Frogs and Boot-leggers

Crow at Mori Point
Not too far south of San Francisco on the Coast Highway, you come to Pacifica. A sleepy little town of 38,000 (well, it seems sleepy to big-city dwellers), it has three main beaches along its 2-1/4 mile coastline. If you start at the Pacifica Pier, you can walk south along Sharp Park Beach (bordering Sharp Park golf course), to the site of Mori Point Inn, built by Stefano Mori, an Italian immigrant farmer in the 1870s. The roadhouse was taken over by his son Jack, who turned it into a speakeasy during Prohibition of the ’20s, smuggling in boot-legged Canadian whiskey from offshore. The feds caught up with Jack in 1923, confiscating 24,000 cases of liquor and closing down the establishment.

A steep flight of wooden stairs (now known as Bootlegger’s Steps) leads directly up to a high bluff overlooking the ocean, where you can walk along the coast toward Half Moon Bay. The uninterrupted view of the Pacific is breathtaking.

If you don’t climb the steps, and instead turn left at Mori Point, you can walk along a restored wetland area at the end of the lake (Laguna Salada) that is the habitiat of the endangered California red-legged frog. I had ventured here a few times, but never saw a frog until I met some locals, who told me exactly where to look. The walk also encounters crows, gulls, unabashed squirrels, lizards, and lots of other wildlife.

 

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Badass Cats in the Hood

Badass Cat 1
Badass Cat 2

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Sunlight Serenade

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A San Francisco Cafe

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Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring

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Un cacciatore senza pari! (A Cacciatore Without Equal)

Cacciatore Platter
Sometimes you get tired of the same, old same-old when cooking—especially when cooking chicken. I found a fantastic recipe for chicken cacciatore in the May 2014 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. It is offered by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, and calls for Peppadew peppers, Castelvetrano olives (new to me and very tasty), baby bell peppers, and fresh fennel bulb, along with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes & pearl onions. The whole chicken is stuffed with thyme sprigs and set in the refrigerator overnight before you even begin the main preparation. Then you make a red wine reduction sauce with tomato paste and butter, and layer it under the skin before roasting (with fresh garlic and herbs inside) and the veggies.

I had never made or tasted anything quite like this. The peppers and specialty olives made for a zesty accent, yet all of the ingredients together created a mellow and rich flavor, at once comforting and sophisticated. The chicken itself was tender, and offered itself up for seconds. The platter was clean at the end of our family dinner–down to the last pearl onion.

(I made one substitution: since Peppadew pepers are hard to find, I substituted Mezzetta’s sweet cherry peppers. I’m sure the real thing would make this dish even more fantastic.)

Che buono!

Peppers & Veggies

The medley of peppers, tomatoes, fennel, and pearl onions before roasting.

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Interview with Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima radiation exposure

Writewireless:

The Truth Hurts

Originally posted on nuclear-news:

Emotional interview with Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima exposure: Others with same symptoms “told to be quiet… nobody’s heard from them” — Health is worsening, worried I’m going to die — Can’t really use legs or arms, hands ‘barely functional’ — Rashes all over body, spasms, shaking — Doctors tell us “it’s all psychological” (AUDIO) http://enenews.com/emotional-interview-navy-sailor-suffering-serious-illness-after-fukushima-exposure-others-same-symptoms-told-be-quiet-nobodys-heard-worry-about-dying-health-keeps-worsening-really-legs-arms-h?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Interview with Navy Lt. Steve Simmons who served on the USS Ronald Reagan for 3/11 relief mission
, Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, July 8, 2014 (emphasis added):

  • 21:30 in — November 2011 I noticed something was wrong… The black-out was the first thing… I started dealing with gastrointestinal issues, at first I thought I was coming down with a stomach bug… Fevers as high as 102.9°F… January 2012 was the first time I was hospitalized… [They] sent me home with a sinus infection. Three days later I was readmitted to…

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Ocean Beach

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The Feral Cat Ladies

Cats in Pot 3

This is a sequel to “Open Your Eyes, Kitty!”, published on May 25, 2014 on Writewireless. It is basically a true story. Only the names and some of the details have been changed to protect the feral—and the domesticated as well.

When I heard the knock on my door, I thought it was someone else—wandering friends who show up occasionally. When I looked through the peep-hole, it could have been Jehovah’s Witnesses. Two ladies, casually dressed, on the other side of middle age. I opened the door. One had white, somewhat tousled hair, and was holding a long cage with a bowl of food at one end. Her face was soft and malleable and looked forgiving. Her companion was thin, with streaky gray hair pulled back into a severe ponytail.

Her voice was strident, and clung to the high registers like the nervous claws of an excited feline, ready to dart off at any minute.

Her long, drawn face looked dry, with faint, parallel wrinkles along her cheeks. Speaking rapidly in clipped tones, her vowels irritatingly sing-songy, the latter explained the urgency of their task in a rehearsed manner: “We are volunteers who save feral cats. We spay or neuter the adults and give them their shots. Then we release them back where we found them.” Her voice was strident and clung to the high registers like the nervous claws of an excited feline, ready to dart off at any minute. “We try to get the kittens before they get too wild, and we vaccinate and spay or neuter them. If they can be socialized with humans, we put them up for adoption. If not, we return them where we found them. We have to catch them at the right time, before their mother teaches them to hiss at humans. We always clip off the end of their ears after we fix them. We already caught the white mother cat and the little sickly white one. We know there are three more kittens in the litter. Your neighbor told us you have kittens in your backyard. May we put out a trap for them?” Her eyes darted around furtively as she spoke, as if sizing me up in some way.

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Of Pelicans, Seals, and Ghosts

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Two Flying PelicansJust 20 miles south of San Francisco in the town of Moss Beach, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve sits placidly on the fog-dappled coast. Renowned for its rugged beaches, tidepools, sea lions, the occasional sea otter, pelicans and other sea birds, the reserve has been identified by marine biologists as “one of the most biodiverse intertidal zones in California.” It is also a vantage point for whale watchers. Humpback, blue, and gray whales can been seen periodically from a high promontory, and a look downward reveals a beach full of harbor seal moms and their pups, who are protected by the park.

You can descend a long stairway to see them at beach level, but visitors are cautioned to stay 300 feet away so as not to interfere with seal family business. Along the trail at the top of the cliff, you walk through carefully planted rows of aging pines on the grounds of what was once the expansive Smith-Doelger residence in the early 20th century. Farther down, you walk on parts of the foundations, faced by massive palm trees that once graced an elegant entrance.

Walking south from the reserve, the road winds alongside residences perched on the cliff, with beautiful gardens and huge plate-glass windows facing the ocean.

 

Pelican on Chimney Design

You can walk right up to the Moss Beach Distillery, a historic restaurant where liquor was smuggled in from offshore during Prohibition in the 30s, and where the fabled phantom “Blue Lady” is still seen occasionally by visitors. You can read more about her and the Moss Beach Distillery by clicking here.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, this is one of those “so close, yet so far away” types of day trips. It is well worth the hike to feel that you’re at the end of the earth–in another world and another time. If you’re visiting California, this is an opportunity to experience the best of what the coast has to offer: diverse marine life, natural beauty, and a bit of California history.

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