Two weeks ago, Joey and I walked in the rain down to the annual Friends of the Library book sale, an event going on at every library within the county. I am a big fan of getting books for cheap. I have found some of my favorite books at thrift stores for less than a dollar, so I was excited to see what awesome finds would be waiting for me at the library sale. At the top of my list were any old mysteries I might enjoy.
I may not be a Mormon, but I hear the universe calling me to Zion. As a native Southern Californian, it seems outlandish to friends and family to want to leave the sunshine and move to the Deseret, but I’m looking forward to the quiet days of living in Utah.
It’s 7:44 p.m. and people are crowding into the cafe. I try to identify what brings them here and where they are going later by their clothes, shoes, and accessories. Tonight is a night for people watching and for chatting with friends, a night when people actually talk to each other rather than stare into their phones.
Here at the Coffee Klatch, the atmosphere inside is cozy: squishy chairs and a couch, local art on the walls, and the earthy smell of coffee. A group of us meet to relax, sketch, and drink…lattes. This is Sketch Night.
Every picture I took looked like images from my computer’s wall paper: a picturesque landscape to day dream about visiting. Waves are crashing on shore, birds are flying overhead. This was the most serene hike I have ever experienced. This was the Sea Lion Point Trail at the Point Lobos State Reserve.
“There’s a hamburger head shark!”
This shout came from a child in awe and surprise as he watched a hammerhead shark swish its body and swim around the giant tank.
I was on the second floor of the Open Sea Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Below me, a group of children and adults lined the floors sitting crossed-legged, ready for the feeding. After a disappointing visit to the Slough and not seeing a single ray, I was ready to see some sea animals. Here at the Open Sea Exhibit stingrays, tuna and sharks were hanging out together.
It was Monday and not all of the animals in the exhibit get fed everyday, so only the turtles and the sardines were dining today. A sea turtle munched on some lettuce and bell peppers at the top of the tank. A school of shiny sardines whirled up from the narrow bottom of the pool to get their share of fish flakes. However, the sardines weren’t the only hungry fish in the tank that day. The Mahi Mahi snapped at the tornado-like school in an attempt to secure a snack. How do all these animals co-exist and not eat the wrong food? The presenter explained that the animals at this exhibit have been “target trained” to recognize a specific visual whenever their food is coming, essentially a “visual dinner bell.”
It was evening when Joey and I walked along a dock of Moss Landing to get a better view of the seals resting on the shore in the marina. In the distance we heard the distinctive arf-arf of some sea lions, but much closer we heard knocking. Knock-knock-knock came again from under the dock. Something was under there. A family was laying on the dock, stomachs down and squealing. Even their dog knew something exciting was happening by the way he whined and pulled on his leash. Joey and I leaned over the dock to get a closer look at the water and out popped an otter!
I have never been this close to an otter in real life without a glass window between us. It was magnificent and terrifying to see such a creature up close. I watched it swim around in circles and continue to pull shellfish from under the dock and use the dock to crack open its treats. I was surprised that this one otter was approaching the dock with people and a dog standing on it, but it didn’t seem to bother the otter at all. The dog wanted to sniff it. I wanted to touch its fur, but its clawed paws changed my mind. Moss Landing wasn’t on our itinerary and yet it was one of the most astonishing places we visited on this trip. I had started the day anxious to catch some rays and splash waves. It was the perfect ending to my Beach Day.
For our first wedding anniversary (03/14/2015), Joey and I decided to celebrate by going on a short vacation. Since I’m still not back at work full-time, we didn’t feel right splurging on going somewhere exotic, international, or, really, anywhere that needed a plane ticket to get there. Instead, we chose a destination that would take less than a day of driving: a road trip to Monterey, CA, one of my favorite places to visit. Monterey is very exciting for literature nerds like myself, but our first stop on our vacation was actually 50 miles outside of the city at Pinnacles National Park.
Day 1: Pinnacles National Park
My first visit to Pinnacles was in 2012, when the national park was still only a national monument. We visited the west side then, the less popular side of the park. It was also July, so that may have added to the emptiness of the park. Then, Joey and I climbed through pitch-black caves, the only light we had came from a cheap LED flashlight I kept in the car for emergencies. The caves inside were cool, but the air outside was overwhelming and the heat made our already out-of-shape bodies struggle through the hike. This time, we visited the eastern side of the park. I anticipated more of the same cave climbs, but was disappointed.
There was time now. Books lined the shelves where I ran my finger over the authors’ names. Other stacks of books surrounded me as I browsed the shelves: Gorey, Steinbeck, Wilde. There was time. No, I didn’t survive a nuclear attack, and I’m not the only living person on earth, and my glasses are in perfect, unbroken condition. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that sometime in the past three weeks I had wandered into the Twilight Zone.
Three weeks earlier, my place of employment laid off about a third of its employees, while the remaining 19 of us had our hours cut. These employees were people that I had worked closely with for more than six years, talented people, some employed before me. My elected furlough day is Wednesday. Everyday Wednesday, as my colleagues punch in, I lay in bed and think about how I want to spend my day off –alone. Reduced hours meant that I had to rethink my spending, my routine, my time. There was time. Time for me to cry and mope and drink away my lost hours? Maybe. Or was this the universe giving me an opportunity?
The one thing to know about me is that I like books. Love books. OK, books are my whole life. I like the smell of the aged pages, the loud crack of the spine, unique binding and the texture of the cover. Every bibliophile can attest to that. If I could, I would probably spend my whole paycheck on books and coffee.
In 2011, I challenged myself to read 50 books by the end of the year. I wanted to read one book a week, but allowed myself an extra two weeks for books that might take a little longer to read. I didn’t make it to 50, I probably read about 30. I knew it was a huge undertaking, but it was one that filled my life with a productive and exciting goal.
On January 7, 2015, I challenged myself again to read 50 books by the end of the year. Maybe this time around I will complete my goal and read 50 books, maybe I only read 25, but whatever it is, I know that there is no better way to spend my Wednesdays off than with a good book. There was one more issue to resolve. Reduced hours also meant a reduced book budget, so it was off to the Public Library for some rentals.
Books of Choice this visit: The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse by Leann Sweeney, The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas, and Classified as Murder, A Cat in the Stacks Mystery by Miranda James.
Drink of choice: Tazo Passion tea.