Thursday, December 18, 2014


      We look forward to the chosen December night when fortunate Cambrians walk the hill out of east village up to the historic Santa Rosa Chapel for an evening of strings, music, Christmas reflection and magic.
      Frequent readers may recall previous posts, this time of year when it as though we step into a slip stream of timelessness. 

2011 Post

2012 Post
2013 Post

      Cheer and anticipation fill the 140 plus year old Chapel bathed in candle light and greens. This evening has become our single favorite of the Advent season on the Central California Coast. 
       The acoustics, artistry of the musicians and the lighting create a dreamy mood. Ra Duncan's soulful a cappella Ava Maria set the mood and another memorable evening flowed into Cambria history.
       Judith Larmore's meditation on the love in nostalgic moments were heart warming. Recalling her father's devotion to providing hand made Christmas toys invoked a kind of universal remembrance and in that she reminded us was a connection. In Christmas memory, loved ones are with us still. As Lana said as we departed, Judith should collect and publish her reflections.
      Jude Johnstone put together the music program. She asked her daughter Emma, an accomplished actor/director and home from New York to write a poem. Her reading was yet another and unexpected gift of this wonderful annual event. Jude and daughter Ra performed and then lead the audience in a uniquely cheerful and entertaining round of carols.
     Santa has already delivered our favorite gift. 

      My family occupied an old farm house during one of Indiana's coldest winters and I slept upstairs in an unheated room. We had just moved to the state capitol of Indianapolis and rented a large, drafty house while our new home was being built in one of the new suburban divisions.
      The place was massive. Two bedrooms, dining room, living room, parlor, long kitchen, sun porch and bath down stairs. Upstairs had only recently been "finished," meaning there were floors and walls. Heat "entered" the frigid domain by virtue of a hole that had been cut in the floor of the bedroom and the ceiling in the largely unused "parlor." In fact we kept the sliding door to the parlor closed as it was so difficult to heat and made the living room too drafty.
      Since I worked and had late hours and was the eldest of three boys, I got the private room, while my brothers shared a downstairs bed room. When I took a glass of water upstairs, it froze or if temperatures were more moderate it created an icy crust. I didn't mind.  As a high school sophomore I enjoyed the privacy. I'd wear a stocking cap, socks and pile under the blankets and slept very soundly.  Any nightly trip to the bathroom was a bear-icy cold floor and stairs, and then leaving the warmth of downstairs to climb back into ice land made those rare ventures, teen bladders being good equipment and all.
      Years later I told our daughters I slept in a room so cold the candle froze.  A stretch, but the water did.
      Our eldest is visiting from Naples Florida.  The central California coast winter can sometimes chill into over night 40's and warm "only" into the 60's.  As she is digging out the wool socks, sweaters, gloves, caps and all, I'll probably remind her of what real cold is. If that doesn't work I'll drag her along to a tennis match where one of my foursome, Jim, hails from War Road Minnesota, where to hear him tell it, you risked freezing to death all but 7 days a year!
      I still like to sleep in a cool room with fresh air, but for the next couple of weeks we may well heat the overnight.

    Lana's centerpiece for an Instigators Art Salon luncheon 
    Cambria Historical Society 
   Victorian ranch house at Halter Ranch winery 

   West Village, Cambria 

  As a tribute to improved relations with Cuba, a couple of On Assignment Cuba photos from the file.
     I'm excited about easier travel. Cuba is a marvelous island. The above scene is from Matanzas.
 Pictured here with Jon Christopher Hughes, photographer and journalism professor at the front door of Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia east of Havana. Jon is an old hand on Cuba. This was taken while at work on a documentary in 1996.

a "selfie" in the mirror of Hemingway's

     Cubans are warm and wonderful people with an extraordinary culture and charm. Despite the decades long blockade and official sanctions, the people tend to understand Washington policy is one thing and the American
public is something else.

Previous Cuban Posts:

     See you down the trail.  


  1. Dinner with two Cubans...

    During a sailing event in Miami, I introduced one of a my Cuban friends (former Cuban Olympic team sailor, who had defected during the Atlanta Olympics) to another Cuban who had come to the US with his parents after Castro kicked Batista out. (their suitcases were filled with cash btw) The three of us had dinner together, it ended on a sour note when the older Cuban told the younger one that he really wasn't a Cuban. It was a perfect example of the generation gap among the Cuban population of South Florida. Ernesto just wasn't anti-Castro enough for Ramon who had grown up as the son of a wealthy Cuban landowner, surrounded by servants and under paid and under fed peasants who did all the work. It ended with Ernesto saying, "if life was so damn good for Cubans under Batista how could a few guys on leaking boat kick his ass out of the country in a year?" That and some choice cursing in Spanish.

  2. Thanks for the good Christmas vibes and the great Cuba pictures. I note that you have become a bit of fabulist when telling tales of your boyhood. No doubt a sign of the passage of time.

  3. Yes, it's time to admit our boycott pf Cuba was a dismal failure that actually cemented the Castros in power, and change course. Love all the Christmas decorations.