Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

It took me an hour to carve this pumpkin last night and hopefully it will make it through tonight without getting smashed or otherwise destroyed. This is the first time I've tried something other than the traditional triangle eyes and nose, toothy jack-o-lantern. I always thought the cheap little carving knives would fall apart on the first cut, but they worked! Hope you all have a fun Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spooky yard

This yard in my neighborhood has it all - a ghost, spiders, spiderwebs, skeletons, gravestones, ghouls, pirate flag, headless horseman carriage, bats, and other creepy creatures!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No trespassing

This skeleton at the door might keep some trick-or-treaters away.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Webbed in

Local business are keeping it creepy in the spirit of Halloween. I was happy to see this rainbow on this wall in Hillcrest, because this rainbow on another building has been painted over.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Are you ready for some Halloween? This scary shackled ghost keeps solicitors away from the Jones' house.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The great green pumpkin

On a small strip between the sidewalk and the curb, these neighbors planted a variety of flowers and vegetables. I was surprised to find these Japanese pumpkins (called kabocha) under the foliage. The flowers, and the veggies, really bring this corner alive.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zig zag

This is the upper portion of a fountain at UCSD near the Price Center (the campus' hub). Click here to see the lower portion. During the annual SunGod Festival held in May, the fountain has turned into a playground for partying co-eds: it has been filled with suds, people have gone scuba diving in it, and some tried kayaking.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ché Café

Here is one of the outside walls at the Ché Café, a student co-operative on the University of California San Diego campus. They have a vegetarian cafe and host all ages concerts. Do you know who these famous people are? Karl Marx, Cesar Chavez, then ?, and ?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sniffed Out

At the Zoo, normally the bears are either asleep in their den, or hidden at the back of their exhibit, teasing you with a view of their shoulder. On a recent trip, however, we had an up close encounter. I felt like he gave us a good look and sniff - from across the great divide separating us, of course.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ATM gone wild

Here's an easy one. Can you guess where this automated teller machine (ATM) is located?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Old neighbors

These two buildings are on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter downtown just a few blocks from where the Jessop's clock originally stood. The building on the left is called the Louis Bank of Commerce building (1888) and to the right is the Nesmith-Greeley Building (1887).
I'm in awe of this brick work!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jessop's clock

Have you ever wondered about this spectacular clock on the lower level at Horton Plaza shopping mall? The clock was built by a young watchmaker named Claude D. Ledger for J. Jessop and Sons Jewelry in 1907. They entered the clock in the state fair in Sacramento that year and won first place. After the fair, the clock was installed in front of the store at 952 Fifth Avenue. It has moved two times since then - once in 1927 and then in 1984 to its current spot at Horton Plaza. Click here to read more of the clock's history and some fun facts. Click here to enlarge the photo to the left and see a few of the real jewels and a little bell set in the inner workings. For those of you that can see it in person, look for a little bear in the clock which was stuck there by a child during the 1907 fair.

It's ticking again - 11/5/09 - click here to read the story.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Look up

Here are two top panels from buildings at Balboa Park that I thought were beautifully detailed. The photo above is of the top corner of the Museum of Art. The photo below is a little piece of the Casa de Balboa building where the several naked ladies are the support for the eaves.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Balboa Park Club

Here is another one of the beautiful buildings in Balboa Park, this one is called the Balboa Park Club. It was built for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and later expanded for the 1935 exposition. The building is used for parties, banquets or meetings and has a large ballroom with a wood dance floor. I've always wanted to check out the old cactus garden which is located near this building.

Friday, October 16, 2009

China Camp

The China Camp restaurant has been around for ages, but I've never been there. I've always wanted to go because the hot pink neon around the place is so very enticing. Anyone been to the China Camp or the Fat City Steakhouse that is next door?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Time!

It is that time of year - that special time when parents of young children feel themselves compelled to take their kids to a pumpkin patch. I think it's something especially attractive to those of us who live in the city. Something about the month of October says, "Go to a farm! Doesn't matter if it's a real farm or a pretend farm! Just go to a farm!"

What's great about the pumpkin patch that we like to visit is that it is actually a working dairy farm. Somehow, to me, that feels a bit more respectable. The Van Ommering Dairy Farm opens Oma's Pumpkin Patch for the month of October each year. And each year, they seem to add a few fun activities for visitors, which are made better because there is one price for entry; everything is included (even a small pumpkin for the children to take home!).

So if you, like me, have little voices filling your head begging you to get back to your farming roots (even if those roots are several generations behind you), I suggest a visit to Oma's.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Work in progress

I peeked into these backyards in Encinitas because the sun at the back caught my eye.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kearns pool

They literally swam less back then...and still do today. I'm not sure when the Bud Kearns Memorial Pool opened, but it is the only pool in the Parks and Rec Aquatics that is 22 yards long instead of 25 yards long and by the looks of the building it is probably one of the oldest of the 13 pools as well.
But isn't it so charming with this beautiful tile work? Click here to see more of the tile work inside the building.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Play me didgeridoo, Blue..

