Let the Games Begin!

Kettler Cabo ping pong table on the patio
Our new ping pong table with a view.

We had a ping pong table gathering dust at our old home. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to move it or not. Our movers showed up with too small of a truck, they had to find a Uhaul to complete the move — so that set the nail in our ping pong table’s coffin. We donated it to Angel View Crippled Children’s Thrift Shop.

It had some good years of use. We raised our kids playing ping pong. We had relatives and friends over to play. The swim team played at our house. But lately, it had sat folded up in a corner in our garage.

Once we moved, I didn’t think about ping pong until our August beach vacation. At the park above the beach there were two concrete ping pong tables. My husband and played several games a day. We’d laugh so hard and it kept our heart rates going.

Summerland ping pong tables in a park
Beach ping pong at the park on concrete tables.

Then we went to Berkeley for a long weekend to visit the kids. My son found as an amazing airbnb that had a ping pong table in the living room. We played with the kids every evening. My son who had shoulder surgery had to play left handed and he was still beating us. It turns out that at his former job, they had a ping pong table at work. He played hours with someone he said was very good. It will be interesting to see how he does when his shoulder is healed and he plays us right handed.

airbnb with a ping pong table in the living room
Ping pong at the airbnb.

After the beach and Berkeley trips, I decided to order a new ping pong table. It would have been so much easier if we had kept the old one, but that’s like crying over spilt milk. We researched tables and decided we wanted one that was outdoor and could stand up to weather. I was so disappointed when it was delivered!

ping pong table in a box

The ping pong table arrived. Now about that “some assembly required.”

I’m usually pretty good at assembly required projects, but this one had me spooked. My husband cut open the box and there were multiple plastic packages of bolts, screws, nuts, etc. numbered starting at 40 going through the 50s, jumping over a hundred and ending at 128. My first step in assembly is making sure all the parts are there. I got out the instructions and they listed all the parts — but the numbers started at one and were consecutive — contrary to the contents in the box. I noticed the same type of screws in multiple bags. It completely overwhelmed me how to start.

My husband said, “Let’s send it back.”

I googled our area and ping pong tables. I found a game room guy. I called and asked if he’d assemble the table.

He said “Yes, next Wednesday for $450.”

My husband said, “Like I said. Send it back.”

I texted our realtor and asked if he knew anyone to assemble ping pong tables. He told me to use a website called Thumbtack.com. Good advice. They have service professionals at reasonable prices to do whatever you need. We found an affordable person who turned out to be a nice young man in his early 20s who assembled our ping pong table just like that for a fraction of the cost of my first quote.

So now I can say “Let the games begin!”

What fun activities do you like to do on vacation and at your house? Do you play ping pong or pool? What else do you do to stay active?

Do you like assembly required projects? How do you approach them?

How long would you wait for pizza? Hint: It’s Cheese Board.

Organic early girl tomato, onion, feta, mozzarella, garlic olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and the cilantro,  jalapeño sauce to dip or pour on a slice.

One of the highlights of visiting my kids in Berkeley is pizza at The Cheese Board Collective. This place opened in the Gourmet Ghetto more than 50 years ago and has a line every single day it’s open. It’s incredible. They make one type of pizza per day. Period. You can order one full pie or half a pie. If you want to order ahead — the minimum is eight pies. The staff is cooking as fast as humanly possible, pizza coming in and out of the oven into boxes and out the door. They’re only open for hot-out-of-the-oven pizza from 5 to 8 p.m. Often, they close sooner than 8 p.m. when they run out.

The only issue we had with the visit to Cheese Board this past weekend was my husband. He’s not a stand in line and wait kind of guy. Usually one of my kids will do that and bring the pizza to their apartment, where we’ll devour it. My son’s girlfriend was working, my daughter was also working, so my son suggested we go to the restaurant and eat.

Line around the corner down the street for pizza.
Waiting in line for pizza. Many people in line enjoyed a glass of wine that they brought for their groups.

My son called and said, “Dad’s going to freak. Don’t rush over here.” Cheese Board was located between our airbnb and our son’s apartment, an easy half mile walk for us.

