Saturday, April 29, 2006

Things I Will Miss (not really) #2

Today's post is about Cannery Row. John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. John Steinbeck the writer who wrote a book called Cannery Row. He also wrote books called The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and The Pearl, among others. He was a very famous writer. He also happened to live in Salinas, about 15 miles from here, and I have had the interesting experience of growing up alongside the actual Cannery Row. I also used to work at a bank that was in the building in which Steinbeck wrote The Pearl, but I digress.
When I was a kid in the 60's, Cannery Row was just that, a section of town full of sardine canneries. By the time I came along the sardines had dried up and most of the canneries had closed and lay in various stages of disrepair and ruin. As a teen we used to go down to the water and crawl up under the canneries and party. We had friends that ran away from home and actually lived under the canneries. Those were fun times. I'm serious. There was never anyone down there, just a few shops, a really cool record store called Odyssey Records, and a movie theater called The 812 Cinema which had no seats, only giant pillows. I saw The Song Remains The Same there about 15 times, well at least I saw the first part, I was always really stoned and would fall asleep during the movie all the time. It was a fun and scenic place to party and hang out.
During the 70's many of the canneries burned down under suspicious circumstances, arson was always suspected but never proven. I always figured that was a good way for the cannery owners to get rid of their worthless crumbling buildings that were on prime waterfront property, so that they could build new, more profitable structures there. And that is what happened. And this was the thing that really kickstarted the touristy ruination of my beloved old Cannery Row:


The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Now don't get me wrong, I love the aquarium, it is the best, we go at least once a year, it's awesome and I have always felt fortunate to live so close to something so cool. But let me tell you, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row is gone, replaced by Bubba Gump's and TGIFriday's. It makes me sick. Yes, they have tried to maintain the visual integrity of the old Row, but inside the old looking buildings are Starbucks and tons of gift shops full of tacky stuff you hope nobody brings back to you from a visit. Here are some pictures I took just the other day, I felt dirty after taking them, too much like a tourist.

Oh, they look like the old canneries from the street, here is what they actually are.

Three Hundred Dollar A Night Hotels! Let's go further down the Row.

This is probably one of the more unchanged views on Cannery Row, but don't be fooled--

The tour buses are coming! Let's proceed. As we go further into the sick touristy heart of the beast, we start to see the shops, how can we not, for they are everywhere! Here are some interesting ones-

I have never been into After The Quake but I would like to imagine it is a store full of broken stuff, after all, it is AFTER the quake! Here is a shot of the old Monterey Canning Company building, it's original, on the outside anyway.

That's where the Starbucks is, have yourself a Grande Iced Half Caf Non Fat Caramel Macchiatto! Then go across the street and pay homage to the bust of the great author himself, John Steinbeck:

Somehow I don't recall reading about a Sunglass Hut in his book!

OK I think you get the picture. The Thing I Will Miss is the Thing I Have Already Been Missing For 20 Years.

I'm exhausted.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Things I Will Miss #1

Today I took a ride around town and took some pictures of the things that I will miss on the Monterey Peninsula. The first thing is one of my very favorite places to eat, Turtle Bay Taqueria.

They serve "Mexican Coastal Cuisine", which means a lot of seafood in a tropical setting. I always get the same thing, a grilled shrimp bowl. I realize I am in a rut, but I did try something else one time and did not like it as well, and we don't go often enough for me to get tired of it. It's great! Black beans, wild rice and this stuff which I LOVE called caribbean salad, all in a bowl topped with grilled shrimp and their fantastic salsa. I took a picture but it seems kind of blurry.

I know there are a lot of good restaurants up in Spokane, I hope at least one is as delicious and inexpensive as Turtle Bay.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Heartbreak In The School Lunchroom

Every other Wednesday I volunteer my time in Leo's school selling Ice Cream during lunch. My table is set up in the back corner of the lunchroom. (I would call it a cafeteria, but they don't cook the food there.) Today at the back table sitting about five feet from me was a boy, about 3rd grade I'd guess. He had gotten in trouble during P.E. and so he was sitting all by himself. And he was crying. At first I didn't know why he was crying, but I figured it out. He was crying because he couldn't have any ice cream. And every time I sold one to the other kids, he cried harder. I sold 117 ice creams today, let me tell you, that kid was a wreck. He just kept staring at me all red faced and teary, I felt awful! Note to Principal Nelson: If you're going to punish a kid by taking away his ice cream privilege, DON'T SIT HIM RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE ICE CREAM!! I can't take it!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Sweep!