Expat shares with us an exceptional moment at the market:
At the Farmer's Market (every Sunday 9-1 in the DMV parking lot on Normal Street) there's always live music of some kind. Most often it's one of those folk groups that coalesce by magic, like mariachi bands, from whatever musicians happen along. Occasionally it's a lone guitarist. Very rarely, it's a didgeridoo-ist (is that a word?)

The Sunday before last, we were privileged to have the folk group in the middle and the didgeridoo at the South end, by all the mangoes and peaches. I guess you could not just listen to this weird, haunting drone, but actually BUY a didgeridoo if you were in the mood. I didn't ask the price because I don't have storage space for an instrument I would never have enough breath for at my age. But I kind-of liked listening for a while.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The town of Julian is just outside the Cleveland National Forest. You can see from this sign that the fire danger level is now at EXTREME.

I've always called him "Smokey the Bear", but the mascot's official name is "Smokey Bear". He was created in 1944 by the US Forest Service to teach forest fire prevention - looking good at 65 years old.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fire and rescue

Julian has a number of fire protection services, most of which are volunteer. The town was hard hit by the wildfires in 2003 and fires came very close to the town in 2007.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It's all about the crust...

We got about a 5 pound bag of apples from our apple picking in Julian. This is really too many apples unless you have a big family of apple lovers or if you follow the "apple a day keeps the doctor away" rule. So, I made this apple galette to make the apples more palatable and use up a handful of apples.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flowers at Influx Cafe

The other night while visiting Influx Cafe, these flowers were pointed out to me. They're so strange! They felt leathery, and oddly hairy. Super strange. I don't know anything about the type of plant, except to say that it's a type of cactus. Also, I have no idea what might pollinate it. I'd guess bat by the look of it, but they didn't have any smell that I could detect. Does anyone out there know what this might be?

Influx is an awesome little cafe on Broadway that really is a must place to visit. You will become a regular.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Julian - the view

We kind of got side tracked in Julian and ended up on this hillside. Very pretty and idyllic.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Apple picking

We went to Julian to go apple picking, but unfortunately the crop this year was pretty low. Many of the orchards have either closed for the season or did not open at all due to low yield. There are a few places still open for the season. We went to Raven Hill Orchard and the trees were pretty bare but we found some good ones on the ground and got to fill our bags full from a box that the orchard had harvested. If you are thinking of going to pick apples - go now! If you don't care about picking your own apples, don't worry, there are plenty to be had in the shops around town.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Day trip to Julian

Julian is a mountain town about one hour from San Diego. It is a gold rush town with some of the buildings dating back to the 1870s. The town is best known for its apples - apple cider, apple butter, and especially their apple pie. The pies are so popular they are sold in lots of supermarkets in San Diego.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Coast Guard

For some reason I never thought of the Coast Guard as a military branch, but they are a branch of the military and part of the Homeland Security department. Thus, they have a station out at the Ballast Point Naval Base. Here they are parking the Sea Otter.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Point

I saw Ballast Point described somewhere as the thumb of the Point Loma peninsula. So, I was standing at the thumb when I took this photo and I thought about what an outstanding landmark the Point is and how fortunate we are to have the Cabrillo National Park and Monument there. (I haven't been watching the Ken Burns series on National Parks - the run of the show on KPBS ends this weekend). Here are two other views of the point - one from Midtown and one from Coronado beach.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Who's afraid of Manny Ramirez?

Expat takes us out to the ball game: That's Manny at bat, in this bird's-eye-view of Petco Park, taken in the 2nd inning of the game on Tuesday, 9/9/09 in which the Padres made quite sure the Dodger champagne remained firmly closed by whacking them 3-1. Manny went 0 for 4, haha.

Since the Colorado Rockies also won that night, the Dodgers were forced to wait at least one more day before claiming the NL West Division championship.

Our spectacular view was from the "Ultimate Skybox" on the 15th floor of the Diamond View Tower, courtesy of Morgan Stanley. The party was to thank Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney clients for not deserting them after all our accounts crashed last year. Something like that, anyway. An open bar and a Padres victory over the Dodgers, can't be bad.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cleaning the Balboa Park Pond

On a recent trip to the park, I ran across these guys carefully picking the dead leaves out of the water. It was actually kind of mesmerizing, watching them slowly weave through the water, pluck-pluck-plucking, then weaving away again, winding around the pool.

I never thought about the fact that you'd have to have someone going through there once in a while to keep it nice! Who knew?!