Leaving My California

I’ve lived in California since 1989.  I’ve lived in Palo Alto, a town on the peninsula south of San Francisco (Silicon Valley) for fifteen years.  I came here because I took a job at my former company’s corporate headquarters.   Now I’m leaving. 
Leaving is the right thing to do, for my family and my work.  But still.
I know that a place, a land, cannot love you, but I think that one of my greatest loves has been my California.  I love the place.  I love the look of coastal California.  I love the rocky cliffs next to the seashore, the seasons of dry and wet, the mountains in the distance.  My world is Northern California, the area around San Francisco, but I also love the California central coast and the southern coastal area.  I love the San Francisco Bay.  My town, Palo Alto, is one of the towns ringing the bay.
I love the weather.  Coastal California is one of only five Mediterranean climates in the world.  I love how the climate where I live is moderate, temperate, rarely hot or cold.  The air is dry, not humid or muggy.  I love how it cools down at night in summer, due to the blessed cold Pacific Ocean.  I love the Pacific Ocean.   I love how, when it’s not raining, the sky is overcast in the morning, and then the sky is blue.  I love how it rains only in the winter, and the rain just comes down, no thunderstorms.  I love how even in the winter there are days of sunshine.  I love how it doesn’t snow or freeze where I live, at my elevation, ever.   I love the look of the light.  I love how, even in the winter, something is always blooming.
I love something that’s hard to describe, a casual acceptance.   Sometimes that can translate to indifference, but it still works for me.  You make friends here, good friends – it just takes longer than you would think.   I’ve felt free here.  That freedom will go with me, wherever I live.
I love being in the hi-tech business in Silicon Valley, but that’s not why I moved here.  I moved for California. 
I love Point Reyes National Seashore – my favorite place in the world.  I’ve been there so much I know it in a way I’ll never know another outdoor space. I love Seacliff State Beach, the Palo Alto Art Center, various art galleries, museums and events, my coffeehouse, the Palo Alto Baylands Park, the swaths of blue Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus) plants blooming.  I love the work of various California artists.
I love where I live, a smaller, older apartment complex built around an inner courtyard.  The apartments are big, with a lot of light but not a lot of soundproofing, so the apartment managers try to hire quiet tenants.  It’s hard to describe why I like it so much.  Something about the place just worked for me.  In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve felt, oddly enough, like I was living in a resort, even though it’s not a fancy place.
I love the apartment pool, which is very California.  I love the blue of it, the water, the tile around the edges, the comfortable chairs.  There have been many times I was the only person in the pool, swimming a few laps, and then padding slowly back and forth.   When I was by myself it was “my pool”.  When a family member visited it was “our pool”.  It was magical.
I think that you can move forward, as they say, without denying what you had and where you’ve been.  There are good places everywhere.  I’m looking forward to swimming in my hometown community pool, to autumn in the northeast US, to being there for my family, to going to the Jersey seashore, to new work.  I think that my life will be good.  But in my heart I will never leave my California.
My California - Pool at Dusk

My California - Pool at Dusk

My California – Seacliff State Beach

A little over a week ago, I went to Seacliff State Beach.   I’m taking time out from packing to visit the a few favorite places.   This is my favorite beach in the Capitola/Santa Cruz area.   It has the stone ship – see http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=543  for a description and the history.  There are cliffs in the background.  It’s lovely and a lovely walking beach.   If you go during the week in summer, or anytime in winter you can park in the lots right next to beach, instead of having to park in the lot at the top of the cliff and walk a zillion steps down.
Around here I don’t go to the beach that much in summer.  The water in this part of California is very cold.  Most adults don’t get in without a wetsuit, though you see a few braving the surf and the cold water.  I had to learn that you go to a beach for reasons other than getting in the water.  It’s still wonderful.    During winter it was easy to make a quick trip down Highway 17 to catch the sunset.
I’m going to miss the place.
Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, The Stone Ship

Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, The Stone Ship









Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, Cliffs in the Distance

Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, Cliffs in the Distance

Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, Goodbye

Seacliff State Beach, June 2009, Goodbye




Recycling and Best Buy

I hate recyling. Let me explain. While I like the part about keeping our stuff out of landfills, I hate everything that goes along with those “green” recyling companies. I hate the snobbishness, the “holier than thou” attitude. I hate how if it’s inconvenient, it’s supposed to be OK because it’s good for the planet. I hate the “for the price of a latte” advertising slogan. I hate the extra fees, which tempt me to throw the thing in the trash. I hate to have to go to a place that only does recyling. I don’t even like those green “eco-friendly” bags that look like they use natural dyes, even though they don’t.
I do like one location that does recyling all by itself, the Palo Alto Recycling Drop-off Center. I like it because it’s located in the Palo Alto Baylands. The place is pretty and I can go for a walk in the Baylands after I drop off my stuff.
Palo Alto Recycling Drop-off Center, June 2009

Palo Alto Recycling Drop-off Center, June 2009










What I  like – recyling done well by companies that sell you stuff, companies I might go to anyway. I just had a very positive experience at my local Best Buy. I was recyling a old desktop computer. The pleasant person at the front kiosk told me where to take my desktop and pointed me in the direction of the flatbed carts, conveniently located in the front of the store. I took a cart to my car (parking lot with plenty of parking, trees and flowers too), loaded the desktop on the cart, wheeled it back into the store and stopped at customer service, also located in the front of the store. The equally pleasant person at customer service asked me to fill out some minimal information and told me I could leave the cart right there – they’d take care of it. I had such a good experience that I did what Best Buy hoped I would do – I looked around the store. In the mobile electronics section I chatted with another pleasant, knowledgeable person about GPS. I might even come backlater to, you know, shop.

Best Buy, Ravenswood 101 Shopping Center, June 2009

Best Buy, Ravenswood 101 Shopping Center, June 2009










My current MBA program has a concentration in sustainability. Assuming that recyling is part of sustainability, I hope my school talks about recyling in a world where it’s simply recycling, something that’s convenient, something that we do. Best Buy is making it work by including recyling as part of what they do. I like that.

When the Present becomes the Past (I borrowed this line)

There are times when, as a family member of mine puts it, you can see the present become the past.  One day you work somewhere, you live somewhere, and then you don’t.  You can target the minute, the second, between “I work here” and “I don’t work here anymore”.
Yesterday was that day – when I stopped working at the educational institution where I worked for almost three years.   It’s interesting.  I think of myself as more of a private industry (publically traded company) kind of person, a person who works for a hi-tech company.  But you know, sometimes a place can work its way into your heart.
I did like it a lot better when we moved off campus, to a building in a lovely office park, with, obviously, parking, and the best place to eat, down the street!
Where I used to work, May 2009

Where I used to work, May 2009


My radio station went away

From the website  http://www.kksf.com/main.html

May 18, 2009

Today marks the end of an era. KKSF-FM is no longer the Bay Area’s home for Smooth Jazz.

Everyone at KKSF would like to thank all the loyal fans of our station and the years of support you’ve given us. Over our 20 year history, you have always been there for us, and we truly appreciate it. You’ve traveled to our hundreds of KKSF listener parties and concerts, celebrated at our Sunday Brunches, helped raise over 4 million dollars for Bay Area AIDS organizations by purchasing Samplers for AIDS Relief, and you’ve listened to countless hours of Smooth Jazz music and artists. That unwavering support is reflected in a rich and successful track record at 103.7 KKSF.

The spirit of KKSF isn’t going away, however. KKSF.com will continue to thrive as your source for Smooth Jazz including a digital audio stream of the Smooth Jazz Network as well as videos on demand, concert listings and other features. We hope you’ll choose to continue to support the artists and the music online.

So the radio station now has a different format.  I understand that the owners of KKSF may have needed to do this for commercial reasons, but I don’t like it.

I’m glad I can still listen to my KKSF over the web.

Ice Plants – Point Reyes National Seashore 2006

Here’s a picture for Doug, who asked if I had any photos of ice plants on the beaches of San Francisco or Pacifica.  The closest I have is some photos of the ice plants at Point Reyes National Seashore, in Marin County, north of San Francisco.  This photo was taken at North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, in March 2006.

Now that I’ve learned that ice plants are invasive, I understand that they should probably be ripped out of Point Reyes National Seashore.  I  know that, but the ice plants are wonderful to see in the spring – the brilliant color and the green leaves against the ocean.

North Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, March 2006

North Beach, Point Reyes Seashore, March 2006