Sunday, April 26, 2009

The La Jolla Half Marathon

Along the wide walk beside the beach, we waited to see the runners. Around 8:45 AM they were around half way from the starting point of the half-marathon, in Del Mar, and had run up the incredible hill at Torrey Pines park. The leaders were very spread out, coming one at a time down the long walk near the sea. Casual runners, cyclists, dog walkers, children, and surfers shared the space, doing what they always do on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Race officials came along in cars, on bikes and on foot. Also we saw policemen on motorcycles, volunteer water-servers at tables of full paper cups, and other helpers.

A surfer in a dripping wetsuit ran up and started handing out cups of water to the runners. Most of the helpers called out "water, water," but one said "Budweiser."

The conditions must have been good this morning, as more than the usual number of surfers waiting in the water were managing to stand up on a wave. Normally a race occupies everyone's full attention. Not this one. Lots of people along the way were just enjoying the sun and scenery, with not a look at the competitors.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mona Lisa Books

From the San Diego Art Museum shop. The words "brush her hair" referred to the fact that there was a hole in Mona Lisa's picture with some fake hair stuck in it -- though not actually brushable like a barbie doll's hair.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Hummingbird

This bird was at San Elijo lagoon on Sunday. Len was able to approach so close that the lens of the camera seemed no more than 5 feet from the bird.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Bataquitos Lagoon was blocked in the 1880s when the railroad bridge was built. We overlooked the railroad, the beach, and the connecting waterway in a beautiful little overlook point behind a huge housing development on the upland. The connector was re-established in the 1980s, thus making it tidal again. This restored the lagoon to a somewhat original state -- or so it is hoped. On the sandy buildup, a large colony of least terns has established itself, which is a good sign.

We also took another walk at San Elijo lagoon, beginning at this very modern apartment complex, which has what I consider to be minimalist trees (coral trees) blooming in front of it.

To go from one basin of San Elijo Lagoon to the other, we walked on a rather iffy path under the freeway.

No question, these lagoons are beautiful and seem unspoiled. But I feel one must be very "in the moment," I must not think about the vast stretches of wetland that no longer exist -- only 10% survive in San Diego county. I must not think about the future, when runoff from the beautiful apartment complexes, housing developments, attractive shopping malls, and recreational areas may continue to destroy the habitat. The wetlands may seem a bit natural now, but the future is painful to contemplate no matter how carefully the conservationists work to preserve them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Am I going to read this book?

I'm not sure I need to read more about the theft of Mona Lisa in 1911. Can any more be said than has been, in historical fiction and in tomes like this? The review:
Part love story, part mystery, Vanished Smile reopens the case of the most audacious and perplexing art theft ever committed. R. A. Scotti’s riveting, ingeniously realized account is itself a masterly portrait of a world in transition. Combining her skills as a historian and a novelist, Scotti turns the tantalizing clues into a story of the painting’s transformation into the most familiar and lasting icon of all time.

I just don't know. Maybe I'll wait until it's on remainder (or whatever they call it in these days of all new rules for book buying).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sea Foam and the end of the road

The wind was blowing the waves into white caps and pushing foam up onto the sand today at Torrey Pines Park. We took a beautiful walk up the longest way to the top. We continued to where the park road meets the main road. The winding steep park road was once the main road from Los Angeles, now not it's even allowed for cars except the rangers' patrol vehicles.

The end of the road in fairy tales is usually a mysterious place, where perhaps you come up to a cliff or a forest too dense or too threatening to enter. In Torrey Pines park, the end is at a big chain-link fence protecting the golf course.

Monday, April 13, 2009


The gates to the gardens and front courtyards of the houses in our neighborhood are just as spectacular as the houses they protect.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Famous Hotel Del

Yesterday I discovered the connection between the Emerald City of Oz and Coronado, California. L.Frank Baum, once he had made some major money on The Wizard of Oz, began to spend long vacations at the luxurious Hotel del Coronado. The Crown Room, as illustrated here, retains its original chandeliers and amazing tongue-in-groove paneled ceilings. We managed to get ourselves in by approaching a security guard and asking if we could see it!
The Coronado was the first building in the San Diego area to use electric lighting -- as attested by the 1880s era power plant seen out the window of the Crown Room, and the crown lighting fixtures. Obviously, there's a Crown Room influence in the Emerald City, too.

The Lobby is in the old and wonderful Grand Hotel style, and also retains the original panelling and chandeliers. Somehow when many others were torn down, the Del was only neglected -- which means it was preserved. Its most famous moment in the run-down and seedy part of its history was its use as a cheap set for the film "Some Like it Hot."

The Grand Ballroom suffered from cheap modern rennovations -- we managed to get in by asking some wedding caterers if we could go into the door where they were loading stuff. Like the Crown Room, it wasn't really open to the public.

We enjoyed the visit to Coronado with Ellen and Alec. After our walk around the Hotel, we ate lunch at Rhinoceros. We visited the small museum which has an excellent pictorial and video presentation on L.Frank Baum, including a 10 minute excerpt from one of his World War I era Oz films -- all unsuccessful: he lost a lot of money in Hollywood.

Friday, April 10, 2009

From Edward Abbey

If I regret anything, it is my good behavior.
What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?

"The Pale Blue Eye: A Novel"

Louis Bayard's historical novel The Pale Blue Eye is a great read! I really loved it. The action takes place at West Point in 1830, and Edgar Allan Poe -- who was in actuality a student there -- is a major character. The mysterious deaths at the center of the plot, as well as the retired police detective charged with solving them, are the creation of the highly imaginative and scholarly author. I won't say more because I don't want to put in any spoilers.

The book is full of well-integrated details about life in that era -- I wrote about one aspect here: Food in a Historical Novel.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park are two wonderful places. The Wild Animal Park has large open spaces where some of the largest animals live and breed very happily -- rhinos, elephants, giraffes, gorillas. The zoo is smaller scale in some ways. But the huge polar bears are at the zoo. And the tiny butterflies in the special WAP exhibit can land on your hat or shirt so delicately that you don't feel a thing.