I am in a Bunco group, and April is my month to host the game. Since I didn't want to mess up my house between real estate showings, I hosted it at another player's house. As host, it is up to me to find substitute players if any of the regulars can't make it, since there always needs to be 12 players for Bunco. Well, 2 of the regulars couldn't make it, so I had my boys substitute for them. And guess what, we all won! I won First Prize of $30, Leo won Third Prize and Pass Around for a total of $25, and Max won the Booby Prize of $10. So between the 3 of us we walked away with half the prize money. My kids earned every bit of that money, because about half the players are over 80, and it was like my kids had a bunch of inquisitive grandmas asking them the same questions over and over about school and moving. They were very good about it though, and I think they actually may have had a little fun. I just asked Max if he had fun and he said "I won ten dollars." So there you go. Next month will be my last time playing with the group I have been in for eight years. I am hoping to find a Bunco group in Spokane. If anyone has any leads let me know.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just Another Sunday Dinner With Family

Leo and I went over to my niece's house for dinner this evening, she was barbequeing steaks and had made macaroni and cheese, greens and green bean casserole. Out of the blue my brother (her dad) shows up. With him as always is his rottweiler Freida. Freida is a good dog but she is big and playful and doesn't know her own strength. And my niece Nichole has a toy poodle named Presley but we call him Parsley and my brother calls him Pepito or Pee Pee, I do not know why. Freida and Parsley get along famously and it's fun to watch them interact because of the massive size difference. Anyway. It's a barbecue and there are people all inside and out eating, and people kept giving Freida pieces of meat and other food, and then my grand niece Eraya who is 5 fed Freida some leftover fish from a restaurant they went to yesterday. I was right there and saw the whole thing. I didn't think Freida would eat the fish but she did, it had some kind of sauce on it and I bet it was pretty good at the restaurant yesterday. So I go into the kitchen to wash my hands and I come out into the living room to find it in total pandemonium. Freida had come in the house and barfed a pile of barf like I had never seen, it was huge! My grand niece Kristina chimes in with "God Frieda, what did you eat, a sock?" Nichole starts swearing because her nice clean carpet now has a giant pile of barf on it, and I head for the door. Outside I encounter my brother and say "You better get a shovel, Frieda just barfed", then, don't ask me why, I turned around and looked back, only to see little Parsley chowing down on the Giant Pile O Barf. Now Nichole is freaking out because not only does she have giant barf in her house but her little dog is making a meal out of it. Now I am practically running out to the side of the house so that I can crack up and not piss off any of my family. So Leo and I are sitting outside laughing and my brother comes around the corner with the area rug of barf and gets rid of it and after burying the huge barf pile he comes and sits down next to us. I cannot stop laughing at this point. Then Eraya, who is quite the entertainer in her own right, comes outside and says "I have a song for you", so she stands on a chair, and using a My Little Pony coloring book as a megaphone starts singing this at the top of her lungs:


Apparently I was laughing so hard that I could not breathe and my brother had to tell Eraya, "Stop singing, you'll kill your aunt!"

Oh God I Will Miss Them.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cramming 44 years of memories into a blog

It has been suggested to me by more than one of my friends (that used to live here but now don't) that I should be taking lots of pictures of here because it is so beautiful, etc. I think that is a good idea and so I will be starting a sporadic series of not just pictures of the Monterey Peninsula but pictures that either have relevance to my life today, or that can be connected with a story or memory I have. To start things off, here is a picture that is neither relevant or has a story, but it is a very famous touristy place that I never go to.

The Lone Cypress is in Pebble Beach, a gated community that if I, a lifetime resident of here, want to get in to, I have to pay $8.50 like the rest of the tourists or on a Saturday I could lie and say I'm going to a yard sale so the guard will wave me through. I never go to Pebble Beach. It's for tourists, rich people and golfers, and I am none of those things. I never go to Carmel either. Not even to the beach.

Look for future posts with pictures of stuff that I am actually going to miss. One thing I will really miss is the Feast of Lanterns. It's hard to explain what it is, it's a hokey little pageant that takes place in Pacific Grove in July, but I love it.
P.S. I just went to the Feast of Lanterns website, they have a photo album, and Leo and I are in the background of one of the pictures, how funny!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Linking Makes The World Go 'Round

Every day I read the blogs of people in Spokane. The topics range from food to restaurant reviews to city development updates to nothing. Today on a couple of the blogs the buzz is about a high rise that is trying to get approval to build in downtown Spokane. People seem to be excited about the direction the city is going in, a direction of growth and change. This makes me excited too! I am looking forward to seeing the development and renewal of the downtown area firsthand.
So this morning I tried to figure out how to get links to the Spokane bloggers on my blog and I think I actually figured it out! Try the links if you want, hope they work for you. Maybe soon I will put links to other websites and blogs that I like.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Springtime Fresh Leftovers