When we arrived, our son was halfway through the three- or four-block line, 25 minutes in. My husband said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”

“Don’t you want to stand and talk to your son?” Our son countered.

So we stood, talked and people watched. It’s quite an experience and the end result is sheer deliciousness.

Line down the street for Cheese Board.
Looking down the street.
Cheese Board, Gourmet Ghetto
They let only a few people in to the register at a time due to COVID. Eating is out in front at a few tables and benches or take out at your own home.
In front of the Cheese Board store.
Turning the corner onto the final block, these people are almost there!
Cheese board outdoor dining.
People sitting and standing outside to eat “at the restaurant.”
Memorial to Cheese Board Founder Elizabeth Valoma.
A memorial to the founder. The Cheese Board is a collective and there are no employees, only owners.
Photo of Elizabeth Valoma.
A photograph of the founder.

I got a call from my daughter on her way home from work. “There’s no pizza left, right?”

How long would you wait in line at a restaurant? How long would you wait for a slice of pizza? Do you have restaurants in your area that have a following like this?

Talk about penny wise…

This is a post where I throw my husband under the bus. He wasn’t “pound foolish,” but rather flat out plain foolish. I know I wrote that I wasn’t going to complain about my husband ever again in this post, but that was so last week.

sunrise in the Sonoran desert reflected in swimming pool
Our first sunrise back at home.

We drove eight hours from Santa Barbara to our Arizona home on Saturday. The car hadn’t been driving as smoothly as it normally does. Anytime we got close to 80 mph it shook. It’s never done that before. But we managed to keep it in the 70s and we had an amazing drive home without hitting traffic.

Now for the penny wise part. After we unloaded the car, I noticed the right rear tire had gone flat. I had taken the car into the dealership twice — once for servicing last month and for a recall days before our trip. I was told both times that we needed to replace the two back tires. The first time I was told this, I called my husband. I didn’t trust the dealership because one, I’m a woman, and two, some dealerships try to upsell you. The being a woman thing in my experience is that I don’t know enough about cars and mechanics and dealerships can take advantage of that.

So I relied on my husband. He said the tires were fine. He didn’t want to spend the money — the penny wise part.

We were too tired to deal with the tire after our eight-hour drive on Saturday. We called Triple A Sunday morning to change the tire. The spare tire turned out to be a little skinny thing I call “the donut tire.” Triple A came three and a half hours later. My husband said when he saw the back tire, he was shocked. It was down to metal without tread! That was on the inside of the tire where he didn’t check it — obviously — when he told me we didn’t need new tires.

We called Costco and other tire stores and NOBODY had our tires. They said it was a supply chain issue. Service at the dealership was closed.

Last night, I noticed the donut tire and left rear tire were both losing air. I called the dealership this morning at 7 a.m. and the service person said they didn’t have the tires either! I called back and asked to order tires and the guy in the parts said they DID have the tires.

I told my husband I’d follow him to the dealership. He pumped up the donut tire and put in “fix a flat” and pumped up the left rear tire with a bicycle pump!

I prayed as I followed him for 25 minutes to the dealership, watching the tires get lower as he drove.

I was shaking when we finally made it. I am so thankful we didn’t have a blow out during our eight-hour drive home from California. It could have happened anytime — on the freeway through Los Angeles — or in the desert in 110 plus heat without any cell service. We could have been stuck anywhere along the way with NO tires for days. As annoying and inconvenient as the past two days were, we are safe and it could have been a whole lot worse.

green desert views after monsoons
It must have rained while we were gone. The desert is so lush and green. Even the hillsides are green.

Have you or a family member ever been penny wise and pound foolish? In what ways? Would you do things differently if you had a chance? Have you had any experience with car dealerships or mechanics taking advantage of your lack of car knowledge?

Sights and sounds from beach walks

I’m feeling very distressed with the news of 12 of our courageous military killed this morning. I am worried about 24 children from San Diego who haven’t been able to get to the airport in Kabul. I wasn’t in the mood to post, but as I’m waiting to hear from the President, I’m looking through the photos and videos on my iphone.

