the canyon to a beautiful blue sky with a bright sun, unimpaired by fog… then a short drive to the mouth of the canyon and you are presented with a hundred foot high fog-bank…. it’s lights-on for the next few hours along the coast!

Three faces of Slo-town


   San Luis Obispo is the major town near us to the north.   It’s a fairly small town with two collages and the sense of a rural community. The truck/human ratio is fairly high.  Locals refer to the city and the county both as SLO (pronounced ‘slow’). We also call the city ‘San Luis’  (Lewis….. not louwee’), and another name is ‘Slo-Town’.

   San Luis Obispo has long struggled to retain its rural character…. the county is a major anti-growth county, and the city of San Luis Obispo severely restricts building in its limits.  

   There are many unique aspects to Slo-Town.. for instance in 1990, SLO became the first municipality in the world to ban smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants.  There is a really unique HUGE hotel called ‘Madonna Inn’ that is something of a world-renowned hotel.  And San Luis houses one of the premier universities in the world… (Cal-Poly) California Polytechnic State University.  The first motel in the world was established in San Luis in 1925 (it cost $1.25 for a night).

   Like many towns, San Luis has architectural styles that cover a broad spectrum of styles from Frank Lloyd Wright to backyard builders….  therefor we have the simple storefront buildings, Victorian homes, and old wooden barns being used as warehouses you see in these photos.

   If you travel to California, make sure you go through the Central coast… and SLO is a good town to use as a central base for visiting the area.


Gulls in Avila

Avila gulls

Avila gulls


Gulls in Avila

The Many Faces of Pismo Beach

The Many Faces of Pismo Beach


   The modern Pismo Beach has been built up over several generations, with successive groups of folks moving in from other places.   As the town has grown, and the small amount of easily accessible and usable land already used for building… it was inevitable that building would progress higher up the hills.   These newer homes tend to be more individual in character. These steep sites with engineered slopes and retainer walls lend themselves to custom planning for the habitation itself.

   The stark geometric lines of the house below are natural extensions of the retainer walls of which the structure is well integrated with.

clean crisp lines in Pismo Beach

clean crisp lines in Pismo Beach

Steep drops in Pismo Beach
Steep drops in Pismo Beach

    Many of these homes are four levels high on the downhill side, yet the top floor is street level on the uphill side.   Such requires massive pilings several meters deep into the underlying rock.  The price of the lot is just the beginning of the costs…. but my.. what massive stunning and sweeping views of the coastline from those windows!  

   This coastline is something of a Riviera area…. the weather is mild… and the population seems to swell in the summer… in the winter it is a sleepy little town on the beach. 

Iberian style architecture in Pismo Beach

Iberian style architecture in Pismo Beach

    The first Europeans in the area were the Spanish. But they used the area only for ranching, the nearby port was a handy place to load the stacks of cowhides that were this areas major export.
    Close on the heels of the Spanish were a good number of Portuguese families who became known for fishing these local waters. They left their mark with the architecture, some local dishes, and names in the phone book.

    This home is reminiscent of some of the homes in Portugal. 

Steep hillsides in Pismo Beach

Steep hillsides in Pismo Beach

    Strong retaining walls are required in these hills. You can take a steep hillside and convert it to a series of terraces…. sometimes each with one level of a home….   There are some nice examples of steep hillside dwellings in Pismo Beach.

Door of the Morning Mist


“For that which is boundless in you
abides in the mansion of the sky,
whose door is the morning mist,
and whose windows
are the songs and the silences of night”


~Kahlil Gibran~


Mists of the forests approach the cactus


On Houses
 Kahlil Gibran


Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness
ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight,
so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night;
and it is not dreamless.
Does not your house dream?
and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hill-top?

Would that I could gather your houses into my hand,
and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets,
and the green paths your alleys,
that you might seek one another through vineyards,
and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
But these things are not yet to be. 
In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together.
And that fear shall endure a little longer.
A little longer shall your city walls
separate your hearths from your fields.
And tell me, people of Orphalese,
what have you in these houses?
And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace,
the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances,
the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty,
that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort,
that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest,
and then becomes a host and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer,
and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.
Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.
It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed
and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.
It makes mock of your sound senses,
and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul,
and then walks grinning in the funeral.

But you, children of space, you restless in rest,
you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound,
but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors,
nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling,
nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendour,
your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky,
whose door is the morning mist,
and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night 




Stairway to Heaven?

Stairway to Heaven?

Harbor Patrol, Avila Beach California
Harbor Patrol, Avila Beach California

No, it’s the Harbor Patrol on the pier in Avila

Low-Tide at Shell Beach

Shell Beach California…
Low Tide….
The right time.. the right place

Rocks at Shell Beach
Stone and seaweed at Shell Beach
Stone and seaweed at Shell Beach

This Most Barren Hill

“My thoughts expand and flourish on this most barren hill…”


   In the summertime we get a regular weather phenomenon known as a ‘marine layer’  that appears in the later afternoon. This brings in a layer of moist wet foggy low-clouds that roll in from the sea. By late afternoon the fog has reached inland enough to blot out the sun. While this might seem a disadvantage… actually, when other places are broiling in the summertime, our coastal areas can have very nice and cool temperatures. And in wintertime, we often have much sunnier weather than we do in the summertime…. go figure!

   At any rate…. the spread of this fog layer normally extends only to the first row of hills that are a prominent feature of the landscape along much of the California coast.  The relatively flat areas between the hills and the sea are known as a ‘Coastal Plain’.  The Coastal Plain is heavily influenced by the moderating of the sea. In the winter time, the relatively warm waters keep the coastal plain a bit warmer than the hill areas and inland deserts. In the summertime, the relatively cool waters will keep the coastal plain area from being too hot.

   We live inland beyond the coastal range of hills. So while we have clear skies in general, we can often look at the hills along the coast and see the fog backed up on the coastal side..  trying to reach over the hills. When it does, it slides down the low spots (saddles) and drifts down like a stream… slowly the warmer drier inland environment will break up the mist and vaporize it… you can watch as it slowly dissipates and turns into a vapor and drifts off into the air…. vaporizing and disappearing as it drifts….

   They say that each Hydrogen and each Nitrogen, and each Oxygen molecule has been around the world a number of times…. been breathed into and out of the lungs of great numbers of people and animals in the last billion or so years….. each of these molecules is something that is, was, and will be. Eternal as matter can be.


   The importance of this fog layer cannot be discounted. The fog keeps the local dry environment cool enough so plants transpire less, it reduces soil moisture loss, and as a great bonus, the fog often leaves the plants wet with dew by morning. This dew and fog being caught by the plants and dropping to the ground gives the local environment a bit of moisture in the heart of an otherwise dry summer.