Last week I came back from Grocery Outlet at 1:45 pm only to discover that people were coming over for a house showing at 2pm! So I had a ton of groceries to put away and be out in 15 minutes. Leo helped me by putting some of the stuff away for me. Here is how he helped me--He put the box of dryer sheets in the ziplock/foil/saran wrap drawer. Bless his heart. I found them in there 2 or 3 days later, and by that time they had imparted their Springtime Freshness to everything else in the drawer. So now when I put leftovers in a ziplock, I know I will not be eating them later because the taint of Springtime is upon them. My kids have not noticed the taint, I think it's because they wolf the food down in teenage boy fashion, hardly tasting it. But I know. And I'm not telling them!

The Cousins are Grown!

My ex is one of 6 kids. Therefore, there are a lot of nieces and nephews, whom I have always affectionately referred to as The Cousins. My 2 boys are in the younger end of the age range, and Leo at age 11 is the youngest Cousin. I was able to get a picture of several of the Cousins at Easter, but only 5 out of 13 total. The 2 on the left are Joe and Erin. When Joe was 5 and Erin was 3 their mom left their dad and they all lived with us for about 6 months. Dana and I were newlyweds with no kids yet, so having 2 little ones around was a fun, eye opening experience. We all look back on that time with great fondness. Well, that was 20 years ago, Joe and Erin are 25 and 23 and it Blows My Mind! I still can't get over seeing them drinking beer, how can they be old enough? So back to the picture, Max is in the middle and Leo is in front, and behind Leo is Patrick. I remember babysitting him and when you would ask him what his name was he would say "Pakick". We called him that for years. Memories are good and bad at the same time, a huge reminder of how time passes. I'm really glad I got this picture.
So I went into the photo archives and found the picture of how I will always remember The Cousins:

They have all grown into such cool people. Patrick and Joe are in front, Erin is on the right, and the toddler on the left is Max, Leo wasn't around yet. And here is another picture I found and just had to post, of my boys when they were little. It's such a goofy picture, and I am sure they will be mad if they see it on here, but so what!

They are sporting pipe cleaner hats, glasses and necklaces. Tres chic!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Overheard on Easter Morning

"Hey, get out of my basket!"

"Why, you made me eat a dog biscuit yesterday."

"Yeah, well, you videotaped me on the toilet!"

I will let you figure out who said what.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Coffee At Home Again

I have not been making coffee at home lately. It started when I went to Spokane last month and got hooked on the White Chocolate Mocha from the Rocket Bakery on 14th that tasted like cake. When I got back to Monterey I was totally jaded about my little Black and Decker one cup Brew N Go coffemaker in which I brewed Yuban or Maxwell House. So I quit making coffee and instead started frequenting Starbucks which is not that great compared to my Spokane Nirvana Cake Coffee and also expensive. I needed to find a balance somehow while still filling my daily caffeine requirement. What to do, what to do...
So last week I was at Shannon's house and she served me a cup of coffee which was pretty good tasting and had foam on top. Yes, she has a Senseo machine. I thought, this is do-able. So I started looking for deals in stores and on the internet. I ended up finding a blue one at Target, the blue ones were $15 cheaper than the black or white ones, which Max thinks is racial appliance discrimination but I think is good for my wallet. I brought it home yesterday and have had 3 cups of coffee so far and while it will never be the cake-coffee they serve in Heaven, it is certainly good enough for someone like me who creams and sugars the crap out of coffee anyway.
The only drawback so far is that everytime I look into my kitchen from where I sit at my desk, I see my little blue Senseo and it just looks depressed to me. It reminds me of those old Tex Avery cartoons from the 40's and 50's where inanimate objects are animated. It looks like it's tired and just gave up, all hunched over and sighing. See if you agree with me:

So I better cheer it up and make it feel useful by giving me another cup! Tune in for my next post, which will be titled, "Coffee Jitters"!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What The Hell?