I’m sharing some of the joyful sights I’ve seen the past week. Horses on the beach with a cattle dog herding them with tireless energy. Pelicans flying and floating on waves. A sunset at Carpinteria State Beach. Shore birds hunting for sand crabs in the waves.

Watch the dog herding the horses.
Curlew at the beach
Curlew.
White egret on the shore
Egret.
Pelicans flying and riding the waves.
sunset at Carpinteria State Beach.
Sunset at Carpinteria State Beach.
Horses and cattle dog in the ocean.
The horses and cattle dog.
Sandpipers.

California Day Trip to Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach sign at the entrance to the pier.
The Pismo Beach sign at the pier.

Yesterday we drove up the coast to Pismo Beach. My husband, who is third generation Californian has never been there. I’ve never been there, either. It’s only an hour and a half drive north from Santa Barbara and we’ve always talked about exploring it. The drive is easy on the 101 along the Pacific Ocean to Gaviota. Then the highway goes inland through horse country and vineyards.

The boardwalk downtown Pismo Beach.
The boardwalk to the pier downtown Pismo Beach.

There’s a huge state park, lots of RVs and campers. Cars can drive on the sand along the ocean. We walked around downtown and walked out on the pier. We found a restaurant called Splash Cafe that had lines of more than 20 people at all times. It looked great for chowder and fish and chips and had plenty of outdoor seating. Unfortunately we weren’t hungry at the time we spotted it. By the time we were ready for lunch, we were in another town and stopped at a place recommended by friends. It was one of only two times we’ve paid the bill and walked out after taking a few bites.

Although I love the beach and the spectacular views from the pier, I felt so so about Pismo Beach. I think it was the strong wind from the ocean. Also, there’s a hodgepodge of industrial, farming and residential all mixed together. There were some cute beachy residential areas, but all in all, I like Carpinteria, Summerland and Santa Barbara more. Also Ventura and Laguna Beach.

Not LA, Not the Bay sign on surf shop.
Funny sign on a surf shop in Pismo Beach.
Pismo sign on a building downtown.
Downtown Pismo.
View of the ocean and beach from Pismo Beach pier.
Beach view from the pier.
The pier in Pismo Beach
The pier in Pismo Beach.

I’m glad we made the trip. It’s fun to explore new areas and see new sights.

Where is a new place you’ve recently visited?

Did you love it or did you want to leave it?

Evacuation and vaccinations in the news

Summerland beach park. Palm and ocean views.
Photo from the park above the beach in Summerland.

While on vacation, I couldn’t help but hear the words evacuation and vaccinations repeatedly. I thought to myself, evacuation, vacation, vaccination. What do they all have in common? They contain “VAC.” I decided to see if there’s a connection of meaning behind the three words.

From Miriam Webster online:

Definition of evacuation

1: the act or process of evacuating 2: something evacuated or discharged

Definition of vaccine

1: a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease: such as a: an antigenic preparation of a typically inactivated or attenuated (see ATTENUATED sense 2) pathogenic agent (such as a bacterium or virus) or one of its components or products (such as a protein or toxin)a trivalent influenza vaccineoral polio vaccineMany vaccines are made from the virus itself, either weakened or killed, which will induce antibodies to bind and kill a live virus. Measles vaccines are just that, weakened (or attenuated) measles viruses.— Ann Finkbeiner et al.… a tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine might be recommended for wound management in a pregnant woman if [greater than or equal to] 5 years have elapsed … .— Mark Sawyer et al.In addition the subunit used in a vaccine must be carefully chosen, because not all components of a pathogen represent beneficial immunological targets.— Thomas J. Matthews and Dani P. Bolognesi b: a preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)… Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine … works by injecting a small piece of mRNA from the coronavirus that codes for the virus’ spike protein. … mRNA vaccine spurs the body to produce the spike protein internally. That, in turn, triggers an immune response.— Susie Neilson et al.The revolutionary messenger RNA vaccines that are now available have been over a decade in development. … Messenger RNA enters the cell cytoplasm and produces protein from the spike of the Covid-19 virus.— Thomas F. CozzaViral vector vaccines, another recent type of vaccine, are similar to DNA and RNA vaccines, but the virus’s genetic information is housed in an attenuated virus (unrelated to the disease-causing virus) that helps to promote host cell fusion and entry.— Priya Kaur

