Conversational journeys over cups of chai, at home and abroad.



I was out for a walk and the sun was warm, and I tried to remember why I don’t do this more often.  Then I rounded a corner and passed by a very happy group of violets snuggling together in their bed, and I made a promise to myself (for the millionth time) that I wouldn’t forget how great this felt. Then I heard a playful growl, and saw a pair of handsome eyes staring out from behind a fence.  It’s a good thing his tail was attached to his body because he could have lost it with all the wagging going on.  He stuck his wet nose out at me and let me pet him, but then he’d had enough of that, and instead grabbed a bone he’d been chewing on and teased me with it.  Somehow I wrestled it from him and threw it as far as I could, and he brought it back so he could tease me some more.  After a few more throws he was bored, so he laid down and pressed his body against the fence so I’d pet him again.  A few days later I walked that same route, but the dog wasn’t there… and I missed him. — Patty

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Dr. Seuss and The Sandman

Mom and I, and Auntie Peggy and Laura drove around Old Town Santa Barbara looking for a Huell Howser landmark.  It wasn’t easy to find.  Mom spotted it first, and we turned down an alley off of Haley and State, and there it was.  It was magnificent.  Its footprint is small – only 20′ x 20′, so they gave it some height instead – 4 floors.  Mom told us that it took some heavy politicking and finagling before the city would approve the design of this building, but it was well worth the fight.  It’s called the Ablitt House.  The interior living space is about 700 square feet, and I can’t wait to go back for an indoor tour.  It is unique and whimsical and curvy and tall and handsome, and looks like the type of place Dr. Seuss would conjure up if he was into city planning.

Later that day, we had just finished up the Sunday art walk along the beach and were stepping onto the pier to hunt down some margaritas when we passed by this sand sculpture.  The man who created it is homeless, and asked for donations if photos were to be taken, which I gladly paid.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Sandman!” he shouted back.

“You’re very talented.  Did you go to art school?”

“This is art school!”

Turns out he’s a sculptor and a philosopher, and I found myself humbled and in deep admiration.

He didn’t want his own picture taken, so I’m not going to show his face.  But the soldier in the sculpture bore a remarkable resemblance to the artist.

Further along the pier, down in the sand, a series of blankets were laid out with “toss a coin / try your luck” themes.  I suspect these belonged to the artist as well.

The four of us wrapped up our afternoon across the street at the park, on a carousel.  Let me mention here that those carousel horses aren’t really designed to accommodate full-grown adults, but we all had goofy smiles on our faces the whole time just the same. — Patty

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The Expected and The Unexpected…

Labor Day Shopping With Cathy at a Historical Landmark

The Grove:

Expected were the big retail chains in all of their shiny splendor, with inviting storefronts and end-of-summer sales. Unexpected were the cavernous store interiors, three stories high (each!!!); but expected was that they were filled with every kind of item you could possibly imagine and absolutely don’t need. Unexpected was the skinny, shirtless, teenage Abercrombie & Fitch greeter, and our hike up all three sets of their stairs, only to discover that we were too old and too big for their line of clothing.  Unexpected was the guy at the outdoor hair care kiosk who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, continued to follow us when we ran inside an adjoining furniture store just to get away from him, and who tried to accost us again several minutes later when he caught us tiptoeing past him on our way down the street.

Farmer’s Market:

Expected was the vintage blue wooden exterior and the sturdy handsome clock tower. Unexpected was stepping through the wonderfully restored Gilmore Gas Station into the newsstand for a moment, past the elderly man and woman seated at the front bench who must have inspired Norman Rockwell to paint his first picture. Unexpected was Kip’s Toyland and Iconic Accessories, which made me want to swap my computer for a Gumby, a Pokey, and a Slinky.  Unexpected was “T” Tea Shoppe, which made me want to trade the Slinky for a cool new teapot.  Unexpected was The Barbershop Club, which made me wish I was a boy named Opie who could ride my bike into town and have Floyd The Barber cut my hair while Floyd, my dad Andy and his deputy Barney tried to figure out who stole Ernie’s pig.  Unexpected was Mr. Marcel Pain Vin Et Fromage and the gentleman playing very romantic French accordion music while couples sipped wine at the outdoor bar.  Unexpected was my delicious scoop of Fancy Nancy ice cream from Bennett’s.  And unexpected was the really nice woman working the counter at Magee’s, who allowed me to take her picture inside their vintage kitchen. — Patty

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