Tonight Leo and I went to the open house at his school. During the open house week they also have the Scholastic Book Fair going on in the library. Seeing as this is my last elementary school open house (between my 2 kids I have gone to 11 open houses at that school-wow!) we go down to the Book Fair where I purchased a cookbook called Fast, Cheap and Good. But that's not what made me say What The Hell in the school library, it was this book:

I am horrified to realize that the generation of kids growing up today have no idea who the Beatles are. I was a little kid in the 60's but my sister and brother were much older so I knew all the Beatles songs back then. And I have made sure that my kids know who The Beatles are from a young age. Max could barely talk, but I would hold him in my arms and we would name the Beatles from the poster I had put up in his room, he would say "Don, Pol, Doe and Wingo, the Beetos". When both my kids were babies one of my favorite things to do with them was hold them close and sing "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" to them. Believe me, they know who the Beatles are. And Led Zeppelin, Kool and the Gang, James Brown, The Temptations, Devo, I could go on and on. I believe as parents we have a responsibility to give a sense of not just music history but pop culture and family history, as well as history book history. They need to know that their generation is not the be all and end all. Mine is. Just kidding!

Coming back from the open house this evening listening to Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothing", I commented that when I get old, the retirement communities are going to be bumping, and he said "Yeah, it'll be all, wave your cane in the air like you don't care!" He understands. My job is done.

An Embarrassing House Selling Story

Everyone who has ever sold a home has one. My friend Shannon told me about the time when her house was on the market and she came home one morning after being gone for 20 minutes to take the kids to school. When she got home there was a realtor and a couple in her kitchen full of not only the previous night's dinner dishes but also crawling with ants. She wanted to die!

Here is my story.

I was putting away laundry and all of a sudden my cat Dolly decided to attack my cat Grace, just randomly out of nowhere, and quite visciously at that. Grace ran towards the front door with Dolly hot on her tail. I ran to the front door, flung it open, and in my loudest motherly voice said "One of you had better get out!" Both cats froze so I upped it a notch and started yelling "GO ON GET OUT!!!".

Then I looked up.

In the street right out in front of my house was a woman standing by her car, frozen in fear from my yelling. Immediately I think, Oh God, she thinks I am yelling at my kids and she is going to call CPS on me. She very quietly says Hello, and I smile and say Hello to her. I didn't say anything else but I grabbed Grace and put her out the door, hoping the woman would see that I was yelling at cats not kids. Then I shut the door and it occurs to me, this woman is in a business suit and driving a Mercedes, I'll bet she is a realtor. Then I get a phone call. It is my realtor saying, "there is a realtor with a couple driving in your neighborhood and they want to know if you can show the house on short notice." I said ok, but they never came back, probably because they thought they were walking in on a case of domestic abuse, when in reality I was just breaking up a cat fight. I can't believe I scared away people from my house. I am so embarrassed. Please come back people, come back and buy my house, I promise not to yell at you!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Just waiting now...

So my house has been on the market for a week. We have had 2 open houses and several showings, all of which require us to be gone from the house, often with very little notice. So for a week I have been on a heightened state of alert, making sure the house stays clean and buyer-ready. I am totally worn out from this. Not that it's that much work, but the mental toll is huge. What I have to figure out is how to keep the house clean without getting all stressed out. I know! Would anybody like 2 children to live at their house for a while? They're good kids, they're just MESSY!!!
Actually, they are getting better at keeping things picked up. So am I. I am fervently hoping that this is a habit that will carry over to the new house. OK, off to do laundry now!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Thank You Susan Lynn

Here is a picture of me with my brother Rick and my sister Sue in the middle. I would like to take a moment and publicly and heartfelt-ly thank my sister for helping me clean my house and make it ready for the broker's open house we had today. She came down from San Jose with her cleaning supplies and cleaned one of my bathrooms and vacuumed and dusted everywhere else while I put things away so it looks like nobody lives here. She was also here over the weekend for the Max room painting extravaganza. After we were done cleaning we went to Target and bought some new bathroom stuff like towels and shower curtains and candles to make the house more inviting. She is very domestic and knows how to decorate well, that part of the gene pool was totally watered down by the time I came along twelve years after she did. She has been totally supportive and unselfish in her help and I can honestly say that I could not have made it to today without her. Thank you Susan Lynn, I love you!

PS Also I have to give a shout-out to my grandniece Kristina, she was a big help yesterday too.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Putting the Pain in Painting!

Today we painted Max's room. Well, got about 2/3 of the way done painting it. The reason we had to paint it at all is that Max is an artist and lately his medium has been spray paint. He knows he cannot spray graffiti all over town so he decided to "give his room an urban feel" as he put it. Oh Brother. Now, I have always supported Max in his art, I still have the drawing of Jonny the Smoking Baby that he did when he was five years old, and I do have great appreciation for his talent in all it's forms. However, he knew that we were getting ready to sell the house when he urbaned it up! Grrrrrr...oh well, more painting is in store for tomorrow.

Here is a stencil he created recently, pretty cool I think!