NOTE: Vaccines may contain adjuvants (such as aluminum hydroxide) designed to enhance the strength and duration of the body’s immune response. 2: a preparation or immunotherapy that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against noninfectious substances, agents, or diseasesThe U.S. Army is also testing a ricin vaccine and has reported success in mice.— Sue Goetinck Ambrose… many of the most promising new cancer vaccines use dendritic cells to train the immune system to recognize tumor cells.— Patrick Barry

Definition of vacation

 1: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. I had a restful vacation at the beach 2a: a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b: a period of exemption from work granted to an employee 3: a respite or a time of respite from something INTERMISSION 4: an act or an instance of vacating

vac
This ROOT-WORD is VAC which comes from the Latin vocare which means TO EMPTY. There seems to be a difference between our ideas of VACancy and the continental idea of the same word. To us VACant means EMPTY, exactly as the Latin Root says. To the French and British it means freedom from the job, time off from the job.

After doing more searches online, I’ve discovered that vaccine comes from the Latin vacca, the root word for cow — not vac for empty. Here’s a tidbit of information I found interesting:

In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner infected a young boy with cowpox. Later, when he injected the child with the deadly smallpox virus, he did not get sick. And thus, the first vaccine was born, saving millions of lives and immortalizing cows in public health. (The word vaccine is derived from the Latin word vacca for “cow.”) Or so the legend goes. But the story is probably wrong, according to a report published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. That’s because the vaccine used to prevent smallpox was likely horsepox, not cowpox, researchers say. The latest bit of evidence comes from the historic containers above, which held a smallpox vaccine

Why the word ‘vaccine’ is probably all wrong

In conclusion, the only thing vaccinations and evacuations have in common is the wall to wall coverage in the news. Vacation and evacuation do share the same root word and are all about vacating.

Do you have any thoughts on vaccinations, evacuations or vacation? Two out of three are hot topics. If you want to share your opinions, I’m open to hearing them.

A taste of the Santa Barbara Harbor

One of the best things about beach vacations to me is fresh seafood. For more than 30 years, we’ve gone to a restaurant with fresh, fresh seafood in Santa Barbara. It’s called Brophy Bros. and it overlooks the boats at the Marina.

steamed clams at Brophy's Santa Barbara
Linguine and clams at Brophy Bros. at the marina in Santa Barbara

Brophy’s added a small taco shop with outdoor tables downstairs called On the Alley.

Whenever we’re in Santa Barbara we stop at On the Alley. This past trip we went twice for fish tacos. And we took our good friends to Brophy Bros. to treat them to dinner after enjoying many of their home-cooked meals. They introduced us to the restaurant in the early 1990s!

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the Farmer’s Market and had a hankering for a fish taco. On the Alley had a huge line out the door to order. They had people milling around in droves waiting for picnic tables to sit. They held on to their order numbers, hoping to to sit down before the food arrived. I saw some people sitting on the curb.

wave crashing at breakwall Santa Barbara marina
A wave crashing over the breakwall at the Santa Barbara Marina. We walk here after meals.

My husband suggested going upstairs to the main Brophy’s restaurant. The hostess stationed at the bottom of the stairs told us it would be an hour wait for a table. But the bar was first come first serve.

Guess what? Two seats smack in the center of the bar — complete with open air marina views — were ours! We each had a cup of chowder and split an order of fish and chips. My year-long quest for the best fish and chips is over! The fish was piping hot, moist, delicious and the batter was light, crunchy and not heavy.

View from the Brophy Brothers bar
View from the bar at Brophy’s Santa Barbara where we had cups of chowder and fish and chips.

Well worth the wait — but even better without it.

Do you have favorite restaurants to go to on vacation? Or certain food you savor? What are they?

Baja fish tacos from On the Alley.
Sunset at the harbor.